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Metro Manila Pride calls on LGBTQ+, allies to #ResistTogether on June 29


MANILA, Philippines – Pride is a protest. Pride is resistance.

On June 29 at the Marikina Sports Center, the LGBTQ+ community and allies will march the streets not just to celebrate, but to resist together the injustices the community continues to face.

This year’s localized Pride theme #ResistTogether aims to highlight the rootedness of Pride in protest, particularly the 1969 Stonewall Riots – a series of demonstrations against the police crackdown on a gay bar in New York City. The festival also seeks to amplify the clamor against the oppression of the vulnerable.

“It is a place to express dissent against injustice and oppression; a chance for us to uphold our human rights and that of other minorities,” official organizer Metro Manila Pride wrote on their Facebook event page.

Dubbed the most colorful festival of the year, the Metro Manila Pride March and Festival is a space for the LGBTQ+ to celebrate and empower their community. Participants wave their rainbow banners, and raise – even wear – the flags symbolizing their truths. In 2018, the Metro Manila Pride drew 25,000 participants, making it the biggest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia.

But Pride goes beyond the colorful celebration; Pride, above all, is standing in solidarity against gender-related discrimination and violence.

Despite ranking as the 10th most LGBTQ-friendly country in the world, the Philippines – the Filipino LBGTQ+ community believes – has still yet to become a genuinely gender-inclusive country. Discrimination is still rampant at home, in the workplace, and in public spaces. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination)

Meanwhile, the SOGIE Equality Bill – which protects any person from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression – languished in the Senate two years after it was passed by the House of Representatives in 2017. The bill, which was first drafted 19 years ago, now goes back to square one and will have to be refiled as the 17th Congress puts it under archives.

Arms linked, we resist the roll back of human rights: not just the delay of the SOGIE equality bill, but all injustices against Filipino minorities,” said Metro Manila Pride.

The organization opens the event free to all who are interested to participate. For more information, visit Metro Manila Pride’s Facebook page or the official #ResistTogether event page.

Rappler is one of the official media partners of Metro Manila Pride. – Rappler.com

Rice straw biogas facility in Laguna makes use of waste


GLIMPSE. The country's first rice straw biogas facility is set to formally open in Victoria, Laguna on June 26, 2019. Photo from Straw Innovations Ltd

LAGUNA, Philippines – Waste can still be made useful. 

A rice straw biogas facility is taking that sentiment to heart by using leftover rice straw to make clean and efficient energy.

The Rice Straw to Biogas (R2B) project, spearheaded by United Kingdom-based company Straw Innovations Ltd, is the first of its kind and scale in the Philippines to use leftover rice straw or dayami to produce food, fuel, and soil conditioner. 

This is considered to be the first rice straw biogas facility in the country. Although it started in 2016, its official launch on June 26 aims to present the system to the public, informing them of how it works while boosting awareness of the project and its progress. 

Making use of waste

The project traces its roots from the immense problem of rice straw disposal in the country. Based on the Philippine Rice Research Institute's (PhilRice) statistics, the country produces 15.2 million tons of rice that leave 11.3 million tons of rice straw every year.

One of the ways to dispose of rice straw is by burning it, which is prohibited under the Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act No. 9003) and the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. Burning the rice straw is harmful to the environment, damaging the food resources of beneficial insects in the rice field and making farmlands unproductive. (READ: The problem with rice)

Straw Innovations Ltd saw the abundance of rice straw as an opportunity to transform it into something useful through the R2B project. 

By gathering and processing straw to release methane in a controlled environment, it can be captured and used as a clean-burning cooking fuel known as biogas.

With funding from UK Aid, the company decided to build the biogas facility in a 5,000-square meter land in Victoria, Laguna. The land was previously used as a poultry farm.

Straw Innovations Ltd project staff Yevgeny Honrade told Rappler they chose to base their facility in Victoria because of the municipality's duck industry, which they can tap into for manure that can be utilized to produce biogas. (READ: What waste: human excrement can fuel developing world

"Unang-una dahil itik capital ang Victoria, madaming itik so posibleng madaming manure. 'Yung manure p'wede ding magamit na parang additional component sa biogas (Since Victoria is the duck capital of the country, we can collect more manure from this area. The manure collected can be used as an additional component for the biogas)," Honrade said.

Friendly to the environment

The facility makes affordable and clean biogas fuel and fertilizer from rice straw through a process called anaerobic digestion. It uses an efficient method of collecting rice straw and feeding it into two dry anaerobic digesters with gas processing equipment that can deliver a range of clean products.

According to R2B project facility engineer Angeli Castalone, the process utilized for this project isolates biomethane from other gases in the mixture of rice straw and cow manure.

Through the process, the harmful methane is transformed into a useful biomethane that significantly reduces the release of the harmful chemical to the atmosphere. 

"The project is environment-friendly because it turns waste into an energy source. By capturing a potent greenhouse gas (methane) from the straw, we are actually contributing to climate change mitigation," Honrade added.

Aside from the R2B project, the facility also grows straw mushrooms, a variety of mushrooms that grow under hot and shady environment. The facility uses the mushrooms to help catalyze the breaking of lignin or the cell wall of rice straws, making it easier to be processed as biogas.

Named after the project's director Craig Jamieson, zero cholesterol CJ mushroom burgers are also sold in the facility using mushrooms that they grow and other organic ingredients. (READ: Save and share: The key to affordable organic produce)  

Helping the community

Aside from providing an alternative and affordable energy source, the R2B also gets to help local farmers and residents in the vicinity.

"Magiging alternative energy source na malaking tipid in terms of energy use at saka local employment, at saka 'yung mushroom component niya, livelihood din 'yun eh," Honrade said.

(It's an alternative source with great savings in terms of energy use. It helps local employment, especially with the facility's mushroom component, since that's also a source of livelihood.)

Honrade explained that R2B will be beneficial for many since it will provide jobs for farmers and help transform rice straw to clean and sustainable energy.

"Maganda kasi 'to kasi naaddress natin 'yung waste problem ng rice at saka environmental mitigation siya na mayroong significant impact (This is great because we address the waste problem of rice. It's also environmental mitigation with significant impact)," Honrade added.

After working in mushroom production and biogas logistics inside the facility for two years, 28-year-old Roger Delos Reyes pointed out how the project gets to help both farmers and the environment. 

"Unang-una, nagkaroon ng trabaho 'yung ibang tao, tsaka 'yung ginagawa namin dito, tulad noong biogas na nakakabawas ng polusyon. 'Yung mga dayami na sinusunog lang ng ibang farmers, imbis na sunugin, kinokolekta nalang namin," Delos Reyes said.

(First of all, people gain jobs, and what we do here, like the biogas process reduces pollution. Instead of burning the straw like what other farmers do, we collect it.)

Being the first rice straw biogas facility in the country, the people behind the R2B project hope that more facilities will be built to cater to farmers and locals around the country.

"We should replicate this renewable energy initiative to benefit our people who need a cheaper alternative energy source and contribute to mitigating climate change," Honrade said. – Rappler.com


Alessandro Alfred Perez is a Rappler intern. He studies BA Sociology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Meet Father Richard Mickley of historic PH Pride March of 1994


MANILA, Philippines – A quarter of a century ago, the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (Pro-Gay Philippines) and the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) led around 50 people in a march from Quezon Avenue to Quezon Memorial Circle, holding banners that proudly declared their sexuality.

One of them was Father Richard Mickley.

The historic march, held on June 26, 1994, is now known as the first Pride March in the Philippines and in Asia.

“Before 1991, there were some wonderful organizations, such as Katlo, but very closeted,” the 90-year-old Mickley recounted in an interview with Rappler.

Pride marches were already being celebrated around the world at the time but not in the Philippines. Three years after he established MCC Manila as the first openly gay and lesbian organization in the country in 1991, Mickley persuaded his friend Oscar Atadero of Pro-Gay Philippines that it was time for the country to hold its own Pride March.

Before finding his way to the Philippines, Mickley served as an MCC pastor in the Unites States and New Zealand. The MCC, founded in California, USA, in 1968 is a church for the LGBTQ+. He began his ministry for the church in 1971, when he found out he was gay and he knew he had to reconcile his spirituality and identity. 

A "challenging call" soon led to a visit to the Philippines in 1991, where he established MCC 20 years later. He was in his pastorate in Auckland that year when they received a letter from a Filipino who was "kicked out from the church for being gay."

The letter challenged his complacency in his growing church in New Zealand, prompting him to head to the Philippines. For 5 weeks, he networked "contact by contact" before he arrived in the Philippines where he did not know anyone. He only had the address of the letter sender. 

