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3 Ways Boracay is (still somewhat) LGBTQIA-okay…

Over a year since the announcement of the “closure” of Boracay, how’s this tropical paradise in Malay, Aklan, particularly as far as being LGBTQIA-friendly is concerned?

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When Boracay Island was “closed” for rehab last April 2018, it was – in many ways – already a somewhat gay place – e.g. the extremely profit-oriented (and apparently environmentally not-so-friendly) LaBoracay may have been known as a “party time” for everyone marking Labor Day in Boracay; but it was overwhelmingly LGBTQIA-led and driven…

Now, over a year since the announcement of that “closure”, how’s this tropical paradise in Malay, Aklan, particularly as far as being LGBTQIA-friendly is concerned?

Following a visit, here are three signs that the place remains… somewhat gay-okay…

1. The locals are starting to organize.

There have been attempts in the past to formally organize the local LGBTQIA community; but the more recent efforts have been more well-defined (and shall we say more “formalized” and have been gaining more traction, particularly online). For instance, Malay local Aloha Filipino recently attempted to gather members of the LGBTQIA community to formally organize them (the initial attempt leading to – as expected – the stereotypical LGBT-led and -participated beauty pageant).

Organizing is important, obviously, with the local LGBTQIA community encountering issues very specific to them – e.g. sex work on the island, and the risks that accompany the profession.

But organizing isn’t without challenges, and at times, a challenge comes from the supposed supporter/s of the organizing – e.g. there are supposedly local officials who want this organizing to happen so they can then profile the members; and – if crimes involving LGBTQIA people are committed – then they know where to get the information about these LGBTQIA people. Former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista’s ill-conceived profiling of LGBTQIA people comes to mind…

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All the same, though, that the thought of organizing even entered the minds of the locals is a plus already.

2. Gay expression abounds… along the shoreline.

No, I didn’t notice bars openly refusing LGBTQIA community members (particularly trans) from entering their premises this time around. But this may be because there aren’t as many rowdy bars in Boracay anymore – those late night partying still happen for sure, but… they aren’t as rowdy as they used to be even in the truly rowdy bars in the past.

Let me say this, then: When in Boracay, and if/when looking to score, head to the shore. That’s where the “action” happens.

3. Tolerance (though maybe not acceptance) is more “defined”.

There’s a story that’s been making the rounds in Boracay: A trans sex worker allegedly stabbed a Chinese client for shortchanging her (i.e. not paying her the agreed-upon amount). This is – according to a local source of Outrage Magazine – why local officials want to profile the LGBTQIA people here; so that if something like this happens again, then they know where to go to capture a suspect.

Despite this occurrence (or perhaps because of it?), sex work involving (particularly) trans women has been “normalized” on the island now, according to the same source. It is “tolerated”, and “acknowledged” to exist, so “they are just left to do what they do”.

Yes, yes, yes… I know that I’ve focused ONLY on the tolerance of sex work, which is not the same as tolerance of LGBTQIA people at all (!). But bear with me when I specifically mention the above because – in the past – female sex workers were tolerated (I’d say even encouraged by some venues that saw this as a come-on for tourists) while trans sex workers were barred in these same venues.

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Beyond this, though, LGBTQIA faces (particularly gay and trans) are becoming more common in Boracay as a whole – e.g. as vendors/salespeople (akin to Divisoria, if I may say so); as staff of accommodations; and even as government officials (such as our local contact).

The place still has a long, long, LONG way to go to actually openly promote LGBTQIA human rights. But this is Boracay, after all; where every sunset is beautiful not just to end the day, but to mark what surprises still lie ahead/tomorrow. So come visit and expect (if not wait) to be surprised…

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

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4 Ways to get around while vacationing in Washington D.C.

Getting around the city is made easy with an abundance of different options available from public transport to bus tours.

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Washington D.C. is the capital of the U.S and a truly amazing place to visit. With its wealth of museums, exhibits, and history, it is a vacation spot that should not be missed. Getting around the city is made easy with an abundance of different options available from public transport to bus tours.

