Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for June 2014

Amb. Goldberg urges Phl LGBTs to continue fighting

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Outrage Magazine | 28 June 2014

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE US EMBASSY-MANILA

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE US EMBASSY-MANILA

To recognize and support the plight of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines and to celebrate the LGBT Pride month, the US Embassy in Manila held a reception hosted by US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.

The annual gathering was attended by over 100 guests, including members of different local LGBT organizations, human rights advocates, and allies who support the fight against discrimination.

During the reception, the ambassador recognized the triumphs that the LGBT community reached.

“The LGBT community has achieved a lot of things, this year in particular, and that’s a reason to celebrate,” Amb. Goldberg said.

This year in particular, parts of the US and some other countries worldwide now officially recognize same-sex marriages. Earlier, in 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled over DOMA(Defense of Marriage Act), declaring it unconstitutional.

The results of the SC ruling were felt all of the world, including in the Philippines, with one of the positive effects of the decision was that the US government can now grant visas to fiancés and spouses of same-sex couples.

We are honored to say that one of the first visas was issued issued here in the Philippines,” Amb. Goldberg said, “same-sex marriage is now officially recognized in 18 US states, as compared with only 12 last year this time around, and eight more state courts have ruled that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.”

Amb. Goldberg also highlighted the “Being LGBT in Asia” project, an initiative spearheaded byUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP). It was a first-of-its-kind look at reviewing and analyzing the legal and social environment of LGBTs and the civil society. The national report derived from Being LGBT in Asia was authored by Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan.

“[That effort] is an example of our commitment to build respect and protect the human rights of LGBT persons everywhere,” Amb. Goldberg said.

He also noted that in the Philippines, when it comes to fighting for equal rights, they have strong ties, which “make our advocacy effective. [And] without them, who work every day for a more equal Philippines, our goal would be harder to reach.”

Amb. Goldberg also presented the “Visa Equality” video, a short feature on how fiancé visas changed the lives of same-sex couples.

 

“As members or advocates of the LGBT community issues, please be out, be proud, and know that the United States government supports you in your efforts to make the world more equal. [And] to all the LGBT and human rights advocates here with us, thank you for your work and I encourage you to continue your important efforts to bring equality to all Filipinos,” Amb. Goldberg said.

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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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Baguio Pride 2014: Celebrating diversity of the Cordillerans

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Outrage Magazine | 25 June 2014

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Can’t stop Pride.

That was the spirit behind the Baguio Pride 2014, which was held despite a heavy downpour, with members of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as their allies, calling for more emphasis to be placed on the anti-discrimination, as well as HIV-related efforts.

In its 8th year, the Baguio Pride celebration – with the theme “Celebrating the Heritage of Struggle. Continue the Fight for Equality. Let a Thousand Flowers Rise.” – draws inspiration from the anti-war peace protests of the sixties, which started what is now known as the “flower power movement”.

“Compared to previous Pride celebrations, this year really improved a lot, but there are still some economic issues that we continue to face, there are still a great number of LGBT people who are not able to join these kind of activities because they would rather work,” Emerson Soriano, secretariat of Baguio Pride Network, explained. “Life here in Baguio, especially for LGBTQ people, is very difficult.”

As the parade left the assembly area, the rain became stronger. But, that didn’t stop the attendees, who continued marching along Session Road.

“The Pride celebration here in Baguio is going stronger every year. LGBTQ people who live in the suburbs and in far flung areas are coming here just to attend this annual event, and they are very interested to learn what this event is about,” Clyde Pumihic, spokesperson of Baguio Pride Network, said.

Baguio City is most known for its festival of flowers, and just like the people who live and visit the summer capital of the country, they’re also very diverse – thus, making it more difficult for LGBTQ people to practice and stand up for their rights.

“The Cordilleran culture is a very macho culture. In the far flung areas, especially in the provinces of the Cordillera, LGBTQ people really find it hard to be what they are, because generally speaking, people here tend to (just) tolerate rather than accept the members of our community,” Soriano explained.

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And for the LGBTQ community in Baguio, relying on the government to help them alleviate the struggle they experience every day is (unfortunately) their last option.