In June 1991, he held what would be known as a "Pride Mass" at the National Cathedral of the Holy Child in Taft Avenue with around 30 to 50 LGBTQ+ in attendance. He only meant to visit the Philippines once, but then a few days later, a petition for a local MCC was signed and he knew a greater calling for the country's LGBTQ+ was ahead. 

“I gave the first Troy Perry-type pride sermon. A few days later, 40-some people gathered for my despedida (farewell party). They signed a petition for me to come back," Mickley recalled. 

Troy Perry, a gay rights and human rights activist, is founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

When the MCC in the US granted the petition for an MCC Manila, Mickley returned to New Zeland to resign from his job so he could begin his ministry in the Philippines. "So I went back to New Zealand to resign my job and my house and my car and my salary, and came here with a promise of 3 meals a day," he said.

FOUNDING OF MCC MANILA. Father Richard Mickley (right) holding the flag of the Philippines with Reverend Troy Perry, founder of MCC worldwide. Photo courtesy of Father Richard Mickley

Since that fateful decision, he has been campaiging for the marginalized LGBTQ+ in the Philippines for 28 years. He continued his minister even after he reached the MCC mandatory  retirement are of 65 in 1995. He continued his mission through the Order of Saint Aelred and joined the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit in 2003, where he became a bishop.

Aside from fighting for the cause of the LGBTQ+ within the 4 walls of a church, he became a familiar "father" figure in street rallies. He also proactively talked about positivity in living with AIDS and administered weddings of same-sex couples.

HIV AND SPIRITUAL COUNSELING. Father Richard Mickley gives HIV and spiritual counseling at the Pasig City Jail for a program of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business Alumni Association. Photo courtesy of Father Richard Mickley

Fight continues

Since 1991, he has been administering same-sex weddings in the Philippines, where there is no law recognizing same-sex marriage. For Mickley, if same-sex couples are not legally allowed to marry, they could still promise their lifelong commitment through “weddings.”

“The government, from time immemorial have taken charge [of] marriage. I suppose, that was done to protect children.... So we can never use the word, ‘marriage’. But we can have ceremonies of commitment.... We’ve been doing that since early '90s,” Mickley told Rappler.

SAME-SEX WEDDING. Father Richard Mickley administers a same-sex couple's wedding. Photo courtesy of Father Richard Mickley

The Anti-Discrimination Bill has yet to get past Congress almost two decades after Quezon City Representative Rex Calalay first filed the bill in 1995. Mickley recalled going to congressional hearings with then Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales, former chairperson of Commission on Human Rights (CHR), who was among the country's legislators who supported the bill. 

SUPPORTING ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILL. Father Richard Mickley, representing the Order of St Aelred, shows support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill filed by Representative Etta Rosales. Photo courtesy of Father Richard Mickley

"She fought it. But some other congressman put it down. It never went through. It’s to this day. That’s part of our sad story," he said.

Marching on

These barriers, however, should also serve to motivate the community to keep going as the job is not yet done, said Mickley.

"The job will never be depleted. There will always be people who need [to be] set free, those who are locked in the closet," he said.

Mickley hopes the community and its supporters would continue the fight.

"We were there in the beginning, and you are there to continue. And I’m so proud that they have kept on going for years, and you must continue to march on."  – Rappler.com


IN PHOTOS: LGBTQ+ community, allies hold Pride parade in Bacolod City


PRIDE MARCH. LGBTQ+ youth and allies unite in a Pride parade in Bacolod City on Saturday, June 22. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) in Bacolod City flocked to the Old City Hall on Saturday, June 22, for the Pride parade, where they celebrated the community's resilience and called for equality, freedom, and justice. 

This year's march marks the return of Pride to Bacolod City after 4 years and was organized by the youth-led LGBTQ+ organization Tribu Duag, in coordination with Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), and Rekindle. 

In Metro Manila, the annual Pride march is scheduled on Saturday, June 29. (READ: Metro Manila Pride calls on LGBTQ+, allies to #ResistTogether on June 29)

Event organizer and activist Kyle Anne Villariza said that the Pride parade serves as a mourning, a protest, and a celebration.

"It is a commemoration of all the lives that have been taken away because of who they are. It's a showcase of resistance towards the oppressive and patriarchal society," Villariza said.

SUPPORT. Members of the Taculing LGBTQ chapter show unity during the Pride parade in Bacolod City on Saturday, June 22. Photo by Nichol Francis Anduyan

A call for justice

Showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community, youth leaders and activists took the frontlines carrying rainbow flags and giant Pride letters.

DRAG QUEEN. Local drag talents head the pride float and hype up the crowd. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

The parade also called for justice for slain members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Student activist Joshua Villalobos condemned the killing of Ryan Hubilla, a human rights activist from Sorsogon who was shot by unknown gunmen on June 15. Hubilla was an openly gay man and a senior high school student. 

Villalobos also recalled the murder of Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was found dead in a motel room in Olongapo City.

Her companion that night, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, had turned violent and dunked her head in the toilet after discovering that she had male genitals. In December 2015, following a long trial, Pemberton was found guilty of homicide in Laude's death. 

Organizer Gino Lopez led the crowd in prayer and a minute of silence for the gay and transgender lives lost to hate crimes. 

Other speakers urged legislators and allied groups to support the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill, in the 18th Congress. 

"By having an ordinance for establishing intensive SOGIE programs in our local government unit, I believe we can educate more minds and break the stigma against the community," Akbayan Youth member Charisse Erinn Flores said.

Women's rights advocates Gabriela, Kabataan Partylist, as well as members of the deaf and mute community also showed their support for the LGBTQ+ community by joining the Pride parade.

CHANT. 'MAKI-BEKI, huwag ma-shokot!' A representative from Kabataan Partylist leads the crowd in a chant. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa also showed his support in front of the congregation, vocally expressing his support for the LGBTQ+ community.

"The LGBT deserve the same rights as anyone else," he said.

Parade of colors

This was echoed by youth activist Manuelito Garcia. For him, the Pride parade gave the LGBTQ+ an avenue to amplify their voices for people in power to hear them.

HUMAN RAINBOW. Members of the LGBTQ+ form a human rainbow with their color-coordinated outfits. Photo by Jorge Gamboa

"This is where we are able to shout it loud to our nation's leaders that we in the LGBTQ+ sector shall be heard," he said.

In 2013, Bacolod City passed an anti-discrimination ordinance that prevents the discrimination of a person based on gender, disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religion.

Free Dad Hugs

One striking image at the parade showed Clint Severino, a father who proudly carried a sign saying "Free Dad Hugs."

When asked what motivated him to join the parade, he said his two daughters were his inspiration.

"I've always been a supporter of LGBT rights, but I've done most of that in social media.... It was my daughters who drove me to attend the rally," Severino said.

FATHERLY PRIDE. Clint Severino and daughter march side by side at Bacolod City's pride parade. Photo by Nichol Francis Anduyan

Severino strongly believes that parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children should not only be accepting but also proud of their children. As more and more people approached him for a hug, he felt sad that so many kids could not find acceptance at home.

According to Severino, one of the biggest hurdles members of the LGBTQ+ community face is discrimination from their own families.

"Every time I would give a hug I would say, 'Your parents should be really proud of you,' and that makes them cry even more.... It just breaks my heart that the part of society that is most discriminated against, the one that needs the most support, is also the one that is most ignored or unsupported by their families," Severino added.

A celebratory night

The event culminated at Tippy's Bistro, a local establishment that hopes to be a safe space for all kinds of patrons.

LIP SYNC ASSASSIN. Local drag queen Yudip*ta wins the lip sync contest with a performance to 'Paparazzi' by Lady Gaga. Photo by Gino Lopez

The program started with a short film on the history of Pride Month and a message from Rayd Espeja of HAPI, then went on to showcase the talents of local performers, dancers, and drag queens in a RuPaul's Drag Race-inspired Lip Sync for Your Life and runway contest.

The event also featured speaker AJ Duatin, a teacher from Bacolod City National High School, who gave an informative presentation on equality, same sex civil union, and the SOGIE bill.

"With every storm this community has endured, Pride still exists because of love.... Love is the persistent force amidst all the hardships and the continuous fight for social justice," Villariza said. – Rappler.com 

Mary Jo Baldonado is a Rappler Mover currently based in Bacolod City. 

UP Mindanao’s 1st summa cum laude: 'Mindanao is home for excellence'


'HONOR AND EXCELLENCE'. Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo is the first summa cum laude of the University of the Philippines Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – Pete Maverick Nicole Estudillo has made history as the first-ever summa cum laude of the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

With a cumulative weighted average of 1.1971, the 22-year-old food technology major obtained the highest score on record in UP Mindanao since it was established in 1995.

