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Kristine Ibardolaza sees need to push for equality including within the LGBTQIA community

Meet Kristine T. Ibardolaza, the first transgender woman elected as barangay councilor in Antipolo City. She laments that “we long and crave for equality, but within the community, we are not united.” This is why she hopes to continue pushing for the human rights of LGBTQIA people… including within the LGBTQIA community.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF KRISTINE T. IBARDOLAZA

In 2020, when the government started implementing lockdowns due to COVID-19, frontliners – including barangay workers – were among those who had to double their efforts to render services to the people. And Kristine T. Ibardolaza, a barangay kagawad of Barangay Mayamot in Antipolo City, said to Outrage Magazine then that “you’re also only human so it gets hard. It’s physically draining, and a mental torture.” However, “I am able to say that it’s gratifying because you know you are one of those who help the needy.”

This – i.e. serving the people of Barangay Mayamot as the “first transgender woman elected as barangay councilor in Antipolo City” – is actually an ongoing source of pride for Kristine, whose Facebook profile (also) states that she is a “public servant by day, dressmaker by night, and a full time mom to my beautiful daughter 😍😍😍”.

Looking back, Kristine has particularly been helping others whose plights were sadder than others since, say, 2006 when she became an LGBTQIA advocate. Then, “me and my closest friends decided to formally organize a group (for) transgender women in Antipolo city, the Transpinay of Antipolo Organization (TAO).”

“What triggered me to become an LGBTQIA advocate? It was seeing the sad plight of some LGBTQIA community members who are discriminated and rejected, and never given (equal) treatment that some of us experience.”

Even recently, this has actually still been happening in Antipolo City – e.g. in November 2020, one of Kristine’s friends (and co-founder of TAO), Alexis Hart Garcia, filed an official complaint against a certain “Aling Susan” for alleged anti-LGBTQIA deeds captured on video, and then widely circulated online. This happened even if Antipolo City actually has Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (ADO) that protects the human rights of LGBTQIA people.

But this is also why, Kristine said, a lot still needs to be done to better the lives of LGBTQIA Filipinos. For her, for instance, some of the issues “I believe we should focus on in the LGBTQIA community in the Philippines includes health equity, and… unity among LGBTQIA people.”

The latter, in particular, can be a source of disappointment, since “we long and crave for equality, but within the community, we are not united,” Kristine said.

At least TAO has efforts that aim to remedy this – e.g. in May 2019, Kristine helped push for the first Pride parade held in Antipolo; and even earlier, in 2014, she helped push for TAO to extended support to gay and trans inmates.

That younger LGBTQIA community members are surfacing as would-be leaders is, for Kristine, inspiring.

“There are those who are part of younger generations of LGBTQIA people who look up to us as their role models,” she said. “They inspire me to better myself and do good to the community so that they will do the same.”

But expect more from Kristine, as she eyes to continue doing what she’s doing – i.e. perhaps a post in the city (not just barangay) council. This way, she said, she can “make ordinances that cater to LGBTQIA people, thereby giving them a representation in the city level.”

For now, the focus is on service.

As she said to Outrage Magazine in 2020: “Right now, everyone’s fighting; even within the LGBTQIA community. This is the time when we should be united as one. We should have one goal.”

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