Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for May 2013

The slow and painful death of Malate

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Outrage Magazine | 20 May 2013

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And then it happened, what may be considered as one of the most unexpected events in the history of the Philippine LGBT community – when the center of the LGBT goings-on, where almost everything began, the place everyone in the world considers as the “center of LGBT Philippines” is experiencing a slow and painful death.

It may have been emphasized early this year, in January 2013, when O Bar Malate decided to close its doors, and leave the corner of Ma. Orosa and Julio Nakpil, not with flashy lights, not with Kurrant 7′s, not with bottles and buckets of SanMig Light and Red Horse, but with colorful memories of what used to be a gay space open for seven nights a week for everyone. O Bar’s owners made a choice to just focus on their bigger (that eventually became their only) branch in Ortigas in Pasig City – a move that, at first, was merely an expansion of the business to reach a wider and a different crowd, but eventually ending in the closure of the original Malate branch to focus more on the latter.

The cardiac arrest didn’t stop there. Months after O Bar Malate closed, there were rumors going around the community that BED Bar would also be closing its doors. This news was taken with a grain of salt and was initially largely ignored. But as the weeks passed, the number of people going to BED Bar drastically reduced not only by a few numbers but by groups. Not surprisingly, regular patrons may have been worried, but still chose to ignore what was unfolding then.

And so, when April 2013 came, the largest and arguably the most influential LGBT club in the Philippines, BED Bar, announced that they’re closing their doors in Malate. They may re-open again (very) soon to a new location.

Everything happened so quickly, and when the month of May came, the only surviving LGBT club left in Malate, Chelu, remains as the only pink noise you could hear in the streets of Ma.Orosa and Julio Nakpil; the rest are now offering vibrations and chantings of the heterosexual crowd.

Years ago, when Club Government opened in Makati, it attracted so much attention, but it wasn’t a force to be reckoned with – Malate stood still and remained as the heart of the pink crowd.

But now, with just one huge bar, Chelu, and some small karaoke and chill out places like Midz Lounge, one question that needs answering is: Are they strong enough to keep Malate standing?

It’s not just the bars and clubs that made Malate the heart of the LGBT community, of course. The annual pride marches, the few LGBT awareness related events, and many others all used to be held in Malate, too. But they all slowly stopped. Advocates and allies alike found different venues to hold these events – which could be seen as a good thing, spreading the awareness and widening the reach of the LGBTs, though in the end, they didn’t link back to Malate.

Years ago, when an LGBT organization decided to hold the annual Pride March in Quezon City, among the reasons cited were: there wasn’t enough time to prepare and arrange permits in Manila, to coordinate with the bars and clubs in Malate, and (most importantly for them) the government of Quezon City offered to support the holding of the Pride March there. The organizers “swallowed” their “pride” and accepted the offer; and while it proved to be a successful celebration, it can be argued nonetheless that it was not “complete”. It was not celebrated “at home”.

And as years passed, the celebration of Pride never came back home fully.

We cannot blame club owners with the decision they made – to move to a better a place, to a more lucrative location for their businesses.

We also cannot blame LGBT organizations that are slowly moving away from Malate, if they find Quezon City, Ortigas or Makati a more convenient place to hold events and practice their advocacies.  If in that way they can be more effective, then it’s not a really bad call.

But mainly, it is the community that should be held accountable for what happened to Malate.

They forgot what Malate has given to them. How many guys/possible and failed relationships did they meet along the streets and inside the clubs? How many times did they scream for their rights, at times while holding a bottle of beer or trying to stand still in the middle of the crowd? How many gossips and stories have been told and heard in the streets of Ma. Orosa and Julio Nakpil, and on what Malate really means to LGBT community?

This is not an article about ranting, this is not an article about blaming.

This is an article full of regrets; this is an article full of shame.

After all, the party will never stop, the screams and chants for equal rights will continue, and the growth of the LGBT community will carry on, BUT it just won’t be in our home.

 

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

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Those who dare come out for LGBT partylist

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 07 May 2013

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Teddy-casino-with-Ladlad-memberTHERE is no lack of enlightened politicians who support the cause of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT). But not many dare to come out in the open about it.

For most politicians, supporting the cause of LGBT could spell suicide for their political career.  “When other politicians learn that you are supporting the ‘third sex’ they will veer away from your projects and bills and not support you with anything, because for them, LGBTs are not a priority in Philippine politics,” one congressman once said.

But  three senatorial candidates  say the  LGBT cause is a human rights issue that should be the concern of each and every human being, regardless of gender.

Independent senatorial candidate Teddy Casino, formerly Bayan Muna Representative, supports  the LGBT’s  struggle to attain equal rights and treatment. In his privilege speech delivered in Congress last year, he said: “it is true that many Filipinos do not really want to talk seriously about the (LGBT) issues. Kadalasan, ‘pag tinatanong ko sila kung ano ang tingin nila sa mga bakla o lesbian o transgender, ang madalas na sagot ay ngiti o kaya’y biruan… Kailan pa natin pag-uusapan ito ng matino? LGBTs and the LGBT issues are a twenty-first century reality.Anong gagawin natin sa mga problema nila? Ang isyu ng LGBT ay isang realidad ng ating panahon.”

