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Rainbow in the waters of Lake Pandin

Yeah, whenever we think of going swimming, we almost always think of going to the beach. But not as emphasized is the abundance of other bodies of water in the Philippines, aside from saltwater. I’d say that for every El Nido (in Palawan) is a Lake Agco (at the foot of Mt. Apo). And here, Lake Pandin also comes to mind…

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Yeah, whenever we think of going swimming, we almost always think of going to the beach. In the Philippines, this is not at all surprising, considering that we have – as Charlene Gonzales once (in)famously stated – 7,108 islands (during low tide), less one if it’s high tide. But not as emphasized (though definitely high time that we should) is the abundance of other bodies of water in the Philippines, aside from saltwater. I’d say that for every El Nido (in Palawan) is a Lake Agco (at the foot of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak)…

At least this was the very thought running through our heads when we raced to Lake Pandin, a body of water somewhat trapped somewhere in San Pablo in Laguna. Rustic comes to mind when here, with everything seemingly slowing down, as people (okay, tourists!) are paddled into the midst of the lake. And while there, everything becomes… poetic, particularly when the sun hits the waters, when just about everything turns green – mossy sans the reflection (as if something is lurking underneath) and then somewhat neon-ish when reflecting the sun’s rays (reminiscent of… Flubber, or merpeople, or the radioactive goo that turns mortal beings into superheroes/villains).

And with Lake Pandin, yes, there are (other, non-saltwater) bodies of water, indeed, that deserve to be discovered…






Lake Pandin is a somewhat “new” tourist destination that (get this) an all-woman organization started to tap after they realized it can help them make a living to help with the expenses in financing their families. In 2005, a total of 18 local women formed the Samahan ng mga Kababaihang Mangingisda at Bangkera sa Lawa ng Pandin because – as their prexy Cristina Abgrego said – “naisip naming maghanap ng kabuhayan para tulungan ang mga naghahanapbuhay sa mga bahay namin (we thought of finding a way to earn to help those who make a living for our homes).”

These women were, incidentally, already making some form of living catching fish from Lake Pandin, since most of them live in the area anyway. The formation of the association was, instead, a “leveling up” of that “making a living”, Abgrego said.

And so using the balsa (bamboo rafts) that they had, they started “touring” people into Lake Pandin.

The “tour” is simple:

  1. When you reach the bank of Lake Pandin, there’s a waiting area where you do the transacting for the tour (e.g. pay the fees, choose the type of tour).
  2. The bamboo rafts have bangkero/bangkera (man/woman who does the paddling) assigned to them.
  3. After agreeing on the payment/actual payment of fees, you are then queued. It’s a “first come, first served” arrangement, so tourists who arrived early will board a balsa You don’t get to choose the bangkero/bangkera (normally); instead, you’d board the available balsa that’s there (and have its accompanying guide/s) when it’s your turn.
  4. A “waiting period” happens when stuff need to be put onboard – e.g. food that you paid for.
  5. The guides do not paddle; instead, they just pull a rope (tied from one end of the lake to the other), which then brings the bamboo raft into the lake. There are “stops” – e.g. where the swing is (at the opposite end of the lake, coming from the take-off point), in the middle of the lake (where you can do some swimming), and so on.
  6. No swimming is allowed without a life vest. As per Abgrego, at least two tourists drowned in a different lake near Lake Pandin, so the local government told them (sounded to me like “threatened”) that their local effort will be forcibly closed if something like that happened there. There is, however, this awareness that it somehow seemed like a veiled threat that their effort to be sustainable – because it proved successful – will be taken from them so that the earnings will then go directly to the local government…
  7. While in the lake, you can eat the stuff you paid for (part of the package); go swimming; sunbathe; fish; or… do nothing.
  8. After two hours, the “tour” ends. You’d be taken back to the bank where it all started, and… so long/until next time.

The association now has 12 bamboo rafts – more than enough to tour the tourists who flock to the place particularly during summer; and more than enough to help support the now 22 members of the association.

