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Salamat Ondoy!

The devastating visit to the Philippines of bagyong Ondoy was an eye-opening experience, writes Ron de Vera.



We all have a story to tell about Ondoy and how he changed our lives. This is my story.

I am Ron de Vera. I work for a call center and hold a considerably high position. Until Ondoy, I had aspirations of one day being promoted again so that I can buy another car and finally own a condo unit in the affluent areas of Metro Manila. My worries included managing the balances of my credit cards and choosing which of my three laptops to save a file in. Every now and then I would gripe about what to do with the old car tire in my trunk and how slow my insurance agency took to replace my shattered rear windshield. On the plus side, my friends and family thought highly of me because of my apparent financial success. After all, in the first four years of my career, I was promoted every single year.

Of course, like most other people, I worried about my future and suffered some philosophical woes. What should I consider important? What was my place in society? What was my role? What ideologies should I stand for? I love animals. Should I be an animal advocate? I play volleyball and I swim. Should I be an athlete? I love writing. Should I be a writer? For each dream, I would lay out a master plan that always made sense. But somehow, something would always be off. Something was always missing.

The afternoon that Ondoy ravaged Manila, I was sleeping in my comfy air-conditioned room. Being on the night shift, I had to be asleep during the day. Besides, I was saving my energy for a weekly volleyball game. When I woke up, there was a power outage. The condo’s generator only powered the common areas so I was forced to socialize with my neighbors. At this point, we had no idea that people were drowning or trying their best not to drown. Don’t blame us, we had no access to the news. I was actually quite pissed because I was looking forward to the volleyball game and the bar-hopping date I had arranged with some friends. I was also annoyed by the fact that there was some rain water that got into my bedroom. It was such a mess, I thought. It was at about midnight when they restored electricity. “Oh, thank God!” I remember shouting. But I was still pissed that we had to cancel the volleyball game and the bar-hopping in Malate. I felt like I was the unluckiest person in the world so I just turned up the AC, put a blanket on, and went to sleep.

The morning after was a real wake up call. As I watched the news, a feeling of guilt and sadness crept up my spine. But it wasn’t what I saw and heard on the news that struck a chord. My ex got news that their house in Vista Verde had been submerged; their life’s investment, gone in one day. It was getting closer to me. A friend who lived in De Castro couldn’t go home and get to his mother because the streets were impassable. This was not on the news, this was happening to people around me. Each time I saw an update online about people I actually knew, it just got scarier because it got more real. Finally, when I found out that the brother of a former officemate had died in the flash floods, I broke down in tears. I slept with a heavy heart that night. I donated a large sum of money to Red Cross through SMS but it wasn’t enough to rid my heart of the guilt and knowledge that people were out there suffering while I was in my room complaining about some rain water. I resolved to get up and do something the next day.

As if on a personal quest, I gathered some friends and set for flood-stricken areas. The intent was to check on people who couldn’t be reached on their mobile phones. In two days and on foot, we found ourselves in Vista Verde, Kingsville, Greenpark, and Bartville. With concerted effort we were able to check on six people and leave food for those who needed it. We also dropped off donations in UP and Ateneo. Through Facebook, I found groups that organized relief efforts. I felt compelled to help. For the entire week, I did volunteer work during the day and went to work at night. But it was not enough, I thought.

My first real experience came when I joined a relief operation in Pandacan. I offered my car because they had volunteers who couldn’t fit in the truck full of relief goods. What I was about to go through was something I never thought would happen to me in my lifetime. I was told that we were going to give out 350 bags but other than that, I had no idea what to expect.

The relief operation was supposed to start with a program to thank donors before actually giving away the bags. But lo and behold, there were definitely more than 350 of them. It was such a large group that it took a lot of time and effort just to get them to settle and to line up. We decided to forego the program. I didn’t count but the fact that there were still people lining up without bags well after we had run out was enough proof that there were more than 350. There were children who had no way of claiming because they had no parents and thus, were not considered residents. There were more than a couple of mothers who had just given birth but couldn’t afford health care so they just gave birth in the shanties that they called home, all of which were gone by the time Ondoy left.

