Nesanne T.





When I received my letter of acceptance from the university I would end up attending, I was awarded a full financial aid package, covering 100% of my tuition for eight semesters. I was 18 years old, couldn’t believe my luck, determined to make the most of my academic journey. “I should be so grateful,” were the words ringing in my head, the words I carried with me throughout my college years.

Six years later, I showed up in solidarity at my alma mater’s pro-Palestine student encampments. This was the campus where I met lifelong friends and community, gained valuable work experience, countless other formative experiences I would literally not be able to afford if I hadn’t been fully funded by this institution. A part of me was wracked with guilt as I linked arms with my peers, calling for our university to divest. A part of me couldn’t help but think, my Filipino immigrant parents didn’t work so hard for me to get an American education, just for me to “throw it all away,” for me to be so “ungrateful.”

But how can I be “grateful” to belong to an institution that spent its tuition dollars funding the U.S. military complex?

How could I be “grateful” to be from an institution that has ties to multiple defense companies involved with the IOF presence in Gaza?

How could I be “grateful” to have graduated from an institution that would rather arrest its students than acknowledge their role in genocide?

Nobody wants to protest for the sake of protesting. Nobody wants to lose job opportunities. Nobody wants to lose their commencements. Nobody wants to lose their personal freedoms. But the Palestinian people have lost all of that and more, and are continuing to lose more and more everyday.

Growing up as a Filipino American in the often forgotten United States territory of the Northern Marianas Islands, histories of resistance are present in every part of my identity. The patterns of colonization between my hometown of Saipan and the Philippines are strikingly similar. Both share histories of being under the Spanish Empire for 300 years, enduring occupations during World War II, and undergoing irreparable cultural and socio-political transformations due to their strategic locations in the Pacific.

The Filipino people’s fight for liberation is inextricably tied to Palestinian liberation. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) allows the U.S. extended stays to rotate troops and build facilities on Philippine bases, which undermines Philippine sovereignty and increases dependency on U.S. military support. The Philippines government is the 3rd biggest buyer of Israeli arms, which uses these profits to reinforce the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

We are not free until we are all free. I show love for my ancestors through continued resistance. I show love for my heritage by continuing to fight for genuine liberation for the Philippines and Palestine, and all the regions of the world being destroyed by occupation and colonization.