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Ang pamamakla ni Tam, Ten-ten at ni Tonio

Outrage Magazine comes across – and chats – with brothers who all engage in sex work.

Ten-ten and Tam while working in one of the main thoroughfares of Mandaluyong City

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Ten-ten* was only 14 when “may naka-una sa akin (someone had me – sexually – first),” he said. He had, at that time, a 17-year-old friend, and “sinama niya ako sa pamamakla** niya (he brought me with him looking for gays who would pay for sex).” It wasn’t a bad experience, he said; in fact, “nagustuhan ko pa nga eh. Tapos may kinita pa ako (I even liked it. And then I also earned).”

That exposure to having sex with other men in exchange for money became a “regular habit” for Ten-ten, who is now 18. So “regular” that he even introduced his elder brother, Tam*, into sex work.

Nakita niya na may kumukuha sa akin (He saw guys pick me up),” he said. “Nakita niya rin na may kinikita ako. Ayun, sumunod na siya (He also saw me earn from it. So he followed suit).”

That was when Tam was 15 years old. Admittedly better looking than his younger brother (“Kahit mas malaki kargada niya sa akin (Even if he has a bigger genitalia than I do),” he laughed), it is now Tan who gets frequently picked up. Though – this is worth stressing, according to both – not that this matters, as there’s no rivalry between them at all. “Kanya-kanyang specialization yan (Everyone has his own specialization),” Tam said.

Neither of the two taught their younger brother, Tonio*, to follow suit, as he is now also selling sex at 15 (the same age when Tam started, though a year older than when Ten-ten started).

REALITIES OF LIFE

Grabbing a burger in a hole-in-the wall burger joint in Mandaluyong City, we came across the brothers who were on their way to a computer shop to play DOTA (Defense of the Ancients), a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena video game. They were, technically, not working; but they were having second thoughts with proceeding to the computer shop, and so ended up in the joint; and the chat-turned-interview-with-consent ensued.

Ten-ten is actually “only” a half brother of Tam and Tonio; they all have the same father. But their father now lives with Ten-ten’s mother, along with 13 siblings. Adding Tam and Tonio’s two other siblings, “18 kami lahat magkakapatid (there are 18 of us siblings),” Tam said.

They’re not well-off, exactly, with all parents only able to take in odd (and often menial) jobs. But relationship-wise, “hindi kami tinuruan magalit sa isa’t isa (we weren’t taught to hate each other),” Tam said. “Kalahating kapatid man yan, kapatid pa rin (Even if he’s just a half brother, he’s still my brother).”

Both families live close to each other in Mandaluyong.

And this is where, at night along Barangka Drive, the brothers work.

READ:  Ladlad for change

No, they don’t necessarily work together. They are “tropa (belong to the same posse)”, but they also have other friends who are also “namamakla (actively search out gay customers).” There are others like them there, too, since the area is now littered with “gaya namin (men like us),” Ten-ten said.

There’s no remorse, with Tam saying with a smile “trabaho lang (it’s just work).”

The money they earn also comes in handy. For Ten-ten, it helps him buy “mga bagay-bagay (some stuff),” he said, from clothes to shoes or whatever. But there are also times when it helps with their respective families. “Kanina (Earlier today),” Ten-ten said, “‘yung kinita ko P300 binili ng bigas (the P300 I earned was used to buy rice).”

Nakakatulong din (This also helps),” Tam said.

Their rates aren’t flat, since “lahat napag-uusapan (everything can be discussed),” Ten-ten said. “Basta huwag bumaba ng P300 (So long as the money given is no less than P300).”

The biggest money either of them got for sex work was over P1,000.

The rates also largely dictate what acts are being offered; though usually, these acts are limited to: 1. being fellated, 2. “romansa (in this case, foreplay)”, 3. and being the top in anal sex. No, they don’t necessarily fellate; and no, they definitely will not get anally penetrated. There are also “limits” to choosing clients, with neither willing to accommodate “matandang-matandang-matanda na (those extremely old),” as Ten-ten said, and “mga unhealthy, tulad ng matabang-mataba (those unhealthy, like someone morbidly fat),” added Tam.

These are, however, only true to Tam and Ten-ten. In 15-year-old Tonio’s case, “di namin alam. Di naman siya nagkukuwento tungkol dito (we don’t know. He doesn’t share to us his sex working experiences).”