“The efforts of the local government is not enough to address the needs of the LGBTQs. And this is one of the reasons why we are connecting with other organizations, not just the ones here in Baguio, so we can get all the support that we need,” Josie Tacsi of Baguio Pride Network said.

After the parade, each organization gave a solidarity message.

“There are organizations here in Baguio who can help LGBTQ people.  We want to give them a voice and we want to give them the strength so they can come out,” Pumihic said.

There were also representatives from the local government during the event.

“I think Baguio’s progress in terms of accepting the LGBT community is improving, because we allow activities like these, and we are putting money in HIV programs,” Councilor Betty Tabanda explained.

And just like other areas in the country, Baguio is one of the many places that still doesn’t have an anti-discrimination ordinance.

“We want to continue pushing the government so they can already pass an anti-discrimination ordinance here. They (government) often focus on the problems of big cities and they tend to forget the needs of the ones who live in the provinces,” Pumihic 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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Introducing… Lady Gagita

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Outrage Magazine | 23 June 2014

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It was in 2009, during Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” era, when 20-year-old Vinzon Leojay Booc, a.k.a. Lady Gagita, started impersonating the “Poker Face” hit maker. His “Telephone” parody video, one of his firsts, attracted the attention of netizens and Filipino fans of Lady Gaga, garnering more than 100,000 hits on YouTube, and was shared many times on Facebook. Since then, he became a household name as one of the – arguably – best and funniest parody artists in the Philippines.

Lady-Gagita2RECYCLED PARODY QUEEN

“I started from scratch. The videos that I made before weren’t as polished and accurate as the ones I have recently made,” Gagita said.

All of Gagita’s parody videos were done with minimal budget.  “The production cost comes from my own pocket and sometimes, some of my followers donate to help produce the videos,” he added.

And if you will notice in all his videos, Gagita uses recycled materials to recreate the actual props and set used by Lady Gaga. Surprisingly, the finished products closely resemble the originals.

Gagita admits that, of course, his end product may not look as polished, but his main objective in recreating the videos – that is, to entertain the viewers – are accomplished.

The lack of budget didn’t stop Gagita to continue doing his parodies. He didn’t consider it as an obstacle, but rather a challenge. With the help of his friends, known as the House of Gagita, one by one, he recreated all of Lady Gaga’s music videos, album and single covers, and photo shoots.

The production of his parody videos improved through the years, and though he still uses recycled materials, the quality of costumes, props, and editing got better.

In the end, his hard work paid off.

PINOY LADY GAGA

The local entertainment industry eventually noticed Gagita’s talent. He was invited to guest in different talk shows and entertainment programs, while being dubbed as the “Pinoy Lady Gaga.”

Bars and clubs around the metro, from BED Bar, Palawan 2, and Vizio, among others, also took notice of his incredible impersonation and talent. Every so often, Gagita performs Lady Gaga’s latest material, and he never fails to get a loud applause every time he finishes his number.

Every time Lady Gaga releases a new single, music video, or performs live, in a month’s time, those following him can most definitely expect Gagita to release or perform his own version of it.

That his passion to mimic Lady Gaga earned Gagita fame is an understatement.

But more than the fame, “aside from being a Lady Gaga parody performer, which I already considered as part of my life, it is also my advocacy to empower the LGBT people in the entertainment industry,” he said. “I want to inspire the youth to release their inner talent as well as their true self, especially those who are afraid to come out.”

Gagita also became one of the faces of the 2010 LGBT Pride celebration.

“Every time I perform, I want people to see that LGBT people (should not) be discriminated, and that we should be heard by the government,” he explained.

IMPERSONATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Gagita has taken the art of parody to the next level. He spends all of his time practicing dance routines, recreating the costumes and props, and visualizing how he will execute his next parody.

“A big change occurred to me, especially in my lifestyle. I get to meet a lot of new people all the time, work with prominent artists and performers, and I gained more followers as the years passed. And I will continue doing this to entertain people and to empower LGBT people,” Gagita said.

Aside from Lady Gaga, he also impersonates Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Amy Winehouse, and Elsa the Snow Queen (from the movie Frozen).

 

“I consider what I’m doing as a performance art. It’s not just about copying Lady Gaga or other artists, it’s actually embodying the character of the person and not a lot people can do that perfectly,” he proudly said.

