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LOVE AFFAIRS

Astrid and Ziekent: Davao City’s lesbian power couple

Astrid and Ziekent see many challenges besetting the LGBT community. For Ziekent, “our fellow LGBTs can be troublesome. And so no matter how well we show other people that LGBT people can also be good, there are still LGBT people who are troublesome and who give us bad rep.” But both continue to be inspired.

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Astrid was involved in an organization that had lesbian members even before she met Ziekent. “I was a member of UP Mindanao’s Happy People’s Club way back in college. I was not even in a lesbian relationship then, and I still identified as ‘straight’, but I had a lot of gay friends so I joined them,” she said. And while the club did not have advocacies, she felt happy as part of it since “it allowed us to get together and show how proudly gay we all were.”

Ziekent wasn’t as “lucky”. “Simula pa nung bata ako, matagal ko na pinangarap na may grupo na tutulong maipakita ang kakayanan naming mga lesbian. Pero kasi wala akong mahanap noon kaya naging active ako sa pagtulong sa charity works kasama ng mga missionary sisters kahit noong high school pa ako (Even when I was young, I longed to have a group that will help show the capabilities of lesbians. But because I wasn’t able to find one, I instead became active in doing charity works with missionary nuns even when I was still in high school).”

The two eventually crossed paths, becoming lovers. And at this junction of their lives together, they decided to establish the United Lesbians of Davao (ULD), a lesbian organization that wants to veer away from just holding parties (supposedly the “usual” activity of local lesbian organizations, and instead conduct civic-minded activities.

“I am a lesbian. In the past, I actively fought for the rights of students when I was a secretary general of Anakbayan in UP Mindanao; now, I should be able to do something to bring into light lesbian issues and that we can actually do more for the community,” Astrid said.

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For Ziekent, becoming an advocate was a no-brainer. “Bata pa ako ramdam ko na yung iba yung tingin ng tao. Kahit sa work minsan, may mga work na di kami pwede or need namin magdamit babae para magka-work. Sa akin lang, sana pantay pantay (Even when I was young, I already sensed the different way people looked at us/treated us. Even at work, there are situations where they don’t hire us or they force us to dress according to our assigned sex at birth before they allow us to work. For me, equal treatment has to happen).”

While both Astrid and Ziekent recognize the many issues plaguing the lesbian community, as a couple, they are very vocal about the need for same-sex relationships to be given legal recognition.

Nag-process kasi kami ng mga personal stuff namin like SSS, PhilHealth, et cetera. Ang hirap lang kasi isipin na di ko mailagay ang partner ko as beneficiary kasi hindi kami legally married. (We processed our personal stuff, such as SSS, PhilHealth, et cetera. It’s hard when I can’t even make my partner as my beneficiary because we’re not legally married),” Ziekent said.

“Simple things like that are irritating. I know marriage is just a piece of paper, but it is a paper that signifies equality,” Astrid said.

The two see many challenges besetting the LGBT community.

For Ziekent, “kapwa LGBT na mga pasaway. Kasi kahit anong gawin nating pagpapakita ng mabuting gawa, kung may mga LGBT naman na napapariwara, gumagawa ng kabulastugan yung nakakasira ng dangal ba… parang nakakapanghinayang lang kasi paano natin mabago tingin sa atin ng iba, di ba (our fellow LGBTs can be troublesome. And so no matter how well we show other people that LGBT people can also be good, there are still LGBT people who are troublesome and who give us bad rep… and so it’s sad to note the difficulty of changing how others perceive us, right)?”

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Astrid added her disappointment in the “lack of interest from fellow LGBT people to participate actively even in something as simple as Pride March in Davao.”

But both continue to be inspired. As Ziekent said, “yung tipong parang susuko ka na dahil sobrang dami pang gagawin tapos iilan lang kayong kumikilos. Tapos may kasama kang magsasabi na kaya natin ito (there are times when you feel like giving up after seeing the work that needs to be done and only a few of you work. Then someone who works with you tells you that we can do this).”

