Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for February 2014

BoyCircuit International gives back to PHL LGBT community

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Outrage Magazine | 22 February 2014

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BoyCircuit logoProject Red Ribbon logo

Hong Kong-based BoyCircuit International, which specializes in hosting events for LGBT people across Asia-Pacific, has officially announced the recipient of the BlueBall 2014 endowment. BoyCircuit, which initially had a short list of potential organizations to partner with, chose Project Red Ribbon.

Project Red Ribbon started as a blog in 2011, providing information to PLHIV particularly in the Philippines.  It has served as a go-to of some sort for many, responding to questions and inquiries from its readers with the help of Dr. Rosanna Ditangco, who helms Research Institute for Tropical Medicine-AIDS Research Group (RITM-ARG).

Project Red Ribbon was established by blogger Pozzie Pinoy.

Project Red Ribbon is different from other organizations that cater to PLHIV, (since) 99% of our managers are PLHIVs, so we really understand what they’re going through,” Pozzie Pinoy said.

Every month, Project Red Ribbon assists from 200 to 300 people, positive or not, including in such needs as: HIV testing, HIV treatment hubs assistance, one-on-one and group counseling, giving of inspirational talks, hospital visitation, and health and fitness gatherings, among others.

After BlueBall 2014, Project Red Ribbon will receive a grant from BoyCircuit to further their efforts to benefit PLHIVs.

“A portion of the profits from BlueBall will be donated back to the Project Red Ribbon. We selected them because we saw how they work for the PLHIV community. They dedicate most of their time to educate, to do outreach programs and help PLHIV in their treatments,” Kenny Martinez, president of BoyCircuit International, said.

For Pozzie Pinoythe help they will be receiving from BoyCircuit will greatly affect how they do their community work.  “There were times when we have to say no or not say a word at all when there are financial constraints to treatments, and it breaks our hearts to see this limitation. But, now that we are expecting extra funding, not only we will be able to help more, but we can also continue providing more projects and services for our fellow PLHIVs.”

According to Pozzie Pinoya huge portion of the endowment will go to The Love Fund, a project specifically geared towards helping the indigent and less fortunate PLHIVs.

“Many indigent PLHIV need medical assistance for expensive laboratory tests for HIV, and some of which are not covered by the PhilHealth. Some of the indigent individuals that we assist don’t even have money for transportation and food once they get confined,” Pozzie Pinoy added.

“We plan to establish close relationships with local LGBT communities, HIV/AIDS research and outreach organizations,” Martinez said, “BoyCircuit is not just a party organizer, we can also be seen as a vehicle to empower organizations who deserve to be empowered.”

He also said that The Love Fund is also used by its members when they deliver antiretroviral medicines (ARV)s to PLHIVs living in the provinces.

Dubbed as “the dance party you have always imagined and will never forget,” BoyCircuit International is slated to host BlueBall 2014 on the 28th of February.

“Any community where BoyCircuit works, we make sure that we give something back to them,” Martinez said, adding that as BoyCircuit prepares for their next endeavor, “it’s not just about the parties, it’s not just about having good music where you can dance with to forget all your problems. It’s also about finding ways on how each of us can give something in return to our community.”

Martinez added: “I wouldn’t classify myself as an advocate, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the people around me. I really want to help the PLHIV community. I have a soft spot for them because my grandfather died of AIDS in 1984.”

And with BoyCircuit’s dedication to giving back to the PLHIV community, dancing to good music while sipping cocktails will hopefully never be the same again after BlueBall.

Outrage Magazine is the official media partner of BlueBall 2014.

BlueBall 2014 tickets are on sale now at SM ticket outlets and BED Manila. For further information about BoyCircuit and BlueBall, visit http://boycircuit.com.

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

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Robin and Charles: Finding love in the Big Apple

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Outrage Magazine | 19 February 2014

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Robin-and-Charles

Robin Martin Tomas, the New York based fashion designer who is the son of comedienne and veteran actress Tessie Tomas, married lawyer John Charles Cocchiarella last December 20 at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. The move came after being together for 10 years.

Their story is not like the ones in the movies, although it was something instant. It was, in their own words, meaningful and real.

“We’re not the sappy type; we’re very chill about our relationship. And we complement each other – me the artist and he the lawyer,” said Robin Martin Tomas, the New York based fashion designer who is the son of comedienne and veteran actress Tessie Tomas.

Robin married lawyer John Charles Cocchiarella last December 20 at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. The move came after being together for 10 years, and Charles and Robin decided to formalize their union in a simple ceremony at the City Hall in Manhattan.

Robin and Charles first saw each other online back in 2003.

“We shared memorable conversations through our computer screens, and we decided to meet in person the next day at Central Park,” Robin recalled.

