Suspension of Disbelief

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‘It would be taboo to discriminate LGBT people’ – AFP

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Outrage Magazine | 20 June 2017

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) – as it aims to be “A World-Class Armed Forces, Source of National Pride” – is against discrimination towards LGBT people.

This was stressed by AFP Brigadier General Jac Motril, who said that “the military organization respects, protects, and fulfills the rights of the Filipino people. It would be taboo for the AFP to discriminate against LGBT individuals.”

This is also in compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with the AFP treating “all its applicants fairly every time (we) recruit new members.”

“The provisions of the pertinent regulations in our procurement of officers and soldiers do not mention anything that would be considered discriminatory to any applicant,” Motril said.

For Motril, as long as the person interested to join the military service meets the requirements – their religion, color, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other distinctions of status – will not be an issue.

The AFP also supposedly already improved their enlistment and reenlistment procedures for recruitment, promotion, and procurement services to become gender fair.

“We uniformly treat all military personnel equally, just like any able-bodied individual, regardless of whether they are LGBT or not,” Motril said. “The AFP is not at odds with any particular sector in the country and only focuses its attention on its mandate, which is to protect the Filipino people and secure the sovereignty of the State.”

This is also why Motril expressed his support to “all endeavors that aim to improve the lives of Filipino LGBT people.”

It is still worth highlighting that acting according to socially-defined masculine versus feminine behaviors is expected within AFP. For instance, the AFP Code of Ethics has provisions that can be used to discriminate against lesbian and gay members of the military. An example is Article 5 (Military Professionalism) Section 4.3 (Unethical Acts) of the AFP Code of Ethics, which states:

Military personnel shall likewise be recommended for discharge/separation for reason of unsuitability due to all acts or omissions which deviate from established and accepted ethical and moral standards of behavior and performance as set forth in the AFP Code of Ethics. The following are examples: Fornication, Adultery, Concubinage, Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Pedophilia.

Motril himself acknowledged that “I know there are lesbians and gays in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and they perform their official duties in their respective units just like any regular military personnel does. I’m not aware if there are bisexuals and transgenders (sic) in the AFP. But if there are any, I suppose they would be expected to behave accordingly with respect to AFP norms and official regulations.”

Motril personally knows of different LGBT individuals in AFP. One – a lesbian Technical Sergeant who serves as a staff member in AFP’s education and training institution – was commended for her “remarkable physical strength”, which, by AFP’s benchmark, is rated higher than some male soldiers in her unit. Another is a gay soldier who – when Motril first met in 1985 – had the rank of Private, serving as a mess assistant for a commanding general of an infantry division. He has since retired, then ranked as a Master Sergeant in the army.

“I believe that LGBTs have the right to equal protection of the law. I welcome any policy to advance the move for gender fairness and additional protection against discrimination of LGBT people,” Motril 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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Rep. Miro Quimbo: ADB is very innocuous

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Outrage Magazine | 14 June 2017

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The campaign for the passage of the anti-discrimination bill (ADB), regardless of version, has been one of the battlecries of the LGBT community in the Philippines for over 17 years now. And getting people on board – especially politicians – continues to be a challenge.

The sad truth is not all lawmakers support ADB, said Marikina 2nd District Representative Romero “Miro” Quimbo, one of the authors of the latest version of the ADB, “because of [their] ardent refusal to recognize the new normal,” Quimbo said in an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview.

But waxing positive, Quimbo said that “it’s just a matter of time for people to really wake up. This is a free world that recognizes the weaknesses and strengths of each person; we need to contribute to those who can contribute to the society. And the quicker we (are) able to get over our biases, (the quicker) it’s going to be for the betterment of our country.”

Quimbo stressed: “I think it’s time for them to wake-up. No individual or sexual orientation has the monopoly of the truth.”

RECOGNIZING THE NEED

Quimbo believes in the importance of having an anti-discrimination law for LGBT Filipinos.

“First, it’s to prevent any form of discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or even religion. There are certain things that we managed to already set aside, in terms of hiring, in terms of promotion… It’s now time to recognize and penalize a particular behavior. People say it’s not a lot, but I think it’s a major first step for us to do,” he said.

As it was prior to his administration, during former President Benigno Aquino III’s term, several bills linked to LGBT discrimination were filed, but none of them prospered. After the change in administration, LGBT-related bills surfaced once again. But this time, they are – finally – already gaining traction.

“I’m almost certain that it will pass in the Lower House,” Quimbo said, adding that “I can’t really speak for the Senate.”

For Quimbo, “it’s very innocuous. Innocuous in a sense that it’s not very politically laden. I don’t see the major religious lobby groups opposing it because it does not really talk about same-sex marriage or thereabouts, which is more contentious. So I anticipate – and I’m quite hopeful – that it will become a law.”

ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Many lawmakers continue to dance around the concept of marriage equality, but Quimbo is open about his support at least for civil unions.

