PH gets barely passing score in media assessment

PH gets barely passing score in media assessment
13-Dec-11, 3:54 PM | Nonoy Espina,

The Philippine assessment, presented to journalists and journalism schools on Tuesday, is the fourth undertaken under the Asian Media Barometer, a project by Friedrich Eibert Stiftung and partners in participating countries that involves a series of “self-assessment exercise(s) based on criteria derived from international standards of media freedom.”

The first three countries to undertake the assessment are India and Pakistan -- both in 2009 -- and Thailand last year.

The 104-page Philippine report is the result of a two-day panel discussion in early October in Tagaytay to which 10 experts -- five each from media and civil society -- were invited to assess the media situation in the country based on 45 predetermined indicators, in turn clustered into four sectors, that they were asked to grade anonymously on a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the best possible score.

Overall, the Philippines got what Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the FES’s project partner, called the “barely passing score” of 2.6, which was the average of the sector scores that follow:

1) Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, is effectively protected and promoted -- 3.7

2) The media landscape, including new media, is characterized by diversity, independence, and sustainability -- 2.8

3) Broadcasting regulation is transparent and independent; the state broadcaster is transformed into a truly public broadcaster -- 1.3

4) The media practice high levels of professional standards -- 2.6

The report said that “the media landscape in the Philippines is characterized by diversity, freedom, an active stock of journalists and citizens, and an executive and legislature slow on media reforms.”

The report noted that media ownership in the country “remains largely under the control of interest groups vested with both economic and political interests,” a situation worsened by the lack of anti-trust legislation pertaining to media and “a growing and worrying tendency of politicians acquiring stakes in (local) media outlets,” particularly community radio, which “usually serve on communities of interests and not small geographical communities.”

Despite this, “the media (themselves) do hardly any explicatory or analytical reporting on these trends and the emerging media monopolies.”

The report also noted that although reporters and editors “zealously guard and assert their freedom and resist all attempts by state authorities to restrict their trade … self-regulation by professional and industry associations has always lacked vigor and constancy.”

Melinda Quintos-De Jesus of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, one of the participants in the October panel discussion, noted reluctance among media owners and managements “to discuss how ratings and revenues impact on content.”

“Indeed, self-criticism of media by media remains scant and thus ineffectual, even as competition for sales, revenues, and audience share drives most editorial decisions of most gatekeepers,” the report said.

It also said conditions within the media industry have led to “a subculture of corruption where some journalists take bribes to perform their professional function.”

Among these problems, the report said, are low salaries and the lack of skills and training; the “deteriorating quality of graduates coming out of journalism schools;” the fact that television anchors “make more money than their education warrants” but small community newspapers “can’t pay living wages for their reporters of correspondents:” and “poor unionization” of the media workforce that “leaves journalists in small cities and rural areas exposed to the whims of the publishers.”

Rowena Paraan, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said the economic welfare of journalists and the ownership patterns in media “are very important” because of their “implications not just on welfare but on press freedom and the free flow of information.”

News 5 head of research Danton Remoto, who also participated in the October exercise, said the media are often at a disadvantage in the hiring of the best new talents because of the higher compensation invariably offered by public relations firms or even call centers.

The report also noted that “not all the voices of ethnic, religious, and social groups are reflected fairly in the media coverage.”

De Jesus stressed the need for “the little opinions, the small communities (to) be given equal hearing as Malacanang.”

And while parity in gender has been achieved in newsrooms, the “fair representation of women’s voices” is still sorely lacking.

As for government, the report said it has made no effort “to help increase the regional distribution of newspapers nor is there a coordinated strategy with the aim of supporting a diverse media landscape.” It cited the downgrading of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology to a mere bureau of the Department of Science and Technology despite the growing prominence of new media.

While acknowledging that President Benigno Aquino III has not been accused of using his power over advertising placements -- as some of his predecessors have done -- to influence reportage, “he has also told advertisers that they should support only ‘responsible media organizations.'”

It also noted that, because journalists operate “in a culture of impunity and in one of the most dangerous countries” to practice the profession, the Philippine media also “reflect the constraints of fear and a growing concentration of ownership in their journalistic practice.”

“Within this context, the courage of many journalists is as remarkable as the lack of self-criticism of the media remains deplorable,” it added.

The Asian Media Barometer, adapted from the African Media Barometer first undertaken in 2005, stemmed from the lack of a regional charter on freedom of expression for the region and is supposed to be a tool to lobby for media reforms.

The organizers aim to update the barometer every two to three years because, as Mangahas said, “this is an ever changing picture.”

Fr. Bernas: Contraceptive devices are not 'anti-life'

Fr. Bernas: Contraceptive devices are not 'anti-life'
09/26/2011 | 01:50 PM

Influential Jesuit priest and constitutional lawyer Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ said that family planning as proposed in the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill is not necessarily "anti-life", putting him at odds with conservative Catholics who oppose the bill.

In a column published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, Bernas sought to clarify what being "anti-life" precisely means, for the term has been used "in the most pejorative way" in current RH bill debates.

"It is used in the sense of being against existing life. Murder, in other words," he said.

However, he said that in the currently toxic debate on contraceptives, "anti-life" could be construed to include people who do not want to add more human life to an already crowded population. He cited for example a married couple who decide to abstain from acts that bring about life, and a man who chooses a celibate life because he feels he can accomplish things without the burden of raising children.

"I would not categorize such a person as being anti-life," Bernas said. "People like him love life so much that they take it upon themselves to contribute in some other ways to the improvement of the quality of life of those who are already born."

His column was shared widely on social media, and was met mostly with approval by supporters of the RH bill.

Bernas, known for his liberal stance on the RH bill, has called the Catholic Church hierarchy "irresponsible" in the past for saying that those who support the RH bill are committing a sin. "I have never held that the RH bill is perfect. But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can," he has said.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are separately deliberating on the RH bill.

'Before fertilization, there is no life'

He also said it is important to know where life actually begins, as it will finally put to rest the debate on whether artificial contraceptives are abortifacients or not. "Before life begins is beyond the reach of anti-life action," he said.

Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, said the 1987 Constitution recognizes that life begins "from conception," that is, upon fertilization.

"Before fertilization, there is no life," he said. "This is also the view of the Philippine Medical Society, and this is the view of John Paul II."

"What this means is... the use of contraceptive devices that only prevent fertilization is not anti-life in the sense of being an act of murder," he added. "Abortion, in the sense of expulsion of the fertilized ovum at any time after fertilization is anti-life, and is an act of murder."

He also said that calling contraception devices as abortive devices is "loose talk," as these devices were not scientifically identified by the government's Food and Drug Administration as abortifacient drugs.

CBCP: Contraceptive devices destroy already existing life

However, Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, maintains that the RH bill is "anti-life" and artificial contraceptives are abortifacients.

In a text message to GMA News Online, Castro said most pills and contraceptive devices prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum, which in effect destroys an already existing life.

The disagreement between Bernas and the CBCP shows that even among priests there is much room for argument on one of the great social debates of our time. Bernas' stature challenges the moral ground of conservatives who oppose the RH bill using church doctrine.

Among those who posted a link to Bernas' column on Facebook was Fr. Eliseo Mercado, a respected Catholic priest in Cotabato City, who commented, "I share the same view as Fr. Bernas..."

Fr. Castro of the CBCP argued that the CBCP's stand on the RH bill does not alienate other religions' views on the controversial measure.

"On the contrary, because the RH bill, when it becomes a law, imposes artificial contraception and the contraceptive mentality on all - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - we are against its legislation," he said. "No need to legislate, contraceptives are already available and legal in the country. Why legislate?"

Meanwhile, Bernas said in his column that as a priest of the Catholic Church, he is not approving of artificial contraception, and he accepts the teachings of the Catholic Church, which only promotes natural forms of contraception.

However, he stressed that not all citizens of the Philippines are Catholics, and many do not consider artificial contraception anti-life or immoral.

"The teaching of my Church is that I must respect the belief of other religions even if I do not agree with them. That is how Catholics and non-Catholics can live together in harmony," he said. — RSJ/HS, GMA News

'I'm not using Ladlad'

DIRECT LINE By Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) Updated September 02, 2011 12:00 AM

A certain Mr. Pedroche wrote a letter to another broadsheet some months ago rebuking me on two major points. That I should not be talking on behalf, but to the LGBT Community that if one works hard he can be successful. And that my active participation in Ladlad is just in preparation for abundant politics suggesting that I am preparing for a political career using the fledgling partylist. Here is my answer to Mr. Pedroche en toto.
Dear Mr. Pedroche,
To say that where I am working (ABS-CBN) and where I went to school (Ateneo) are the very proofs that I was not discriminated is an uninformed statement. And to conclude that since I was accepted by the two institutions disqualifies me from talking on behalf of the LGBT Community is a lousy assessment.
Please indulge me on the following.
• I can do both — talk to and on behalf of Ladlad and the LGBT community because I have a voice and a life story that most of them are able to relate to.
• I wasn’t raped but I was bullied.
• I wasn’t physically harmed but I was maligned, insulted because I was gay.
• Thank you for acknowledging the hard work that brought me to this little space I stand on today. But it was hell to get to where I am.
• Early on in my life, I fought discrimination even against relatives and friends who said that I would be better off as a club dancer than a lawyer. (God, I would have been a ferocious club dancer!)
• Mr. Pedroche, I don’t take offense at your letter because admittedly your voice represents a sector of society that shares your opinion. This is an opportunity for us to beg you to look at our fight for equal rights beyond Boy Abunda because I am not the face of the LGBT Community. But does that disqualify me from taking the cudgels and speaking on its behalf?
Would anyone have cared if I did this 30 years ago when I was poor, voiceless, weak and negligible?
OK, let’s call a spade a spade. Make it a pink spade if you may.
• I am not and will not be a nominee of Ladlad partylist in 2013.
I said that if and when I would be interested to get into politics, I will do it in 2016 without using Ladlad and run perhaps for governor in Eastern Samar where I can serve my province which is the fourth poorest in the country.
But your tacit imputation that ultimately it is abundant politics that is my end goal is a political bias of your cynical mind.
But you know what Mr. Pedroche, abundant politics can mean politics of empowerment. If I can tweak it to mean a style of politics that inspires and empowers, then you would have contributed an important phrase to our fight for equal rights.
• Do I have to be stabbed 72 times? Do I have to be deprived of employment?
• Do I have to be bullied in a public transport? Do I have to be stoned to death to raise my voice in protest against violence and discrimination?
• Will I just sit back and watch LGBT people die or being abused, discriminated and violated, anyway I work for the biggest network and at some point I went to the Ateneo?
• No. Mr. Pedroche, I choose to get involved. Also because after the landmark decision of the Supreme Court to accredit Ladlad as a party list, we cannot afford to lose in 2013 otherwise we go back to zero.
• Yes, I will continue to talk to the LGBT community and share with them my story.
Mr. Pedroche, thank you for not being homophobic; your letter is valid, respectful even. I hear you out and here’s hoping that you too hear me out.
And since you say that we need love and not congressional seats, I say that we need both and for us to do this is to keep on engaging people in dialogues and debates about LGBT rights and human rights, despite the odds.
Life sometimes is funny Mr. Pedroche. You may just find it in your heart to love us and vote for Ladlad in 2013.

