While noting that many Filipinos “do not really want to talk seriously” about LGBT-related issues, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño has expressed his support for the push for equality, taking part in the “I dare to care about equality”, a photographic campaign spearheaded by the Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) as a call for everyone to take a more proactive stance in fighting discrimination.
“I dare to care about equality” campaign forms part of the localized efforts aligned with the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) celebrations. Celebrated every May 17 since 2004, when it was founded by Louis-Georges Tin, IDAHO is an effort to coordinate international events to call for respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. May 17 was chosen as the date of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.
In a privilege speech delivered in the House of Representatives to commemorate the IDAHO, Rep. Casiño said that “it is true that many Filipinos do not really want to talk seriously about this issue. Kadalasan, pag tinatanong ko sila kung ano ang tingin nila sa mga bakla o lesbian o transgender, ang madalas na sagot ay ngiti o kaya’y biruan. Sabay mananahimik. Hindi sa sasagot. Meron din naman, sasabihin ‘ok lang’, pero parang sinabi lang para matapos na ang usapan.”
Rep. Casiño also mentioned that even “some of my well-meaning friends have advised me to steer clear of the LGBT issue. Sabi nila, ‘Kiss of Death’ or ‘Election Suicide’ daw yan for anyone aspiring for an elective post at the national level.”
However, while it may be easier to just come up with “motherhood statements” on LGBT issues, Rep. Casiño said that this is a reality in need to be tackled now.
“Kailan pa natin pag-uusapan ito ng matino? LGBTs and the LGBT lifestyle is a twenty-first century reality. Anong gagawin natin sa mga problema nila? And isyu ng LGBT ay isang realidad ng ating panahon. Hindi natin ito maiiwasan, gustuhin man natin o hindi,” Rep. Casiño said. “And to my mind, even the most conservative among us would agree to a discussion on ways to address LGBT concerns, rather than create a great divide where one side is directly opposed to the other.”
With his show of support for the push for equal rights for all, Rep. Casiño joins the ranks of international IDAHO supporters, including several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), non-government organizations (ILGA, FIDH), politicians, and many others.
Rep. Casiño is the author of HB 1483: LGBT Anti-Discrimination Act and HB 4635: May 17 as National Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, or NADAHO, the Phil. counterpart of IDAHO.
The photoshoots were helmed by photographer Jed Yumang behind the camera, with make-up and styling provided by artists Kaye Candaza and Nicole Magay. “I dare to care about equality” was co-developed by Outrage Magazine, the only LGBTzine in the Philippines, with the support of IDAHO, Ladlad Partylist, Rainbow Rights, Bed Bar, Deaf Rainbow Philippines, Metropolitan Community Church-Quezon City, Zest Magazine, and Queeriosity Palace.
“I dare to care about equality” was launched on May 20, Sunday, at Bed Bar (Unit 8, Maria Orosa St. corner Julio Nakpil St. Courtyard, Maria Orosa St. corner Julio Nakpil St., Malate, Metro Manila).
For more information, call +639287854244 (Michael David), +639274171518 (Patrick King) or +639263167735 (John Ryan); or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Red Lives’ reading slated on June 29 to shed light on experiences of people infected, affected by HIV
To shed light on the experiences of people infected and affected by HIV particularly in the Philippines, Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and Outrage Magazine scheduled an online launch cum book reading of “Red Lives”.
Dubbed “Beyond the pages”, the book reading is slated on June 29, 2023 at 6:00PM via Google Meet.
This is done in partnership with Mujer-LGBT Organization, Project Red Ribbon, Side B Philippines, My Hub Cares, and Positive Elders Philippines, Inc.
“Red Lives” – written by Outrage Magazine editor in chief Michael David Tan – contains “creatively retold” stories from within the HIV community, from both infected with HIV and affected by it.
