Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com
Recca Noelle Monte was a bright engineering student from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Twelve years ago, she traveled to the Cordillera region and engaged in community organizing there and stayed. Yesterday, September 10, 2014, in the Philippines her son and sister traveled to Manila as she was honored by mass organizations in the Philippines who testified about her bravery and courage. Deceased, Recca will be honored every night this week by various people’s organizations in the Philippines, and internationally her life will also be remembered.
GABRIELA USA joins mass organizations in the Philippines in honoring her, her work among the Filipino people, and other activists slain like her. Below are cultural offerings by Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA and Elaine Villasper, Organizational Development Officer of GABRIELA USA, both of whom were greatly impacted and influenced by the life and work of Recca Noelle Monte. She remains a powerful force for Filipinas in the United States, inspiring us to take up and continue the struggle she gave her life for.
By Valerie Francisco
This morning, I spoke your name for the first time
It woke me from my dreams
My dreams of justice and freedom
The return of ancestral lands
To the indigenous people of the Cordillera
My dreams of the lush rice terraces we once walked
The strong resistance against development aggression of the Kalinga people
That inspired you and me, both
Still inspires us
In your life and in your work
You set an example of true and utmost service to the Filipino people
What an idea
To actually give your life in service of those most oppressed
For the women who carry the lifeblood of our nation’s culture of resistance
For the men and women whose hands till the land
For the children who need to have a world changed
Today, I spoke your name
And daily, I will continue
Recca Noelle Monte
We will carry on your struggle
In our every breath
From the Cordillera to the US
Taos pusong nakikiramay po kami sa GABRIELA USA. Recca was one of the kasamas that welcomed and hosted us during our exposure in the Cordilleras in 2008, and played a major role in our successful integration with the community. I have many fond memories of kasamang Recca, one of which was of her helping me hike down a very slippery mountain while it was raining. Step by step, Recca held my hand, placed her foot firmly on the ground, and had me lean on her for support all the way down the mountainside. I’ve never forgotten that small act of camaraderie.
In memory of Ka Recca and the other kasamas, I’d like to offer a short excerpt from my journal written during our exposure trip in 2008:
“Every so often you meet people that change your life forever. In Kalinga, I met them. My experience in Kalinga cannot be adequately described in words. I just know deep inside that I entered that barrio with whatever ideas and concepts about myself and left as a different person. In Kalinga, I sang with all the joy and pain in my heart. I laughed without holding back, and I faced my fears head on, looking towards the kasamas for support. No amount of explanation can narrate everything stirring inside of me. There was something about Kalinga and its people that will stay with me forever. I feel so blessed and privileged to have had the interactions I’ve had with the kasamas here the past few days.”
Salamat, Ka Recca, for holding my hand, for listening, for laughing and dancing with us, for offering your life to the very last breath in service of the people. You gave me a necklace to remember our time together, and today I will proudly wear it in your honor. Paalam, kasama. I will carry your memory forward, and hope to emulate your selflessness and dedication to the people that we serve. Mabuhay ka, Kasamang Recca!