The 9/11 attacks as a literary watershed

The 9/11 attacks as a literary watershed
04-Sep-11, 10:00 AM | Myriam Chaplain-Riou, Agence France-Presse

PARIS - Ten years on, the dust from the twin towers hasn't finished settling on the literary world and continues to feed a growing body of fiction exploring the moral and physical loss the attacks left behind.

Initially, few writers dared get too close to the horror that the entire world was able to imagine after watching the World Trade Center go down live on television.

The first one to choose hyperrealism and attempt a description of the fateful moment itself -- the planes crashing, the fire, the panic, people jumping off the towers -- was Frederic Beigbeder.

In "Windows on the World" (2003), the French author said he wanted to "tell what could not be told".

"The only way to know what happened in that restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center's North tower on 11 September 2001 between 8:30 and 10:29 am... was to invent it," he explained at the time.

Many of the world's greatest living authors have since tackled the post 9/11 trauma and written in an effort to comprehend the scope of the tragedy and its place in history.

"September 11 entrained a moral crash, planetwide... let's not suggest that our experience of that event, that development, has been frictionlessly absorbed and filed away. It has not," Britain's Martin Amis wrote in 2007.

"September 11 continues, it goes on, with all its mystery, its instability, and its terrible dynamism," said Amis, who wrote "The Second Plane", a collection of essays and short stories on the attacks.

Don DeLillo, who made his mark on literature with epic, panoramic novels on American society, was no less influenced by the 9/11 watershed.

As early as November 2001, he reflected on how writers would deal with the horror of the attacks in an essay for Harper's, "In the Ruins of the Future."

"There is something empty in the sky," he wrote. "The writer tries to give memory, tenderness and meaning to all that howling space."

"People running for their lives are part of the story that is left to us," DeLillo said. Eventually, he wrote Falling Man (2008), about a survivor's daily life, his relations with his estranged wife, his new love interest.

A recurring character in the novel is a performance artist who suspends himself in business attire from high buildings in the pose of the man falling headfirst from the flaming North Tower in a famous photograph by Richard Drew.

The same year, John Updike wrote "Terrorist", a book which was to be his penultimate and explores Islamic fundamentalists' motivations in a first-person account by an American-born Muslim teenager who embraces jihad.

Another US literary giant, Philip Roth, wrote "Exit Ghost" in 2007, in which his alter ego narrator Nathan Zuckerman is revived one last time and moves back to New York after agreeing to a house swap with a couple who "don't wish to be snuffed out in the name of Allah".

In 2006, Jay McInerney published "The Good Life", in which a group of friends who had dinner together on 10 September 2011 are plunged into the horror of the attacks the next day.

Many writers gradually moved away from the contention that the scale of the attacks, the depth of the trauma and the scope of the consequences were too big for any fiction to be relevant.

Paul Auster, who saw the World Trade Centre collapse in an avalanche of dust and smoke from his balcony, made his contribution to the literary monument growing in place of the fallen towers in 2008 with "Man in the Dark".

In Auster's scenario, the attacks never happened but civil war rages.

US author Jonathan Franzen, who incidentally published "Corrections" -- his immensely successful protrayal of America -- on the week of the attacks, delivered a somber fresco of the following decade with "Freedom" last year.

The best-selling saga of the Berglund family doesn't deal with 9/11 directly but the attacks and their fallout are the backdrop for a society where family, relations, morality are all collapsing.

Questions for the heterosexual

Danton Remoto: Questions for the heterosexual
20-Jul-11, 5:42 PM
Online news portal of TV5

Years ago I attended a seminar on gender issues organized by an international NGO. Some young journalists comprised the core of the participants. Well and good, I told myself, because the cliché holds true that, perhaps, hope lies among them.

I still remember my legendary debates with the macho editors who used to splash photos of near-naked “prostitutes” (call them sex workers) and of raped housemaids on the front pages of the newspaper I used to work for. During one of the editorial meetings held every day, the fiercest among them, who looked like a bulldog, barked at me: “What are you complaining about? Their faces are shown on the evening news. Why can’t we show those pages on our front pages?”

Since Bulldog must have forgotten his class on Ethics in Journalism, I reminded him that a newspaper is a public record. Surely, nobody tapes the evening news and runs them again for his delectation, right? But the newspaper is there for posterity, bound in volumes and collected in archives in the form of microfilms. Now they are scanned or converted into pdfs and collected in CD format. The split-second image on TV fades easily. The one in print stays there, and can be passed on from one person to another.

That’s the problem, I told myself, leaning back on my fake-leather office chair, when you have editors – the gatekeepers of the news—who only put stories of women above the fold when they have been raped, their places of work raided, or they wrestle gleefully in the mud, for work. The object of the male gaze has not changed.

During the same meeting, the director Nick Deocampo showed his film The Sex Warriors, a brave and beautiful film about a transgender who works in Japan. Now that I am reminded of it, I remember Noel Cabangon asking me last Sunday, during the break for the PETA play Caregivers that the Ladlad Party List sponsored, “What is the difference between a transgender and transsexual?”

“Well,” I began, “a transsexual is somebody who wears the customary attire of the opposite sex (female), but that’s just that. He does not identify with the opposite sex; his sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is still male. On the other hand, a transgender feels that he is born in the wrong gender; thus, this mistake has to be corrected. He feels female in mind, heart, and body; thus, the need, nay, the ache, to have a sexual-reassignment surgery to finally come into full being as a member of the right sex. In the Philippines, the pioneering group is Society of Transsexual Women in the Philippines (STRAP), and they call themselves, with their breasts thrust up proudly, if I may say so, “transPinay.” Bemz Benedito, the present chairperson of Ladlad Party List, and the one to whom all media queries on Ladlad should be directed, is an out and proud “transPinay.” Last month, Bemz had chest pains and was rushed to the emergency room of St. Lukes’ Hospital where a female doctor said, “Sir, just relax and deep breathily, Sir.” The effervescent Bemz could not help it and said,” Doktora, please grant me this and call me Miss, especially now that I might be on the brink of death.” Yes, even near the cliff-edge, our transPinay activists are still daring and do everything with dash and élan.

But back to the brave and beautiful film of Nick. It deals with transgender Filipinas doing sex work in Japan to keep their families alive in the Philippines. The things we do for our families, Nick seems to imply, who can only accept us – gays and bisexuals and trans – only if we are their piggy banks, their central banks, their ATM machines that don’t go blink any time of day or night.

Nick’s films also deals with the slippages of language. “There are many names for us here,” Nick said in his usual flamboyant manner, then he ticked them off: “agi, bayot, bakla, badaf, bading, baklesha, sirena, verde ang dugo...“ and we’ve only just begun. Nick said his list contained at least 100 names for gays, with each word and every nuance carrying the complexity of Philippine gay life.

Before I left the meeting, I photocopied a query called "Do You Need Treatment?" that one of my female friends in the meeting got from an old copy of the New Internationalist. Since it might help our straight friends see us in another light, I’m reprinting it in full. Listen.

“Gay people get asked some pretty strange questions. Often, this is because their interrogators have a narrow, strictly heterosexual view of what is ‘normal.’ The New Internationalist turns the tables and asks heterosexual people some strange questions, too.

“1. What do you think is the cause of your heterosexuality?

2. When did you first realize you might be heterosexual?

3. Have you told your parents? What do they think of it?

4. Are there others like you in your family?

5. Would you say you had an inadequate mother or father figure?

6. Don’t you think your heterosexuality might be a phase you are going through?

7. Are you afraid of members of your own sex?

8. Isn’t it possible that what you need is a good gay lover?

9. What do you actually do in bed?

10. You put what where?

11. But how can people of the opposite sex really please each other when there are such vast emotional and biological differences among them?

12. Although society gives considerable support to the institution of marriage, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

13. Is it because heterosexuals are promiscuous?

14. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Have you considered aversion therapy?

15. Why do you feel compelled to seduce others into your sexual activities?

16. Why do you insist on making such a public spectacle of your heterosexuality?

17. More than 90 percent of child molesters are thought to be heterosexuals. Would you feel comfortable entrusting your children‘s education to heterosexual teachers?

18. Why do people like you emphasize the heterosexual qualities of famous people such as film stars? Is it because you need to validate your own condition?

19. Penetrative sex is most common among heterosexual couples. Aren’t you worried about the risk of getting the HIV virus that leads to AIDS?

20. If everybody were heterosexual like you, what would happen to the world’s population? Don’t you think it is unreasonable and irresponsible of you to insist on sleeping with people of the opposite sex?”

If you’re asked questions like these – and I’m often asked, as I’m sure many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Filipinas are asked—how would you feel? Ano ang mase-say mo, manash?

