Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for March 2014

Fiona Solis: The transgender cometh

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Outrage Magazine | 29 March 2014

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Fiona-1

She was recently named as one of the hottest transgenders in the world, along with Carmen Carrera, a RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. She was also recognized as one of the famous transgenders in the world. She is a fashion model and a budding actress living in Thailand.

What may not be as known about her is that she ran away from home at a very young age to do what she wanted to do: that is, to make a name for herself. And several years later, she succeeded.

Meet Fiona Solis, a transwoman who originated from Ormoc City.

Fiona-SolisART IN PROGRESS

Fiona calls herself as an “ongoing piece of performance art”.  And this, with the countless things that happened in her life, only affirms who Fiona really is.

She grew up living with her grandmother, though she later moved in with her father. But because of the bitter relationship she had with her stepmother, Fiona decided to leave and start a new life on her own.

When Fiona was 15 years old, she was allegedly raped by three men. She recalled being asked to dance in front of them, and then she was forced to play with a 1.5 Coca Cola bottle in her ass, and then they abused her with guns pointed at her. But while it was a very traumatic moment in her life, Fiona used that situation to fight and become a better version of herself.

She worked in salons so she can earn a living. Eventually, Fiona discovered the world of beauty pageants.

“I was fascinated with the beautiful display of those women on stage. They are like gorgeous peacocks. And I identified very deeply with all the color and glitter,” Fiona said.  “It might also have been a reaction to my mother dying when I was three months old. Perhaps I was trying to bring the femininity back into my life.”

Fiona first joined a beauty pageant when she was 10 years old.  Luckily, she won the title.

It was in joining beauty contests that she mastered the art of beauty and used it to her advantage.

“Most of the transsexuals who were joining beauty pageants wanted their skin to be whiter, but I was not like them. I wanted to be who I am really. I’m proud of my skin,” Fiona said.

One of her achievements was when she joined Queen of Cebu, a prestigious transgender beauty pageant in the southern part of the country. She placed as one of the 21 finalists, chosen from over 100 participants. Even if she didn’t win the title, Fiona considers it as “the culmination of the display part of my life.  It was a chance to be the ultimate peacock.”

For Fiona, “it was also a way to re-emphasize to the world how important it is to stand up and be yourself in the world.”

Aside from joining beauty pageants, Fiona is also active in the world of fashion. She has modeled for several brands internationally – in print, in TV, and in the runways. Some of her notable modeling appearances on TV include: a luxury paper bag in Italy, handbags, online poker games, and cosmetic surgery. She also did several runway fashion shows for some local and foreign designers.

“There have been many turning points in my career, and I hope there will be more in the future,” Fiona said. “I was very lucky to have a very supportive parent, my father.”

Although she already achieved and reached many successes in her life, Fiona still feels that “I have one more mountain to climb, which is the international pageant held in Pattaya, Thailand, the Queen International. After that, I hope to focus more on fashion and acting.”Meet-Fiona-Solis

CONFRONTING DISCRIMINATION

She also noted that “I did grow up, we all have, in an environment where there is constant discrimination.” But instead of succumbing to the repression she encountered, she used it to reinforce her determination to stay in her course and to continue improving her craft.

“There have also been instances in government offices where I get odd looks from the officials every time they compare my appearance to the ones in my documents,” Fiona said, adding that for transgender people, “(we) have to go the extra mile just to be allowed to travel.”

Today, she lives and works in Thailand, juggling several jobs. She is a teacher and a tour guide, while she also waits for the agents to call her.

She said that the decision to live in another country was an “effort to escape the mild oppressive atmosphere of the Philippines when it comes to LGBTQ people.”

Fiona was also featured in several documentaries, and in radio and TV programs, where she discussed what it’s like to be a transgender. Here, she always narrates her experiences during her humble beginnings in Ormoc and Cebu, describing the ordeals of being a transgender.

