Sometime in January 2015, a group of men who have sex with men (MSM) who belonged to a “social group – a group that just gathered to grab drinks, basically” decided to “form a new group where friendship was given more value,” said Mar Amante Guidotte, co-founder.
And so was born the Taguig Peppers Society (TPS), what – at first – was “just a GC (group chat in Facebook), eventually becoming a clan.”
This is, by the way, a newer way of forming groups for members of the LGBT community in the Philippines. In the past, there were known “clans” or informal organizations whose members first get in touch using technology (e.g. smartphones) before meeting for GEBs (grand eyeballs, or catching up). But lately, there are now GCs (group chats) in Facebook, where people usually of similar interests are collated; whether the members of GCs actually physically meet isn’t guaranteed, though an actual meeting “elevates” the GC from “just a GC” to a “clan”. If these “clans” register (say, with the Securities and Exchange Commission or with government bodies), they then become legit LGBT organizations.
“For our group,” said Mar with a laugh, “friendship is our fashion.”
When TPS started, it just had 10 FB “members”, though the number “grew fast, with the membership extending beyond Taguig to, particularly, Las Piñas”. It has now over 380 “members”, many of them coming from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
“Our members spend a lot of their time working hard,” Mar said. “But out of work, when with us, they find a way to let their hair down, to find some off-time, some happiness.”
The GEBs happen every Friday in Taguig; and then every Saturday in Las Piñas.
TPS is also now not just a social group, since “we’ve had outreach activities that we hoped would also benefit the non-LGBT community members,” Mar said. They have a member, for instance, who is also a local government official in Pamplona in Las Piñas, “and we had a feeding program that happened with him.”
And it is in this direction – i.e. looking for more social relevance, though existing to be a “safe space” for the members is already a valid reason on its own – where TPS wants to grow.
“We’d like to think that hanggang makakatulong kami (for as long as we can help) both our members and the society at large, we’re gonna be here.”
For more information on TPS, contact 0995 501 9564.