Where were they during the typhoon? Some were on rooftops and some floated around on old car tires. There was no worry about shattered windshields here only worry for their own lives. The little boy I talked to hadn’t eaten for days. But his mind was still full of the cries for help he heard that night. He was crouched on the ledge of the Pandacan multi-purpose gymnasium where he took refuge during the flood. No, he was not there to play volleyball, he was holding on for dear life because he couldn’t swim. He said he heard mothers shouting names of their children in an effort to locate them in the dark. Some were praying aloud and some were just moaning due to hunger. It was haunting to even imagine it. But to my surprise, he told me he was lucky. I couldn’t understand so I asked him to explain. He said “Masuwerte ako. Buti nga wala akong magulang para walang mag-aalala tungkol sa’kin.” I forced a smile, slipped him a packet of biscuits and turned away. I had to because I was holding back my tears.

That day I got a better understanding of the word poverty. In the days that followed, I was able to define synonyms of the same word. I joined NGO’s in Kasiglahan, Montalban and Sucol, Laguna. In Kasiglahan, we went from house to house to drop off relief goods rather than having them line up. The village had 2 landlines, no electricity, and a lot of mud on the streets. It was like a scene from an old Pinoy movie portraying life in the slums, only this time, it was real. In Sucol, we were invited inside the house of one of the organizers. By this time, I already had a conversation starter. “Mang Domeng, hanggang saan po yung pinakamataas na inabot nung baha?” He then proceeded to gesture towards the highest group of snail eggs on the wall. On his wall were pictures of his children. “Ilan ba ang anak niyo?” I said. “Walo” was his response. “Walo sila tapos kayo pang mag-asawa, kasiya kayo lahat dito?” – “ Oo, may dalawa pa nga kaming aso eh.”

He had no credit cards and probably had never used a laptop but he was a leader to his people. And to their eyes, he was accomplished. My tita explained more as we were walking away. “Lider siya ng unyon kaya hindi na siya makahanap ng trabaho.” Oo, Mahirap lang siya at malamang ay hindi na siya makakahanap pa ng trabaho o mapo-promote pa. May mga bagay sa pagkatao niya na hindi na niya mababago pa. Pero siya, alam niya kung sino siya at kung ano ang pinaglalaban niya. Eh ako, sino nga ba ako? Ano sa pagkatao ko ang hindi ko na mababago pa? Napaisip tuloy ako at napilitang mag balik-tanaw.

NPA ang nanay ko. New People’s Army ang ibig sabihin niyan. Ang hukbo ng mga progresibong mamamayan na ang layunin ay pigilin ang mapang-api at mapang-aliping gubyerno. Dati pa siyang NPA. Nahuli nga siya nung panahon ni Marcos. Human rights victim siya. Kinulong, tinortyur, linapastangan, ginahasa. Oo, ginahasa. Wag kang maawa sa kaniya dahil hindi siya kaawa-awa. Malakas siya at matalino. Maraming kababaihan ang namulat dahil sa mga ginawa niya para sa karapatang pangkababaihan at karapatang pantao. Naging inspirasiyon siya ng marami. Kaya wag kang maawa.

Ang tatay ko naman ay desaparecido. Hindi alam kung patay na o buhay pa. Basta nawawala lang siya. Dinukot siya ng mga militar dahil NPA din siya. Oo, NPA. Wag kang matakot sabihin. Ako nga bata pa ako nung puntahan ko siyang mag-isa sa apartment niya. Hindi siya dumating dahil dinukot na pala siya. Umalis ako sa apartment na mag-isa lang din kahit madilim na. Alam kong may nangyari nang masama sa kaniya. Pero hindi ako natakot. Pagtapos nun ay hindi naging madali ang buhay ko bilang bata. Pinadala pa ako ng nanay ko sa Children’s Rehabilitation Center kung saan namulat ako sa mga karapatang pambata. Mahirap, pero hindi ako natakot. Kaya wag ka ring matakot.