And – by the way – they don’t just have all women members now; there is also a transman (there used to be two, but the other one moved overseas already), as well as four men (since they still consider the transman as “one of the girls”) who “do things women won’t do,” Abgrego said, “like replace the bamboos in the rafts.”

Truth be told, there’s not much in Lake Pandin (and so not much to do there).

That is, you don’t come here to – say – go swimming the entire day, picnic with the entire family (again for the entire day), or have water activities (e.g. wakeboarding or kiteboarding or whatever). The trip there will be very specific – i.e. go out in the water to swim for a few hours, grab some chow, then head back home. Now, if this isn’t your idea of “fun”, then Lake Pandin is obviously not for you.

But if the intention is to experience something largely undeveloped; to be in a still-rustic place; to be able to help (empower) a group of women who prove that adage that “if you teach a woman to fend for herself, she’d fend for her entire family”; to mingle with #KaraniwangTAO (and they even have a #KaraniwangLGBT, well-respected, as per the women we spoke with); or to be in a body of water that CAN charm, give Lake Pandin a chance to be experienced.

p.s.
We “lost” a rainbow flag in (the waters of) Lake Pandin. The wind blew so hard, one of Outrage Magazine’s rainbow flags fell in the water. No chance to retrieve it, so it’s there somewhere…
If you happen to find it, you may want to hand it over to the LGBT member of the association overseeing the tour (as Abgrego said: “We’re happy we have them here”). Else, give us a call/yell. Or… just enjoy how a rainbow is not part of the green waters of Lake Pandin…





Lake Pandin is located in San Pablo, Laguna. As soon as you reach San Pablo, there are tourist guides who will offer (for a minimal fee, of course) to bring you to the take-off area of Lake Pandin. At that take-off area is where the paying of the actual fees happen – usually from P350 per person per trip, or (if there aren’t many people) from P400 per person per trip. The payment often includes a meal (usually rice plus three kinds of viands, bananas, and bottled water).

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Health & Wellness

Study finds more severe eating disorders among LGBT individuals

Delays in accessing treatment are especially widespread for transgender and nonbinary individuals with eating disorders. Some of the causes include delayed diagnosis by providers who fail to assess non-cisgender female patients for disordered eating, as well as limited access to trans-affirming treatment options.

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A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds that eating disorder patients who identify as LGBT have more severe eating disorder symptoms, higher rates of trauma history, and longer delays between diagnosis and treatment than heterosexual, cisgender patients.

“While we know there is a higher prevalence of eating disorders among LGBTQ folks, particularly trans and non-binary folks (with rates estimated to be anywhere from 40% to 70%), our field is in its infancy with researching this health disparity, so I believe research like ours is especially important” said clinical psychologist Jennifer Henretty PhD, CEDS, one of the study’s co-authors who serves as the Executive Director of Clinical Outcomes for Discovery Behavioral Health, Center For Discovery.

Eating disorders are a serious mental health concern: At least 30 million people—of all ages, sexual orientations, and gender-identities—experience an eating disorder in the US alone, and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, where people regularly eat a large amount in a short period of time; bulimia nervosa, where people regularly eat a large amount in a short period of time and then try to offset the food using harmful behaviors (like vomiting); and anorexia nervosa, where people regularly eat too little due to a fear of gaining weight and thus are malnourished.

The causes of eating disorders are not clear but both biological and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Eating disorders typically begin in adolescence but it appears that the rate of the disorder may be on the rise in middle-aged and even older adults.

The peer-reviewed academic study analyzed data from 2,818 individuals treated in residential (RTC), partial hospitalization (PHP), and/or intensive outpatient (IOP) levels-of-care at a large eating disorder treatment organization; 471 (17%) of the participants identified as LGBT. The facilities were operated by Center for Discovery, a US healthcare provider specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Research shows that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or other non-heterosexual/non-cisgender identities have significantly higher rates of mental and physical health conditions compared to their heterosexual, cisgender peers.

