Eastern Visayas held its first-ever Pride celebrations via the UPVTC Pride Week 2016 in the University of the Philippines (UP) Tacloban.
The UPVTC Pride Week 2016 was organized by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) psychology class of the Division of Social Sciences in UP Tacloban, itself considered a “landmark course” because it is one of only three courses of its kind in the Philippines, the second in the country, and the first in the whole Visayas. The LGBT psychology class in UP Tacloban is handled by assistant professor Pierce Docena, a member and initial board convener of the Psychological Association of the Philippines’ (PAP) Special Interest Group on LGBT Psychology.
“The first-ever Pride Week in UP Tacloban, and indeed in the whole Eastern Visayas (Region 8), is both a celebration of human diversity and a call for everyone to uphold the rights and well-being of LGBTs and other people who identify as non-heterosexual. It was also meant to create visibility for the local LGBT community and impact to those who participated in and/or witnessed the event,” said Docena to Outrage Magazine.
During the week-long Pride celebrations, various activities were held in and outside of the UP Tacloban campus to highlight this year’s theme, “Let’s Get Bolder Today, Life Gets Better Tomorrow.” These activities were co-sponsored by LGBT-supportive organizations in UP Tacloban, such as the UP Runggiyan, ORSICUP, UPVTC Student Council, UP Halcyon, UP Iolaus, Tau Omega Mu, and UPVTC Psych Circle.
While the various activities were attended mostly by UP Tacloban students, a number of psychology students from the St. Scholastica’s College of Tacloban also attended the Pride parade. UP Tacloban alumni and students from ABE Tacloban and Leyte National High School also participated in some of the activities.
“The event was important not only because it fulfills UP’s mandate to serve the people, especially those belonging to marginalized groups, but also because it sends an important message to LGBTs that despite society’s generally negative treatment of their sexuality and personhood, there are groups of people who accept and respect them for who they are and are willing to march in the streets to fight for their rights,” Docena said. “More importantly, it also sent the message that LGBT rights are human rights, and that you do not necessarily have to identify as LGBT to support their rights and well-being.”
Already, the organizers hope to sustain this activity by making it an annual event; there are also already plans to submit an activity/project proposal to UP Tacloban’s Gender and Development Office next year so that it not only has the institutional support of the College, but will also be allotted budget for the week-long celebration (as part of the Women’s Month Celebration every March).