Gay Philippines News & Reports 2001-02

| Thursday, January 1st, 2009 | Comments Off

1 Transgenders and other ‘third sexers’ 6/01

2 Gays in the Philippines push for equal rights 2/02

3 Progay hits ‘ungrateful macho church leadership’ 5/02

4 Filipino gays struggle with their rainbow 6/02

5 Religious, economic biases haunt Pinoy gay community 6/02

6 Pride Day 2002 and its impact on the gay community in Manila 6/02

7 The invisible pink peso 7/02

8 Silent Discrimination Against Gays 7/02

9 The invisible pink peso 7/02

10 Arnel topbills gay show repeat 7/02



Philippine Daily Inquirer

June 28, 2001

1
Transgenders and other ‘third sexers’

by Michael L. Tan’c
At a recent international conference in Manila, someone supposedly attended a session titled "Transgender issues" and sat in the room becoming more and more confused as the papers were delivered. After some time, he finally got around to asking his seatmate, "When are they going to discuss migration?" "Transgendered" is one of those new words that float around, their meaning still being processed. For the bewildered participant at the Manila conference, it had something to do with migration, which was sort of correct but not in a way he had expected.

To explain "transgendered," I will have to describe its broader use: "transgendered" is the "T" in "LGBT," which means "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered" communities, a term coined by gay rights activists. "LGBT" itself has gone through several incarnations, guided by excruciating political correctness. In the beginning, if I may present a kind of sexual genesis story combined with a quickie course on sexuality, it was just "gay and lesbian" but that term was considered sexist: why gay men first and then lesbians? The term was also criticized for excluding bisexuals. In response to this criticism, "gay and lesbian" became "lesbian, gays and bisexuals."

Before moving on, let me explain those terms (I’m sure you already know but I want to make sure). "Gay" is more or less a synonym for homosexual, meaning someone attracted to people of the same sex. Used in the phrase "gay and lesbian," "gay" is meant to refer to "gay men" while lesbians are "gay women." ”Bisexuals,” on the other hand, are people who are attracted to both sexes. (The slang term "ac/dc" is a wonderful metaphor–you can be nicely plugged in or you can fit snugly like batteries.)

Was "lesbian, gay, bisexual" accepted? No, the next ones to complain were transsexuals. Transsexuals are people who believe they were born in a wrong body and need to have their sex changed. Many people confuse "transsexuals" with "homosexuals," but these are two different categories. Most lesbians and gay men are perfectly happy with their existing "equipment."

Beyond Transsexual Western Models

For a very brief time then, people would talk about "lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals" but somewhere along the road, the word "transgendered" popped up not only to accommodate transsexuals but the many other gender categories which were being "discovered" in non-Western societies and which didn’t quite fit into the Western definitions of "lesbian," "gay" and "bisexual."

The Philippino bakla was one such category. We tend to translate "bakla" into "gay" or "homosexual" but that rendition is not quite accurate. "Gay" or "homosexual" in a Western setting refers to someone attracted to the same sex. In Western societies, the "rule" is that gay men go to bed with gay men, lesbians with lesbians. In the Philippines, a bakla, at least traditional ones, will not go to bed with another bakla–such behavior is bound to set off thunder, lightning, earthquakes and, worst of all, tsismis.

Bakla is more than "homosexual." The bakla (and loose equivalents such as the bayot among Cebuanos (Cebu) and agi among Ilonggos, as well as the kathoey of Thailand and the waria of Indonesia) considers himself a male with a female heart–pusong babae. He’s not quite transsexual; many are not interested in a sex-change operation. A bakla is, literally, a "third sex." The bakla considers himself almost-female, cross-dressing on a daily basis, often becoming more female than females in the sway of the hips, the thick make-up and the use of women’s clothing.

The bakla is attracted to men, which makes him homosexual–well, sort of, but not in the Western sense. The catch here is that it’s not just any male but ‘ rea’l men tunay na lalake-- as in heterosexual men. A fellow bakla cannot become a boyfriend, although "bakla" is relative here and becomes the subject of much "bakla-dar" (as in "radar") in courtship. Signs of bakla-hood can be quite arbitrary. "You know," a bakla friend told me suspiciously, "my boyfriend is always singing songs from ‘Miss Saigon.’" Goodbye boyfriend, hello Ate (Lea).

My lesbian friends have a favorite T-shirt showing a nurse presenting a newborn baby to the mother with the announcement, "It’s a lesbian!" The caption is of course done tongue-in-cheek but it captures what I’m trying to say: people are probably born homosexual but you can’t tell with a newborn child.

Expressions of one’s sexuality–L, G, B or T–come later, with great variation across cultures. "Transgender" tries to include the many categories in the world that defy Western definitions. (I haven’t even discussed our tibo/tomboy, the silahis and, the most intriguing, the "tunay na lalake," men who self-identify as heterosexual but have sex with other men.) Times do change. Many ‘modern’ masculine Filipino homosexuals now self-identify as "bakla" but have no problems about having a relationship with another "bakla" (and singing ”Miss Saigon” duets). All that to the chagrin of more traditional bakla, who can now point to Mayon’s eruption as the consequence of this abominable behavior.

As in so many aspects of Filipino culture, there’s a class factor to all this. Upper-class Filipino homosexuals often discriminate against lower-class "bakla," accusing them of propagating negative stereotypes of the "screaming faggot."
As far as I’m concerned, the sashaying cross-dressing bakla and the gruff tibo are the original gay liberationists in the Philippines, bold enough to go public and challenge gender boundaries.

There is a paradox to all this. In many ways, the bakla and the tibo are actually quite conservative, preserving often archaic definitions of male and female. "Goodness," I want to tell some of my bakla friends, "real women don’t wear stiletto heels." As for some butch tibo friends, I want to say, "Only Erap and Jinggoy still use pomade." In a sense then, transgenders parody our fixed categories of what male and female are. Transgenders are trailblazers in the way they shuttle, migrate between genders.

This year’s Gay Pride March is on Saturday, June 30. It starts at 3 p.m. at Remedios Circle and goes on through the night with a street party.



Phillipine Daily Inquirer

February 2002

2
Gays in the Philippines push for equal rights

Gays and lesbians in Baguio City, Philippines, are asking local officials to support a recent gay rights proposal filed by Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, reports the Phillipine Daily Inquirer. The bill, called the Magna Carta for Gays and Lesbians, includes a provision for legal domestic partnerships. "There is no ordinance or proposal anywhere in the Philippines from local government units that focused on the rights of gays and lesbians" said Dane Ducayag, a member of a gay rights organization. "Local government units tend to forget us; these officials give you a glance only during elections."

Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and Manila auxiliary bishop Socrates Villegas have opposed Angara-Castillo’s bill, saying its provisions are against the Christian faith and against Filipino culture. "If we are branded as being immoral because we are lesbians, we want to ask the Catholic Church about the meaning of immorality," said Julie Palaganas, a member of the Innabuyog-Lesbond (Lesbians for National Democracy). "Those who keep Filipinos impoverished are the ones who are immoral. It is so sad that [it is] the Catholic Church that spreads the shallow and backward views on gays and lesbians.



Philippine Daily Inquirer,
Makati City, Phillipines
http://www.inq7.net/nat/2002/may/31/nat_9-1.htm

May 31, 2002

3
Progay hits ‘ungrateful macho church leadership’

by Armand N. Nocum, Inquirer News Service
For calling homosexuality an "abnormal condition," a Catholic bishop has earned the ire of a militant gay organization. The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (Progay) (web site: http://www.geocities.com/progayphilippines/homepage.htm), said Sorsogon Bishop Jesus Varela’s thinking was reflective of the "patriarchal hierarchy of the Church." Varela said on Wednesday that "homosexuality as an orientation is not sinful. It is the practice of homosexuality that the Church condemns."

"It does not dignify the humanity of gay priests by telling them they can remain in the priesthood as long as the Vatican considers them sick while turning a blind eye to the heterosexual priests who (have) sex with women and girls but are not considered abnormal," Progay president Oscar Atadero said of Varela’s statement. Atadero reminded Varela that millions of gays and lesbians had suffered hundreds of years of Church oppression because of what he said was the Church’s wrong interpretation of the Scriptures.

"Yet churches have benefited from the thankless contributions of the resources and work offered freely by the conscientious homosexuals who slaved to build, clean up, decorate, sing and play beautiful music and evangelize for the greater glory of an ungrateful macho (Church) leadership," Atadero said. He challenged Church officials to "demonstrate true humanity not by banning gay priests from having sex, but by reforming the flawed sex-negative portions of their fundamental dogmas." Varela issued the statement amid the sexual scandals involving priests ranging from pedophilia to sex with women.

Because of the scandals, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is drafting a professional code of conduct for priests. "Let this crisis in Church leadership give them a chance to introduce more reforms in the hierarchy, like ordaining women and lesbians as priests and allowing priest and nuns . . . to marry legally and have children," Atadero said. Atadero urged the Church to allow gay priests a free reign to their passions. Fr. Robert Reyes said there were homosexual Filipino priests because many gay persons are quite religious.



Manila Times, Manila, Philippines ( http://www.manilatimes.net ) http://www.manilatimes.net/others/special/2002/jun/28/20020628spe1.html

June 29, 2002

4
Filipino gays struggle with their rainbow

by Dulce M. Arguelles and Darwin G. Amojelar
Raine, 35, is petite and voluptuous. She wears make-up, jewelry, mini skirts, and high-heeled shoes. She bats her lashes with the best of them. She goes out with male friends. She is single. She is gay. Her male pals have learned to accept the truth. But Raine remembers, with a rueful laugh, every first coming out with friends, male or female. "You? Gay? You can’t be gay!" The startled explanation is almost always followed by questions, some coming in rapid-fire fashion, some delicately phrased, by friends who do not want to offend. "Were you raped?" "Does it run in your family?" "Were you seduced by a tibo (a ‘butch’ or mannish lesbian)?" "Did a man break your heart?" "Did your father abandon the family?"

To all that, Raine, answers No. She had boy friends as a teenager. She just outgrew them and found herself attracted, gradually at the start, to women. Plural, no particular women, until she fell in love with Belle, 32, another femme. Ren-ren, a 20-year-old gay, accepted his sexual orientation way back in high school. He had started having crushes on other boys and enjoyed the feeling. "Although I tried to block these feelings, I could not. They became stronger and stronger. I knew I liked boys, but I was aware that being gay could be seen by some as something to be ashamed of," says Ren-ren. "I tried to go out with the girls, but I did not feel anything. It’s hard to be gay because you can’t express what you really feel to the person you love, your feelings are always suppressed," he adds. Lea, 28, insists she was "born gay."

She had to suffer frilly clothes and mary jane pumps but as soon as social niceties were done with, Lea would revert to her rough and tumble ways. She even insisted on peeing standing up, Lea recalls with a laugh. Her brothers liked having another playmate. At 14, Lea was swaggering like a little man, and mooning over pretty girl classmates. She was miserable having to wear her high school’s plaid uniform. She was even more miserable because, "I began to have breasts!" No little small apples. Full-blown breasts. Bombshell breasts, which she still has today, beneath her oversized polos and undershirts. Her breasts are all women. After 10 years of trying to pretend her breasts and other "female ek-ek" did not exist, Lea met Gina, long-haired and plump, who insisted on a two-way relationship. Then Lea discovered her "treasures."

Diversity
There are many roads to gayhood. As there are as many gay types. Hard butch, medium butch, soft butch, femmes, androgynous, leather gays, square gays, cross-dressers, transsexuals. Transgenders. And, of course, bisexuals. Manila Out’s newsletter states the group speaks for the "seven million Filipino gays."

That’s almost 10 percent of the population. There is hardly any independent verification of this claim. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t have figures – because asking a person about gender would be a form of discrimination. It’s an iffy position. Data on gender preference could be and has been used to discriminate against gays. Yet for many gays, identity is important, simply because they have to shed tears and sometimes, blood, to stake their claim to this important aspect of personhood.

The gay pride movement’s symbol is the rainbow. Harmony amid diversity. It is thus, ironic, that the gamut of gay sub-types often strain relations between advocates of gay rights. Chris Salvatierra, coordinator for Task Force Pride (see Utopia link: http://www.utopia-asia.com/womphil.htm), says the movement in the Philippines advances because there are enough gay – and "straight" – souls who realize the need to stress some unifying themes.

"Mainly, it’s that we have the same struggles in terms of discrimination," says Salvatierra. "We’re discriminated against, in terms of our looks, our preference, how we act."

Transformation
Salvatierra explains that gays and lesbians are people, and so they develop and mature like other folk, taking some pratfalls along the way. "Call it transformation. You can’t insist on painting everyone the same color. If we demand the right to be accepted for our ‘gayness,’ we must also learn to accept the different expressions of self-identities among gays." There are lesbians, for example, who see themselves as "men," their partners likewise consider themselves "women, not lesbians," never mind the long years they have spent together. Salvatierra says she had the same outlook in her late teens and early 20s. "It took me a long time, plenty of reading and loving to learn to love the fact that I am a woman." Nobody, she warns, can impose identity on another. And if the identity traps a relationship in the same stereotypes that have given gays so much grief?

These are formed by a confluence of factors, Salvatierra notes. The Task Force Pride coordinator is wary of people, gays included, who insist on poster children. Heterosexuals go through the same process and similar ways of transcending these stereotypes. Why should gays be expected to change overnight?