Speaking to fellow graduates and parents at their 22nd commencement exercises on Friday, June 21, Estudillo recalled the promise of being an Iskolar ng Bayan (state scholar).

There's an Oble in each of us, willing to offer one’s self for a life of service.... Sa bawat sablay ay may nakaburdang sanaysay...nagpapaalala sa walang katapusang proseso ng pagkatuto. Lumisan man tayo mula rito, sana'y dala-dala pa rin natin ang mga aral na napulot sa loob at labas ng classroom,” she said.

(There’s an Oble in each of us, willing to offer one’s self for a life of service.... With every sablay comes an interwoven narrative...that reminds us of a never-ending process of learning. As we leave this university, hopefully we still bring with us the lessons that we picked up in and out of the classroom.)

"Oble" is the the UP Oblation, the iconic symbol of the UP, which represents selfless sacrifce. (READ: FAST FACTS: The A to Z of the University of the Philippines)

Estudillo stressed that her achievement is a testament that students in Mindanao can reach greater heights. Born and raised in Toril, Davao City, she hopes that her story will help empower, especially those from the provinces, to tap into their potential.

“There were tales of how some students before almost got the award. I think having a summa in UP Min proves that Mindanao has a lot to offer, that we can also achieve. We're far from the capital, so sometimes students have to go to other campuses to pursue their studies. UP Min's achievements show that given equal opportunities, Mindanao is a home for excellence,” she told Rappler.

“There will be more summas to come. I may be first but I am not the last. I am only the first of the many,” she stressed.

The way up

Estudillo has gone a long way since the start of her UP journey. Before she became a state scholar, she was uncertain that she would pass the UP College Admissions Test (UPCAT), which she called the “hardest exam in the Philippines.”

“After the test, I felt I needed to take another examination in another school,” she told Rappler. “I really didn't think I would pass. But because I did, I knew I was meant to be placed in UP Min.”

Out of the many course choices offered at UP, food technology stood out the most to Estudillo.

Dito ko rin natutunang pahalagahan ang mga bagay na kadalasan nating isinasawalang bahala. Mga bagay na pang-araw-araw na...saka mo na napapansin kapag wala na, gaya ng pagkain na dumaraan sa maraming complex na proseso bago ihain at matunaw sa tiyan. Food can mean life or death. Gano'n kaimportante ang food technology,” she said.

(This is where I learned to value things that we often take for granted. These are everyday things that you don’t notice until they’re gone...just like food that goes through many complex processes before it’s digested in your stomach. Food can mean life or death. That’s how important food technology is.)

Given the opportunity to study in UP, Estudillo threw herself into her studies, driven by her passion to learn. It was only in her third year, after consistently earning high GWAs (general weighted averages), that she entertained the possibility of becoming a summa cum laude.

“I am here by grace. I am not the brightest kid. I just loved to learn, so summa wasn’t a goal. Before fourth year, people were teasing me that I could be summa,” she said.

Beyond academics

Throughout her stay in the university, Estudillo strived to excel in both academics and in extracurricular activities.

In her senior year, Estudillo studied courses in food Science and technology as an exchange student under the Trans-ASEAN Global Agenda Education (TAG)-AIMS program at the University of Tsukuba in Japan from October 2017 to February 2018.

She was also involved in various civic and religious organizations, both as a member and officer in Rotaract Club of UP Min, UP Min Koro Kantahanay, PSALM Ministry of UP Min, For the Unity and Solidarity of Every Student in UP (FUSE UP), and Let’s Do It Philippines Youth-Davao.

Estudillo added that the friends she met in her organizations, especially campus ministry PSALM, also helped her in her her UP journey.

“One important thing is the friends you make in the university. They’re the ones who encourage you and tell you frankly where you [were] wrong.... More than shaping my mind, UP shaped my heart. UP was a fertile place to bloom in God's love and grace,” she told Rappler.

After UP

She attributed her success to her single mother, who worked as an overseas Filipino worker for a time to help her family. (READ: Son of junk collector graduates from UPLB, dedicates achievement to parents)

Pinagpala akong lumaki sa isang tahanang kinamulatan ang lakas at diskarte ng babae, ng isang nagsasariling ina – ang huwaran ng tibay na aking dadalhin bilang kapwa babae,” she said.

(I was blessed to grow up in a home that witnessed the strength and resourcefulness of a woman, of a single mother – a model of resilience that I’ll emulate as a fellow woman.)

After graduation, Estudillo will present her study to the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) in July. Her thesis, Antioxidant and Anticancer Potential of Artocarpus Fruit Wastes, focuses on the possible ways to reduce fruit waste generated every year by converting its peels, seeds, and cores into food.

She hoped to get a job that would allow her to be immersed in understanding wider food systems and applying the theories she learned in college.

Estudillo shared that success is better defined as finding joy in what you do,  than the number of medals and achievements that decorate your life. (READ: UPLB graduate wants to help farmers like his grandfather)

Estudillo said she found her joy in service, especially to God and the people.

Hindi tayo tinuruan ng UP upang umakyat sa tuktok ng corporate ladder. Tinuruan tayo nitong tanawin at magmalasakit sa mga nasa ibaba. Sapagkat ang tagumpay ay hindi nasusukat sa taba ng pitaka; ito'y nararamdaman sa katabaan ng pusong handang tumulong sa kapwa. Ito ang dangal at husay. Ito ang tunay na tagumpay,” she added.

(UP didn't teach us to to climb the top of the corporate ladder. It taught us to see and empathize with those at the bottom. Success is not measured by the thickness of your wallet; it’s in one’s wholeheartedness to help others. This is honor and excellence. This is true success.) – Rappler.com

How gay seafarer Dyosa Makinista proved she's 'queen of the seas'


QUEEN OF THE SEAS. Aljon Buquid Asusano, also known as Dyosa, sets out at sea to prove that LGBT folks like her have a place in the male-dominated ship industry. All photos courtesy of Dyosa

MANILA, Philippines – On their ship, she’s the “queen of the seas” who sits on a literal iron throne. She holds a wrench for a scepter and wears a hard hat for a crown. You’ll see her walking around the ship’s hallways – head high, hips swaying like the waves. 

They call her "Dyosa Makinista," the “machinist goddess.” But before that, she was called many things: angel, demon, that good-for-nothing gay seafarer. 

Dyosa grew up in a small town in Laguna as Aljon Buquid Asusano, the youngest of 5 children, raised by a single mother.

Small town girl 

Having only sons, Dyosa’s mother craved for a daughter. Dyosa said this may be the reason why her mother has been very supportive of her youngest being gay. On some days, she would even dress up the young Dyosa and help her put on make up.

PROUD MOTHER. Two of the 5 Asusano brothers are gay. Dyosa credits her mother for giving them the courage to come out.

Dyosa’s brothers were equally supportive. They never questioned her sexuality nor did they ever make her feel unwelcome. Among the 5 brothers, the youngest two came out as gay. 

Lucky for Dyosa, the community she grew up in accepted people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) community. 

Sa bayan namin, maraming bakla. Sa kabilang bayan, maraming tomboy (In our town, there are a lot of gay men. In the other town, there are a lot of lesbians)," she joked.

Unlike many Filipino LGBTQ+, she had a happy childhood in her small town and home, where she never had to hide her queer self. (READ: Rappler Talk: What it takes for the LGBTQ+ to #ResistTogether

The start of a journey

Dyosa had to leave her sanctuary when she pursued higher education. She decided to enroll in the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), a seafaring school in Bataan. 

Since she was a kid, all Dyosa ever wanted was to travel the world. Her mother told her that there were only two jobs that would let her do that: working as a seafarer or flight attendant. Dyosa wanted to be the latter but she was told they didn’t have the money for it. Fortunately, one of her older brothers was a seafarer and was willing to finance her studies so she can follow his path.

Her first year in maritime school was the first time Dyosa had to be “discreet” about being gay. There was no rule against gay men in MAAP but with its regimented training program, Dyosa assumed it would be better to keep a low profile to avoid discrimination.

This is the sad reality for LGBT folks, Dyosa said. By default, you assume the world would be cruel to you so you hide your true self just to be safe. 

“Ang takot ko noong una ay baka bawal ang bakla, kasi ang training panglalake. Akala ko kailangan ko magtigas-tigasan ako (I was afraid at first that they may not allow gay men, because the training was for men. I thought I had to pretend to be tough),” she said.

She eventually proved herself wrong as she later found out that MAAP doesn’t discriminate against anyone. After hearing the school’s executives say so themselves, Dyosa started coming out to her friends in school.  To her surprise, they embraced her being gay, and they often protected her from other naysayers.

Little did Dyosa know that her coming out as gay in school had some unintended benefit: some of her queer juniors, after seeing her being openly gay, had the courage to come out as well.

