Last 4 December 2010, the Transgender Lesbian Bisexual and Gay (TLBG) community in Manila concluded another historical Pride Parade. For the first time, the TLBG Pride March was sponsored by the local government of Quezon City. Of course, the girls were there and we decided to come in fiery and radical red.
We had two calls this year: AFFIRM THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION and STOP DISCRIMINATION BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION. We also brought back the red truck last year that we rented again out of our own pockets this year.
Our hardworking member Seanel Caparas (rightmost in the pic above) along with her best friend Princess Jimenez (leftmost in the pic above) decorated the truck and turned it into a parade float. I was so touched when I saw the truck. Seanel and Princess truly outdid themselves and I am so grateful to them up to now.
Once again, joining the march was a tiring but fulfilling experience. Every year, it just seems to get bigger and grander. I was so proud to see that many of the people organizing the march were the first-timers when I was the co-coordinator of two years ago. I am glad that they kept the flame alive and served Task Force Pride Philippines this year. The TFP execom did a very good job this year and they deserve a big congrats!
At last I was able to get a picture taken with my best gay friend in the world, Rey Banag (see above). A week before, Rey sent me a "surprise" Christmas card which had a picture of him and his partner, JM. I cried when I saw the pic and fell in love with them all over again. They are one of the best gay couples I know and I love them both to pieces. I was so elated to receive their loving message with a beautiful picture of them to boot. Now I have their picture in my wallet and it can finally be said that yes I am a fag hag. I am a true-blooded girl who loves boys who like boys. And the pic with me and Rey is my favorite picture from the march.
During the program, I was surprised when one of the stage hands went up to me and said that Arnel Pineda, the front man of Journey just arrived. Arnel made every Filipino proud when he became Journey's lead singer around 3 years ago. It was such a treat for him to drop by and give a solidarity message to the LGBT community. And of course, it was great meeting him in person (see above)!
One of the highlights of the program that night was seeing old allies winning a special prize. Akbayan party, the partylist that originaly filed the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) in Congress 10 years ago, attended this year's march with their usual huge contingent. The ADB seeks to penalize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression but its passage has foundered since it was first filed 3 Congresses ago. Akbayan won Most Number of Participants in this year's parade. It was an honor to hand the award to Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and Akbayan Chairperson Percival Cendaña (see pic above).
The best part of the night was meeting Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista again (see pic above). Mayor Bautista and I actually met 3 years ago when I was just a TFP volunteer and he was still the Vice-Mayor of Quezon City. We saw him in a restaurant and asked him to support the march which was going to be held in Manila then. He asked me to send in a letter to his office and I guess that gave him an idea to fully support the march in a bigger way in the future.
All in all, One Love was amazing. It was also heart-warming to see the media acknowledge the advocacy work of the transgender community. Many of the media write-ups and features on the March showed transwomen in the news. It beats me though why even if I kept saying LGBT during the program, most of the news agencies present called it the "gay pride parade" in the news the day after. I guess old habits die hard but at least now, they say LGBT as well and not only "gay and lesbian this" or "gay and lesbian" that, which is a good change.
Congratulations again to TFP. May this be the start of a long and good relationship between the annual LGBT Pride Parade and the Quezon City Government. We cannot wait for next year's Pride March!