Here are four ways to get around while visiting this beautiful city. 

Car service

Booking a chauffeured car service is a great alternative to hiring a car. Whether it’s a Dulles car service straight from the airport to your accommodation or a trip from your hotel for a night at the theatre, it is an extremely comfortable and luxurious way to get there.

Metrorail

With 91 stations dotted around the city, the Metrorail is D.C.’s underground service. It is open from 5 am and closes at midnight every weekday making it a great way to travel. Although you can buy individual tickets, purchasing a SmarTrip card is a good idea. It’s a travel money card that credit can be added to at any time. It can also be used on the Metrobus, another means of public transport in D.C. Underground maps are available online and at each station. They are easy to follow so you won’t have any trouble finding your way around.

Metrobus

The Metrobus is Washington’s public bus service. There are around 11,500 bus stops within the districts of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Metrobus carries out around 400,000 trips every day making it extremely easy to get from A to B. Boarding with bicycles is permitted and each bus has wheelchair access. As previously mentioned, you can use your SmarTrip card on this service too. You can also use the card to pay for the parking of cars or bikes. Washington has a fabulous public transport system. Using it could save you time as well as money.

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Bicycle hire

If you enjoy cycling, hiring a bike is a great way to get around the city. Whether it be for a whole day or just a few hours, several companies offer this service. Rates can vary, so make some inquiries when you get there and shop around if needs be. Traditional or electric bikes can be rented and if you have young children trailers are also available. This will allow you to easily get around without little feet becoming tired.  Many companies do bike tours which is a brilliant way to explore and find out a bit more from those in the know. Whilst the city hosts many bus tours which is also a great way to see the sights, a bike tour can allow you to get closer to each attraction. If you prefer the idea of a Segway tour then many companies can arrange those too.

Washington D.C. is an amazing city with a host of different attractions for all ages and interests so, regardless of how you choose to get around, you will not be disappointed. 

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Marriage equality, trans rights upheld in Costa Rica

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a landmark ruling to recognize marriage equality and transgender rights in Costa Rica. The decision came after the Costa Rican government asked for an advisory opinion on whether it has an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples.

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Photo by Ashly Araya from Unsplash.com

Rainbow celebration in Costa Rica.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a landmark ruling to recognize marriage equality and transgender rights in Costa Rica. The decision came after the Costa Rican government asked for an advisory opinion on whether it has an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples.

In the ruling issued by seven judges, it was stated that the government “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.”

Six of the seven judges also ruled that it is necessary for governments “to guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”

The Costa Rican government similarly asked for advisory opinion from the courts on the issue of allowing transgender people to change their name and gender marker on identity documents.

On this, the ruling says that the Costa Rican government must allow transgender people to legally change their name and gender marker on official documents.

In the region, Mexico City, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay are among the jurisdictions where transgender people can legally change their name and gender without undergoing surgery. For its part, Cuba has been providing since 2008 for free gender affirmation surgeries through its national health care system.

IACHR’s ruling is legally binding in Costa Rica and 19 other countries throughout the Western Hemisphere that currently recognize the convention. IACHR oversees Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala. It also rules over Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Uruguay.

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9 Tips to make your travel adventure easier

Traveling can be unpredictable so it’s important to have a basic plan to fall back on, so that you know where you are going and when.

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Traveling should be a memorable experience for everyone involved but it is a big world out there and you will need to take a few precautions and follow some sage advice to get the best out of your trip, whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime safari or a city-hopping tour of Europe.

The downtime just before you leave is a perfect time to relax and play at online casinos as well as to prepare yourself for a potentially life-changing experience. Here are nine tips that should make your traveling easier. 

Plan your itinerary beforehand

Just turning up to your destinations and expecting to make the most of your time is not a recommended strategy. Traveling can be unpredictable so it’s important to have a basic plan to fall back on, so that you know where you are going and when. You can still leave room for spontaneity but just make sure you leave enough time for everything you absolutely must do. 