Waves of discrimination

Life has been fair to Dyosa until maritime school, having been surrounded by people who accepted her. This did not prepare her for her first taste of discrimination on board a ship.

Months after graduating from MAAP, a company finally hired Dyosa as an engine cadet. Engine cadets are like understudies for ships – they go onboard as trainees before they become full-fledged officers. (READ: Gender equality advocates to launch campaign to end violence against LGBTQ+

It wasn’t the job itself that made life difficult for Dyosa, but some of the officers she worked with. 

DYOSA MAKINISTA. Her colleagues on board fondly started calling Aljon as 'Dyosa Makinista' – the machinist goddess.

These officers would shamelessly judge Dyosa for being gay. Often, they would make her feel worthless, insinuating to her that openly gay people had no place on the ship. Dyosa felt isolated. Oftentimes, she was excluded from gatherings.  

During breaks, Dyosa would find herself eating in her room because they wouldn’t stop hurling insults if she ate in the mess rooms. “'Pag kasama ko sila, ako 'yung ginagawa nilang meryenda  – sa panglalait, pangtatakwil  (When I'm with them, I become fodder for insults, ostracism)," she said.

On the walls of the engine room, Dyosa would also often find graffiti of their offensive nicknames for her. “Angel bakla (gay)” or “Angel demon” were just some of the scribblings she saw on the walls. They used to call her “Angel” on her first ship after one of her bosses said she looked like Filipino celebrity Angel Locsin.

As if those weren't enough, Dyosa later found out that one of the officers complained to their company that she was "incompetent and gay."

“Wala daw akong alam sa trabaho. Puro lang daw ako kabaklaan, kalambutan. Ang dapat daw sa 'kin rumampa na lang, mag-make up artist na lang. 'Di ko daw alam 'yung ginagawa ko,” she said.  

(They said I didn’t know anything about my work, that all I know was being gay, soft. They said I should just walk the runway or become a makeup artist. They said I didn’t know what I was doing.) 

Dyosa and her company knew the report was largely just anchored on her being gay. She, after all, received a gleaming recommendation letter from her chief engineer – proof of her hard work and determination.  (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination) 

DEBUT. In 2018, her colleagues onboard surprised Dyosa with a debut-themed birthday party.

Faith in humanity restored

The discrimination Dyosa experienced on her first time on board traumatized her so much that she considered not returning to work.  Fotunately, she was able to get over this slump and decided to give seafaring another chance. 

This time around, Dyosa pledged to use that experience as inspiration and work many times harder to prove her worth.

“Nagpursigi ako. ‘Akala 'nyo walang magagawa ang bakla sa barko ah? Sige, tingnan natin.’ Pinatunayan ko na kahit bakla ako, kaya ko (I worked hard. ‘You think a gay person can't do anything on the ship? Fine, just watch.’ I proved that even though I’m gay, I can do it)," she said.

Eventually, her hard work paid off and she was recognized by her colleagues. Dyosa eventually made friends onboard who treasured and protected her. She realized that most seafarers were not like the officers who discriminated her before.

PRIDE FLAG. Asked why she chose to work as a seafarer, Dyosa says: 'Because I can!'

In fact, Dyosa, now on her fifth ship, said that her colleagues often treated her “like a real woman.” She said that it’s very rare to have an openly gay person on board, and so they tend to take care of them.

“Inaalagaan nila 'yung bakla. [Sabi nila], hindi natin siya tingnan bilang bakla. Kung ano ang tingin niya sa sarili niya, 'yun ang trato sa 'yo (They take care of the gays. They said that they won’t just look at them as gays. Instead, they’d see them the way they’d want to be seen), she said.

Her colleagues treasured Dyosa so much that on her birthday in 2018, they surprised her with a birthday party that’s similar to a Filipino debut. She was asked to wear a dress and was taken to a fully-decorated room with a spread. Inside were her colleagues in decent clothing, who each danced with her and gave her 20 cakes and 20 wishes. 

Queen on a mission

Now on her fifth ship, Dyosa finds herself in a happy place.

Dyosa used her hard-earned money to pay her dues. Dyosa regularly sends money to her mom, her number one supporter.  She willingly took this responsibility from her brothers, who now have families of their own. She said it was only fair as she was “gay and single.”

“May mga pamilya na sila. May pinagkakagastusan. Since bakla naman ako at kumikita ng maayos, sinusuportahan ko na mama (They have their own families already. They have their own expenses. Since I'm gay and earning well, I'm supporting my mom),” she said.

Dyosa admitted  that her job remained hard and, as any seafarer, she’d get sad and yearn for home often. There was also still a lot of work needed to make seafaring truly inclusive, but for her, “LGBT folks are always born ready” and are able to overcome and improve from challenges at sea. 

Today, if you’re lucky to get an audience with the queen of the sea and ask why she chose her iron throne, Dyosa has one thing to say: “Because I can! If others can, why can’t I?” – Rappler.com

Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGTBQ+ community to #ResistTogether


During a Rappler Talk interview on June 21, LGBTQ+ advocates Ryan Silverio of the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Nikki Castillo of Metro Manila Pride, and Eljay Bernardo of Rainbow Rights PH discuss the pressing issues hounding the LGBTQ+ community today.

MANILA, Philippines – Beyond celebrations and rainbow flags, Pride remains foremost a collective action by a marginalized community in solidarity against oppression and discrimination.

Despite ranking as the 10th friendliest country in the world for LGBTQ+, the Philippines still has a long way to go before becoming a genuinely gender-inclusive country. 

During a Rappler Talk interview on June 21, LGBTQ+ advocates Ryan Silverio of the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Nikki Castillo of Metro Manila Pride, and Eljay Bernardo of Rainbow Rights PH discussed the pressing issues hounding the LGBTQ+ community today.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Philippines has been consistently recording the highest number of documented transphobic killings in Southeast Asia since 2008. A Social Weather Stations poll also showed that only 2 in 10 Filipinos support legalizing same-sex unions.

For so long, the LGBTQ+ in the Philippines has lobbied for the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Bill. The legislation can be traced back to 1995 when former congressman Rey Calalay filed a bill proposing to recognize the "third sex" as a sector.

Since then, different legislators have followed suit. Two decades later, however, a national law protecting the LGBTQ+ remains elusive. (READ: [OPINION] Life without bullies? Why Senate must pass anti-discrimination bill)

Discrimination on the basis of SOGIE

In the Philippines, discrimination against LGBTQ+ community is widespread – from households to schools, companies, and establishments. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination

According to Castillo, the discrimination that happens on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual characteristics is most violent at home.

"At home, it's completely not visible, unless there are scars in their body or something. If it's at home, then it's probably unreported," Castillo said. 

This discrimination may also manifest in ways beyond the physical. Recently, a trans woman professor at the University of the Philippines Manila came forward with her experience of discrimination in the workplace. (READ: U.P. transwoman professor talks about workplace discrimination)

"In our legal framework, building on the 'invisibilization' of the community, we cannot really address it (discrimination) if our laws do not have even a single mention of LGBTQI community," Castillo said. 

Stigma, stereotypes

The advocates agreed that stigma and stereotypes are among the root causes of discrimination.

"Stereotypes that are pervasive and unfair and not evidence-based, we have to combat those. That puts us in a lot of danger," Bernardo said. 

Castillo echoed Bernardo, pointing out how these stereotypes and stigma may seep even into legislative work.

"Because of the pervasive stigma, and the stereotypes, it results in lack of protective legislation and results in a culture that is so unaccepting and even violent," she said.

Meanwhile, Silverio stressed that LGBTQ+ individuals may feel restricted from fully expressing themselves because of gender policing, which is the imposition of gender expressions on an individual who is not appearing or behaving according to their sex.

"If you're a woman, or if you're a man, if you go beyond what's expected of you, like, if you wear a skirt or if you're in pants, you will get harassed," Silverio said. 

For Castillo, the gender policing that Silverio mentioned is basically misogyny.

"The misogyny that affects women is the same thing that oppresses the LGBTQ+ community because, why are gay men ostracized or discriminated against? Because you're feminine, or you know, you're very loud, you wear makeup, therefore, you're not somebody to be accepted," Castillo said.

Seeing pride as a protest, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies will once again take to the streets on June 29 not just to celebrate their identity but also to #ResistTogether the injustices and oppression the community continues to face. (READ: Metro Manila Pride calls on LGBTQ+, allies to #ResistTogether on June 29)

The upcoming Pride march is a "place to express dissent against injustice and oppression; a chance for us to uphold our human rights and that of other minorities," event organizer Metro Manila Pride said. 

