Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for the ‘Bahaghari Center’ Category

Laude’s case to test how Phl gov’t values its citizens, says Atty. Roque

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Outrage Magazine | 22 March 2015




As the trial of US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the 19-year-old suspect in the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, is set to begin this week, the lead counsel of the Laude family, Atty. Harry Roque, once again reiterated that the family will not enter any agreement with the US.

Last March 10, during the pre-trial hearing of the case, the possibility of a plea bargain was raised. But the family and lawyers of the slain transgender stood firm during the media briefing afterwards, saying that they would not agree to a plea bargain and made it clear that they just want to see Pemberton go to jail.

LGBT and ally organizations are condemning the brutal murder of 26-year-old transpinay Jennifer Laude Sueselback allegedly in the hands of a US marine.

LGBT and ally organizations are condemning the brutal murder of 26-year-old transpinay Jennifer Laude Sueselback allegedly in the hands of a US marine.

Nitong mga nakalipas na pre-trial, talaga namang puspusan ang pagpilit ng pamahalaan sa pamilyaLaude na pumasok sa isang kompromiso sa bansang Estados Unidos. Pero lahat ay tinutulan at naninindigan kami na katarungan ang kailangan (In the past pre-trial (meetings), the government has been adamant in urging the Laude family to enter a compromise with the US. But we refused and stand by the belief that justice is what’s needed),” Roque said to Outrage Magazine.

Supposedly, even though the prosecution wants to expedite the trial, the Philippine government continues to urge the Laude family to enter an arrangement.

Dapat simula na ‘yung pag-pi-prisinta ng mga ebidensya, pero kami ay nagkakaroon ng alinlangan, dahil malinaw ang posisyon ng Pilipinas na gusto nila na magkaroon ng plea bargain (The evidences should have already been presented, but we are having apprehensions because the position of the Philippines is clear that they want to have plea bargain),” Roque said.

He also said that this case will test how the Philippine government values the welfare of its citizens and how important the Visiting Forces Agreement is.

The Laude family continues to believe that when the case is over, they will be given justice. They also believe that this is not only a fight of the LGBT community, but of every Filipino.

And they just hope that the government will support them when the trial begins, rather than counter the efforts of the prosecution.

Nasasaktan din ang pamilya doon sa mga ni-leak out, na sa tingin namin ay galing sa gobyerno, na ‘di umano ay humihingi sila ng P21 million. Ito ay pinapabulaan nila at itong walang kasunduan ngayon ay patunay na naninindigan sila na ang kanilang hiling ay katarungan. Dapat itigil na nila ang pagpilit sa pamilya Laude na pumasok sa isang kasunduan (The family was also hurt when the news was leaked, which we think also came from the government, that they’re asking for P21 million.  This was denied by the family, and the fact that there’s no agreement now is proof that they remain steadfast in demanding justice. They should stop forcing the Laude family to enter any agreement),” Roque emphasized.

Although the country still lacks a law that can protect members of the LGBT community against hate crimes, he said that this shouldn’t hinder the Laude family to receive justice.

Dahil si Jennifer ay isang miyembro ng LGBT (community), magiging isa itong qualifying circumstance to murder. Kasi nagpapakita ‘yan na ang pagpaslang ay hindi lamang paglabag sa karapatang mabuhay, kung hindi karaptan na rin sa right to privacy nung napatay (Because Jennifer was a member of the LGBT community, this becomes one of the qualifying circumstance to murder.  Because this shows that gettig murdered is not only a violation of the right to life, but also the right to privacy of the one who was murdered),” Roque explained. “Lahat naman tayo ay may karapatan na pumili ng ating kasarian, kung sino ang gusto nating mahalin, at kung sino ang gusto nating makapiling (All of us have the right to choose our gender identity, who we choose to love, and who we want to spend our life with).”

The absence of a hate crime law, especially during times like these, “only highlights the importance of it, so perpetrators would be punished accordingly,” Roque said.

As the trial begins this week and is expected to last until September, Roque calls for the support of the LGBT community throughout the whole time.