“LGBT individuals are more likely to experience housing and employment discrimination, and to struggle with multiple mental health challenges related to minority stress; this perfect storm of barriers means eating behaviors are often overlooked,” said Vaughn Darst, RD, who serves as Operations Advisor for Discovery Behavioral Health, Center For Discovery and who also discussed in a TedX talk the complex issue at the intersection of gender, body image, food and identity.

The study found a full 12-month delay in treatment for LGBT patients compared to non-LGBT patients.

“Delays in accessing treatment are especially widespread for transgender and nonbinary individuals with eating disorders. Some of the causes include delayed diagnosis by providers who fail to assess non-cisgender female patients for disordered eating, as well as limited access to trans-affirming treatment options, particularly at the residential level of care” said Darst.

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Health & Wellness

Greater availability of non-alcoholic drinks may reduce alcohol consumption

The findings suggest that interventions to encourage healthier food and drink choices may be most effective when changing the relative availability of healthier and less-healthy options.

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People are more likely to opt for non-alcoholic drinks if there are more of them available than alcoholic drinks, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

A team of researchers at the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, and the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, UK found that when presented with eight drink options, participants were 48% more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink when the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options increased from four (50%) to six (75%). When the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options decreased from four to two (25%), participants were 46% less likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink.

Dr Anna Blackwell, the corresponding author said: “Alcohol consumption is among the top five risk factors for disease globally. Previous research has shown that increasing the availability of healthier food options can increase their selection and consumption relative to less healthy food. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that increasing the availability of non-alcoholic drinks, relative to alcoholic drinks in an online scenario, can increase their selection.”

Participants in the study completed an online task in which they were presented with a selection of alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic beer and soft-drinks. The drink selections included four alcoholic and four non-alcoholic drinks, six alcoholic and two non-alcoholic drinks or two alcoholic and six non-alcoholic drinks. 808 UK residents with an average age of 38 years who regularly consumed alcohol participated in the study.

When presented with mostly non-alcoholic drinks, 49% of participants selected a non-alcoholic drink, compared to 26% of participants who selected a non-alcoholic drink when presented with mostly alcoholic drinks. These results were consistent regardless of the time participants had to make their decision, indicating that the findings were not dependent on the amount of time and attention participants were able to devote to their drink choice. The findings suggest that interventions to encourage healthier food and drink choices may be most effective when changing the relative availability of healthier and less-healthy options.

Anna Blackwell said: “Many licensed venues already offer several non-alcoholic options but these are often stored out of direct sight, for example in low-level fridges behind the bar. Our results indicate that making these non-alcoholic products more visible to customers may influence them to make healthier choices. The market for alcohol-free beer, wine and spirit alternatives is small but growing and improving the selection and promotion of non-alcoholic drinks in this way could provide an opportunity for licensed venues to reduce alcohol consumption without losing revenue.”

The authors caution that as the study measured hypothetical drink selection online, results may differ in real-world settings. Further studies are needed to determine how the relative availability of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks impacts the purchasing and consumption of alcohol in real life.

Alcoholism is a big issue in the LGBTQIA community.

In 2017, a study found that bisexual people had higher odds of engaging in alcohol use behaviors when compared with people from the sexual majority. This study also found that bullying mediated sexual minority status and alcohol use more particularly among bisexual females.

Still in 2017, another study noted higher levels of alcohol use among men who have sex with men (MSM), which is closely associated with intimate partner violence (IPV). The same study found that over half of MSM experienced IPV, and just under half of MSM perpetrating IPV themselves, including physical, sexual, emotional or HIV-related IPV.

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Love Affairs

Unique gifts for the man in your life that you can both enjoy

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when shopping for a gift for your partner is to be thoughtful. Try to find a gift that is personal and unique, so that they feel supported and valued.

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Finding the perfect gift can be hard, particularly when you’re buying for a man who already has a lot of gadgetry and an independent income.

Often, they tend to buy themselves the gadgets and garments they want, leaving you with limited options when it comes to finding them a present they’ll love. 

Don’t despair, because there are still loads of ways to surprise them and give them an unforgettable treat. If you’re trying to find a gift, be it for a birthday, holiday or special occasion, then read on to find a selection of ideas that you can share with them. 