“It makes you feel empowered. And refuels you to do more,” Astrid said.

And with ULD, doing more is what Astrid and Ziekent aim to do.

For more information on the United Lesbians of Davao, visit http://outragemag.com/united-lesbians-of-davao-uniting-for-a-cause/.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Second dates: More important than your first one

Yes, the first date is important, but honestly, it’s the second date that gives one a true sense of the love potential.

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Yes, the first date is important, but honestly, it’s the second date that gives one a true sense of the love potential.

Dating can be a rollercoaster for any single out there. After meeting online or on dating apps, trying to decode those text messages and hopefully meeting the person, people tend to put a lot of pressure on the first date. It is easier to find the latest UK casinos than the right girl or boy for you.

It Can be Difficult to Know The Other Person at First

There are so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to first dates. You would want to ask about their hobbies and likes and do not talk about your ex. These are some of the rules that have been set in place. The idea of the first date is to make a good first impression.

During the first date, the first focus is on the tiniest details since you barely know the other person.
PHOTO BY JUAN PABLO ARENA, COURTESY OF PEXELS.COM

However, if you’re one of those unlucky people who have kind of messed up on the first date, no worries, relationship experts say that it is the second day that actually matters. In simple terms, a first date is a pass or a fail test. The second date is arguably the real test on the date. It is on this day that one can discover every iota of realness from their date.

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It gives a chance to know a person without having the nerves on the first date. Helene Fisher, PhD biological anthropology and the chief scientific adviser of match.com told the Cosmopolitan that during the first date, the first focus is on the tiniest details since you barely know the other person. By the time you are on your second date, you already know him or her a little bit more, and would thus like them more as well.

Moreover, a second date allows you to get and dig deep into the conversation you’re having with your date. More often than not, first dates always end up feeling like job interviews in the process of knowing each other. However, on the second date, it is easier to jump off the Q&A and dig deeper into the conversation. This will allow you to be a bit more decisive into knowing whether your date is a yay or nay. Being attentive is key, as it is from this that you can learn your dates’ interests and values.

Sometimes in more often than not, it is crucial always to remember that sometimes it’s all about a slow burn. In a survey by OK Cupid, 79% of the guys will still pursue a relationship that they thought is great even if they didn’t feel the immediate fireworks with the other person.

A second date allows you to get and dig deep into the conversation you’re having with your date.
PHOTO BY ROSIE ANN, COURTESY OF PEXELS.COM

Making it Right With the Second Date

The brain works in mysterious ways. It should be given enough time to release all the necessary chemicals for love to ensue.

READ:  Justin and Art: Sharing LGBT love to the world

So nobody should be in a rush to feel the sparks about the other, it all takes time. There are incidences where you might have felt fireworks on the first date but on the second date they quickly burn out. It is normal for the romance to start all slow, so don’t put off the fire before it even begins and just say yes to the second date.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

A few ideas for the scary second date

Here are a few suggestions for the scary second date.

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If your first date went well then you might be feeling a little nervous for your second one. Whilst the initial jitters are gone because you now know this person a little bit, you want to maintain the good impression. You want to ensure that the second date is as good or better than the first one. You want to live up to their expectations. Of course, this can be difficult if you’re low on ideas for things to do.

Here are a few suggestions for the scary second date.

Explore a local town or city.

If you have no ideas for your second date then maybe you should simply propose that you and your date go exploring. You don’t have to spend money to simply walk around and admire your surroundings. You could head to the park to relax and eat some food, go window shopping (or actually go shopping if your date decides they want something), and enjoy chatting with your date. It’s the perfect outing to have fun and give yourselves the chance to get to know one another.

Organize some games.

A great idea for the second date is to organize some games. This isn’t just a nice idea for a casual and fun way to spend your second date – it’s a great way to get to know somebody. You could play a game of cards at a local coffee shop, for example. It’ll be a good chance to see whether your date is competitive or not (and it’ll also be a good chance to see whether they play by the rules). But you might spend your second date at your apartment or house, so you could even get out a board game such as Twister if you really want to get up close and personal. Of course, if you want to organize a game that’ll impress them a little more than a deck of cards then you could try out an escape room. You’ll be frantically rushing around to solve riddles and puzzles before the timer runs out, and that’s a great way to see if you and your date work well together as a team. It really is a true test of how well you gel as people.

