Suspension of Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT Pinoy

Fulfilling a lifelong dream to be in the spotlight

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Outrage Magazine | 8 June 2017

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This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

“Two hundred binayad sa akin noong una akong mag-perform, pero masaya na ako. Okay lang kasi matagal ko na itong pinangarap (I was paid P200 the first time I performed, but I was already happy. It’s okay because this has been my dream for so long).”

That was how Richard Fabella, better known by her stage name as Princess Jolens, broke into the drag scene, perhaps highlighting how her journey into the spotlight was not an easy one. But more than the failed attempts, it was perseverance that “paved the way for the fulfillment of my dreams,” she said.

Princess Jolen’s exposure to the drag scene was somewhat atypical.

“One time, nagkaayaan kaming mag-barkada, mga workmates ko, na pumunta sa isang hosto bar. Habang aliw na aliw sila sa mga macho dancer, ako naman manghang-mangha sa gay impersonator. Sobrang na-impress ako sa host (One time, me and friends went to a male go-go bar. While there, they were so fascinated with the macho dancers; but me, I was fascinated with the gay impersonator. I was so impressed with that host),” Princess Jolens said.

That first exposure to the world of drag left an indelible mark on her.

Habang pinapanood ko ung impersonator, maraming sumagi sa imagination ko – kung ako ung nasastage, sisiguraduhin ko na magandang-maganda ung suot kong gown (While watching the impersonator, a lot of things entered my mind. I was thinking that if I’m the one onstage, I’d make sure I’d be wearing a really fabulous gown),” she laughed.

When the night ended, as they headed out of the bar, Princess Jolens saw the impersonators eating outside. She didn’t let the opportunity pass. She walked over to them and introduced herself.

“Mama, magkano per night niyo dito sa bar (Girls, how much do you earn every night here in the bar)? Princess Jolens asked. “P150 a night lang; tapos kung walang tao, P100 lang (They earn P150 per night; and if there aren’t any people, just P100 per night). Oh my God!

She was shocked after hearing how much the performers were earning, “but they seemed happy with what they were doing, and that’s the most important thing.”

That encounter encouraged her to pursue her desire to perform.

During one of her night-outs, she stumbled upon an opportunity to make her dreams a reality.

“I went to this bar in Pasay and I saw at the counter a poster announcing the bar’s annual beauty pageant. The floor manager approached me and asked if I was interested. I immediately said ‘no’. It never crossed my mind to join beauty pageants,” Princess Jolens said. “I told the manager that I prefer performing than be a ‘beauconera‘.”

The floor manager told Princess Jolens “that one of the prizes that I would get if I win the pageant would be a regular set at the bar,” she recalled. With some hesitations, Princess Jolens joined the contest.

She was able to reach the grand finals. But, unfortunately, she did not win

A few days later, she joined another pageant in Cubao. And this time, she won the title.

Princess Jolens went back to the bar in Pasay to let the performers – with whom she became friends with during the contest – know about her victory.

That night at the bar, she met the floor manager again.

“He introduced me to the owner. They asked me what my talents are. I told them that I can do anything – that I’m even willing to perform for free. I just want to perform,” Princess Jolens said.

And that was the turning point for her, as she “officially” entered the drag scene.

She earned P200 on her first night and she was happy with it.

It was a thankless beginning to a drag career.

Different bars noticed her, and eventually, she started getting bookings left and right.

“I started from P200 a night, but when I started performing in other bars, it became P3,000 per night,” she said.

She juggled her daytime job and the demands of being a performer.

“It’s all good. I love what I was doing. It did not matter if I was only able to sleep for a few hours because of rehearsals. There was also a time when I made costumes while at work. It was tiring, but it was really fun… because I love what I was doing,” Princess Jolens said.

But then, another chapter of her life started. Princess Jolens got an offer to work abroad with her ex.

She gave up everything for love. Princess Jolens and her partner at that time went to Jeddah.

Pero isang taon pa lang ang nakakalipas (But after only a year), I felt that my ex could not love me the way I was hoping he would. After I gave up everything, that was what happened,” she recalled.

When she finished her contract, she went back to the Philippines.

Princess Jolens got in touch with the bars that she was connected with before – and in no time, she started performing again.

“The art of drag is slowly dying,” she sadly said. Nowadays, “there is no production value, especially those who perform in small bars. That’s wrong. Regardless if it’s a small or a big venue, you should always be at your best. Your next performance will depend on your last performance. If you do well with your last performance, expect that you will have another set the following day. But if you did not do well, don’t expect another booking the following day.”