(Comments can be sent to

US military ready to repeal ban on gays

US military ready to repeal ban on gays
07/22/2011 | 08:58 AM

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon will announce on Friday that the U.S. military is ready to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, the last major hurdle to formally ending the policy, U.S. officials said on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Barack Obama last year signed a landmark law to allow for the repeal of the nearly 18-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that forced gays to keep their sexual orientation secret in order to serve in the military.

But Pentagon leaders first needed to certify that military readiness would not suffer as a result -- something that will now be done by new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Once the Pentagon has signed off, Obama can certify the repeal -- fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise to end a policy that saw more than 13,000 men and women expelled from the military because of their sexual orientation.

There is then a 60-day waiting period before the law is finally scrapped.

Ending the policy, enacted under then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, has been a top priority of gay rights activists, along with advancing same-sex marriage rights.

Critics of repeal within the Pentagon had long argued it was too risky to pursue the change at a time when the military was stretched by the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.

But a Pentagon study unveiled last year predicted that scrapping the policy would have little impact, and repeal won support from Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

U.S. courts also intervened, with a California district court judge last year finding that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy violated the U.S. constitution.

The Obama administration managed to keep the policy partly in effect through court appeals in order to give the Defense Department time to prepare for repeal. Last week, a federal appeals court blocked the Pentagon from investigating or discharging anyone under the policy. — Reuters

Reflections of a gay seminarian

COMMENTARY: Reflections of a gay seminarian
09-Jul-11, 2:15 PM | Danton Remoto
Online news portal of TV 5
Photo from

The vilification of same-sex couples who had gone through commitment ceremonies a week ago led some bishops to make callous statements like “kadiri” and such. This is what we get for falling in love with whom we choose to love? This led me to dig into my email files. I found a letter sent to me by a seminarian a few years ago. He is gay and has found peace with his sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Let me quote excerpts from his email.

"Let me commend you for being a sober voice in the discourse on gay rights in the country," he starts. [Thank you, ahem]. "However, let me chastise you also for your statement on national TV that some priests know nothing about love. Well, let me tell you that priests also know and have experienced loving and being loved. There are honest and sensible priests around, unlike the ones that you see parroting things they know nothing about.”

I was talking about non-platonic love, the kind that goes beyond sisterhood and brotherhood. Yes, the one that involves the body electric. So our seminarian is implying that some priests have also gone beyond platonic love? Hmmm, we enter deeper and more interesting waters here.

He also sums up the stand of the Catholic Church: “Homosexuality is a sin contra naturam, a sin against nature. The classic reference is Genesis 19:1-19, the story of Sodom which, according to classical interpretation, shows an exclusive concern for the sin of homosexuality. However, I find the interpretation too narrow. It seems to compartmentalize and even manipulate the Holy Scripture.”

I begin to cheer for this young man who has made peace with himself, with the fact that he is gay but would still like to continue with his vocation as a priest. How many priests are as brave and honest as him? How many go on and become priests, and when they’re already there, throw mud at gay men who openly live the lives they want to lead? These are closeted priests who see mirrors around them, so they throw rocks to shatter the mirrors, not knowing that the shards still reflect their true selves.

Our gay seminarian has visited gay bars and interviewed male sex workers, but he has never touched them. If Earl K. Wilkinson’s controversial book published ten years ago is correct, there are even pedophiles in the priesthood. But when caught, en flagrante delicto, the higher orders just transfer them to other parishes, as if stink can be hidden if the garbage bin is thrown in another corner of the country.

Our gay seminarian is railing against the hypocrisy that is regnant in the priesthood. “Some priests have allowed themselves to become part of the system, while others break the cycle, and in the process, become more real themselves. Perhaps, if they are able to face the problems of sexuality in our time, all of us must move away from a procreational view of sexuality to a more personal and relational one. I feel it’s the trivialization of the personal encounter that’s the central problem for gays and straights alike. Many have adopted a consumerist attitude to sex – the encouragement of cheap and disposable sex, to the detriment of a deep personal encounter that leads to growth. This is the heart of the problem.”

Is our gay seminarian pushing for celibacy? I will not go there. But our astute seminarian does train his guns elsewhere. “And the Church seems to miss the point. Christians and other people have fallen into the sexist mistake of reducing a person to the sexual act alone. Contrary to the existing myths about homosexuality, gays are not 'sexaholics!' Gays are not phallus-centered. It’s about time that the Church take a look at the truth that gays are discovering in themselves and help it to emerge and flourish. Besides, the Church does not have a monopoly of the truth. And finally, as you said when you sued the Commission on Elections in the Supreme Court for calling Ladlad ‘immoral’ and ‘abnormal,’ refusing its accreditation – the Church and the State are separate entities, and there is no State religion in the Philippines.”

Please allow me to reprint the statement of Ladlad, the party list I founded on September 1, 2003, which is now being run by a new breed of leaders. I am now just a member of this lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, which CNN has called “the only LGBT political party in the world”—again, another first for this country. The statement against the bigotry in the Catholic Church follows.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are not manifestations of mental illness or criminality. These are basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that not even the Roman Catholic Church can deny.

“The celebration of same-sex weddings speaks of the love of two persons, and this is not an issue for the Roman Catholic Church to interfere in. It is also not a Roman Catholic Church issue to criticize or question the authority of religious leaders of the Metropolitan Community Church, which do not belong to its denomination.

“While Ladlad is nonsectarian, we are calling for respect, respect that Jesus Christ advocated and which is the basis of Christianity, respect for different forms of expression and diverse views. Let us not resort to name-calling, when the issue is simple: Do LGBTs in the Philippines have human rights? If the answer is “yes,” then there should be no attacks on them based on their expressions of love and exercise of freedom of religion, especially since they are not violating any law or impinging on the rights of others.

“We condemn in the strongest sense the unfair, discriminatory, arrogant and condescending statements of Bishop Teodoro Bacani and others in the Roman Catholic church. The bishops have propagated once again hatred, bias, prejudice and fear toward LGBT Filipinos. We urge them to step back, as we draw the line between their hypocrisy and our rights. We also urge the Roman Catholic Church to clear their names from various scandals before training their guns at us. [The statement refers to the Pajeros that seven bishops allegedly received from the past regime].

We only ask for equal rights and nothing more. But we will accept nothing less.”

(Comments can be emailed to

LGBT hate crimes on the rise

By Yvonne Chua, VERA Files

Television director Ricky Rivero thought he was having a nightmare. He woke up morning of June 13 and Ivan Ruiz was on top of him, stabbing him continuously.

They struggled with each other, and when Rivero got the chance to grab Ruiz's wrist, he pinned him down the bed. The rage coming from Ruiz slowly subsided.

Rivero got the chance to overpower Ruiz and drove himself to the hospital. He survived despite the 17 stab wounds he sustained.

In an interview with TV host Boy Abunda two weeks after the incident, Rivero recalled that Ruiz, an acquaintance with whom he had casual sex relations, was full of rage and his eyes were full of anger when he was stabbing him.

Asked if he considers it a "hate crime", Rivero said he can't be sure but considering what transpired, it seems it's "leaning towards... yes, it's a hate crime."

Hate crimes generally refer to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against persons belonging to a certain social group, usually defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation.

Rivero is not the only one among those labelled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) who experienced this kind of brutal crime;others were not as lucky.

Days before Rivero's stabbing incident, the Metropolitan Community Church sponsored LGBT Flores de Mayo parade in Quezon City just ended, it was attended by members of different LGBT organizations including VJ Montefalco. It was the last time Montefalco was seen.

Last June 29, the Quezon City police found his body along EDSA, Kamuning MRT station with two stab wounds on his heart.

A study made by Marlon Lacsamana and Reighben Labilles of Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch showed the alarming rise of LGBT deaths from suspected hate crimes, which totalled 160 from 1996 to June 30, 2011. A total of 38 cases were recorded in the first six months of 2011 alone. Last year, there were 29 reported cases. The study was based on online data, e-mails sent to Lacsamana and Labilles by friends of the slain victims, and news reports.

Lacsamana, a Library Science graduate, began his study on LGBT-related killings after two of his close friends (Winton Lou Ynion and Vincent Jan Rubio) were brutally killed. For this study, he teamed up with Labilles, a graduate of Political Science.

Lacsamana and Labilles then started a group in Facebook called Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, now with more than 350 members. The online group aims to monitor all LGBT-related crimes and post the information in the group's wall. (Those who have any information on LGBT hate crimes may send the details to:

In an event sponsored by the UP Pride team last July 1, Labilles cited the following examples of hate crimes:

• A gay was suffocated using a plastic bag, strangled with an iron wire and was poked in the eye by an ice pick.

• A gay's body was left in a cemetery, and the dogs fed on it.

• A transgender's body was left on a bridge. Her head was smashed and her brains splattered everywhere.

• A lesbian in Davao was shot on the face as she walked out of a grocery store. • A gay was wrapped in a packaging tape then shot several times.

• A gay was found in his condominium, burned while his hands and feet were tied in nylon cords.

• The most number of stab wounds found on a slain victim's body was 79. "We're not making up these stories; these were what really happened to some of the victims.", Labilles said.

Labilles laments the absence of an anti-Hate Crime law in the cPhilippines."Prejudice, bias, or hate towards any minority group such as LGBT Filipinos is not at all considered when investigating crimes," he observed.

Rep. Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, author of House Bill 1483, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Providing Penalties, announced last June 26 that he would pioneer a House probe on the growing numbers of hate crimes in the country.

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

Ladlad condemns the bigotry of the Catholic Church

Ladlad Party List Statement:

Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are not manifestations of mental illness nor criminality. These are basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that not even the Roman Catholic Church can deny.

The celebration of same-sex weddings speaks of the love of two persons, and this is not an issue for the Roman Catholic Church to interfere in. It is also not a Roman Catholic Church issue to criticize or question the authority of religious leaders of the Metropolitan Community Church, which do not belong to its denomination.

