In February 2007, after A.B. (also known as kenfu23 in Guys4Men.com), who works as a global supervisor for the global business services of a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, saw the lack of a “non-Metro Manila-based GLBTQIA group” – particularly, the absence of a group for the GB categories (or, generally, MSMs, for men who have sex with men but do not necessarily self-identify as homosexuals) outside of Metro Manila, he spearheaded the formation of The Bachelors’ Group (TBG).
“About 15 respondents (expressed interest) to my invitation to join the group,” kenfu23 says, recalling how the immediate interest seemed to be there, even if “only four of them came to TBG’s formal launch in April 1 of the same year on top of Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas.”
Eventually, though, membership grew, arguably because of the recognition that, out in Batangas, there remain only few – if any at all, for that matter – group of the kind of TBG. With the growth in numbers came the need to rename the group, after the realization that “the word ‘bachelors’ is not applicable to us anymore, since (we have members who) have partners.” In April 2008, over a year since it was founded, TBG became Beavers Group Philippines (Beavers).
The group’s aspiration remains the same, though. “We are not centralized in Metro Manila, and (so) we hold our activities in different places outside the metro,” kenfu23 says, adding how, with this focus outside of Metro Manila, those not living in it are given their own group to identify with. And, yes, as it focuses on camaraderie, Beavers also has a rule “never to promote sexual and dating activities. Only pure clean fun and travels (for us),” kenfu23 says.
It should go without saying that, yes, the biggest and most immediate problem for Beavers was in attracting members. But even with a growing membership, “a big challenge (remains) to find members who have sense of ownership – members who are loyal, dedicated, and will not leave the group no matter what happens,” kenfu23 says.
To “avoid issues that can possibly ruin solidarity,” Beavers doesn’t have group officers to speak of, with only kenfu23 serving as a moderator, helped by interim committees assigned on a per event basis.
“Solid foundation from the members remains a challenge to the group,” kenfu23 notes, adding that “I have observed that the main reason for not having (a) perfect foundation was because of members’ location – our members come from Bulacan, Pampanga, CALABARZON areas, and (even) Metro Manila.” To remedy this, “when I went back in Lipa City, where I reside after resigning from my work in Makati City, I organized Beavers Batangas to serve as the group’s backbone to keep the group alive and kicking.”
Kenfu23 believes in the promise of Beavers, as it provides the MSM community support through its activities and advocacies.
Beavers is already looking to conduct non-MSM (or even GLBTQIA) specific activities, specifically “having our own environmental activity that will be independent from that of (WWF’s) Earth Hour and Greenpeace’s (activities),” kenfu23 says.
For now, though, kenfu23 is looking forward to increasing the group’s membership. “Our plan is to have more members from other places by having regional group, which will be called BRO (for Beavers Regional Organization), specifically in the Ilocos Region and in the Visayas (group of islands).”
ON THE GO
“We don’t have plaques or recognitions coming from other institutions, but we are proud with the commendations and positive comments coming from observers, members, and non-members, (who consider our) group as the ‘most sensible’ in terms of activities and events. Games, bonding activities, and relaxation are our (signature activities), and you will see us most of the times in mountains, farms, leisure parks, resorts, and other places where you will feel the importance of nature,” kenfu23 says.
Beavers currently has 43 active members, participating in 19 major activities (in 12 cities and five municipalities of six provinces in the Philippines), with the numbers growing.
“If you are a ‘cowboy’ (not scrupulous/fussy/et cetera), you may want to join us,” kenfu23 says. “We (are a group that) only provides sensible activities that will satisfy one’s need for relaxation and pure solidarity within the group.”
And in that search of belongingness, with Beavers’ response, what more can one asks for?
For more information on the Beavers Group, contact kenfu23 at (+63) 9198023868; email email@example.com; or visit http://beavers.co.nr.