Dapat mas maging aktibo sa kasong ito ang mga LGBT; hindi namin nararamdaman ang presensya nila. Kung hindi sila maninindigan dito, baka sa susunod sila na ang magiging biktima, dahil na rin sa patuloy na pananatili sa ating bansa ng mga dayuhan, gaya ng Amerikano, na pinapalawak pa sa pamamagitan ng EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement). Panahon na na i-recognize na walang pwedeng manindigan sa interest ng mga Pilipino kung hindi ang ating mga kapwa Pilipino (The LGBT community should be active in this case; we are not feeling their presence. If they do not stand for this, they may become victims next, due to the continuing presence in our country of foreign powers, such as the US, further empowered by EDCA. It is high time to recognize no one will defend the rights of Filipinos but other Filipinos),” Roque ended.



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


Five media personalities honored as ‘rainbow defenders’

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 22 March 2014



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.”


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.


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.”


Cheche Lazaro: The quintessential journalist

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Outrage Magazine | 10 March 2014





“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.



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


The questions LGBT people have to face…

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Outrage Magazine | 09 February 2014





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).





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


Rediscovering Binondo Church

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Outrage Magazine | 28 March 2013




If you’re in the mood for an Oriental feast – may it be food, culture, arts or, yes, the men – then Binondo is the place for you this Holy Week season. And while it may not be on top of your list, it may be a good place for you and your friends to meet someone who is in touch with their inner faith. And… who knows, you might just find your next significant other within the area of Binondo.

Located at the heart of the famous Chinatown in Manila is the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church. It was built during the mid-1590s by the Dominican priests, to mainly cater to their Chinese converts to Christianity.

Even before the Spanish occupation, there was already a number of Chinese community members and traders in the Philippines, with the majority of them most notably present in Binondo. And when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the number of the Chinese people flocking to the country increased because of the substantial need to barter and trade.

The Domincans felt the need to convert the Chinese community to the Christian faith – hence, the building of the Binondo Church was commissioned.

Throughout the years, the original structure of Binondo Church was torn down a few times during the Chinese revolution in the early 1600s. And during the 1760s the original building of the church was destroyed because of the continuous bombing during the war. The present granite structure was completed during the 1850s, but the only thing that was left today of the 16th century structure is the Chinese inspired five-story bell tower.

It was once again destroyed when it was burned during the British invasion of 1872, the re-building of the Church was finished quickly after the occupation. But due to a natural disaster, the structure was once again destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1860s. It was rebuilt once again, and the structure is the one we see today.

And then again during the American occupation, the church was also affected, when most of the interiors and its archives were destroyed and burned. The only thing that was left standing was its shell – the stone walls that hold the majestic design of the Church. The Chinese community in Binondo endured a roofless church for several years, until it was finally restored during the 1950s. Throughout the years, the church and the convent were continuously renovated. And even today, the Chinese community has been funding the renovations and maintenance the church.

“For the longest time, the Chinese community has been taking care of the church. And just like most of the Catholic community, they have been very active in all our projects and celebrations. Every day, before they go to their respective businesses or to their work, they pass by Binondo Church to attend mass or to pray for a few minutes,” Leonida Recto Aranda, planning and formation chairperson of the Basilica Pastoral Council of Binondo, Manila.

A notable change and improvement of the Church from its original structure is its interior. The ceiling is entirely covered with massive detailed religious paintings – from the mysteries of the Holy Rosary to some of the famous stories lifted from the Bible like the stations of the cross.

The grand altar on the other hand holds a number of patron saints – this was done mainly to cover the damages the church suffered throughout the years. And as a result, it gave an added beauty to the magnificent structure of the altar. The Statue of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary is also seen in the middle of the grand altar, being one of the patrons of the Binondo Church. On the left side of the altar stands the image of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the patron saint of Binondo Church – he was a missionary born to a Chinese father and a Filipina mother, and was executed in Japan for being a Christian; he was the first Filipino saint.

“Every feast of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary and San Lorenzo Ruiz, we bring the two patrons out for a procession, and we hold activities for the parishioners so that they can not only pray to them, but they will also get to know them. It is through education that people will nurture their faith and their belief in the religion. People from different areas of Manila go to Binondo Church to pray for our patrons,” Aranda said.

