Dondon: ‘Do not be afraid to show who you really are’

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.”

Even when she was young, Dondon already knew “ingun-ani jud ko (I’m really like this)”. She recalled that even then, if there are pageants, she’d always join and “kiat-kiat jud ko (I’d playfully take part).”

Her father didn’t like it. “Diha ko pirmi ka-experience ug bunal (Those were the times I experienced him hitting me),” she said.

Her father also deprived her of affection. One time, after he hit her for joining a pageant, he also withheld from Dondon a pair of much-needed shoes even if she did well in school. He called her “walay pulos (useless)”, telling her that “kung laki daw ko, ihatag niya tanan ako gusto (if I acted manly, he’d give me anything I wanted).”

Dondon learned never to ask. “Para sa ako-a man gud mas happy ko ipagawas kung unsa ko (For me, I’m happier showing who I really am).”

The abuses stopped when Dondon was finally able to tell her parents that “bisan ingun-ani ko (even if I’m like this), I am useful.” In fact, she swore to give them more than they expected from her.

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Her family is now behind her after she proved that “dili hadlang and paging ako para ihatag sa ilaha ang ilang gusto (my being me is not a hindrance to give them what they expect from me).”

Dondon helps in community organizing in Mindanao now, particularly people in fishing communities in need of protecting their villages. And no, her being trans is not a challenge for her when dealing with the community; in fact, this serves as an inspiration, as she aims to show people that “bisan ani ko (even if I’m like this), I can be great.”

In fact – and somewhat surprisingly – she experienced more discrimination from other LGBT people, particularly from those who have higher social status, who she said tend to look down on other LGBT people.

For those who continue attacking her and other LGBT people, Dondon said: “Remember, dili ako magkakuwarta sa ilaha; dili sila makatabang sa ako-a kung dili akong kaugalingon lang (I won’t earn money because of them; they won’t be able to help me, I only have myself to rely on).”

And for the young LGBT people, “ang ma-istorya nako sa ila, gina-challenge nako sila… ayaw kahadlok ipakita kung unsa ka, ug isulong ang karapatan kung unsa ta. Ayaw itulot sa ila nga yapakan ang atong katungod. Go, go lang ta (I want to tell them, I want to challenge them… not to be afraid to show who you really are, and to push for our right to live as we are. Don’t allow them to step on our human rights. Just keep pushing)!”

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