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Will John Raspado be Phl’s newest export to the global LGBT community?

There’s never been a Mr. Gay World winner from the Philippines for the past eight years. John Fernandez Raspado, a 36-year-old online entrepreneur from Baguio City, is hoping that he will be the first Filipino to win the elusive title in Spain come May 10.



A few days before the finale of Mr. Gay World 2017 pageant that is in progress in Madrid and Maspalomas, Spain, the Philippines’ envoy John Fernandez Raspado still enjoys a wide lead over his 20 other co-candidates in the official voting page of the contest.

If this trend goes on until the competition’s closing stages on May 10 (midnight of May 11, Manila time), then Mr. Gay World Philippines would not only receive the Mr. Gay Popularity crystal trophy—he’s already assured of a top 10 spot in the semifinal round.

As of this writing, Raspado is still on top of the Mr. Gay World online polls, with a 10.5-centimeter “horizontal gridline lead.” His closest competition, incidentally, is his roommate, Belgium’s Raf Van Puymbroeck, who trailed far behind with 2 centimeters. Meanwhile, Andrzej Berg of Poland and “home court gay hunk” Candido Arteaga of Spain are statistically tied at third spot, who both garnered one centimeter.

Filipinos around the world can still help John Raspado keep up in the game by clicking HERE  and voting once every 24 hours until 11:59 p.m. of May 10, Wednesday (Manila time).

The global pageant for gay men established in 2009 by Eric Butter, a philanthropist from Australia, and now co-managed by Dieter Sapper from Austria, chairman of the board of Mr. Gay World directors, is again looking for a gay leader who will serve as the ears and the voice of the Mr. Gay World Organization—somebody who can inspire and empower gay men worldwide.

The competition takes place for four consecutive days, and includes photo, sports, fashion show or runway and swimwear challenges. Butter, municipality of the San Bartolome de Tirajana’s Council of Equality member Amanda Cardenes, international photographer Joan Crisol, EDDY Fundacion president Manuel Rodenas, World Pride 2017 general coordinator Juan Carlos Alonso, Austrian Federal Finance Ministry officer Andrea Nägele, and Mr. Gay World 2016 Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga of Spain comprise this year’s lineup of judges.

In the past eight years that the Philippines participated in Mr. Gay World, only Christian Reyes Lacsamana was lucky enough to almost snatch the very elusive title: He won the Mister Gay Popularity, Mister Gay Social Media and Best in National Costume special awards, and finished second runner-up to Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga of Spain. Wilbert Ting Tolentino, Mr. Gay World Philippines of 2009, is the current national director and franchise holder of Mr. Gay World in Manila.

Raspado, a 36-year-old and 6-feet-2-inch-tall entrepreneur, is engaged in online selling of health supplements. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in marketing and then acquired units in post-graduate diploma in business administration at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City. He is the youngest and the fourth child of Romulo, a retired government employee and native of Isabela, and Ma. Dolores, a former migrant worker who hails from La Union.

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To prepare for the “biggest fight of his life,” he studied the videos of Mr. Gay World where his predecessors competed. Professional pageant coach Rodgil Flores of the renowned “Kagandahang Flores” beauty camp trained him months before his international assignment.

Raspado will be wearing a national costume inspired by the combination of pre-colonial and Spanish influences in the Philippines. His gold-embellished metallic head piece symbolizes the indigenous mythical demigod “Sidapa,” a great warrior and deity of the homosexuals in the country. International celebrity designer Rocky Gathercole created his Spanish matador costume which reportedly costs US$5,000, while Leo Almodal provided his formal wear for the preliminaries and finals night.

“Thank you so much guys for the ‘warm Pinoy support’. Clearly, Filipinos are the best supporters you can have [as an international pageant contestant],” Raspado said, who first achieved popularity when he became grand winner of “I Am PoGay,” a contest for handsome gay men in a noontime variety show of a major TV network three years ago.

