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Time to be ‘out’

“The main idea was to encourage people to go out of their comfort zone and let go of all expectations.” So said Giancarlo Gallegos, founder of Experience Philippines, which pioneered the travel concept called the ‘random road trip’, where they keep the destination a secret and the activities a surprise. More recently, Experience Philippines started serving the rainbow community via “Random OUTings”, with a tagline: “Be you with us.”

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“The main idea was to encourage people to go out of their comfort zone and let go of all expectations.”

That – in a sentence – was the concept behind Experience Philippines, which, when it was started on February 14, 2013, was initially known as “Tara, Let’s Go Asia”. It was rebranded after the friends (from abroad) of the founder, Giancarlo Gallegos, “always mistook ‘Tara’ as a girl.” But the idea behind it remained the same.

“We pioneered the travel concept called the ‘random road trip’, where we keep the destination a secret and the activities a surprise. We wanted people to discover off-the-beaten-track destinations and make you fall in love with the Philippines,” Gallegos said. “In this process, you begin to discover something about yourself. You start to realize that you are capable of something more, that you can take risks.”

Aside from Gallegos, Experience Philippines was also co-conceptualized by Patrick Lui, with both “wanting to create a legacy where you don’t just travel but also create a deep connection with the people with you, where people can just be themselves, and where they can make a difference in the local community.”

REACHING THE RAINBOW MARKET

More recently, Experience Philippines started serving the rainbow community.

“Although the Philippines is tolerant of the LGBT community, it still has a long way to go,” Gallegos said. “Moreso if you look at the LGBT travel landscape, (and) most you will find online are gay-friendly bars, hotels, et cetera. There is no travel company that publicly espouses, supports or organizes gay-friendly travels. The most you will ever hear are private individuals organizing them.”

And so “we started organizing these trips because of our personal experiences with our road trippers who are part of the LGBT community. Some are tragic stories of being ostracized by their parents after discovering their gender identity/sexual orientation. There are some who are scared to be out because of what their family and friends will say because of the positions they hold in their respective companies.”

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Experience Philippines, therefore, developed “Random OUTings”, with a tagline: “Be you with us.”

“We did not focus on the LGBT community because we wanted to diversify. We focused on them because we wanted to create a safe travel haven for those who want to be accepted and be loved for who they are. We created a community where they can ask questions and not be afraid of being judged. It is an avenue where they can show be themselves without prejudice and discriminations,” Gallegos said. “If Experience Philippines is the only place they can show their selves, then so be it. We welcome it. We embrace it.”

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONES

No matter the SOGIE of the market it targets, the idea behind Experience Philippines stays the same.

In the Philippines, “many Filipinos always travel to only the popular tourist spots,” Gallegos said, adding that this is “a shame since the Philippines has so much more to offer.”

And so – to take people out of their comfort zones – making them try something new and different became a must-do.

“By not knowing where they were going, what they’d be doing, or who they’d be going with, we could get people to discover the unknown places around the Philippines, experience different kinds of transport, food, culture and traditions, and local activities, and form new bonds of friendships that could last a lifetime,” Gallegos said.

RAINBOW ON THE ROAD

Random OUTings is one of the most popular road trips organized by Experience Philippines, according to Gallegos, who hopes for this to be “a small step to creating a big impact in the LGBT landscape in the Philippines.”

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Currently, “we almost have 100 members in our Random OUTings community.”, though – to respect their privacy – “we do not share photos or names in our social media. We created a closed Facebook group exclusively for the Random OUTing community where they can discuss, exchanges ideas, come out with travel plans, go out for dinners and other activities.”

It wasn’t always easy organizing Random OUTings.

“When we started to organize the Random OUTings road trips, we heard from some well-intentioned individuals that these road trips may just turn out as venues for hook-ups because gay people are promiscuous,” Gallegos said. “Personally, when I heard this, I felt angry because it is simply a double standard. Don’t straight people hook up as well?” And so, “all the more that this encouraged me to pursue this project and to prove people wrong that they are like everyone else who are looking for love, companionship, friendship, et cetera. And I have been very happy that I started this project then.”