Ang kuya ko, nakalabas na ng kulungan. Dating siyang preso. Oo, preso. Nabilanggo. Ex-convict. Pero hindi siya NPA. Bata pa siya nun. Nasa states siya. Gang-related ang krimen. Hindi naman siya miyembro nung gang pero kasama siya nung naganap ang krimen. Nasa pangangalaga siya ng umampon sa kaniya. Oo, ampon siya. Inampon siya ng tita ko. Oo, tita ko. Kaya sa mata ng batas, mag-pinsan kami, hindi magkapatid. Magkaiba nga ang apelyido namin eh. Nakakalito ba? Wag ka malito, hindi importante kung anong sinasabi ng batas. Hindi importante kung anong apelyido namin. Ang importante, kuya ang turing ko sa kaniya at nakababatang kapatid ang turing niya sakin dahil iisang babae ang nagpanganak samin. Simple lang yun. Kaya wag ka malito.

Ako naman, bakla. Nasa sayo na kung ang gagamitin mo ay bi, gay, silahis, parlorista, wala akong pakialam. Basta bakla ako. Oo, bakla. Wag kang mahiyang sabihin. Mga salita lang ‘yan. Wag kang mahiya sa’kin dahil hindi importante sa’kin kung aling salita ang piliin mo. Ang importante ay alam mong ganito ako. Ang importante ay malaman mo na walang iisang anyo ang mga bakla. Hindi lahat kami ay kilos babae. Hindi lahat ay parlorista. At lalong hindi lahat kami, kinakahiya ang pagiging bakla. Kaya wag kang mahiya.

Ako si Ronald de Vera. Onald o kaya’y Nald sa iba. Ito ako. Ito ang mga bagay sa pagkatao ko na hindi ko kayang baguhin. Ang napakalaking bahagi nito ay dala ng kung sino ang nanay, tatay, at kuya ko at kung anong pinaglalaban nila. Ngayong may sarili na akong pag-iisip, may sarili na rin akong mga ipaglalaban. Masiyado siguro akong nakatutok sa hinaharap at nakalimutan ko na ang aking nakaraan. Dahil kay Ondoy at sa mga taong tinulungan ko, nahanap ko kung sino ako. Hindi ibig sabihin ay magiging NPA na rin ako. Hindi ibig sabihin ay ipaglalaban ko na ang karapatan ng kababaihan o ng mga bakla. Ang ibig sabihin lang ay alam ko na kung ano ang importante sa buhay ko. Alam ko na kung anong lugar ko sa lipunang ito. Alam ko na kung anong papel ang gagampanan ko sa bawat ideyolohiyang ipaglalaban ko.
Nang dumating si Ondoy, hindi ako nawalan ng mahal sa buhay o nasiraan ng bahay. Nabigyan pa nga ‘ko ng pagkakataong makatulong sa kapwa. Bukod sa lahat, marami akong natutunan tungkol sa buhay at tungkol sa sarili ko.

‘Yan ang dahilan kung bakit pinamagatan ko itong “Salamat Ondoy.”

Lahat tayo may kuwento tungkol kay Ondoy at pano niya binago ang buhay natin. Ito ang kuwento ko.

Ron de Vera left the corporate world sometime in 2010, opting to work for Amnesty International in the Philippines. “I’ve always been interested in fighting for causes close to my heart, so when I helped revive the LGBT group of Amnesty International Philippines, I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be immersed in LGBT activism,” he said. He is now helping organize the LGBT community into a movement. “We need a manifesto. We need united leaders. We need to channel these efforts and turn this activism into a nationwide LGBT movement,” he said. Ron contributes for the mag, writing The Straight Jacket.


I may be HIV+ but that still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you

This is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me.



Photo by lalesh aldarwish from

“I’m HIV-positive.”

That was the short sentence I remember telling this guy I used to date.

Okay – to backtrack – I met a guy while I was in Northern Mindanao. We dated for a while, and – at least I thought – things between us went smoothly for a while. I’d say he wasn’t bad-looking even if he looked somewhat common. He had one of those “if you stay long enough, I can teach myself to maybe even like you” face.

And then one night, we became more intimate than the usual. So I had to stop what we were doing (before we progressed further). And then – after prepping him up by first discussing with him his views about HIV and people living with HIV – I told him I had something important to tell him (if we were to advance what we had).

Thus that short sentence.

His face immediately changed; from what I saw was longing to… shocked. He couldn’t even say a word. And when he was finally able to utter a word, it was just to tell me that “I forgot I had to be elsewhere.”