Meet up for happy hour.

Finally, you could simply agree to meet at your local bar for happy hour. You won’t have to blow your budget on an expensive meeting, and it’s an informal setting that’s perfect for you to continue to get to know this person. After all, that’s the most important thing on the second date. You might have liked the person in question on your first date, but you’re now trying to make sure that your initial opinion was accurate. Go to a fun bar, get some good deals on drinks, and get to know each other. It’s a good chance to talk and laugh. Keep the date simple. Wait for the fourth or fifth date before you organize a hot air balloon ride.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Remz and Jessa: ‘Fight for your love’

Meet Remz and Jessa Roque, who – after meeting via Facebook in 2017 – decided to marry even without meeting each other yet. Not everyone agrees with what they have, but “ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz said.

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Remz Roque met Jessa in one Facebook group in January 2017.

“Actually, at that time when we started chatting, she was already eager to to meet with me,” Remz recalled, adding that “pareho po kaming OFW (we were both overseas Filipino workers): me in Dubai, while Jessa was in Taiwan.”

It wasn’t easy, Remz said, because of the time differences. But this may have served as their first challenge, since their desire to stay in touch forced them to make “adjustments in life,” Remz said. Jessa, for instance, had to wake up as early as 4.00AM “para lang makausap ako (just so she can talk with me).”

This made them closer, since “mas lalo naming nakilala ang isa’t isa (we got to know each other better),” Remz said.

In the end, this was also what helped Remz realize he already loved Jessa.

“While knowing her deeply mas lalo kong nalaman na mahal ko sixa at yung araw-araw akong masaya dahil sa kanya (I discovered I was falling deeper in love with her, and my every day was happier because of her),” he said.

That feeling was mutual, Jessa said, because “I found my day incomplete without his presence. Yung tipong napapa-smile na lang ako pag naaalala ko sixa (Just thinking of him makes me smile).”

The two nurtured their long distance relationship. And then – even if they have yet to physically meet – they decided to tie the knot by holding a commitment ceremony in the Philippines in February 2018.

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“Yes,” Remz admitted, “hindi pa kami nagkita when we decided to get married. Para kasi sa akin, gusto ko na maayos ang buhay ko at mangyayari lang yun kapag nagkaroon ako ng pamilya (we have yet to meet when we decided to marry. For me, I want to have order in my life and this will only happen if I already have a family of my own)”

Jessa has a child from a previous relationship, and this makes Remz happy, knowing that “yun ung bagay na hindi ko maibibigy sa kanya. Mahal ko rin yung bata tulad ng pagmamahal ko sa kanya (I can’t give her a child. I also love her child just as I love her).”

Both admitted that their decision was not met warmly by everyone.

In fact, even from other members of the :GBTQI community, “my partner also heard a bad comment,” Remz said, “especially that our wedding is just a ‘waste’ since hindi naman legal ang kasal namin (our ceremony has no legal bearing).”

But Jessa said that while “masakit na marinig ito sa mga kapuwa mo, hindi na lang namin pinapansin (hearing these may be painful but we just ignore them),” she said. “Nonsense rin naman (These are just nonsense).”

Both Remz and Jessa, instead, focus on the good: that they found each other, and are willing to work hard to nurture what they have.

It also helped that their families were accepting of their love.

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Looking forward, they eye to strengthen their (new) family. But for now, this means that they still need to work overseas; and separately, too.

That they found each other at all is considered a blessing by both, nonetheless.

Ang alam namin, mahal namin ang isa’t isa at pinanindigan namin yun sa harap ng Diyos (We know we love each other, and God is the witness of our love),” Remz ended.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

Identifying common relationship issues that modern couples face

Love can only flourish once you’ve stamped out your relationship problems and thrown them out of the window–but how exactly can you do this? It all starts with identifying the issues you have.