An Experience Voucher

One of the best ways to give a unique, unforgettable gift to the man in your life is to buy him an experience voucher. There are many options to choose from, ranging from supercar track days and hot air balloon rides through to cooking lessons and cocktail masterclasses, meaning there’s something for everyone. You can choose an experience that you will both love and book it for them so that they have something to look forward to in the future. 

You can choose an experience that you will both love and book it for them.

A Sex Toy

If the love of your life is a fan of spicing things up in the bedroom, then there are these options here for sex toys that will entice and engage them. You can use them on your partner, or allow them to use them on you, to create intimate experiences that neither of you will forget. A sex toy is also a great way to start experimenting in the bedroom, so buying one as a gift way to start your journey towards a fulfilling and exciting sex life. Just make sure he doesn’t open it in front of his family! 

A sex toy is a great way to start experimenting in the bedroom.

Designer Underwear

Many men wear the same old underwear for years, but this can be uncomfortable for them, as well as unappealing for you. Try to find them some new underwear made by a designer brand, so that they can look good and you can feel even better. Try to buy them in a style that suits their body and a color that will set off their skin tone, so that their underwear will look good and well as keeping your partner snug and comfortable. 

Try to find them some new underwear made by a designer brand, so that they can look good and you can feel even better.

A High-End Electric Guitar 

If your partner is an avid guitar player, but you want to enjoy some respite from the sound of their favorite songs coming through the walls during their late-night jam sessions, then consider buying them a luxury electric guitar. When played without an amp, they are almost entirely silent, meaning that they can practice to their heart’s content while you sleep soundly in another room. Check out the high-end electric guitars on offer from some of the world’s most respected instrument makers to find one that your man will love. 

When played without an amp, they are almost entirely silent, meaning that they can practice to their heart’s content while you sleep soundly in another room.

A Couple’s Massage

Massages are a relaxing spa treatment that almost everyone enjoys, so if your partner is a fan of being pampered, then consider getting them a voucher for a couple’s massage or spa day. You can both indulge in a relaxing massage and spend a relaxing day together. Many spas also offer you the chance to try out other treatments with your partner, so check out the menu and see if there’s anything that you will both enjoy. Afterwards, you can cool off in the pool or the hot tub, bringing your relaxing, rejuvenating day to a close and leaving you both refreshed and ready to face whatever the future brings.

You can both indulge in a relaxing massage and spend a relaxing day together.

A Pet

Buying a pet as a surprise gift is not advisable, but if you and your partner have been considering taking the leap and becoming a pet parent for some time, then paying for it could be a great gift. Make sure that you both choose the animal together so that you find one that fits perfectly into your little family. You might not be able to surprise them, but you will be able to buy a gift that you will both love and which will be a major part of your lives for many years to come. 

If you and your partner have been considering taking the leap and becoming a pet parent for some time, then paying for it could be a great gift.

A Trendy Kitchen Accessory 

Gourmet cooking has become fashionable over recent years, thanks to celebrity chefs. As a result, many men love to spend their time in the kitchen, whipping up their favorite dishes. Search for a quality kitchen accessory that will enhance their cooking experience and help them to create even more tasty treats, which you, of course, will be more than happy to sample to check that they taste as good as they look.

Gourmet cooking has become fashionable over recent years, thanks to celebrity chefs.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when shopping for a gift for your partner is to be thoughtful. Try to find a gift that is personal and unique, so that they feel supported and valued. Use this list to find inspiration and share the joy with your loved one. 

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Travel

Anti-LGBTQIA ‘conversion therapy’ now prohibited by Albanian psychologists

In a move that effectively bans “conversion therapy” in Albania, the country’s Order of Psychologists announced that it will prohibit registered members from offering attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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In a move that effectively bans “conversion therapy” in Albania, the country’s Order of Psychologists announced that it will prohibit registered members from offering attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Conversion therapy” is the most widely-used term used to describe practices attempting to change, suppress or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.