Escudero-supports-LGBTRe-electionist Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who is with Team PNoy, joined a photoshoot campaign organized by Bahaghari Center and Outrage Magazine during last year’s celebration of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Escudero said: “All of us were equally born albeit not born equal, hence we should not treat each other differently. It is our duty to ensure the equality of each person— in our own eyes and in the eyes of the law — is protected.”

Akbayan partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, who had been vocal about her concern for the LGBT community, showed her support by joining LGBTs in their pride marches and gender equality awareness events.

LGBT members value the support of politicians for their cause but they  believe they need to have their own partylist to ensure the protection of their rights and ensure their equal treatment in Philippine society.

“The LGBT community cannot forever rely on other sectors fighting for our interests; that is such a patriarchal view,” Raymond Alikpala, Congressional nominee of Ladlad partylist, said. That’s the reason behind the formation of Ladlad partylist.

Ladlad’s foray into politics had been a contentious issue. Its first attempt to be in Congress was in 2007 when it was disqualified as a Risa-Hontiveros-supports-LGBTpartylist. The second time was in 2010 when it was again disqualified (and labelled by a Comelec commissioner as immoral) only to be recognized later by the Supreme Court.

Ladlad has served as a network of various LGBT organizations since 2003, or in the past 10 years.

Ladlad’s role in the Filipino LGBT community at this time is unique, and with our impending victory in the May 13, 2013 elections, we hope to expand Ladlad’s role in providing greater support and assistance to LGBT Filipinos nationwide,” Alikpala said. “You can be sure that once Ladlad sits in Congress, the resources that will become available to us will be used to address important problems, i.e. the welfare and betterment of the LGBTs in the grassroots, as well as all other segments of society and other pressing concerns that surround the community.”

For Ladlad, connections and ties with other partylist groups and multisectoral alliances are important. TV-host-Boy-Abunda-joins-campaign-trail.

Victory in the coming elections may not be the answer to all the problems of the LGBT Filipinos, especially with the existence of allies that have the same platform and plans on the same issues. But what makes Ladlad unique is that it offers proper representation of a marginalized sector.

“It is important to have LGBT representation in Congress— in discussing and articulating related issues— because only LGBTs know the real feeling of being discriminated against and being humiliated because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” Bemz Benedito, first congressional nominee of Ladlad, said.

For his part, Alikpala assured: “You can expect that Ladlad’s first term in Congress will be focused on uplifting the needs and interests of the LGBT community. But we will of course also speak out for other marginalized sectors and link arms with other persons and groups fighting for the good of the Filipino people.”

 

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

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GEB Superclub: Party in the middle of QC

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Outrage Magazine | 06 May 2013

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GEB1

GEB2In an attempt to capture the gay crowd in the northern part of Metro Metro – and probably to influence the ones in central and southern parts of the metro, as well as to gather all the other the party boys, the Blue Frog and Kurrant 7 aficionados, and everyone in between in one space – another club is trying, largely making its presence (initially, particularly) felt through its strong online presence (though whether this worked or not is still up in the air).

We’re talking about GEB Superclub, a new(er) venue located at the edge of Tomas Morato Ave. in Quezon City, and (making it hard to be missed) right beside a famous convenience store.

Just to be sure, on the outside, GEB Superclub welcomes the club goers with a massive signage right above its entrance. Simple, yet dominant, signage comes to mind.

The club’s inside mirrors the interior of the now defunct Club Mafia in Malate (for those not in-the-know, Club Mafia used to operate beside Bed Bar in the infamous courtyard of Malate, but after heavily relying on guest lists and VIP goers, the club sunk, thus leading it to close its doors). GEB Superclub’s ceiling is entirely covered by compact discs, supposed to give you a psychedelic feeling every time laser lightshit or pass on the surface of these discs. There are comfy couches occupying the parameters of the inside, with few cocktail tables standing in the middle of the dance floor.

Truthfully, this kind of set-up may work if every time you enter the club, it’s entirely filled with people. But that’s not always the case in GEB Superclub, surprisingly even on a Friday night. Most gay clubs or clubs that cater to the LGBT crowd in Metro Manila, especially the ones that already established their names (i.e. BED Bar, O Bar, Chelu, UNO, and even BuddhaKan in Cubao) guarantees that when the weekend kicks in, the dance floors would be filled halfway, if not actually full. Alas, not so here.

GEB Superclub’s playlist varies from chart toppers to famous anthems we enjoy dancing to every time we go clubbing. So that’s a plus.

The cocktails, meanwhile, are somewhat notable. If in other clubs they use local Kurrant liquor base or mix their Blue Frogs and other cocktails with cheap local liquor, in GEB Superclub, expect to taste the smooth Absolut vodka on your cocktail. And so what they (may) lack in their interior designing skills to stand out from other clubs, or in the volume of club goers to fill their empty dance floor, at least they compensate with their bar selection.

GEB Superclub may not be your next best destination on a weekend, but it’s definitely a good alternative for anyone who wants to try something new. Yes, it may also be for those who want to go to a place where it’s not overly crowded. Because here, you may not have a party night filled with glimpses from left to right of possible hook-ups, but hey, at least you have a good space, with good music playing in the background, a good cocktail in one hand, while you catch up with your friends.

GEB Superclub is located at 184 Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City, Metro Manila. For more information, call (+63 2) 3910194 or (+63) 639189178168. Or visit their Facebook page.

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

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