Think disco, but every time there’s a Mass, all the lights inside are turned on – you will see the beauty of the interior and the structure of the old sophisticated columns.

On any given day, the church is open to give way to the Chinese-Filipino community to attend mass before they go to their respective businesses and work.

“This is not only a church for the Chinese community, most people think that Binondo Church is for them only. No, that’s not true. They might have the perception that because most of the parishioners they see are Chinese, this church is only for the Chinese community. This is a church for everyone, in fact, the Chinese community encourages other people to attend the regular celebrations of our church to be part of our thanksgiving,” Aranda said.

This only proves that the church can not only make anyone’s faith stronger but also make the ties between two different cultures, that is the Chinese and Filipino communities, deeper and more meaningful.


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


Swaying into Obando Church

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Outrage Magazine | 28 March 2013




If you’re up for a road trip this Holy Week season (and if you’re one of those who don’t fancy Boracay or Puerto Galera this season), this historical church in the Northern part of the Metro might be an option for you.

Built during the 1750′s, the San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church or most popularly known to many as the Church of Obando Bulacan, is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. The construction of the church during the Spanish occupation was commissioned by the Franciscan Order, led by Rev. P. Manuel de Olivencia, who was also the first parish priest of the church.

While the church was destroyed during the Second World War (in the 1940s), when it was greatly affected by the clashes between the Japanese and the American-Filipino joint troops, later on, through the efforts of the Obandeno parishioners and Rev. Fr. Marcos Punzal, it was rebuilt again (in two years).

The structure of San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church was altered a bit over the years from its original form – from what used to be a fully abode wall, now the facade and most of its exterior were painted, which gives it a more “modern” feel instead of an old rustic impression. The octagon shaped bell tower was also polished with paint, compared to other bell towers of other old churches; its five-story structure has a more “modern” feel to it.

The church’s interior, though, still manifests the Spanish structure concept, e.g. having minimal designs, a detailed painting on its arc and an antique chandelier with Capiz lights to give the main altar a more dramatic illumination.

On its main altar, the icon of San Pascual de Baylon stands. San Pascual, a Spanish friar and a Franciscan, is the
foremost patron of Obando Church.

“San Pascual de Baylon is one of our patrons here in Obando Church. It is believed during the early times, that San Pascual was the patron who helped the early Filipinos fulfill their wishes. And the college here in Obando, Bulacan was also named after San Pascual de Baylon, to honor the blessing he has bestowed upon. Our parish also manages the school,” said Rev. Fr. Avelino Sampana, priest of Obando Church.

And in the middle of the main altar stands the statue of Nuestra Senora de Salamabao. The Blessed Virgin Mary is shown with her hands clasped together in a prayerful manner while standing on a net, while a fisherman on the side is shown holding a small net. She is the patron of fishermen; it is believed that the image was found when a group of fishermen thought they caught a big fish, though when they retrieved it, they saw the image of the Virgin Mary standing upright in the net.

“Our Lady of Salambao, on the other hand, is believed to be a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was found by a group of fishermen. It was also during that time, when the harvesting fishes was close to scarcity – but then they retrieved the image of Our Lady of Salambao. The fishermen tried to bring back the image to Navotas, but they experienced several hardships, so then they eventually decided to bring it to Obando instead,” Rev. Fr. Sampana said.

Salambaw is a fishing net with bamboo frames that support the catching tool.

On the right side of the main altar is the image of Santa Clara.

San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church is most famously known for its fertility rites or the Obando dance. The church’s parishioners and other Catholics strongly believe that if a couple or a family is encountering difficulties in conceiving a child, all they need do is go to this church of Obando during its feast day in May or every Sunday to join the Bulakenyos in the famous dance ritual.

Contrary to what most people know, the Obando dance is not only for couples who want to have a healthy conception of children, however, as it is also for people who have other personal petitions, like abundance in their farms, improvement in the careers, or betterment in their school ranking.

“People always mistaken the Obando dance as purely for people who are experiencing fertility problems, but it is not. A lot of people, especially the locals, joins and mastered the dance – they go to this church every weekend to participate in our celebration. Especially during the feast of our church, when we parade our patrons around Obando, our parishioners would gather around the patrons and dance,” Rev. Fr. Sampana said.