While Ladlad is nonsectarian, we are calling for respect; respect that Christ advocated and which is the basis of Christianity, respect for different forms of expression and diverse views. Let us not resort to name-calling, when the issue is simple: Do LGBTs in the Philippines have human rights? If the answer is yes, then there should be no attacks on them based on their expressions of love and exercise of freedom of religion, especially since they are not violating any law or impinging on the rights of others.

We condemn in the strongest sense the unfair, discriminatory, arrogant and condescending statements of Bishop Teodoro Bacani and others in the Roman Catholic church. The bishops have propagated once again–hatred, bias, prejudice and fear toward LGBT Filipinos. We urge them to step back, as we draw the line between their hypocrisy and our rights. We also urge the Roman Catholic Church to clear their names from various scandals before training their guns at us.

We only ask for equal rights and nothing more. But we will accept nothing less.

May Isang Matalinong Obispo

May Isang Matalinong Obispo


OO, mayroon, taga-Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines o CBCP, at ang ngalan niya ay si Msgr. Pedro Quitorio. Sa pangalan pa lang niya, nanginginig na ako sa takot. After all, huwag nating kalimutan, si San Pedro ang may hawak ng susi papasok sa tarangkahan ng langit. Kung wala ang pangalan mo sa kaniyang libro, good luck sa ‘yo, doon ka na sa impiyerno. Kung susundan kasi natin ang argumento ni Quitorio, kung bading ka (at gusto mo pang magpakasal, que horror!), wala ka sa listahan ng kaniyang tokayo.
Ganito kasi iyon. Sa News To Go ng GMANEWS TV kaninang umaga (27 Hunyo 2011), masayang ibinalita nina Howie Severino at Kara David na ligal na ang pagpapakasal ng parehong babae at parehong lalaki sa New York. Inaprubahan ang batas na ito ng kanilang Senado noong isang araw at nagdiwang ang maraming mga bading at lesbyana sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo lalo na siyempre sa di natutulog na lungsod ng New York. Pang-anim na estado na ito ng Estados Unidos ng Amerika na mayroong ligal na karapatan ang mga homoseksuwal na magpakasal.
Para sa espiritu ng balanseng pamamahayag, nag-interbyu sina Howie mula sa magkasalungat na partido kapag kabadingan ang pag-uusap dito sa bansa. Ang una ay si Quitorio nga ng CBCP, at ang pangalawa ay si Rev. Ceejay Agbayani ng Metropolitan Community Church, ang simbahang Kristiyano na kumakalinga sa mga bading at lesbyana.
Siyempre alam na natin na diring-diri sa ideya ng homosexual marriage ang CBCP. Noong buhay pa si Cardinal Sin at tinanong siya tungkol dito, Hesus Maria Joseph! lang ang kaniyang sagot. Tingnan mo, naghihintay na lamang ang mga parokyano ng Manila Cathedral ng milagro sa ngalan niya para mag-beatify na ito ng Santo Papa at sakaling maging santo rin. Hesus Maria Joseph to the max din ang reaksiyon ko habang sumasabit ang aking mga kilay sa tuktok ng kampanaryo na sinabayan ko ng pagkukurus dala tambling at isplit mula Manila Cathedral patungong Fort Santiago.
Siyempre sabi ni Quitorio hindi puwede ang homosexual marriage dahil sa ating saligang batas ay iligal ito, at hindi rin naaayon sa “law of nature” na “man at woman” lang dapat ang maaaring ikasal. At hindi raw magbabago ito kailanman.
Ganun?As in like that! Hindi ko alam kung saan nanggaling na kuweba si Quitorio. Pakiramdam ko pumasok siya sa yungib na iyon dalawang siglo bago nagrebolusyon ang Katipunan at nang lumabas siya ay ika-150th na kaarawan na ni Jose Rizal. Baka hindi pa niya nabalitaan na 2005 pa naging ligal ang homosexual marriage sa España. Baka nakalimutan lang ng marunong na obispo na mga Kastila ang nagdala sa ating arkipelago ng relihiyon ng CBCP. Ang España umusad na, tayo nasa panahon pa rin ng kolonyalismong Kastila.
Kaya naihi ako sa saya nang makita ko ang kapatid na Carlos Celdran na nakabihis Rizal with an overcoat, na nagtaas ng plakard na ang nakalagay “Damaso” habang nagmimisa ang mga obispo sa Manila Cathedral ilang buwan pa lamang ang nakalilipas. Kung sino si Damaso, I’m sure kilala siya ni Quitorio. Humarap lang siya sa salamin at makakausap na niya ito.
Tumambling ako sa sagot ni Quitorio nang tinanong siya ni Howie (si Papa Howie na kung binata lang siya at liligawan niya ako at yayaing magpakasal ay mag-o-oo agad ako!) kung ang hindi pagpayag ba ng simbahang Katoliko sa pagpapakasal ng mga bading ay isang uri ba ito ng diskriminasyon. Sagot ng obispo, hindi raw ito diskriminasyon dahil iligal nga ang pagpapakasal ng parehong lalaki at parehong babae. Aniya pa, ibig sabihin dini-discriminate din ba natin ang mga kidnapper kung hindi natin sila papayagang mangidnap dahil labag ito sa ating batas?
Yes, ikinumpara ng butihing obispo ang pagpapakasal ng mga bading sa krimen ng pangingidnap! Kung saan ang koneksiyon at lohika, kayo na ang maghanap sa loob ng sutana o ng gamit na brip ng mga pari. O baka talaga ganito kasama ang paningin ng mga taga-CBCP sa mga bading at lesbyana? Ka-level ng mga kidnaper! Heinous crime na pala ngayon ang pagiging bading at lesbyana sa ating bansa. Salamat, bishop. Hindi naming alam ‘yan.
Pagkarinig ng sagot na ito, parang nakita kong ngumiwi nang kaunti si Howie pero di ako sure. Dumiretso na lamang siya sa sumunod na katanungan.
Sabi pa ni Quitorio, “wala sa kultura” ang pagpapakasal ng mga bading at lesbyana na siguro kasama na rin ang homoseksuwalidad mismo. Anong kultura ba ang tinutukoy niya? Siguro naman hindi ang kulturang Filipino. Pero sa tono ng pananalita niya, mukhang kulturang atin ang tinutukoy niya. Naku, bishop, delikadong statement ‘yan. Tiyak di pinag-isipan.
Kunsabagay, siguro limitado lamang talaga ang mga babasahin na nakapapasok sa huklubang kuweba, este, sa bakuran ng CBCP kung saan nananahan ang kaluluwa ni Padre Damaso. Kaya bilang isang mabuting kristiyano, specifically Katoliko, ako na lamang ang magbabahagi kay Quitorio ng isang nabasa ko noong nakaraang taon sa Malay, ang internasyonal na jornal sa Filipino ng ipinagmamalaki kong Alma Mater, ang De La Salle University-Manila, isang Katolikong unibersidad na nagdiwang ng sentenaryo nito kamakailan lamang. Sa Setyembre 2010 isyu ng nasabing jornal, may artikulo ang iskolar ng literatura at manunulat na taga-University of the Philippines-Los Baños na si Emmanuel B. Dumlao na pinamagatang “Berinarew: Pagsasanib ng Aral at Aliw.”
Pinag-aralan ni Dumlao ang mga konsepto ng moralidad ng mga Teduray, mga katutubong matatagpuan sa Maguindanao, sa pamamagitan ng isa sa tatlo nilang mga epiko, ang Berinarew. Ang isa sa mga nakatutuwang nadiskube ni Dumalao ay wala palang bakla o lesbyana sa mga Teduray. Ups, mukhang tama si Quitorio. But wait a minute, baby! Walang bakla o lesbyana sa kanila dahil kung kung lalaki at nagkagusto ka sa kapuwa mo lalaki at gusto mong maging babae, go ahead baby, magpakababae ka. Gayundin sa babae. Kung may type kang babae at gusto mong maging lalaki, go ahead baby, magpakalalaki ka! Vongga di vah?

