Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stop Transphobia sa Bahay ni Kuya!!! (Stop Transphobia in the Pinoy Big Brother House!!!)

Official Statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) on the recent happenings inside the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) House involving Rica Paras
by Naomi Fontanos

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

She-man. Mumu (Ghost). Half-half. Samson and Delilah. These are just a few of the derogatory comments heard recently from PBB Double Up Housemates Rob Stumvol, Patrick Villanueva, Hermes Bautista, Mariel Sorino, Yuri Okawa and most especially Rocky Salumbides in referring to Rica Paras. We, her sisters in STRAP, join the rest of the world’s loyal audiences who watch PBB Double Up diligently in expressing our dismay, disappointment and disbelief in this blatant show of anti-transgender prejudice or transphobia. STRAP condemns to the highest degree this senseless bigotry and calls on Big Brother to intervene and put a stop to the hate happening right under his watchful eye.

Ever since Rica entered the PBB House, she has always carried herself well. She has never been a burden to her housemates but instead has proven to be an asset to them with her leadership skills, quick thinking and positive attitude. She has helped in household chores, shared her talents selflessly, related wholeheartedly with her housemates, and always contributed to the completion of tasks in the best way she could. The whole world knows that Rica has been nothing but a consistent team player, a shoulder to cry on, a loyal friend and a loving and reliable sister to all of her housemates.

We are therefore calling on all the housemates to STOP BASHING RICA for she has done nobody any harm. STOP DISRESPECTING RICA for she has only treated all of them with grace and care. STOP DISPARAGING RICA for she is simply being herself. The asinine machismo being directed at her is the same kind of misogyny that leads to violence against women. The narrow-mindedness being displayed by some of the PBB Double Up housemates is the same kind of bias that leads to abuse, insensitivity and cruelty towards others. This is totally unacceptable behavior and must be stopped at all costs.

This has to stop if we believe in the equality of all persons. This has to stop if we want to create a world where the uniqueness of all is valued. This has to stop if we want to create a better world where kindness, compassion and respect reign, a world that upholds the inherent dignity of all. STOP TRANSPHOBIA SA BAHAY NI KUYA!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm moral

Yesterday, about a hundred people trooped to Plaza Roma in front of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to show their indignation over the COMELEC decision not to accredit Ang Ladlad into the partylist system. TLBG individuals and their friends and families attended the protest action yesterday to tell the COMELEC that "IM MORAL." The rally was of course called immoRALLY. Below are pictures taken from yesterday.

Start of the rally

Protesters assembled in front of the nearby Manila Cathedral (see above pic). After the mass-up, the contingent made its way in front of the COMELEC a few yards away.

T Statement

I co-hosted the short program of the rally which saw different representatives give messages in support of and solidarity with Ang Ladlad (see above).

Post rally

After the rally, we took pictures.

In front of COMELEC

We also had a Kodak moment with Danton Remoto (in the middle in black), Chair of Ang Ladlad (see pic above).

STRAP Girls after the Rally

Of course the day would not have been complete without a picture of just the girls (above).

It was quite a successful protest action. I was there not only to protest the unconstitutional and persecutive decision of the COMELEC but because I care about my future and that of my children. This oppressive decision, at a micro level may be used later to bar TLBG people from joining politics and at a macro level to police and punish people's behavior. I will not stand for it. COMELEC needs to take back what it said and apologize to the whole nation for this travesty. If not, the protest actions will just continue and I hope in the future will become more and more massive. Hope to see you in the next one!

I am reposting below STRAP's statement on the whole COMELEC brouhaha.

The Official Statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) on Comelec’s non-accreditation of Ang Ladlad LGBT Party List

“The greatness of every mighty organization
embodying an idea in this world
lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance
with which, fanatically convinced of its own right,
it intolerantly imposes its will against all others."
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 1 Chapter 12

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) stands with courage and in solidarity with all those organizations and individuals who have been disheartened, disappointed, and dismayed by the unfavorable decision Ang Ladlad received from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

STRAP is among those who say: Yes! It’s a violation of the separation of Church and State; Yes! It breaches the ‘no religion test’ clause of our Constitution; Yes! It lays the case for our legal persecution; Yes! It’s a retrogressive way of thinking; Yes! It’s a violation of human rights. But above all this, STRAP says Yes! The bigotry of Comelec is a threat to the well-being of every human being.