Although he’s deemed by the pageant fans and pundits as the “winner in waiting,” if not the strongest Filipino delegate ever to compete in Mr. Gay World after Randolph Val Palma who made it to the semis in Rome, Italy, in 2014, for Raspado, neither this is the time to get lazy nor be complacent about what he can still achieve.

“I shouldn’t feel like a hero this early. Success doesn’t just happen—you need to work hard to make it happen. [And] consistency will [always] be the key in getting the victory,” he said.


Mr. Gay World Philippines might be an easy pick—a favorite even before he’s stepped into the Spanish soil—but just like Raspado, there are 20 other contestants who are also dreaming to be the next Mr. Gay World.

The delegates from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, India and Indonesia

The contestants from Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and Venezuela

Here they are, in alphabetical order.

  1. Australia’s David Francis, 29, property developer and ambassador for StartOut Australia, a mental health nonprofit organization which develops an online mentoring program for younger members of LGBT community. He has his own YouTube channel and about 40,000 Instagram followers.
  2. To recover from the embarrassment that Austria had in Mr. Gay World 2015—Klaus Burkart resigned 200 days after winning the title due to “personal changes” in his life—this country in Central Europe sent another strong delegate named Miguel Pedro Dal Piaz, a 34-year-old real estate agent during weekdays and professional dancer during weekends.
  3. Belgium’s Raf Van Puymbroeck, 22, teaches sports education and dance at Thomas More University. He established many LGBT-related campaigns in the Belgian sports arena such as “Rainbow Laces for college students.” He even wrote a guidebook for the National Sports Organization on how to deal with transgenders, and now works with a European project called “Heroes of Football” alongside six national federations to end “football homophobia.” Raf is also the reigning Mr. Gay Europe.
  4. Vitor Trindade de Castro, a 27-year-old entrepreneur and self-confessed fitness fanatic from São Paulo, Brazil. Spain will always have a special place in his heart: He met his husband while vacationing in Madrid three years ago.
  5. Chile’s Juan Pedro Pavez Böhle, 29, an accountant and professional ballroom dancer. For him, joining Mr. Gay World is more of a commitment—something that transforms promise into a reality.
  6. František Pešek of Czech Republic, a 31-year-old deputy chief sales officer in a shopping and retail store in Pilsen, a city in western Bohemia. He believes that winning the Mr. Gay World title will allow him to help young gays “to come out safely.”
  7. Ecuador’s Flavio Romero Valdez, 27, arts major in a university, professional dancer and member of the National Ballet of Ecuador. He encourages everyone to remove barriers between people of different sexual orientations through his campaign, “My Best Friend is LGBT.”
  8. Joonas Nilsson of Finland, 29, obtained his restaurant degree qualification at the Turku Vocational Institute and presently works as a restaurant manager in a spa hotel.
  9. India’s Darshan Mandhana is a 31-year-old painter and human resource professional from Mumbai. A graduate of University of Pune, Darshan won the Mr. Gay India title on his third attempt.
  10. Budi Alamsyah, 29, financial services professional from Jakarta, Indonesia. He describes himself as “not perfect, but being gay is not a flaw.” Through his passion for traveling and distance running, he’s completed 37 marathons in four continents.
  11. Mexico’s Jorge Gonzales, also known as George Glezz, 24, is a chemical engineering senior at the Zacatecas Autonomy University. He works as a map engineer, stylist, professional makeup artist and franchise manager of French cosmetics.
  12. Charlie Tredway of New Zealand is a 33-year-old community outreach staffer for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. After making the courageous decision to publicly disclose his positive status on World AIDS Day in 2014, he has since dedicated his life to HIV advocacy and awareness. He even received a scholarship to attend the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.
  13. Poland’s Andrzej Berg, 28, a licensed chemist and works at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Gdansk Medical University.
  14. Jaromír Dominik Schoffer, a 40-year-old castellan or rescuer and restorer of castles and fortresses from the Slovak Republic. He considers being the eldest candidate as an asset than a liability, defining it as “youth forward.”
  15. South Africa’s Alexander Steyn, 35, is definitely a multifaceted person: He’s a qualified architect, actor, singer, songwriter, dancer, director, choreographer, voice over artist, painter and teacher. He’s joined Mister Gay South Africa pageant in 2011 but only emerged as first runner-up to Lance Weyer. His #loveALL advocacy addresses a range of issues, among them bullying and homophobia.
  16. Candido Arteaga, a 27-year-old nurse, must be hoping that lightning strikes twice for Spain. His predecessor Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga is the reigning king. If this scenario happens, this would be the second back-to-back victory in Mr. Gay World’s history—the first one was achieved by South Africans Charl van den Berg (2010) and Francois Nel (2011).
  17. Switzerland’s Marco Tornese, 32, team leader in a Swiss bank who can speak five different languages. It is interesting to note that his boyfriend, Mr. Gay World 2016 first runner-up Chris Krauel from Austria, served as his pageant coach-cum-mentor, and prepared him perfectly to hurdle all of the upcoming fast-track competitions.
  18. Touya Xia is a 22-year-old student-nurse from Taiwan. His proclamation as Mr. Gay Taiwan was held during Taipei Pride in October of last year, witnessed by 82,000 people. His country is on the verge of becoming the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and he wants to help in the process.
  19. Thailand’s Pattanajuk Vipadakul, 30, is an aesthetic doctor at a private hospital in Bangkok. Although his country’s been sending representatives to the international competition, Pattanajuk is the first-ever official Mr. Gay World Thailand titleholder.
  20. Alberto Jose Rodriguez Engifo, is a 31-year-old professional model and international missionary doctor from Caracas, Venezuela. When not treating acute and chronic illnesses or providing preventive care and health education to his patients, he struts high-fashion outfits on the runways.
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Raspado already made an impression among his countrymen as well as pageant devotees across the globe. But will the judges make that a lasting impression by giving him the satin sash embroidered with Mr. Gay World title, which they all came to claim?