Past trips included exploring the small town of Bani in Pangasinan, some of the islands of Mindoro, and remote destinations of Quezon and Batangas.

“We chose these destinations because Experience Philippines is also a social advocacy. As much as we can, we try to help out local communities but bringing the business there. And this experience is much deeper since you help connect the participants to the local communities,” Gallegos said.

CARVING A MARKET

Gallegos said that “aside from coming out with one of the craziest ideas you can do in the Philippines, one of (our) edges is being customer-centric. We find great satisfaction in dealing with our road trippers in a personal way. In fact, I always remind our team that the real work of Experience Philippines happens AFTER our road trips. It is how we engage and continue to build a travel community. It makes the trying out new ideas easier as well since you have early adaptors. And if you have a strong community, scaling is a lot easier.”

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The road trip fee varies, but it is usually around P5,500 for a weekend trip. This is all-inclusive. Travelers “just need to bring themselves, their clothes and their sense of humor to the trip,” Gallegos said.

For those interested, email giancarlo@experience.ph, call 0917-5639692, or visit http://www.experience.ph.

“Expect not to go to touristy destinations; you can easily go there on your own. Expect different kinds of people. Expect rough roads and cold showers. But most of all, expect majestic sunsets, local food, starlit skies, neverending laughter, Spice Girls, Britney and Arianna as your background music,” Gallegos said. “What frame of mind to have if joining? Let go of expectations. Just learn how to be in the moment, Be there to connect to people, to places, to communities. Experience Philippines will take care of the rest.”

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Travel

Hong Kong to recognize same-sex partnerships in spousal visa applications

For the first time, Hong Kong will recognize overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependant visas.

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IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM

Change has come.

For the first time, Hong Kong will recognize overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependant visas. This was announced by the government after a review prompted by a Court of Final Appeal ruling in July, at the end of a legal battle, that a married British lesbian – identified as QT – should be granted a spousal visa. She was initially denied.

QT and her partner, known as SS, moved to Hong Kong in 2011 after SS got a job in the city. The couple entered into a civil partnership in Britain, which gave them the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple under British law.

But the Hong Kong Immigration Department rejected QT’s application for a dependant visa, stating that Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex relationships. The pair took the case to court, arguing that the decision was discriminatory and breached the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance.

The Court of First Instance ruled against QT in March 2016. This ruling was appealed by QT. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision last year. The Immigration Department filed an appeal, and the Court of Final Appeal made a ruling in July in favor of QT.

Starting Wednesday (September 19, 2018), the director of immigration will already favorably consider an application from a person who has entered into “a same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, or opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union outside Hong Kong” for entry for residence as a dependant, if the person meets the normal immigration requirements.

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To qualify, there should be “reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor”, “no known record to the detriment of the applicant”, and evidence that “the sponsor is able to support the dependant’s living at a standard well above the subsistence level and provide him/her with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong”.

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Health & Wellness

Female to male trans adolescents report highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%

A study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor from Unsplash.com

 Nearly 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with female to male adolescents reporting the highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%.

This is according to “Transgender Adolescent Suicide Behavior“, a study done by Russell B. Toomey, Amy K. Syvertsen and Maura Shramko, and released in Pediatrics. The study eyed to examine prevalence rates of suicide behavior across six gender identity groups: female; male; transgender, male to female; transgender, female to male; transgender, not exclusively male or female; and questioning. A secondary objective was to examine variability in the associations between key sociodemographic characteristics and suicide behavior across gender identity groups.

Data from the “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors” survey (N = 120 617 adolescents; ages 11–19 years) were used to achieve the study objectives. Data were collected over a 36-month period: June 2012 to May 2015. A dichotomized self-reported lifetime suicide attempts (never versus ever) measure was used. Prevalence statistics were compared across gender identity groups, as were the associations between sociodemographic characteristics (i.e. age, parents’ highest level of education, urbanicity, sexual orientation, and race and/or ethnicity) and suicide behavior.

The study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%), male to female adolescents (29.9%), questioning adolescents (27.9%), female adolescents (17.6%), and male adolescents (9.8%).