In its 8-page decision, Comelec argued that should they allow Ang Ladlad to participate in the elections, “[the] youth would be exposed to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of [Christianity and Islam]”, implying that such exposure would cause the moral and spiritual degradation of the youth. "[They] are not condemning the LGBT," Comelec said, they just “cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of our people, especially the youth.“ Protecting the well-being of everyone is a good intention. However, as history has shown us, the road to hell can be paved with bigotry masked as good intentions.

How many wars have been waged, people burned at stake, genocide committed, and bodies turned into bombs just to create an environment that blindly conforms to the teachings of a particular religion? How many such atrocities have happened just because of the refusal to acknowledge the humanity of those people who are simply different?

If we’re going to be honest in answering these questions, we’ll find out that our natural diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression is not the threat to the well-being of humanity. The threat is bigotry.

So we further ask, Who is the real threat to the youth? An organization that seeks to promote respect for and deeper understanding of human diversity? Or those who wear bigotry as a badge of honor?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Immorally yours

Dear all,

Tomorrow is a chance for all of us to come together in a show of force and unity. Tomorrow is the planned protest against the COMELEC decision on TLBG people, that the COMELEC accuses of deceit, immorality and corrupting minors. It is time to stand up and reclaim our dignity. Let us not permit the COMELEC to spread lies, trample on our rights and persecute us. If you believe in TLBG equality and empowerment (protected no less by the Philippine Constitution), join the rally (see the poster below).

Immorally yours

Immorally yours,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bringing the rainbow on air


Last Friday, 20 November was the launch of Rainbow Radio Pilipinas (RRP), the first-ever TLBG-themed community-based radio show in the Philippines (see the launch poster above). RRP, which is funded by the Global Fund for Women (GFW), is one of the pet projects of Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project, Inc., a group of lesbian and gay lawyers and activists who are working to promote a rational discourse on TLBG issues. RRP was envisioned by R-Rights to be a weekly radio program that will bring together TLBG Filipinos, their families, and supporters to discuss the latest events, news and issues that are traditionally not discussed by the media. RRP, which is truly a historic initiative, airs every Saturday, 2:30-3:30 pm, on DWBL 1242.

I was not going to miss history in the making so I volunteered to host the program of the launch that night along with Cenon Palomares from the University of the Philippines (UP).

Me with the girls

That night we were teasing a girl about the look she was sporting. Her short do, a fantastic wig that did not look like one, made her look very young. The girls decided that when we got older, we would all sport short locks. At some point in our lives as women of a certain age, our aim should be uncomplicated, wash-and-wear hair as opposed to the long tresses we have now.

Curly tops

I had the ends of mine curled at the salon that night (see my pic above). I left work at 5 and made it to the hairdressers at 6. I only had 2 hours to get ready for the launch at 8 and so the hairstylist decided to just use a curling iron and hairspray to style my hair. Because the curls were not industrial strength, I noticed that they progressively straightened as the evening wore on (see pic below).

No more curls

Hair and make-up issues aside, the RRP launch was a truly wonderful evening spent with friends, old and new. The launch was attended by several organizations including Ang Ladlad, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP), Lunduyan ng Sining (LNS) Metropolitan Community Church Quezon City (MCCQC), Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project, Inc., Single Guys Online-PH, Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines, UP Babaylan and Women Bi Net and the program featured performances by Kooky Tuazon, Alden Capuyoc, Flush and the Toilets and Pow Chavez. I was very happy to have finally seen Kooky do performance poetry. It was really inspired. Flush and the Toilets also did not disappoint. Their set was spectacular. Pow Chavez also proved her star power by bringing the house down with several covers of The Black Eyed Peas songs, which made everyone get up and dance. It was a pleasure meeting Pow, who I think is very hot. I wish her well. I do hope that in the future she will sell millions of albums and make people happy with her music. Congratulations again to R-Rights for a successful launch and for such a groundbreaking undertaking! I just know that Rainbow Radio Pilipinas will touch, inspire and change so many lives.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