Paliwanag ni Dumlao: Gaya ng pagkilala sa bakla, agi, bayot sa iba’t ibang dako ng Filipinas, wala ring problema sa mga Teduray ang usapin ng sexual o gender preference. Mayroon silang tinatawag na “mentefuwaley libun” at “mantefuwaley lagey” na ang ibig sabihin ay “lalaking naging babae” at “babaeng naging lalaki.” Ang ganitong pagpapalit ng kasarian para sa isang Teduray ay kasing-natural lamang ng pag-aasawa. Hindi pekpek o titi ang batayan nila ng sekswalidad kundi ang kilos ng isang indibidwal. Ibig sabihin, magiging babae ang isang lalaki kung kikilos at magdadamit siya bilang babae. (Dumlao 56)
Dagdag pa niya, “Para sa mga Teduray, ang isang lalaking nagpalit ng kasarian ay ‘mentefuwaley libun,’ hindi siya bakla, hindi siya bisexual. Siya ay babae, ‘mentefuwaley libun’ o lalaking naging babae (56).” Sana hindi atakehin sa puso ang Santo Papa kapag mabasa niya ito.
Maaaring sabihin ni Quitorio (at ng iba pang mga kontrabida) na ‘yun nga, nandoon pa rin ang konsepto ng kasal sa pagitan lamang ng babae at lalaki. Sa Teduray, kailangang maging babae muna ang isang bading upang puwedeng magpakasal sa lalaki. Pero sigurado ako na kahit hiramin ko pa ang napakamahal na gown ni Regine Velasquez at magpapakasal ako kay Piolo Pascual (let’s say, next week! Bwahaha. At assuming na hindi kokontrahin ni KC Concepcion o kaya magmamakaawa sa akin ang idolo kong si Sharon Cuneta na ibalato ko na lamang sa anak niya si Piolo), hindi pa rin papayag si Quitorio. Hindi kasi talaga ito puwede sa kuweba, este, sa CBCP nila.
Nanggigigil talaga ako sa homophobia at kakitiran ng isipan ng mga pari at obispo ng simbahang Katoliko. Masyado nilang isinasabuhay hindi ang mga salita ni Hesus kundi ang kanilang “Catholic Hypocrisy.” Akala mo walang mga paring nangunguflang sa mga madilim na sinehan. Akala mo walang mga paring naninilip ng mga titi sa CR ng mga mall. Akala mo walang naghahadahan sa loob ng mga seminaryo. Akala mo walang mga paring sapilitang hinahada ang mga kawawang sakristan na kadalasan ay mga anak-mahirap! May isa nga akong kilala na malditang pari, hinahada ang mga guwardiya sa mga paaralan nila saan man siya madestino bilang administrador. Iniskandalo pa nga siya minsan dahil nakukulangan na ang guwardiya sa ibinibigay niyang pera.
May teorya akong ganito, may tatlong rason lamang kung bakit nagiging pari ang mga lalaki sa Filipinas. Una, upang takasan ang kahirapan ng buhay. Marami kasing mayayamang deboto na dahil hindi na alam ang gagawin sa limpak-limapak nilang salapi ay willing magbigay ng iskolarship sa mahihirap na batang gusto kunwaring magpari. Indulhensiya rin kasi ito. Lalo na ang mga angkan ng mga politiko na marami ang ninakaw sa kaban ng gobyerno o ang negosyo ng pamilya ay lumaki dahil sa pandaraya at di pagbabayad ng hustong suweldo at benepisyo sa kanilang mga manggagawa. Kaya may mga paring may ibinabahay na babae at nagkakaroon ng mga anak. Mayroon ding nangungupit ng pera ng parokya o ng konggregasyon para patayuan ng bahay ang mga magulang at kapatid. Ganito kapag walang totoong bokasyon ang nagpapari.
Pangalawa, mga maykaya ang angkan subalit hindi masyadong matalino at hindi uubra kung maging abogado o doktor sila. Kaya maraming pari na kahit nag-apat na taon sa pag-aaral ng pilosopiya wala pa ring kakayahan mag-isip at walang lohika ang mga pinagdadakdak. At pangatlo, bading na gustong itago ang kanilang pagkabading. Kaya maraming pari at obispo ang galit sa mga bading kasi nakikita nila ang kanilang sarili sa mga bading na ito. Ang tawag dito ng mga lola kong sina J. Neil C. Garcia at Danton Remoto, “internalized homophobia,” na mas delikado kaysa “plain homophobia” lamang na siyempre peligroso pa rin sa mga katulad namin. Kadalasan, kumbinasyon pa ‘yan ng una at pangatlo, at ng pangalawa at pangatlo.
Palaging kasama sa ipinagdadasal ko kapag nagsisimba ako ay sana magising na at maging matapang ang mga bading na pari at obispo na baguhin ang pananaw ng simbahan tungkol homoseksuwalidad. Sana sila na ang makipaglaban sa loob ng CBCP hanggang sa banal na estado ng Vatican. Wake up and fight for us, sisters!
Gusto kong malaman ng mga katulad ni Quitorio na mas magiging masaya sana ako sa pagdasal at pagdalo ng misa sa loob ng simbahan kung alam kong tanggap na tanggap ako nang kinagisnan at minamahal kong relihiyon na minana ko pa sa aking mga magulang.’ Yun lang.
Sa interbyu naman na Howie kay Rev. Ceejay Agbayani na siyang administrative pastor ng MMC, ipinagdiinan nitong huli ang pagkakaroon ng “freedom of religion” sa ating bansa na ginagarantiyahan ng ating Konstitusyon. Kaya hindi puwedeng sabihin ng isang obispo na iligal ang “kasal” na ginagawa nila dahil hindi ito pinapayagan ng estado. Ang kasalan sa MMC ay bahagi ng mga relihiyosong ritwal at may karapatan ang MMC na gawin ito.
Aminado naman si Ceejay na walang marriage license ang mga kasalan sa kanilang simbahan. Aniya, “holy union” ito at hindi “holy matrimony.” Sa ritwal na ito, humihingi lamang ng basbas ang nagmamahalang parehong lalaki o parehong babae mula sa Diyos. Pagpapakita lamang daw ito na tunay at dalisay ang pagmamahalang ito.
Nagtanong naman si Kara David kung ano ang masasabi ni Ceejay sa ilang mga paniniwalang ang mga bading ang dahilan ng pagkalat ng sakit na AIDS. Stereotyping ito, sabi ni Ceejay. Hindi raw naman sa mga bading nagsimula ang AIDS. Pero siyempre, katotohanan din na marami ngang mga bading ang may AIDS sa ngayon. Kaya makabubuti raw ang homosexual marriage para ma-encourage ang mga bading at lesbyana na maging tapat sa kanilang partner sa buhay. Ang pagpapakasal, bagamat hindi garantiya, ay makakapagpatibay ng katapatan.
Ang MCC ay isang relihiyong Protestante na itinatag para magkaroon ng simbahan ang mga bading at lesbyana na itinatatwa ng ibang mga kristiyanong simbahan, lalo na ng simbahang Katoliko.
Masayang-masaya siyempre si Ceejay sa pagsasabatas ng homosexual marriage sa New York.
Nang tinanong siya ni Howie kung kailan kaya magkakaroon ng ligal na homosexual marriage sa Filipinas, masaya at tumatawa siyang sumagot ng, “Kung hindi mamayang hapon, baka next week!” Oo nga naman. Why not, coconut? Ayon nga sa mga natutunan ko mula sa mga madre noong nasa elementarya pa lamang ako sa Assumption sa Antique, “With God, nothing is impossible.” Tumpak! Korak! Plak!
Oh, by the way high way run way whatever way… Si Ceejay pala ang tinutukoy ko sa pamagat ng sanaysay na ito na matalinong obispo. Joke lang po iyong nasa unang talata, if I may stress the obvious. Grrr!

[27 Hunyo 2011
Lungsod Pasig]

Simbahang nagkakasal sa mga bakla at lesbyana

Simbahang nagkakasal sa mga bakla at lesbiyana06/29/2011 | 12:06 PM

Sa New York, maituturing na tagumpay ng mga lesbian, gay, bisexual at transgender, o LGBT, ang pagkakaroon ng same-sex marriage doon. Pero sa Pilipinas, wala mang batas na kumikilala sa pag-iisang dibdib ng same sex couples, may simbahan na nagkakasal sa kanila - ang Metropolitan Community Church. Si Rev. Ceejay Agbayani ang administrative pastor nito. Nakapanayam siya nina Kara David at Howie Severino sa News To Go.

HOWIE SEVERINO: Anong relihiyon ninyo?

REV. AGBAYANI: We're an ecumenical Protestant Christian denomination that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

KARA DAVID: Ang Protestant church ba ay kumikilala sa same-sex marriage?

REV. AGBAYANI: Hindi ho lahat ng Protestante. Actually ang isa pong katangian ng Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), we minister to the LGBT community. Sa Pilipinas, kami lang.

KARA: Pero 'yung church ninyo hindi naman para lang sa LGBT?

REV. AGBAYANI: Hindi naman po. Sa ibang bansa, sa MCC sa Canada malaking church 'yon kaya wala na 'yung ganoong exclusivity ng LGBT.

KARA: Okay. At ang kaibahan ninyo sa ibang mga churches ay kayo ay nagkakasal.

REV. AGBAYANI: Since 1968 ho nagkakasal na kami...

KARA: Ng lalaki sa lalaki, ng babae sa babae?

REV. AGBAYANI: Oo. Ang unang kinasal ni Rev. Rey Perry ay mga lesbian noong 1969. Kasi bago lang naman ang MCC, 1968 lang kami at produkto kami ng pagsasara ng mga simbahan sa amin. apagka ikaw ay nag-out, 'yun nga 'yung founder namin nag-out siya Baptist Penticostal 'yun noong nag-out siya. Tinanggal siya kasi nga bakla siya.

HOWIE: Anong reaction ninyo doon sa pagpasa ng batas sa New York legalizing same sex marriages?

REV. AGBAYANI: Kami ay tuwang-tuwa kasi ang Stonewall (riots) ay naganap sa New York at 'yung pride month na ginagawa namin ay dahil sa Stonewall noong June 1969.

HOWIE: Paki paliwanag lang kung ano 'yung Stonewall.

REV. AGBAYANI: Ang Stonewall Riot po ay ito 'yung pag-aaklas ng mga bading, mga transexual sa isang bar na binu-bully ng mga pulis, hinuhuli sila doon sa New York.

HOWIE: 1969. So historic landmark sa kasaysayan ng lesbian at gay...

REV. AGBAYANI: After a year, 1970 nagkaroon ng isang martiya and since then ang June ay tinatawag na Pride month and specifically June 26.

HOWIE: So New York pala significant sa kasaysayan ng mga gay at lesbian.

KARA: Tapos ngayon naging legal na ang same-sex marriage so this is a major victory for...

REV. AGBAYANI: Actually pang-sampu o pangweleven na estado na nagkakaroon ng same-sex marriage sa Estados Unidos. Marami naman pong same-sex marriage sa ibang bansa. Ang Espanya mayroong magandang batas patungkol sa same-sex kung saan nanggaling ang ating Katolisismo.

KARA: Kanina kausap lang ni Howie si Msgr. Pedro Quitorio ng CBCP at sinasabi niya na labag sa batas ng Pilipinas ang magkasal ng lalaki sa lalaki at babae sa babae. Lumalabag daw kayo sa batas.

REV. AGBAYANI: Ike-clear lang po natin ang difference between Holy Union at saka Holy Matrimony. Ang matrimony po talaga, mayroon talagang legal entity. Ang Holy Union ay isang sakramento o rituwal ng Metropolitan churches. Ito po ay rituwal namin.

KARA: Okay. Sinabi kanina ni Msgr. Quitorio na ito’y laru-laro lang.