Neither Tam and Ten-ten would mind if a client hired both of them at the same time [“Nakikita ko naman siya hubad (I see him naked),” Ten-ten said. “Sabay pa nga kami mag-shower (We even shower together).”]; but they’d draw the line in being asked to have sex with each other. “Kung ganyan, mabugbog ko pa (If the client is like that, I may end up bashing him),” Tam said.

There are dangers in their line of work. Ten-ten, for instance, lamented of clients who “escape after the act”. One time, he recalled, after having sex, the customer pretended he needed to go to an ATM machine. But while crossing the street, “tumakas agad siya (he took off).”

Tam said there’s not much they can do about this since “hindi naman puwede hingiin ang pera bago mag-sex (we can’t ask for money before the sexual act),” he said. “Iniisip nila, tatakasan namin sila (Customers think we’ll just get the money and run away).”

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There are also law enforcers who tend to be abusive. Ten-ten claimed that he was once apprehended in the guise of “drug use”.

Na-tokhang na (They said it’s part of ‘Operation Tokhang’),” he alleged, referring to the infamous drug war of the Rodrigo Duterte administration. “Kinuha kami ng mga kasama ko. Sa opisina nila, pinaghubad kami. Pina-drug test. Tapos nang wala nakita, kinuha na lang nila pera namin, alahas namin, tapos pinakawalan din (They took me and a few friends. They brought us to an office where they made us strip. They had us take drug tests. When they didn’t see anything wrong, they just took our money, our accessories, then released us).”

Still, there’s no fear in doing what they’re doing. As Tam said, “lalaki din naman kami. Kung darating sa away, makikipag-suntukan kami (we’re also men. If it came to that, we could fight, too).”

LIFE DECISIONS

Ten-ten is proud to be known by his clients for being “istrikto sa pag-gamit ng condom (being strict with using condoms),” he said.

He said no one really taught him about safer sex; but he knows “mahirap magkasakit (it’s difficult to be sickly).”

Incidentally, the 17-year-old who introduced him into this life already passed away.

Nabalitaan ko, umuwi sa probinsiya. Nagkasakit daw. Tapos ayun, namatay (I heard he went home to the province. He got sick. And then he died),” Ten-ten said. “Baka ano na yun… (Perhaps it was THAT disease),” he added, alluding to HIV.

Tam said he’s the same, i.e. strict with condom use. But when jibed by a former client he barebacked (i.e. had sex without condom), he just laughed it off.

Perhaps owing to his youth, Tonio is less strict on this, maybe even unable to negotiate with clients.

As an aside, the main mode of transmission of HIV in the Philippines now is through male-to-male sex (721 of the 750 cases reported in December 2016 by the Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines). With 26 cases of infection happening every day, those involved are also becoming younger, with 29% belonging to the 15-24 year age group.

All of the clients of the brothers are gay (some closeted, others out in the open). And all of these clients found them on the streets of Mandaluyong. They are, simply, now freelance sex workers.

The DOH, by the way, reported that in December 2016, 9% (66) of the reported cases engaged in transactional sex. Most (92%) were male whose ages ranged from 19 to 72 years (median: 30 years). Thirty-four (34) males who engaged in transactional sex were the ones who paid for sex. As defined, people who engage in transactional sex are those who report that they pay for sex, regularly accept payment for sex, or do both.

READ:  Call for papers for ‘Philippine Journal of Law and Gender’

FUTURE LIFE

Both Tam and Ten-ten dread that day when their parents would know of their sex work. But both of them said they’d just “eh di harapin kung malaman (face it when it happens/cross the bridge when they get there).”

Tam also fears that a future GF will know of his history; something that Ten-ten scoffs at since he said his GF knows of what he’s doing. “Wala naman nangyayari sa amin kaya naghahanap din ako ng lalabasan (We haven’t had sex yet, so I also need sexual release),” he said. At times, he added, the GF is even the one to answer the Facebook messages of would-be clients; “tumatawa lang siya (she just laughs this off).”

Ten-ten is, for now, just “going with the flow,” he said.

Tam said that he may likely stay in the sex industry “hangga’t may kukuha (as long as someone hires me),” he said. Or if “kailangan ng pera (if I need money).”

By the way, he once worked for a company that produces furniture using fiber glass; he had to quit after only a week because the working conditions were unsafe [“Dami kong sugat sa salamin (I has lots of wounds from the glasses),” he said]. He may eventually look for a “regular” job; a more “socially acceptable” job, he said, but “tingnan lang natin (we’ll see how things go).”