She also posed for several photographers, depicting the “reality” of transgenders. One of which was by renowned photographer Ingetje Tadros, where Fiona was shot in full frontal, showing her augmented breasts and flaccid penis.

“The (photography) project was a matter of being proud of who I am, all of me. I am a unique individual, head to toe. I am not ashamed of it. I am promoting LGBTQ awareness in my own little way, through my personal example,” Fiona said.

In a world where discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression is still pervasive, the likes of Fiona may be considered as unsung movers that do not always get recognition. But while she may be dismissed by many as just another pageant queen or a transgender model who is making her way in the world stage, in her journey, Fiona helps change perspectives by never forgetting who she really is. “I want to keep exploring this idea of personal creation and helping others do the same,” she said.

When asked what Filipino transgendersshould do in times of repression, Fiona said: “We cannot let a set of outdated ideas on gender and roles dictate who we are, how we act, and what we do. Have personal integrity; love yourself first, not just the image in the mirror, but the person inside you as well. It is important for everyone to live a life that they can be proud of – that is the mark of success.”

For additional information about Fiona Solis, visit www.fionasolis.net or her Facebook page.

 

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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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Five media personalities honored as ‘rainbow defenders’

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 22 March 2014

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Margarita-Holmes“Gay people are no different from straight people in terms of their needs.”

In making this statement celebrated advice columnist Dr. Margarita Go-Singco Holmes said she was not “purposely” advocating for gay rights. She was merely expressing her belief based on research and latest studies on homosexuality.

Such statement became a recurring message of her widely-read advice column “BodyMind,” published in the Manila Times in 1989. Gay men were among the first readers who wrote to seek her advice.

“Many letters were from adolescents who were seriously considering suicide because they believed that God would punish them for their ‘abnormality.’ I was furious and wanted to explain the difference between the opinion of some moralists and what current research said about homosexuality,” Dr. Holmes said.

Dr. Holmes, a psychologist, was one of the five winners of the first Bahaghari Awards launched by Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) magazine in the country.  The other winners as announced by the magazine on March 10 were: multi-awarded broadcast journalists Cheche Lazaro and Jessica Soho, University of the Philippines professor Solita “Winnie” Monsod, and singer-actress Lea Salonga.

The award is conferred on media personalities identified by Outrage Magazine, with the help of select LGBT organizations, as having made efforts to educate and inform the public about the struggle of LGBTs for equal rights.

CheChe-LazaroLazaro, another awardee, helped provide positive media exposure to LGBT Filipinos. It was in the 1990s when she made a special report on the first-ever solidarity march in the Philippines (and in Asia). Since then, Lazaro has continued to cover and report stories on the plight of the LGBT community.

“Like any other issues facing our society, our intention as media practitioners is to clarify, inform and give our audience information that is based on facts. Many times, our understanding of issues are based on wrong information or a lack of it as well as biased perceptions,” Lazaro said. “The challenge of telling a good story is to get all the facts right, to present both sides of the issue and be fair to all parties concerned.”

Today, Lazaro produces a monthly documentary that airs on ABS-CBN. It tackles pressing issues in the country like LGBT issues along with the pork barrel scam and election automation, among other things.

Winnie-MonsodMonsod, more popularly known as “Mareng Winnie” has been an analyst in Philippine media for more than three decades. She focused on the problems the Philippine government has been facing throughout the years.

In 2012, Monsod tackled an important issue troubling many members of the LGBT community—HIV. She attempted to answer the question why HIV continues to be a problem in the Philippines, and stressed the importance of self-awareness of people’s behaviors to clearly grasp the risks of HIV.

“I did not actually see it as an LGBT issue,” she said. “I saw it as a human rights issue.” As such, “it was not my intention to advocate for LGBT rights.”

Lea-Salonga

Salonga, who has been making waves in the international scene with her countless appearances in the world of theater continuously making Filipinos proud, has become vocal about her pro-LGBT stance.

In her column “Backstory,” published in Philippine Daily Inquirer in March 2013, she wrote: “I spend much of my time around gay people. Some of it is purely by circumstance, but a lot is by choice.”  She added that “it’s time to think of gay people differently.”

