GABRIELA was founded in 1984, after 10,000 women marched in Manila to protest then-president Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorial power grab. GABRIELA has since become a global alliance, rallying women in and out of the Filipino diaspora to fight patriarchal oppression and join the National Democratic Movement, a coalition that works against semi-colonialism and feudalism in the country. 

GABRIELA stands for General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action.

GABRIELA has chapters across the USA in cities like New York, Seattle, San Francisco, New Jersey. Its newest chapter launched in Santa Cruz on Jan. 23. 

During the virtual launch event, members performed music and gave speeches reflecting the issues and beliefs of the chapter. Afterwards, the five-member executive board discussed how GABRIELA Santa Cruz (GABSC) will foster a safe space for discussion of Filipino inequities on- and off-campus through holistic regular group meetings. 

“Learning about Filipino history made me really angry; that made me really passionate and I never really had space for that,” said Aleia Maria Dela Cuadra, a general member of the organization. “When I came to UC Santa Cruz, I loved that there was a place for me to be political.”

Long before it was recognized as an official chapter of GABRIELA, its members were active in increasing its membership by raising awareness about issues affecting the Philippines through social media. The official process of the GABSC chapter launch began earlier this year.The chapter currently has 22 members. 

One of the founders of GABSC Mak Konefal was an integral part of the launch of the event. 

“The objective is to specifically organize women and gender non-conforming people to fight for National Democracy,” said Vice Chair of GABSC Mak Konefal. “Although we recognize the general political disparities in the Philippines, there is a very particular experience that women have, and it’s because of patriarchy.”

GABSC’s foundational feminist beliefs grew out out of Anakbayan integration trips to the Philippines. During these integration trips, the group integrated with local Filipino members of GABRIELA. Earlier this year, GABSC partnered with Anakbayan SC, the local chapter of the youth-led Filipino activist group. The organizations drafted a resolution endorsing the PHRA bill.

GABSC’s anti-imperialist philosophies have pushed members to show solidarity locally by rallying alongside graduate students during the winter 2020 COLA strike, participating in Black Lives Matter rallies, membership orientations, raising money for Typhoon Goni relief, and helping pass the PHRA bill. 

The PHRA (The Philippines Human Rights Act) is a bill that imposes limitations on providing assistance to law enforcement until the Philippines government takes steps for reform regarding

1. Military involvement in domestic activities
2. Rights protecting journalists and protesters

The PHRA has also been passed by student unions in different unions (including Stanford and UCLA).

In November 2020, the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Goni, one of the most intense typhoons recorded on the planet. GABRIELA raised over $2,300 through fundraisers to provide support.

While the launch marks a significant milestone in the history of GABSC, Konefal said current global diplomacy motivates the group to act now. 

“The future looks difficult because of the current political landscape in America and the Philippines,” Konefal said. “But I know we have the tenacity, strength, and resolve to really push forward and make genuine change in our community.”