CNN Philippines joins #MyFreedomDay

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The closest to slavery many of us can get is talking about it in history class.

Recall the African slaves who toiled in the cotton fields of their white, American masters from the 18th century until the early 1900s.

Then there's Joseph Stalin's "gulags," which worked criminals — ranging from petty thieves to political dissidents — to their graves in the strongman's push to build roads, train lines and bridges for the then-rising Soviet Union.

And of course, countless textbooks taught us how our Spanish colonizers forced Filipino men aged 16 to 60 to work for 40 days without pay (also known as polo y servicio).

But surely, these harrowing stories have no place in the modern world, especially in a free and democratic society as the country's.

Unfortunately, slavery continues to haunt us today.

Slavery around the world

Around 45.8 million people in 167 countries are in some form of slavery, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index (GSI).

The report looked at the state of slavery in these countries and how governments and private institutions have responded to this problem.

It was published by the Walk Free Foundation, which describes itself in the GSI website as a "global organisation that aims to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilising a global activist movement, generating highest quality research, enlisting business, and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today."

OFWs, child porn part of Philippine slave trade

According to GSI, over 400,000 Filipinos are considered modern-day slaves, comprising four groups:

  • Forced labor for overseas Filipino workers (OFW);
  • Prostitution and commercial sex tourism, where women and children are sexually exploited in bars, brothels, spas and even online child soldiers employed by bandits such as the Abu Sayyaf and rebel groups such as Moro Islamic Liberation Front and New People's Army; and
  • Pa-aling fishing, where divers plunge into reefs of up to 100 feet breathing through a long tube connected to compressed air to scare fish out of the coral reef.

The GSI said our countrymen are driven into industries that give them little to no legal protection because of factors like unequal distribution of wealth, high population growth and limited job opportunities.

The government has responded to these issues with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, which has increased protection for OFWs and cracked down on government officials involved in human trafficking.

But despite these efforts, the GSI said slavery in the country grew significantly. From ranking 103rd in 2014, the Philippines was ranked 33rd among 167 countries in 2016. The smaller the number, the condition gets worse.

Taking a stand


To help counter this alarming rise, CNN Philippines is proud to take part in #MyFreedomDay, which is on March 14.

The movement is part of the CNN Freedom Project, which was established by CNN and CNN International in 2011 to end modern slavery by telling stories exposing the global slave trade.

This year, CNN Philippines goes to you by holding events for #MyFreedomDay. Here's where we're going:

  • March 4 - outreach program at the Center of Hope, a safe house for victims of human trafficking established anti-trafficking activist Cecilia Flores-Oebanda
  • March 10 - forum at the Far Eastern University
  • March 15 - forum at Siena College

Paint the town for #MyFreedomDay

45.8 million people are trapped in some form of slavery around the world. Philippines is ranked 33rd among 167 countries in the 2016 Global Slavery Index, that experiences slavery. CNN Philippines joins the global fight to end modern day slavery through a mural competition. Calling all street artists! Create a sketch of the mural you wish to do that depicts your stand on modern day slavery and get a chance to do a mural painting in a select area in Metro Manila. Take a phot of your work and post on social media. Provide a brief explanation of your work in the caption and include the hashtag, #MyFreedomDayPH. Selection: A screening committee composed of CNN Philippines Creative Group, MMDA officials, known curators and artists in the country will select three winners from the pool of entries. Submission of entries will be until March 7, 2017. Winners will be announced on CNN Philippines Facebook page on March 8, 2017. Actual mural painting will happen on March 11, 2017.

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But we're not just stopping with school lectures.

Together with our friends from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Davies Paints, we want to give you the chance join us in standing up against modern slavery through our mural-painting contest.

Here are the mechanics:

Who can join?

  • The call is open to all artists / art collectives based in Metro Manila
  • Artist below 18 years old should submit a parent's consent
  • Artist should have had previous experience in mural making

What do I have to do?

  1. Create a sketch of the mural you wish to do with the theme "My Freedom Day". Proposals are limited to flat, 2-dimensional works.
  2. Take a photo of your artwork and post on social media
  3. Put a watermark of your initials to protect your work
  4. Describe the meaning behind your artwork in your caption and use the hashtag #MyFreedomDayPH

Submission of entries is until March 7, 2017

Winners will be announced on March 8, 2017 on CNN Philippines Facebook page while the actual mural painting will happen on March 11, 2017.

How else can you join the campaign?

We would also like to know your stand on modern day slavery. Post your videos on what freedom means you, tweet us about your thoughts on the issue, or make any shoutout on any of your social media accounts, tag @cnnphilippines and use the hashtag, #myfreedomday