Currently, Gagita is busy making the parody video for G.U.Y.

For Gagita, what matters at the end of the day is self-fulfillment. And so, after he washes the make-up off his face and removes the costumes, he just wants to “live a normal life with my family and with my long time partner, Raymond,” he said.

And for as long as Lady Gaga is in the limelight, “I will continue being Lady Gagita and being an inspiration to LGBT people,” he said, “I would also like to send my appreciation to my fans for their unconditional support. I will not stop giving you full entertainment. Come out and be discovered, maybe you can also make a difference.”

To watch Lady Gagita’s parody videos, visit his YouTube channel. To find out more about Lady Gagita, visit his Facebook and Tumblr pages.

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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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‘Out and Proud’ documentary to examine LGBTQI issues

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Outrage Magazine | 19 June 2014

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Aside from highlighting the plight of LGBTQI Filipinos, the special will also feature the stories of “Out!” hosts JM Cobarrubias, Avi Siwa, and Jigs Mayuga.

Aside from highlighting the plight of LGBTQI Filipinos, the special will also feature the stories of “Out!” hosts JM Cobarrubias, Avi Siwa, and Jigs Mayuga.

In 2004, when GMA-7 launched the magazine TV show “Out!”, it was – in a way – groundbreaking.  The show narrated the stories of LGBTQI people in the Philippines; featured the lifestyle of people in the community; highlighted the successes of members of the community; and documented the endeavors that LGBTQI people face, whether coming out to the family or facing social disapproval.

As such, as many may claim now, “Out!” was ahead of its time as the first and only locally produced LGBTQI-themed magazine show that aired on free TV. During its short run, LGBTQI people were given a face somehow.

Out-and-Proud2As the community celebrates Pride Month this June, GMA-7, in its effort to show its support to the LGBTQI community, will be airing a documentary called “Out and Proud”.  The hour long special will attempt to answer the issues the LGBTQI people continue to face.

“’Out and Proud’ is GMA’s offering this Pride month; this is (to show) how GMA appreciates the LGBTQI community. It will feature LGBTQI people who conquered stereotypes, couples who have fought for their love, and many other stories,” JM Cobarrubias, program manager of “Out and Proud”, said to Outrage Magazine.

The documentary is also a tribute to “Out!”, a celebration of its triumphs 10 years ago.

“We want to honor ‘Out!’, a milestone GMA has achieved. So many things have happened since then, and we would like to review the milestones and breakthroughs the LGBTQI people achieved over the years,” Cobarrubias said.

The special will feature the stories of “Out!” hosts JM Cobarrubias, Avi Siwa, and Jigs Mayuga; TransMan Pilipinas’ Nil Nodalo; Internet celebrity Sebastian Castro; couple Aiza Seguerra and Liza Dino; married gay partners director Jun Lana and Perci Intalan; “My Husband’s Lover” lead actors Tom Rodriguez and Dennis Trillo; and others.

And through the interviewees narratives, the show will attempt to answer the following: Is the society now more accepting of LGBTQI people compared to how it’s been 10 years ago? Is the Philippines really the “most gay-friendly country in Asia”? Are the efforts of the government enough to address the needs and welfare of the LGBTQs?

“We are a gay-friendly country, with so many inspiring LGBTs, and this, among other things, is the reason why LGBTQI people should celebrate Pride Month. So let’s be out and proud!” Cobarrubias said.

Out and Proud” will air on June 22 (Sunday) in GMA-7 at 10:40 PM.

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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 a beauty queen trainer

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Outrage Magazine | 16 June 2014

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Her life revolves around the world of “beauty, talent, and relentless passion,” having spent her entire life mastering pageantry.  She joined beauty pageants of various sizes – big or small, including those held in far flung provinces. She has won different titles, and lost a few.

Meet Tigerlily Garcia Temporosa, better known as TL in the transgender community. She hails from the city of Mandaluyong. This 37-year-old transgender is a trainer of gay and transgender beauty pageant aspirants.

MOTHER OF BEAUTY QUEENS

It was in 1997 when TL first managed a talent. And while it was a rough start for her, she enjoyed every moment of it.

