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Crisaldo Pablo: The Storyteller

Meet Crisaldo Pablo, who searched for love, but – after making Duda/Doubt and then Bathhouse – found true love in making queer themed movies.

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Crisaldo Pablo
Filmmaker

FILM AUTEUR
Crisaldo Pablo has found a way to express himself, while expressing the gay community’s sentiments/issues/concerns – filmmaking, and so the local community has found a new way of expression.

Crisaldo Pablo remembers telling a 20-year-old guy he used to see he’d make a film about their relationship (and, opening his heart then to his now ex-boyfriend, about the boyfriend he had before him, a politician already married, though still a very active MSM).  “I took up Bachelor of Arts, (majoring in) broadcasting in the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and right from the start, I intended to be a writer/director some day,” he says.  But “years passed, and I learned that you have to be a kiss-ass person in order to make it in the industry; I was always shy and antisocial before, so I didn’t get the breaks (even if) I always got low budget projects now and then.”

Having been with GMA-7 since 1995, starting as a writer before becoming a segment producer, and then a head writer before finally directing (for i-Witness and Emergency, by 2002), “I conceptualized Duda/Doubt (his first film) while we (Pablo and the 20-year-old) were a few months from breaking up,” Pablo says, with the process continuing while he was “recuperating from a very turbulent relationship with (that) 20-year-old.”

Interestingly, the biggest challenge for Pablo at that time was not the recuperation, per se – “I couldn’t find a good ending to the movie in my mind,” he says.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, a secret was revealed to me by a friend, and it goes like this: (I helped my ex-boyfriend get a job in GMA-7, and) he was tasked to find stories na madalas ay sa probinsiya (that are often in the provinces). When he was sent to Iloilo, he met this guy and slept in his place – I discovered it a week later, and the guy and I became friends through text. Then in summer of 2002, after Holy Week, when I and my ex finally separated, I got a surprise text from that friend, so I called him to inform him that I broke off with my partner. He said that my ex was a foolish person because when he went to Iloilo, he admitted that he also went to my province and slept with my politician ex-boyfriend, and even asked him if he could stay with him there, and if he could find him a job in the town. That was it.”

The double betrayal became what “I thought would be a very good ending (for my first film),” Pablo says. And a very good ending it became, with Duda/Doubt now considered “a landmark in the Philippine cinema history as the first full-length digital video movie to be shown in local mainstream cinemas in its own original video format. It inspired all other indie filmmakers to make their own (films of this kind), and it also inspired Cinemalaya, Cinema One, et cetera.”

Pablo adds: “You see, all my life I have been searching for that someone special, but they all just left me empty. After making Duda/Doubt, and then Bathhouse (Pablo’s second film), and then all the rest, I actually found true love. And that is my love for making queer themed movies.”

Pablo has never looked back since, “making movies about my kind,” he says, thereby “becoming a queer advocate who intends to continue this for as long as I live.”

FACING DEMONS

“Film is very powerful. To be able to empower someone, a brother or a sister in the GLBTQIA community is worth all the challenges we faced in making queer-themed movies. When we feature topics and issues that concern us gays, we actually provoke our moviegoers to think for themselves in relation to the issues we present,” Pablo says. Thus, “I think one major boost that GLBTQIAs get from our movies and our pioneering our kind of movies is that, finally, people, especially in the film industry, realize that we are here and that we are powerful, so powerful that we can make way for movies made by queers and intended for queers (well watched). They saw our solidarity. They even saw the power of the pink peso.”
Things haven’t always been easy, of course, with “demons” blocking his way at one time or another.

Crisaldo Pablo: “You see, all my life I have been searching for that someone special, but they all just left me empty. After making Duda/Doubt, and then Bathhouse (Pablo’s second film), and then all the rest, I actually found true love. And that is my love for making queer themed movies.”

“My personal demon: I grew up longing for that someone special, and that has always been my priority. So, after my young ex, another guy came into my life, and, initially, it was great because he even helped me with Duda/Doubt. However, during my production and post production and screenings of Duda/Doubt, I was his physically and emotionally battered partner. It was the worst time of my life,” Pablo says, choosing, nonetheless, to see the positive side of that story: “It was also the best (time of my life) because I was able to make Duda/Doubt.”