Convert your cash

Don’t wait until you are in each country to convert your cash into the local currency as the exchange rate will be substandard and you could leave yourself open to scams. Be sure to sort out your travel money before you leave. Consider splitting your funds between cash and a prepaid travel card which can be used as a debit card while abroad. 

Book airport transfers

You have your flights covered but what about transfers to and from these busy hubs? You will probably be tired, and jet-lagged when visiting a foreign country for the first time, which makes the task of getting a taxi or public transport more challenging. You might not have any local currency or be able to speak the language. The solution, although slightly more expensive, is to book transfers to your accommodation before leaving.

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Set daily budgets tailored to destination

Saving for a trip and avoiding excess expenditure during the early days of your travel will prevent you from coming up short later on. Combining your basic itinerary with a flexible daily budget is a good idea. When setting a budget, you must first factor in necessities such as accommodation and food before moving onto activities and excursions. 

The amount you set aside will depend on the country you are visiting. For example, if you are traveling to Asia, you may need twice as much for a day in Singapore compared to Indonesia or Thailand. 

When setting a budget, you must first factor in necessities such as accommodation and food before moving onto activities and excursions. 

Pack strategically

It is always best to pack light if you are visiting a number of different countries. Tourists often commit the cardinal sin of overpacking which leaves them with way too much to lug around. Try to include just a few reliable outfits for the climate in addition to a book, a phone, a camera, and any other necessities. Lighter packing also lowers concerns about the loss and theft of luggage. Bags with wheels are also a must.

Eat local

You can save a lot of money by avoiding high-end eateries and enjoying the local street-food. It will be cheaper and more delicious than many other dining options in foreign cities and it will give you the chance to immerse yourself in the tastes, smells and sounds of bustling urban locales. To find the best places, look for the vendors that are popular with the locals.

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Be vigilant

Pickpockets are prevalent in many of the world’s major cities and are a potential danger near tourist attractions, public transportation, and bars and restaurants. For this reason, never leave luggage unattended and make sure you store valuables in places that are out of the reach of thieves. It is important to be vigilant wherever you are in the world so keep a lookout for friends and family if you are traveling as a group. 

Tourists often commit the cardinal sin of overpacking which leaves them with way too much to lug around.

Research, research, research

The more you know, the better prepared you will be for every eventuality. Research will help you to find the best places to stay in a city, whether to tip for food and services and uncover hidden areas and gems away from the tourist trail. Backing up your itinerary with specific information about each country will make your life a lot easier when you are away. 

Learn the language

Becoming fluent in a language for a five-day stay in a country is not always viable but you can get a grasp of the basics to make simple tasks a little bit easier while away. Just being able to ask for directions or for somewhere to buy water can be useful. You will also feel less anxious and frustrated if you know you can converse with the locals. 

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Expression of faith

Here’s the thing: You don’t even have to be a believer to find comfort here. If you just want to take a pause, find refuge from the noise of the world, and even just to hear yourself, then the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, New York is one good place to be at.

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Roman Catholics – many Filipinos included – listen, and listen well. When visiting the state of New York in the US, you can still practice your faith.

Head to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima; this is a Minor Basilica and National Shrine of the Roman Catholic Church in Lewiston, New York, USA.

Located north of Niagara Falls, it honors the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Fatima, the Patroness of US. It is directed by The Barnabite Fathers.

The basilica is located on 16 acres of land, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Walter Ciurzak in 1954. Aside from the (actual) basilica, there is a bell tower, the Shrine of St. Anthony Mary Zaccari, Little Chapel of Fatima, The Avenues of Saints, Shrine of Mother Cabrini, Giant Rosary, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Immaculate Heart Chapel, The First Chapel, and the Barnabite Father’s Seminary.

The church was started in 1963, dedicated in 1965, and consecrated in 1974. In 1975, Pope Paul VI conferred the title of Basilica upon the church.

Our #LadyOfFatima is, perhaps, a great example of how the concept of separation of #church and #state continues to be extremely challenging, even if blatantly stated in the #constitution (for instance, of the #Philippines). FYI: Devotion to the #VirginMary was dominant in #Portugal and #Spain in the 1920s when the miracles were said to have happened (and these countries were waging wars), and #Russia and even #communism were specifically tackled in the messages supposedly given by the Virgin Mary to the children involved in the occurrence…

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But here’s the thing, though: You don’t even have to be a #believer to find comfort here.

