The 6th Rainbow Friendship Games was held in Cebu City, with over 80 predominantly lesbian players gathering from various parts of Visayas and Mindanao for a basketball tournament, as well as a SOGIE lecture.
The first basketball tournament was held on May 22,2011, after couple Ana Manzanares and Tisha Ylaya “decided that instead of celebrating our first anniversary with the usual eating and drinking with friends or family, we will hold a basketball tournament exclusive to lesbians only because there’re no opportunities available for lesbian players to play as a community,” Tisha said, adding that “many of them even have to pretend to be straight to be accepted in women’s teams in school, but after college, there’re no longer opportunities to play at all.”
It also didn’t hurt that “we’re both huge fans of the sport – I started being a fan during the Toyota-Crispa days, then during the Michael Jordan era; while Ana used to be a member of UST’s varsity team and the Philippine Team for women’s basketball, and then had a brief stint playing commercial basketball.” Currently, the two are fans of different PBA teams – “Purefoods Hotshots for me and San Miguel Beermen for her!” Tisha said.
More than just playing, however, this year’s gathering also had a lecture on SOGIE. “That’s from the LGBT activist in me. I want to see more empowered lesbians out there educating/enlightening more people about common LGBT issues. From these fora/trainings, we are able to identify those who can be potential leaders and advocates. We also get to encourage them to form their own lesbian organizations in their home cities that my organization, Rainbow Rights Project, go visit for SOGIE/LGBT rights/paralegal trainings,” Tisha said. With this approach, therefore, “we’re hitting two birds with one stone; play and learn.”
There are already plans to bring the Games to other parts of the Philippines, though – as Tisha said – the aim is to hopefully have former participants organize their own Games in their localities.
“It’s heartwarming to see all the players interact with each other on and off the court, reinforcing our objective of forging new friendships and sisterhood through the shared love for basketball,” Tisha ended.