Rainbow Bloggers Philippines
Sometime in September 2008, bloggers Kiks (ABBA), Yffar (Rainbow Halohalo), Mrs Jay (Misiz ng Blogspot), and Kiel (Life as a Write up) held a meeting at Robinsons Place Ermita in Malate, City of Manila to ascertain if they ought to “unify all GLBTQIA bloggers here and abroad” by establishing “a united community of Filipino GLBTQIA bloggers that may act as an organization for aspiring GLBTQIA writers (to) hone their skills by guiding, recognizing their works, and inspiring them to pursue an inner motivation for blogging.”
The unification effort, though, started even before the meeting proper, since “prior to the actual meeting, we’ve been conducting a small survey on whether the GLBTQIA bloggers would like to establish a group intended for the said reason, with positive feedbacks, (thus the pursuance to establish a group),” recalls Yffar.
The moves eventually led to the formation of the Rainbow Bloggers Philippines (RBP).
PRIDE IN COLOR
Originally named Pink Bloggers (pink being the color traditionally associated with GLBTQIAs), RBP was instead used “since the rainbow promotes a broader spectrum of the colorful aspects of the GLBTQIA community,” says Yffar, when the group was officially launched on November 16, 2008, under the helm of AJ (BaklaAko.com).
And represent a broad spectrum is what RBP has been doing since then, with the number of blogger members growing to 125, from only 30 when it started – a “316% increase as of March 6, 2009, (though) the number of aspiring members is still growing,” Yffar says. “In addition to that, we only had gays and bisexual bloggers when we started, but due to the effectiveness of the membership process, we were able to gather lesbians and transgenders members.”
For the group, the success is attributed to RBP’s “breaking the boundary of the blogging community by creating a blend of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender writers into one blog,” Yffar says. “There is no such blog community to our knowledge with more than X numbers of members dedicated for the GLBTQIA community. As such, we are, therefore, (pioneering) promoting social changes aiming for equal rights regardless of gender preferences.”
Currently, RBP has such programs as the Rainbow Blog of the Week, headed by Geisha Klein (Geisha Diaries), wherein readers get to vote for their favorite blog/s; Pinoy Blog Superstar, introduced by Mandaya Moore, Empress Maruja, and Kiel (Life as a Write-Up), wherein bloggers are asked to write about a specific topic and one blog post will be announced as the winner; and the Blog Reviews, helmed by Kiks, one of the group’s head moderators, which dissects the blogs of the bloggers.
But aside from the online activities, “we are planning to conduct more general assemblies so that the members can get to know each other more in person and not just online,” Yffar says.
There remain challenges for RBP.
For one, “it is very hard for us to conduct our monthly meeting since all members are very busy with their professional lives, and we cannot always meet in person,” Yffar notes. Fortunately, the group’s members can “engage in online meetings via YM, (and we also use) the e-group to promote an active conversation with all the members regarding project proposals, suggestions, and internal communications as a solution to the lack of common schedule for an official meeting.”
Secondly, and related to the above, adds Mrs Jay (Misiz ng Blogspot), there are concerns about time constraints, with the members almost impossible to be gathered altogether at any one place at any one time. Yet again, though, online communication saves the day.
Thirdly, adds Kiel (Life as a Write up), there is still the need to develop RBP’s site into a coherent entity “despite the large number and diversity of voices, languages and identities (of the bloggers and their submissions, so) it remains to be readable, comprehensible, and attractive.”
And then there’s the difficulty in spreading the message of equality into the mainstream. “Promoting RBP to all sorts of readers is one of the current challenges we have as of the moment. There are times that we’ve been sending invitations to straight people to visit our group blog, but some of them argue that this is for gay people only and they do not want to read it, not knowing that we intended our site to educate them, too,” Yffar says.
All in all, and despite the challenges, however, RBP is pushing for changes with “our active involvement to GLBTQIA issues by posting articles to cater to the need for social awareness and educating the readers regarding the current situation of the Filipino GLBTQIAs,” Yffar says. “The Internet is a powerful tool for social change and we are using it as our weapon to attain a just and discrimination free society for everyone.”
For consideration to become a member of RBP, an application form is available from the group’s site. Upon submission, the membership committee will then review the content of the blog of the applicant, ascertaining whether it is GLBTQIA related or not, if it contains extreme pornographic materials, or whatever, before a decision is made on whether the blogger will be invited to be a part of the e-group and will then be allowed to post his/her blog URL in the official Rainbow Blog Directory.
Proof of the group’s intent to be inclusive, “we are also accepting members that are straight as long as they promote the welfare of the GLBTQIA people, and are against gender discrimination. They will be placed under the Straight Allegiance Category,” Yffar says.
Now a “one-stop resource for Filipino GLBTQIA bloggers and readers who want to learn more about the GLBTQIA people in the Philippines,” RBP is proving to be an effective tool in empowering Filipino GLBTQIAs. “We are building an atmosphere of friendship and self-actualization, where the members get to know and understand the life of his/her fellow GLBTQIA people, and reflect on the learning that he/she incurred and incorporate it in his/her life,” Yffar says.
With that, through RBP, the power of words, as used online, comes to the aid of GLBTQIAs.
For more information, visit rainbowbloggers.com.