Their relationship may be seen as one of the few successful relationships that started online, particularly since – for most people, arguably especially among men who have sex with men (MSM) – meeting someone online is not done for something serious. No thanks to the abundance of (infamous) social networking sites and mobile phone apps, in fact, so many of meetings derived from online just end up to plain hookups or one-night relations.

But it was different for Charles and Robin, since “we were together ever since, and we both get along very well with our families.”

Although they grew up from two different cultures, it didn’t become a hindrance in their relationship.

Charles-and-Robin

“We’re not the sappy type; we’re very chill about our relationship. And we complement each other – me the artist and he the lawyer,” said Robin Martin Tomas.

“We have many things we like to do together, and at the same time we are somewhat still different, which I think make us a good couple,” the Pinoy designer said.

Robin’s mother, Tessie, has been supportive of everything her son does – like the time when Robin decided to establish his own fashion line in New York. The same support was given when Robin decided to marry Charles.

“She was very happy about the marriage. We are very blessed to have loving and supportive families, who support us and love us. We both get along very well with our families,” Robin said.

Unlike other cities in the world, where LGBT couples still experience discrimination, Charles and Robin feel lucky that they live in a city where equality is being recognized and slowly being accepted by everyone. Same-sex marriage is recognized in the State of New York, under the Marriage Equality Act which was passed in 2011.

“There is equality in all major industries in New York City, and the people we encounter everyday respect us; they respect our relationship. We never had any problems or experienced any kind of discrimination,” Robin said.

But in a city like Manila, where political power play is still more valued than equality among its citizens, Robin said that “the Philippines is not yet there in terms of same-sex marriage. Hell, the country can’t even allow to suggest birth control methods! But I think there’s still hope…”

When asked how he sees his relationship with Charles in the future, “I see it going strong. But no kids in the horizon,” Robin smiled. “We are blessed with amazing nieces and nephews on both sides, and we love them like our own.”

Robin added that “like any relationships, same or different sex, it is work, coupled by respect, trust, compromise and love. It’s not something to be taken for granted.”

Robin Tomas is a New York based designer for his own label, TOMAS.
Visit his online store at TOMASNYC.com.

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

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The questions LGBT people have to face…

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Outrage Magazine | 09 February 2014

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Saan ka nag-C-CR (Which toilet do you use)?”

Hindi ka ba natatakot magka-AIDS (You’re not worried you’d get infected with HIV and get AIDS)?”

These are some of the commonly asked questions to members of the LGBT community. We hear it everyday and everywhere. Sometimes, the person asking this kind of question is just ill-educated about the LGBT community; but more often than not, people who fancy asking these kind questions are just poking fun at the members of the community.

In an effort to alleviate unnecessary discrimination and ridiculing of the LGBT people, while also promoting gender awareness, the University of the Philippines’ Center for Women’s Studies partnered with the university’s premier LGBT organization, Babaylan, for “Anong pangalan mo sa gabi? At iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT”, a photo book project.

This was inspired by L. Weingarten’s “A Series of Questions”, a collection of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people photos, where the subjects hold signs depicting questions that each was asked personally. Anong pangalan mo sa gabi? At iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT followed the same idea, wherein members of Babaylan held placards, displaying the common questions asked to LGBT people.

The photo book is – in not so many words – an attempt to address the “discriminatory” questions through the answers of the subjects carrying the placard.

“With this project, people can understand all the struggle and discrimination the LGBT community has been experiencing. We’ve gathered the common questions that are constantly asked to LGBT people, and with the help of the members of Babaylanthey were answered. Some of the answers were serious and others were wittingly funny, but regardless of how they answered them, it gives the reader a glimpse of what it’s like to be LGBT in the Philippines,” UP Center for Women’s Studies director Sylvia Claudio said.

The selected questions varied from education and employment concerns, family matters, health issues, social constructs, and well being of a person.

For instance: “Hindi ka ba natatakot mapunta sa impyerno (Are you not afraid you’d go to hell)?” was asked, and the response of the Babaylan member was: “Ang alam ko masasamang tao ang napupunta sa impyerno. Hindi ako masama, bakla ako. Hindi masamang maging bakla. Pero Father, may impyerno nga ba? (As far as I know, only evil people go to hell. I am not evil, I am gay. There is nothing evil about being gay. Besides, is there really hell?)”

There were also questions on relationships, e.g.: “May seryosong karelasyon ba ang tulad mo (Will someone like you find a serious relationship)?” This was answered with: “Lahat naman dapat ng mga relasyon seryoso. Sa pamilya, sa mga kaibigan, at higit sa lahat, sa sarili. Sa jowa? Hindi pa naman ako na-ICU, pero lahat yun seryoso. (All relationships should be considered serious. Relationships with family, friends, and most importantly, with oneself. As for having a partner? I have yet to be rushed to the ICU, but I know all relationships should be considered ‘serious’).”