For Stephen Christian P. Quilacio, HIV project manager of Bahaghari Center and concurrent Mindanao correspondent of Outrage Magazine, “‘Red Lives’ holds immense significance to me. This book serves as a powerful testament to the experiences, struggles, and triumphs of individuals infected and affected by HIV. It provides a platform for their voices – for OUR voices – to be heard, acknowledged, and understood,” he said. “For Bahaghari Center, Red Lives is not just a book; it is a symbol of resilience, empowerment, and hope. It amplifies the voices of the local HIV community, provides a platform for their stories to be shared, and challenges us to create a world free from discrimination and judgment.”
Quilacio – who lives with HIV – added: “Storytelling encourages us to speak truth to power, to take chances, and to support fresh, different viewpoints. We are not alone, the ‘Red Lives’ serves to remind us.”
But “Red Lives” actually hopes to broaden the HIV discourse in the Philippines. To start, it goes beyond statistics and medical jargons, and delve into the personal narratives of those living with HIV, and are affected by HIV.
“This way, it humanizes the HIV community, shedding light on the challenges they face, the resilience they embody, and the discrimination they encounter. By sharing these stories, the book hopes to foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of the realities faced by the community,” said Aaron Moises C. Bonete, administrative officer of Bahaghari Center and concurrent managing editor of Outrage Magazine.
The stories in “Red Lives” are also produced via theater advocacy, so that “the stories are brought straight to the people,” Bonete added. This way, “we expose people to viewpoints that we may not have previously considered or been aware of in the field of HIV. Hopefully this teaches more people to be more empathetic to those whose lives were touched by HIV.”
For Bonete, “theater can contribute to our understanding of what it means to be human, and staging ‘Red Lives’ humanizes real HIV stories. These stories need to be shared, listened to, and passed on.”
Bonete added: “With the book reading, we hope to create a safe, affirming, and inclusive environment for dialogue and reflection, we aim to break the stigma and foster a deeper understanding of the challenges that serve as an opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives and foster empathy among participants while promoting a community that stands in solidarity with those affected by HIV.”
“Red Lives” is, in the end, “a call to action for individuals, organizations, and society at large,” said Quilacio. “It is a reminder of the importance of supporting and advocating for the rights and well-being of people living with HIV, and even those affected by it. By coming together, we can challenge misconceptions, dispel myths, and work towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate society.”
Bahaghari Center, Outrage Mag publish book creatively retelling stories from PH HIV community
Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and Outrage Magazine released a book, “Red Lives”, that author Michael David C. Tan said contains the “creative retelling of stories from the local HIV community.”
To give face to people infected and affected by HIV, Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. and Outrage Magazine released a book, “Red Lives”, that author Michael David C. Tan said contains the “creative retelling of stories from the local HIV community.”
The Philippines now has 54 new HIV cases per day. In March 2023 alone, 2,078 news HIV cases were reported, a 35% increase to the number for the same period last year. Majority (97%) were male, with most of them belonging to the 15-34 age group (including 48% from the 25-34 age group, and 31% from the 15-24 age group. Notably, 125 of the cases reported in March involved 10-19 year old Filipinos, with 103 of them infected through sexual contact.
“Year-on-year, the number of Filipinos getting infected with HIV has been increasing from ‘only’ 13 per day in 2013 to 41 in 2022 to the 54 new HIV cases we now have per day,” Tan said, “and with younger Filipinos the most affected sector.”
For Tan, it is “important to stress this since HIV still kills… at least in contexts like the Philippines.”
Also in March, 57 deaths were reported due to any cause among people with HIV; since 1984 when DOH started reporting on this, 6,474 deaths were already reported due to any cause among people with HIV in the country. Sadly, only over half (67,194 of 114,008) of the total number of PLHIVs take ARVs; meaning, not everyone has access to life-saving medication.
All these numbers are important, Tan said, as they “show us the worsening HIV situation in the country.” However, “these numbers do not tell the full story because all Filipinos living with HIV, and their loved ones looking after them have stories to tell.”