REV. AGBAYANI: Hindi naman po.

KARA: Kasi hindi naman daw ito legal. So, laru-laro lang daw ito. At hindi naman daw binigyan ng karapatan 'yung solemnizing officer na mag-solemnize ng mga kasal.

REV. AGBAYANI: Hindi naman po matatawag na illegal 'to dahil the Constitution provides the freedom of religion at kasama po ito sa rituwal namin. Kaya hindi naman po puwedeng sabihin na hindi kami puwede, e marami naman pong ibang klase ng pagpapakasal, 'di ba po? Hindi naman puwedeng masabi na illegal ito.

HOWIE: So ano naman ang mga rights and privileges ng mga partner dito sa same-sex marriages sa ilalim ng simbahan niyo?

REV. AGBAYANI: Ang rituwal po talaga ay ginagawa para sa dalawang tao na nagmamahalan after the wedding counseling and they finally decide na mag-asawa at hindi naman ipinagdadamot dapat ng simbahan ang pagpapakasal dahil ito naman po ay kagustuhan ng dalawang taong nagmamahalan.

KARA: Pero walang marriage certificate?

REV. AGBAYANI: 'Yun nga lang po, kaya nga po ang MCC ay advocate for same-sex marrige dahil ang kasal po ay isang inherent right ng lahat ng tao na nagmamahalan, wala dapat pagtatangi sa mga LGBT.

KARA: Okay. Pastor papaano po 'yung mga nagpapakasal po duon sa simbahan ninyo ang tanong siyempre ng mga tao, bakit pa ako magpapakasal e hindi naman ito legal in the sense na wala naman akong papel na panghahawakan, so bakit pa ako magpapakasal?

REV. AGBAYANI: 'Yun nga po ang nakakatuwa kasi kahit hindi po legal pa sa Pilipinas pero nagpapakasal. Iyon lang po ang patunay na talagang may mga tao na nagmamahalan at gusto talaga nilang ma-bless sa simbahan at mabasbasan sa simbahan para doon sa kanilang pagmamahalan. Meron man itong legal entity o wala gusto talaga ng tao ay makasal sila sa simbahan at mabasbasan sila.

HOWIE: Paano naman naiiba itong same-sex wedding sa simbahan ninyo sa karaniwang kasal? May mga singsing? Naka-wedding gown din ba 'yung bride?

REV. AGBAYANI: Depende po kung gaano kabongga 'yung couple. ‘Yung iba naman po na simple ay singsing at unity candle. Pero 'yung iba lahat po ng elements nandoon from the aras, veil and cord, lahat po.

KARA: Hindi ba kayo nadi-discriminate?

REV. AGBAYANI: Malaki ho ang diskriminasyon sa simbahan dito sa Pilipinas, lalo na't both the Catholic and the Protestant ganoon pa din ang pagtatangi sa amin. Pero hindi naman po kami titigil sa ginagawa namin dahil sa palagay po ng simbahan ng kalakhan ng mananampalataya, e ito 'yung tawag na magbubukas sa mga LGBT. Saan pa sila pupunta kung ang simbahan nila ay sinasarhan sila.

HOWIE: May naranasan na ba kayong harassment or threats?

REV. AGBAYANI: Mayroon na po.

KARA: Katulad ng?

REV. AGBAYANI: Noong ako'y maordenahan noong 2008 at 'yung isang Protestanteng simbahan ay pinayagan naman kami doon ako maordenahan. Pero nang malaman nila na karamihan ng mga miyembro ko ay mga bakla, the following day hindi na kami pinapunta doon.

HOWIE: Bakit kailangan ng sariling simbahan ang mga bakla?

REV. AGBAYANI: Magandang tanong po. Produkto po kasi kami ng... reaksyon po ng mga pagtatangi katulad ng mga Black churches na ginagamit ang bibliya na white supremacy tapos kaya sila nai-isolate kaya nagkaroon ng black churches not because sila ay ganoon na, kasi produkto sila ng pagtatangi kaya nagsasama-sama sila. Ganoon din po, ang naging produkto namin ang MCC, pagtatangi sa amin kaya nabuo ang isang Metropolitan Community Church.

KARA: May ilang nagsasabi na, nagbabala actually na 'yung homosexual relationships ay pinagmumulan ng paglaganap daw ng sexually transmitted infections, HIV AIDS.

REV. AGBAYANI: ‘Yan po ay napaka stereotyping at hindi naman po masasabi natin na sa amin nanggaling 'yung mga sakit dahil kahit sa mga heterosexual mayroong ganoon. Huwag naman po sana nating i-associate na ang kabaklaan ang synonymous sa STD o HIV, stereotyping po 'yun at kung aalamin 'nyo naman po ang history ay hindi naman po talaga nanggaling sa amin 'yan. Kaya nga po kami we're in favor of same-sex marriages hindi dahil dun kundi para po with the same morality na nangyayari po sa ating mga magulang e ganoon din po ang morality dapat one-man-man, kaya dapat ang bakla ay hindi lang rampa nang rampa, dapat ito ay mayroon ka nang kinakasama. Kaya po kami ay pavor talaga sa same sex marriage with the same morality po ng ating mga magulang.

HOWIE: Kailan kaya magiging legal ang same-sex marriage sa ating bansa?

REV. AGBAYANI: Kung hindi po ngayon baka po sa isang linggo...

KARA: Pinagdadasal ninyo siguro?

REV. AGBAYANI: Yes, sana po. As soon as possible.

Gayer than laughter, am I

Gayer than laughter, am I
June 22, 2011,Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines -- I usually decline invitations to events that coincide with my birthday. But I decided to move my celebration to a later time to attend a reception hosted by the US Embassy in Manila at the Ambassador’s Residence to celebrate the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.

When US President Barack Obama proclaimed the month of June as the LGBT Pride Month, the US Embassy in the Philippines, which incidentally has a very strong gay group (under the leadership of my good friend Michael Pignatello), initiated this empowering activity which paid tribute to members of the LGBT community. Present at the party were LADLAD Party List founder Danton Remoto, Boy Abunda (the senior party adviser for LADLAD), and other LGBT supporters from the business community, NGOs, and politics.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. presented a very strong message that night and I would like to share with my loyal readers the entire copy of his speech, which inspired me to strengthen my support for the community:

Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat!

I am gay.

I am gay.

I am gay.

Three little words.

Six letters.

Three syllables.

It is not a phrase that trips the tongue. It is not a phrase that should take lifetimes to utter.

But my friends, these are some of the hardest words in the English language—in any language—for many of our friends, colleagues, and family members.

And this should not stand.

Our loved ones, our friends and our colleagues fear expressing their sexuality, condemned instead to a lifetime of anxiety and repression.

This should not be.

They are our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. Aunts and uncles. Sons. Daughters.

These are not nameless, faceless members of a foreign or forgotten race. They are our families and our friends. And they are scared to be who they are.

They fear expressing their sexuality. They cannot tell their own loved ones who they really are. And I regret that there are those even in our Embassy community who fear coming out and expressing their true selves.

Why? Because instead of expressing our love for all human beings, we choose instead to ostracize and exclude.

This will not continue.

Tonight, coming here together in this house for the first time, we are breaking new ground. It should give us pause to reflect how LGBT persons across the world, in every country, from every culture, are breaking new ground every day, and breaking courageously through the barriers that hold them back. As Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “To have courage for whatever comes in life -- everything lies in that.”

Yet even with courage, many of us still struggle to overcome prejudices driven by factors no human can control: the color of our skin, the expression of our gender, and the nature of our sexuality. While these prejudices are very real to us, many in the world can never understand.

And the reaction by that world to those struggling with such prejudice is both disappointing and disheartening: “You are imagining things,” they say. “It’s not as bad as you say it is, and if it is, it’s not my fault.”

That one’s core being can be such an affront to others is one of the greatest tragedies of humankind.

It is a tragedy not only because of the pain and suffering it causes, but because it prevents people from doing, being, and becoming their best. Sa diskriminasyon, maraming likas na galing at talino ang nasasayang.

Discrimination based on difference, whether it’s age, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion, is wrong. It deprives society of some of its most creative and productive members; it demoralizes communities. It shatters families.

It is not acceptable, and it should not be tolerated. The ambitious spirit of the Philippines’ LGBT community will no doubt carry it over these and other challenges. Americans know from centuries of experience that the march against discrimination and prejudice is long and difficult, and sometimes it feels never-ending.

But we also know that every step forward makes life a little better here and now -- and most certainly for future generations who will look back and marvel at the sacrifices and advances you all made, wondering at how you managed to accomplish so much.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not tonight asking you to leave shouting that you are gay; I am not asking you to endanger yourselves in the face of other peoples’ hatred and blindness. But I am asking you leave this place on this night with one thought and one goal: to protect and love someone. Love is what matters; gender is not important.

In his Gay Pride Month proclamation, President Obama called upon Americans to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate our great diversity. Those are goals worthy of all people, everywhere, and I hope all of you here tonight will join me in their pursuit.

We are all different, but we must embrace and respect our differences. We must come together through the very emotion that makes us human: love.

Bakla ako.

Tomboy ako.

Bakla kayo.

Tomboy kayo.

Pero lahat tayo ay tao.

Maraming salamat po.

And immediately after his speech the ambassador himself, to my biggest surprise, asked me to join him onstage and lead everyone to sing a happy birthday song for me. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for not only for making my birthday unforgettable, but importantly for inspiring other leaders to show their love and support for the LGBT community.

Ricky, handang tulungan ng Ladlad

Ricky, handang tulungan ng Ladlad
Ni Gorgy Rula

PORMAL na in-announce ng Ladlad partylist na tinanggap na ni Boy Abunda ang matagal nilang alok na maging Senior Party Adviser.

Kasama ni Kuya Boy na humarap sa press kahapon ang Ladlad chairperson na si Bemz Bene­dito para ipahayag ang pagiging aktibo ni Kuya Boy sa naturang samahan.