Yet another commonly asked question thrown to LGBT people is: “Hindi ka ba pineperahan ng boyfriend mo (Don’t you just end up financially supporting your boyfriend)?”, which was answered with: “Ang relasyon ay hindi isang transakyon. Kung gumagastos ka, dapat hindi mo sinasakripisyo ang sarili mong pangangailangan. Dapat lang walang napipilitan (A relationship is not a transaction. Even if you spend, it should not be at the expense of your personal needs. Nobody should be forced when in a relationship).”

“These questions range from well-meaning curiosity to expressions of discomfort to misplaced other to outright discrimination. These questions are already part of our life and unlike questions asked in beauty contests, they are not usually wonderful,” executive director of Babaylanes Inc. Ramille Andag explained.

Andag also stated that as Babaylan celebrates its 20th year, “it was just fitting to be part of the book project. Our organization will to continue make efforts that will educate and raise more awareness about LGBTs.”

Anong pangalan mo sa gabi? At iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT eyes to be one of the boldest and honest projects on gender awareness by challenging the discriminatory public.

“These questions are inhumane, discrimination against LGBTs is inhumane. These kind of actions, inhuman actions, contradicts what the Filipino culture really is,” Dr. Claudio ended.

Anong pangalan mo sa gabi? At iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT was made possible with the help of Eric Julian Manalastas (project director), BJ Eco and Adrienne Maguddayao (project coordinators), Rod Singh (photographer), Jason Angulo (cover and book designer), Tetay Mendoza and Joel Acebuche (editors).

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

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Once there was an Angel in Quezon Avenue

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Outrage Magazine | 03 February 2014

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Angel-of-Quezon-Avenue

It was half past noon one slow Monday. The glaring light of the afternoon sun covered the intersection of EDSA and Quezon Avenue. It was an ordinary day – the streets were filled with busy people who were on lunch break, students and night shift workers rushing on to get the next available public transportation, and street vendors offering their usual products. The air was filled with the familiar noise of the buses, jeepneys and the whizzing sound of the passing MRT.

But right at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue, where there’s a jeepney and FX stand, an exuberant display of character welcomed the commuters.

Her name is Angelo Suarez, a 25 year old who lives somewhere near Quezon Avenue.  She is a barker, and she is a transgender woman. She was carrying a Generics Pharmacy umbrella, but there was nothing generic about her. Drivers and vendors call her as the “Angel in Quezon Avenue”.

Matagal ko na ginagawa itong pagbabarker, bata pa lang ako, barker na ako (I have been doing this for a while now; I was still young when I started this line of work), Angel proudly said.

Truth be told, when people hear the word “transgender”, many continue to have a pre-conceived notion of the fabulous transwomen.  At times, admittedly, the stereotype of the “parlor-type” of gays emerge, too.  But reality is more complex.  Because there are the likes of Angel, often less noticed perhaps even by the trans advocates who endlessly call for equal rights or by the entire LGBTQI community.  They are the bekinals.

Wala naman masama sa ginagawa ko, nagtatrabaho lang ako para kumita ng pera, para may pangbili ako ng (female hormone) pillstsaka para may pera kami pang good time (There is nothing wrong in what I do. I’m just working to earn money so I can buy pills, and to earn money for me to spend for fun),” Angel said.

She didn’t finish college because her family couldn’t afford the tuition fee. She tried her luck in hairdressing, but she didn’t succeed,hindi para sa akin ‘yung career na ’yun (that line of work is not for me).

Since largely unseen, they remain often ignored – these bekinals who survived and are still surviving the challenges life throws their way one day at a time.  For Angel, waking up the next morning is not about putting layers and layers of make-up or spending several minutes, even hours, deciding what to wear.  “Ganito talaga ang buhay. Minsan, kailangan mong magtiis. Masaya naman ako sa ganito. Kumpleto naman pamilya ko. Pero, someday, gusto ko din magkaroon na mas magandang trabaho, ‘yung papasok ako sa office, ‘yung ako naman ‘yung tatawagin ng barker para sumakay sa FX (This is life. You need to face hardships sometimes. But I’m happy with my life. My family is complete. But someday, I also want to have a good job, one that will allow me to go to an office, when it will be me who will be called by a barker to ride a vehicle).”

Then, without pausing, Angel lit her second stick of Marlboro as she called for more passengers. “Capitol, Pantranco, Araneta, Banawe, Welcome Rotonda, aalis na!”

The drivers and vendors showed some respect – at least Angel was never bullied while barking for passengers. If she successfully gathered more than two passengers per vehicle, the driver pays her five pesos. It was a slow and inadequate income, but she never complained about it.

