Convenor, Pink Watch
In 2011, some time after quitting her first job, Tam Maguad attended a conference for LGBTs, helmed by the Amnesty International (AI) in the Philippines. In so many ways, for Tam, “it was then that I really became aware of LGBT issues and concerns.” So that “while AI wasn’t the first LGBT group I belonged to, it was where I got exposed to activism and advocating for LGBT rights.”
Tam is now a co-convenor of Pink Watch, a group established following the demise of Marlon Toledo Lacsamana/Reighben Labilles’ Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, which looks at documenting and – hopefully reporting – LGBT-specific crimes experienced by LGBTs in the Philippines. The effort continues to be important, definitely, since – as last reported by the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch prior to its closure – over 130 LGBT-related crimes have already been reported as of end-2011 (from 1994, when the documenting was first done), with 37 of these crimes happening in 2011 alone.
“I believe the key issues we as LGBT advocates in the Philippines should focus on are: LGBT discrimination and violence, ignorance of the general public on SOGI, and gender recognition,” Tam said.
Facing these issues can be challenging, Tam admitted. “What disappoints me the most in the local LGBT community is this sense of indifference most people have. Even other ‘advocates’ I know of are either genuinely involved or operate under a “ningas kugon” scenario. It’s highly discouraging at times,” she said.
However, as the cliché goes, hope springs eternal. “What inspires me in the LGBT community is how most, if not all, of us have open minds and truly live under the mantra: ‘Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.’ If only everyone in the world would be so open-minded and accepting as us, then we wouldn’t be having most of the problems the world is suffering from right now.”
Tam is also currently a member of the AI’s LGBT group, and of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). And while she has numerous plans, “right now, I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time, (even if) my ultimate dream is an LGBT Health/Research/Everything Center here in the Philippines and maybe, it can be for every country as well in the Asia-Pacific region. A one-stop shop for people (not just for members of the LGBT community) who want to get research materials, healthcare services, information, or other LGBT-related things conveniently,” she said.
“I think most people in the LGBT community already associate me with the Pink Watch and LGBT killings,” Tam said, adding with a laugh that “I’m not really sure how to feel about – it’s interesting to be the ‘Face of Hate Crimes’.” However, more than this, “more than getting known/remembered,” what Tam said she wants “is to actually get things done, to actually move things forward. I guess if anything, I want to be remembered as someone who actually changed something for the better.”
At least somehow, with Pink Watch, Tam is helping make this change for the better happen.