The alibi was lame. But what made it more insulting was that I wasn’t even that into him to begin with; he was just a possible lay (if it came to that).

But that moment taught me two important things.

On one hand, how the sexuality of so many PLHIVs are tempered by their status.

I have frequently heard of medical practitioners who tell PLHIVs to “already stop having sex now that you’re HIV-positive; dadami pa kayo (you’d abet in increasing the number of PLHIVs)” – all too obviously unaware of safer sexual practices and U=U, among others. Worse, this sentiment is shared by a lot of PLHIVs themselves, who see their status as a “punishment”, and the only “cure” is to stop having sex altogether. Oh, please!

On the other hand, recognizing that being sexual doesn’t disappear (and doesn’t need to vanish) with being HIV-positive, there seems to be this supposition of PLHIVs being “desperate”.

That guy I dated, for instance, had every right NOT to have sex with me (it’s called power over one’s body); but that he had to lie just to get away from me was – to admit the truth – not only discourteous but even insulting. I suppose particularly because… I wasn’t even that into him.

Here’s the thing: Me living with HIV means just that – that I have HIV. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my (yes!) sexual appetite and (for that matter) taste/preferences/standards on who to do it with.

And I believe this is something every PLHIV needs to learn. That we are still “worth it”. Forget these notions of you being a “damaged good” or a “dirty person” or banalities given us along those lines. Because my HIV status is just one facet of my outrageous (and fabulous) personality; it does not define me. And if (some) guys can’t see that, well…

Because remember dearie, just because I am HIV-positive still doesn’t mean I’ll sleep with you.

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From the Editor

Women are not ‘disgusting’; gay men are just not into them…

Why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?



Photo by Viktoria Slowikowska from

Time to unlearn sub-/unconscious misogyny.

Here’s the thing: With the demise of Christine Dacera, and with predominantly gay (and perhaps bi) men considered as suspects by the error-filled PNP (Philippine National Police), many members of the LGBTQIA community surfaced to defend members of the rainbow family.

Background info: Christine Dacera, a flight attendant, celebrated her New Year’s Eve with gay/bi friends in a hotel in Makati City. On New Year’s Day, her body was found lifeless. The PNP (pre-empting everything) pushed for questionable narratives – e.g. that she was “raped” (even if the autopsy report couldn’t validate this), and then committed inept acts – e.g. announcing the case to be “solved” when it really wasn’t, jailing three of the people who claimed to have helped Christine that night (with a judge ordering them to release the three; and then basically telling them to, yes, do their job properly), embalming the body before another (independent) autopsy can be done, etc.

It didn’t help PNP at all when one of its top brass stated that “gay men are still men” (Yes, sir, they are; DUH!) and insinuated that gayness can, basically, be cured by alcohol (that is, they’d start having sex with, or even rape women when they’re drunk).

Going online, among the statements of “support” for the gay/bi suspects, however, you’d find statements like “yuck”, gross ang vagina”, “babae, yuck”, “kadiri“, and so on. All these supposedly refer to what gay men “feel” when with women.

And let’s stop spewing these misogynistic statements.

Misogyny – that hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women (Merriam-Webster, 2021) – can be blatant. But it can also be “invisible”. And get this, even members of minority sectors – such as those from the LGBTQIA community – can be misogynistic.

This seeming disdain for women – or their body parts – is actually misogynistic.

If you think this I am making a big “leap” with this claim, consider that in Psychology Today, Dr. Berit Brogaard wrote that “in most cases, misogynists do not even know that they hate women.”

After all, why the need to demean women, or express disgust over their body parts, when we can just say, “No, we’re not into women”; or “I’m a man; but I’m (also) into men”?

The antiquated – and, well, fatuous – macho culture in PNP has been harming members of the LGBTQIA community. Let’s not become part of the problem by becoming just as antiquated and, yes, just as fatuous.

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From the Editor

To stand united, we also need to watch our tongues…

Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power. But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses. And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves.



Photo by Anna Shvets from

I was 28 the first time I was told I’m old. We were in a bar in Malate (the former gay capital of the City of Manila); and then – while partying with friends – this 21-year-old gay guy who was with a friend said: “You’re too old to be in a bar; yuck!”.