Salonga also stressed, “That’s what gay people ultimately are—men and women on this adventure we call life, navigating it with much uncertainty, fear, anxiety and hope.”

She is also active in the social media, confronting issues that are LGBT-phobic.

For multi-awarded broadcast journalist Soho, LGBT issues are deemed a regular issue that deserves proper reportage and airtime.

In her investigative news magazine shows on GMA-7 like “Brigada Siete,” “i-Witness,” and “State of the Nation,” Soho highlighted and mainstreamed the issues of the LGBT community.

Jessica-Soho

Soho also discussed intersecting issues on sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, thus, giving the viewers a closer glimpse of what it’s like to be an LGBT in a country where discrimination is still happening.

The five Bahaghari winners were chosen based on the following criteria: fairness, accuracy, inclusive representations, and most significantly, the impact of their efforts in the community.

“Saying that giving credit where it’s due may now be considered cliché, but the thought remains the same: best practices need to be emphasized as they could help influence other endeavors attempting to do good,” said Michael David C. Tan, editor in chief of Outrage Magazine.

Outrage Magazine,  which Tan established in 2007, initially focused on  coverage of LGBT issues and events in the Philippines. Through the years, the magazine also launched several LGBT-related projects, including photographic campaigns like the “I dare to care about equality” that coincided with the annual celebration of International Day Against Homophobia held on May 17 and “No different” which was part of the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20; and established an organization (Bahaghari Center) that focuses on LGBT research, education and advocacy, among other things.

 

 

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

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A moment for the sunset beauty queens

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Outrage Magazine | 19 March 2014

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beauty-queensThe event was not grand, and there weren’t even many in attendance.  But the happiness and the sense of belonging felt by those who participated was immeasurable. It was, after all, an afternoon devoted to the lolas of The Home for the Golden Gays.

It was the Miss Golden Gay 2014, held at the Andres Bonifacio High School in Pasay City by Trippers Philippines.

It was a beauty pageant like no other. Arguably, many may see it as akin to a slapstick show. But really, it is more than just the aging beauty and the funny punchlines.  It was to showcase the elderly members of the LGBTQ community.

Sixteen lolas participated, each of them had a unique personality and a story to tell. And though they seemed to only flamboyantly parade their wares in front of the audience, the celebratory atmosphere wasn’t lost on them.

all-beautifulAlam naman namin na temporary lang itong kasiyahan na ito, kaya we are just living the moment. Dahil pagkatapos nito, babalik na naman kami sa kanya-kanya naming buhay, sa paghahanap ng pagkukuhanan ng sapat na pera para panggastos namin sa araw-araw. Pero kahit na ganito kami, masaya kami. Masaya kami dahil kasama namin ang isa’t-isa kahit na magkakalayo na kami,” Sophia Lorraine, an 85-year-old Golden Gays member, said with a laugh.

GATHERING OF LOLAS

“This is the second year we’ve been doing a project for the lolas of The Home for the Golden Gays,” Joseph Antony Zingapan, secretary general of Globe III cluster of Trippers Philippines, said. ”We want to give something back to the community, and with this kind of effort, it only proves that clans, like Trippers Philippines, can have functions beyond merely forming camaraderie.”

The nine-year-old all-gay organization has been making various efforts that, in their own way, reach members of the LGBTQ community who are in need of assistance. After registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) three years ago, their efforts doubled.  The gathering of the lolas is proof of this.

Particularly, Trippers Philippines’ effort for the lolas was designed while bearing in mind UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals; one of the eight goals is to focus on the elderly.

“We have an advocacy for the elderly within our community,” Romrico Salgada Luga, national president of Trippers Philippines, said, adding that “we might as well concentrate on them.”

HOME FOR THE ELDERLY

The Home for the Golden Gays officially closed its doors when its founder, Justo Justo (known to many as JJ), passed away last 2012. All its members were asked to vacate the house by the family of JJ, supposedly telling the former residents that “now that Justo is already gone, we’re closing our doors to you.”