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Identifying as non-heterosexual exacerbated the risk for all adolescents except for those who did not exclusively identify as male or female (i.e. non-binary). For transgender adolescents, no other sociodemographic characteristic was associated with suicide attempts.

According to the researchers, “Suicide prevention efforts can be enhanced by attending to variability within transgender populations, particularly the heightened risk for female to male and non-binary transgender adolescents.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Why your company needs to care more about the future of the planet

More and more companies are starting to realize the benefits of going green and caring more about the environment.

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Photo by Miriam Espacio from Unsplash.com

Businesses tend not to care so much about the future of the planet. This is often because the environmental impact of their actions is rarely quantified and reported back to the companies, and even if that was the case, it’s unlikely that companies would bother paying extra money just to be more environmentally friendly. It cuts into their profits and, in most cases, is a bother to implement.

Or is that really the case?

More and more companies are starting to realize the benefits of going green and caring more about the environment. It’s a surprisingly effective way to approach marketing your company and giving it more exposure, and in this article, we’ll be giving you more ideas on how to use the latest technological advancements to ensure that your company stays green and benefits from it.

Photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti from Unsplash.com

Marketing Advantage

Nowadays, many companies are looking to increase their exposure by looking at how they can appeal to a wider and more specialized audience. One of those niches (at least, a niche for now) is being able to appeal to people that want to go green. This means people that want to reduce their carbon footprint.

Many consumers much rather support businesses that support green practices in order to do their part and help the environment. If your company advertises that it uses green methods in their workflow, then you have an advantage over other companies in the industry. It’s a surprisingly effective method of promoting your business.

Specialized Companies Make it Easy

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With the rise of businesses that focus on helping other companies go green, it’s become even easier to make the switch. Whether it’s oil stop valves that you need for a large-scale project such as an oil refinery or station, or just finding ways to reduce waste in your office, there are plenty of ways to go about adding more ways to bolster your business’s green practices.

Saving Money

Surprisingly, there are many green business practices that can actually save you money instead of costing you even more. For instance, if you reuse certain materials, you could save a bit of money every time you make a purchase for supplies. Another method of saving money is by optimizing your business workflow, such as shortening transportation routes and cutting down on fuel expenditure for logistical challenges.

There are plenty of ways to go green and save money and it’s not always about hiring a service that can suggest you a new machine or piece of technology that can help. Sometimes, you can go green by just being more mindful of how you spend your money.

Going green comes with many advantages, but it does take a little work in order to truly be carbon neutral so that you do not leave any footprint. Companies like Apple are leading the way thanks to the steps they’ve taken to become carbon neutral across the globe, and more companies are following in their shadow. Sooner or later, becoming carbon neutral will become a necessity if you want to progress your business instead of just a competitive edge.

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NEWSMAKERS

Baguio’s LGBTQIA community eyes to highlight ‘real Pride’ for Nov. 24 fest

Themed “This is Pride”, the 12th Baguio LGBT Pride Parade 2018 slated on November 24 “acknowledges that the community is still facing a lot of issues, so that we are coming out on the streets to continue the struggle for LGBT rights not yet won,” said Archie Montevirgen, chairperson of Amianan Pride Council.

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PHOTO BY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL/ELLA RODRIGUEZ & FREEPIK, COURTESY OF THE AMIANAN PRIDE COUNCIL

Baguio and the Cordilleras eye to highlight the real meaning of #LGBT #Pride with the 12th Baguio LGBT Pride Parade 2018 slated on November 24.

Themed “This is Pride”, the gathering “acknowledges that the community is still facing a lot of issues, so that we are coming out on the streets to continue the struggle for LGBT rights not yet won,” said Archie Montevirgen, chairperson of the Amianan Pride Council, which organizes the annual event.

Nonetheless, the event also wants to “celebrate victories our advocacy has achieved.”

“This year, we intend to bring the community closer by making everybody in the community feel that we are all in this together. That a victory won is everybody’s achievement; that Pride is for everybody. We want everyone to feel that they all have something to be proud of, that is why we are celebrating our uniqueness, and our diversity,” Montevirgen said.

This year’s gathering is also very cognizant of the commercialization of Pride.