John Raspado strikes a pose for selfie with his competition roommate, Raf Van Puymbroeck of Belgium, the reigning Mr. Gay Europe

The author with Mr. Gay World Philippines 2017 John Fernandez Raspado

Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon is just your average journalist who can't live without a huge plate of cheesy spaghetti, three cups of brewed coffee, and high-speed Internet every single day. A graduate of mass communication at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, he chased loads of actors, beauty queens, pop artists and even college basketball players until the wee hours of the morning to write their stories eight years. Ivan (how those close to him call him) presently works as a full-time search engine optimization copywriter and an image consultant. He splurges his take-home pay in motivational books and spends his free time touring different heritage towns in the country.


SM Supermalls to install gender-neutral restrooms starting this November

SM Supermalls will begin installing all-gender restrooms in its malls starting this November. The move will be first done in malls in Metro Manila, including SM Mall of Asia, SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Aura Premier and The Podium; as well as at SM Seaside City Cebu.



Real move for inclusion; or mall-versus-mall PR effort targeting the pink peso?

Months after Araneta Center’s Farmers Plaza in Cubao, Quezon City figured in a much-hyped controversy for refusing to allow a transgender woman to use a toilet befitting her gender identity, SM Supermalls announced that it will begin to install all-gender restrooms in its malls starting this November.

The move will be first done in malls in Metro Manila, including SM Mall of Asia, SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Aura Premier and The Podium; as well as at SM Seaside City Cebu.

The move, according to a statement released by the giant company, is a “leap towards a more gender-inclusive community”, as SM Supermalls aims to “continue to provide a safe community space that advocates inclusivity, equality, and respect for all regardless of gender expression, identity, or sexual orientation.”

“With inclusivity and innovation at the core of everything we do, we endeavor to create spaces where all shoppers are welcome,” SM Supermalls COO Steven Tan was quoted as saying.