Simula noong nawalan kami ng tirahan, nagkahiwa-hiwalay na kami. May mga iba sa amin na sa kalye na lang natutulog. ‘Yung iba naman, umuwi sa mga distant relatives nila. Nagkakasamasama lang kami kapag may mga ganitong activities. Kaya we’re very thankful for this wonderful opportunity for us para magkasama-sama uliand of course, napakalaking tulong para sa amin yung maibibigay nila,” Ramon Busa, president of The Home for the Golden Gays, said.

PERFORMANCE OF THEIR LIVES

The beauty pageant lasted for almost two hours. Some of the lolas continued to perform even after the actual pageant, as everyone waited for the judges to tally the scores. Some of them sang familiar songs from the distant past, and some of them narrated stories, delivered with witty punchlines. At that point, it became unlike other beauty pageants where there is pressure among the contestants to win for winning’s sake.

It became an afternoon for the lolas; an afternoon that, even if brief, eyed to make them smile.

Hilig ko talaga kahit noong bata pa ako na magsuot ng magagandang damit, mga gowns, ang rumampa sa entablado. At my age, kaya ko pa rin yan. Lahat kami sa Golden Gays,nakakaramadam kami ng panandaliang saya at nakakapagpasaya kami kapag nasabeauty pageants o kapag nasa outreach at ibang activities kami. Pakiramadam namin, kapamilya namin ‘yung mga nanonood at pumapalakpak sa amin. Napupunan nila yung kulang at nawala na sa amin,” 60-year-old Rica Ramasamy said, tearing up.

Five lolas eventually won in the pageant. And as the members of Trippers Philippines crowned the winners, the lolas were happy, some of them even teary-eyed.

And so, even for a while, spotlight was shone on the almost forgotten members of the LGBTQ community.

To donate or extend help to The Home for the Golden Gays, visit http://homeforthegoldengays.org/ or email homeforthegoldengays@gmail.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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Are gay-themed indie films still relevant?

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Outrage Magazine | 16 March 2014

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It was in early part of 2000s when the first batch of indie films, at least the gay-themed ones, prominently made its way to the cinemas. The likes of director Crisaldo Pablo made it seem possible for just about anyone who has a camera and a movie maker software to make (arguably) quality films easy.  “Duda” (Doubt), Pablo’s first successful gay-themed indie film (arguably) paved the way for other indie filmmakers.  And while some succeeded, others failed to encapsulate what a “decent” gay-themed film should be.

Here is a question worth asking: In the LGBTQ community, are indie films still relevant?

There have been countless of films that were memorable, like Adolf Alix Jr.’s “Daybreak”, Joselito Altarejos’s “Ang Lihim ni Antonio”, and Auraeus Solito’s “Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”, among others.  Notably, these movies became successful in their own ways because the story did not solely revolve around sex. Although their production wasn’t as superb as other indie films, their storylines were strong and they depicted… something real, in  a way.

Admittedly, there were other films that were memorable not because of their narratives, or their production, but because of their shallow sex narratives.  While not everyone may agree with this observation, but Queeriosity Video Project can be argued to have made a name for producing these kinds of films. In truth, there is nothing wrong with this.  In fact, it’s great to have these kinds of films – after all, they diversify the selection of flicks LGBTQ people can watch.  But then again, to be completely blunt, it’s not politically right to dub these films as “empowering the LGBTQ people.”

Of course, who can forget “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington”? That movie that attempted to be funny by ridiculing gays and using false representations. Then there was “Slumber Party”, another film that used the stereotyped gay images to make the story more “profound”, though it failed by giving the audience instead the wrong notions of how gays act in front of heterosexuals.

The list goes on and on and on… with these indie films (sadly) following the same pattern.

Be honest now: When was the last time you saw a somewhat decent gay-themed movie, where sex was not its main attraction?