Perhaps it is Tonio’s youth that’s limiting his perspective, but his plans are more immediate – e.g. be able to afford playing DOTA, buy “mga gusto-gusto (what I like)”, and so on.

Since none of them had education, offering sex has become work for the brothers – still stigmatized, thereby forcing them in the shadows; and yet now a regular source of living for them.

And so ang pamamakla ni Tam, Ten-ten at ni Tonio continues…

*NAMES CHANGED AS REQUESTED BY INTERVIEWEES TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY; AND ALSO BECAUSE THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN SEX WORK IN THE PHILIPPINES NOT ONLY CONTINUE TO BE STIGMATIZED BUT COULD ALSO BE HELD LEGALLY LIABLE

** “PAMAMAKLA” IS THE TERM USED BY (USUALLY) MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN (MSM) WHO SEEK GAY MEN TO HAVE SEX WITH IN EXCHANGE FOR A PAYMENT (CASH OR SERVICE, THOUGH MORE OFTEN CASH). IT BASICALLY MEANS “TO ACTIVELY SEARCH FOR A ‘BAKLA (GAY MAN)’ TO EARN FROM HIM AFTER SEXUAL CONTACT”

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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What it’s like to be trans in Taiwan

Tamsin Wu visits gay-friendly Taiwan, where she meets Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), who said that the country is still failing its LGBTQ citizens, and particularly lags in promoting trans rights.

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Photo detail by Thomas Tucker from Unsplash.com

Taiwan may be the most gay-friendly country in Asia, but according to Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), the country still receives a “failing mark” when it comes to LGBTQ equality. Transgender people, in particular, usually bear the brunt of sex-based discrimination.

ISTSCare has a one-woman 24/7 hotline service. Abby has dealt with calls concerning struggles related to suicide attempts, job insecurity or homelessness, and even domestic violence. To provide support and assistance to hotline callers, ISTSCare also partners with NGOs and other LGBTQ-related organizations.

Aside from the hotline service, the organization does its advocacy work through protests, by maintaining an online presence, as well as directly communicating with political figures and trans-friendly journalists to rouse awareness and discussion on transgender and intersex issues.

ISTSCare in Taiwan

In 2014, four years after the first official notice regarding gender reassignment procedures in Taiwan was issued, the Ministry of Interior (MOI), with the support of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), announced the easement of legal requirements on changing gender identity. MOI promised that it would immediately work on letting transgender citizens change their gender marker without having to go through rigorous psychiatric assessments, sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and parental approval. However, MOI backtracked since then.

“MOI, which is handling the national ID cards, they said there are still a lot of research to do about the gender issue and they try to get some professional opinions, but MOHW already said this is not a medical issue, it’s an internal affair issue. So MOI, they’re just under the pressure and paused a lot of meetings… and now the issue is still under research for four years,” Abby lamented. “We’re the first Asian country to pass the bill but it’s not implemented.”

READ:  Hearing the voice of a silent victim…

Despite MOHW already stating that medical professionals should not have a say when it comes to determining one’s gender identification, transgender citizens are still presently forced to consider SRS. Besides that, they are also required to seek the expensive involvement of psychiatrists and, outrageously, the consent of their parents. Otherwise, their gender identity cannot be legally recognized.

Abby clarified that not all transgender people want the help of doctors to validate their gender identity. Hence, SRS is especially discriminatory towards transgender citizens who do not wish to undergo surgery. “What is gender? Is it just based on our anatomy? Or is it in our behavior? In our mind? Or in the way we dress?… There are a lot of factors that influence what gender one identify as, but society focus on the least publicly visible aspect – our sex organ.”

Abby continued, “There are risks to surgery and that is one of the reasons why not all transgenders want to go through it. And also, they may question themselves, ‘Do I really want to have surgery or is it just for the sake of getting this ID?’”

Abby standing beside the transgender pride flag.
Photo credit: Ketty W. Chen

“One day before the presidential election, I went to the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) headquarters to talk with the Department of Woman. I told them, ‘tomorrow is already the day for voting, are you going on stage and advocate for transgender rights? This has been neglected for the past 3-4 years. Then they just told me, ‘this requires social consensus’… I went out of that meeting deeply upset,” Abby shared.

