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FWN Honors 2004 Filipina Vagina Warriors251719.l.png

Excerpted from the V-Day FWN 2004 Playbill

Recognition ceremony held during "The Vagina Monologues" at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, March 2004

In every community there are humble activists working every day, beat by beat to undo suffering. They sit by hospital beds, pass new laws, chant taboo words, write proposals, beg for money, demonstrate and hold vigils in the streets. These women have often experienced violence either personally or witnessed it within their communities and dedicated themselves toward ending such violence through effective, grassroots means.

These women have been the very heart of V-Day since it was conceived as a worldwide movement to empower and enable local activists to raise awareness and funds locally through V-Day benefit productions of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Every woman has a warrior inside waiting to be born. In order to guarantee a world without violence, in a time of danger and escalating madness, we urge them to come out. Recognizing these incredible women is the BlesildaOcampo.jpghighlight of the “Filipina Women’s Day” celebration and will truly make Women’s History Month a memorable occasion for the Filipina American community! The Filipina Women’s Network honors the following Filipina Vagina Warriors:

Blesida Ocampo was born in a bamboo hut in a remote province in the Philippines. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was very young. Physically and sexually abused as a child, she grew up to become a battered woman and single mother on welfare. She and her infant daughter resided in a shelter for battered women for a brief period of time. There, she received her first counseling session and vowed to heal from the effects of abuse and to raise her daughter in safety.

Blesilda joined the Domestic Violence Movement for nine years. She used her experience of having been abused, and the knowledge gained on the road to healing, in her work as a counselor Cherie Querol Moreno2.jpgand advocate for battered women and their children. Determined to get an education in spite of it all, Blesilda completed her undergraduate studies and is now aspiring to be a lawyer.

Cherie Querol Moreno coordinates the Filipino American outreach program for CORA, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse. She is responsible for educating the Filipino community on domestic violence, prevention and intervention services. A state certified domestic violence counselor, Cherie facilitates a weekly support group attended predominantly by Filipina women. She is also a community educator on domestic violence prevention and intervention.

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Clara Tempongco is the mother of Claire Tempongco who was killed in front of her two young children by her abusive ex-boyfriend in the year 2000. Frustrated by the failure of the District Attorney’s office to protect her daughter, Clara with the help of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, created the Justice for Claire Tempongco Project. The goal of the project is to find ways to prevent domestic violence killings and to capture Claire’s killer.

A former beauty queen, Genevieve Dwyer was a medical technologist in the Philippines who co-authored five books on environmental and medical procedures for Genevieve Dwyer 1.jpgremote communities in the Philippines who did not have access to medical care and government assistance.

Genevieve is a survivor of domestic violence. A multi-talented woman, she also owns a paralegal office assisting clients with simple divorces. Many of her clients are victims of domestic violence. She offers a genuine understanding of their situation borne out her own personal experience with domestic violence.

Leni Marin began her career in the Philippines as a human rights activist in the 1970s during the Marcos era. When she immigrated to the United States 20 years ago, she continued to work on human rights iLeni Marin.jpgssues. She began to work on domestic violence issues 15 years ago.  The focus of her work has been on ensuring the legal rights of immigrant women and on creating services that are accessible and culturally relevant.  

She helped to engage and mobilize the Filipino American community in intervening and preventing domestic violence in the community. She was also instrumental in producing instructional books and booklets about domestic violence and coordinating conferences for the Filipino community.

At age 15, Tisa Mendoza was gang raped by nine of her hMendoza, tisa2.jpgigh school peers. This horrific incident ruined her life, affected her self esteem, loathing herself for many years. She became involved in abusive relationships, turned to drugs, alcohol, stopped going to school, and had eating disorders.

She turned her life around and now helps other women on how to create a life with passion and purpose. After building a successful corporate career, Tisa left her demanding Silicon Valley job to embark on a profound, and sometimes painful, journey of self-discovery. Now, the successful, self-confident wife, mother and businesswoman is the producer of her own TV show.

Vangie Buell - final 2.jpgVangie Canonizado Buell was abused by her mother from age four to eight years old. She was beaten and locked in a bedroom and sometimes in the closet without food, occasionally tea and crackers. When she was rescued by her father, she was near starvation, her body, infected with sores, black and blue from the beatings.

Her grandmother and father raised her with loving, nurturing care. Vangie’s life has been devoted to promoting cultural understanding on both local and international levels and serves on many community programs and nonprofit boards. Vangie is an author, writer and speaker. She is married, has three daughters, one grandson, and two granddaughters.

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