Myrla Baldonado was born in the Philippines. She was a student at the Philippine College of Commerce during the 1970’s, a time of turmoil in her country. The seeds for activism were planted and soon sprouted. Baldonado first got involved in underground campaigns against Ferdinand Marcos who had declared Marshall Law. She then became a full-time activist organizing students and the poor. Baldonado was able to avoid arrest until 1983. Tipped off by a student she had befriended, she was arrested and tortured for two years. Amnesty International was successful in getting her released.
Pushed by poverty, Baldonado (in her 50’s at the time) immigrated to the US in 2006, settling in Chicago and working as a home care worker. She was the victim of physical and emotional abuse and paid $5/hour. With her experience as an organizer, she began working for the Latino Union of Chicago focusing on improving the working and living conditions of domestic workers. Co-founder of the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers, Baldonado also organized nationally for Caring Across Generations and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
In 2013 Baldonado was named a Champion of Change by the Obama White House. She was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in 2016.
Why this stop? The Brown Line Irving Park stop is east of ARISE (Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment) and southeast of the Latino Union of Chicago.
Listen to a very moving podcast featuring Myrla Baldonado.