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Miles Jaca: Surviving harshness to see beauty in life

Outrage Magazine meets Miles Jaca, a local of Iligan City, who used to be physically abused by family members. Miles (now 21) believes that LGBT people need to learn to look after themselves. “Remember lang, just live for another day. There will always be another – and better – day,” she says.

This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

Miles Jaca was 14 years old when “gihulog ko sa akong papa sa hagdan (my father pushed me down the stairs).” This was because of her “effeminacy” – “Babaye man daw ko mulihok (I was effeminate/I moved like a girl).”

But that wasn’t the only time Miles was “punished” for being “different”. “Kung hubog siya, ginakulata ko niya (When my father was drunk, he bashed/hit me).”

And so Miles – the fifth of seven kids, who recalled liking playing jackstones as a child – had to be “tago” (closeted). In fact, “I had flings with girls; I even had a girlfriend.”

Miles can laugh at past experiences now – for instance, one time, “nag-make-up ko sa balay. Niadto ako classmates. Dili ko ka-gawas kay makit-an nila nga naa ko make-up. Wala baya tubig atong adlawa; dili matangtang ang make-up (I ut on makeu-up at home. My classmates came to visit me. I couldn’t leave the house else they’d see I had make-up on. There wasn’t water that day; I had no way of removing my make-up),” Miles said.

Miles has been very open about “my past – nga lalaki ko gi-anak, pero babaye na ko ron (that I was assigned male at birth, but I now live as a woman).” For instance, she’d been chatting with foreign men from networking sites, and “wala ko ga-deny sa ilaha nga ani ko (I don’t deny/hide from them that I’m like this).”

Miles has been very open about “my past – nga lalaki ko gi-anak, pero babaye na ko ron (that I was assigned male at birth, but I now live as a woman).” For instance, she’d been chatting with foreign men from networking sites, and “wala ko ga-deny sa ilaha nga ani ko (I don’t deny/hide from them that I’m like this).”

When Miles entered her second year in high school, when she moved to Cebu City to stay with a sister, the abuses continued. “Ang bana sa akong magulang, iya ko nadapatan. Ako magulang, nakuyapan. Pero gikulata gihapon ko sa iya bana (My sister’s husband, he hit me. My sister collapsed when she knew of it. But her husband still bashed/hit me).”

Miles, therefore, had to “learn to look after myself,” she said. By the time she was in her third year in high school, “I learned how to do make-up, mugupit (cut hair).” At that point, “niladlad na ko (I came out).”

And now looking back, “na-develop ako talents (my talents were developed),” Miles said. “I was more productive when I came out.”

Miles said that she started surviving on her own “by the time nga (when) I was in fourth year high school,” she said. At that time, “naa na ko income (I already had income).”

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Miles was earning from cutting hair and applying make-up “sa mga silingan (on the neighbors).”

From then on, Miles hasn’t looked back. After graduating, she became a regular of local beauty pageants, with the prize money earned helping sustain her; and then working as an impersonator.

Having the power of the purse gave her independence “sa mga tawo nga nagsakit sa ako (from the people who hurt me).”

The lesson she wants to give others who are not having it easy because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression: “Look after yourself,” Miles said. “Kung kulatahon ka? Remember lang, just live for another day. There will always be another – and better – day.”

The lesson she wants to give others who are not having it easy because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression: “Look after yourself,” Miles said. “Kung kulatahon ka? Remember lang, just live for another day. There will always be another – and better – day.”

Even then, though, Miles self-identified as “bayot (gay).” “Kung muuli ko sa Iligan, lalaki ko; pero sa Cebu, babaye na ko (When I go home to Iligan City, I was masculine; but in Cebu City, I lived as a woman).”

Facebook – in a way – paved the way to Miles’s male-to-female transition. Someone close to her saw her photos, “ug nangutana siya: ‘Babaye na ka? Naunsa ka? (and this person asked: ‘You’re now a woman? What happened to you?).”

From then on, “wala na ko mubalik magpa-lalaki (I didn’t revert back to being masculine).”

Miles has been very open about “my past – nga lalaki ko gi-anak, pero babaye na ko ron (that I was assigned male at birth, but I now live as a woman).” For instance, she’d been chatting with foreign men from networking sites, and “wala ko ga-deny sa ilaha nga ani ko (I don’t deny/hide from them that I’m like this).”

Something “weird” (according to Miles herself) happened to her since she started living as a woman. “Ako (My) ex-GF asked if I can return to her; if we can be together again,” she said. “I said no. Ngilngig uy (It’s disgusting).”

Because at 21, Miles finally found “myself and the life I want to live.”

Miles is currently taking up a vocational course “to help better myself,” she said. Because from now on, “kinahanglan bantayaan ang kaugalingon (I need to look after myself).”

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This, too, is the lesson she wants to give others who are not having it easy because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression: “Look after yourself,” Miles said. “Kung kulatahon ka? Remember lang, just live for another day. There will always be another – and better – day.”

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