Matagal nang sumusuporta si Kuya Boy sa natu­rang grupo pero ngayon lamang siya nagsalita at ipina­hayag ang kanyang partisipasyon sa ipinaglalaban ng Ladlad para sa 2013 Elections ay magkaroon na ito ng puwang sa Kongreso, na ang target nila ay makakuha ng tatlong seats.

Ayon kay Kuya Boy, “Alam n’yo naman lahat kung ano ang laban nitong Ladlad na nangyari sa Comelec hanggang sa nakarating sa Korte Suprema, at ang prosesong ‘yun.
“Pagkatapos matalo ng Ladlad nu’ng nakaraang eleksyon, hindi na kami papayag. Kaya ngayon, hinihikayat na namin ang lahat ng aming mga miyembro.

“We are assessing, we are revisiting our list, we are encouraging LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual, transgender) people in and out of the clo­set na sana kayo’y makisa­lamuha, makiisa sa ating movement para sa 2013.”

Nilinaw ni Kuya Boy na wala siyang intensyong maging bahagi sa mga nominado para sa partylist.
Mas pinili niyang ma­ging strategist para sa kampanya nito.

“Hindi po ako interesado. I will be more effective as part of the campaign team. I will be more effective as one of the strategists of Ladlad.

“Hindi po ako interesado para tumakbo sa Kongreso sa pamamagitan ng Ladlad partylist.

“Kung ako’y tatakbo sa pulitika, hindi po sa 2013. Hindi po ako nagsasara. Sa 2016, at ito’y maaring pagka-gobernador sa ­Eastern Samar.

“Hindi ko po kailangan ang partylist para pumasok sa mundo ng pulitika,” de­retsahan niyang pahayag.

Sa presscon pa ring ‘yun ay ipinakilala ng Ladlad ang ilang nabiktima ng human rights violation dahil sa sila ay nasa miyembro ng third sex.

Humingi ito ng tulong sa Ladlad para ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan bilang tao hindi dahil sila ay bading.

Kaya ipinaglalaban nila, kasama si Kuya Boy, na maging bahagi ng Kongreso ang Ladlad dahil kailangang merong boses ang mga kapatirang nasa ­LGBT na naagrab­yado ang kanilang karapatang pantao.

Sabi pa ni Kuya Boy, “Hindi kami humihingi ng special treatment, kundi equal privileges.”

Aware ang lahat na maraming mga bading ang nabiktima ng krimen, kaya naungkat ang kaso ni Ricky Rivero na gusto ring tulungan ng Ladlad kung kinakailangan niya ito.

Nagpadala raw sila ng bulaklak kay Ricky para ipa­rating ang kanilang suporta sa kung ano mang gusto nitong ipaglaban kaugnay sa kanyang kaso.

“Meron kasing pana­naw na sinasabing kapag bakla, parati na lang bumubuwelta du’n sa debate na kasi, eh kasi ganyan.

“Wala hong may kara­patang pumaslang, pumatay lalung-lalo na sa ating mga kasamahan na sabihin na natin nagha­hanap ng kaibigan, naghahanap ng pagmamahal.

“Hindi namin sina­sabi that we will condone what is wrong, pero wala hong may karapatang manakit.

Si Ricky ho ay naging biktima ng labim­pitong saksak, at hindi ho kami uupo na ngayon at manonood na lang.

“Ito ho ay may kina­laman sa pagiging bakla. Dapat tumigil na ho ito.

“Dapat tumigil na ho ang mga patayan, pamamaslang, pang-aalipusta, diskriminasyon na base po sa sexual orientation at gender identity.

“Suportado ho namin si Ricky dito,” patuloy ni Kuya Boy.

Sa ngayon ay hinihintay lang daw nila na kausapin sila ni Ricky kung kinakailangan nito ng tulong.

Boy Abunda named Ladlad senior adviser; vows to help party list win 3 congressional seats in 2013

Boy Abunda named Ladlad senior adviser; vows to help party list win 3 congressional seats in 2013 By JOJO P. PANALIGAN
June 16, 2011, 7:57pm

Boy Abunda got "hurt" for Ladlad when it failed to secure Comelec accreditation in 2010.

MANILA, Philippines — TV host and manager Boy Abunda has accepted the offer to be the senior adviser of the Ladlad Partylist.

Abunda considers getting the position “one of the most important chapters” in his life. He aims to not just be an active member of the group, but an aggressive one.

“I’ve always been supportive of Ladlad in my own way but now is the time--this is the time--to step up my participation,” he told Bulletin Entertainment and other members of media on June 16.

He admitted getting “hurt” for Ladlad when it failed to secure Comelec accreditation in 2010. He vows to not let that happen again in 2013.

“Di na kami papayag,” was his stern declaration.

He nipped in the bud talks that he accepted Ladlad’s offer because he wants to generate support for his rumored plan to run for congress or some other national position in the next election.

“I am not interested in legislative,” Boy said. “If ever I run for office--if ever--it will be for governor of Eastern Samar and not on 2013 but 2016.”

Abunda is adamant that he won’t run for any other post, least of all under the Ladlad Partylist, that he tells people to “NOT vote for Ladlad” if he changes his tune.

“I believe I can best help them by going around and disseminating information about Ladlad and the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community,” Abunda said.

During the media huddle, Ladlad unveiled their new logo and slogan. Some people also shared how they experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

The famed TV host added that joining Ladlad will be his “legacy.” Abunda aims to help Ladlad win three seats in the 2013 elections.

According to a release, Ladlad is sponsoring one night of the play “CareDivas” at PETA Theater; the first of a series that the pink party list plans to offer the public.

“We wanted a show that would cater not just for the LGBT community but to heterosexuals as well,” Abunda was quoted as saying.

An open audition was also announced for singers and dancers who will be part of “Glee for Ladlad” or “GLAD,” the party’s volunteer entertainment group

Abunda joins Ladlad as adviser

Abunda joins Ladlad as adviser
By Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) Updated June 17, 2011 12:00 AM

TV host Boy Abunda, senior political adviser of Ladlad for the 2013 midterm elections, and Bemz Benedito, Ladlad party-list chair, unveil the new logo of Ladlad during a press conference in Makati City yesterday. JOEY MENDOZA
| Zoom MANILA, Philippines - Television host Boy Abunda yesterday accepted the invitation of Ladlad, an organization of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, to become its senior political adviser for the 2013 midterm elections.

In a press conference yesterday in Makati City, Abunda said he would use his position to ensure that Ladlad gets three seats in the House of Representatives as a recognized party-list group.

Abunda said that in accepting the offer to be Ladlad’s senior political adviser, he is not seeking nomination for the 2013 elections. He added that although he has been supporting Ladlad since its inception in 2004, it is only now that he has accepted the offer to become its political adviser.

“I will be more effective as a member of the campaign team. This is the right time. I would not have been effective in 2004,” he said.

Abunda, however, said that although he is declining to be Ladlad’s first nominee in the next elections, he is keeping his political options open, in fact eyeing the gubernatorial seat of Eastern Samar in the 2016 elections.

Ladlad had been allowed by the Supreme Court to participate in the May 10 party-list elections, but it lost. Abunda said Ladlad will select its nominees in a convention to be held next year.

Ladlad chair Bemz Benedito said Abunda’s decision to join the group as senior political adviser would boost its chances in the next party-list elections.

Abunda said Ladlad would aggressively call for the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country, one of the concerns being the issue of consolidating members. Ladlad has 50,000 and aims to double its ranks.

U.S. Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 31, 2011 Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans. Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation's history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.

My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital. We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions. Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system. We led a global campaign to ensure "sexual orientation" was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution -- the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people -- to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.

At home, we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We are also working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth. My Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools. To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and I hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined me in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording "It Gets Better" video messages to assure them they are not alone.

This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community. Though we have made strides in combating this devastating disease, more work remains to be done, and I am committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Last year, I announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. My Administration also increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research. However, government cannot take on this disease alone. This landmark anniversary is an opportunity for the LGBT community and allies to recommit to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and continuing the fight against this deadly pandemic.

Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


'Human Soul' exhibit goes to Cebu City

Ms. Bemz Benedito, the chairperson of LADLAD Party List, gives a voice to the transgender experience in the Philippines

June 5, 2011, Cebu City – “Human Soul”, a multi-media exhibit on gays and transgender Filipinos, will be launched today in Cebu City. It aims to raise the awareness and consciousness of the community on the discrimination of gay and transgender Filipinos.

An initiative of Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and The Library Foundation (TLF) Share Collective Inc., the exhibit is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The multi-media exhibit showcases the works of journalist Sebastien Farcis and photographer Romain Rivierre, both French citizens. The launch will be held at the Cebu City Hall Lobby and will be open for public viewing until June 10. It will then move to the Alliance Francaise de Cebu at QC Pavilion along Gorordo Avenue from June 13-18.

The exhibit features seven transgender individuals, one gay man, and four people living with HIV who share their feelings, journey, experiences, fears and hopes through stories they themselves told. Their stories will give us an insight on how we can help address the issue of stigma and discrimination.

Initially, the creators of this exhibit intended to feature the Philippines as a country that is friendly and sensitive to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT). “Our first angle actually was about the Philippines being a safe and friendly environment for gays and lesbians, but when we conducted our interviews, we were surprised by how gays are still being maligned for being different and being denied opportunities,” Farcis said. This situation and continued apathy to fight the discrimination makes it more difficult for people living with HIV.

Mr. Renaud Meyer, the UNDP Country Director, said that “homophobia is considered one of the main obstacles in implementing HIV prevention strategies. At least 5-10% of HIV infections worldwide are estimated to occur through sex between men. In the Philippines, four out of sixreported cases of HIV each day are through same-sex transmission. Yet men who have sex with men continue to face discrimination from health-care workers, other service providers, employers and the police. Discrimination leads men who have sex with men from top avoid disclosing their sexual orientation, or reporting for HIV services. It is therefore is important that people become aware on the stigma thrown against homosexuals.”

