Pro-active approach to effecting changes.
Michael David dela Cruz Tan, publisher cum editor in chief of Outrage Magazine, the only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) publication in the Philippines, has been cited as one of 10 Outstanding Australian and New Zealand Alumni by The Oceania magazine (September to October 2012 issue).
Published bi-monthly by the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (Philippines) Inc., or ANZCHAM, The Oceania’s citation came as it recognizes how “Australian and New Zealand institutions can help… brilliant, talented individuals to achieve successful careers and make their unique mark on their varied fields.” Tan was specifically cited for his “groundbreaking socio-political Australian education and attitude”, which, among others, helped pave the way to his founding of Outrage Magazine.
Tan took up Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) at the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia. In The Oceania writeup, he credited his Australian learning for helping him “develop… a get-go attitude”, since while there (in the Land Downunder), “you also ‘do’, not just ‘think’. Just as it is in the real world”.
In 1999, when Tan completed his degree, he opted to return to the Philippines even after being offered to pursue an Honours Programme. After working as the media liaison officer of the late Sen. Raul S. Roco; involvement in projects for UNDP, UNAIDS, Ford Foundation, et cetera; and exposure in journalistic work, in 2007, Tan established Outrage Magazine as the only publication in the Philippines for the LGBT community. This after he noted that “often, the mainstream media chooses to ignore LGBT-specific issues, which is problematic for us because sans the coverage, we are not heard and/or seen, and so we basically do not exist,” he said. With Outrage Magazine, “we now have a media by us, not just for us but for the world to know us.”
Since 2010, Outrage Magazine has gone beyond simply reporting on LGBT issues. It has, in fact, started “being more pro-active in the tackling of the very issues that we used to just report on,” Tan said. For instance, after his pioneering research on the state of Deaf men who have sex with men in the Philippines (entitled Talk to the Hand), he has been pushing for the publication to provide gender awareness/sensitivity and HIV 101 trainings for Deaf LGBTs. Also, the publication has formed partnerships with like-minded groups to further LGBT issues (e.g. partnered with R-Rights for the Outgames in the Philippines, and partnered with Ladlad partylist for “I dare to care about equality”, a photo exhibit highlighting supporters of equal rights for all).
Interviewed by Outrage Magazine after the recognition, Tan said that “this citation is not necessarily just about me; instead, it’s a recognition of the possibility of effecting changes by those who take steps to do so,” he said. “It is also (and more importantly) a recognition of Outrage Magazine, and how through it, we attempt to highlight the plight of LGBTs in the Philippines. That there remains much needed to be done goes without saying; but that we’ll get there (where we’re headed) is just a matter of time as long as we keep pushing.”
Tan is the recipient of the 2006 Catholic Mass Media Awards (Best Investigative Report) (and a finalist in the same category in 2007); the 2006 La Sallian Scholarum Awards (Outstanding Feature Story on Youth and Education for Print), Honorable Mention; and the 1999 Denise Butler Memorial Award (Short Story Writing Category, 3rd Place). Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, he oversaw the production of Remedios AIDS Foundation’s Manual on Counseling for PHAs and their Families, and Manual on Continuum of Care for PLWHAs in 2002. His most recent pioneering studies include co-authoring (with Raine Cortes and John Ryan Mendoza) Ginintuang Agora: The Community and Sexual Life Stories of Mature-Aged Gay Men of the Home for the Golden Gays (2011), and Talk to the Hand: Knowledge of and Attitudes toward HIV, AIDS and Safer Sex of Selected Deaf Filipino Men who have Sex with Men, and Their Sexual Practices and Factors Influencing Them (2011).
For Tan, finding ways to tap potentials is important “not just for our personal growth, but the society’s as well,” he was quoted as saying by The Oceania. “(And) isn’t this what humanity (should be) all about?”