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With lack of funding, community support and societal understanding of trans issues, how could transgender rights obtain social consensus when this feat requires acceptance and approval from the status quo in order for the relevant social change to take effect? Why should the rights and well-being of a minority group fall in the hands of the majority? Currently, both the public and the government possess inadequate knowledge in dealing with transgender issues, which exacerbates the struggles transgender citizens face.

Prejudice against transgender folks can also be felt within LGBTQ communities. On one hand, some non-transgender members of the LGBTQ community question the gender identity of trans people. On the other hand, there is also internalized transphobia.

“A lot of transgender are more binary [in the way they see gender]. They think a man should act and look a certain way and that a woman should act and look a certain way… ISTSCare does not condone this kind of thinking,” Abby said.

Trans activist Abbygail Wu and her partner in a protest for their marriage right.
Photo credit: Ketty W. Chen

When asked why ISTSCare is run by only three people (including Abby and her partner), she shared that many transgender citizens in Taiwan find it difficult to prioritize doing advocacy work because their life situation is oftentimes mentally and emotionally taxing. On top of having to deal with an unsupportive family, they often face discrimination in the job market. Hence, there’s a high level of difficulty for them to get a good job, gain professional working experience and make a decent living, let alone have the financial resources to go through SRS. As of now, they’re in this loop of societal discrimination and economic vulnerability with no recourse.

READ:  Every story matters

Another reason for the lack of transgender-focused activists in Taiwan is attributed to the problem of privilege. Abby adds that well-off transgender citizens tend to be exclusive in their social group. Post-surgery and after assimilating in heteronormative society, they also tend to ignore the struggles faced by less fortunate transgender citizens. They would rather not get associated for fear of being found out and face discrimination. Albeit joining Pride Parades, they are at other times nowhere to be found when it comes to advocating for transgender rights.

Abby clarified that not all transgender people want the help of doctors to validate their gender identity.
Photo credit: Abbygail Wu

Abby said that ISTSCare’s main goal right now is to push for a non-discriminatory, comprehensive gender identity law in Taiwan.

“We hope to be like Argentina. Just file [required] papers to the courthouse and they will assign the legal gender change. No need to go through any kind of medical process.”

Having a well thought out gender identity law may not help solve all transgender issues and alleviate them from all of their struggles. However, getting the said law done and implemented right would be one significant progress for the recognition of the human rights and dignity of, not only transgender citizens, but also intersex and non-binary people.

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Chance of HIV-positive person with undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sex partner is scientifically zero

The PARTNER 2 study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.

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Confirmed and needs to be stressed: The chance of any HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sexual partner is scientifically equivalent to zero.

This is according to researchers who released at #AIDS2018 the final results from the PARTNER study. Results originally announced in 2014 from the first phase, PARTNER 1, already indicated that “Undetectable equals Untransmittable” (U=U). But while the first study was lauded in tackling vaginal sex, the statistical certainty of the result did not convince everyone, particularly in the case of gay men, or those who engage in anal sex.

But now, PARTNER 2, the second phase, only recruited gay couples. The PARTNER study recruited HIV serodifferent couples (one partner positive, one negative) at 75 clinical sites in 14 European countries. They tested the HIV-negative partners every six to 12 months for HIV, and tested viral load in the HIV-positive partners. Both partners also completed behavioral surveys. In cases of HIV infection in the negative partners, their HIV was genetically analyzed to see if it came from their regular partner.

And the results indicate “a precise rate of within-couple transmission of zero” for gay men as well as for heterosexuals.

The study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.

PARTNER is not the only study about viral load and infectiousness. Last year, the Opposites Attract study also found no transmissions in nearly 17,000 acts of condomless anal sex between serodifferent gay male partners. This means that no transmission has been seen in about 126,000 occasions of sex, if this study is combined with PARTNER 1 and 2.

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While this is good news overall in the fight against HIV, related issues continue to plague HIV-related efforts, particularly in countries like the Philippines.

Why aren’t we talking about ‘undetectable = untransmittable’ in the Philippines?

For instance, aside from the overall silence on U=U (undetectable = untransmittable), use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) continue to be low. As of May 2016, when the country already had 34,158 total reported cases of HIV infection, Filipinos living with HIV who are on anti-retroviral therapy (i.e. those who are taking meds) only numbered 14,356.

The antiretroviral medicines in use in the Philippines also continue to be limited, with some already phased out in developed countries.