“Red Lives”, Tan said, hopes to highlight some of these stories.
“Red Lives” has sections on: finding out one’s HIV status; looking after minors with HIV; dying and death; HIV for Deaf LGBTQIA people; transgender-specific HIV-related issues; treatment, care and support; and loving beyond HIV.
“Part of the fight against HIV lies in hearing of, and hopefully understanding of the stories of people,” Tan said.
Tan aded: “We all should ask: Why do people engage in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV infection? What are their experiences when they test HIV-positive? How do people around them react? Aside from their medical condition, what continue to be challenges for PLHIVs? And with their status, what continues to inspire them to do better in life?”
For Tan, “answers to such questions put a face on a social issue, thereby helping us understand why the country’s HIV situation is where it is now; what we can do to better the situation; and… what we can similarly do to better the lives of those infected AND affected by HIV.”
With “Red Lives”, the intention is “to start telling these stories so that, hopefully, they’d not only be heard but eventually be listened to.”
COPIES OF “Red Lives” ARE AVAILABLE FROM BAHAGHARI CENTER, AND OUTRAGE MAGAZINE.
CONTACT 09287854244 or 09162727715, OR EMAIL email@example.com.
Bahaghari Center names Disney Aguila, Aaron Bonete as co-chairs; to focus on minority sectors in LGBTQIA community
In a push to – particularly – highlight minority sectors within the already minority LGBTQIA community, Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) named Ms Disney Aguila and Mx Aaron Moises C. Bonete as its new co-directors that will steer the organization to better the services given to minority sectors in the Philippines.
Disney is a Deaf transgender women, who started getting involved in the LGBTQIA community in the Philippines as a member of the Deaf Pink Club in 2010. When the organization evolved to Deaf Rainbow Philippines, and then Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, Disney held its top post until 2022. She is the concurrent head of TransDeaf Philippines.
From the very start of her joining LGBTQIA advocacy and activism, Disney said her “push has always been to mainstream minority voices in the LGBTQIA community, particularly those traversing various identities – e.g. transgender, PWD and, yes, LGBTQIA,” she said.
Disney’s expertise includes giving SOGIE 101 and HIV 101 lectures to Deaf LGBTQIA and ally communities; and Filipino Sign Language (FSL) lessons that eye to “make our Deaf culture – with the help of promoting our language – better understood.” She is also certified in community-based HIV screening, and has become a go-to person for Deaf people who want to get tested, or are in need of help re HIV.
“The LGBT community inspires me because of its constant push for equal rights for all,” Disney said. “It is our community that highlights the need to value a person for who he/she/they truly is/are.”
For their part, Mx Aaron started engaging in the LGBTQIA advocacy in college, when – after noting the absence of LGBTQIA inclusion in Lucena City – they established EU Bahaghari in Enverga University. The goal, they said then, was always to elevate the issues of those at the fringes of society, particularly those who continue to be minorities even if they already belonged to minority groups – i.e. in this case, young LGBTQIA people who live outside metropolitan parts of the Philippines. Identifying as a non-binary, Aaron eventually helped organize other LGBTQIA community-based organizations in other parts of Luzon, continuing to believe that “it is when we work together that we are strongest.”
Aaron’s other fields of expertise include: journalism and photojournalism, working as the Managing Editor of Outrage Magazine; graphics and lay-out; and PR and marketing. They have similarly been developing modules and giving lectures on SOGIESC 101 and HIV 101.
“Inclusion,” said Aaron, “should always be the goal.”
MOST RECENT POSTS
- Bahaghari Center, Outrage Mag publish book creatively retelling stories from PH HIV community
- OutrageMag.com, Bahaghari Center launch ‘Bahaghari Talks’ starting Dec. 1 to ‘extensively tackle issues of LGBTQIA Filipinos’
- LGBTQIA people in Binuangan, Misamis Oriental receive SOGIESC 101 training
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