By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – The State University of New York’s sprawling ballroom was filled with energy and glee of millennial women leaders out to support each other in the relentless education and political campaigns for a myriad of local and community issues.
On March 4, 2017, the Omega Phi Beta Sorority Inc. held its 19th Philanthropic Banquet in the upstate campus of SUNY Albany with the theme ‘Ignite: Fueling the Future’. The group formally turned over its financial support to its sister organization, the AF3IRM New York.
Olivia Canlas, education officer for AF3IRM, and Leani Auxilio accepted the support on behalf of AF3IRM. “I want to extend our deepest gratitude to the sorority sisters for the Ray of Hope Walk fundraising efforts. Your commitment to education and the leadership of women of color and our collaboration on the Purple Rose social media campaign to raise awareness of misogyny and the trafficking of women and girls. These are daily acts of resistance to eradicate all forms of violence against women,” said Canlas.
The young lawyer said that AF3IRM has a long “herstory” of organizing, advocacy, mobilization and theory building. “We began 20 years ago as GabNet, a US-Philippines solidarity organization. We came to recognize the necessity of addressing the concerns of women of color in the United States. Our lineage of resistance is traced to a generation of political prisoners who stood up to the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines- some were imprisoned, and some are surviving witnesses and family to those taken by extrajudicial killings. Some are generations born here and has strong ties to our roots.”
AF3IRM runs its Summer School of Women’s Activism and Summer School of Youth Activism to theory-build and educate on the forgotten history of women’s struggles and to break ethnic divisions.
Leani Auxilio, for her part, said that the sorority’s support “comes as an immense relief to us, a grassroots organization which runs on limited resources.”
She said that their collaboration is timely, with their members coming under attack physically, emotionally, and virtually in the past recent days.