Coming out
Part of Salvatierra’s concern stems from the fact that gays already undergo a traumatic "coming out" process. Salvatierra says she even tried to have a boyfriend, just to meet society’s expectations. It was a very confusing time, with friends and kin jumping at the slightest sign that she liked a male friend. She always could appreciate handsome youth; friends told her this was a sign of a crush, prelude to love, never mind that she had stronger crushes for girls. For a time, Salvatierra even prayed for a youth to "take advantage" of her, when kisses and holding hands left her totally unmoved. On the other hand, the slightest brush of a pretty girl’s fingers "would make my hair stand on end." The process of coming out to herself was sheer torture. It was easier telling her parents, mainly because she had fallen in love by then. "I wanted to share the wonderful feeling; to be as giggly as the other girls, except I was talking about another girl, not a boy," she recalls. Darlene, 25, had it harder. At some point, she started to cut herself with knives and razors, feeling frustrated and isolated because of her attraction to other girls. She then told her parents that she was lesbian.

While her mother hugged her and reassured her daughter of her love, Darlene’s father became emotionally distant. Trina is 42 and, she says, "my mom hasn’t lost hope yet of me marrying." She is a successful doctor, the family breadwinner, with a live-in partner. But her mom still thinks "it’s a phase." Gay men and women, pressured by society, have sometimes taken the drastic step of having sex with someone they do not love, do not even like, whose sole recommendatory trait is that he or she belongs to "the opposite sex."

Finding out
What really is the definition of being gay or lesbian? Is there a rule of thumb by which a person can be deemed gay or straight? "Is to be gay having sexual relations with the same sex? Many people would normally say yes when in fact, it is not a simple thing. Sexual relations cannot be the sole basis for identifying people as gay or lesbian," according to Dr. Romeo Lee, a Behavioral Science professor from De La Salle University. There are actually several "facets of sexual orientation," parameters – and a battery of tests and examinations – by which a person can be deemed gay or lesbian, one of which is the cognitive aspect, which involves thoughts and fantasies.

"When you dream, who is your partner in your dream? Is it a man, a woman, or both? Your erotic fantasies – when you fantasize, which sex do you desire?" Lee asks. Other facets include sexual behavior, emotions (romantic feelings), sexual attraction (desire to touch and enjoy physically), and self-defined identity (a person’s description of his or her sexual self and its expression to others). "Oftentimes it is sexual behavior that is taken as a basis for determining sexual orientation," Lee notes. Social scientists also take into account how a person regards himself or herself. "That’s the easiest way. If you have all of these, you have to go through a battery of testing and examinations, which will make things more complicated. The easiest way is to go to the person and ask the person, and if the person negates it, it’s not my problem," Lee adds. Stereotypes One of the misconceptions Lee cites is the tendency of people to judge a book by its cover. A man whose fingers are "flying," or who talks like a woman, is often thought of as gay.

"It doesn’t follow that a man who has a masculine voice makes him straight. He may be gay. The overt presentation of a person does not make a person gay," Lee explains. Being married or having had children is also not a guarantee that a person is straight. "People simplify it because they don’t understand other dimensions. What they see and what they hear tend to be the basis of their judgment. It (a person’s sexual orientation) cannot be measured by just looking at a person, by what a person does," he adds. Another myth Lee debunks is the permanence of sexual identity. On the contrary, he says, it "is very fluid, it’s not fixed." A man can be straight at one point in his life, but later may like other men. A man who prefers sexual relations with other men at age 20 may, at age 45, become straight and have a child. Raine, for example, doesn’t reject the possibility of falling for a man.

"Though I’ve had them before and having learned about a woman’s love, I don’t think so," she muses. This fluidity also means that men who are gay can also be aroused by women under the right circumstances. "Some gay men say they are not able to cause pregnancy. That their dicks are not going to stand when they are with women. That’s not true. It is going to stand," Lee insists. It is also not true that children reared by gays or lesbians will follow the sexual orientation of their elders. "If that’s your argument, then why do some gays or lesbians come from so-called straight parents? Straight parents should also have straight children, but this (is not the case)," Lee points out.



Manila Sunday Times, Manila, Philippines ( http://www.manilatimes.net ) http://www.manilatimes.net/others/special/2002/jun/30/20020630spe1.html

June 30, 2002

5
Religious, economic biases haunt Pinoy gay community

by Dulce Arguelles and Darwin Amojelar
Ben Fernandez, 72, is one of the oldest residents of the home for aging gays and lesbians built by former Pasay City councilor Justo Justo. His life is a continuing struggle against a society that still does not accept anyone outside the norm. "My brother did not want me to be gay. He even threw a knife at me, but I was able to dodge it. They (siblings) even told my mother that I have had many men and that I had syphilis. Even if they fight with me, I still love them," Ben, who prefers to be called Deborah, says.

He used to earn a lot of money when he was a make-up artist in the 1970s. He has since fallen on hard times, and has difficulty trying to make ends meet with the occasional piano lessons he gives students. Ben’s advice to younger gays: "You should study harder and follow whatever your parents tell you, so that you will respected by other people. If you are with your gay friends you should act properly so that you they will respect you. Save money and always think of your family first. If you love the person tell him, so that if he says no, at least you know." He has been in Justo’s home since 1987. Justo himself bears witness to the discrimination suffered by gays and lesbians.

He has given aging gays and lesbians a home, and a place of refuge when things get rough. Many of the elderly wards he sent to homes for the aged were sent back unceremoniously because the officials found they were gay or lesbian and didn’t want them, he recalls.

Double standards
Ryan, is a 19-year-old salesman
, recently graduated from high school. "I needed money to support my family and to continue my study. So I looked for a job. I pretended to be straight and was accepted," he says. He had a crush on an officemate at the office where he used to work. "He was tall, cute and had beautiful eyes. One night we had chance to talk. I told him I never had sex with a girl. I asked him what it was like. "He told me that he also hadn’t. I told him ‘I think that I might be gay, but I’m not so sure.’ And I asked him if he was gay also. He told me that he wasn’t sure.

"The next day when I reported to the office, Jeff had told everyone that I was gay. I become the talk of the town. "Stories started going around about me attacking co-workers in the restroom, or that I had tried to touch a co-worker’s dick. Co-workers started to refuse to work with me. Even the management started to hate me because of the problems they had to deal with. I decided to resign because I don’t want people gossiping and hating me just because I’m gay," Ryan says.