Although there is a growing number of drag performers in Manila, for Princess Jolens, “the quality of their performance is no longer that good.”

“It’s not always about how much you are earning. It’s not always about the money. It’s about entertaining the audience. It’s about being beautiful on stage and giving your best performance,” she said.

Princess Jolens also said that some drag performers now do not value the opportunity given to them. “You will see that they are not taking their job seriously, like as if they are just playing on stage. Some of them are prima donnas.”

For Princess Jolens, “whenever you perform on stage, put yourself in the position of the audience. Ask yourself what you would like to see and experience. That’s what you should give. The audience should be in awe when they watch you. And if you successfully achieve that, then that’s the only time you would leave a mark as a performer.”

And Princess Jolens ought to know, of course; considering what she had to go through to be where she is now.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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The hottest gay man in the world

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Outrage Magazine | 20 May 2017

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ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF MR. GAY WORLD ORGANIZATION

A LANDMARK VICTORY FOR FILIPINO LGBTS.

Thirty-five-year-old John Fernandez Raspado brought home the Mr. Gay World crown – the first for the Philippines.

He also won several awards during the competition, that include: Best in Swimwear, Best in Formal Wear, Mr Gay World Closed Door Interview, Mr. Online Vote, and Mr. Social Media.

“It was very fulfilling. I served as a voice for the entire (LGBT) community; it was a moment that helped Filipinos become visible and be heard,” Raspado said in an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview.

He added that the experience was overwhelming and unforgettable, and “I learned a lot from it – the place, the people, and the other delegates, as well as their stories.”

Raspado is first to admit that “it was not an easy feat.” Perhaps highlighting how pageants dwell on the physical (first, before anything else), he admitted that he had some insecurities during the pageant.

“I was not the tallest and sexiest, nor did I have the most chiseled body,” he said. But “despite all this, I had to exude confidence. It paid off.”

Raspado also made friends during the competition, becoming close with Mr. Gay Belgium, Mr. Gay Venezuela, Mr. Gay Finland, and “my new besty” Mr. Gay New Zealand.

Leading up to the pageant, Raspado went through a series of trainings, courtesy of Mister Gay World Philippines Organization; Wilbert Tolentino – the first Filipino to join Mr Gay World; and Kagandahang Flores.

“Physically, I had to trim down my weight. And since my legs were quite big – which made me look small, short-legged, and heavy – I had to tone it down as well,” he said. “I conditioned myself emotionally and spiritually. I also prepared for the Q&A by updating myself with current events.”

Now with the title, Raspado plans to further promote his advocacy – #iheartLGBTQI, which stands for:
I – image modernization
H – healthy lifestyle
E – equality
A – acceptance
R – responsible sexual behavior and awareness
T – testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS

Recognizing that his win somehow gives him a platform to be heard, Raspado stressed his support for marriage equality and the anti-discrimination bill.

“I’m all for the rights that LGBTs should have – we should experience the full benefits of these rights. And these two (marriage equality and anti-discrimination bill) are important and beneficial for us to be protected as citizens and as human beings,” he said.

And his message to LGBT Filipinos is to “have faith and fight for what is right. Be true to who you are and empower yourselves. Have courage and be involved in the community.”

Albeit the emphasis on physical beauty (first of all), Mr. Gay World is still considered as one of the more celebrated beauty pageants in the LGBT community. And by winning the competition, Raspado hopes that it will “give Filipino LGBTs the platform to be recognized and be heard,” he ended.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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And Ryan met Sebastian

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Outrage Magazine | 18 June 2016

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“He has been my crush since I saw ‘Bubble’ (Sebastian Castro’s music video),” Ryan Chua said.

But initially, there were no intentions for the two to have an actual face-to-face meet-up.

“I was (just) thrilled when he added me on Facebook and followed me on Twitter,” Ryan added.

As is common with online friends, the two chatted now and then.

But then fate had other plans for them.

In 2013, they finally met when Sebastian invited Ryan to his art exhibit. And that first time they met, “no one had to put his best foot forward or send chocolates and flowers just to please each other,” Ryan said to Outrage Magazine.

It was not an immediate “thing”; there wasn’t even any second meet-up. At that time, Sebastian had to fly to US and Ryan had to prepare to leave for the UK for his journalism scholarship.