“I have always said that I think at the right time, a law will eventually be passed recognizing civil unions of individuals regardless of race, regardless of sexual orientation,” he said.

To date, the only country in Asia that legalized same-sex marriage is Taiwan.

“People should not complicate the matter. Homosexuality is no longer looked at as a psychological aberration, but a normal behavior. So therefore, they are entitled to the rights given to normal individuals; and marriage, common ownership, as well as protection of that union is part and parcel of it. They have the same rights that other people have. I think it’s as basic as that,” Quimbo said.

THE FATHER, THE ALLY

Quimbo is a father to three boys.

During the Outrage Magazine interview, he recalled what he told them about being who or what they want to be. “The other week, I talked to my three boys and I told them that, at the end of the day, you guys need to decide what you need to do when you turn 18. You can choose your religion, you can choose your political affiliation, you can choose your sexual orientation. But it’s better that you do it at a mature age, because it’s not influenced; meaning it’s a very conscious decision.”

Quimbo sees himself an LGBT ally who continues to remind LGBT people to “keep pushing. It will not be where it is if people were just sitting on their asses, literally. Meaning, people have to accept the fact that it’s a challenge, and people have to embrace the challenge and keep pushing the envelope, so people can get more educated,” Qumbo said. “And be examples. I think that’s very critical so more people can really be convinced.”

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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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Sen. Sonny Angara expresses hope it’ll be a ‘great Pride month’ for LGBT Filipinos

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Outrage Magazine | 9 June 2017

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Sen. Sonny Angara – in a short clip dedicated to the LGBT community in the Philippines – extended his felicitations for the Pride month, just as he expressed hope it’ll be a ‘great Pride month’ for LGBT Filipinos.

Angara is – by and large – known as an LGBT ally, sponsoring one of the earlier versions of the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB), Senate Bill 948 (or the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act).

SB 948 – which eyed to prohibit discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, SOGI, HIV status, relationship status, disability, language, physical features, health status and medical history – failed to pass. Under the proposed measure, acts of discrimination include promoting and encouraging stigma, inciting hatred or violence, inflicting harm on health and well-being, and engaging in profiling. Also to be penalized are denial of political, civil and cultural rights; right to education, work, organize, expression; and denial of access to goods and services. Had it become law, offenders may be penalized with not less than a year but not more than six years imprisonment or a fine of not more than P500,000, or both.

In 2016, while guesting on a noontime show in TV giant ABS-CBN, Angara promoted SB 948, which was then pending in the Senate. He was quoted as saying that “any form of discrimination threatens order and stability in our country. It is imperative that discrimination — or any act that establishes, promotes and perpetuates standing inequalities and disregards the right to equality of treatment — be reduced.”

Angara, who has yet to verbalize his position on marriage equality, nonetheless stated that “I believe… LGBT unions should have equal rights under the law, including rights to inherit and other property rights.

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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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OFW guide: How to make every remittance count

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VERA Files | 13 November 2016

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ofw

Overseas Filipino workers are considered to be some of the hardest-working people in the country. But as unfortunate as it sounds, most of the fruits of their hard work are not put into something that can possibly gain great rewards – which in return, if managed properly, can give them the option to stop working abroad and go back to the Philippines and be with their loved ones.

Based on statistics, the remittances most of them send home are poorly managed by their families. In some cases, they are spent on unnecessary things, like buying the latest gadgets, and dining at expensive restaurants.

And this unnecessary spending can be avoided with proper financial education for both the OFW and their families.

“In order to make a big difference in the lives of OFWs and their families, there has to be a comprehensive, extensive and sustainable personal finance program nationwide. There has to be a program [that] will teach the spouses of OFWs  how to manage their money,” said registered financial planner Alvin Tabañag.

The starting point of the personal finance journey should come from the OFWs themselves.

“An OFW, or anybody for that matter, should not be too busy to make sure that his/her family’s financial future is secured,” Tabañag stressed.

He also added that financial education should be adopted by the entire family, not just the overseas worker. And the most crucial part of the journey is to teach basic money management to OFWs before they are deployed, so they can also teach it to their families before they leave.

Currently, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration offers Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars (PDOS) to would-be OFWs.

“The PDOS is only five to ten minutes, and the topics do not cover much on the subject  of money management,” Tabañag said, “and if you bombard them with too much information, they will just shut down.”

So he proposed to make it an hour-long orientation, wherein the basics of money management will be discussed. He pointed out that it would only be effective if the families of the OFWs would also participate and make the effort to learn personal finance.

“Ultimately, it’s the OFW’s responsibility to teach his/her family how to better manage its finances. Responsible money management is more about attitude and discipline, rather than knowledge and skills,” Tabañag explained.

He also gave initial steps on how OFWs can educate their families when it comes to money management, as follows:

1) First, overseas workers should sit down with their families and talk about the importance of a secure financial future. They should ask them about their goals. After hearing their answers, the OFWs should explain what is required to achieve such goals.