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Relationships between people can be tough to decipher. There are some unlikely couples out there and incredibly strange relationships between people that you would never have imagined together. It’s all love; something that we still have a hard time describing or putting into words.

However, love can only flourish once you’ve stamped out your relationship problems and thrown them out of the window–but how exactly can you do this? It all starts with identifying the issues you have.

Steps to Identify Problems

Before we get started, we need to identify ways in which we can discover relationship issues. There is advice such as this How to Get Ex Back guide that can teach you things about relationships, even if you’re not interested in getting a former lover back by your side. If you have lost a partner, then it can be a good starting point to help you identify why relationship issues occur and how you can fix them. The idea is to take a step back and gather as much experience as possible, read advice from other people in similar situations and ultimately use prevention as the best method of dealing with relationship issues.

Moving Too Fast

One of the most common issues in a relationship is moving too fast. Perhaps you or your partner are already talking about marriage despite only being a few months into your relationship, or perhaps you’re being pressured to have children. Trying to hurry along a relationship can easily add extra pressure on both sides and it’s damaging unless both sides are ready to make a move. It’s a confusing situation and it might make you question the future of your relationship, but it’s important not to rush things and to take things slowly. Always speak to your partner regarding big decisions and always have a mutual understanding.

Age Gaps

Age gaps can also be a common relationship issue. Some people believe that there should always be a small gap between both people in a relationship, but this isn’t as big of a deal as you might expect. Traditionally, people view these relationships as suspicious. For instance, if a woman is dating a much older man, then she might be called a “gold digger” and this could put some strain on your relationship. While there are likely some legitimate concerns (such as the age gap causing concerns for having children), it’s important to remember that age gaps are likely the least of your worries in a relationship.

Feeling Pressured Into Sex

Sex is one of those common intimate activities that couples engage in, but it can also become a source of stress and can contribute to a lack of self-confidence if you’re being pressured into it by your partner. Good relationships are built on trust, so if you feel like you’re being pressured into something like sex then it might be a good time to step back and sit down to talk with your partner.

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Literary Pieces

My lovelife may have no direction, but my life has…

In a world obsessed with “finding the right one”, Gab Riel writes about the joys of singlehood; and about being alone but not being lonely.

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By Gab Riel

Last night I was asked over a coffee by a friend why I do not have lovelife until now. It’s been three years since we became friends and wala pa din ako kwento sa lovelife ko kundi ‘yung flings lang, like I’m not really serious. Crush ko lang and that’s it.

Masyado daw akong pa-virgin and serious looking.

I asked: Bakit nga ba?

Is it because it’s not my priority?
Is it because I do not look for it?
Is it because I’m used to being single and alone?
Is it because I am not good looking and no one dares fall in love with me?
Is it because I am too busy with something?
Is it because I prioritize my health, my family and my career?
Is it because I enjoy traveling with friends than dating?
Is it because I feel bored easily?
Is it because I’m reaching my goal of savings and investment?
Is it because I am choosy?
Is it because I have high standards (Wow bes!)?
Is it because I am waiting for someone else?
Or is it because I am afraid to fall in love? Again?

Too many questions but all of the above are valid questions and mostly true.
I am just a 25 year old who doesn’t want to settle at early age. I am free and careless.

Sometimes I am jealous of other people with partners, yes, but that goes away in a matter of day. Sometimes I wish I have a partner today, but the next day I would be thankful again I never had.

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My lovelife has no direction, but my life has.

May mga tao na hindi nagagawa ang mga bagay na nagagawa mo because they are confined with the idea na lovelife is sapat na.

Pero life is not about lovelife, it is how you enjoy it.

Ganun talaga, may mga bagay na hindi para sayo dahil ginusto mo.

Sabi nga ng iba, di baleng walang lovelife; ang mahalaga nadidiligan.