Ageism – which refers to prejudice or discrimination on the basis of age – is an issue in the LGBTQIA community. It is an issue that has been tackled repeatedly in the past; though, admittedly, perhaps not as much in the Philippines.

In 2009, for instance, Malcolm Sargeant published “Age discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity: UK/US perspectives” in Equal Opportunities International”, which noted that LGBTQIA elders suffer from particular discrimination when compared to that suffered by elders in general, and heterosexual elders in particular.

It is, therefore, not surprising that elders have been calling for inclusion; something that Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE (an American organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ elders), said that should be tackled. “Over and over what we hear again from our elders is that they feel invisible and forgotten by the rest of the community, and that includes our younger people… And what we’ve seen is that it’s so powerful when older and younger people come together and engage as activists,” Adams was quoted as saying by

These two points – ageism, and the need to dump it if we want to move forward TOGETHER – was re-emphasized to me after hearing from some of PNP’s suspects in the demise of Christine Dacera.

As FYI: Christine, a flight attendant, partied with mostly gay/bi friends during New Year’s Eve. She passed away on New Year’s Day; and the PNP has been “forcing” a narrative that she was “raped”, with a high-ranking policeman even claiming that when gay men get drunk, they “also become men”.

This one’s not to talk about PNP messing everything up; PNP’s assertion that “gay men are still men” (based on this antiquated misconception that “gay men are not ‘real’ men”); PNP’s erroneous belief that alcohol is a “cure” to being LGBTQIA (Hello, CBCP, send some my way!); and PNP’s insinuation that, yes, all men are rapists.

Instead, this is to focus on how “damage” can come from within the LGBTQIA community. And we really need to be aware of this; and even take steps to deal with this.

Now back to ageism and how this happens from within.

When ABS-CBN News interviewed some of the initial suspects (who were released when the court told PNP it, basically, didn’t do its job properly to pin these people down), one of them stated (off-handedly, if I may add; proceed to 56:25 in the YT video below) that they mingled with “mga bakla” in a separate room, but that this room had “matatanda/bakla na may mga edad na” so they may as well move to their room/a different room since “wala namang pogi dito eh“.

Discriminating may have been unintentional (ageism, and yes, lookism); but it’s still there.

The suspects’ names have been unnecessarily dragged by the PNP which committed errors after errors after errors when it dealt with this case – e.g. it prematurely declared the case “solved”; it claimed there was “rape” when the initial autopsy report did not back this claim; its key people even threatened that if the suspects did not willingly surrender, then they should expect the worse (and yes, we all know what THAT meant); and it basically prevented another autopsy from being done to the body when it had the body embalmed sans informing the family, etc.

Our bigger enemy here is injustice… to everyone involved (i.e. Christine; her loved ones; and her friends and acquaintances, many of them treated – even without proof – with prejudice). And how this injustice can be perpetuated even by those in positions of power.

But just as important is for us to stay… united against these abuses.

And part of this is not to become sources of, well, discrimination ourselves. Because how can we stand united if we discriminate against people we hope will actually support us (e.g. the LGBTQIA community as a whole, including the elders and, yes, the “not pogi“)?

So let’s be more self-aware as we start dealing with this…

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From the Editor

About sex work (and prostitution) among Filipinos at the time of Covid-19

Various Facebook GCs (group chats) highlight how Covid-19 may have pushed many Filipinos into the sex industry. And yet – except in these GCs – this is largely ignored.



Facebook just prompted me to “join” three GCs (group chats) related to sex work (and even prostitution). One is for “mga lalaking bayaran“, another for masseurs with ES (extra service; the extra being the sexual favor), and another for “for hire daks Pinoys”.

These aren’t exclusive GCs, actually; and they aren’t new, either. Many others like them abound in Facebook (among other social networking sites).

But upon checking, what struck me with these GCs this time around is Covid-19’s effect/s on the (current) memberships. So many are in this because of desperation. For instance, it is not uncommon to see comments like: “Nawalan lang ng trabaho; sino gusto tumulong para may ipa-Pasko kaming mag-aama“; or “Para tulong lang sa online classes.”