The all-gender restroom will be a new facility in addition to the male, female, and PWD restrooms in these malls.

The effort may be commendable, but SM Supermalls is not always on the side of what’s right. In 2015, for instance, its establishment in Baguio City, SM Baguio, cut 60 trees surrounding the mall for its expansion, including to build additional parking.

SM Supermalls is also infamous for practicing contractualization – i.e. not regularizing its employees, thus failing to give many security of tenure and benefits.

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Positive family relationships linked with lower levels of depressive symptoms

Positive family relationships during adolescence appeared to be associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms from adolescence to midlife in this observational study of about 18,000 adolescents followed up until they were 32 to 42 years old.



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How are adolescent family relationships associated with trajectories of depressive symptoms from adolescence into midlife for women and men?

This was the question asked by a study – “Association of Positive Family Relationships With Mental Health Trajectories From Adolescence To Midlife” by Ping Chen, PhD and Kathleen Mullan Harris, PhD – published by JAMA Pediatrics, with the findings suggesting an association of early intervention in family relationships during adolescence with better mental health into adulthood and midlife.

The study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which used a multistage, stratified school-based design to select a prospective cohort of 20 745 adolescents in grades 7 to 12 from January 3, 1994, to December 26, 1995 (wave 1). These respondents were followed up during four additional waves from April 14 to September 9, 1996 (wave 2); April 2, 2001, to May 9, 2002 (wave 3); April 3, 2007, to February 1, 2009 (wave 4); and March 3, 2016, to May 8, 2017 (sample 1, wave 5), when the cohort was aged 32 to 42 years.

The study sample of 8,952 male adolescents and 9,233 female adolescents that were analyzed was a US national representation of all population subgroups by sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography.

Levels of depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale [CES-D]) from ages 12 to 42 years were then used to estimate propensity score–weighted growth curve models to assess sex differences in trajectories of depression by levels of positive adolescent family relationships.

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A total of 18,185 individuals (mean [SD] age at wave 1, 15.42 [0.12] years; 9233 [50.8%] female) participated in the study.

The study found that females and males who experienced positive adolescent family relationships had “significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms from early adolescence to midlife than did those who experienced less positive adolescent family relationships.”

For example, depressive symptoms were lower among those with high levels of family cohesion compared with those with low cohesion between 12 (1.26 lower CES-D score; 95% CI, 1.10-1.42) and 40 (0.78 lower CES-D score; 95% CI, 0.50-1.06) years of age among females and between 12 (0.72 lower CES-D score; 95% CI, 0.57-0.86) and 37 (0.21 lower CES-D score; 95% CI, 0.00-0.41) years of age among males.

The study also found that the reduction in depressive symptoms associated with positive adolescent family relationships was greater for females than males during the adolescent and early adulthood years (ie, early 20s) (eg, low-high cohesion difference in mean CES-D score, −1.26 [95% CI, −1.42 to −1.10] for females and −0.72 [95% CI, −0.86 to −0.57] for males at 12 years of age; low-high cohesion difference in mean CES-D score, −0.61 [95% CI, −0.69 to −0.53] for females and −0.40 [95% CI, −0.48 to −0.31] for males at 20 years of age), after which females and males benefited equally from positive adolescent relationships throughout young adulthood to midlife.

As per the authors, “The findings suggest that positive adolescent family relationships are associated with better mental health among females and males from early adolescence to midlife. Interventions in early family life to foster healthy mental development throughout the life course appear to be important.”

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This is noteworthy for the LGBTQIA community because other studies highlight the relevance of family support to LGBTQIA people. An earlier study released in July, for instance, showed “that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully-victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies).”

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Divided US Supreme Court to decide whether Civil Rights Act should also protect LGBT workers

Outrage Magazine is at the US Supreme Court, where oral arguments were heard on a major civil rights question: Are gay and transgender people covered by the law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex?



