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Pinays in US to help end violence against women

WASHINGTON – An all-Filipina cast gave an electrifying one-time performance of the “Vagina Monologues” at the Kennedy Center over the Easter weekend that left many people in tears.

The show, sponsored by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) and produced by well-known community leaders Gloria Caoile and Bambi Lorica, aimed at increasing awareness to help end violence against Filipina women and girls and raise funds for women’s anti-violence groups.

Most of the cast members were amateurs but what they lacked in stage skill they more than made up for with their energy and passion.

Four or five of the women were outstanding but the big surprise of the evening was Caoile, a dour, steely labor leader and civil rights activist who surprised everyone with her sassy performance. 

Who knew she had a soft and mellow side to her or that she could moan with orgasmic abandon like Meg Ryan in the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” 

Lorica did double duty as a performer and a singer. Despite a sound system which left much to be desired, she gave a delicate rendition of the Cebuano lullaby “Ili-Ili, Tulog Anay” (Ili-Ili, Now Go to Sleep) and  the Tagalog classic “Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan” (From the Cradle). 

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A coloratura soprano, she has performed for the last three presidents of the Philippines.  In her day job she is a doctor of some renown.

FWN was founded in 1996 to advance Filipina women in the US workplace. It also seeks to end abuse against Filipina women and girls “because domestic violence is widespread in the Filipino community and it is a violation of basic human rights.”

At the end of the show, executive producers Eklena Buensalido Mangahas and Marily Mondejar asked women in the audience who had been emotionally, sexually or physically abused to stand up if they felt comfortable doing so.

Hesitantly, several did.

Then those who knew someone who had been abused were asked to stand and more than half the audience did.

When asked if they would pledge to help stop the violence against Filipina woman and children, everyone stood. 

The show could have been better edited to keep the audience’s attention more focused.

It stretched over three hours and was split into two parts – Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” (an all-women cast) and “A memory, a monologue, a rant and a prayer: Writings to stop violence against women and girls” (an all-male cast).

The focus of the FWN’s “Vagina Monologues” was on Filipina “comfort women” pressed into wartime prostitution for millions of Japanese soldiers throughout Asia in World War II.

Historians estimate between 100,000 and 400,000 women from the Philippines, Korea, China, Indonesia and the Netherlands were forced to service up to 50 soldiers a day.  They were often beaten, starved, and made to endure abortions.

At the end of the play Caoile demanded that Japan apologize for the atrocities against comfort women.

Not surprisingly the part in the play which earned the most laughs and applause was a demonstration of different kinds of moans by women having an orgasm, including the Irish Catholic moan (“Forgive me, for I have sinned”), the college moan (“I should be studying, I should be studying”) and the show-stopper “triple-orgasm moan.”

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