Kay, a gay who likes to wear feminine clothing, is a college graduate. While he used to hope that someone would hire him for his qualifications – he has a degree in management – 80 rejections from 80 companies convinced him that he has no place in the corporate world. A question of money Dave, on the other hand, decided to be practical. He reserves his feminine clothing for weekend dates, and goes to work in male attire. He works in a bank as a middle-level manager. His company frowns on gays and he has not told anyone about his "secret." "I enjoy a high salary. So what if I have to hide? Better to hide than to scrounge for money working in a beauty parlor," he retorts.

Lizzy, a femme lesbian who works in a company that manufactures clothing, agrees. People think she is straight because of the sexy, feminine clothing she wears. "I’m not going to sacrifice my life for some cause. Will the cause feed my family?" she asserts. Dave and Lizzy are among the breed of gays and lesbians who "manage to combine the conflicting requirements of society and personal desire," according to Romeo Lee, a behavioral science professor from De La Salle University. "The images of lesbians and gay men are moving away from the traditional effeminate, traditional butch. More and more traditional images will be overshadowed. We will look upon them as part of the mainstream, but their lifestyles are still different," Lee said. Gays and lesbians who attain material success or political power are somehow exempt from discrimination. "Even if we don’t accept people, once they have acquired material success, discrimination disappears," Lee notes.

Religion and homosexuality
The modern mindset in the Catholic church is to hate the sin but love the sinner as long as homosexuals do not "act out" their homosexuality or have relationships with the same sex.

But according to Fr. Richard R. Mickley, a priest of the Order of St. Aelred, "there’s no word, no verse, no story anywhere in the Bible which condemns homosexual orientation, gay and lesbian love, or same-sex marriage." Mickley adds that "God gives us sex, and God gives us salvation. We are not second-class citizens. We are not marginalized children of God." "God doesn’t marginalize. Homophobes do," he insists. Mickley notes that Bible doesn’t condemn human sexual statement. "And when I say ‘human,’ it has the richness and the beauty of full humanity with its well-ordered and balanced components. If I’m fully human, I have the intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional sides of my being in harmony.

These are in quantities and qualities which exist only in the human species," Mickley says. He points out that "some of God’s children are homosexual and deserve same-sex companionship and entitlement to the best of all sex. Nowhere in the Bible, in truth, is there any word or passage which condemns" homosexual sexual orientation, gay and lesbian love, or same-sex loving relationships (or marriages).

Unions
"If God’s children, Adam and Eve, were understandably heterosexual, it also must be understood that some of God’s children, through Adam and Eve, evolved to be homosexual (just as children of heterosexual parents today often are born homosexual). And they too are entitled to the best statement of their sexuality in a loving, enduring, committed relationship. This is true whether Adam and Eve are historical or mythical. We are in a world that has evolved, and God is prime mover of that evolution," Mickley explains. He cites the case of a lesbian couple. "They were holding hands after I had officiated at their Holy Union ceremony. They gave God all the credit: "We knew from the start that we were meant for each other. God made us the way we are and brought us together, and nobody could be happier than we are." I saw they were proud to be in love with one another while basking in the sunlight of God’s love for them.

Justo, however, believes in the sanctity of marriage, which he believes should be between a man and a woman. "If I could get back to the council, I would file a resolution urging all gays and lesbians to get married. It’s better to get married. Being with other gays is good, but what if there is no one like me to take care of them?" Justo said. He added that gay men, in particular, should try getting married to someone of the opposite sex. "There are many women now who love a man even if he is gay."

Discrimination
In the 1960s, Justo recalls that there were no parlors and effeminate gays would peddle their manicure and pedicure services from house to house. They would risk getting beaten up by "homophobic" men who drink in groups in front of the neighborhood store. "It used to be a crime to be gay. If you didn’t do manicure or pedicure services, you prostituted yourself," Justo said. Since the prevailing belief then was that gays and lesbians were "jinxes," very few found jobs. Some gays found work being "hostesses," the equivalent of today’s GROs, in "honky-tonk" bars which lined Pasay’s streets. "Policemen would force these transvestites to do fellatio on them. Kung ano-anong kababuyan," Justo said. Justo also tried to create a position for a gay desk officer in Pasay police stations. "A 17-year-old gay was sodomized by an ex-convict.

He was crying, but the policemen told him he should be happy instead that someone had sex with him," Justo rages. The Pasay City council resolved that cases involving gays be handled by the women’s desk officer, since no males in the police force wanted to be gay desk officers. Lesbians, on the other hand, also suffered when they were involved in love triangles. The men would beat them up for taking away their women, Justo notes. Many lesbians then were restricted to jobs as security guards and cleaning ladies because of the belief that they were "bad for business."

Aging gays and lesbians
Dan, at 64
, is tall and handsome. He feels lonely because his partner passed away because of heart attack. Dan misses his partner so much: "I miss the laughter we shared and the care that he gave to me." Though he is well off, many others are not. For the unfortunate gays and lesbians who were not able to attain financial security while young, Justo has issued an invitation. He is also inviting families who have trouble with gay sons or lesbian daughters to tell them they have a home with him. At the home for gays and lesbians, wards are taught new skills to enable them to fend for themselves.

Justo himself, along with his mother, was taken in by a gay couple, a lesbian who wore the pants and a gay man who was the "wife." "I want to give them the caring I don’t see other people giving them," Justo says. Justo also plans to file a resolution – provided he is reelected as councilor in 2004 – to make part of the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex stretching from Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. to the Experimental Film Center to the vacant area near Boom na Boom into a "gay park" where gays and lesbians can walk around without being harassed by policemen. "I want a place where gays and lesbians can walk freely with their loved ones. Luneta’s taken over by families," Justo complains. He is also in the thick of talks with lawyers who have volunteered to examine how to advance the rights of gays and lesbians. "Gays and lesbians lack legal protection," he said. Few, however, will refute what they have in abundance – the capacity to love.



Fridae.com (Singapore)

6
Pride Day 2002 and its impact on the gay community in Manila

Why the gay pride movement is still very much in its nascent state in the Philippines and in Asia at large. (Informal commentary)

by Fridae’s Manila correspondent, Glenn Chua
Manila celebrated Pride Day last June 29, 2002. I heard it went all right. Sadly, I wasn’t there to witness any of it. Not that I didn’t want to go, but I had a prior engagement I couldn’t get out of. I didn’t even know about the event till the night before. Mea culpa. I know I should be more in touch with the gay scene and the events happening here, but that’s really the nature of the GLBT life in Manila. We tend to identify with a group, and don’t really pay attention too much outside that group. Life is too busy as it is.

I think it has something to do with the fairly wide acceptance of gays and lesbians in the country. At least, in the cities. And maybe, because of this, Pride doesn’t mean as much as it should to us. Unlike countries in the West, where they had to fight for their liberties and are still fighting for equal treatment, we’ve had it relatively easy.

