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Finding love in Cagayan de Oro

What is it like for #lesbian women who try to find a relationship in #CagayanDeOro? Meet local #LGBTQIA leaders Gree Batulan and Anet Lim, who celebrate #LoveisLove in #NorthernMindanao.

Gree Batulan, 32, and Anet Alim, 32, met through a dating app, with Gree messaging Anet first. And though both had relationships before (e.g. Anet even had a boyfriend prior to fully owning her identity as a lesbian woman), what they have is quite special. Gree, for her part, considers Anet as her first “serious” girlfriend, so much so that Gree actually came out of the proverbial closet because of Anet.

Having been together for three years now, Anet thinks it’s good that they started out as friends. For her, being friends allows one to “know the vibe, how it feels when I’m with you, and this allows me to know how comfy I am going to be with you,” she said. “I don’t like rushing things; when you just end up discovering the bad traits of the person (when you’re already with him/her/them).”

Both already introduced each other to their respective families.

There are ongoing challenges, though both try to always see the good.

“The best thing about her is her patience,” Gree said of Anet. For the first months to a year of their relationship, “I didn’t even hold her hands in public. I was ashamed.” Things eventually changed, and – yes – this gave her strength to completely come out as a lesbian woman.

For Anet, the best thing about Gree is the care she gives. “You don’t need to tell her to do something for you; she will just willingly do things for you. She always makes sure that I’m on the right track. And she makes sure that I’m okay all the time.”

LGBTQIA relationships are still faced with numerous challenges in the Philippines – e.g. the country still doesn’t recognize marriage equality, and even civil rights are not granted to those in same-sex relationships (that is, LGBTQIA Filipinos can’t inherit the wealth of their partners, can’t be beneficiaries, can’t decide on medical conditions, et cetera). But Anet said that they still plan to establish their own home – e.g. get their own place, raise their own kids, et cetera.

Now if people can’t accept what they have, “just respect us,” said Gree. Besides, “what we have right now (is real). We may not be married, but we act the same way as other married people do. We have goals as a couple; and we intend to achieve those.”

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Besides, “we don’t choose who we end up loving,” Anet added.

And in the end, “loving is all worth it,” said Anet. “As long as we don’t step on other people’s toes, we’d continue loving.” And for people who don’t know much, but are curious about LGBTQIA people should “just ask us,” said Anet. “Because we’re all the same; we’re humans. We’re not aliens. And we’re all just looking for love. And to choose who we want to love. So hopefully you’d be open-minded with regards to the LGBTQIA community.”

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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