Antay lang. Dont rush things.
Malay ko kung at the age of 30 doon pa lang darating.
May five years pa para mag-enjoy alone.

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LOVE AFFAIRS

The unexpected couple

Meet Noe and Allan, who may have found each other in an unexpected way, but are now trying to build a loving family while facing the continuing harsh behaviors of many in their community. They both now say to others to “find strength in each other.”

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Noe met Allan on April 12, 2014, in a gasoline station at an intersection somewhere in the Province of Batangas, with one road leading to Noe’s town, and the other to Allan’s town.

Prior to that meeting, Noe – who admitted doing sex work – joined “a Facebook group for gays and bisexuals; naghahanap ng mapeperahan (I was looking for a source of money),” he said. “Nag-post ako ng nude picture at isa siya sa mga nakakita nito at agad siyang nag-PM (private message) sa akin. Tinanong niya kung akin daw ba talaga iyon at sinabihan pa akong poser. Pinanindigan kong akin iyon, hangang sa humaba ang conversation namin at nakilala ang isa’t isa (I posted a nude picture there and he was one of those who saw the photo. He asked me if it’s really mine, even accusing me as a poser. I stood my ground. The conversation got lengthy until we got to know each other better).”

On April 7, Noe said – with a laugh – that “niligawan ko siya kunwari (I pretended to woo him).” The very next day, they became an item.

“Basically, naging kami (we became an item) before we decided to meet up… Honestly, nasa isa pa akong relasyon (I was in another relationship) that time at gusto ko lang ng mapaglilibangan at sakto nasa iisang probinsya din lang kami (I was just looking for fun that time and it just happened that we’re from the same province),” Allan recalled.

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The two first met – as stated – on April 12, five days before Noe’s birthday.

And when they met, Noe took Allan to his place, “pinakilala ko sa pamilya ko na kaibigan ko (I introduced him to my family as a friend).”

Allan became a “regular” in Noe’s place, so that eventually, “hindi na talaga siya umuuwi. Kaya mga damit ko ang pinangpapaplit na niya (he didn’t head home anymore. He even started using my clothes).”

After approximately four month of, basically, living under one roof, “naging buo yung puso namin para sa isa’t isa.(we became really serious with each other).”

Allan left his BF, while Noe left his GF.

Being in a non-hereonormative relationship ca be challenging, Noe admitted, citing the “mga matang mapanghusga sa aming kummunidad (eyes/people from our community who judge us).” This ia particularly since “kilala nila akong straight guy kaya mahirap ipakita sa mga tao na may kinakasama akong kapwa ko lalake (they know me as a straight guy and so it was initially hard showing to them I now live with another man).”

Noe thinks that being with Allan taught him to be stronger, particularly “humarap sa mga taong nanghusga sa amin ng asawa ko (in front of people who judge us),” he said.

Allan said he is no stranger to discrimination, having experienced this even as a child. “Halos binago ko na ang sarili ko dahil dito para matanggap ng mga tao sa paligid ko (I tried to change myself to please others),” he said. And so now, with Noe, “lagi ko sinasabi sa partner ko na hayaan mo lang ang mga taong bumabatikos sa atin, instead pagtuunan ng pansin ay gawin na lang natin ang tama at ipakita sa kanila na walang mali sa ganitong relasyon (I tell him to ignore those who disagree with what we have. Instead, just focus on doing good and show the world that there’s nothing wrong in our love).”

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As they continue braving the world, “marami kaming plano sa buhay (we have lots of plans in life),” Noe said.

For one, there’s to be good parents to their son (Noah) (another family member is Pogs, a baby dog).

They also plan to have a holy union.

And then there’s the plan to grow their business, particularly since, as Noe said, “tinutulungan namin ang mga pamilya namin (we also help our families).”

Everything, said Noe, seems possible because he found “ang kabiyak ko sa buhay (my other half in life).”

And this is what Allan wants others to also perhaps learn about: To find joy in stability, as he did with Noe. “Ganito lang, okay na okay na (Just like this, and it’s already all okay),” he ended.

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