Maria Cecilia Flores-Oebanda

Founder and President,
Visayan Forum Foundation

Maria Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is the Founder and President of the Visayan Forum Foundation, a national NGO in the Philippines that promotes the rights and development of marginalized migrants, especially those in the invisible and informal sectors, like domestic workers and trafficked women and children. Ms. Flores-Oebanda has spent most of her life as a freedom fighter and worked with the urban poor, peasants, women, youth and children. Because of her work, she became a political prisoner for four years under the Marcos dictatorship. She was released from detention as a result of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Immediately after her release, she set up the Visayan Forum Foundation. She is the convener of the Multi-Sectoral Network against Trafficking in Persons, a national alliance of civil society, government and private groups that works for the prevention, protection and reintegration of victims, and prosecution of offenders of human trafficking in the Philippines. She is also the Philippine and Southeast Asia Coordinator for the Global March Against Child Labor, a worldwide movement on behalf of 250 million working children, 4 million of whom are Filipino. She is also the current chairperson of Child Workers in Asia, a Bangkok-based network of about one hundred NGOs working on the issue of child labor in Asia. A recipient of the 2005 Anti-Slavery Award by Anti-Slavery International—the world’s oldest human rights organization—she was recognized by the government of the United Kingdom as a “Modern-Day Abolitionist” in the 2007 celebration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the Slave Trade Act.