WASHINGTON, DC – The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a major civil rights question: Are gay and transgender people covered by the law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex?

As FYI: Legal developments in many countries – including the Philippines – are affected by those in the US. For instance, when the Philippines’ Supreme Court heard oral arguments on marriage equality in the country, the civil rights movement in the US was mentioned, along with other international laws/statutes pushing for LGBTQIA human rights.

At the SCOTUS, three cases are being heard.

Two of those cases, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, ask whether a worker can be fired for their sexual orientation. The third, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, asks whether a worker can be fired because of their gender identity.

US currently has a federal civil rights law that somewhat touches on this – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as gender, race, color, national origin and religion.

However, the text of the law bans only “sex” discrimination, not specifically stating discrimination based on a worker’s “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”.

It is worth noting, therefore, that in the US, 29 states still do not have a law protecting the rights of LGBTQIA workers from being fired solely because of their SOGIE.

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The cases now at SCOTUS, therefore, ask whether concepts like sexual orientation and gender identity – both tightly bound to the concept of sex (meaning gender, not sexual intercourse) – should also be included under its grasp.

Thus far, the members of SCOTUS are divided.

The top court’s liberal members are expected to vote with the plaintiffs and the argument that LGBTQIA workers should be covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was among those who already noted that firing LGBTQIA people not because they under-performed but because of who they are may fall under the statutory ban on sex discrimination. “We can’t deny that homosexuals are being fired merely for being who they are and not because of religious reasons, not because they are performing their jobs poorly,” Sotomayor said, calling it “invidious behavior.”

For Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Title VII prohibits employment discrimination that occurs “because of (an employee’s) race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” The language used here is broad and it suggests that a simple test should apply in sex discrimination cases. A plaintiff in such a case should prevail unless they would have experienced the exact same treatment if they “were a different sex.”

For Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, interpretations of Title Vii had changed in the past. Since this law was enacted, the SCOTUS has held that it applied to discrimination based on sex stereotypes, as well as same-sex harassment. And though these areas were presumably not on the minds of the legislators who voted for it, “no one ever thought sexual harassment was encompassed by discrimination on the basis of sex back in 1964. It wasn’t until a book was written in the middle 1970s bringing that out,” Ginsburg said. “And now we say, ’Of course, harassing someone, subjecting her to terms and conditions of employment she would not encounter if she were a male, that is sex discrimination. But it wasn’t recognized.”

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But conservative justices – including those appointed by US Pres. Donald Trump, who may continuously claim to be pro-LGBTQIA but has been attacking LGBTQIA human rights in the country by implementing policies not beneficial to the LGBTQIA community (such as banning transgender people from serving in the military) – are concerned of “massive social upheaval” if the court will rule in favor of LGBTQIA workers, instead of allowing Congress to legislate on the subject.

Decisions from the nine justices of America’s highest court are due by next June. – WITH SUZETTE MAGALLANES-PADOR

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Political divisiveness can cause an increase in homophobic bullying

Divisive partisan climates can cause an increase in homophobic bullying. But one school initiative was found to prevent and combat homophobic bullying – i.e. the formation of gay-straight alliance clubs.



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Divisive partisan climates can cause an increase in homophobic bullying. This is according research Dr. Yishan Shen, an assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University at Austin.

According to Shen – whose research group was headed by Stephen Russell, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas – being a teenager is hard enough, but Dr. Yishan Shen, an assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University, has uncovered additional challenges for youths between 10 and 19 who are targets of bullying during contentious political campaigns.

While examining data from the California Healthy Kids Survey gathered before a 2008 referendum known as Proposition 8, Shen found what she described as an “odd peak of homophobic bullying in 2008.”

Shen reported the trend to Russell, whose laboratory she joined as a graduate student at UT in 2015 to expand her scholarship to other minority and marginalized groups. Russell dubbed Shen’s finding as “The Prop 8 Effect”, in a reference to attitudes about a California ballot initiative intended to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. They continued studying the topic, with their findings published as Proposition 8 and Homophobic Bullying in California in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers determined that secondary school students reported “significantly more” homophobic bullying as the Prop 8 vote was approaching, but less after the Prop 8 vote. 