Mr. Jerson See, the president of Cebu Plus Association Inc., an organization providing treatment, care and support to people living with HIV, said that “no one has the guts to put a face on HIV and AIDS here in Cebu because of stigma and discrimination.” Furthermore, he said that “it is the mentality of other people here that unless you see a person living with HIV and AIDS, you don’t believe that it exists.” Dr. Ilya Tac-an of the Cebu City Social Hygiene Clinic, said that for April 2011 alone, “Cebu City has a reported 29 persons living with HIV and 11of them are men having sex with men.” Current data in the Philippines show an increasing trend of HIV transmission among men having sex with men.

The exhibit was first launched in Manila at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) had officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This landmark decision is considered by many LGBT people as a historic step toward considering freedom of sexual orientation and sexual identity as a fundamental basic human right.

Currently, the Provincial Board of Cebu is debating an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance that prohibits employers from imposing a criterion for hiring, promotion or dismissal on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity of workers. Efforts are still ongoing to lobby for an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Cebu City.

CebuPlus is the local organizer of the Human Soul Exhibit. Other local Organizations involved include Bisdak Pride, Cebu City Multisectoral AIDS Council, C.O.L.O.R.S., LADLAD Party List, SEMGAB, and the Tonette Lopez Project. The exhibit will also go to Davao City, where a local ordinance criminalizing discrimination against LGBTs has already been filed. The traveling exhibit will also be held in schools and places hospitable to the LGBT community. It is part of the Government of the Philippines and the UNDP’s three-year Programme “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development” funded by the UNDP Philippines, UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Center, UNAIDS and the Australian government.

The political will to fight HIV-AIDS

The HIV/AIDS picture in the country is dismal -- five Filipinos get infected with HIV every day, and three Filipinos die from full-blown AIDS every week. Along with Bangladesh, we are the only Asian country where HIV/AIDS infections are growing. It has been on the downtrend in the rest of the world -- except n seven countries, the rest being in Africa.

Because of these, several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations and allied groups have banded together to write an open letter to President Noynoy Aquino to serve as a wake-up call to this issue. I am giving space to their open letter, entitled "Dear Pnoy: Where is the political will to fight HIV and AIDS?"

"This week, the United Nations will gather more than forty heads of state and ministers in a High Level Meeting that would plot the next phase of the struggle to eliminate HIV and AIDS. The High Level Meeting marks the 30th year since the discovery of AIDS, and while there is cause for optimism due to a global decline in new infections and HIV-related deaths, the next roadmap cannot be premised on complacency or a backslide in political commitments. Now, more than ever, global leaders should commit more and scale up their actions to eliminate the epidemic and put an end to this protracted and costly fight.

"The Philippines has crucial stakes in this international effort. After all, it is one of only seven countries worldwide that is experiencing an alarming rise in HIV infection. It is likewise heavily reliant on foreign aid in its HIV and AIDS response, thus the outcome of the UN High Level Meeting would have implications on the country’s HIV and AIDS programs and services.

"Despite these important considerations, the Philippines scaled down its participation in the High Level Meeting. Where other countries chose to send their heads of state and high-ranking ministers who can commit to fight and lobby for a more effective global plan on HIV and AIDS, President Noynoy Aquino and his political alter egos, especially Health Secretary Enrique Ona, decided to skip the High Level Meeting. Also telling was the last- minute approval of the inclusion of civil-society organization (CSO) representation in the national delegation.

"This reflects a pattern of indifference and lack of political will on the part of the government on an issue that merits immediate action. The Aquino administration is clearly ignoring the gravity of the situation: the country is sitting on an HIV time bomb, and yet the government refuses to do anything.

"The spike in new infections should be enough to wake the government from its complacency: HIV may not have reached the general population yet, but it is moving towards that direction. Based on the targets that were set five years ago, the country has failed to stop HIV infection among Filipino men who have sex with men and transgenders from reaching epidemic level. Data shows that OFWs are no longer the drivers of the epidemic, but HIV infection is still rising among Filipino migrant workers. In the last two years, the Philippines has also seen a marked increase in infections among people who inject drugs. The National Capital Region (NCR) and other urban centers, especially Cebu, Davao, Batangas, and Baguio, are likewise breaching past epidemic targets that the country has actually committed to prevent.

"The DOH has warned that a 500% increase in HIV infection is likely to happen under the Aquino administration. This alarming increase is the message: inaction is no longer an option.

"The steps that the government should take to reverse the trend and prevent the explosion of an HIV epidemic are crystal-clear: it must increase support for programmes and services, especially evidence-based preventive interventions such as safer-sex education, condom use, and harm reduction; it must ensure sustainable HIV and STI treatment, care and support for Filipinos living with HIV; it must protect and promote the human rights of people living with HIV and of populations and communities that are vulnerable to the virus, especially men who have sex with men, transgenders, people who inject drugs, and sex workers; it must address the climate of stigma that is attached to the HIV epidemic, which has made it more difficult for effective HIV services to reach the affected populations and communities; and, it must scale up its political commitment to stop HIV and AIDS.

"We believe that the HIV epidemic in the Philippines can still be halted and reversed. But that cannot happen without the government rallying its political will and its resources behind the fight to eliminate HIV and AIDS.


Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc.
LADLAD Party List
National Federation of Filipino Living with HIV and AIDS (NaFFWA)
Pinoy Plus Association
Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI)
TLF SHARE Collective
Youth AIDS Filipinas Alliance, Inc. (YAFA)

Rich woman, poor woman

Rich Woman, Poor Woman
By Danton Remoto
Posted at 02/26/2011 1:14 AM | Updated as of 02/26/2011 7:22 PM

I was in high school when the great Armida Siguion Reyna portrayed the role of a lifetime – the wealthy woman who was the tormentor of the atsay (housemaid) played by, who else, but by the iconic Nora Aunor. Tita Midz was in her element, kicking the housemaid down the stairs and then using the atsay’s face to wipe the floor clean.

It was only a fortnight ago when I was surfing from channel to channel when I saw Gretchen Barretto playing a rich woman who attends a party. Loud and calling attention to herself (the role, not the actress), she brandished a piece of jewelry for all her similarly wealthy friends to ohhh and ahhh after.

Between these two poles – a time-frame of 30 years – lies our stereotypes of the rich, and the way movies and television portray them. All to a person, the rich are seen as ruthless, corrupt and number-one violators of human rights, whether in the hacienda, the factory, or the mansion in the gated village. Aside from being loud and boisterous, they are portrayed as crass members of the nouveaux riche (new rich).

And what are the stereotypes of the poor? They are always seen as short, dark-skinned and clumsy whether with their kitchen or bedside manners. Those inclined to sociology or cultural studies will go on a limb and see this as a throwback to the colonial regime, when the Spanish and the mestizos (the ancestors of today’s rich Filipinos) humiliated servants and flogged the indios who couldn’t pay their taxes.

But we are now in the 21st century, and what has changed in the landscape of class relations?

Well, the few rich Spanish mestizos are still there, but now the rich Chinoys (Chinese Filipinos) now outnumber them all. Just look at the society pages, especially the spread every Sunday. Not only do they monopolize the retail trade, as they have done for centuries, they are now into condominiums and property development – into land! Land used to be the main source of wealth of the Spanish mestizos, but now it has been parceled into small spaces for condominiums that cater to the new middle class.

And who are these new middle classes? The OFWs, for one. I have only seen a few films dealing with the OFWs that showed the complexity of their experience. Melodrama aside, I am sure the talented Filipino filmmakers can do something more? Dubai, Milan, Caregiver and In My Life are good starting points, but they’re so few. Where are the rest?

A new job in a new land with decent salaries is enough to open the eyes of Filipinos abroad to the possibility of hope. With two jobs, or even three, they save and slave for hours not to make ends meet, for now they do, but to earn enough for the small business back home, or the new vehicle for Totoy, or why not, that condo at Rockwell!

I am amused no end by stories of their new neighbors coming from my friends who live in the enclaves of the rich. In this ritzy cluster of condominiums, every Sunday the swimming pool is filled with tenants and visiting relatives of OFWs who have bought not one, but even two, units there. In their sandos and long shorts, they gleefully jump into the blue, sparkling waters, seemingly thumbing their noses at the old and not-so-old rich in their midst.

Or this family that bought a medium-sized house in a gated village, which forthwith proceeded to paint the bamboo paneling of the walls a hot pink. Like the former MMDA hotshot Bayani Fernando, they must have thought pink is the color of good health, as in the pink of health!

Or in humid Currimao, Ilocos Norte, where I stayed at Dr. Joven Cuanang’s lovely Sitio Remedios, my jaws dropped when I saw Mediterranean villas in the middle of rice fields! Who owns these yellow-painted villas, and why amidst the rice stalks? Well, they are owned by Ilocanas who now live in Italy and have saved enough to demolish the nipa hut and build a mansion with colors enough to stun the sun.

The OFW dream is the great equalizer, the phenomenon that will level the playing field in a country where the senoras use the faces of their housemaids to clean the floor, and where the so-called rich blabber about the size and hue of their Mikimoto pearls.

Let me end with a true story I got from the head of PR and advertising of a big agency in Kuala Lumpur. I was a research scholar there five years ago, and one of my Malaysian friends asked me if I knew __________ (name of Filipino actress). Not personally, I said, why do you ask?

It turned out that our actress landed a plum modeling job in KL to endorse a shampoo or soap, I don’t remember now. Upon arriving at the beautiful KL airport, she was dismayed to find out that she would only take a Toyota Altis from the airport to the hotel.

“Where’s my service BMW? Or my Benz?” she asked, her eyes widening, and said she would never set foot inside the “mere” Altis, even if it was new.

I just told my friend, “Well, perhaps, she thought she was still playing the role of a rich woman in the Philippines, stereotype and all. Or maybe,” I added, I’m sure with a wicked gleam in my eye, “she’s just showing you how nouveaux riche she really is.”

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