"Our very existence as LGBTQ+ people in this society that discriminates us and opressess us like this is in itself a protest," Castillo said. "The roots of Pride here in the Philippines and even in the States is a protest."

But Castillo stressed that Pride celebration goes beyond raising Pride flags.

"Pride is a celebration, but it shouldn't stop after that one day of you waving your flags and marching with other human rights groups," Castillo said.

"It needs to continue when you get home, when you get to your work. It needs to seep into the different parts of your circles, and even beyond your circles. Go to urban poor communities, go to rural areas and reach out. It's not just that one day," Castillo added. – with reports from Nicolas Czar Antonio, Stanley Guevarra, and Arlan Jay Jondonero/Rappler.com

Netizens decry Stail.PH's latest cover on Imelda Marcos' fashion



MANILA, Philippines – When it comes to the Marcoses, the Filipino people will #NeverForget.

On Monday, June 24, Filipinos online slammed Stail.PH, an emerging online fashion source for its June issue, which reimagined Imelda Marcos and her "love for beauty and eye for fashion." 

In an Instagram post, the fashion outfit uploaded the magazine cover modelled by teen star Bianca Umali featuring Imelda Marcos as a fashion icon.  

"This issue is a reimagining of all things Imelda – her love for beauty and eye for fashion. Sure, you can say a bunch of things about her but you can’t deny her impeccable taste in style," the post read. 


The post gained traction on Twitter as netizens criticized the fashion outlet's editorial choice, pointing to what the Marcoses did to the Philippines. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history


‘Glorifying and romanticizing atrocities’

It has been 47 years since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines, a time characterized by authoritarian rule, human rights violations, a decline in the Philippine economy, embezzlement, and crony capitalism. 

Netizens stressed that the issue is an ill-advised glorification and romanticization of human rights abuses and plunder in the guise of fashion. 



Imelda Marcos is infamous for her extravagant lifestyle during the Marcos regime. Some netizens pointed out there was more to Marcos' sense of style, especially if it cost taxpayers' money or led to abuses.  




Meanwhile, other netizens called out Imelda Marcos’ refusal to atone or set up a means for restitution. People online argued Imelda was unworthy to be recognized for her fashion due to her unwillingness to take the first step in accounting for her family's transgressions.



The 89-year-old Imelda was convicted of 7 counts of graft related to private organizations created in Switzerland while she was a government official from 1968 to 1986 for the "private benefit" of the former first family.

Until now, the former first lady has refused to compensate and even managed to avoid imprisonment after she was allowed to post bail worth P300,000 to enjoy temporary freedom post-conviction.  

Netizens also called Stail.PH stale for its unpleasant choice. Others believe the fashion outlet should have known better. Instead, it has allegedly removed critical reactions and comments. 





This is not the first time that personalities have been called out online for hailing Imelda Marcos as a style icon.

In 2017, Iza Calzado drew flak after after she said online that she was channeling the former First Lady. Maxine Medina also faced backlash after crediting the late dictator's wife for "inventing" the terno.

Here are what others have to say: 





What do you think about the StailPH's latest cover issue?– Rappler.com 

Stanley Guevarra is a Rappler intern and an incoming AB Literature major at Ateneo de Manila University. 

U.P. Visayas community calls for accountability after PH boat sinking



MANILA, Philippines – More than 230 alumni, faculty, and students of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS) of the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) signed a unity statement to condemn the Duterte administration's "utter disrespect" for Filipino fishermen.

The UPV CFOS Student Council posted the unity statement on Tuesday, June 25, to point out the "oppressive actions" of the Duterte administration towards the 22 Filipino fishermen who were left to fight for their survival after their boat was rammed by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank (Reed Bank).


The UPV CFOS Student Council called for full accountability not only from the crew of the Chinese vessel but also from the Duterte administration for "betraying the trust of our fisherfolk, the constituents whom the government should be protecting and serving." (READ: Youth groups slam government's 'inaction' on sinking of Philippine boat)

President Rodrigo Duterte had described the sinking of the Philippine boat as a mere "maritime incident." Some Philippine officials have also held back in condemning China for the boat sinking, while others cast doubts on claims made by the Filipino fishermen. 

"The recent incident just proves how Filipino fishers are treated with utter disrespect and afforded little dignity by the Chinese fishers," UPV CFOS Student Council said.

The sinking of the Philippine fishing boat is not the first clash between Chinese and Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In 2018, videos show that the China Coast Guard has been habitually taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off the coast of Zambales province. Duterte also downplayed the incident, saying it was a "barter" exchange.

The UPV CFOS Student Council asserted that the government's response to issues involving China shows that Duterte "will never side with the Filipinos but is instead willing to forego serious matters where the Chinese are concerned."

Aside from rifts with China in the West Philippine Sea, UPV CFOS Student Council listed several efforts of the administration that hampered the fisheries sector in the Philippines. Among these were the TRAIN law which further burdened and impoverished poor fishermen, and the importation of 17,000 metric tons of galunggong which created competition in the local market and put the fisherfolk in an even more dire situation.

"We cannot wait for any more blatant disregard of our fisherfolk before taking a stand against these oppressive responses of the Duterte administration," UPV CFOS Student Council said in its unity statement.

"Seeing how the government treats the fisheries sector and the fisherfolk, we are inclined to believe that this administration puts the interest of the Chinese first rather than making the Filipino fishers and WPS a priority," they added.

UPV CFOS Student Council urged concerned students, faculty, and alumni of the college to fill out the form to be included among the list of signatories to the unity statement. 

"Our fisherfolk are among the poorest and most vulnerable sector in the society. Let us translate our anger into concrete collective action," they said.

The UPV CFOS Student Council is not alone in voicing out their stand on the sinking of the Philippine boat. Both the UPV College of Arts and Sciences Student Council and the Iloilo chapter of All UP Academic Employees Union urged the UP Visayas community to voice out their support to the fisheries sector.

"UP Visayas cannot be silent on this issue that directly affects the fisheries sector. The main reason for the existence of CFOS is precisely to address the lot of the poorest sector – the Filipino fishers. Hence, a voiceless university during this extreme circumstance is like a silent clinging barnacle," said the All UP Academic Employees Union Iloilo chapter in its statement.  Rappler.com

Related stories, in-depth reports, analyses, videos, podcasts: The sinking of a Philippine boat in West Philippine Sea

LIST: 2019 Pride activities


MANILA, Philippines - As Pride Month draws to a close, the Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community, and its allies will not just celebrate with rainbow flags but resist together against the injustices they still face.

Groups such as Metro Manila Pride, Bahaghari, One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy, Kabataan Partylist Vito Cruz, Panday Sining, and Youth Act Now Against Tyranny will lead various events in parts of Metro Manila to conclude Pride Month.

With the local theme #ResistTogether, these celebrations highlight Pride as a protest.

Pride traces back its roots from the 1969 Stonewall riots – a series of demonstrations against the police crackdown on a well-known gay bar in New York City.

“Now is the time to use our voices in the fight for human rights – not just for our LGBTQIA+ community, but for all minorities that face injustice and oppression,” Metro Manila Pride said. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination)

Here is a list of events to be held on the last few days of Pride month:

Metro Manila Pride

Metro Manila Pride has a series of activities to commemorate their fight for LGBTQ+ human rights on the last week of June.

Those who want to get a head start on their Pride celebration can go to Nectar Nightclub within Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City for the MMPride Popup Shop on Thursday, June 27, from 11 pm to 2 am. Admission is free.


By Saturday, June 29, the Marikina Sports Center will burst with colors as various LGBTQ+ groups, individuals, and allies will converge for Metro Manila Pride March and Festival.

Dubbed the most colorful festival of the year, the celebration is a space for the LGBTQ+ to celebrate and empower their community. Participants wave their rainbow banners, and raise – or even wear – the flags symbolizing their truths. In 2018, the Metro Manila Pride drew 25,000 participants, making it the biggest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia.

Gates will open at 12 pm, while the march is set to happen at 3 or 4 pm. The festival will run until 10 pm, according to Metro Manila Pride's official Facebook event page.


After a colorful week, Metro Manila Pride will be holding a Born This Way: Dance Fitness Marathon at the Bahay ng Alumni inside UP Diliman, at 4pm, on Sunday, June 30. 

People can also head to Cinema '76 Anonas afterwards for Metro Manila Pride's Cinema '76 Pride Sesh at 6:30 pm. 

50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Bahaghari, a national-democratic organization of LGBTQ+, will gather in España for a protest on Friday, June 28, at 5 pm. They will later march to Mendiola at 5:30 pm.


Taft Pride and Youth's National Day of Action Against Tryranny

The One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy, Kabataan Partylist Vito Cruz, Panday Sining-College of Saint Benilde, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, and Metro Manila Pride will also celebrate Taft Pride on Friday, June 28, at 2pm.

