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Baguio Pride 2014: Celebrating diversity of the Cordillerans

Baguio City holds its Pride parade for 2014, with members of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as their allies, calling for more emphasis to be placed on the anti-discrimination, as well as HIV-related efforts.

Can’t stop Pride.

That was the spirit behind the Baguio Pride 2014, which was held despite a heavy downpour, with members of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as their allies, calling for more emphasis to be placed on the anti-discrimination, as well as HIV-related efforts.

In its 8th year, the Baguio Pride celebration – with the theme “Celebrating the Heritage of Struggle. Continue the Fight for Equality. Let a Thousand Flowers Rise.” – draws inspiration from the anti-war peace protests of the sixties, which started what is now known as the “flower power movement”.

“Compared to previous Pride celebrations, this year really improved a lot, but there are still some economic issues that we continue to face, there are still a great number of LGBT people who are not able to join these kind of activities because they would rather work,” Emerson Soriano, secretariat of Baguio Pride Network, explained. “Life here in Baguio, especially for LGBTQ people, is very difficult.”

As the parade left the assembly area, the rain became stronger. But, that didn’t stop the attendees, who continued marching along Session Road.

“The Pride celebration here in Baguio is going stronger every year. LGBTQ people who live in the suburbs and in far flung areas are coming here just to attend this annual event, and they are very interested to learn what this event is about,” Clyde Pumihic, spokesperson of Baguio Pride Network, said.

Baguio City is most known for its festival of flowers, and just like the people who live and visit the summer capital of the country, they’re also very diverse – thus, making it more difficult for LGBTQ people to practice and stand up for their rights.

“The Cordilleran culture is a very macho culture. In the far flung areas, especially in the provinces of the Cordillera, LGBTQ people really find it hard to be what they are, because generally speaking, people here tend to (just) tolerate rather than accept the members of our community,” Soriano explained.

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And for the LGBTQ community in Baguio, relying on the government to help them alleviate the struggle they experience every day is (unfortunately) their last option.

“The efforts of the local government is not enough to address the needs of the LGBTQs. And this is one of the reasons why we are connecting with other organizations, not just the ones here in Baguio, so we can get all the support that we need,” Josie Tacsi of Baguio Pride Network said.

After the parade, each organization gave a solidarity message.

“There are organizations here in Baguio who can help LGBTQ people.  We want to give them a voice and we want to give them the strength so they can come out,” Pumihic said.

There were also representatives from the local government during the event.

“I think Baguio’s progress in terms of accepting the LGBT community is improving, because we allow activities like these, and we are putting money in HIV programs,” Councilor Betty Tabanda explained.

And just like other areas in the country, Baguio is one of the many places that still doesn’t have an anti-discrimination ordinance.

“We want to continue pushing the government so they can already pass an anti-discrimination ordinance here. They (government) often focus on the problems of big cities and they tend to forget the needs of the ones who live in the provinces,” Pumihic ended.

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