Medical associations are critical of this practice – e.g. the World Psychiatric Association criticized these as “wholly unethical,” and the Pan American Health Organization warned that they pose “a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

Other countries deal this this, including Malta, Ecuador, Germany, Brazil and Taiwan. Still other countries are in the process of banning the practice, including Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the US.

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Shopping

Apple joins 2020’s rainbow retail with Pride-inspired watch

As June nears, expect businesses (even those that used to be anti-LGBTQIA, or at least mum about this issue until profiting from it was seen) to start using the rainbow – long considered as a symbol of LGBT Pride – to sell goods.

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As June nears, expect businesses (even those that used to be anti-LGBTQIA, or at least mum about this issue until profiting from it was seen) to start using the rainbow – long considered as a symbol of LGBT Pride to sell goods.

Among the early starters this year is Apple, which launched the artful Pride Edition Sport Band, which is joined for the first time by the new Apple Watch Nike Pride Edition Sport Band. Both are available from apple.com, the Apple Store app, and Apple stores, and pair with matching Pride Watch faces that are coming soon as a part of watchOS 6.2.5.

Fortunately (at least for Americans), Apple (and Nike) support LGBTQIA organizations doing advocacy and community-building, including GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum, The National Center for Transgender Equality, and ILGA World.

So… as June approaches, savor the colors of the rainbow, while discussing profiteering of and within the LGBTQIA community.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Reasons why you should get a massage after a yoga session

Massage has many uses, from helping us reconnect with our sensuality and our inner divinity, to helping our body brings itself to tip-top shape. Balancing and engaging in both often has only been shown to be a net good.

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Most of us have a daily routine. We get up in the morning, we brush her teeth, we find our way to work, and then we sit. Millions of us sit for more than eight hours a day. We sit all day at work, we sit in the car, we go home and sit on the couch. Maybe we get up to walk around and get the blood flowing after a meal if there’s enough time during the evening. In the end, that is still sedentary. It’s a physically and spiritually unbalanced life. Yoga has been used for thousands of years to help one center the mind, as well as train the body. But to see the results, both physically and spiritually, you need to introduce massage. 

A Perfect Combination

The properties of yoga and meditation as a means to get re-acquainted with the self is invaluable. People, especially us women, have found that this balance helps us get through some of the week’s more challenging moments. Some of us live lives of high stress and great emotional demand. Yoga and massage help us calm the mind and, through the duality of physical adversary and relaxation, gets us to that place of peace we seek in our day to day. Take yoni, for example. The yoni massage has grown in popularity in response to so many of us being far removed from our feminine energy source. We wear so many hats throughout the day that we often forget to just be ourselves. Yoni reconnects those disjointed pieces and reminds us of the sacred place. This form of tantric massage, from a trained and certified professional, allows one to receive and meditate on the feminine and sexual energy rooted in all of us. 

Clearing Out Cellular Debris 

Yoga, in all its forms, is the perfect practice to loosen up tight areas and muscles. The act of holding, stretching, and bending over long periods, often leaves our bodies pretty drained. More importantly, the buildup of cellular products in our muscles—like lactic acid and debris, needs to be cleared out. Massage has long been known to have great benefits to our muscles through manual lymphatic stimulation. In yoga we are actively engaging in isometric holds. The synergism between each muscle group causes flexion and relaxation in ways that we never really thought possible before yoga. Because of this, we should utilize the tools that we have to clear the microdamage in our muscles. 

Moving Lymph

Our lymphatic system is responsible for this clearing. They move with veins and are stimulated by acts like a massage. The slow movement and the deliberate stimulation of certain areas allow our body to cleanse itself with its own highways, and cleanup system. Not only is it facilitating simple pressure for healing, but it’s also promoting strong and proper blood flow to the areas of focus. These are the technical health benefits of something like a tantric massage.

Massage has many uses, from helping us reconnect with our sensuality and our inner divinity, to helping our body brings itself to tip-top shape. Balancing and engaging in both often has only been shown to be a net good. The physical and the spiritual are, after all, different sides of the same coin.

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