The West broke ground for us – and for that I personally thank the gay activists there – making it much easier for the mainstream norms to accept us. It’s true what they say – you cherish more those things that you work or fight for. The only time the establishment seems to get involved with the gay strata here, is when the police raid a gay strip bar and the patrons are sometimes pressured to grease palms under the threat of exposure. And even then, no one can really complain, because they do the same to patrons in girlie bars. It’s true, GLBTs here still aren’t accorded the same consideration as heteros. But active discrimination is very discreet, practically nonexistent, unless maybe you really dig deep into the social psyche. I have gay friends, in both the arts and corporate worlds, who are quite out and open.

Yet, I don’t think they’ve found it harder to grow and thrive in their respective environments. Some people stay in the closet to protect their reputations, or to avoid hurting family. But it’s more the unwillingness to face the occasional – albeit often hidden – ridicule of the macho-shit straight guys, than a fear of being discriminated against. Many gay and lesbian people have built careers despite their obvious preferences. I have yet to really hear of anyone losing their jobs when they came out of the closet. June 29 should have meant something more than a parade and a street party. The theme was supposed to be Halo Halo, Pareho Pareho, Pantay Pantay (All Together, All the Same, All Equal). I just wish more local GLBTs had felt that way.

I remember last year, while still working full-time with Fridae, about a discussion that went on about the nature of Pride. Some folks in Australia and other western countries were incensed at what they perceived to be the Asian non-involvement with Pride. It was pointed that out that Pride is a personal thing. And that it means different things to the individual. Those Asian assertions of Pride are still maturing. I look back at that now, and wonder. Manila’s Pride Day wasn’t as well attended as it should be.

For a city with over 20 million people, and hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians, I estimated (from reports) that the attendance to have reached maybe three or four thousand, max. And that’s just for the street party.

The parade and show had probably a third that number, if even. I took an informal poll among the queens I knew. Almost all had intentions of attending the party (but of course, dear), but hardly any of my friends attended or even wanted to attend the parade. Too hot, too crowded, too troublesome on a Saturday afternoon, nothing to wear, I have to go the gym, I need to get my hair done for the party, etc, etc, etc. It seemed that gay people of a certain educational level, or at least income level, didn’t see the need to attend.

Not surprising, perhaps. Intellectuals and people who are comfortable with the status quo rarely see a need to pursue activism, even in non-gay sectors. As it is, the people I was supposed to attend the party with all cancelled, too. I earnestly applaud the efforts of the organisers, though. I hear they did a truly marvellous job, rallying support from Amnesty International-Pilipinas, ReachOut Foundation International and Wherelse? and other local groups. Kudos, and well done. By all accounts, the street party was a blast, ending at about 6am. Everyone was celebrating and having a good time. Makes you wonder, though, what everyone thought they were really celebrating. Maybe this year, it’ll be more than just another party. One could hope, eh?



Newsbreak Magazine

http://www.inq7.net/nwsbrk/2002/jul/09/toc.htm

July 22, 2002

7
The invisible pink peso

by Lala Rimando Newsbreak Staff writer
Businessmen in general don’t really care about the color of their customers’ money, as long as the money is real.
Yet in other parts of the world, a certain class has carved a nook in their countries’ economy and the power of their financial habits has become distinguishable enough to be called by a very distinct name. In the United Kingdom, it is called the "pink pound." In the United States, it is called the "Dorothy dollar."

These basically refer to the financial muscle of gays. Travel agencies, financial institutions, insurance firms, real estate, clothing and entertainment industries are running after male and female gays. Awash in disposable income, gays have been the key targets of these industries. They haven’t been tagged "dinkies" (double income no kids) for nothing.
But does the Philippines have a "pink peso"?

One recent local ad campaign portrayed gays as consumers. To some entrepreneurs, the gay sector is a potentially profitable market. But it will take a while before this idea can take off.

Looking good

Common in the spending pattern of Filipino gays is their obsession to look good. Gays who sat down with Newsbreak say they are very much in tune with their bodies—probably even beating some women on this aspect. "We are the beauty connoisseurs," says one fashion designer.

Concern about their physical appearance ranges from the purchase of all kinds of beauty products usually made for women, to the type of clothes they don. Male gays follow the same beauty regimen as women, and use the most effective to the most expensive products. An architect intimated that he frequents his dermatologist’s clinic in the quest to battle the age factor.

Those who are out of the closet are very style-conscious, fashionable, adventurous, and are confident early adopters of the latest trends. Those who have to wear corporate attire at work are, at the very least, decent dressers, and most of the time, smell good. An IT practitioner who has to wear corporate attire at work tells Newsbreak that when he shops, he only buys tops, pants, and socks with colors and materials that match.

Keeping in touch with the latest can be attributed to the fact that they regularly browse through fashion magazines, watch the Lifestyle channel, and even attend fashion shows. They too sculpt their muscles by going to the gym. Most have the discipline to go at least two to four times a week. And yes, most of them don’t have pot bellies, which don’t go with muscle-hugging shirts.

On top of the physical benefits, gays usually go to gyms to socialize. A public relations manager in one of the upscale Makati hotels is sure that about half of those who go to his nearby gym are gays. "It takes one to know one," he says with a wink.
Other favorite spots are coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, and spas. Arthur Bitagcol, an IT practitioner with a consulting company, admits he goes to spas every week. Giraffe and Zu, two bars in Makati were teeming with gays when they were still open. An order of a tiramisu was a code for the others to mean one was gay.

Voracious readers

Those in a relationship tend to buy expensive things for each other. A banker explains why: "We want to please our partner more than those who are married would because we have no legal bond."

Those who don’t have a "significant other" tend to be voracious readers, frequenting specialty bookstores. They snap up self-help books or those dealing with human nature, mystery novels, and coffee table books on home décor, fashion, and food. Others focus their energies on pets, like dogs, cats, and fishes.

Still, gays are not singled out as a particular target market by the industry where most of them thrive. Says Carla Ong, a marketing executive with Ogilvy and Mather, the maker of the latest Ponds commercial which included two gay men: "They are a potentially profitable market, but we are still not zeroing on them. Companies think they are a small segment. They also don’t want to be identified with the gays because their bigger markets might be compromised." Bench, which recently launched a new line through a provocative fashion show, sees gays as part of a larger market. "Yes, we expect that they will be interested, but our products are not discriminatory so everyone can use them," says Dale de la Cruz, a marketing manager.

Besides, most of the needs of those out in the open are already addressed by products for women while those still in the closet use products for men, says Emily Abrera of McCann Erickson. "If we ran ads about anything under the sun, we capture them anyway." For gay men’s and women’s basic needs, Abrera notes, there is no distinguishable quality that sets them apart. Furthermore, there is no general media—whether print or broadcast—to place ads that target them directly.