2) Next is to paint a picture of the negative consequences if the families left behind do not manage the money responsibly.

“The problem with a lot of Filipinos, not just OFWs, is they do not look far enough into the future. That’s why they don’t realize or see the long-term consequences of the money decisions that they make today. But if you plan ahead and try to create a vision of the future, then probably, you would think twice about how to spend your money wisely,” Tabañag stressed.

On the part of the OFWs’ spouses, they need to realize and keep in mind that their husbands or wives who are abroad will not be working there for life. The OFWs will eventually return home and the money coming in will stop at some point. And if they do not take care of what was being earned right now, they might suffer later.

“OFWs and their families need to master budgeting and spending wisely, so they can secure their financial future. Just follow a budget which will tell you how much you need to spend for a certain period and then exercise discipline. Make every peso count. Do not spend on impulse,” Tabañag ended.

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(Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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HB 3398 seeks more benefits for 14M solo parents

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VERA Files | 24 October 2016

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Solo parents campaign for more support. Photo from the Facebook page of DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Solo parents campaign for more support. Photo from the Facebook page of DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Here’s a good news for all solo parents in the country, now numbering about 14 million based on the latest data released by the National Statistics Office.

Solo parents may look forward to an additional basic personal exemption from individual income tax in the amount of P50,000. That’s on top of the existing exemption that they may claim for their dependent child or children.

This tax exemption is just one of the added benefits for solo parents provided under House Bill 3398 that seeks to amend Republic Act 8972, or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000.

Solo parents are composed of widows or widowers, persons separated, annulled, or abandoned by their spouses or partners.

House Bill 3398, filed recently by the Gabriela Women’s Party, also adds teeth to the old law by penalizing persons or companies found guilty of violating the Solo Parents Act. It provides a fine of P50,000 for the 1st violation, P100,000 for the 2nd violation, and P300,000 for the 3rd violation.

In addition, it states that businesses that refuse to grant the benefits and privileges mandated for solo parents may be ordered closed by the appropriate implementing agencies.  These penalties and administrative sanctions will also apply to government offices and officials.

“We are hoping that next year, House Bill 3398 will get enacted,” Carina Javier, president of the Federation of Solo Parents in LuzViMin and United Solo Parents of the Philippines, said. “As of now, the bill is with the committee on revision of laws.”

“For the first time ever, we, solo parents, were consulted. We actually sat down with them in crafting this bill; all the recommendations and provisions were from the actual suggestions of solo parents all over the Philippines,” Javier explained.

Solo parents. Photo from FB page of DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Solo parents. Photo from FB page of DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

HB 3398 seeks to give the following additional benefits to solo parents whose net annual income is P250,000 and below:

  • 10% discount on purchases of clothing for a child, made within a period of up to 12 years from the kid’s birth;
  • 20% discount on all purchases of baby’s milk, food and food supplements made within a period of three years from a child’s birth;
  • 12% discount on all purchases of basic necessities;
  • 20% discount on purchases of medicines and other medical supplements and supplies for a child made within a period of 18 years from birth;
  • at least 20% discount on the hospital bill of the solo parent or his/her child, if admitted for medical care, be it in a private or public hospital;
  • at least 10% discount on consultation and laboratory diagnostic fees, and purchase of medicines for solo parents and their dependents;
  • 10% discount on school tuition fees per child who is in college;
  • 15% discount on all purchases of school supplies for the child made within a period of 21 years from birth;
  • at least 20% discount on all private and public recreational facilities, provided that the discount can be availed only when the solo parent and his/her dependent/s are together.

Under RA 8972, solo parents are entitled to a flexible work schedule, safety net against discrimination in the workplace, additional parental leave, educational and housing benefits, and medical assistance.

Also included in the Act’s comprehensive package are the following: livelihood development and counseling services, parent effectiveness services, critical incidence stress debriefing, and special projects for individuals in need of protection.

“Sadly, only a handful of local government units are aware that RA 8972 exists and have the political will to implement the programs and services for solo parents,” Javier said. “The majority are not aware, do not care, or do not have a budget.”

On Nov. 30, solo parents will hold a unification meeting and launching of their advocacy campaign, “Kapakanan ng mga Solo Parents.”

“We are part of the disadvantaged sectors of society who need assistance. Let’s call on our local officials, whom we had voted for in order to help us,” Javier said in Filipino. “Go or write to your congressmen so that HB 3398 will immediately be passed into law.”

“This piece of legislation will be a blessing for all of us – solo parents and our children,” she stressed.

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(Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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And Ryan met Sebastian

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Outrage Magazine | 18 June 2016

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Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.14.00 PM

“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.

Seb-and-Ryan1 Seb-and-Ryan7 Seb-and-Ryan8 Seb-and-Ryan6 Seb-and-Ryan5 Seb-and-Ryan2 Seb-and-Ryan3 Seb-and-Ryan4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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