LGBT Filipinos, Unite! Attend the Ang Ladlad General Assembly on Saturday, 14 November 2009

Ang Ladlad Logo

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has just denied the petition for accreditation of Ang Ladlad Partylist to be able to take part in the 2010 elections and represent Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Filipinos in Congress. The COMELEC, in its 7-page decision, claims that Ang Ladlad advocates sexual immorality and thus the COMELEC is protecting the youth from “moral and spiritual degradation” by denying Ang Ladlad’s petition.

In light of this COMELEC decision, Ang Ladlad is calling all its members, allies, friends and supporters to a general assembly on 14 November 2009, Saturday, 9am-12nn at the Seminar Room 108 of the University Hotel, UP Diliman. For directions, call the University Hotel at landline 926.1975/926.1953 or mobile 0920.471.0111.

It’s time to get up and stand up for our rights!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11th Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)


This year, we will partner with the first-ever TLBG student group in the University of the Philippines (UP) system, UP Babaylan to commemorate the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) TDOR is meant to honor people who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. It began a decade ago after the death of Rita Hester who was brutally murdered in November 1998. Hester’s death resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead website and a candlelight vigil in 1999. Henceforth, transgender people killed due to hatred are honored in annual TDOR activities worldwide.

We are holding TDOR week in UP and our activities are as follows:
November 24 - 27, 2009, UP Diliman Campus, Quezon City

Nov. 24 (Tue.)
10:00 AM, TDOR Exhibit Opening | Palma Hall Lobby (Exhibit runs until the 27th)

Nov. 27 (Fri.)
2:30 - 5:00 PM, TRANSCEND: Stories and Struggles of Transpeople in the Philippines (Forum) | UP Diliman Gender Office, Benton Hall

6:00 PM, Candle-lighting Ceremony | Palma Hall Lobby

We hope that you can join us in all these activities. We will really appreciate it. To participate or for inquiries, contact the following: mobile (0905.352.0943) and email ( Thank you. See you there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

25 days to go

Before the 2009 Manila Pride March that is. The countdown has already started. Would you dare March? Do you even care?


I hope so. Thousands others like you will be there. Show your pride. Come to Malate on December 5. To join/volunteer and for updates click here.

See you there!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Girl with iPhone

One lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to have coffee together and walk aimlessly around the mall with a girl called Phoejay. Phoejay does fashion, interior and graphic design. I always have a nice time with Phoejay. Ever since I met her in the summer of last year, after she just came back to Manila from the States, we just really seemed to hit it off well. We have been hanging out in various coffee shops lately but we always seem to end up meeting up at Seattles' Best in a mall in Makati. That Sunday, Phoejay surprised me with her new iPhone. Of course we had to take the customary shot. Below is what she took.

Phoejay and Naomi

I love it!

Don't you? Phoejay sent this to me via email. It's really sweet because I always tease her about taking the worst pictures of me, which we jokingly call "sabotage" pictures. A sabotage picture is when another  girl takes your picture and she takes it at your worst angle, in bad lighting or without telling you--a stolen or candid shot! What's worse is when she decides to post it online somewhere like in her blog or social networking sites deliberately or without asking your permission. So we have a tradition of asking each other to take down unflattering pictures of us innocently or intentionally posted somewhere. Talk about vanity! But it's all done in good cheer. I know that I have my bad angles and even if through the years I have become more comfortable in my own skin, even going out without wearing any make up at all lately, I still draw the line at pics of me where I think I am or that I deem "fugly".

I didn't mind seeing this one of me (see pic below) during last month's Support Group Meeting (SGM). I went to the SGM just wearing some powder and told the girls that I was starting a fad called Stars Without Makeup! Let's see now if I can keep that up. *GRIN*


I love this pic because it shows so many of us. We are incomplete in this pic though. Some girls who were in that meeting were no longer around when this pic was taken. Some girls who were in Manila also did not make it to this SGM. Some others were abroad when this SGM happened. I dream in 6 months or a year though, when we hold one or 2 General Assemblies, that all of us will be there. It is really something to look forward to.