Recently, “Mga Adan sa Paraiso” entered the picture.  This is another indie film that attempts to break the pattern of the usual titillating-type of films.

Mga Adan sa Paraiso is different from other indie films.  It tackles the different agendas of homosexuals – how they are being ridiculed and discriminated in the community,” Neys Paolo Cruz, executive producer of Mga Adan sa Paraiso, said in an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview.

Mga Adan sa Paraiso” tells the story of an ex-seminarian, Raffy, who decided to leave his theological service to find his real self. He met with his friends and they went home to his native town, Nueva Ecija. He was then forced to face the questions he had for himself. During his stay in the province, Raffy had sexual relations with a woman. But this experience did not answer his needs completely. He continued to question himself. And then one night, for some reason, one of his (male) friends went to his room and persuaded him to have sex.

“The titillating scenes are a given when it comes to indie films, that is already a fact.  It’s something to attract the audience. But in this film, it’s not all about sex.  There’s (also) comedy and hard drama,” Cruz said.

The film was shot in only two days.

“I can’t really compare our movie to other movies since I haven’t seen other indie films as well,” Cruz said, adding that with “Mga Adan sa Paraiso“, at least they attempted to have something that is “well-crafted” to “capture the hearts of the audience.”

Mga Adan sa Paraiso” is slated to premier sometime this month. With no available trailer anywhere, the audience is left to speculate if the movie will join the roster of tasteless carnal films, or if it will have a storyline worth looking forward to.

Now back to the question: Are gay-themed indie films still relevant today?  Particularly since it can be argued that the likes of GMA’s “My Husband’s Lover”, TV5′s “POSI+IVE” or ABS-CBN’s “That’s My Tomboy” and “I Am PoGay” already contribute to the mainstreaming of LGBTQ presence in the media, even if the LGBTQ images they represent can be questioned.  Still, the mere fact that these giant networks are now devoting so much airtime touching on LGBTQ people remains noteworthy.

And so we ask again, can’t (most) gay-themed indie films be more like the ones in Cinemalaya, where almost everything is well thought of even if the production is not as grand as those produced in the mainstream? Or should the audience just stop expecting that there will be another decent gay-themed indie film again and just wait for big production companies or networks to produce one?

 

 

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

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Cheche Lazaro: The quintessential journalist

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Outrage Magazine | 10 March 2014

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BAHAGHARI-MEDIA-AWARDS-Cheche-Lazaro

 

“I personally believe in the right of a person to make an informed decision. I subscribe to the right of human beings to make a choice. The LGBT community is part of our society and are entitled to the same rights available to all human beings.”

So said Cheche Lazaro, who – as early as 1994 – helped provide media coverage to the Filipino LGBT community by doing a story on the first-ever solidarity march in the Philippines (and in Asia), thereby helping facilitate mainstreaming of LGBT awareness in Philippine society.

Cheche is, of course, one of the most respected journalists in the Philippines.

Born Cecilia Aldaba-Lim in 1945 in Los Angeles, California to an engineer father and a psychologist mother, Cheche (the name she called herself when she first learned to speak) began her career as a journalist in the mid-1980s with ABS-CBN. There, she became director and manager of the Public Affairs Department, and was appointed to become the lead of then President Corazon Aquino’s visit to Indonesia and Singapore. In 1988, Cheche left ABS-CBN, and – with the help of her fellow journalist friends Luchi Cruz-Valdez (news head of TV5) and Maria Ressa (CEO and executive editor of Rappler) – Probe Productions Inc. was born.

In Probe Productions’ 24-year life, under Cheche’s leadership, it produced several revolutionary programs, including 5 and Up, Art Is Kool, Gameplan, Cheche Lazaro Presents and Probe Profiles. Eventually, though, Probe also decided to take a bow.

Cheche, unlike many other veteran journalists, has a reputation of someone who cannot be paid off or kept quiet when something needs to be said – these among many other things made Cheche as the most credible, reliable, concrete and consistent in the world of journalism.