Like some of the churches in the Philippines, San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church also has several activities during the Holy Week, when its parishioners and other Catholics can go to and attend the celebration.

“I encourage everyone to visit San Pascual de Baylon Parish Church or most commonly known as the Obando Church, so you can see and experience how miraculous Our Lady of Salambao is and join us in celebration of our faith through the dance of Obando,” Rev. Fr. Sampana said.

As the way to celebrate Holy Week continues to evolve, this may not have the flashy lights and the wide selection of boys to be met in the party beaches, or the magnificent views that the “piso fare” flights can offer, but, hey, for those up for it, this is a perfect chance for those interested to reflect on their religious well-being.


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


‘No different’ campaign

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TDoR is held every November 20, which the world – particularly the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community – marks to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the TG community; as well as to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts, the TDoR has evolved from the web-based project when it was started, into an international day of action observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.

In a move eyed to at least help highlight the transgender (TG) community in the Philippines, Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center) has mounted a photographic campaign, “No different”, for the Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012.

This effort is part of the earlier “I dare to care about equality”, a photographic campaign calling for everyone to take a more proactive stance in fighting discrimination done by Bahaghari Center as part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), celebrated every May 17.


‘I dare to care about equality’ campaign

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The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), celebrated every May 17, was founded in 2004 by Louis-Georges Tin as an effort to coordinate international events to call for respect for lesbians and gays worldwide.

May 17 was chosen as the date of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990. By 2006, IDAHO – and its call not just for decriminalization of homosexuality but also the uplifting of the status of gays and lesbians all over the world – has gained wide support, including several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), non-government organizations (ILGA, FIDH), politicians, and many others. Globally, thousands of people from various communities (LGBT, as well as our allies) organize LGBT-related events from as far as Congo, China and Bulgaria.

In the Philippines, as part of IDAHO, localized campaigns were made by Outrage Magazine, among others, since 2009. For IDAHO 2012, the Bahaghari Center for Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari) held a project, “I dare to care about equality”, a photographic campaign calling for everyone to take a more proactive stance in fighting discrimination. We celebrate those who believe in equality.,1307


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Gay, deaf and mute: ‘no less than the trees and the stars they have a right to be here’

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 31 March 2012



Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons with disabilities (LGBT PWDs) experience double discrimination in their daily life.

Because of the many challenges they face, they have come to be known as the “marginalized within the marginalized” sector of society.

“We are considered abnormal by people…They mock us when we try to communicate,” according to a deaf gay participant at the recent “Deaf Talks: A Forum for Deaf LGBT’s on Human Rights and HIV.”

The forum was organized by Rainbow Rights Philippines, Outrage Magazine and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for the benefit of Rainbow Deaf Philippines, a Filipino LGBT organization for persons with hearing and speech impairment.

Founder and president of Deaf Rainbow Philippines Bibo Lee Perey shared the experiences and challenges PWDs face everyday in the community, particularly  when they look for work, go malling or simply in search of a partner in life.

“When we look for work, it’s our disability they will focus on,” he shared. “Or in social networking sites, they would mock us because we have wrong grammar.”

With the help of a sign language interpreter, members of Rainbow Deaf Philippines communicated their concerns and questions to CHR officials who were part of the forum.

CHR Executive Director Jake Meija assured forum participants that the government is doing everything to help alleviate their sad plight, such as advocating a legislation for LGBT PWDs.

“Give us a recommendation on what laws should be passed that will benefit and improve your situation, what you want to add, and what you want to be amended and we will help you push it,” CHR Director for Assistance and Visitorial Office Renante Basas urged the forum delegates.

There are several pending bills in the Senate that focus on the needs of the PWDs, such as the following:

  • SBN 617, entitled “An act providing for a special polling place for the disabled and elderly,” introduced by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada.
  • SBN 2999, entitled “An act ensuring the accessibility of the electoral processes to persons with disabilities (PWDs) and Senior Citizens with disabilities (SCWDs),” introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
  • SBN 3145, entitled “An act expanding the positions reserved for persons with disability, amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 7277, as amended, otherwise known as the magna carta for persons with disability,” introduced by Sen. Antonio Trillanes.
  • SBN 2855, entitled “An act providing additional relief to families with dependents, supporting aging parents and disabled persons,” introduced by Senators Trillanes, Ralph Recto, Manny Villar and Manuel “Lito” Lapid.