8 Ways to know we’ve sold ‘Pride’

“It was one of the factors that pushed everyone to arrive at the theme ‘This is Pride’. We talked among ourselves and arrived at the understanding that no particular LGBT sector can put a patent on Pride,” Montevirgen said. “We come from different sectors and hold different agendas and interests towards Pride. For some it is political, some push for agendas, some come to celebrate, some come to express themselves without judgment, and some come to party. We understand that whatever reason one comes to Pride is a contribution to the cause, and something to be proud of.”

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But to avoid being swallowed by the erroneous system (i.e. Pride being bought), “that is the very reason why we have decided from the start not to make the Amianan Pride Council a formal structured organization, but a loose alliance of organizations and institution that feel they have a stake at Pride. So commercialization at this point does not feel like a threat at all to (us).”

Every year, leadership of the Amianan Pride Councilis passed on, thereby allowing the next leaders to take it to a direction they want to take, given the concurrence of the council.

Incidentally, this was the model of Task Force Pride (TFP) in Metro Manila in the past; which was eventually superseded to give way to the now more commercial model.

While the actual Pride parade in Baguio City will take place on November 24, the different member organizations of Amianan Pride Council also plan to hold different activities of their own to hype up the annual gathering.

As it is, talks are ongoing with the office of Baguio City Vice Mayor to declare the last week of November as LGBT week in Baguio City.

For more information, contact Metropolitan Community Church – Metro Baguio at 09298629036.

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Travel

55% of Singaporeans still support law banning gay sex

Fifty-five percent of 750 Singaporeans who were surveyed support the ban on gay sex, with only 12% opposing the antiquated Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code, which states that a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years.

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Photo detail by Max Felner from Unsplash.com

More than half of Singaporeans still support the antiquated law that bans gay sex. This is according to an online survey that was made amid renewed debate on whether the city-state should follow India’s footsteps and scrap similar British colonial-era legislation.

Fifty-five percent of the 750 Singaporeans who were surveyed by independent market research and consulting firm Ipsos still supported the ban.

The same Ipsos poll also showed that 12% opposed the law, while 33% were neither for or against it.

Ipsos conducted the online poll of people aged between 15-65 years over four days in late July and early August.

Under Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code, a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years. Prosecutions are rare. The law does not apply to homosexual acts between women.

A glimpse into Singapore’s rainbow community

In Asia and the Pacific, Singapore is considered a “modern” state. But lawmakers remain typically cautious over social reforms, partly due to sensitivities stemming from the ethnic and religious mix among Singapore’s 5.6 million inhabitants.

In the line of duty

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Technological advancements up to present day

Back in the day things would be developed over a certain period of time. But they have since changed. Here we explore the various things that have been developed over the past few years.

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Technology has really shocked everyone. Back in the day things would be developed over a certain period of time. But they have since changed. Things are being developed every day from cars, cell phones, top Australian online casinos, applications, modes of energy and many others.

In this article, we will explore the various things that have been developed over the past few years.

Electric Cars

Cars are known to use gasoline. For cars, gasoline is like the nutrient that they require for them to function. But then again at the same time, the exhaust gases are bad for the environment. But great minds are always thinking ahead. So what was simply done was to make cars use electric energy for them to function. That way nothing on earth will be threatened. With car technology, we could go on about it forever. Everything on cars has been developed. They now have cars that don’t require keys to start the car as you can use your phone or a car button.  And as for unlocking you only need your fingerprint.

3D Printers

Printers have been known to print papers from when there were introduced. And they were slowly developing to printing plastics. Jaws dropped when they started printing metal, we thought that probably that is where they are going to end. But clearly they did not stop; now they have what is known as the 3-D metal printing. This one prints the exact thing that you want to be printed, for instance, you want to print a car part now that is possible.

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Robot Technology

Asians have always been known for their fondness for robots. And they managed to advance them from the normal robots that we are used to. Asians have developed robots that can help people in restaurants and are now the actual waiters. They do away with human labour.

Clearly one can note that technology is definitely advancing and for the better. Even in the world of online casinos, first, they were just yebo casino games. But now we have Live Dealer online casino games, technology truly is amazing.

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