But their communication continued. That is, while they were away from each other, they would Skype on a regular basis and talk about different things – from Philippine politics and entertainment gossips, to ideas for Sebastian’s new songs. And there were also surprise visits in between.

Ryan-and-Seb“We became best friends first even before any love confession was made,” Ryan said.

When Ryan finished his scholarship, he returned to the Philippines. The two started living together.

As a couple, they were almost always present in LGBT-related events. But as their relationship grew stronger, it also attracted bashers, many even from within the LGBT community.

“Hearing (negative) views comes with making a relationship public, especially when it’s between two men,” said Ryan, who nonetheless noted that the observations were somewhat superficial, comparing Ryan and Sebastian on “how we look.” “But we don’t let those comments affect our relationship. Most people see only the physical. Often, they don’t see the emotional and intellectual connection.”

But just as they’ve started establishing a life together in Manila, an opportunity came up for Ryan to work for a media outlet in Beijing, China.

Being apart from each other is not new to them; after all, they started out as online friends. Now, social media has become a tool for them to constantly communicate with each other.

“It is not always easy. Being away from each other always has challenges. I miss him every day. Nothing beats physical contact and intimacy,” Ryan said. “But we’re both mature enough to appreciate the joys of a one to three-hour Skype or Facetime call. When we don’t have time to call, short messages would do.”

Sometimes they would even watch movies or TV shows together while on a video call “because enjoying anything with him is always double the fun,” Ryan added.

Though they had not planned too far ahead into the future, they are currently focused on their own respective fields, so eventually, they could enjoy their successes together.

“I am very fortunate to have a partner who knows me more deeply than anyone does, who has big dreams like I do, and who understands that, sometimes, we need to be apart so that we could build a stable future,” Ryan ended.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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Quezon City holds a different kind of santacruzan

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 24 May 2014

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A different kind of santacruzan was held recently in Quezon City. It was different not only because the participants were transgenders from different organizations from all over the country but also because it had the full support of the local government.

Called the trans-santacruzan (transgender santacruzan), the May 18 event was held in celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Aside from the annual Pride celebration held every June, IDAHOT is another important event that the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community throughout the world celebrates every year.

“The theme of IDAHOT this year, coinciding with the international celebration, is ‘freedom of expression in all public areas’. We would like to show everyone that [we] trans people should be respected in terms of how we express ourselves in public places. We want to highlight LGBT rights and gender equality,” Dindi Tan, board member of the Association of Transgender People (ATP) in the Philippines and organizer of the trans-santacruzan, said.

Santacruzan5“The Q.C. government helped the LGBTQ community to make this event possible,” Tan added. “Without its help, we wouldn’t be able to mount this kind of event. Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte was also an integral part of this. She has expressed her advocacy and support for the LGBTQ community through her efforts.”

IDAHOT commemorates the World Health Organization’s (WHO) action removing homosexuality from the list of psychological diseases. It was the outcome of a long-fought battle by LGBTQs.

The trans-santacruzan was participated in by several LGBT organizations, including Alcaraz Beauties, Bellissimo Filipinas, Bermudez Beauties, Betera’s Powerhouse of Beauties, Deaf Rainbow Philippines, GANDA (Gender and Development Advocates) Filipinas, LGBT Pinoy, Miss Gay Philippines Winners, Sytangco Beauties, TAO (Transpinay of Antipolo Organization), TransDeaf Philippines, and Trippers Philippines-TWC.

“It was the first time the transwoman and transman communities were together for an event. We, [members of] TransMan Pilipinas, would like to show everyone that we exist, and that we are not lesbians,” Nil Orera Nodalo of TransMan Pilipinas (TMP) explained.

Another main feature of the event was the participation of US-based Filipino transgender model, Geena Rocero. She came to Manila to attend the event and to meet members of local LGBTQ organizations.

“This is a historic moment, for the first time we’re all together fighting for our rights. I’m happy to be here with my friends and everyone who joined this parade,” Rocero said. “I think organizations like ATP and TMP are doing an amazing work. People now are more aware of what we need.”

Santracruzan4Rocero first gained public attention when she came out as a transgender during TED Talks’ annual conference last March. Her video, a monologue about her life and the struggle she experienced during the years she hid her true sexuality, gained more than a million views.

During the IDAHOT celebration, Rocero gave another inspirational speech on the importance of fighting for one’s right.