The Taft Pride march will start from Vito Cruz to the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, where a progam will be conducted to mark Youth's National Day of Action against Tyranny.


 – Rappler.com

Arlan Jay Jondonero is a Rappler intern and a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Communication student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

'Homosexual acts are disordered': CFC-FFL condemns Ateneo Pride, draws flak online


MANILA, Philippines – The Filipino LGBTQ+ community is all set for the Metro Manila Pride March on Saturday, June 29. But with only a few days left before the big day, an organization, as if on cue, decided to rain on Pride's parade.

The Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) publicly condemned Ateneo de Manila University’s "One Big Pride," the university's Pride March, which was held on March 15.

As part of a Catholic institution, the Ateneo community saw "One Big Pride" as a progressive step towards gender equality and inclusivity. (READ: ‘One Big Pride': Ateneo LGBTQIA+ community calls for acceptance on women’s month)

Three months after the march, CFC-FFL released a statement online on Wednesday, June 19, denouncing the celebration and raising certain points as "truths" that they believe need to be "reiterated" to the Catholic university.

“There are only two sexes as created by God, that is, male and female. Genders are social constructs, as we see with the continually evolving LGBTQIA+ genders. These have no basis in nature and reality,” read the statement, in which CFC-FFL also consistently described homosexuality as "disordered."

The CFC-FFL also claimed they are "certain" that members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines do not experience discrimination and persecution.

“We aver that all persons deserve respect and compassion. In reality, gays in the Philippines are well accepted and not just tolerated. They certainly are not discriminated against nor persecuted,” CFC-FFL wrote, without statistics or research to back the claim.

The organization also listed scenarios for what they consider an "abominable" future.

Listed under "further deterioration of faith and morals" are the following:

  • Normalization and even celebration of homosexuality;

  • Legislation penalizing so-called "hate" speech when one speaks about homosexuality;

  • Gender inclusivity and acceptance of LGBT being taught to grade school children.

The abovementioned are notably some of the issues that the LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for.

Ateneo resists

On Tuesday, June 25, Ateneo's student government Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila responded to CFC-FFL, lambasting the church-based organization’s statement. 

“This is how we build the nation – standing with the oppressed and committing ourselves to standing with a sector that has been systematically persecuted for existing,” Sanggunian wrote on their Facebook page.

“With the CFC-FFL dismissing this event and belittling the importance of this to both the individual and the LGBTQ+ community, they are effectively disrespecting the core values of our beloved Catholic and Jesuit institution that has stood strong and stood proud for 159 years.”

Hate in the guise of faith

The CFC-FFL statement brought the LGBTQ+ community and allies together, and they took their rage to the comments section. Many pointed out that the statement encourages hate toward the LGBTQ+ community, and contradicts the Catholic values of putting a premium on love.

A familiar Catholic name also commented on the thread, drawing reactions from netizens.

And Jesus (Falcis) said, “Keep your religion to yourself.”

'Respect, Yes?'

Netizens also pointed out that the statement embodies neither respect nor compassion, contrary to its claims. Instead, it allows the LGBTQ+ members to become all the more vulnerable to violence and hate. (READ: Remembering 'Ganda': The tragedy of Jennifer Laude)

Perpetuating harm

In their official response to the CFC-FFL's statement, the Sanggunian demanded the CFC-FFL to recognize the "harmful impositions" of their claims.

“This perpetuates not just conscious persecution, but the systematic violence committed against good and productive members of this nation by invalidating their experiences of gender identity, gender performance, and sexual orientation,” Sanggunian said.

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus regional coordinator Ryan Silverio also said in an interview that the CFC-FFL statements may influence Catholic schools to refrain from encouraging gender inclusivity among the students. It may also justify violence and intolerance among Catholic families – the most basic social unit of the Filipino society.

“Parents can use it as justification for violence: Threaten children [whom] they think are immoral, send them to conversion therapies to ‘correct them,’” Silverio told Rappler.

Father Richard Mickley, one of the founders of the Pride Movement in the Philippines, said that these statements only confirm and intensify the stigma against the LGBTQ+ community. 

Worse, these statements ignite self-hate among LGBTQ+ members, Silverio emphasized.

“CFC tells us LGBTIQ folks that we are immoral, we are abnormal, we are worthy to be despised,” he explained.

“Too many LGBT+ people... have been driven to the closet of fear and despair by organizations like this pushing the official stand of the Catholic church,” added Mickley.

Pride is resistance

Incidents like this, according to Mickley, is the very reason why the LGBTQ+ community and its allies should march and resist together.

"Marches attempt to clarify the picture for the public. We are real people. We are your family members. We deserve to be who we are," he said.

The Sanggunian in their statement invited everyone to march on Saturday to stand with the LGBTQ+ community.

"In a time of oppression, it has never been more important to stay proud and stand tall alongside one another for our rights and for love," they wrote. – Rappler.com


Igorot youth slam Imee Marcos: ‘Murderer, thief must be condemned’


 Imee Marcos photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Indigenous youth group Progressive Igorot for Social Action condemned Imee Marcos after the senator-elect said that she would have the “Igorots namin (our Igorots)” perform a ritual dance to bless her designated office, which was once used by opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. (READ: Marcos gets Trillanes' Senate office: 'Papabendisyunan sa Igorot')

“There is no such thing as mga Igorot namin (our Igorots). You don’t own us, and you never will,” the group said in a statement.

At the orientation session for neophyte senators on Tuesday, June 25, the daughter of the late dictator said, “Pero ito nga, siguro magpapatawag ako ng mga Igorot namin, dahil kailangan basbasan 'yung office room ni Senator Trillanes (But I can call our Igorots because the room of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV needs to be blessed).”

Marcos' remarks did not sit well with the members of the organization.

"When Imee Marcos said, 'makikisayaw kami sa mga Igorot namin para mabendisyunan nang todo,' we flinched, with anger and disgust. A murderer and a thief taking our culture for granted, and stealing our identity to the point of even owning it – that person must be held accountable and condemned."

The group also slammed Marcos’ “mockery” of their rituals and traditions when the senator said that she would ask Trillanes to join her in dancing with the Igorots so they could bless the office.

“Moreover, may we remind Imee that our dances are a sacred heritage from our beloved ancestors.... We will not dance for you, because a dance for a Marcos is a dance for shame,” they said.

Marcos’ office deserves no blessing

The group said that with the alleged electoral fraud in the May 2019 elections, and the fact that her family ushered the historical plunder of resources in the Cordillera, the office of the senator deserves no blessing.

During the regime of her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, he allowed the construction of the Chico Dam, displacing indigenous communities, according to the youth organization. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

“Imee is no stranger to these atrocities – she holds a record of theft, falsification of records, and murders of her own,” they said.

“We pride ourselves with our refusal to be owned, if you care to read about our history of struggle way back to the Spanish colonization,” they added.

‘Ibalik 'nyo muna 'yung kinulimbat niyo’

Aside from the Igorot youth group, some netizens also cried foul over Marcos’ remarks.

Aba, 'pag may sumayaw na Igorot, kahit isang libo pa kami, hindi maaalis 'yang evil sa opisina mo.... Ibalik 'nyo muna 'yung kinulimbat 'nyong magpapamilya sa sambayanan,” Facebook user Karminn Daytec Yangot said. (Even a thousand Igorots dance, the evil will never be warded off. You and your family should first return the money you stole from the Filipinos.)

Marcos, his extravagant wife Imelda, and their cronies plundered up to $10 billion from state coffers during his rule, according to government investigators and historians.

According to Yangot, the Marcos family’s corruption was the true evil in society, and that the Igorot rituals wouldn't bring about magic to erase that.


Here are the other reactions from netizens:


DOH withdraws support to Hopeline after launching national crisis hotline


MANILA, Philippines  – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Thursday, June 27, it can no longer continue funding Hopeline, a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis support helpline beyond October 2019. 

Two days before DOH made its statement, Hopeline announced on Twitter that it will cease operations starting July 1 after the department withdrew its support. 


In September 2016, the department launched the crisis support hotline for depression and suicide prevention in partnership with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF).  

DOH said in a statement that Hopeline has been a reliable partner in providing hope and support for Filipinos with mental health issues and is thankful to the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation for the partnership. 

"The DOH is required to adhere to the stringent government rules for procurement. After several consultations, it became clear that it is necessary for DOH to set up its own crisis hotline through the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) upon the signing of the Mental Health Act of 2019," the statement read.

In any case, DOH emphasized that it "will continue to support the advocacy of NGF to uphold the rights of all Filipinos living with mental health conditions." 