I still really love Phoejay's pic of us and I look forward to taking more pics with her through her iPhone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Manila Pride season has begun!

Here is the first press release from Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines, the official network that organizes the yearly TLBG Pride March in Manila. I volunteered to handle some PR work for this year's TFP after coordinating last year's march. Our new membership coordinator in STRAP, Gia Alessandra Nolasco is our official rep to the network while last year's Marketing and Finance Head, Dee Mendoza, our outgoing STRAP chair, is doing marketing work for the 2009 Manila Pride March. She designed the teasers and posters of this year's Pride Parade, one of which you can see below.

Dare to March

Like previous Pride Parades, the 2009 Manila PrideMarch, scheduled to take place on Saturday, 5 December 2009 in Malate, promises to gather thousands of Transgender Lesbian Bisexual and Gay (TLBG) Filipinosand foreigners alike, including their friends, families, loved ones and supporters in one massive and colorful parade that will rival the biggest Pride Marches around the world, from London to Paris; San Francisco to New York; from Tokyo to Taipei.

Organized by Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines, the 2009 Manila Pride March carries the theme We Dare We Care (WDWC), the slogan of a solidarity and consciousness-raising campaign launched by, for and of TLBG organizations seeking to unify the local TLBG community and working to raise the awareness of Philippine society about the needs, issues and concerns facing them through different activities including the Pride March.

Show that you care for our community by daring to march with Pride! It is the only day out of the year that our community can shine together as one. Everybody is encouraged to march in shimmering splendid silver on December 5! To join/volunteer and for updates, visit

Also, attend the Pride March Kick-Off party on Thursday, 5 November 2009 at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Chapel, 3rdFloor, 56 Mindanao Avenue, QC . For more details text/call Rev. CeejayAgbayani at 09195009098 or email him via rev.ceejay@yahoo. com.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another day, another case of trans discrimination

I don't know what's with establishments that keep enforcing asinine dress codes but in the Philippines there are a lot of them. The dress code is almost always lopsided, meaning it is not enforced equally on all and always singles out a certain group of people. That is obviously discrimination but because there is no law that prohibits such prejudicial business practices in this country, many establishments get away with it by invoking the standard excuse that the business has the right to refuse entry to those it deems unfit to enter its premises.

Now I can understand that from a security point of view. But in reality these dress code policies are usually based on preconceived notions about what it means to be a man or woman and so tend to be oppressive to those whose gender identity or expression does not conform with norms. Should businesses be allowed to police people's expression of their sexual and gender identities? I do not think so. Another establishment in Manila seems hell bent to do so: Manor Superclub (see logo above). Manor is located in the Eastwood City complex in Libis, Quezon City and is supposed to be the next happening place in the Metro for those who love going clubbing.

Around a week or so ago, a transwoman, Rio, went there with her boyfriend and almost did not get in. She was only able to after summoning the manager who, upon seeing her and her bf, then apologized and allowed them to go in. Rio immediately informed us of what happened and so we sent the establishment a letter asking for a dialogue. Below is the letter and the documentation of the humiliating experience that Rio had to suffer through.

3 November 2009


Manor Superclub

Eastwood, Libis

Quezon City

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: Discriminatory dress code policy

It has recently come to our attention that one of our members in the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), Ms Rio Moreno, was almost barred from entering Manor Superclub on the morning of 24 October 2009, Saturday. Based on her account of what happened (see attachment), it was because the bouncer/guard on duty at the gate was enforcing on her your establishment’s dress code for MEN.

Firstly, Ms Moreno is a person of transsexual experience. That means her gender identity is opposite to the one designated to her at birth. Even if she was assigned male, she developed a female gender identity growing up. The dress code that should have been applied to her then should have been the WOMEN’S. In that case, we are confident that Ms Moreno was not violating your policy. We understand that the bouncer/guard on duty was imposing the dress code based on HIS understanding of Ms Moreno’s gender.