This is another facet of the sex industry (and even prostitution) as exacerbated by the pandemic.

And this face – while at least tackled overseas – isn’t really openly discussed in the Philippines…


Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, this is worth stressing. Penalties vary, up to life imprisonment for those involved in trafficking (covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).

No, the country doesn’t distinguish between sex work and prostitution; here, those in the sex industry are largely considered as in need of being “saved”. Not just the body, too; but also the “soul”.

But – get this – prostitution is actually openly tolerated – e.g. let’s stop pretending we don’t know what many GROs actually do; what masseurs offer when they say “E.S.”; and that there are local government units that give workers (of bars, spas, massage parlors, KTV bars, and so on) “pink cards” to guarantee that they are STI-free and are “sexually clean/safe”.

And really, except for the occasional “saving” of trafficked people (who are then turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development) we see in TV, the deafening silence on this is what’s remarkable.


This silence is… worrisome.

Particularly because this continues to happen; and yes (yet again), exacerbated by Covid-19.

What the GC members I’ve come across in Facebook are doing aren’t new, actually. The Philippines – dearies – isn’t excluded from the “oldest profession in the world.” This, obviously, includes male sex workers (befitting the handling of this topic here).

Consider that in 2003, the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute and Demographic Research and Development Foundation released the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS3) that noted that about 11% of sexually active young people aged 15-24 did it with someone of the same sex. Of this figure, 87% are men who have sex with men (MSM; meaning they may not self-identify as gay or bi, but have sex with other men).

Here’s what’s worth stressing in UP’s study: Almost half of those who had same-sex encounters also engaged in commercial sex. Approximately 19% paid for sex, while 11% received payment for sexual favors.

At that time, Dr. Corazon Raymundo, project coordinator of YAFS3, stated that it appears that in a fast changing world, the “usual norms and expectations do not hold true anymore.”


There are too many interconnected issues that should be considered here…

There’s poverty; and how this forces people to do things they may not otherwise do.

There’s the continuing lack of government support for its people; otherwise, those who do not want to sell themselves wouldn’t be forced to do so – e.g. selling oneself for “online classes”; because of loss of employment; etc.

There’s the pervasive ignorance re the sex industry; this is what leads to the abuse of those involved in it because – since they are considered illegal to begin with – they can’t even access State support if they are abused, etc.

There’s the impact of tech on the industry.

There’s the ongoing hypocrisy re this – e.g. church people want to “save” sex workers; but ask them to give these same people job in the church, and start counting how many reasons they can come up with just to (basically) say “No way!”.

There’s the continuing “punishment” of those in the sex industry; and yet… look at how the patrons get away with “buying” (e.g. the GCs in Facebook blatantly haggle with the service providers, demanding for the absurd while asking to lower the prices).

There’s the continuing ignoring of the sexual and reproductive health concerns of Filipinos.

There’s the silence re this; it’s staring us in the face, and we don’t even talk about this.

And on, and on, and on we go…

In the end, this needs to be tackled. No matter your angle” – e.g. because it inadvertently signifies the adverse effects of Covid-19 on poorer sectors of society; because it highlights government inaction/misaction; because it needs to be monitored as a health issue; because you’re self-righteous and you want to “save” them all; etc. – this shouldn’t, couldn’t be ignored. Covid-19 is re-emphasizing what was already there; and so please… just address this already…

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Editor's Picks

Enter the alter world

Welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual engagements. Though often maligned, it actually also highlights formation of friendships, info sharing, emotional support, and even provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality.



Some time back, Kurt (a.k.a. @MoanerBottom) opened a Twitter account as a form of revenge. “I found out that my ex had an ‘alter’ account and he was fooling around with different people,” he recalled. And so “I wanted to prove to him that I can also do the same thing.”

Little did Kurt know at that time that he would become a mainstay in the alter world/community. A few months since opening his own alter account, he garnered over 130,000 followers, all of them craving – and even waiting – for what he would post, usually dominated by sexual encounters (“kalat videos,” he calls them) with mostly students, including a basketball varsitarian “who likes to penetrate deeply”, a Blue Eagle who allowed for his orgasm to be videoed, a Tamaraw who also allowed himself to be videoed as he orgasmed, and bending for a Red Lion.

