Monday, September 14, 2009

Beautiful things

Last weekend I had the privilege of witnessing two beautiful things in action: youth and love. On Saturday, along with other officers of Ang Ladlad, the national organization of LGBT Filipinos, I braved the rains and went to the University Hotel inside the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus for Ang Ladlad's Meet & Greet with a youth social network, OneBacardi. OneBacardi is a group of gay and bisexual youth who set up mainly cultural and socio-civic activities aimed at bringing the local LGBT community together. They currently have almost 100 members from the Metro Manila area alone (see pic below). When I met them last Saturday, my heart just melted because they lived up to their claim of being a bold, brilliant and beautiful group of guys. They were all so good-looking and charming!

With OneBacardi

For some time now, OneBacardi, through its officers led by current head, Angelo "Gelo" Camaya, had been expressing their desire to partner with Ang Ladlad so that both organizations could support each other in its activities and endeavors. Last Saturday, Ang Ladlad and OneBacardi finally got the chance to meet and know each other a little more.

The program started with an invocation led by Ang Ladlad Secretary Bemz Benedito. After the prayer, Gelo, the president presented OneBacardi to the entire group (see pic below). OneBacardi also had new members coming in that night so the orientation was both for the representatives from Ang Ladlad and them. Gelo discussed OneBacardi's vision, mission and goals (VMG) and outlined their group's activities in the coming months. I was impressed when Gelo spoke about OneBacardi's three main advocacy goals for the coming year: a) promote unity within the LGBT community; b) educate the youth and its members about current social issues facing the LGBT community; and c) reach out to abandoned and financially-challenged LGBT elderly and youth. If that does not warm your heart, I do not know what will! :)

Gelo talks about OneBacard

Next up was Danton Remoto (see pic below), the chair of Ang Ladlad who, like his counterpart Gelo, spoke about Ang Ladlad's VMG and various campaigns and involvements.

Danton talks about Ang Ladlad

After Danton, it was my turn to talk about the Yogyakarta Principles (see pic below). I informed OneBacardi that last year Ang Ladlad was able to secure funding to popularize the Yogyakarta Principles (YyP), or the application of international human rights law to sexual orientation and gender identity in the country. Ang Ladlad has committed itself to bringing the message of the YyP to as many LGBT and non-LGBT organizations and individuals as possible including NGOs and government agencies in the Philippines. Hopefully in the future, Ang Ladlad can petition lawmakers to adopt the principles as a basis for implementing laws that recognize, uphold and protect the human rights of LGBT people in the Philippines. In the meantime, Ang Ladlad has had the Principles translated into Filipino already so that they could be more accessible to a greater number of people.

Pau talks about the YyP

Lastly, Ms. Christian Joy Cruz, a researcher from the UP Population Institute presented on HIV/AIDS and its impact on Filipino LGBT youth (see pic below). OneBacardi requested Ang Ladlad to provide a speaker on a topic of their choice. They chose HIV/AIDS and fortunately Joy was available to give just what OneBacardi requested us to provide.

Joy talks about HIV/AIDS

The meet and greet with OneBacardi was an amazing experience. Being surrounded by such a vibrant, smart, and young group lifted up my spirits. I really love OneBacardi. They touched my heart so deeply with their energy and dynamism and I left the University Hotel that night very inspired. :)

The next day, Sunday, I felt more than grateful to have been invited to attend the third year anniversary of the Metropolitan Community Church in Quezon City (MCCQC). Their new chapel along Mindanao avenue was filled to overflowing as that afternoon, MCCQC was not only celebrating their third year with a mass and program after but there was also going to be a surprise holy union in between!

I was so thrilled and excited when the ceremonial wedding between the Rev. CeeJay Agbayani and his long-time partner Marlon started. It was nothing short of a wonderful and utterly beautiful experience. CeeJay and Marlon exchanged vows and rings (see pic below) which they also sealed with a kiss! In between they were serenaded by love songs. Both of them were in white and the atmosphere in the MCCQC chapel just filled with love, affection and joy. Congratulations to Rev.CeeJay and Marlon! Married life has it ups and downs but I know that with faith both of them will be able to weather whatever challenges come their way.

Exchange of rings

It was quite a weekend, I would say. It reminded me of a quote from Longfellow who once said "Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, to some good angel leave the rest; For Time will teach thee soon the truth, there are no birds in last year's nest!" For me this means, live in the present, seize the day and do what you must. More importantly I think it means, while you are young, love! :)

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