This song was written by Tonette Lopez at the first of our APNSW Human Rights workshops in Cambodia in 2004. Tonette was an inspiration to all who knew her from APNSW and from many LGBT organisations in the Philippines and across Asia.
In 2004 APNSW was starting to grow and we were looking for inspirational and skilled people who could help us to expand and to support the many new sex worker organisations that were being set up across the region, and Tonette was such a person. Skilled in the language of rights and the practice of protest, with charm and glamour to boot. She also worked as the first transgender advisor to a Philippino Congresswoman in the Philippines' House of Representatives.
This song spoke to many of us and touched us all- it gave us a "battle cry" for APNSW and for sex workers rights in Asia and the Pacific. Tonette performed this song in Cambodia in 2004, at ICAAP in 2005 and at the first Asian Transgender Rights workshop in Pattaya and Bangkok in 2006.
She was booked to perform it in Toronto at the first APNSW Star Whores Show, but sadly she passed away after a sudden illness, which left her caught without health insurance just as she needed an expensive operation and treatment.
Tonette's death seems a world away now, but the song is still as relevant to sex workers today as it was then. "We still dream, We believe, we survive..."