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Iloilo’s Brgy. Sto Nino Norte raises the rainbow flag

Brgy. Sto Nino Norte raised the rainbow flag for the first time in this part of Villa-Arevalo, Iloilo City to put a spotlight on LGBT people and their issues at the barangay level.

Pride at the barangay level.

Highlighting the from-the-LGBT-community-for-the-LGBT-community core reason why LGBT Pride needs to exist in the first place, Brgy. Sto Nino Norte raised the rainbow flag for the first time in this part of Villa-Arevalo, Iloilo City to put a spotlight on LGBT people and their issues at the barangay level.

Dubbed La Villa March, the event – the brainchild of Miles Minerva-Estimar, founder of the Sto. Nino Norte LGBT Society (SNN LGBT Society) and a member of the Iloilo Pride Team – was somewhat spur-of-the moment, organized in less than a month, but still eyed to “increase awareness about everything LGBT here” due to limited “barangay-level LGBT representation”.

“I look forward to a day (when) we don’t talk about bullying and discrimination anymore,” said Minerva-Estimar. But “that’s (that’s still) far (from happening). We all want to be loved and accepted and understood; unfortunately, the human race has not figured this out yet.” And so for now, “dapat ang Ilonggo nga LGBT community mag-upoday kay isa lang aton adbokasiya (the Ilonggo LGBT community should come together because we are together in this advocacy).”

Backing La Villa March were the Iloilo Pride Team, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, the Iloilo Social Hygiene Clinic and the local government of the City of Iloilo, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and IQOR. Iloilo City councilor Liezel Joy Zulueta-Salazar, who championed the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of the City of Iloilo, also graced the event.

The event – which gathered local LGBT organizations, grassroots groups and clans like GBT-Panay and Monteclaro Clan – started with a Pride Mass at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, followed by a Pride March. A series of discussions were given by the Social Hygiene Clinic’s Dr. Odeta B. Villaruel and Rosevell G. Galvez on HIV, AIDS, STI and TB; as well as Roberto Figuracion Jr. of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines on the situation of HIV in the City of Iloilo.

According to Rev. Alfred Candid Jaropillo of the UCCP – which earlier approved through its General Assembly a statement called “Let Grace Be Total” to state that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, “are all under the grace of God – discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT people continue to be evident in local levels, especially at barangays. “The pain and wounds brought by family members to the LGBT community remain. Anent a social ritual like Pride March exorcise the evils of stigma, shame, discrimination, denial, inaction and misaction. We need to strengthen our resolve from the local level to the national in order to achieve equality and human dignity for all.”

La Villa March also allowed local LGBT talents to surface with performances from Iloilo’s Finest Divas and Comedians, Iloilo Fire Fantasy and Roland Pingoy.

“We are happy that in our community’s own little ways, we get to gather these individuals under one banner and movement,” said Irish Inoceto, a member of the Iloilo Pride Team. “I wish (for the barangay to) continue to be a beautiful and safe place for LGBT people.”

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The Iloilo City-wide Pride March is slated on the 7th of October.


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