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Mental Health Law in an effort to provide affordable and accessible mental health services for Filipinos.  

The department also mentioned that those who are in need of help may access the new National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) crisis hotline launched a month ago to assist those with mental health concerns. (READ: National Center for Mental Health crisis hotline now open)

Hopeline to continue 

Meanwhile, Hopeline responders took the initiative to look for donations through an online fund crowdsourcing platform that will be used to help them sustain their hotline and other services for mental health wellness and awareness. 

Soon after, Hopeline announced on Twitter that its operation will continue following the support extended by Globe, NGF, corporations and private individuals. 



According to experts, the number of suicide cases and students with mental illnesses has risen drastically in the last two years. They also noted there's at least one suicide referral made each day. 

The Hopeline Project's hotlines can be reached at (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917 558 HOPE (4673) and 2919 (toll-free number for all Globe and TM subscribers). – with a report from Elijah Allen Macaspac/Rappler.com 

Clash of tweets: Lacson, Locsin take sides on Recto Bank issue online


Both Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddyboy Locsin and Panfilo Lacson have been very active in voicing out their opinions on the sinking incident in the West Philippine Sea since it was reported.

MANILA, Philippines – It wasn't just ordinary Filipinos with clashing opinions on the sinking incident in the West Philippine SeaForeign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr and Senator Panfilo Lacson seemed to be butting heads over the issue as well.

Both Locsin and Lacson have been very active in voicing their opinions on the issue on Twitter. (READ: Has the sinking incident in the West PH Sea polarized Filipinos?)

Locsin’s tweets focused on telling people to not vent their frustrations on China, reminding them that everything has to go through proper investigations before giving out judgement. But this investigation, according to him, has to be done separately by the two countries. (READ: Despite Duterte openness, Locsin rejects joint PH-China probe)

Meanwhile, Lacson’s tweets implied that the Philippines should take a strong stance in asserting its rights over the West Philippine Sea. In his latest posts, Lacson cited the 1987 Philippine Constitution to emphasize the state’s duty to protect its territory.

A quick check of each official's Twttier accounts shows how both men are on the extreme ends of the issue. Here’s a sampling:

While social media has long been a platform for people to air their politicial opinions, there are debates over whether public officials should bare their thoughts on policies out in the open, as opposed to taking them to more formal venues. The clashing opinions between Locsin and Lacson, for instance, could be good in that the public is given a wider perspective on the issue, but on the other hand, such sensitive issues would likely not benefit from the court of public opinion. (READ: [OPINION] Social media and the changing nature of diplomacy)

What should be done? How do you feel about government officials airing their thoughts so openly online? – Rappler.com


‘Colorful bravery’: LGBTQ+ people on what makes them proud of the community


MANILA, Philippines – Although the fight for equality is far from over, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community continue to celebrate and carry their identity with pride. 

Rappler asked people under the rainbow spectrum one question, among many others, on Pride Month: what makes you glad to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

“Despite the challenges we face as a community, we remain resilient. You could see and feel the diverse and colorful bravery of each and every one from different sectors,” said queer filmmaker and Muslim activist Rhadem Morados. (READ: Beyond Pride march, advocates urge LGTBQ+ community to #ResistTogether)


According to him, what makes him prouder is knowing that “our strength depends on each other’s love.” (READ: 'Celebration, freedom, and equality:' Netizens speak up about pride)

Openly gay civil servant Marc Angelo Martinez echoed Morados, saying those who are strong and passionate in fighting for the rights of the community make him really proud.

“There are a lot of LGBTQ+ members out there who are strong, passionate, and free… They know how to assess and give solutions to their problems. They support developing platforms in support for equality...I share this vision with them and it is truly admirable,” he said.


‘Community that is a family’

For queer copywriter Xanti Xavier Gonzales, the openness of people with talking about issues at hand makes him glad to be a part of a “community” he referred to as “family.”

“I’m most proud to be part of a community that is also a family… People support each other, inspire each other, and look out for each other. And it all comes from a place of love,” he said.

Meanwhile, queer human rights worker Manu Gaspar is proud of the "brave queer souls" who came before him and who paved the way for "queer visibility and acceptance."


Fight for equality, raising awareness

As the Congress failed to pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill, the Filipino LGBTQ+ community’s struggle for genuine equality and acceptance remains far from over. (READ: 'Tolerated, but not accepted': Filipino LGBTQ+ speak up vs discrimination)

According to pansexual graphic artist Mcdo Manansala, he’s proud that he’s able to educate, not only his fellow members in the community, but other people, about lessons on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

“[It makes me really proud] to see the continuous growth of every member as we widely spread awareness about safe spaces and respect to all is truly paying the effort we did,” he said.



For student Gerard Galang, his experiences of being bullied, discriminated, and stigmatized as a gay man strengthened his character, and helped him become more empathetic and open-minded to other people's struggles.

"Nang maging part ako ng LGBTQ+ community, naging mas malawak 'yung pag-iisip ko, mas naging open ako sa mga tao...Walang mali sa pagiging bakla, walang mali sa pagiging member ng LGBTQ+," he said.

(When I joined the LGBTQ+ community, I became more open-minded...There's nothing wrong with being gay. There's nothing wrong with being a member of the LGBTQ+.)



According to gay student Gervic Espinar, he's proudest of how members of the community continue to surpass the daily challenges of being LGBTQ+.

“It’s on how we courageously live in a judgmental world – having the courage to face all the unequal treatments and such. The LGBTQ+ community is dauntless,” he said.


Meanwhile, bisexual freelance photographer Precious Cabacungan described how her coming out story helped her be true to herself. This led her to meeting individuals dedicated to fighting for gender equality.

“In coming out, it reaffirms my self importance and that each and everyone of us has an important role in our society,” she said. 



DepEd hails Filipino heroism in art exhibit


HEROISM. The Department of Education hails Filipino heroism during the unveiling of a mural exhibit at the Bulwagan ng Katarungan in Pasig City on Monday, June 24. All photos courtesy of Department of Education

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) unveiled on Monday, June 24, the “Bayani, sa Lupain ng Ginto’t Bulaklak” exhibit at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan in Pasig City.

Aimed to hail Filipino heroism, the display commemorates the DepEd’s 121st founding anniversary, as well as Independence Day and Jose Rizal’s birth anniversary, according to a DepEd press release.

Una, kailangan na pag-aralan natin muli kung ano ang ating konsepto ng isang hero [dahil] lahat ng Pilipino ay may pagkakataong maging hero (First, we need to look back at our concept of a hero because all Filipinos have a chance to be a hero),” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said.

"We can be living heroes: serving our country, serving our people, taking risks – it’s not the glory, it’s not the money, it’s not wealth," she added.

The exhibit showcases the 8x18-foot mural of national heroes by Baguio-born artist Angelo Aurelio, along with other artworks such as portraits and biosketches of the “Founding Fathers of the Filipino Nation.” (READ: FAST FACTS: What makes a Filipino historical figure a national hero?)

Aurelio created the mural – originally titled “The Bayani Matrix Project” –  in 47 days. It was first displayed at the Baguio Museum for 3 days starting June 12.

Honor regional heroes

Briones also stressed the need to exhibit regional heroes along with national heroes, and challenged her agency's regional directors to do research on heroes in their respective regions. (READ: The unsung heroes who fought for Philippine independence)

"Ang ating bansa ay binubuo ng ilang milyong Pilipino sa iba’t ibang rehiyon na nagbuwis ng kanilang buhay, na nagsisilbi, na nagtitiis para sa ating bayan at para sa ating kinabukasan (Our nation is comprised of millions of Filipinos from various regions who offered their lives, who are serving, and are enduring everything for our nation and for our future)."

Aurelio’s artwork will be a staple at the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA) after the exhibit at the Bulwagan on July 5.

The exhibit was initiated through the OUA, Youth Formation Division, and in cooperation with Kaakbay ng Guro Research. – Rappler.com


‘Pride is compassion’: Gender equality groups hit CFC-FFL’s anti-LGBTQ+ remarks


MANILA, Philippines – Gender equality groups condemned the “malicious and untrue assertions about the LGBTQ+ community” by the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) in its statement on Wednesday, June 19.

The CFC-FFL publicly condemned Ateneo de Manila University’s "One Big Pride," the university's Pride March, which was held on March 15.

It called the march's message and celebration of homosexuality “contrary to the Catholic faith and thus injurious to the faithful, especially the young.”

CFC-FFL also said that “the continually evolving LGBTQIA+ genders have no basis in nature and reality” and that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and contrary to natural law.”

Pride is compassion

Various gender advocacy groups were quick to defend the LGBTQ+ sector and pointed out the errors in the CFC-FFL’s statement.