Nag-ipon muna ako ng mga gamit para kanila habang naghahanap ng mga may potensyal na isasabak ko sa mga pageants. Syemprekailangan maganda, may talentat may utak. Mas madali mag-train kung may potensyal (I had to save first while looking for someone to train.  Of course, I wanted someone beautiful, with talent, and had brains. It’s easier to train someone with potential),” TL explained.

She watched numerous Miss Universe pageants over and over so she could master how the beauty queens walk and answer the questions.

“Pinapanood ko ng madalas ang Miss Universe para makakita ng mga techniques pagdatingsa pagrampa, aura, at syempre sa pagsagot.  Hindi rin mawawala ang mga scripted nasagot, kasi kailangan rin talaga ‘yun (I frequently watch taped Miss Universe pageants so I can see the techniques when it comes to walking on the catwalk, self presentation, and of course, answering of questions. Delivering scripted answers is always there; we’ll never be rid of that),” TL said.

And through the years, she produced a roster of talents who have triumphed in the world of beauty pageants, theater, showbiz, and some even on the international stage.

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

TL was also the one who discovered Geena Rocero, a transgender model based in the US.

Napadayo kami sa Laguna noon, tapos may friend ako doon na sinabi sa akin na may ipapa-alaga sa akin na bata, matangkad at maganda raw ang hubog ng mukha. Then, noong nakita ko si Geena, hindi na ako nagdalwang isip para dalhin siya sa Manila para isali siya sa pukpukang pageant. Fresh, makinis, at higit sa lahat, maganda ang katawan ni Geena. Noong sumali siya  sa first pageant na ‘yun, she won best in swimsuit and best in long gown. She even landed 2nd runnerupthat night (We were in Laguna then, and a friend said she wants me to look after this kid who is tall and had a beautiful face.  When I saw Geena, I didn’t have second thoughts; I took her to Manila and made her join a pageant. When she joined that first pageant of hers, she won best in swimsuit and best in long gown. She even landed 2nd runner-up that night),” TL recalled.

TL is proud for discovering Geena Rocero (above)

TL is proud for discovering Geena Rocero (above)

Rocero gained popularity in the LGBTQ community when she came out as a transgender during TED Talks’ annual conference last March.  Since then, she has been very active in various LGBTQ events and gatherings to promote awareness and education.

“I’m so proud of Geena. Hindi ko inakala na sisikat siya ng ganyan ka-sikat at mananatili siyang down to earth at  hindi kami naililimutan dito sa Pilipinas. She is a very hardworking person and she deserves all the success. Kaya tuwing may mga bago akong talents, palagi kong ginagawang halimbawa si Geena sa kanila. Sinasabi ko sa kanila na kaya ng mga Pinoy LGBTs na sumikat at makilala sa iba’t-ibang larangan, hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas, pati sa ibang bansa (I didn’t expect she’d be as big as she is now, yet remain down to earth, and she didn’t forget us who are still in the Philippines.  She’s a very hardworking person and she deserves all the success. So, every time I encounter new talents, I always make Geena an example. I tell them that Filipino LGBT people can make it big in different industries, and not only locally, but also internationally),” TL added.

DESIRE TO MAKE EVERYONE BEAUTIFUL

In the Philippine setting, LGBTQ beauty pageants are usually stereotyped as an event where spectators can make fun of the contestants.  For TL, that is wrong. LGBTQ people do not parade on stage to be made fun of; they join these pageants so they can showcase their beauty and talents.

Nasa culture na ng mga Pinoy na kahit hindi beauty pageants ay pinagtatawanan ang mgaLGBTs. Para sa mga taong hindi nakakaintindi ng mensahe at ng purpose ng mga beauty pageants, kailangan sila bigyan ng pang-unawa at palawakin na lang namin ang aming mga utak para sa kanila (It’s embedded in the Philippine culture that – even when not in the context of beauty pageants – people laugh at LGBTQ people. For people who do not understand the message, the purpose of those joining the pageants, we need to make them understand and broaden their knowledge),” TL said.

TL also had her share of the limelight during her early years. Just like the others, she has won and lost many titles. But, she believes her true calling is not to be in the spotlight.

