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UP Lipad: Soaring for equality in UP Visayas

Introducing UP Lipad, established in June 2013 as the first duly recognized LGBT organization in the University of the Philippines Visayas. “We formed the organization with the mission of voicing out the problems that members of the LGBTQIA are facing, as well as the vision of creating a gender sensitive environment where everyone is empowered,” says Jose Maria Paolo Dajay Santos, one of the founders.

UP Lipad was established on June 30,2013 as the first duly recognized LGBT organization in the University of the Philippines Visayas.

The planning to form the organization predates that, however, since it was already in the works “during the summer of 2013, while having dinner at one of our favorite restobars in the university. The core founders were me and my closest friend, Jesse Caspe Cogollo. We formed the organization with the mission of voicing out the problems that members of the LGBTQIA community are facing, as well as the vision of creating a gender sensitive environment where everyone is empowered,” said Jose Maria Paolo Dajay Santos, one of the founders of UP Lipad.

UP Lipad2UP Lipad was established to push and defend the rights and welfare of the LGBTQIA people. The founders believe that this mission and vision can be achieved by starting awareness, starting within their university.

Since its founding, one of the toughest challenges that the organization faced was finding members to join the organization.

“Some might say it is quite ironic because there is a huge population of LGBTQIA people. However, we had a hard time convincing them to join us. There is still the stigma (in) being gay. Also, not everyone is ready to come out of the closet, and we respect that; while some are not yet strong enough to stand up for their rights as members of the LGBTQIA community,” Santos said.

Fortunately, UP Lipad gathered enough members to be recognized by the University (i.e. the minimum number required before recognition is granted is 15) as an organization.

UP Lipad does not see itself that different from other groups in terms of its mission and vision, although – obviously – the target population.

“I might say we’re different from other groups in terms of the members.  We have members whose ages range from 17 to 21 years old. At such a young age, we are proud to say that we are aware of the different gender issues today, and we try our best to gather more news and facts and share it to other people. We have already inculcated in our minds to stand up for our rights and fight for equity and equality, and we are aware we have a long way to go but we know it’s worth it,” Santos said.

UP Lipad celebrated its first anniversary at the end of June, and its prides itself for creating much awareness in a short amount of time.

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“That UP Lipad exists and is here for the gay community, and we were welcomed with open arms by the UPV community (is a source of pride). That our organization is still very young yet is already part of the LGBT network of the Philippines (is also a constant source of pride),” Santos said.

The organization also strongly supports the Reproductive Health Law, “and we are very proud of our members who are always there for the organization,” he added.

UP Lipad is planning to have more events this year, such as forums and symposiums tackling gender and gender-related issues, such as the recently passed RH Law, hate crimes, and gender sensitivity.

Other plans include: events for the UPV community wherein UP Lipad’s members can socialize and have fun and strengthen its internal relations; community outreach to strengthen external relations; and “to continue pushing for a gender sensitive environment,” Santos said.

To join UP Lipad, one should be a bonafide student of the University of the Philippines Visayas, and be a member of the LGBTQIA community. Know more about UP Lipad at https://www.facebook.com/UPLipad.

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