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Op-Ed

Beyond Manny Pacquiao

Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas: “Apart from making social media statements like this (which is also important by the way), we must also work to ensure that badly needed social change in real time, in real life happens, so that in it, our rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) are recognized, fulfilled, and protected.”

Statement of Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas on the Manny Pacquiao debacle.

Mga my labs! I’m so very proud of all of you who are speaking truth to power and standing up against the bigoted pronouncements of Manny Pacquiao lately. But, whether you are transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, and queer (TLGBIQ) or not, let’s sharpen our saws as we continue to engage on this important issue.

Here are some key points to consider:

1. Name-calling is the lowest form of argument. If we stoop down to the level of Pacquiao and follow his lead by calling him names for what he said, then we are not helping our cause. Times like this require clear-headedness and logical argumentation.

I know what Pacquiao said hurts, but there is a way to argue against his statements without being emotional. Calling him a monkey, stupid, dumb, a fool, and other nasty things traps the conversation in verbal violence and doesn’t move the discussion forward. So, let’s dignify this issue by not calling Pacquiao names. It will show him that we know better and we are more than the “lower-than-an-animal” (masahaol pa sa hayop) beings that he thinks we are. Pacquiao wins the day if we only offer retorts that dehumanize him in return and focus on his faults as a person (i.e., that he is a womanizer, nothing but a boxer, etc.).

In short,”Don’t shoot the messenger.” Let’s focus on his message and argue against that and refrain from name-calling. Remember, monkeys are intelligent beings too!

2. Exercise “systems” thinking.

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Manny Pacquiao is a public servant who is using his position of power to proselytize. Just look at his Facebook page. Every post is attached to a Bible quote. This, in spite of Article II, Section 6 of the Philippine Constitution that states that: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

Manny Pacquiao, as a public servant, is not doing work in the service of God. He is being paid with our taxes to be in the service of the people. In short, let’s look at this issue in a way that allows us to interrogate political processes and political systems in the Philippines.

What we want is not only to react each time a public figure like Manny Pacquiao says something derogatory about the TLGBIQ community. Ultimately, what we want is to change the system to ensure that all Filipinos’ (including the TLGBIQ community’s) civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights are upheld by our government. What we want in the end is for our community not to be be at the mercy of petty and opportunistic politics and politicians including TLGBIQ politicians! This will require collective action on our part to harness our community’s power as a genuine political force in the Philippines.

3. Think long-term and frame this as part of the larger struggle to obtain justice in society.

Connected to No. 2 above, let’s anchor our engagement on this issue on a longer-term vision for the TLGBIQ community. Let’s fight for the human rights of TLGBIQ people not only when a public figure makes anti-TLGBIQ pronouncements.

Let’s also extend our vision for our community beyond the May 2016 elections. The question now is, what will we do in our own homes, schools, workplaces, and other contexts to sustain the fight against stigma, discrimination, and abuse against TLGBIQ people and other oppressed communities beyond Facebook?

Apart from making social media statements like this (which is also important by the way), we must also work to ensure that badly needed social change in real time, in real life happens, so that in it, our rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) are recognized, fulfilled, and protected.

In short, our struggle to ensure dignity, equality, and justice for TLGBIQ people in the world , must be part of a larger project to be liberated from societal bigotry, systematic oppression, and institutionalized marginalization. For this, we need more than reaction. We need a revolution!

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