Welga! Welga!

To live in another land, take up all the accidents of becoming one with the people of your new land, including giving up your own citizenship right in your former homeland, and yet witness the same vestiges of greed and selfishness that can only come from unrestrained capitalism is something that comes with a shock value.

It is most immoral, and the immorality is concrete.

Even in Los Angeles, I took part in those mass mobilizations when at one point Los Angeles, and therefore California, turned hostile to immigrants, with or without the proper immigration documents.

I witnessed the surge of people, like the waters of Sierra Madre surging to fill up the puny rivers of polluted Manila to create what could be a deluge never seen before.

The people did not come to the United States to sit on their hands and steal from the coffers of California, in much the same way that the hotel workers of Waikiki, ninety percent of them Ilokanos, did not come to steal from the coffers of them big time hotel owners, some of whom went bankrupt and had to the bailed out like Goldman Sachs, now the big-time owner of Hyatt Regency, the same hotel whose workers are now striking.

Tonight's persformance is one of rage, righteous as righteous can be.

It is the Philippines all over again, with us joining hands with the people fighting for their just rewards.

The sinister ways of unbridled capitalism are that: sinister as sinister can be.

The tactic is this: lay off the workers, and in their stead put in a new hire paid so little because that worker does not work directly under the hotel any longer but from a labor subcontracting company. So she is paid less so that the subcontracting company could be paid more.

That is how it goes now: subcontract labor, as if labor is now a commodity that can be traded, sold, bought.

From the fact sheets I gathered, I wrote a guerilla theatre piece, Welga! Welga!

The piece would see its premier performance on the pavements of Hyatt and in the adjoining hotel, both overlooking the famous Waikiki beach.

What an irony this: while others are enjoying the sunset view, others are suffering the view.

While others are frolicking under the warm sun in the early morning, others have started to turn these hotels into clean spaces of more fun.

But these other who do the bed fixing and cleaning do not ever have the chance to enjoy these clean spaces: these are for others to enjoy--and to have fun!

Some hotel workers are cleaning so many rooms they do not even have the chance to eat their lunch.

The stories are many--and the stories need to be told.

So tonight, we brought in our students and together with the Local 5 Union Workers, they rehearsed Welga! Welga!.

And then their performance of a lifetime.

For all the rehearsing, I lost my voice, and had to run home to drink of the cup of salabat from the cup of suffering of our Ilokanos of Hawaii. Losing one's voice is not that bad, when you know you have become one with the people.

The plantations have not closed shop.

They have transformed into hotels, motels, resorts, and other fancy names they call these houses of greed, profit, and labor abuse.

Waikiki, HI
Sept 13, 2011

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