The researchers tried running different statistical analyses to see if there are other possible explanations, like the economic or ethnic makeup of the schools, but after controlling for each of these variables, the same pattern was observed, thereby leading them to conclude that the increase in rates of bullying was associated with Prop 8.

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 One school initiative was found to prevent and combat homophobic bullying in their study – the formation of gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs. 

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‘Humanizing SOGIE’ launched to help elevate SOGIE discussion

LGBTQIA community members, as well as allies launched “Humanizing SOGIE”, a national initiative to advocate for sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) inclusion and equality in the Philippines.



Allies in Congress, community leaders, and other advocates joined together to launch “Humanizing SOGIE”, a national initiative to advocate for sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) inclusion and equality in the Philippines.

Gender equality organization SPARK! Philippines, with support from the Government of Canada and in partnership with Love is All We Need and Propel Manila, is launching this national campaign that shares stories of Filipinos through a public exhibit, engaging the public in a social media conversation and creating space for community coordination.

“Humanizing SOGIE is more than just a social media campaign. Its focal point is a public exhibit highlighting the challenges that 23 Filipinos have faced as a result of their diverse SOGIE,” SPARK! Philippines executive director Maica Teves explained. 

By shining a light on the stories of real Filipinos with diverse experiences, “the campaign aims to challenge preconceptions about what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the Philippines and to increase public awareness about how different forms of discrimination continue to impact members of the community,” Teves added.  

Humanizing SOGIE is expected to contribute to an ongoing public conversation about these issues by encouraging those who visit the public exhibit to share their reactions through social media and to join the call for greater inclusion and equality.

Recognizing that there are no legal protections in the Philippines specifically for SOGIE individuals, “Humanizing SOGIE” will engage directly with lawmakers by inviting them to visit the exhibit and participate on social media. The campaign will also organize a series of community dialogues to convene allied individuals and groups, particularly from the LGBTQ+ organizations, to coordinate their efforts in pushing for greater SOGIE equality.

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The project is funded with support from the Embassy of Canada’s Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, a competitive grants program that supports Filipino organizations implementing projects that empower marginalized groups across the country.

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Only 1 out of 10 Filipinos always use condoms

Only 30% said they used condoms very frequently to prevent pregnancy and at least 40% to avoid STIs.



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Most sexually active Filipinos don’t always use condoms, putting them at risk to acquire sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and, yes, unwanted pregnancy.

This is according to a study done by PhilCare, a health maintenance organization (HMO), which showed that only one out of 10 Filipinos always use protection.

Over 800 (i.e. 820) sexually-active Filipinos were polled nationwide for this study, which found that at least 30% said they used condoms very frequently to prevent pregnancy and at least 40% to avoid STIs. (It is worth nothing that the study did not segregate respondents based on their SOGIE – Ed)

Condom use for the prevention of STIs was higher among women (48%) than men (36%).

Meanwhile, 36% of women and 30% of men reported using condoms to prevent possible pregnancy.

The study similarly found out that those from Mindanao used protection more frequently, compared to the national average. Some 26% of Mindanawon respondents used condoms against unplanned pregnancy, which is more than twice the national average of 12%.

Meanwhile, at least 18% of respondents from Mindanao used condoms against STIs, still and also higher than the national average of 13%.

The survey also found that only two out of 10 young adults, aged 18 to 30, always used protection. Broken down, over half of young adults used protection very frequently against STIs, while almost 40% did to avoid pregnancy.

In contrast, only 12% of men and women between 31 to 40 used condoms against STIs while 14% said they did to prevent pregnancy.

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Older respondents in between 40 to 50 reported even lower condom use. Only 10% used protection against STIs, while only 7% as contraception.

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