A System of Exploitation

The story I am about the relate is a composite of the actual experiences of several women from the Philippines. Some of them I have known personally, some I have known from working on their cases, and there are many thousands more whom I have never met. I wish to be their voice today. Their story will be my story as I tell it in their name. -- Naoko Iyori

MY NAME? I HAVE HAD MANY names in my life. I will share all of them with you. Right now it is AIDS. That's right, HIV. I am a carrier, the doctor told me. That settles my future, wouldn't you say? I don't think you will like my story, but please listen to it anyway. The first name I remember was Baby. That is what my mother and father called me. We were a pioneer farming family just north of Tagum on the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines. My father actually created our farm from nothing. He was just making a success of it when suddenly, without warning, the Philippine National Army came and forced us to leave our farm.

To "protect" us from the NPA (New People's Army), we were made to take everything we could carry and move to a "strategic village." We learned very quickly what the word hamletting means! There was no village at all, and after building a barracks for the military we had to start all over again. Poor father had to walk to his farm, four kilometers each way, every day.

This event was my first encounter with the military. It changed everything for us overnight. It also changed my name.

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