RAQUEL S. GACHO
Board Member, GALANG Inc.
Unit Manager, GMA Network Inc.
“I have a gay brother who took care of me since I was four years old,” recalls Raquel S. Gacho, unit manager (music research and production) of GMA Network Inc. “He took in odd jobs to help my parents send me and my siblings to school.” The same brother, at that time, “was living on his own since he was 19 because my father didn’t want to accept him.”
And though “all is fine now, my brother and father are in good terms now, understandably, I admire him for striving to be where he is now, despite the obstacles that he had to go through. I thank him for inspiring me to be me, and be the best that I can be in my chosen field (music research).”It is, thus, no wonder that Gacho ended up becoming an LGBT advocate, as a Board Member of the Gay and Lesbian Activist Network for Gender Equality Inc. (GALANG), which is dedicated to assisting vulnerable Filipino LGBTs become ‘conscienticized’ and empowered members of society.
“It started August of 2008, when I attended the GALANG launch. I’ve attended a number of exclusive parties that made me think and assess what I can do to give back more to the community than the simple P150 that I spend for the entrance fee. I have been blessed, and I figured it’s about time to pay it forward and reach out to a group that would take in a newbie like me,” Gacho says, adding that a month after that realization (and contact with GALANG), “I was invited by GALANG to become part of their board, and I accepted right away.”
A graduate of AB Communication Arts from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Laguna (1986-1990 – where she was also a member of the Sigma Delta Phi Sorority), Gacho started working as a marketing manager cum feature writer of People’s Magazine Inc. (1990-1991), multitasking by soliciting ad placements for the publication while also responsible for the layout and writing of the features and showbiz section.
Her true calling beckoned, though, as she got a chance to work as a music researcher for ABS-CBN (1995-1997), assisting the head of music in all the musical shows of the network, and maintaining and archiving the music library of the network. She eventually became head of the music research department (1997-2002), handling all noontime musical variety shows by conceptualizing themed production numbers for such programs as ASAP and MTB.
While Gacho also had experiences in, among others, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, having worked as customer/sales service associate of West Contact Services (2007) and Convergys Inc. (2006-2007), she found a home at GMA Network Inc. – first as a music researcher (2002-2004), organizing the rented libraries of the network, and responsible for the use of popular music as themes for Chinovelas; and, subsequently, as unit manager for music research and production (2004 to the present), responsible for providing music for GMA’s on-air plugs and program body, increasing knowledge on network-wide proper music use, and helping build the original music library by producing three commissioned works in one year.
For Gacho, as far as advocating LGBT issues are concerned, “the major challenge would be finding people to believe in GALANG’s cause, enough for them to give us funding for us to execute our projects,” she says, adding that “we’ve had a number of fund raising activities, and have sent proposals to organizations abroad – but if push comes to shove, we become the funders ourselves and try to make do with what we can provide.”
It doesn’t help that “if I am to give one (thing that is disappointing in the LGBT community, it) would be the issues that members of the community have against one another. This makes working together difficult, (yet) exciting at the same time,” she adds.
Gacho is, nonetheless, “very optimistic that we will pull this off and get things done in no time. The focus and passion that most of the people in the community have in achieving goals that we set which makes existing issues and differences trivial.”
For the activist, many LGBT activists have already done a lot to better the LGBT community’s status. “Most groups in the LGBT community have done, and still continue to do projects to educate, empower, and inspire. For me, access to a support group such as this is more than enough to better our situation. The rest of course is up to the individual,” Gacho says.
Gacho believes that the LGBT community still has to “get our LGBT act together nationwide for us to be recognized. We may be big in numbers but if we don’t work towards a common goal, it’s useless.”
This unity is most important in pushing for legal recognition, because “we can go to the streets all we want, hold as many gatherings as we can, but without legalities, we do not exist,” Gacho says. “Sad to say that our government is busy with a lot of things, which are important, as well. But until laws are drafted by an LGBT for the LGBT community, it’s only then I can say that I am recognized and accepted.”
Gacho adds: “I’d say we still have a very long way to go mainly because in some countries, laws already exist that support LGBTs; here in the Philippines, we have yet to exist in law. Being heard is a major step that would lead to acceptance and, eventually, gender equality.”
The focus now, for Gacho, as it ought to be for the LGBT community as a whole, is to “take one day at a time,” she says. “Stay focused and never stop learning ways in giving more back to our community.”