Let us clarify this for you. According to the Yogyakarta Principles, the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, gender identity is “understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.” That means Ms Moreno’s gender is what she feels and thinks it is and not what your bouncer/guard thinks or feels it is. Moreover, Ms Moreno’s gender identity has NOTHING to do with her sex assignment at birth or the sex in her birth certificate, her genitals, or her legal name. They DO NOT determine her gender identity. The Yogyakarta Principles are recognized by the UN and human rights commissions around the world including that of the Philippines .

Additionally, we know for a fact that many transsexual women, including some of our own STRAP members, have been able to enter Manor Superclub and enjoy what it has to offer without hassle in the past. This means that your dress code is not being enforced consistently. Ms Moreno was also surprised when she finally entered Manor and she saw many women dressed in men’s clothing inside your club. If you allow women in male apparel to enter Manor, then you should do the same for men in female attire. Obviously no harm is done when women cross dress and exercise their freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and is protected by the 1987 Philippine Constitution. It applies to all people regardless of sex or gender. Because your dress code is not equally applied to both genders, it is clearly discriminatory.

We are surprised that an establishment like yours is enforcing such a policy especially since you are located in Eastwood City , the first ever accredited Tourism Entertainment Complex of the Department of Tourism (DOT). Moreover, you are located in Quezon City , which prides itself on being the only city in the Philippines with a local anti-discrimination ordinance. We do not think that the DOT or the city government particularly its Gender and Development (GAD) Council will tolerate any form of discrimination in establishments under their jurisdiction.

Eastwood is a cosmopolitan place. As your advertisement points out, being in Eastwood is all about living the good life. If that were the case, then this should be reflected in the business practices of all Eastwood establishments, vendors and tenants. Discriminating against a certain population and being discriminated upon has no place in a life well-lived. What is more, such gender-biased dress code restrictions will never be found in the best dance clubs of the world from North America to Europe to Asia . We believe that Manor will be better off if it adopts instead a policy that celebrates diversity and individuality, a major characteristic of your target market.

Do dialogue with us. We believe that we will be able to learn from each other given the chance.


Naomi Fontanos




October 24, 1:00AM. I arrived at Manor Superclub Eastwood, with Philip. The bouncer/guard asked for our IDs. Philip showed his and I showed my work ID. It has my preferred name Rio Moreno and my legal name. The guard then pointed his hand and showed me a poster of their dress code, which lists the prohibited clothing for men and women. Under MEN, the list includes women's clothing.

I asked the guard, “What do you mean?” He just did not know what to answer and pointed to the poster again. Philip asked the guard, "Why aren’t you letting her in?" The guard said "Sir, dress code sir."

We asked for the manager. The manager named Will came down. As soon as he saw us, he apologized and told us that we could come in. His exact words were "Sorry po, you can come in." He was talking to me and Philip.

Philip asked, “Why aren't they letting her in?” He just said sorry and said we could come in. He also said that the bouncer was just doing his job.

I asked for their names again. The manager’s name is Will while the bouncer’s name is Mar. We went in and paid the entrance fee.

October 24, 4PM. I called their office number and Jack's Loft employees answer the phone saying that Manor's phone is being used by Jack's loft during the day.

I called again around 9PM. Jack’s Loft picked up again and asked me to call again so the Manor people will pick up. I called again and again till 12 in the morning. I kept getting the fax tone.

I was trying to call them to get their complete names so I could document everything completely.


Rio Moreno



Monday, November 2, 2009

Ai Haruna is Miss International Queen 2009

The TV personality from Japan (see pic above) bested 24 other contestants from China, Brazil, Peru, Singapore, Thailand, Venezuela, USA and the Philippines. The 5th Miss International Queen was held from 26-31 October 2009 at Tiffany's Show in the resort city of Pattaya.

The pageant was canceled last year due to political instability in Thailand; so I am very happy that it is now back as it seems, at the moment, to be the only international beauty pageant for transgender and transsexual women. Ai Haruna is a comedienne, TV host and business owner in Japan who is making a name for herself in the competitive Japanese showbiz industry. She came to the Philippines awhile back to dance with Cebu's world-famous dancing inmates.

Omedetou gozaimasu utsukushii Ai-Chan!