Over the years, Cheche featured several LGBT stories in her special documentaries and reports, and in her talk show on ANC (Media In Focus), she tackled the LGBT Filipinos’ fight for equality, even as other journalists and networks deemed the issue as petty and irrelevant.

For her works, Cheche received several awards and recognitions, including the KBP Golden Dove Awards, Catholic Mass Media Awards (Hall of Fame), New York Festival, Malolos Heritage Foundation, Philippine Movie Press Club, Gawad CCP para sa Telebisyon, and citations from local government units for her outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism.

“Our argument was always that the star of the show is the story and if we can make a good story, then that in itself is a source of pride,” Cheche said.

Cheche, nonetheless, continued to make documentaries on pressing issues plaguing the country via a TV special called Cheche Lazaro Presents (CLP), which produced episodes on election automation, political dynasties, soap operas, pork barrel, sin tax, among others. It was CLP that, more recently, produced “LGBT”, which provided mainstream coverage of the plight of the Filipino LGBT circa 2013. Interviewees included celebrities Aiza Seguerra (a singer, songwriter and actor who exclusively came out as a transgender person in the episode) and Ogie Diaz; transman Nick Fernandez; Atty. Germaine Leonin and Toni Abuan (LGBT advocates and a lesbian couple); Tet Gallardo (lesbian minister of the Unitarian Universalist Association); Ramon Busa (president of Home for the Golden Gays); and Bemz Benedito (managing director of MYNP-LGBT). “LGBT” attempted to have a closer look and explain what it’s like to be an LGBT, and for the first time on Philippine television, it helped provide clearer definition of being LGBT.

“Like any other issue facing our society, our intention as media practitioners is to clarify, inform and give our audience information that is based on facts. Many times, our understanding of issues are based on wrong information or a lack of it as well as biased perceptions,” Cheche said. “The challenge to telling a good story is to get all the facts right, to present both sides of the issue and be fair to all parties concerned.”

In 2012, Cheche also showed her support for members of the LGBT community, when she joined the “I dare to care about equality” photographic campaign spearheaded by the Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center) and Outrage MagazineIn it, she said: “We all want to live in a world where our right to choose is guaranteed and respected… Let us treat each other not on the basis of the choices make, but on how we are as human beings.”

Today, as Cheche enters the world of retirement and starts to return to a more private life, she considers her moments as a full-time lola to a grandson who lives all the way in Boston as another milestone in her life. And yet, for many – including the LGBT Filipinos – she will always be remembered not only for her journalistic efforts, but on how she helped use journalism to advance equal rights for all, including the LGBT community.

“Hopefully, we are able to do justice in presenting the views of the LGBT community with fairness and accuracy,” Cheche said. “I think that being true to who you are (whether LGBT or not) is what matters most. Honesty and an openness to well-meant advise goes a long way. It moves past the superficial onto a more real appreciation of people as persons, not labels,” Cheche ended.

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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 were dancing goddesses

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Outrage Magazine | 06 March 2014

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GOD1

They are a group of eight gay men in their early twenties, living in a humble barangay in Las Piñas. At first glance, there’s nothing extraordinary about them. They’re not in a clan or a sorority, but they define their sisterhood like the ones you see in families. And while half of them are unemployed, they don’t fret about it. Although they don’t have regular 9-5 jobs, all eight of them are always busy practicing their complex routines, memorizing steps and mastering how graceful every move should be.

They call themselves the “Goddess of Death”.

But the people in their barangay call them the “dancing goddesses.”

“Ang pagsasayaw namin nabuo dahil sa tropa. Nag-decide kami na gumawa ng grupo. Tinawag ko ’yung grupo na Goddess of Death kasi may ka-grupo kami na ang nickname ay ‘Dyosatapos dinagdagan namin ng ‘of Death’ dahil para sa aminhangang kaya naminhangang mamatay kami sa kakasayawbasta maprove namin na kahit bading kami may kaya kaming patunayan, gagawin namin,” said Erich Arcilla, founder and leader of Goddess of Death dance group.