“We all have to stick together. I think one of the basic rights that we all have is to fight together to advocate for our name and gender recognition… without being forced to undergo surgeries. We all have to come together as a community so we can succeed,” she said.

The trans-santacruzan did not only showcase the diversity of the transgender community, but also imparted a very important message to the public.

“It is very relevant to celebrate IDAHOT because… [many are] not familiar with the transgender concept in the Philippines. And we, [members of] the transgender community, are affected by that. Most people in our society don’t really understand what homophobia and transphobia really mean,” Kate Montecarlo Cordova, founder of the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines, stressed.

Although Quezon City has made many efforts to improve the welfare of the LGBTQ community, still majority of local governments are still unaware of the struggles LGBTQs are experiencing.

“The government is not doing what it is supposed to be doing in terms of alleviating discrimination against us. In the first place, how can it do it if it is not completely aware of us? That’s why, we in the transgender movement, want to be visible in the society. We are very visible and yet invisible when it comes to health, rights, and in many other sectors,” Cordova pointed out.

“It’s about time that we assert our rights,” she added. “The whole concept of this [santacruzan] event is that we are free in sending a message to the world that we can be ourselves, regardless of our sexual orientation, gender identity and expression – and we have the freedom to do that.”

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

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‘Trans-Santacruzan’ celebrates IDAHOT in Phl

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Outrage Magazine | 21 May 2014

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The first-of-its-kind parade of beauties happened in the Philippines when the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP) and TransMan Pilipinas (TMP) mounted “Trans-Santacruzan” recently in Quezon City. Santacruzan is traditionally held in the month of May to express the Marian devotion of Christians in the Philippines, with this version adding the call for acceptance of LGBTQ people. The event also marked the annual celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), held every 17th of May to mark the date when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases.

The event was not the first Santacruzan to feature transgender people, but it was the first trans-led such gathering.

The purpose of this event is to highlight LGBT rights and gender equality. The theme for this year, coinciding with the international celebration, is ‘Freedom of expression in all public spaces’,” ATP’s Dindi Tan said.  “We would like to show people that trans people should be respected in terms of how we express ourselves in public spaces.”

Several transgender and LGBT organizations from all over the country participated in the event, including: Alcaraz Beauties, Bellissimo Filipinas, Bermudez Beauties, Betera’s Powerhouse of Beauties, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, TransDeaf Philippines, GANDA (Gender and Development Advocates) Filipinas, LGBT Pinoy, Miss Gay Philippines winners, Sytangco Beauties, Transpinay of Antipolo Organization, and Trippers Philippines-TWC.

For Shane Madigal, president of TAO, participation in the gathering was a show of solid support.  “In our city, in Antipolo, the local government is giving enough support to transpinays, not just in our organization. It’s a big impact that we are now being recognized and that there were a lot of changes that have been happening. I hope that other local government units (LGUs) would mirror the practices in Antipolo and in Quezon City when it comes to promoting LGBT rights.”

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The Trans-Santacruzan passed by parts of the Elliptical Road, and the stretch of Philcoa before it concluded in the Quezon Memorial Circle. Although the parade wasn’t that organized in terms of marshalling the participants, particularly as they neared Philcoa, the message that called for equality was delivered loud and clear as they walked along the busy highway.

This is a historic moment, for the first time we’re all together fighting for our rights. I’m happy to be here with my friends and everyone who joined this parade,” Filipino transgender model Geena Rocero, who joined the event, said. “I think organizations like ATP and TMP are doing an amazing work but we need to start a conversation, and that’s how we start. People now are more aware of what we need, and that’s why we’re here.”

timthumb-3Rocero, who is based in the US, came out as a transgender during TED Talks’ annual conference last March. She now devotes most of her time in joining LGBTQ-related activities, particularly those that promote transgender rights. She arrived in the Philippines last May 17 to participate in the IDAHOT 2014 celebration in the Philippines, and to meet with LGBTQ organizations to “inspire them to continue fighting for equal rights”.

We all have to stick together. I think… that we all have to fight together, and to advocate for our name and gender recognition, that would allow us to change our name and gender marker in our documents without being forced to undergo surgeries. I think we all have to come together as a community so we can succeed,” Rocero added.

If anything, the Trans-Santacruzan was another landmark for the LGBTQ community in the Philippines for getting the attention of the spectators, thereby awakening the senses of the haters, for them to accept and treat equally members of the LGBTQ community.

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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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