Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for September 2012

Ladlad: Nine years of fighting for LGBT rights

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Outrage Magazine | 17 September 2012

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Ladlad partylist celebrates its 9th year this month.

Ladlad, formerly known as Ang Ladlad, is the first and only political party looking out for the welfare of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.

The members of the organization include LGBT individuals and organizations, as well as allies (heterosexual supporters).

The Filipino translation of “ladlad” is to unfurl a cape used to cover one’s body as a shield. It means to come out of the closet, to assert one’s human rights as equal to that of other Filipinos. This definition has been, and is (still) the standpoint of the organization and its members; an apparent characteristic that may be witnessed in every activity and rally that the group participate in, the loud scream of courage and the large banner of hope they hold to fight for equal right rights a proof of sincerity.

In its nine years, Ladlad has proven that they are more than just an LGBT organization that only caters to the community’s petty issues, but it established itself as the stronghold of Filipino LGBTs who experience indifference, discrimination and hate in their everyday lives.

LGBTs run to Ladlad whenever they feel their rights are violated; when they are discriminated against and treated wrongly in the workplace or in schools; when they are attacked in public (while walking or in the MRT/LRT); when the police extort money from them; when they are shamed away in Makati clubs; and many others.

Such situations led Ladlad to attempt a bigger step and enter the world of politics.

Ladlad first attempted to run in the 2007 elections, but when it filed its accreditation as a partylist, it was denied by the COMELEC because it supposedly lacked regional members.

The organization once again filed for accreditation for the 2010 elections, and for the second time, the COMELEC denied it – this time on the basis of moral grounds, with a Commissioner labeling the LGBTs as “immoral”.  And in a statement released by the COMELEC, it was said that Ladlad, if accredited, will become a threat to the youth, and the Philippines being a Catholic country, it (Ladlad) will go against the religious teachings of the (dominant Catholic) church.

However, in January 2010, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, allowing Ladlad to participate in the elections. And in April 2010, Ladlad was allowed by the Supreme court to join the elections. The party received almost 130,000 votes, but it was not enough to win a seat in Congress. Looking closely at how Ladlad performed in the last elections, however, considering it only had barely a month to campaign, the number of votes received was still impressive.

With more than a year before the 2013 elections, the first and only LGBT partylist is already gearing up for the elections.

One of the highlights of Ladlad’s preparation for the 2013 elections was the election of a new set of officers and Congressional nominees who will represent the LGBT Filipinos in Congress next year, they are:

Bemz Benedito, a transgender woman from Abra, who has been an LGBT rights advocate for nine years and a master’s degree holder in Sociology at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Atty. Germaine Leonin, a lesbian and founding president of Rainbow Rights Project.

Atty. Raymond Alikpala, a gay man who was in the closet for almost four decades, and a book author.

Pidot Villocino, a gay man who works for the Integrated Gender and Development Division of Davao City.

Ladlad partylist have the following platforms that they will pursue and focus on when they win a seat in Congress:

  1. Re-filing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which gives LGBT Filipinos equal opportunities in employment and equal treatment in schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, entertainment centers, and government offices.
  2. Re-filing of the bill to repeal the Anti-Vagrancy Law that some unscrupulous policemen use to extort bribes from gay men without ID cards.
  3. Setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and differently-abled LGBT Filipinos.
  4. Setting up of centers for mature-aged gays, as well as young ones driven out of their homes. The centers will also offer legal aid and counseling, as well as information about LGBT issues, HIV and AIDS, and reproductive health.

Ladlad’s plan this coming election is to be more inclusive in our campaigns. We have to explain our platforms, mission and vision not just to LGBT Filipinos, but to our heterosexual supporters as well, like our parents, brothers and sisters, friends, officemates, neighbors and classmates,” Benedito explained.

The number of votes that Ladlad received last elections came not just from LGBT Filipinos but from heterosexuals who believed and supported the platforms that the group is campaigning for.

“I am optimistic that we will win three seats in the coming elections. That is our goal and we will claim it,” Benedito said.

Ladlad is currently engaged in several activities: forums, meetings with government agencies and politicians, FGDs in offices and universities, and partnerships with different organizations to strengthen ties and to establish constant presence in the LGBT community and the entire Philippines. Hopefully, this time around, the efforts will help give it enough votes to win seats in the 2013 elections.

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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Queer Manila: a crash course on LGBTs

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 16 September 2012

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It was another first in the struggle to have their rightful place in society.

The recently-concluded “Queer Manila” art exhibit at the Manila Contemporary on Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati was a crash course on LGBTs, short for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender.

Eva McGovern, curator of the exhibit said, “It was the first time (in Manila) that an LGBT-themed exhibit has been held. It’s a breath of fresh air; to see what is really happening in the community in a different way.”

“Queer Manila”wasa collection of artworks of different artists, who believe that the social behavior of an individual or a social group continues to change over time. “Identity, sexuality and gender have always been in processes of flux, subjected to numerous influences and social behaviors that change over time, creating different sites for cultures, politics, psychologies, spiritualities, and biologies to define who we are,” the introduction to the exhibit stated.

The exhibit followed a single theme: LGBT awareness.

The show attempted to capture the norms in Philippine society, including how an individual perceives an LGBT person in various forms: sculptures, paintings and art installations.  A photo exhibit from the collection by John Silva, chronicled the LGBT lifestyle through the years from as early as the 1900s.