Professionally, there were the “rejections from possible sponsors because of our queer theme,” Pablo says, highlighting how, when Duda/Doubt and then Bathhouse were released, “there were no digital video projectors in cinemas like Robinsons, and I couldn’t afford the rental rate of projectors. So I got myself a sponsor, which (even when they) already said yes, backed out a day or two before the scheduled screening of Bathhouse because they felt that our theme or content was inappropriate to their image. Sa takot ko, isinanla ko buhay ko sa kanila (I sold my life to them) by giving them 15% of our ticket sales share.”

Pablo believes that “there is discrimination, still, despite the fact that only gay movies rake in honest good box office results (other ‘wholesome’ movies pad their box office returns).”

Nonetheless, “I never saw myself doing anything else but making movies,” says Pablo, who is “also interested in science and electronics.” “I think everybody who has the guts, the preparation, and the passion will have an edge in this industry – but, please, for those who want to be in this industry just to be famous, try to do real work first.”

Pablo does what he does “because it is the thing that comes into my mind every day, and I do not see myself not doing it. I feel for every gay person of my generation who had to empathize with the female or the male characters who are straight and had to start from zero the moment they realize that they are something else. I am happy that we now have movies that portray the lives of gay men, and that they are movies where the lead characters are gay and the issues are somewhat gay.”

MAKING FAMILIES

“I never really asked myself what my gender was,” Pablo says, admitting that “I used to do women, too, and still do, but not very often; and I am not very proud to admit (that). But when I felt that I was more gay than straight, I started (looking for) for queer themed books first, and (did) researches. That was in 1992.”

All these years, Pablo realized that “what gives you peace is not just the coming out (process), although that is such a heavenly experience,” he says, considering that for him, “it was my movies that made me complete. I feel that I can be alone all my life and still be happy, because I am whole.”
Pablo adds: “But if someone comes my way, I will be glad to share life with him, no matter how short.”

Even with his somewhat pioneering efforts for GLBTQIAs, Pablo says he is hard-pressed finding anything inspiring in the GLBTQIA community [“Honestly, hindi ko masagot itong (I can’t answer this) question,” he says when asked what he finds inspiring about the GLBTQIA community]. “We love to criticize each other, and even I am not immune to that. In fact, some gays criticize my movies and then criticize me as a person, and announce to it to the gay community. But when you ask them to be specific about why they hate my movies, they can’t even explain themselves. Maraming kapatid natin ang makapagtaray lang, gagawa at gagawa ng eksena. Sana, magkaroon tayo ng respeto sa isa’t-isa. (Many of our peers pick on things for the sake of picking, and they make a scene when they do. Hopefully, we’ll all learn to respect each other).

To better the GLBTQIA community, Pablo believes “we have to start with the man in the mirror, as Michael Jackson once (sang),” he says. “Linisin natin ang ating mga sarili (We have to start with cleaning our own acts).”

Pablo is proud of his films – but he is, too, of “being the breadwinner of my family, having raised my sister until she finished her college degree.”

But Pablo is also proud of “having a family here in my office, where a few young gay guys who are not blood related treat each other as family,” he says, adding how he is looking forward to buying “a lot where I can build a compound, a mini-condo (done) the old fashioned way, with the first floor at the facade to be leased to offices, while the second floor will be for every single gay looking for a small room to rent, and the third floor will be for those students with talent or intelligence, who come from the province and cannot afford to rent even a bed space. When this is done, that will be one big wonderful family.”

"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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VP Robredo extolls LGBTQIA community’s spirit; recognizes a lot of work still needs to be done

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community, even as she acknowledged that a lot of work still needs to be done, including passing an anti-discrimination law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

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Screencap from the Facebook-uploaded message of VP Leni Robredo to the LGBTQIA community

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community, even as she acknowledged that even as the LGBTQIA community marks June as Pride month, a lot of work still needs to be done, including passing an anti-discrimination law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

In a messages posted on her Facebook page, Robredo noted the uncertain times. “many of the things we once cherished and held on to are now being questioned and challenged,” she said in mixed Filipino and English. “Sa kabila nito, marami pa ring bagay ang di nagbabago at nagpapatuloy: tulad ng ating laban para sa patas na karapatan, dignidad at kalayaan.