The CHR is also calling for a convention with LGBT PWDs and other LGBT organizations like Rainbow Rights Philippines and Outrage Magazine to discuss and address the problems they are facing.

“The government should give more attention to PWDs,”  Meija added. “You have to keep in mind that you are not a charity case. Filipinos, regardless of their gender and their disabilities, should enjoy and have the same equal rights as everyone else.”

He said the government should ensure that  the rights of PWDs are respected and that they are consulted in decision-making processes that concern them.

“Being an LGBT PWD is not a disability,” Mejia said. “You need to remember that you have the same rights as everyone else. You need to remember that everyday you need to defend your rights.”

Some 30 deaf participants nodded, raised and shook their hands (their sign for clapping), as they read the sign interpretation of what Meija said.

According to a research conducted by the CHR, there are eight million PWDs in the Philippines who suffer from  “relative invisibility” and tended to be viewed as “objects” of protection, treatment and assistance rather than subjects of rights.

Simply put, PWDs in the country experience being denied equal access to basic rights and fundamental freedoms and are being refused participation in the community, based on reports reaching the CHR.

“We should work with them as equal partners in developing society and not treat them as helpless recipients of assistance from others,” according to Germaine Trittle Leonin, founding president of Rainbow Rights.

Michael David dela Cruz and John Ryan Mendoza of Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT magazine in the Philippines, gave a lecture on HIV/AIDS.

“Our activities aim to provide some safe space for LGBT disadvantaged sectors,” Oscar Atadero, program manager of Rainbow Rights, said. “We partner with different organizations like CHR to address the concerns of neglected LGBT sectors, the marginalized within the marginalized.”

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




Bahaghari Center pushes for equality for LGBT Filipinos

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I dare to care about equality’ campaign launched, partners and participants sought.

Stressing how the promotion of equality is everyone’s issue, Bahaghari Center for LGBT Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center) has launched the “I dare to care about equality” campaign, forming part of the localized efforts aligned with the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) celebrations.

Celebrated every May 17 since 2004, when it was founded by Louis-Georges Tin, IDAHO is an effort to coordinate international events to call for respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. May 17 was chosen as the date of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.

By 2006, IDAHO – and its call not just for decriminalization of homosexuality but also the uplifting of the status of gays and lesbians all over the world – has gained wide support, including several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), non-government organizations (ILGA, FIDH), politicians, and many others. Globally, thousands of people from various communities (LGBT, as well as our allies) organize LGBT-related events from as far as Congo, China and Bulgaria.

In the Philippines, as part of IDAHO, localized campaigns were made by Outrage Magazine, among others, since 2009. The Webzine is also a partner of this year’s campaign.

For IDAHO 2012, the Bahaghari Center’s “I dare to care about equality” is a photographic campaign calling for everyone to take a more proactive stance in fighting discrimination. Photoshoots will be held for people who believe in advocating equal rights for all, with the outputs of the campaign to be released come May 17 online, as postcards/fliers, and as online ads.

That we need to think globally, but should act locally has long become a cliché,” says Patrick King Pascual, coordinator for the campaign. “”It remains just as valid, all the same. With ‘I dare to care about equality’, therefore, we aim to provide a channel for people to express their support for the continuous push for equality for all, just as we also provide a channel for people to know who are pro-equality.”

The photoshoots will be helmed by photographer Jed Yumang who will be behind the camera, with make-up and styling provided by artists Kaye Candaza and Nicole Magay.

For those interested to participate, email For those unable to join the photoshoots, participation is still encouraged through the submission of photographs following the campaign’s format for these to be included in ‘I dare to care about equality’.

Moves like this are important in highlighting that there are steps we can take to help increase the awareness on the quest for equality of LGBTs,” Pascual says. “It is up to us to keep on pushing until that day when anybody’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity are no longer issues.”

For more information, or for expression of interest to be part of the campaign, call +639287854244 (Michael David), +639274171518 (Patrick King) or +639263167735 (John Ryan); or email or | Facebook or





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