Protesta De Mayo Laban sa Tiraniya, an alternative form of protest vs #DuterTyranny

Amid the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, rights groups Karapatan and Hustisya yesterday held an alternative Flores de Mayo for justice and peace at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City.

Dubbed the “Protesta de Mayo Laban sa Tiraniya,” the event featured five ensembles that depicted the current human rights issues and people’s struggles under the Duterte regime:

▪ La Reina de la Verdad portrayed the defense of press freedom with the continuing extrajudicial killings of journalists and various forms of curtailment of the freedom of expression. Newspapers were used to form the dress’s train. Karapatan volunteer Miranda Dacillo wore the said dress, while former College Editors Guild of the Philippines President Rey Asis and Jani Llave collaborated in the design.  

press freedom 

Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

▪ Deborah Escudero, sister of EJK victim Ephraim Escudero and member of Rise Up, personified La Reina de los Martires, a portrayal of the plight of Duterte’s drug war victims and their struggle for justice amid the prevalent climate of impunity. Ephraim was taken by unknown men in their home in San Pedro, Laguna on September 19, 2017, and five days later, on September 24, he was found dead in Pampanga, his body wrapped in packaging tape. Fashion designer Albert Fontanilla designed and made the Filipiniana dress, with a bodice dotted with bullet holes and a skirt with red paint.

Stop EJK

Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

▪ Hustisya member Maria Teresa Romano had an ensemble that rendered the message “Activism is not a crime,” with a handpainted figure of iconic Filipina revolutionary leader Gabriela Silang on her skirt. La Reina Esperanza portrayed the defiance against Duterte’s fake terror listing of peace advocates, activists, and development workers and the promotion of human rights defense as a basic and fundamental right of peoples faced with an oppressive and tyrannical regime like Duterte’s.


Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

▪ La Reina de la Paz illustrated the struggle of Mindanaoans, especially the Lumad and Moro peoples against Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao. During the first year of implementation of martial law, at least 49 Lumad, peasants, and Moro were killed by state forces and almost half a million were displaced due to military operations. Lumad youth Gleeza Joy Belandres, a student of an alternative learning institution in Caraga, wore her traditional Manobo blouse and a skirt hand-painted with artwork depicting the indigenous peoples’ struggle for a just and lasting peace, for the right to their ancestral domain and their right to self-determination.

end ML

Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

Karapatan legal counsel Maria Sol Taule designed and made the two dresses.

▪ Eleanor de Guzman, daughter of detained peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga, was La Reina de la Justicia. Her ensemble represented the sheer injustice against political prisoners, who were illegally and arbitrarily arrested on trumped-up charges for their political activism and who experience difficult conditions in jail. She was bound in shackles in the same way the Duterte administration persecutes those who stand up for truth and justice, while the struggle for the oppressed radiated like sunburst.


Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

All women are flanked by teenagers and children; their ensembles are accented by the arches bearing their calls.

Flores de Mayo is a regular Catholic festival in the Philippines, usually marked with ritual pageants and processions. Since 2008, relatives of victims of human rights violations and Karapatan have conducted such processions during May, a spin-off from the traditional Flores de Mayo, to this alternative form of protest.


Photo by Kathy Yamzon 

“The Protesta de Mayo Laban sa Tiraniya, which is organized by women human rights activists, is also our contribution to the #BabaeAko #LalabanAko campaign of Filipino women against Duterte’s sexism and misogyny. We will not stand by and allow macho-fascists like Duterte to continue to infringe on women’s and people’s rights. We are fighting back,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.  

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580