Robredo noted that “for many decades, the LGBTQIA+ community has been tirelessly fighting for equal rights and representation at the frontlines. It has provided a shelter to the oppressed, a voice to the marginalized, and a family to those who have been abandoned by their own communities. Ito ang dakilang ambag ng LGBTQIA+ community sa ating (b)ayan.

She added: “Sa bawat Pride March na inyong inoorganisa, isang teenager ang mas nagiging proud na yakapin kung sino siya. Sa bawat awareness campaign na inyong sinisimulan, isang komunidad ang mas nagiging bukas ang isipan. At sa bawat pagpiglas ninyo sa tangkang pag-agaw ng ating mga kalayaan, isang bayan ang mas natututong lumaban.

There are – nonetheless – members of the LGBTQIA community “who hold positions of power in our society”, such as lawyers, executives, doctors, educators, artists, policymakers and public servants. The VP hopes that they will “use your influence to change mindsets, promote acceptance, and push for reforms on the ground. Now more than ever, we need to set an example to the younger generation. Ipakita natin sa kanila, na wala silang dapat ipangamba at na malaya silang maging kung ano at sino sila,” Robredo said.

The VP similarly recognized that teaching people to open their minds may be challenging, but “huwag sana kayong panghinaan ng loob.”

She suggested doing small steps to push for Pride, including forming support groups; reaching out to the needy; and introducing concepts re SOGIESC to relatives who may not be well-versed on the same.

Darating din ang araw na babalikan natin ang lahat ng ito at sasabihing, everything was worth the effort. Everything was worth the sacrifice. Everything worth the fight. Push lang ng push, mga besh,” Robredo added.

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Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach voices support for LGBTQIA community

Pia Wurtzbach said she’s making a stand so “that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA community have the right to take up space in our society… that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women.”

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Screencap from the Instagram account of Pia Wurtzbach

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach voiced her support for the LGBTQIA community.

Via an Instagram post, Wurtzbach said she’s making a stand so “that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA community have the right to take up space in our society… that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women.”

She added: “We can learn to accept these concepts by having a dialogue. By listening and understanding our differences. we will grow and uplift one another as one community in strengthening equality and diversity.”

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Learning is always a two-way process.. we listen as we understand each other’s points of view. This #PrideMonth, we stand for the rights and advocacies of the LGBTQIA+ community. 🏳️‍🌈 Being an ally is someone who gives a sense of a safe and affirming space for our loving community… Let’s provide higher platforms for community members to openly discuss issues and concerns that affect us. 🙏 Here we can discuss our differences and remind ourselves that we are together on this journey, and achieve our shared goals for equality. ❤ . I know we may differ in opinions today.. but our constant discourse will make our tomorrow better because we understand one another better. This will also enable our broader community, especially those with differing views, to ponder on things that matter to our fellowmen. . Let me just make a stand that our friends and family in the LGBTQIA+ community have the right to take up space in our society…that their voices should be heard, that we don’t invalidate trans women as women. We can learn to accept these concepts by having a dialogue. By listening and understanding our differences.. we will grow and uplift one another as one community in strengthening equality and diversity. 😊🙏❤ Happy Pride! 🥰🏳️‍🌈

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Wurtzbach’s statement of support came after she co-hosted an online discussion involving Kevin Balot, who was crowned Miss International Queen in 2012. Balot reiterated her segregationist perspective, saying that when transgender women ask to join beauty pageants traditionally only for those assigned female at birth, “hindi na siya equality eh, parang asking too much na (this is no longer about equality; it’s already asking too much).”

In her Instagram post, Wurtzbach said that even if people had different opinions, it’s still important to provide platforms for community members to openly discuss “issues and concerns that affect us.”