High risk

One need that might be considered important is financial services. Unlike their straight counterparts with families to look after them in the future, gays must prepare for a financially secure but potentially lonely old age.

However, life insurance is not going after this potentially profitable market. In fact, gays are considered "high risk," thus pay higher premiums. Besides, they are asked to go through a blood test to rule out AIDS and HIV. "Insurance clients are better off alive than dead," says a senior officer of one of the leading life insurance firms. Discriminatory policies like these would have caused a dent in that company’s bottom line, had it occurred in more liberal societies, or where there is a highly distinguishable pink economy. However, it is unlikely to happen here.

In the first place, how big is the gay population here? Nobody knows yet. The typical response is the globally acknowledged "10 percent of the population." If applied here, that’s about 7.6 million Filipinos, obviously a questionable figure. If advertisers believed it, a marketing frenzy would have taken place. There has been no study or statistics that have tried to quantify the local gay market. Thanks to the prejudice and homophobia of our conservative and predominantly Catholic society, many gay people are still in the closet.

Invisible market

Even The Library Foundation (http://www.geocities.com/tlf_ph/), an NGO umbrella of gay organizations, has no idea. Ferdinand Buenviaje, the executive director, says: "It is unrealistic to lump all members of the gay organizations to come up with a representative number of gays here because memberships are very fluid."

He understands the apprehension of companies to target them because he too admits they are difficult to segregate, a predominantly invisible market. Openly targeting the gay market, according to Buenviaje, is economically risky. This confirms a popular gay profile shared by the author of a psychology post-graduate thesis now being finalized. The author says, "The gay population is merely a slice of a representative cross-section of the general population. That means they too have varying income, education, and lifestyle preferences."

The gay social strata should then follow the general population with a big chunk belonging to the Tier 3, the working or the middle class. Most of those in Tier 3 hold jobs in the corporate world where they can be gay yet choose to be discreet about it. Otherwise, they can lose their job or get stuck in a low rank. In most cases, income sources are affected by discrimination, subtle or not, discouraging gays from coming out. Most of those who are out in the open, however, don’t have all that much disposable income. Given our close-knit culture, some gays, because they are the unmarried members of the family, are asked to help out with their siblings’ and parents’ financial needs.

Limited market

At the moment, there are very few businesses cashing in on those who are coming out. A popular high-end retail company will soon launch a clothing line that targets gays. Italian clothes for men, distinctive for their loud prints and colors, will be marketed to gays who want a wider choice of apparel.

But again, the target market—the affluent ones—is very limited. Gays patronize gay-owned establishments, says a bar owner, "because they offer an entire package that appeals to the senses like elaborate presentations, good music, and good food." But certain establishments cannot survive with only gays as their exclusive customers. In Malate, a well-known gay mecca, clubs with rainbow flags to signify they are gay-friendly places are vigorously attracting straight people as well. But the owner of Blue Avenue Café, a membership-only bar in Makati, has successfully tapped into the high-end gay market, which represents the moneyed, professional, yet discreet straight-acting types. It is a cool venue to simply hang out in and mingle with other closet gays.

So effective is their Internet-based marketing that they recovered their investment in just eight months. A year into the business, one of the owners proudly told Newsbreak they now have a strong 2,000-plus membership, obviously a far cry from the 300-plus who attend the annual Gay Pride March every year in Malate.

Again, this means that a large proportion of gay people are still invisible, thus, in general, are still difficult to target. Clearly, a pink peso is still nowhere in sight. But gays are everywhere—in the creative arts, media, in the corporate world, and government—and they thrive because they are predominantly hardworking and meticulous, and enjoy intense, focused, and detailed activities, says a post-graduate study by Leonora Brazil of Assumption College.

Even in these digital times, gays have a signal contribution. A US study covering 50 cities concluded that the leading indicator of high-technology success is a large gay population. A gay professional predicts that a pink economy will soon flourish in the Philippines. "We are maybe the 10 percent but we are affecting the lives of the 90 percent," he says. It may take a while, however, for the 90 percent to come to terms with this.

Send us your feedback: letters@newsbreak.com.ph



Newsbreak Magazine

http://www.inq7.net/nwsbrk/2002/jul/09/toc.htm

July 22, 2002

8
Silent Discrimination Against Gays

by Aries C. Rufo Newsbreak Staff writer
Philip Castro, 27, thought he had bagged the job. Witty and confident, he engaged the woman interviewer in an animated discussion. He was applying as a medical representative for a big pharmaceutical firm and thought his warm personality would please the interviewer.

He had another reason to be confident. He had topped the aptitude and psychological tests earlier that day, besting some 30 other applicants. He was being presumptuous. The interviewer began asking him what he thought of gays entering the military. Dumbfounded, he replied that it was unfair to ban homosexuals from the Armed Forces.

"Then she asked if I’m going to have a girlfriend, if I’m planning to have a family in the future, if I am willing to act like a man, questions which I thought were out of bounds. Those questions did not have anything to do with the job I was applying for." He knew he had lost the job. The company later sent its regrets. Castro knew he was rejected because he is openly gay, although the company did not say so. He also knew that had he been a closet gay, he would have been a welcome addition to the company.

Stay in the closet
Castro’s case is not an isolated one. Hundreds of jobless gays have been rejected outright or silently turned down, and given vague excuses why they are not fit for the job. Newsbreak talked with three other homosexuals who were not accepted or were bypassed in promotion because they are gays.

Earl, 24, quit his job at a retail store chain after the owners refused to promote him to brand manager. He said he was hired as a creative manager, but the tasks he was assigned to were akin to those of a brand manager. "I was a one-man team for more than a year and I thought I deserved that promotion." He quit when he realized that male members of the family that owned the firm "did not trust [me] enough to become a brand manager." He is now with a sports brand company.

The case of Michael David Tan, 28, is slightly different. An advertising company was ready to hire him on one condition: he should change his fashion sense, hairstyle, and mannerism "to be able to fit in." In short, he had to act "straight."
"I felt insulted," he says, and rejected its job offer. He now works for a magazine.

These stories mean, says Tan, that "if you want a job, you must hide in the closet, you must act straight. Sadly, discrimination happens even in supposedly gay-friendly occupations."

Stereotype
Because of gender expectations, no thanks to the mass media that poke fun at overt gays, job opportunities for them are constricted, says Romeo Lee, professor in behavioral science at De La Salle University. "You’re stereotyped when you are an identifiable gay. When one is an obvious gay, we think of typical professions like the beauty parlor business, to some extent the mass media, advertising, and other professions that involve creativity. We don’t think of them as capable in blue-collar jobs."

