Ninotchka Rosca

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Ninotchka Rosca (born December 17, 1946,[citation needed] in the Philippines[1]) is a Filipina feminist, author, journalist, and human rights activist.[2][3][4][5] best known for her 1988 novel State of War and for her activism, especially during the Martial Law dictatorship of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.[2][6] Rosca has been described as "one of the major players in the saga of Filipina American writers."[7]

Rosca was a recipient of the American Book Award in 1993 for her novel Twice Blessed.[8]

She is active in AF3IRM [1], the Mariposa Center for Change,[9] Sisterhood is Global[10] and the initiating committee of the Mariposa Alliance (Ma-Al), a multi-racial, multi-ethnic women's activist center for understanding the intersectionality of class, race and gender oppression, toward a more comprehensive practice of women's liberation.[11]


Education and early career[edit]

Rosca received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (Comparative Literature) at the University of the Philippines, and became a journalist working for various Philippine publications after she graduated. She was taking up Asian Studies (Khmer Civilization) for her graduate studies at the time she had to leave the Philippines because of the Marcos Dictatorship.[1]

Imprisonment and exile during Martial Law[edit]

Rosca was one of many Philippine journalists who became political prisoners under the dictatorial government of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. She was detained for six months, and was interrogated several times before her release. On getting out of prison, she took a job with an investment company in Manila while raising funds to help people hide from Marcos' security forces. When she received a tip that she was about to be arrested a second time, she sought help from a cultural attache at the U.S. Embassy, who helped Rosca get out of the Philippines by getting her into an international writers program in the United States.[2]

While in exile, Rosca was designated as one of the 12 Asian-American Women of Hope by the Bread and Roses Cultural Project. These women were chosen by scholars and community leaders for their courage, compassion, and commitment in helping to shape society. They are considered role models for young people of color, who, in the words of Gloria Steinem, "have been denied the knowledge that greatness looks like them.[6]

In 1986 she returned to the Philippines to report on the final days of Marcos.[6]

Later activism[edit]

Rosca has worked with Amnesty International and the PEN American Center. Rosca was also a founder and the first national chair of the GABNet, the largest and only US-Philippines women's solidarity mass organization, which has evolved into AF3IRM. She is the international spokesperson of GABNet's Purple Rose Campaign against the trafficking of women, with an emphasis on Filipinas.

She was at the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women which took place in Beijing, China, and at the UN's World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. At the latter, she drafted the Survivors Statement, signed by four Nobel Prize winners and hundreds of former prisoners of conscience. This statement first applied the phrase "modern-day slavery" to the traffic of women. It was in Vienna as well where the slogan "women's rights are human rights" gained international prominence; Rosca had brought it from the Philippine women's movement and helped launch it internationally.

Rosca was press secretary of the Hague International Women's Tribunal on Japan's World War II Military Sex Slavery which convicted Japan's wartime era leadership for creating and using the Comfort Women. Rosca is particularly concerned with the origins of women's oppression and the interface between class, race, and gender exploitation so that women can move toward greater theory building and practice of a comprehensive genuine women's liberation. She often speaks on such issues as sex tourism, trafficking, the mail-order bride industry, and violence against women, and the labor export component of globalization under imperialism.

Personal life[edit]

She lives in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City. Her lecture schedules are managed by Speak Out Now. A huge fan of science fiction, Rosca reads four books a week (three "light," one "heavy").




  • Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World—Portrait of a Revolutionary, co-authored with Jose Maria Sison (2004)
  • Endgame: The Fall of Marcos non-fiction (Franklin Watts, 1987)

Story Collections[edit]

  • Stories of a Bitter Country (Anvil, 2019)[12]
  • Gang of Five (Independently Published, 2013)[13]
  • Sugar & Salt (2006)
  • The Monsoon Collection (Asian and Pacific Writing) (University of Queensland Press, 1983)[14]
  • Bitter Country and other stories (Malaya Books, 1970)

Reception and Recognition[edit]

Rosca's novel "State of War" is considered a classic account of ordinary people's dictatorship. Her second best-selling English language novel Twice Blessed won her the 1993 American Book Award for excellence in literature.[15]

Rosca is a classic short story writer. Her story "Epidemic" was included in the 1986 "100 Short Stories in the United States by Raymond Carver and in the Missouri Review collection of their Best Published Stories in 25 Years, while "Sugar & Salt" was included in the Ms Magazines Best Fiction in 30 Years.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Twice Blessed A Novel | University of the Philippines Press". Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c SIPCHEN, BOB (8 July 1998). "Novelist 'Celebrates' the Painful Absurdities of Life in Her Native Philippines". The Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Nicolas, Jino (3 March 2016). "Rosca on reading, writing, and revolution". Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  4. ^ De Vera, Ruel S. (19 April 2020). "The dark geography of Ninotchka Rosca's 'Bitter Country'". Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Ninotchka Rosca: I'm Still Very Filipino" by Alfred A. Yuson, Literature & Culture, Philippine Post Magazine
  6. ^ a b c Ninotchka Rosca Biography
  7. ^ Davis, Rocío G. (1999). "Postcolonial Visions and Immigrant Longings: Ninotchka Rosca's Versions of the Philippines". World Literature Today. 73 (1): 62–70. doi:10.2307/40154476. ISSN 0196-3570. JSTOR 40154476. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  8. ^ (...) "American Book Award winning novelist, Ninotchka Rosca" (...),
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 March 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ [http:]
  11. ^ from Ninotchka Rosca
  12. ^ Remoto, Danton (21 March 2020). "Stories of a bitter country". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  13. ^ David, Joel (22 February 2013). "High five for Ninotchka Rosca's new novel 'Gang of Five'". GMA News and Public Affairs. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  14. ^ Domini, John (1 January 1984). "Exile and Detention". New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  15. ^ a b ""Ninotchka Rosca: Women's Rights are Human Rights" Biography and Booking Information, date retrieved: 27 May 2007". Archived from the original on 12 September 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2006.

External links[edit]