For Wurtzbach, “this will also enable our broader community, especially those with differing views, to ponder on things that matter to our fellowmen… [O]ur constant discourse will make our tomorrow better because we understand one another better.”

This isn’t the first time Wurtzbach expressed her support to the LGBTQIA community.

In 2017, for instance, she called out the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) following a drug bust involving 11 men in Bonifacio Global City. “Because of what PDEA and the news outlet have done, some people are now associating drugs and immorality with being gay. It’s ridiculous,” she said then.

In 2018, she urged decision makers to address the causes that put young people at risk of HIV.

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‘Riverdale’ actress Lili Reinhart comes out as bisexual

Lili Reinhart – from “Riverdale” – announced that she is a “proud bisexual woman” in a post on Instagram.

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Screencap from Instagram

Lili Reinhart – who plays Betty Cooper in “Riverdale” – announced that she is a “proud bisexual woman” in a post on Instagram.

Reinhart’s revelation was linked with her post that she would be attending an “LGBTQ+ for Black Lives Matter” protest in West Hollywood in the US. Underneath a poster for the march, she wrote: “Although I’ve never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman. And I will be joining this protest today. Come join.”

Reinhart dated co-star and onscreen partner Cole Sprouse, who played Jughead in “Riverdale.” The two had recently split.

Visibility, obviously, matters.

Earlier in June 2020, a study noted that those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%). They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%), and of non-binary people (41% to 30%).

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Emma Watson speaks out for trans rights after J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned.”

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Screen capture from the Instagram account of emmawatson

Emma Watson – who played Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series – is the latest actor to speak out in support of transgender rights after author J.K. Rowling made controversial comments on Twitter that were deemed transphobic.

On June 6, Rowling posted a tweet equating womanhood with being able to menstruate.

When called out, she seemed to own up to the TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or women who claim to be feminist but do not believe transgender women are female). She also backed her perspective via a lengthy post that cited a study criticized for its transphobic bias.

Claiming to have read “all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive,” Rowling wrote. “Women (are told they) must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves… But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume.”

Watson appeared in all eight of the big-screen adaptations of the books by Rowling. By expressing her support for transgender rights, she joins former costar Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter), and “Fantastic Beasts” star Eddie Redmayne who also voiced their disagreement to Rowling’s warped thinking and defense.

“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, she added that she wants “my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

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Eddie Redmayne joins Daniel Radcliffe in opposing J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans comments

Eddie Redmayne joined “Harry Potter” lead actor Daniel Radcliffe in criticizing J.K. Rowling comments about transgender people. “Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process.”

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Screencap from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

Eddie Redmayne joined “Harry Potter” lead actor Daniel Radcliffe in criticizing J.K. Rowling comments about transgender people.

In a statement, Redmayne said: “Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process.”

Rowling wrote the “Harry Potter” series that starred Radcliffe, and the “Fantastic Beasts” series that starred Redmayne. In a series of tweets starting June 6, where she actually owned the TERF tag (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), Rowling used the “I know and love trans people, but” argument by tweeting to her 14.5 million Twitter followers that transgender people are “erasing the concept of sex”.

Redmayne – who similarly starred in “The Danish Girl”, the 2015 biopic of Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery – said: “As someone who has worked with both JK Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and nonbinary identities are valid.”

Redmayne continued that “I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”

Radcliffe said as much earlier, when he wrote for The Trevor Project that “transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations, who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”

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Transgender women are women – Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations.”

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Screencap from "What If" (2013)

Following the backlash the “Harry Potter” author, J.K. Rowling, got for statements deemed transphobic, Daniel Radcliffe wrote on The Trevor Project that “transgender women are women.”

On June 6, Rowling used the “I know and love trans people, but” argument by tweeting to her 14.5 million Twitter followers that transgender people are “erasing the concept of sex”.

In response, Radcliffe said: “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo (i.e. J.K. Rowling) or I.”

He added that with 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reporting being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity, “it’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”

Radcliffe stressed that while certain press outlets may paint his statement as proof of infighting between J.K. Rowling and himself, “that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now.”

In closing, Radcliffe said: “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.”

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