Syempre naranasan ko ng sumali sa mga beauty pageants. Pero iba ang fulfillment na nabibigay sa akin kapag ako nag-ttrain tapos nakikita kong tumatanyag sila sa larangan nila (Of course, I have joined pageants in the past. But, the fulfillment I get is different every time I train someone and they succeed in their fields,” she said.

TL added: “Kasi kapag tumutulong ka, pagdating ng panahon, babalikan ka nila kung may maganda kang nagawa for them. Mas gusto ko talagang tumulong sa mga aspiring beauty pageant contestants. Gusto ko silang nakikita na natutupad ang mga pangarap nila (Because if you extend help, time will come when the people you helped will return to you. And so, I really prefer helping beauty pageant contestants. I want to see them succeed).”

Today, aside from handling different beauty pageant talents, she is also a stage manager for the “Amazing Show”, a theatrical production that features beautiful and talented transgenders in the Philippines.

Para sa mga aspiring at mga bagong transgenders, iboost niyo ang self-confidence. Unang-una sa lahat, walang nilikha na pangit and Diyos.  Tao lang ang nagbibigay ng meaning nito. Dahil kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? At baka hindi ka na magkaroon ng pagkakataon pa (To aspiring and new transgender people, be confident. First of all, God didn’t create anything ugly. It’s just the people who refer to something as ugly. If you don’t act now, then when? You may not have the chance to do it) ,” TL 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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Is there Pride in the ‘daang matuwid’?

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Outrage Magazine | 04 June 2014

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IMG_6022 copyWith so much weight given to it to represent the LGBT community in the Philippines, the defeat of Ang Ladlad in two consecutive elections left many in the LGBT Filipino community in the middle of the battleground (so to speak), not knowing what the next actions will be. This may be because the path to LGBT equality continues to be a long and seemingly unending struggle; in fact, many advocates have already aged and retired, some have been killed along the way, and still some just lost hope and gave up.

Looking closely, this is not at all surprising. Twenty years already passed since the first LGBT Pride March was held in the Philippines, and yet, beyond the cheerful chants, hopeful smiles and parties, and the optimism of LGBT people, the protection of our basic rights remain evasive. Consider that when LGBT people attempted to seek representation in Congress, they were called “immoral” by a Commission on Election commissioner. When they reached out to the media, they were continuously labeled as “third sex”, as if there’s a hierarchy in shelling out who to respect.

It was in 2010, the same year when Ang Ladlad first lost in the elections, when the country turned “yellow” by voting for Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. But four years since then, are there any significant changes, particularly for the LGBT Filipinos?

PNoy, of course, famously said that he believes LGBT people should not be discriminated. Yet he also expressed apprehension when it comes to allowing LGBT people to adopt. The disconnect was not noticed; it’s a case of “I don’t have issues with you, but…”

And so while there may be people who will claim that under PNoy’s term (so far) many changes have been made, just as many can claim that many Filipinos are left out in the long-term plans of the Aquino administration.  And this includes members of the LGBT community.

Do you remember when, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, PNoy said that “it feels good to be Filipino these days”?

I remember.

But, I also ask:

How can it feel good when – as members of the LGBT community – we still experience discrimination, and the perpetrators get away with what they do?

How can other LGBT people feel good when companies would rather deny their application because of their gender identity rather than hire them for their skills/talents?

How can an HIV-positive Filipino feel good when he’s unsure of what’s going to happen to him after the Global Fund ends? For that matter, when the security of his medical supplies waver, even if membership to PhiHealth is supposed to cover the same.

How can families of slain LGBT people feel good when justice is being denied to them?

How can we feel good when suffering – solely because we are LGBT – is fast becoming a norm for us?

How can we feel good when an anti-discrimination law that will protect our basic rights continue to languish (since 1999!) in either Houses of Congress? If it were not for the efforts of local governments – like the cities of Quezon, Bacolod, Angeles, Cebu and Davao – some version of anti-discrimination policy wouldn’t see the light of the day.

And so the question remains: is celebrating Pride in a country where corrupt people are being escorted by bodyguards and are called honorable, and where prosecuted officials who are receiving VIP treatment in their fully air-conditioned rooms, still relevant?

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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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