If you just want to take a pause, find refuge from the noise of the world, and even just to hear yourself, then the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston, New York is one good place to be at.

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Vacation ideas that will help you experience the most of yourself

Try and get out of your comfort zone. Do something you may never have otherwise done if not for setting yourself this challenge. An amazing thing happens when you plan out something like this – you become motivated to try new and experimental efforts.

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When we go on our travels, we often go for many reasons. Some may wish to celebrate a recent graduation or new promotion, some may be simply heading abroad for those special two weeks of the year. It can also be that our vacations help us explore who we would like to be, to see a different worldview, and to help certain parts of our personality bloom.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

These latter reasons are usually not searched for unless we directly assimilate them into our traveling purpose. This is because it takes energy and effort to explore within those set of contexts. It can also be very important to consider the vacation ideas that may help you experience the most of yourself. Doing so may help you grapple with a troublesome home situation, allow you the necessary space to heal from conflict, or time you can spend figuring out just how you want to progress in life.

The following traveling advice will be geared towards helping your approach in one of these directions. Odds are that with a little care and practical consideration, you will surprise yourself with creativity.

A Rite Of Passage

A long right of passage can be a great means in which to separate yourself from your past, or to grow into maturity. For example, long hiking pilgrimage routes in Europe have been known to give tourists a long and meditative walking experience, some might say this gives them the platform to think differently about their problems back home and come back with that refreshed perspective. A rite of passage can be fun, enjoyable and sometimes a little work, but by no means lacking in effectiveness.

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A Luxurious, Romantic Getaway

Heading on a luxurious and romantic getaway trip can be a phenomenal thing to experience, especially with someone you deeply care about. You may wish to use yacht rental services in Miami in order to get together and curate a little private space in a novel luxurious setting, or you may simply wish to rent out a more expensive hotel suite and thus enjoy an experience you rarely get to see. When you have time to explore and express your love in a beautiful location with a person you care about, you’ll be thoroughly cared for.

Going Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Try and get out of your comfort zone. Do something you may never have otherwise done if not for setting yourself this challenge. An amazing thing happens when you plan out something like this – you become motivated to try new and experimental efforts. This may give you the tools to explore a new discipline, or try something that, until now, you considered impossible. For one person, this may be skiing. For another, it may be skydiving. Try not to think about what the most impressive thing in general could be, but rather the most worthwhile thing for you to choose.

With this in mind, we hope you can head on vacations that help you learn just who you are.

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Cry freedom

#Buffalo may (just) be a sleepy city in Upstate #NewYork in the US. But it does have surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall, which celebrates the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

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Chicken lovers may know the story – i.e. that the Buffalo wing was allegedly invented by Teressa Bellissimo in 1964 at Anchor Bar in the sleepy city of Buffalo in the state of New York.

The thing though, is, sans the spiced fried chicken, Buffalo has other surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall.

Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street, The Freedom Wall was built in 2017 by John Baker, Julia Bottoms, Chuck Tingley and Edreys Wajed.

It was commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative, in partnership with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).

It was developed in collaboration with the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor and neighborhood stakeholders.

From the get-go, the intention was always clear: The Freedom Wall eyes to celebrate the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

The large concrete wall surrounding NFTA’s Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Depot now has portraits of 28 civil rights leaders.

Some of the subjects depicted include:
Rosa Parks
Mama Charlene Caver Miller
William Wells Brown
King Peterson
Angela Davis
Bill Gaiter
Malcolm X
W. E. B. Du Bois
Frank Merriweather
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mary B. Talbert
Thurgood Marshall
Minnie Gillette
Harriet Tubman

Now, The Freedom Wall continues to encourage conversations about the scope of the long journey toward equality and freedom.

And that a lot of effort still needs to be done to bring about a just and equitable world.

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