All the same, this is considered a significant stride, with science unequivocally backing the scientific view helmed in 2008 by Dr. Pietro Vernazza who spearheaded the scientific view that viral suppression means HIV cannot be passed via a statement in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine.

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‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’

A Christian church wants members of the LGBTQIA community to know that “they are loved by God.” Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, says that “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”

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God’s love is for all.

“(We want the members of the LGBTQIA community to know that) they are loved by God,” said Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, which has been making its presence known particularly in LGBTQIA Pride events to highlight its Christian anti-anti-LGBTQIA position.

Approximately 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and the church’s teachings continue to dominate public life in the Philippines. As it stands, church’s teachings re LGBTQIA people still often revolve around the “hate the sin, love the sinner” statement, so that LGBTQIA people are tolerated so long as they do not express their being LGBTQIA.

This “hate the sin, love the sinner” stance seems to be reflected in dominant perspectives re LGBTQIA people in the Philippines.

In 2013, for instance, in a survey titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality” conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center, 73% of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society”. The percentage of Filipinos who said society should not accept gays fell from 33% in 2002 to 26% that year.

But more recently, in June 2018, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that a big percentage of Filipinos still oppose civil unions. When 1,200 respondents across the country were asked whether or not they agree with the statement “there should be a law that will allow the civil union of two men or two women”, at least 61% of the respondents said they would oppose a bill that would legalize this in the country. Among them, 44% said they strongly disagree, while 17% said they somewhat disagree. Meanwhile, 22% said they would support it, while 16% said they were still “undecided”.

READ:  Greater visibility reduces transphobia and increases public support for trans rights, study finds

For Paminiano, “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”

Churches continue to be lambasted for not changing with time – perhaps most obvious in the treatment of LGBT people of those with faith. But the number of denominations openly discussing – and even coming up with statements of support of – LGBTQIA issues is increasing.

Finding room for #queerinfaith

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#KaraniwangLGBT

All hail the beauty queen

A glimpse into the life of a trans woman beauty pageant enthusiast, Ms Mandy Madrigal of Transpinay of Antipolo Organization.

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

“I feel accepted.”

That, said Mandy Madrigal, is the main appeal of joining beauty pageants.

“I feel so loved when I join pageants. Especially when people clap for us, cheer for us. And when you win… it (just) feels different.”

FINDING ACCEPTANCE

Assigned male at birth, Mandy was in primary school when her father asked her if “I was a boy or a girl”. That question scared her, she admitted, because – as the only boy among six kids – she thought she did not really have “any choice”. “So I answered my father, ‘I am a boy’.”

But Mandy’s father asked her the same question again; and this time, “I said, yes, I am gay.”

No, Mandy is NOT gay; she is a transpinay, and a straight one at that. But the misconceptions about the binary remains – i.e. in this case, she is associated with being gay mainly because she did not identify with the sex assigned her at birth.

In a way, Mandy said she’s lucky because “I believe he (my father) accepted (me) with his whole heart.”

The rest of her family did, too.

Though – speaking realistically – Mandy said this may be abetted by her “contributions” to the family. “Hindi naman aka basta naging bakla lang (I’m not a ’typical’ gay person),” she said, “na naglalandi lang o sumasali lang ng pageant (who just flirts, or just joins beauty pageants). Instead, Mandy provides financial support to her family by – among others – selling RTW clothes and beauty products. In fact, some of her winnings also go to the family’s coffers. By helping provide them with what they need, “it’s easy for them to accept me as a transgender woman.”

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Growing up, Mandy realized that while “makakapagsinungaling ka sa ibang tao, pero sarili mo, hindi mo maloloko. Kaya mas magandang tanggapin mo ang sarili mo para matanggap ka ng ibang tao (you may be able to lie to others about who you really are, but you can’t lie to yourself. So it’s better to accept your true self so that others will be able to accept you too).”

Mandy was “introduced” to beauty pageants when she was 13 or 14. At that time, a friend asked her to join a pageant; and “I won first runner up.” She never looked backed since, even – at one time – earning as much as P20,000 after winning a title. Like many regular beauconeras (beauty pageant participants), she also heads to distant provinces to compete, largely because – according to her – prizes in provincial competitions tend to be higher. The prize money earned helps one buy more paraphernalia for the next pageants, and – in Mandy’s case – also helps support her family.

Generally speaking, Mandy Madrigal said that “ang tunay na queen ay may malaking puso (a real queen has a big heart).”

