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1st Batangan Pride parade held in Sto. Tomas

The Province of Batangas held the first Pride parade in the Municipality of Santo Tomas. Organized by the United Gay and Lesbian Association (UGLA) of Santo Tomas, the gathering aimed to “highlight how we, the LGBT people of Batangas, have learned to (finally) showcase our Pride in being LGBT,” says Rusty Dela Cruz of UGLA.

Pride comes to Batangas.

Being proud with being LGBT was highlighted in the Province of Batangas, with the holding of the first Pride parade in the Municipality of Santo Tomas, in time as the global LGBT community marks June as the Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots largely credited to have started the modern LGBT movement.

Organized by the United Gay and Lesbian Association (UGLA) of Santo Tomas, the first-ever Pride gathering in Batangas was participated by LGBT organizations not only from Santo Tomas, but also those coming from other local government units in Batangas; as well as by non-LGBT people who “wanted to show their support for a worthy cause.”

“This is to highlight how we, the LGBT people of Batangas, have learned to (finally) showcase our Pride in being LGBT,” said Rusty Dela Cruz, who helms UGLA. “This also highlights our (growing) role, and the acceptance of that role in our community.”

Located on the southwestern part of Luzon in the CALABARZON region, the province of Batangas is made up of 31 municipalities and three component cities.  Its 1,078 barangays are home to over two million Batangueños.

The Pride parade actually also only continues a very public show of support given by the local government unit (LGU) of Santo Tomas to its LGBT population.

In an exclusive interview with Outrage Magazine, Santo Tomas Mayor Edna P. Sanchez said that, to start, the LGU actually helped form the local LGBT organization, UGLA, as she hopes for “better LGBT inclusion in the municipality’s programming.”

“We hope for the LGBT people to be – in the end – recognized for their contributions to the society,” Sanchez said in Filipino.

In Santo Tomas, the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO) already includes LGBT people among the populations being served – along with the kabataan (youth), kababaihan (women), and erpat (fathers and/or men). In fact, in Santo Tomas – and albeit these still highlight stereotyped roles for members of the LGBT community – mostly butch lesbians now work for the Traffic Management Group (TMG); just as livelihood programs (such as cosmetology classes, and manicure and pedicure classes) are offered to mostly effeminate gay men.

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“We are also already looking at broadening the services to the LGBT people of Santo Tomas,” said Roselyn Libuit, head of the MSWDO. Plans include: giving of seminars on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), and HIV-related programs.

For Murphy Red, head of Metro Manila-based Kapederasyon , which helped organize the Pride parade, “this is but just a start,” he said, citing the need to “push further” the struggle for the recognition of the human rights of LGBT people in Batangas. “Simula pa lamang ito (This is just a start),” he said, “sa sana’y patuloy na pagtutulak sa pagbabago ng buhay ng mga LGBT (in the ongoing push for changes in the lives of LGBT people).”

Already, the leadership of UGLA – with help from the likes of Kapederasyon and Outrage Magazine – is looking at drafting an anti-discrimination ordinance, particularly since Santo Tomas’ mayor Sanchez openly stated her support for such effort.

There are also now plans to help LGBT people in other parts of the province of Batangas organize so that Pride events can also be held in their localities, thereby “showcasing that we’re also here,” UGLA’s Dela Cruz ended.

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