On April 4, 2011, four self-identifying bisexual Filipinos (Harry Rye Noveras, Juanito Mon Jr., Francis J. Mirador and Habib F. Radzak) came together to form a group initially called the United Men Circle (UMC). “We (wanted to establish) this organization because of our passion (to help gather other) bisexuals like us,” said Mirador, co-founder and current chairperson of the group. “Every day we are inspired to serve (them) as we continue (attempt to) fill in that missing piece in the LGBT (with the inclusion of bisexuals). We bonded to promote the advocacies of freedom and of brotherhood.”
Though – as effected by usual clan evolutionary necessities – the group eventually became the Elite Circle of Men (ECM) last September 17, 2011, a change made with changes in the key people involved in the group, its intentions remained. “We were created and formed not just to party and to have fun,” said Juanito Mon Jr., co-founder and vice chairman, “but to do advocacy to stand and fight for our rights to have a peaceful environment so we can live without prejudice.”
A focus of the group is its establishment as some sort of alternative family. “(What we’re creating is) an environment of openness, respect and equality,” Mirador said. “By giving voice, and by providing shelter to the bisexual and homosexual (members of our community)… we hope to build a family with members who respect and love each other.”
It is because of this drive that “there are numerous explorations done by the group for its members and officers to know one another better. We make sure we deal with a core issue, which is whether every person in the group feels like he belongs to the group. It is through this that trust begins to emerge and differences are appreciated. The issues then become how to strengthen relationships, open communication and provide positive and constructive feedback,” Mirador said.
As part of the attempt to empower its members, the group has been holding seminars to help promote proper knowledge on HIV and AIDS among its members. “One of the issues that we would like to pay attention to is HIV,” Mon said. “Nowadays, this disease has been a tremendous threat to everyone, and we would like… for our members to be free from it by giving them proper education and knowledge about it.”
Beyond the membership, though, the group had held various outreach activities, such as aiding in the provision of school materials for grade-school students in informal settlements, and providing food for homeless streetchildren.
ECM is proud that “we have proven our stability as a group,” Mon said, “with our members standing together through the ups and downs we’ve encountered.” ECM was recognized as among the best clans in 2011 by G4M Tagalog, which had an online voting through Facebook; and as among the 25 most powerful and influential clans during the Metro Clan Festival.
The group now aims to continue its efforts, particularly holding outreach programs, as well as social awareness campaign against HIV – even as the group is looking at “branching out in different key cities around the nation to grow bigger and give voices to millions of bisexual and homosexual Filipinos,” Mon ended.
Interested to know more, or even become a part of ECM? Visit http://www.facebook.com/UnitedMenCircle or http://elitecircleofmen.weebly.com/.