And so there is an Angel in Quezon Avenue. Her story is a reminder for everyone that in life, no matter how blessed or greatly challenged, nothing should be taken for granted.

But at the same time, in life: “Abante, abante! Para umusad tayo,” as Angel puts it when she yells at drivers to move on, waiting for the next ones that came her way.

 

 

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

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BlueBall: The dance party you have always imagined

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Outrage Magazine | 27 January 2014

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BlueBall 2014

 

In recent years, the LGBT party scene in Metro Manila has deteriorated from being the “something to look forward to in the weekend” to the just plain “spectacle and display of performances of drag queens and go-go boys.” And sadly, this is a trend even for most of the supposed topnotch bars, since seemingly gone are the days when one can experience a great night of music and dancing while drinking one’s favorite cocktail or the Nth bottle of beer while conversing with friends or while trying to catch the glance of the cute guy on the other end of the dance floor; instead, these days, it seems like it’s all about the shows. No, there is nothing inherently wrong with that; but it’s still unconsciously killing what “clubbing” is supposed to be.

To change this – at least for one night – is (arguably) one of the most ambitious parties ever to be mounted in Metro Manila, which will be helmed by BoyCircuit International, as it eyes to challenge the party scene in the country.

RESPONDING TO A NEED

The group called BoyCircuit started in Dubai.  It was formed by a group of friends spearheaded by Kenny Martinez, an American partyphile and a teacher by profession, to respond to a growing need in Dubai – that is, to “host and mount a party that will go beyond everyone’s expectations”.

BoyCircuit originated as an idea, an idea of people getting together, boys getting together, and go to a certain place, to have really great parties and just enjoy themselves,” Martinez explained.  Here, “everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you’re gay or straight, lesbian, lipstick or butch, if you’re a (trans), drag queen, whatever you want to be.  When you come to the party that is hosted by BoyCircuit, everybody will be treated as a member of the family.”

BoyCircuit is known for organizing parties in different parts of the world, supposedly to give partygoers a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to party in the US and in Europe.

“What we continuously want to achieve with BoyCircuit is to give the people want they really want to experience when they go to a party. In every event that we do, it encompasses the best of everything – in entertainment, for instance, we take some of the best stuff in the US, Europe and Asia, and bring it all together, and so you’ll have the best of these continents in one party.”

Come February 28, the partyphiles in Manila will experience something different.  And hopefully club owners would learn a thing or two with BoyCircuit’s ways when it comes to mounting a party.

THE PARTY YOU HAVE ALWAYS IMAGINED

Dubbed as “the dance party you have always imagined and will never forget”, BoyCircuit will be hosting BlueBall.

“I have been to many countries in Asia Pacific and I have never been so in love with a country, its culture and its people than in the Philippines. I adore the Philippines and I think the people are some of the most genuine, compassionate, sweetest people I have ever met in my life. I’ve learned a lot about the country and every single time I’m in the Philippines, I have the time of my life. And this is the reason why I want to give something back to the people,” Martinez said.

However, Martinez noted that “I have not been in one event in the Philippines where it’s really a dance-centric event.  As such, I want to change that. I want Filipinos to experience what it’s really like to be in a real dance party.”

BlueBall is intended to be an LGBT dance event; a party to respond to the diversity of the community and culture, gathered together in one place to enjoy the night as they dance for hours and hours of good music with their friends while they enjoy their favorite drinks.

Already, BoyCircuit invited world renowned DJs to play in the event, including DJ Sinna-G from Colorado in the US; DJ Spencer Reed from Berlin, Germany; and BED Bar’s DJ Brian Cua.

For the partygoers who still fancy watching a performance or two whenever they go clubbing, no need to fret because BlueBall will also have that in the lineup. Performers include: Victoria Michaels from Las Vegas, and Manila’s very own Jaja.

MORE THAN JUST A PARTY

Apart from hosting dance parties, BoyCircuit claims it is “not just about the music, the to-die-for cocktails, and everything in between”.  In fact, BlueBall is also a benefit event of some sort.  Unlike other big parties held in the country throughout the year, BoyCircuit is changing the game not only in terms of “how partying should be done”, but also to how it will contribute after the music fades.

“A portion of the profits from BlueBall will be donated back to local Filipino organizations who are dedicated in educating, testing, doing outreach programs and treatment of HIV in the Philippines,” Martinez said, adding that BoyCircuit plans to establish close relations with local LGBT organizations that cater to help and support the HIV awareness and treatment so that “the party will serve as a vehicle to empower organizations that deserve to be empowered. It’s all for the community.”

And when asked why they’re doing this, “any community where BoyCircuit works, we are committed to giving back to the community in which we do business with. It’s all for the community, not for us.”

 

 

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

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