Discrimination persists because no gay would dare challenge the system, notes Jessie Dimaisip, a member of the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (Lagablab) (http://www.cyberdyaryo.com/press_release/pr2003_0122_01b.htm). There is no law categorically prohibiting discrimination of gays in the workplace, he says. While the Labor Code is explicit against discrimination in the employment of women, it is silent when it comes to homosexuals, says Forter Puguon, director of the Bureau of Labor Conditions: "There is no provision prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference."

Puguon says the labor department has had no case involving gay discrimination but stresses that its absence does not necessarily mean it is not happening. "It is possible the employer cited other reasons for not employing the gay applicant."
Officials of the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Human Rights tell Newsbreak that they haven’t received any complaint about gay discrimination, either.

Uncharted territory
A check with the Supreme Court showed no jurisprudence tackling job discrimination against gays. "The issue remains uncharted territory," says Lagablab’s Dimaisip. He admits that many gays, including the learned, are not aware of their rights. Some who do are too timid to fight for their cause. "They don’t want to be laughed at." Citing a congressional hearing on the proposed anti-discrimination bill, he says: "We could not find or convince a discriminated gay to testify in the hearing." If coming out of the closet is being brave, how come no openly gay person has been brave enough to publicly say that he was discriminated against?

Dimaisip says the answer may lie in a weak support system, if there’s any. "In the case of rape cases, there exists a support system to help women cope with the trauma. The gay movement here is still in its infancy and the support system is weak."
Too, gay concerns remain concentrated on health matters like AIDS. "We are not yet that structured when it comes to pushing human rights, employment and policy issues."

Fighting the right battle

Given such constraints, how can advocates of gay rights make the best of their limited resources? Lee says it is important that they select the right battle to fight. For instance, pushing for equal rights in highly masculine institutions like the police and the military establishments is bound to fail. Such institutions are time-tested and are no place for "experimentation."
"One cannot change the system overnight. It will take time," says Lee. In the meantime, one can push for change in one’s own little way.

Send us your feedback: letters@newsbreak.com.ph



From Newsbreak Magazine

http://www.inq7.net/nwsbrk/2002/jul/09/toc.htm

July 22, 2002

9
The invisible pink peso

by Lala Rimando, Newsbreak Staff writer
Businessmen in general don’t really care about the color of their customers’ money, as long as the money is real. Yet in other parts of the world, a certain class has carved a nook in their countries’ economy and the power of their financial habits has become distinguishable enough to be called by a very distinct name. In the United Kingdom, it is called the "pink pound." In the United States, it is called the "Dorothy dollar." These basically refer to the financial muscle of gays.

Travel agencies, financial institutions, insurance firms, real estate, clothing and entertainment industries are running after male and female gays. Awash in disposable income, gays have been the key targets of these industries. They haven’t been tagged "dinkies" (double income no kids) for nothing. But does the Philippines have a "pink peso"? One recent local ad campaign portrayed gays as consumers. To some entrepreneurs, the gay sector is a potentially profitable market. But it will take a while before this idea can take off.

Looking good
Common in the spending pattern of Filipino gays is their obsession to look good. Gays who sat down with Newsbreak say they are very much in tune with their bodies-probably even beating some women on this aspect. "We are the beauty connoisseurs," says one fashion designer. Concern about their physical appearance ranges from the purchase of all kinds of beauty products usually made for women, to the type of clothes they don. Male gays follow the same beauty regimen as women, and use the most effective to the most expensive products. An architect intimated that he frequents his dermatologist’s clinic in the quest to battle the age factor.

Those who are out of the closet are very style-conscious, fashionable, adventurous, and are confident early adopters of the latest trends. Those who have to wear corporate attire at work are, at the very least, decent dressers, and most of the time, smell good. An IT practitioner who has to wear corporate attire at work tells Newsbreak that when he shops, he only buys tops, pants, and socks with colors and materials that match.

Keeping in touch with the latest can be attributed to the fact that they regularly browse through fashion magazines, watch the Lifestyle channel, and even attend fashion shows. They too sculpt their muscles by going to the gym. Most have the discipline to go at least two to four times a week. And yes, most of them don’t have pot bellies, which don’t go with muscle-hugging shirts. On top of the physical benefits, gays usually go to gyms to socialize. A public relations manager in one of the upscale Makati hotels is sure that about half of those who go to his nearby gym are gays. "It takes one to know one," he says with a wink.

Other favorite spots are coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, and spas. Arthur Bitagcol, an IT practitioner with a consulting company, admits he goes to spas every week. Giraffe and Zu, two bars in Makati were teeming with gays when they were still open. An order of a tiramisu was a code for the others to mean one was gay.

Voracious readers
Those in a relationship tend to buy expensive things for each other. A banker explains why: "We want to please our partner more than those who are married would because we have no legal bond." Those who don’t have a "significant other" tend to be voracious readers, frequenting specialty bookstores. They snap up self-help books or those dealing with human nature, mystery novels, and coffee table books on home décor, fashion, and food. Others focus their energies on pets, like dogs, cats, and fishes.

Still, gays are not singled out as a particular target market by the industry where most of them thrive.

Says Carla Ong, a marketing executive with Ogilvy and Mather, the maker of the latest Ponds commercial which included two gay men: "They are a potentially profitable market, but we are still not zeroing on them. Companies think they are a small segment. They also don’t want to be identified with the gays because their bigger markets might be compromised."

Bench, which recently launched a new line through a provocative fashion show, sees gays as part of a larger market. "Yes, we expect that they will be interested, but our products are not discriminatory so everyone can use them," says Dale de la Cruz, a marketing manager. Besides, most of the needs of those out in the open are already addressed by products for women while those still in the closet use products for men, says Emily Abrera of McCann Erickson. "If we ran ads about anything under the sun, we capture them anyway." For gay men’s and women’s basic needs, Abrera notes, there is no distinguishable quality that sets them apart. Furthermore, there is no general media-whether print or broadcast-to place ads that target them directly.

High risk

One need that might be considered important is financial services. Unlike their straight counterparts with families to look after them in the future, gays must prepare for a financially secure but potentially lonely old age. However, life insurance is not going after this potentially profitable market. In fact, gays are considered "high risk," thus pay higher premiums. Besides, they are asked to go through a blood test to rule out AIDS and HIV. "Insurance clients are better off alive than dead," says a senior officer of one of the leading life insurance firms
.
Discriminatory policies like these would have caused a dent in that company’s bottom line, had it occurred in more liberal societies, or where there is a highly distinguishable pink economy. However, it is unlikely to happen here. In the first place, how big is the gay population here? Nobody knows yet. The typical response is the globally acknowledged "10 percent of the population." If applied here, that’s about 7.6 million Filipinos, obviously a questionable figure. If advertisers believed it, a marketing frenzy would have taken place.

There has been no study or statistics that have tried to quantify the local gay market. Thanks to the prejudice and homophobia of our conservative and predominantly Catholic society, many gay people are still in the closet.