Their group is no different from the ones we see in fiestas and in barangay events.  But what makes them standout is the way the members present themselves on-stage. “Bading ang mga itsura namin, malalambot; pero kapag sumayaw kami, lalaki ang mga steps namin,” Erich explained.

Instead of doing the expected effeminate type of dancing, they focused and mastered the art of hip-hop dance, and every time they perform at any event, the audiences are left with amazement and shock.

The goddesses are not as privileged as other dance groups – they don’t have a decent place to practice, and most of the time they can be seen rehearsing in the streets.  At times, they don’t even get to finish their rehearsals because the barangay tanods or the homeowners ask them to leave the area.

Isa sa mahirap para sa amin ay ‘yung wala kaming mahanap na lugar para makapag-practice. Hindi naman namin afford mag-rent ng studio. Minsan, kapag nasa kalagitnaan kami ng pagsasayaw, pinapaalis kami kasi daw maingay kami at hindi daw pwede doon,” Erich said.

But this didn’t stop them from doing what they love doing. They still train every day, from afternoon to evening.

“Noong unang contest na sinalihan namin, hindi kami nanalo, pero maganda ang feedbacknila. Kapag tinuloy daw namin, may patutunguhan kami, kaya sinubukan namin ituloy-tuloy,” Erich said.

There was a time when they needed to focus on their dancing, so the members who had regular jobs had to leave their jobs and devote their entire time in the group. Kahit mas malaki and kita sa parlor, aanuhin mo namanyun kung wala naman ‘yung mga kaibigan mo, at ‘yung totoong kaligayahan mo?” Johnrey Articula, one of the Goddesses, said.

All their hard work paid off. They won almost all the contests that they joined. They even managed to dance for several rounds in the TV show “It’s Showtime”.

“Ang pagsasayaw namin ay para mabago ang image namin na hindi lang kami basta mga bakla na tumatambay lang sa kalye, na baklang salot sa lipunan. May mga talento kami na binigay ng Poong Maykapal, na shino-showcase namin sa kanila,” Erich proudly said. “Masaya din ang feeling, kasi kapag natapos mo ‘yung sayaw, parang mission accomplished. Tapos nakapagbigay pa kami ng saya sa tao. Ang sarap sarap sa pakiramdam kapag pinapalakpakan ka.

At times, winning becomes a must. “Importante na manalo kami kasi kapag natalo kami, nandiyan ‘yung kukutyain kami, sasabihin nila, sumali pa kayo eh matatalo din naman kayo.GOD3

But their biggest accomplishment (yet) was when the “World Supremacy Battlegrounds”, a dance contest in Australia, chose their group to represent the Philippines last December 2013. The Goddess of Death was the first all-gay group chosen to represent the country in such a prestigious international dance contest. Being chosen was in itself an honor, but being able to go could have been a historic event for the local LGBTQ community.

However, “sobrang laki ng pera na gagastusin para makapunta sa Australia. Kailangan namin ng almost half a million para sa processing ng visa naminsa pocket money, at sa iba pang gagastusin doon,” Erich explained.  “Hindi kami mga anak mayaman, mga mahihirap lang kami. Kapag nananalo kami, ‘yung premyong nakukuha namin, malaki na ang natutulong sa amin.

They joined all the contests that came along their way. They borrowed money from everyone they knew. But when they finally reached the needed amount, it was already too late. They were not able to fly to Australia.

Nanghihinayang kami, pero wala kaming magagawa, kasi wala naman kaming pera. Sinubukan namin humingi ng tulong sa barangay pero deadma lang sila. Kahit gusto kaming suportahan ng pamilya namin, hindi naman enough,” Erich said.

They dwell on the idea that if only the government has existing programs to support these kinds of endeavors, the Goddesses could have joined the World Supremacy Battlegrounds, becoming the first all-gay dance group to represent the country in an international event. The sad truth, however, is that the betterment and welfare of the LGBTQs in the country remain not prioritized by the government.

