This is a condensed version of an article that ran in the Nov. 7 issue of The Philippine Reporter. Reprinted with permission. — Ed.
About 35 people gathered at the Bathurst-Wilson parkette on Friday, Oct. 24, many of them members of Filipino organizations under the umbrella of BAYAN Canada to demand “Justice for Our Sisters.” Gabriela Ontario, Anakbayan Toronto, Migrante organizations, FMWM, Binnadang, IwWorkers, and other progressive organizations held solidarity, to protest the recent deaths of two Filipinas, Evelyn Bumatay Castillo, a 43-year-old caregiver, murdered on Oct. 11 in Mississauga and on the same day, 26-year old transgendered woman Jennifer Laude, who was murdered back in Olongapo City, Philippines. The aim of the vigil was to highlight the gender-based violence that kababayans face, abroad and at home.
In the case of Castillo, Peel Regional Police responded to a fire on Britannia Rd. and located the victim without vital signs. She was later transported to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Police believe that she was engaged in sex trade work, in addition to her work as a caregiver. “Nick” Vade Murray, 32, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Back home in the Philippines, Laude was found unconscious in a motel room in Olongapo City, her head submerged in a toilet bowl. U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, of New Bedford, Mass., allegedly killed Laude, in a room at the Celzone Lodge. Pemberton is currently being held at the Philippine military’s main camp in Manila, in an air-conditioned van guarded by American soldiers. Laude’s death sparked outright criticism and widespread protests in the country.
Even groups outside BAYAN Canada joined the vigil to stand in solidarity: “We decided to join our Filipino comrades today in calling, first of all in bringing awareness to the community about what has happened to these two women, both here in Canada and in the Philippines. And also to call attention to how imperialism impacts the lives of women worldwide, and specifically a call to the end of American imperialism within the Philippines,” Randy Brown, of Proletarian Feminist Front-Toronto, said.
“The community should look at the violence that the caregivers face even more in Canada. The fact that she’s a live-in caregiver and had to do sex work means that she’s not making enough money working as a domestic worker in Canada,” Kim Abis, of the Revolutionary Student Movement-Toronto, said.
The Philippine Consulate through the Philippine Overseas Labour Office has been extending support to the family’s victim. Connie Sorio, of Migrante Canada, and International Women’s Alliance has also been working closely with the family. She said that they are trying to bring Castillo’s son over to Canada, so he can attend his mother’s funeral. Sorio has reached out to the victim’s sister, also a caregiver who arrived here in Canada on December 2012.