Among the participating artists  were Leo Abaya, Martin Lorenzo de Mesa, Agnes Arellano, Jason Moss, Yason Banal, Maya Munoz, Jana Benitez, Leeroy New, Enzo Camacho, Manuel Ocampo, Jef Carnay, Popo San Pascual, Valeria Cavestany, Roselle Pineda, Mario de Rivera, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Maria Jeona, John Silva, Amy Lien, and Julie Tolentino.

One of the most controversial pieces in the exhibit was the “To Those Talking Behind My Back: My Ass Is Looking at You (What’s the Story Morning Glory Hole)” by Jevijoe Vitug Thegayartist. It was a statue of a child with a wooden phallus pointing at his mouth.

“Art always makes people question things. It doesn’t have to follow the norms. Every artist has his own standpoint in every issue. We all have our own ways in interpreting things and events,” McGovern said.

Complimenting the exhibit were lectures and films. Featured films included  “Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005),” directed by Aureus Solito, written by Michiko Yamamoto, and produced by UFO Pictures; and “Zombadings (2011),” directed by Jade Castro, and co-written with Raymond Lee and Michiko Yamamoto.

 “Hubad: Mga Kwento ng Kalayaan” was also staged by  LeAP! (Lesbian Activists Philippines).

A campaign to help the public understand LGBTs is needed because portrayal of them is limited, if not stereotyped, as being “parloristas” or the sissy type of gays.

A number of organizations have taken upon themselves to help educate the general public about the stance of the LGBT community. There are also individuals who have stood up and voiced their concerns about discrimination in their community.

Ang Ladlad, the only LGBT party-list in the Philippines, supported the “Queer Manila” exhibit.

Danton Remoto, chairman emeritus of Ang Ladlad, said, “‘Queer Manila’ was a portrayal of a lifestyle that has been existing for a long time, and being discriminated and donned negative because it is different. They (people who treat LGBTs differently) should realize that we are not doing anything wrong.”

Raymond Alikpala, Ladlad’s congressional nominee, said activities like “Queer Manila” significantly helps people, especially the heterosexuals. “It helps them understand what we are really going through.”

The heart-warming response to “Queer Manila” has inspired LGBT’s to mount similar activities in the future.

   

   

   

   

 

 

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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The Angel in Tagaytay

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Outrage Magazine | 2 September 2012

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It all happened one Monday night.

I was online, checking my mails and my other accounts, when I suddenly received a message from this guy.

He was direct and pushy with his questions.

I checked his profile and found out that he’s cute and single. I replied to his message and gave him my mobile number.

After a few minutes, my phone rang. It was him. He introduced himself as Angel.

We conversed, introduced each other thoroughly, sharing intimate stuff with each other. He told me that he lives in Tagaytay, and that he only goes to Manila once a month to visit his relatives.

At around four in the morning, in the middle of our flirting, he jokingly asked me if I’m willing to go to Tagaytay that morning to meet him and spend the day with him.

I didn’t answer.

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On the morning of Tuesday, I received a messaged from Angel: “So, have you finally decided if you will go to Tagaytay and meet me?”.

Out of nowhere, I replied to his message immediately, “Yes, I’m already preparing.”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go to Tagaytay that morning, but part of me really wanted to see him. It felt like I needed to prove something to myself.

I called Anton, and asked for directions. He was astounded when I told him that I was going to Tagaytay just to meet a guy.

After two hours of preparing and packing my stuff, I went to the bus station.

I spent almost four hours in the bus; the traffic in Cavite was really bad.

When I finally arrived in Tagaytay, I went to Starbucks, our meeting place, and messaged Angel.

While I was waiting for him, it made me think: Are we unconsciously starting to feel bored with our usual routine of meeting and dating new guys, to the point that we will do something new like go outside the metro just to meet a new guy and hope that it will be for the best?

Minutes after with my half finished Peppermint Tea, he arrived.

He greeted me with a smile. He was very manly. He invited me in his car.

We conversed for a couple of minutes, He asked how my trip was, and how long I was planning to stay in Tagaytay. I didn’t answer his question and just smiled.

He lives in one of the subdivisions in Tagaytay. It’s a family house; his parents and siblings live in the United States.

We settled down for a couple of minutes, talked about our interests and teased each other with naughty smiles.

Around seven o’clock in the evening, Angel asked if I wanted to go out and have dinner; I said yes.

While we were in the restaurant, I slowly felt and remembered the feeling of being free (again) and going back to step one (again) when it comes to dating.

Angel and I stayed in the restaurant for two hours, discussing personal things and exchanging emotional secrets.

After we finished dinner, we rode his motorcycle and went to this small grocery store to buy some liquor and snacks.

It was an unforgettable experience – riding a motorcycle in the middle of the night with a complete stranger in an unfamiliar place. It was really exciting.

We stayed up until four o’clock in the morning, talking to each other.

And for a brief moment, it made me think: Am I really willing to do the whole Manila-Tagaytay type of dating and/or possible relationship with this guy?

I was completely aware that the moment we shared the whole day, was too short to decide on deeper and more serious things, but deep inside, coming from a traumatic experience months earlier, it made me question a lot things.

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I stayed in his place until the next day. At exactly eight in the morning, I was awake.

I took a shower, and packed my things. Angel tried to convince me to stay in Tagaytay for one more day, but I turned down his offer.

And at the bus station, just before we parted ways, he hugged and gave me a kiss.

I saw a tear drop on his cheek.

We were supposed to meet again the following week, but I cancelled. I realized that what we had was awesome, but I guess we didn’t share the same wavelength.

Angel was a wake-up call; the flirting and the adventure we shared was a slap back to reality.

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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Written by Patrick King Pascual

September 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

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