Invisible market
Even The Library Foundation, an NGO umbrella of gay organizations (web site: http://www.geocities.com/tlf_ph/), has no idea. Ferdinand Buenviaje, the executive director, says: "It is unrealistic to lump all members of the gay organizations to come up with a representative number of gays here because memberships are very fluid." He understands the apprehension of companies to target them because he too admits they are difficult to segregate, a predominantly invisible market.

Openly targeting the gay market, according to Buenviaje, is economically risky. This confirms a popular gay profile shared by the author of a psychology post-graduate thesis now being finalized. The author says, "The gay population is merely a slice of a representative cross-section of the general population. That means they too have varying income, education, and lifestyle preferences."

The gay social strata should then follow the general population with a big chunk belonging to the Tier 3, the working or the middle class. Most of those in Tier 3 hold jobs in the corporate world where they can be gay yet choose to be discreet about it. Otherwise, they can lose their job or get stuck in a low rank. In most cases, income sources are affected by discrimination, subtle or not, discouraging gays from coming out. Most of those who are out in the open, however, don’t have all that much disposable income. Given our close-knit culture, some gays, because they are the unmarried members of the family, are asked to help out with their siblings’ and parents’ financial needs.

Limited market
At the moment, there are very few businesses cashing in on those who are coming out. A popular high-end retail company will soon launch a clothing line that targets gays. Italian clothes for men, distinctive for their loud prints and colors, will be marketed to gays who want a wider choice of apparel. But again, the target market-the affluent ones-is very limited.

Gays patronize gay-owned establishments, says a bar owner, "because they offer an entire package that appeals to the senses like elaborate presentations, good music, and good food." But certain establishments cannot survive with only gays as their exclusive customers.

In Malate, a well-known gay mecca, clubs with rainbow flags to signify they are gay-friendly places are vigorously attracting straight people as well. But the owner of Blue Avenue Café, a membership-only bar in Makati, has successfully tapped into the high-end gay market, which represents the moneyed, professional, yet discreet straight-acting types. It is a cool venue to simply hang out in and mingle with other closet gays.

So effective is their Internet-based marketing that they recovered their investment in just eight months. A year into the business, one of the owners proudly told Newsbreak they now have a strong 2,000-plus membership, obviously a far cry from the 300-plus who attend the annual Gay Pride March every year in Malate.
Again, this means that a large proportion of gay people are still invisible, thus, in general, are still difficult to target. Clearly, a pink peso is still nowhere in sight. But gays are everywhere-in the creative arts, media, in the corporate world, and government-and they thrive because they are predominantly hardworking and meticulous, and enjoy intense, focused, and detailed activities, says a post-graduate study by Leonora Brazil of Assumption College.

Even in these digital times, gays have a signal contribution. A US study covering 50 cities concluded that the leading indicator of high-technology success is a large gay population. A gay professional predicts that a pink economy will soon flourish in the Philippines. "We are maybe the 10 percent but we are affecting the lives of the 90 percent," he says. It may take a while, however, for the 90 percent to come to terms with this.

Send us your feedback: letters@newsbreak.com.ph



Manila Times, Manila, Philippines ( http://www.manilatimes.net ) http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2002/jul/27/enter/20020727ent1.html

July 27, 2002

10
Arnel topbills gay show repeat–
Illusion . Encore! More than a gay revue.

(Article partly in Tagalog)

by Alex Brosas
With the undeniable success of its first theater production Ilussione, Bahaghari Productions is mounting Illusion . Encore!

More than a gay revue, the new show presents the plight of the gays amidst us. Comedian-singer-TV host Arnel Ignacio plays one of the three narrators in the show which goes up at Star City’s Star Theater at the CCP Complex on Aug. 16-18, 23-25, 30-31 and on Sept. 1, all at 8 p.m. Of the three narrators, Arnel says he is "in between. Explains he: "Nasa gitna ang pagkatao ko bilang isang bading – ako yung sinasabi nilang pa-mhin, pa-macho. Yung isa namang narrator, extremely pa-macho kaya inuokray siya ng mga kapatid sa federacion, at ‘yong isang narrator screaming fag.

"In terms of character, kumportable ako na bading ako pero nasa stage ako na nagtatanong ako kung gusto ko pa bang lumandi. Do I want to wear make-up and blouses na gaya ng iba? "When the play begins, medyo lalaki pa yong hitsura ko, but each time I come out, patindi nang patindi yong kabadingan ko." Can he relate to his role? "Ako kasi sa buhay ko, kahit kailan hindi ako dumating sa punto na nag-deny ako ng pagiging bading ko. Isang tanong lang, sinasabi ko agad na I am gay. Nagkamali pa nga ako, kasi sumobra pa nga, kasi hindi pala ako absolutely gay," Arnel revealed. Arnel, who played the Oprah Winfrey character in the first Illusione, says that Ilussione … Encore! is far different from its original.

"Eto, mas comparable sa musical play, kasi may kuwento ito. The first one was a collection of production numbers with Oprah Winfrey hosting each production. This time, I get to sing in a number, ‘What Makes A Man A Man.’ It’s a beautiful song, really." The song, Arnel stresses, best explains the plight of gays now. "Ang ganda ng message ng kanta. Ako, kunwari, nagpalagay ako ng suso, pero lahat ng ginagawa ko tama at responsable naman ako, but why am I considered less a man than most men are. Ang gandang message n’yon, di ba? Alam mo naman ang mga lalaki ngayon, nambubuntis, tapos tumatakas sa responsibility. Ang ending, mas lalaki pa yong mga bakla. Kasi, nakakita ka na ba ng bakla na tumatakas sa responsibilidad? "That I think is the message of the show." Arnel goes on to talk about some of the gays he will perform with in the show. "May part ng cast na may mga breast pero pagkatapos ng rehearsal makikita mo susunduin ng mga asawa nilang mga babae at mga anak. Biruin mo, mukhang babae talaga pero pamilyadong tao pala at tinatawag silang ‘daddy’!"

Arnel, however, stresses that Illussion is a gay show in the literal sense of the word. "Ang sinasabi dito, tapos na yong panahon ng bakla na malungkot. Dito, ang bakla masaya. In fact, para ngang merong stance nga ang show na ito na fighting for superiority na ang bakla. This is a celebration show." The show will feature impersonations of Hollywood singers Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Donna Summer, and Sharon Cuneta, among others. Illusione . Encore! will also have performances in Davao on Aug. 2 and 3; in Cebu City on Aug. 9-10; and in Pampanga on Sept. 6 and 7. It will be presented by Dove and WG&A, with Air Philippines, Sunday Inquirer Magazine, Waterfront Hotel, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Sulpicio Lines Inc., Raymund Isaac, NBC and Dzrj as major sponsors.

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