“I must admit that I am a shy person in real life,” Kurt said. But “here in Twitter, it is like I have less shame and more courage to do kalat (contextually: shameless) posts and videos.”

Kurt is, obviously, only one of the people – not just Filipinos – with alter accounts, which many like him, say is similar to a “pseudonym — like Batman to Bruce Wayne, or Superman to Clark Kent; where people can have a separate account from their primary accounts, usually used to express themselves more ‘wildly’ yet more ‘discreetly’/anonymously.”

And so welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual “collaborations”, hookups, fetishes, fantasies and social engagements, with the audiences often never really knowing the content generators/producers/distributors.

Getting noticed

That the alter world is often dominated by sexual content is a given.

Onin (a.k.a. @Onin_NuezPH), for example, sees his alter account “as an avenue for me to express myself and my sexuality. I am able to let everyone know within the community about my sexual desires without the fear of being judged.”

Looking back, it was actually “a friend who is an alter too introduced me in this alter community,” Onin said.

One of the early instances Onin trended was when some of his nude photos circulated on Twitter. Many got curious, asking the person who previously reacted or shared the photos if there were more.

It whetted Onin’s interest; and so he started posting more photos and short videos. His followers quickly increased, reaching more than 145,000.

Taking pride that he is one of the more talked about alters out there, Onin has produced content that may seem trivial… but these have been keeping the alter community and lurkers interested, from balancing a shampoo bottle on top of his erect penis, sharing a photo of his endowment while asking his followers if they want to kneel in front him, a comparison of the length of a deodorant spray with his penis, wearing a see-through underwear, and teasing his latest sexual collaboration.

Standing out

Standing out in a platform where hundreds (even thousands) of alters saturate news feeds is a challenge. After all, it is not an easy feat to attract someone’s attention — what more to make them like, share, or follow an account.

For FUCKER Daddy (a.k.a. @ako_daddy), therefore, it all comes down to the type of content being posted, not just being well-endowed, willing to perform bareback sex, or how often the face is shown.

A licensed professional who has a son, FUCKER Daddy started as a “lurker’ (i.e. one who lurks, or just consumes content/views profiles) on Twitter. At that time, he wrote “my real-life sex stories, hoping it will pick up from there,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, alter peeps seem to be more into live action.”

And so FUCKER Daddy met someone from Telegram, without realizing that the person was “sort of (a) big (personality) on Twitter.” This guy discretely took a short clip of their sexual encounter, and then posted it on his alter account. “It was hit. (And) the rest is history.”

By August 2019, FUCKER Daddy said his inbox started receiving direct messages from different users – e.g. asking for more, congratulating him, wanting to collaborate, and so on.

He actually now has several sex videos in his cam. But he still doesn’t make recording the primary thing when engaging in sex “as my goal is to have hookups; videos are only secondary.”

Besides, he said that “I do not want to spoil the moment for sex and think only of it as merely for Twitter.”

But every time FUCKER Daddy posts a video, he said his over 95,000 followers respond to them “with enthusiasm, getting more curious and intrigued.”

Making a living

The concept of alter, however, isn’t set in stone.

For one, there are actually alter accounts whose owners prefer to use their real names and show their faces (like Onin), mixing their personal and private lives along the way. Following the Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent analogy, there are also people who follow the Tony Stark/Iron Man mantra, i.e. openly announcing that they are one and the same.

Secondly, monetizing is actually possible.

Also, one may be part of the alter community without knowing it – i.e. one engages in alter activities without recognizing it as such.

The likes of John (a.k.a. @johnnephelim on Twitter and Instagram), who has over 130,000 followers, comes to mind, using Twitter as a platform “to promote a job.”

“I do not even know that I am involved in the world of alter,” John said, adding that he did not even know what the term meant until it was presented to him. Instead, his account is used to “promote my RentMen and OnlyFans accounts”, just as he also promotes his availability for “personal appointment to people.”

John actually used to work as a brand ambassador, but because of this change in his work, he “can no longer work (in) that (field) because I am doing porn.”

