“Project Balangaw”, a community organizing effort for members of the LGBT community in the municipality of Buenavista, Guimaras, was held as part of Bahaghari LGBT Organization’s #KKKabog! Campaign, and under the leadership of the organization’s vice chairperson for the Visayas, Justin Francis Bionat.
Fifteen minutes away by boat ride from the Iloilo City port, Buenavista is a small municipality in the country’s mango capital, Guimaras. And “as a small municipality, there hasn’t been major LGBT-related events in the area, so that this event’s main goal was to mobilize LGBT people in a rural area like this, and to assist them in creating their own LGBT organization,” said Bionat. “This embodies an LGBT advocacy that fights for a discrimination-free society, while also educating LGBT people about HIV and AIDS, condom use and strategies for the continued prevention and treatment of the virus.”
As a national organization, Bahaghari LGBT Organization aims to mobilize and capacitate LGBT organizations in the grassroots level to aid them deal with present-day LGBT-related issues and concerns. Its national campaign, entitled “#KKKabog!”, eyes for the successful integration into mainstream the issues represented in the acronym that means “Kabuhayan, Lupa at Dagdag-Sahod, Kalusugan at Iba Pang Serbisyo, Kontra Diskriminasyon at Karahasan”.
During “Project Balangaw”, conducted was an LGBT crash course that saw Ilonggo LGBT advocates give talks. The Project Red Ribbon’s Roberto Figuracion Jr. gave a talk on HIV and AIDS prevention. United Western Ecumenical Council’s pastors Alfred Candid and Zarmeen Perocho gave lectures on the SAVE approach and the theology of the human body, respectively. Rhea Penaflor of Life Xtenders gave a talk on the lesbian struggle in the LGBT movement. Marcel Milliam of Ladlad Partylist gave a human rights discussion. Meanwhile, Rey John Dionio GBT-Panay gave a workshop on LGBT community organizing and strategies.
The Buenavista provincial health office also had a voluntary HIV and AIDS testing which most of the LGBT attendees availed.
“Project Balangaw” was supported by Buenavista’s municipal mayor, Eugenio G. Reyes, and Municipal Health Officer, Dr. Grace Cortez.
There are now plans to visit the other municipalities of Guimaras (Jordan, Nueva Valencia and Sibunag) within the year to give the same LGBT mobilization activities.
“It’s about time that Guimaras will raise the rainbow flag, as well,” Bionat said.