Pride in the midst of Covid-19.
Bayan ng Macalelon in the Province of Quezon held a one-of-its-kind Pride parade to mark June as LGBTQIA Pride month, with the event doubling as an opportunity to give “ayuda” (support) to the local LGBTQIA community.
“Wala pang ni isang konsehal na nagbigay ng sapat na attention sa mga LGBTQIA people ng aming bayan,” said councilor JJ Glifonea Aquivido, who helmed the event. And so since getting the chairmanship of the Committee on Health, Sanitation and Social Services, “I still made it a point na kahit may Covid-19 crisis, Macalelon’s LGBTQIA community will still be able to celebrate Pride month. Hindi man magarbo ang mahalaga nandun yung pagkilala sa ating mga LGBTQIA community members.”
A parade was held, yes; but the LGBTQIA community members also received “ayuda” (support) through the office of Fourth District of Quezon Rep. Dra. Helen Tan.
A hundred LGBTQIA people benefited from the “ayuda” (of food supplies), though “we are targeting at least 150 to 200 LGBTQIA beneficiaries,” Aquivido said. Another round of giving is slated only for LGBTQIA community members in the locality.
This is the first time in the history of Macalelon, Quezon that Pride was marked. And “we are able to show that no matter what circumstances we’re facing… we prove that this pandemic can’t ruin the talent and creativity that we LGBTQIA people have,” said Xiantal Abelilla, a local LGBTQIA community leader in the Bayan ng Macalelon. “We also show that even in this pandemic, we can continue to spread the positivity and happiness to our fellow Macalelongin and also the world.”
Aquivido is also a nurse, so infection control was a “major concern during the celebration.” The participants were mandated to wear masks/face shields for the entire program; observed physical distancing; and used alcohol.
“LGBTQIA people should never be left behind. Madami kasi ang hanggang ngayon discriminatory pa din ang tingin sa mga LGBTQIA people, but for me, LGBTQIA people have great contributions to the community most especially in the economic sector. Sa bayan namin ngayon, LGBTQIA members ang hataw pagdating sa online selling at iba pang raket. Kaya naman malaki ang pasasalamat ko personally sa kanila because even in time of pandemic like this, they always find ways to survive not just for themselves but for their families,” Aquivido said.
WANTED: EQUAL TREATMENT
According to Abelilla, Covid-19 has been difficult for everyone – including LGBTQIA people.
“Karamihan sa amin ay rumaraket bilang mga choreographer, make-up artist, at event organizers. Pero dahil sa bawal ang malalaking pagpupulong, hindi namin yun magawa. Walang raket ang karamihan. Walang turo ng sayaw. Walang nagpapa-make-up,” she said.
Many of them took this as a challenge.
“Hindi kami dapat tumigil humanap ng pagkakakitaan. Gaya ng karamihan, kanya-kanya kaming paandar at pabonggahan sa social media, kanya-kanyang produkto ang mina-market para kahit papano may mapagkunan. Diskarte ang sagot. At some point, nakakapag-adjust naman kami,” she said.
This – all the same – doesn’t mean that LGBTQIA people do not need support.
“Sa aming munting bayan ng Macalelon, Quezon, kilala ang mga LGBTQIA bilang mga produktibong mamamayan. Gaya ng mga lalaki at babae, kami ay nagtatrabaho na mayroong minimum na kita. Gaya ng mga lalaki at babae, kami ay nagbabayad ng buwis na siyang nagiging pondo ng ating bansa. Kaya kung ano mang serbisyong naibibigay sa lalaki’t babae ay siya ring serbisyong dapat naming matamo,” Abelilla said. “Para po sa akin, pagdating sa mga insentibo at ayudang ibinibigay ng pamahalaan, walang lalaki, babae o bakla; ang mayroon lang, Pilipino. Sapagkat pareho-pareho lang tayo ng buwis na binabayaran, kung ano ang ambag mo’y ambag ko rin, maging lalaki ka man o babae, bakla ka man o tomboy.“
Moving forward, Aquivido said he eyes to help formalize the LGBTQIA community to have an organization recognized by the local government. This way, “they can receive fundings to start livelihood programs.”
“Siguro kung meron man akong message for the LGBTQIA community in this time of pandemic, yun ay isang genuine na salamat. Salamat sa lahat ng contribution nila sa community. Despite of being unappreciated by many; they still choose to be positive and happy all the time,” said Aquivido. “Their attitude of ‘laban lang‘ is a great encouragement to people who are losing hope in this time of crisis.”
And in the end, “to all LGBTQIA people, laban lang sa hamon ng buhay because you are all wonderful creations of God.”
“Isa sa pinakamahalagang bagay na gusto kong sabihin sa lahat ng LGBTQIA ay maging matatag sa panahong ito,” Abelilla said. “Ngayon natin gamitin ang personalidad ng pagiging isang LGBTQIA community member na palaban at positibo sa lahat ng bagay. Panatilihing masayahing nilalang na sa simpleng paraan ay makakatulong tayo sa iba… Ngayon natin kailangan ang isa’t isa kaya sama-sama nating isigaw: LGBTQIA tayong palaban, Covid-19 lang yan!“