Today, the goddesses still continue to join all the dance contests that come along their way. Some of the members teach dance lessons in schools to have extra income.  They are also saving up so they can join another international contest in October, and they are hoping that this time, they will have enough money.

Hindi lang siya grupo ng pagsasayaw, pamilya na ang tingin namin sa isa’t-isa. Magsasayaw kami hangga’t kaya namin sumayaw, hangga’t hindi pa sumusuko ang katawan namin,” Erich said.

Once there were dancing goddesses, they continue to make a mark on their barangay, eventually making a mark on the LGBTQ community. Although the available resources are scarce, it doesn’t stop them from reaching their dreams. Their dancing is not only for themselves or solely for the money, it is also changing and uplifting the image of the LGBTQ community.

For additional information or for those who want to donate to the Goddess of Death, email crucialchicc.erich@yahoo.com.ph or visit the group’s Facebook page.

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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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Making partying more fun in the Philippines

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Outrage Magazine | 04 March 2014

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It was a night of fabulous music, hot men who teased, chances to find a great encounter, and… most importantly, it was a night for a cause. That, in not so many words, may best sum up BoyCircuit International’s BlueBall 2014, recently held as the “dance party you have always imagined and will never forget.”

BlueBall 2014 is in a way a historical event in the Philippines’ party scene, particularly for the LGBTQ community, considering that it was arguably the first of its kind to happen in the country, providing Filipinos with a chance to have a glimpse what it’s like to party in Europe and in US.

“We did not come this year expecting to make a profit. BlueBall 2014 is BoyCircuit’s launch into the Philippine market, where our aim was to introduce the standard for what a BoyCircuit event is. We were very cognizant that we were an unknown commodity in the market,” Kenny Martinez, president of BoyCircuit International, explained.

Understandably, not many Filipinos are familiar with circuit parties. During the recent outing, for instance, many people (initially) preferred just standing with drinks in their hands while watching the DJ spin. BlueBall 2014 also showcased a brief spectacle of drag entertainment – this, of course, mirrors some of the “usual” performances we see in the clubs in Metro Manila.

“I noticed that there were people who seemed to be more spectators and were reserved,” Martinez said. However, “BlueBall is not about the show, it’s not about the drag performances, (which are) just part of the whole event.” As such, Martinez added that it was refreshing noting that “there was a whole other group of people that went there to dance like nobody was watching.”

Martinez added: “It was very obvious that most of the people in the crowd at the event liked to be entertained.

Music for the evening was provided by DJs Brian Cua, Sinna-G and Spencer Reed.

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“I was surprised that there was this scale of gay party here in the Philippines. We’re originally from Europe, we are just visiting. We saw BlueBall’s ad in Grindr the other night. Although the party is not as jam-packed as the ones we have in Europe, we’re still having a blast. Filipinos here are so friendly to us,” Kevin, an Italian tourist, said.

The recipient of BoyCircuit’s endowment, Project Red Ribbon, was also present at the event.

“Tonight, we celebrate. We celebrate because despite of what’s happening in our country right now, there are still concerned groups like BoyCircuit that are making tangible efforts in the community, especially to PLHIV in the Philippines. And we are very thankful for that,” Pozzie Pinoy, head of the Project Red Ribbon, said.

As such, BlueBall 2014 was, in its own way, a success; a success not only for BoyCircuit but also for the Philippine’s LGBTQ community.

Martinez assured the LGBTQ community that they will be back next year, and that it will be another experience to witness. “It will be bigger and better than this year’s,” he said, hinting that they are considering mounting another party in Cebu later this year, even if they are still keeping the details guarded.

At the end of the day, BlueBall 2014 highlighted how it is always wiser to spend money for something that will benefit not oneself, but the entire LGBTQ community. This is why gatherings like this are important in highlighting how partying can be done while also helping out.

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Outrage Magazine is the official media partner of BlueBall 2014.

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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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