He admitted that “this type of thing is double-edged.” On the one hand, “you can earn a great amount of money,” he said, “but there will be sacrifices.”

He noted, for instance, that the perception of people about me changed; most people judge you right away because of what you do, and not because of who you are as a person.”

But he ignores the naysayers; “I do not mind because this job gives more than what I expected!”

Like John, Onin also promotes his JustFor.Fans (JFF) account on Twitter to respond to the requests of his followers.

“They (my followers) want to see me in action and they are willing to subscribe too,” Onin said, with his exclusive content including: he and his partner having sex, and collaborations with other alters. “You will not earn that much, but pretty enough to compensate for the contents that we are posting.”

Not all alters think alike, obviously. FUCKER Daddy, for instance, won’t monetize his content, saying: “I value sex as it was created. I never sell any (videos) because I think it is something that is worth free. I simply treated it as making memories while those (who) watch put up the numbers.”

Behind the handles

The world of alter has actually already caught the attention of researchers.

For instance, in a study by Samuel Piamonte of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Mark Quintos of De La Salle University Manila, and Minami Iwayama of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, it was found that the alter community may seem overtly sexual, but there is more to it than that.
“The sexual aspect of alter is the core of alter, but it has been enriched by more complex social benefits to users such as including formation of new friendships, sharing of information and advocacies, reciprocations of emotional support, and provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality but find that doing so outside of the alter community could be met with stigma from their peers and family.”

Kurt sees his alter account as an avenue for him to tap his inner self and show the Twitter universe his kalat. Onin uses his alter account to broadcast his sexual side (together with his partner). And FUCKER Daddy uses his alter account as “a constant source of info, hookups, convo… and to learn social demographics as well.”

The evolution, indeed, continues.

Hate from within the community

Yes, yes, yes… with increasing numbers of followers, multiple likes and shares, and the creation of alter “celebrities”, this has not been spared from criticisms.

And sadly, said Kurt, at least in the Philippine setting, the prejudice against alters comes from within the community. “Kapuwa LGBT ang nagsisiraan at nagpapataasan sa isa’t-isa,” he said. “I know… that I cannot please everyone (but) for me it is okay, as long as I know that I am not doing anything wrong.”

Perhaps a “surprise” is the audience’s inability to “appreciate” the free content given them, with Kurt noting that there are times when “they are also pissed off with the things I post.”

This seems to contradict the findings of Piamonte, Quintos and Iwayama, since – here – the alter community can become a fearful place, too.

John, like Kurt, noted how people resort to demeaning others when they do not fit preconceived notions. But he just laughs this off, saying: “Do not hate me because I look good and make money (from) it. Life is too short to be a bitter person. If you do not like what we do, then shut the fuck up.”

The Pandora’s box, so to speak has been opened; and lessons learned along the way can just “make you stronger and bring out the best in you,” said Onin, who like many alters, “just focus on my goals.” And it is exactly because of the existence of this interchange – the content creation, and the love-hate reaction to what’s created – that alter is not going to disappear anytime soon (or at all).

Details and photos of sexual encounters were lifted from the Twitter accounts of the interviewees.

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Simple but effective tips on how you can better protect trans women

Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it. So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.



These are simple but effective tips on how you can better protect the trans women in your lives in the context of a night that could go wrong. Given that our lives are considered less than a lot of people, it’s easy for trans women to become victims of violence and for the perpetrator to get away with it.

So our best defense against any untoward incident is to always think of our security and the security of our friends.


If you are hooking up with someone, ALWAYS send a picture of the person you are hooking up with to people you trust with your life. If you are hooking up with someone from a club, bar, or any public place, ask your friend to take your picture with the person you’d be with. This can be de done discreetly or with the permission of the other person. When asking permission, tell the person that you’re taking his/her picture for security purposes.


If you are going to someone else’s house for a booty call, send your GPS location via Whatsapp OR text the address of your location to people you trust.

3. WAIT.

If you are walking someone home or dropping them off, do not leave until the person is already inside his/her house. Do not let your drunk or high friend go home alone, either invite your friend to your house or accompany them home.


Always demand an “I’m safe” call/text from your friend as soon as they’re home.

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