FORMING A FAMILY

Beauty pageants are competitions, yes; but for Mandy, pageants also allow the candidates to form bonds as they get close to each other. Pageants, she said, can be a way “na maging close kami, magkaroon ng magagandang bonding… at magkakilala kami (for us to be close, to bond and get to know the others better).”

READ:  Will you open up?

Pageants can be costly, Mandy admitted – for instance, “you have to invest,” she said, adding that a candidate needs to be able to provide for herself (instead of just always renting) costumes, swimsuits, casual wear, gowns, and so on.

In a way, therefore, having people who believe in you helps. In Mandy’s case, for instance, a lot of people helped (by providing necessities she needs) because “naniniwala sila na I am a queen inside and out,” she smiled.

But this support can also rack the nerves, particularly when people expect one to win (particularly because of the support given).

One will not always win, of course; and this doesn’t always give one good feelings. In 2017, for instance, Mandy joined Queen of Antipolo, and – after failing to win a crown – she said many people told her she should have won the title, or at least placed among the runners-up. “naguluhan ang utak ko (That confused me),” she said. “‘Bakit ako ang gusto ninyong manalo?’ But that’s when I realized na marami ako na-i-inspire na tao dahil marami nagtitiwala sa akin (I ask, ‘Why do you want me to win?’ But that’s when I realized that I inspire a lot of people, which is why they count on me).”

This gives her confidence; enough to deal with the nervousness that will also allow her to just enjoy any pageant she joins.

A TIME TO SHINE

Mandy believes pageants can help LGBTQI people by providing them a platform to showcase to non-LGBTQI people why “hindi tayo dapat husgahan (we should not be judged).”

READ:  Pride in the eyes of those at the fringes of LGBT community

Generally speaking, Mandy said that “ang tunay na queen ay may malaking puso (a real queen has a big heart).”

And she knows that not every pageant is good for every contestant. There will be pageants where you will be crowned the queen, she said, just as there will be pageants where you will lose. But over and above the winning and losing, note “what’s most important: that there’s a lot of people who supported you in a (certain) pageant.”

At the end of the day, “sa lahat ng patimpalak, pagkatandaan natin na merong nananalo at may natatalo. Depende na lang yan sa araw mo. Kung ikaw ay nakatadhanang manalo ay mananalo ka; kung nakatadhanang matalo ay matatalo ka talaga. Yun lang yun. Isipin mo na lang na meron pang araw na darating na mas maganda para sa iyo (in all competitions, remember that there will always be a winner and a loser. It all depends on your luck for the day. If you are fated to win, you will win; if you are fated to lose, you will lose. That’s that. But still remember – even when you lose – that there will always come a day that will be great for you).”

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Iloilo City passes anti-discrimination ordinance on final reading

The city of Iloilo has joined the ranks of local government units (LGUs) with LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs), with the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approving its ADO mandating non-discrimination of members of minority sectors including the LGBTQIA community.

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM jahcordova FROM PIXABAY.COM

Pride comes to the “City of Love”.

The city of Iloilo has joined the ranks of local government units (LGUs) with LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs), with the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approving its ADO mandating non-discrimination of members of minority sectors including the LGBTQI community.

The ADO was sponsored by Councilor Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salazar, chair of the SP Committee on Women and Family Relations. Councilor Love Baronda helped with the content/provisions of the ordinance.

“Everyone deserves equal protection under the law. This local legislation reinforces the Constitutional rights and the inalienable human rights of everyone to be treated equally,” Zulueta-Salazar said to Outrage Magazine. “It has always been a question of equality versus equity. Your government is a duty-bearer to protect everyone under the law. Moreso those who have time and again, been victims of injustice borne out from bigotry and indifference. That has to change now. Discrimination has no place in the ‘City of Love’.”

The ADO defines acts of discrimination to include: refusal of employment, refusal of admission in schools, refusal of entry in places open to general public, deprivation of abode or quarters, deprivation of the provision of goods and services, subjecting one to ridicule or insult, and doing acts that demeans the dignity and self-respect or a person because of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs.

Penalties range from P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and imprisonment of not more than 10 days at the discretion of the court, and P3,000 and 15 days imprisonment on the third offense.

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The ADO also mandates the creation of the anti-discrimination mediation and conciliation board headed by the mayor. This board will initiate the filing of cases against violators.