The Ateneo Sanggunian’s Gender Equality Commission defended the Ateneo’s celebration of a Pride March and condemned the CFC-FFL’s statement, saying that it “[disrespects] the core values of our beloved Catholic and Jesuit institution that has stood strong and stood proud for 159 years.”

“We have been taught to exercise the value of cura personalis or care for the entire person that includes loving both ourselves and the other, standing with our faith that does justice for the marginalized and oppressed in acts of inclusivity,” said the Sanggunian in a statement.

“[The CFC-FFL’s statement] perpetuates not just conscious persecution, but the systematic violence committed against good and productive members of this nation by invalidating their experiences of gender identity, gender performance, and sexual orientation,” it added.

UP Babaylan echoed these sentiments, pointing out the contradictions in CFC-FFL’s statement. 

“This statement completely disregards that Pride's message of love, acceptance and equality does not clash with their Catholic values. To preach about love and compassion in the same statement that spouts hate is not only hypocrisy, but also a perversion of the very values they claim to defend,” said UP Babaylan’s John Paul Aves to Rappler.

Metro Manila Pride frowned upon CFC-FFL’s excuse of using religion to discriminate against and exclude the LGBTQ+ community.

“Standards of ethics are not the monopoly of fundamentalists who use religion to impose prejudiced beliefs and encourage the systemic discrimination and exclusion of the LGBTQIA+, especially those who live in the margins of society,” Metro Manila Pride said.

“Pride is compassion,” it asserted.

Get your facts straight

Meanwhile, the Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) called the CFC-FFL’s remarks a “hate statement” and debunked its supposed erroneous views.

In a Facebook post, PANTAY provided scholarly works to rebut the CFC-FFL’s claims. 

Citing a medical study, PANTAY noted that “[a] binary view of sex and gender does not capture the truth of nature and reality. For there, in fact, exists multiple matural instances of intersex possibilities. To claim that other sexualities and genders are fabrications is not only preposterous, it is also false.”

PANTAY was also quick to point out that homosexual activity and same-sex attraction have been observed in over 1,500 species of animals, and in humans. “Homosexuality is not contary to natural law, it is a part of it. Denial of the truth is what is unnatural,” it said.

“‪The future of our children should be founded on love, respect, and acceptance, not ignorance, hate, and discrimination.‬ May the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life find that love and acceptance in their hearts,” concluded PANTAY. 

Meanwhile, militant LGBTQ+ group Bahaghari raised the possibility that instead of outright condemning the CFC-FFL’s stand on the issues, advocates can help educate them on the matter and even invite them to the Metro Manila Pride March and Festival on June 29. (READ: LIST: 2019 Pride activities

“Perhaps it is faultier to ridicule or shade CFC for their already faulty statement. Hence, they are more than welcome to Pride for a possible peaceful discourse. Maybe they may realize a thing or two about the LGBTQ+. At the end of it all, members of the Church should also be our allies,” it said in a statement. – Rappler.com

Nicolas Czar Antonio is a Rappler intern and a Psychology student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @Nicolas_Czar.

[OPINION] Who is afraid to mess with the 'bakla?'


If asked about why Pride is important, activists would more likely say that it is a way for the LGBTQIA community to be visible. To be publicly seen is crucial at this time when legislative battles require sizable warm bodies to prove urgent demands for LGBTQIA rights. However, visibility is dangerous because it could hold back the evolution of our identities.

Dangers of visibility 

While visibility helps avoid discrimination, not all forms of being seen are immune from the dangers of exclusion. When we seek legislation, it is natural for us to adapt the legal vocabulary which requires clarity, discreteness, and precision. To be worthy of state protection, we are required to confess our identities along rigid lines of certain labels easily understandable in the eyes of the law and the general public.

It is within this context that labels like SOGIESC and LGBTQIA gained some popularity. They present discrete typologies distinguishing aspects of identities to come up with precise categories of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics. Labels like these run the risk of silencing identities that defy any typology.

The word bakla, for instance, carries various experiences: babaeng bakla, baklang kanal, bakla pero nag-asawa ng babae, baklang-baklang magmahal, and mukhang bakla. In these usages, bakla combines gender, sexuality, mannerisms, clothing, class, taste, romance, and love, among others. They do not fit smoothly within popular labels. The narratives of the bakla could not be reduced to any specific aspect of identity or any one label under SOGIESC or LGBTQIA. (READ: Sex, gender, and SOGIE)

The complexity of the bakla does not make it accessible to legislative discussions where precise definitions are valued. However, using LGBTQIA or SOGIESC as its proxy misses complex and rich experiences. Years ago, one of my colleagues worried about being criticized if she used bakla instead of trans woman to describe narratives of bodily transitions of rural participants. Although she chose the former to honor her participants' identification, her initial fear shows the possibility of silencing some bakla narratives due to our obsession with rigid labels. (READ: Why the term 'bakla' can be more closeting than liberating for some)    

Dangers of consumerism

The popularity of these labels emerged due to the support of businesses that aim to exploit them and profit from our identities. From being shadows relegated to spaces far from the sight of mainstream society, we now surface as a predictable segment of the consuming public as LGBTQIA. Businesses seek to identify a segment of the population and to profit from this segment. The discrete usage of identity labels under the law will further help the market to do just that.

Pride Marches around the world have been sites for businesses to profit from our identities. To assure corporate support, some Pride organizers utilize mobilizing styles that value efficiency and predictability rather than diversity of voices. This enables the ability of corporations to easily design marketing schemes that encourage LGBTQIA individuals to buy their products and services. This economic process is dangerous because it anchors our self-worth to how much we can consume rather than to our rich and complex human experiences.

Messy futures 

To say that visibility is dangerous is not to argue for invisibility. Not being seen is also dangerous. Many have died and suffered various forms of assault in sheer silence. Nonetheless, exclusions resulting from our rigid use of labels in view of profits should invite us to reflect on how our own labeling and mobilizing practices could potentially suppress rather than emancipate fluidities, diversities, and evolutions. (READ: Gender and Sexuality 101: Learn before you discriminate

Identities are never fixed. They evolve in different ways and directions – top, bottom, side, versatile, front, back, outward, inward, and many more. Pride Marches should present messy spaces that constantly evolve to escape the prediction of the state and the market. We should not allow SOGIESC, LGBTQIA, bakla, and tomboy to be used for business and political interests. They are meant to put the richness and uniqueness of our identities into the limelight, not hold them back. After all, to be genuinely visible is to be recognized in all our diversities, messiness, complexities, paradoxes, tentativeness, and discontinuities.

Have a messy Pride, everyone! – Rappler.com

John Andrew G. Evangelista or Andoy is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He facilitates gender and sexuality studies trainings in various grassroots communities because he believes in the crucial role of gender and sexuality analyses in critically theorizing and transforming social structures that breed inequalities in society.

[Right of Way] The Wunder closure: Why can't commuters have nice things?


Bookmark to watch on Friday, June 28, at 4:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines – On Monday, June 24, carpooling app Wunder announced in an email blast to its users it would cease its Manila operations effective Friday, June 28. Hailed as an alternative to ride-sharing app Grab, the news prompted its legion of faithful users to decry the move online.

There was no explicit reason given behind its cessation of operations, but in its email blast, Wunder said "If you'd like to help contribute for a brighter and more sustainable future for your city, you can reach out to local entities like the MMDA and the LTFRB and ask for regulation for carpooling."

Right of Way's Vince Lazatin got to talk to several Wunder users about how much the move affected them. One of them is Rache, who shares her commuting experience (with and without Wunder) in this episode. – Rappler.com

Passport for fishes? Netizens poke fun at Sotto's fish remark


Senate President Vicente Sotto III photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Spot anything fishy on the internet today?

Netizens took to social media to express what they thought about the remark of Senate President Vicente Sotto III that Chinese fishermen can fish in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) because it was difficult to claim "exclusivity" of fish found underwater.

While Sotto had already clarified that his statement was tongue-in-cheek, netizens were quick to poke fun at Sotto’s comment, sharing memes about how fishes might have to use passports when crossing over to different countries’ territories. 

Some mused if immigration lines were just as long underwater as they are on land.

Others reimagined how Sotto’s tongue-in-cheek remark might mean nationalities and citizenship for fishes, along with names that are more representative of their country of origin. Another meme made a play on words using Filipino names of fishes, supposedly adopted and adjusted by China.

Some netizens wondered if fishes from different countries can be identified according to their appearance. Ethel Booba posted a photo of herself in a mermaid costume, joking that she was an “exclusive type of fish found only in the Philippines.”

Did you find Sotto’s comment a little fishy? Found memes about it swimming in the internet? Drop the links in the comments! – Rappler.com

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