The hanging of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag in the North Wing has recently become a tradition during Pride Month. This year, PUP has to do it virtually. (Photograph courtesy of PUP Kasarinlan)
Despite the coronavirus pandemic bringing the country down on its knees, young people continue to stand up against abuses, human rights violations and marginalization, which are aggravated by the ongoing health crisis.
Almost simultaneous with the Far Eastern University’s Pride event, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) held its own Pride celebration from 4 to 6 March, led by the state university’s official LGBTQ+ organization, PUP Kasarinlan. Their objectives were encapsulated in this year’s slogan, “Tindig, Laban: Kolektibong Kasarinlan (Stand Up, Fight: Collective Freedom).”
LGBTQ+ ally, Senator Risa Hontiveros.
To jumpstart PUP Pride, the LGBTQ+ Pride flag was hung, virtually. Hanging of the Pride flag at the university’s North Wing is a yearly tradition held during LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June and in any Pride celebration.
This year, students led by PUP Kasarianlan met online for a virtual version of the activity with a ceremony on 1 March, streamed on their Facebook page. PUP Pride was composed mostly of talks and discussions, a concert and other activities all held online, mostly through its official Facebook page.
Vice President Leni Robredo delivers her solidarity speech commending the LGBTQ+ community. (PUP Pride)
Addressing violence against women
The first day of celebration on 4 March was highlighted by “Usap Tayo,” a series of lectures and discussions that included “SOGIE 101” with Bryce de Vera of Benilde Hive, the LGBTQ+ organization of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Manila; “HIV and AIDS 101” with Yanyan Araña of Love Yourself; and “Women’s Situationer” with Gabriela partylist representative Arlene Brosas. Rep. Brosas revealed the bleak situation for Filipino women during the pandemic.
DeeDee Marie Holliday graces PUP Pride.
She said “the Philippines ranked fourth in human rights violations during the pandemic” and that “police abuse against women and LGBTQIA+ community increased dahil sa pagvo-voice out ng opinion against Terror Law (for voicing out opinions against the Anti-Terror Law).”
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno talks about acceptance.
She added that police comprise only 5.2 percent of the help and assistance extended to victims, alleging that a number of perpetrators are in the force itself.
Brosas also said that during the lockdowns, “families are forced to stay home, but some homes are not safe. Domestic violence, rape, harassment, trafficking, and sexual abuse increase,” adding that “victims are constrained from seeking help.”
Their virtual version of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag hanging.
Abuse and activism
More talks filled the second day with the series “Diversity Dialogues.” In “Future Movement of the Community for the Next Three Years,” Perci Cendana of Babaylanes said he believes the LGBTQ+ movement in the Philippines owes a lot to the women’s movement and street activism.
He added that “what makes a movement is a community taking action — to converge towards a mission, to converge a vision of what society they want it to be.
“We can break down these barriers of culture, of gender inequalities because it has been broken down before,” he enthused.
Drag performer Mrs. Tan.
“Fifty-two years after Stonewall, it’s still the same thing. Nakakaranas pa rin ng pang-aalipusta mula sa mga naghaharing uri, mula sa mga pulis, militar ang LGBTQ (The LGBTQ+ community still experiences discrimination from the ruling class, from the police and the military),” said Marquis Bolima of the organization Bahaghari in his talk, “Militant LGBTQ+.”
“We will not achieve real freedom, decision and determination for ourselves and our community if the system that enables our oppression remains,” they stated in Filipino. “The system of feudalism perpetuates the low regard for women and the LGBTQ+ members as not being productive members of society.”
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
The group also emphasized that protesting on the streets is an important way of bringing awareness to the people.
In “Open Forum: Violence Against People of Diverse SOGIE,” Anne Dy of PUP Kasarianlan, filmmaker Cha Roque, Disney Aguila, PUP Kasarianlan’s former Reyna Interna and Kindred Cruz shared their experiences of discrimination, marginalization and violence.
The main day of PUP’s Pride celebration was highlighted by the Solidarity Concert, which featured singers Reese Lansangan and Joe Suobiron; and drag performers Miss Ivy, Candy Jane and Izzy Xtra from House of Femme, DeeDee Marie Halliday, Aries Night and Mrs. Tan.
Throughout the three-day event, several notable personalities sent their solidarity speeches and messages, including filmmaker JP Habac, Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Franco Habijan, Kabataan partylist Representative Sarah Elagao, LGBTQ+ ally and Senator Risa Hontiveros, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and Vice President Leni Robredo, who broke ground as the highest Philippine government official participating in Pride events.
Diokno was “proud and happy” to there.
“I join you in saying no to discrimination. I join in saying yes to inclusiveness and diversity,” he said. “Iyan ang isang parang pagkukulang natin bilang isang bansa — ’yong pagtatanggap ng pagkaiba-iba natin (That is what’s lacking in our country — the acceptance of our diversity).”
Reese Lansangan spices the Solidarity Concert with her performance. (PUP Pride)
On the other hand, Elago called for more funding for education during the pandemic, prioritization of health, economic stimulus, employment, justice and responsibility, more than the Anti-Terror Law and Charter change.
“In all these, it is important that we have a voice in every aspect, from planning to the implementation of real change. Don’t let our voices be trampled on. We must speak out, unite against any form of abuse, discrimination, repression and human rights violation,” the young lawmaker said.
According to Robredo, while the pandemic is changing the world, it is heartening to know that standing up for justice and equality still remains.
“There should be no space for being selfish. We move forward together because it is part of being responsible for each other. My call to you now is to continue to join hands and not to falter for principles and beliefs that unite us,” she said.
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