“Discrimination… violates basic human rights thus making it our duty as public servants to protect our citizens from unwarranted and unfair treatment coming from their fellow citizens, or worse from their own government. We respect and give emphasis to the right of every person because what matters is for us to be humane and to do everything in love,” Baronda said to Outrage Magazine.

Zulueta-Salazar added that “having worked with the marginalized sectors of our society through non-government organizations like the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter and the different barangay local governments in Iloilo City, we have seen how the struggles of the LGBTQI, of the urban poor, of the religious minorities including the Indigenous Peoples displaced in the city. This ordinance is for them, not for special or preferential treatment from their government, but to give them what they truly deserve: a more just and equitable treatment by providing an enabling environment for them to be equally productive members of the society.”

For Zulueta-Salazar, the salient points in the Iloilo ADP may be the same as the other ADOs across the country, “but the one we have here in Iloilo City is a product of hard fought struggle for equality not just for one sector of the society, but generally as a statement that the ‘City of Love’ does not discriminate based on gender, age, race or religion. That in the ‘City of Love’, truly it can be said now that love wins.”

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For Iloilo City-based Rev. Alfred Candid Jaropillo, who heads the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the ADO “is a step for the ‘City of Love’ in creating a community where the rights of all its constituents are respected and protected. As a clergy of the UCCP, I commend our government officials for passing the said ordinance (to show that) Iloilo is indeed a safe city for our sisters and brothers coming from the LGBTQI community.”

The Iloilo City Legal Office has 60 days from approval to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations (IRR), while the Public Information Office shall conduct an information drive 30 days from approval. The ordinance takes effect 10 days after its publication in a local newspaper.

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Mandaluyong City passes LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

With the continuing absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos, the city of Mandaluyng passed Ordinance 698, S-2018, which seeks to “uphold the rights of all Filipinos especially those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM JUDGE FLORENTINO FLORO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

With the continuing absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos (largely – at least for this year – because of a weak political support from the Philippine Senate via the non-leadership on this issue by Senate Pres. Vicente Sotto III and Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri), localized anti-discrimination efforts are again in focus. This time around, the city of Mandaluyng passed Ordinance 698, S-2018, which seeks to “uphold the rights of all Filipinos especially those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

With this, it is now “the policy of the Mandaluyong City government to afford equal protection to LGBTQI people as guaranteed by our Constitution and to craft legal legislative measures in support of this aim.”

According to Dindi Tan, secretary general of LGBT Pilipinas, which helped push for the passage of this anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), said that “the tactic now is to shift from a national lobby to local lobby, which is more pragmatic and feasible given the prevailing political environment in Congress.”

The Mandaluyong City ADO is specific to he LGBTQI community. Other ADOs in other localities lump the LGBTQI community with other minority sectors, including persons with disability (PWDs), seniors, cultural minorities, et cetera. But this city ordinance is specific to LGBTQI people, focusing on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“We continue to relentlessly lobby for the passage of local ADOs and similar policies such as this one from the Tiger City of Mandaluyong pending the enactment of a national law made for (this) purpose,” Tan said. “We can’t afford to wait forever for the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) to pass in the Senate and the bicam while our LGBTQI sisters and brothers on the ground continue to be the targets of gender-based violence and discrimination.”

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Mandaluyong City’s ADO specifically prohibits such discriminatory acts as: denying or limiting employment-related access; denying access to public programs or services; refusing admission, expelling or dismissing a person from educational institutions due to their SOGIE; subjecting a person to verbal or written abuse; unjust detention/involuntary confinement; denying access to facilities; and illegalizing formation of groups that incite SOGIE-related discrimination.

For the city to attain its goals, activities lined-up include: incorporating LGBTQI activities in Women’t Month celebrations; hosting of seminars in private and public spaces; and month-long Pride celebration in November, culminating on World AIDS Day on December 1.

The ADO also “strongly” encourages the Mandaluyong City Police District “to handle the specific concerns relating to SOGIE through existing Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) desk in all police stations in Mandaluying City.”

A Mandaluyong City Pride Council will also be established to oversee the implementation of the ordinance.

Any person held liable under the ADO may be penalized with imprisonment for 60 days to one year and/or penalized with P1,000 to P5,000, depending on the discretion of the court.

Pushed by Sangguniang Panglungsod councilor China S. Celeste, Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmencita A. Abalos signed the ADO on May 17.

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