Monthly Archives: November 2009

Defending the bakla

I AM OUTRAGED, dear karikna, with the recent rejection of Ang Ladlad’s bid for party-list accreditation. This is the second time the group, which is at the forefront in advancing the rights and welfare of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT), is denied the right to be represented in congress.

In 2007, the Comelec ruled that Ang Ladlad did not have a national constituency and was thus undeserving to be accredited. This led me to write to Chairman Benjamin Abalos, and to members of the Comelec Second Division, composed of Commisioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Rene Sarmiento, and Florentino Tuazon, the three medieval musketeers who rejected the LGBT group’s participation in the polls.

The letter, which I personally delivered to their offices at the Comelec National Headquarters in Intramuros, thus read…

*****

Dear Chairman Abalos,

First, let me say thank you for your intention to make this year’s elections, the last one under your watch, fair, honest, credible, and safe.

I am a registered voter of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Region I – Ilocos region, and this is to make a manifestation of my being a part of Ang Ladlad Party’s constituency which the COMELEC Second Division found questionable.

In the Division’s resolution dated February 27, 2007, it was stated that contrary to Ang Ladlad’s claims, “reports from our field offices reveal that it doesn’t exist in most regions of the country.” I am not privy to the manner by which your field staff conducted their verification process, but your records show that Ang Ladlad has no constituency in Region 1-Ilocos Region, please add my little voice to those of other citizens who have already stood up for Ang Ladlad’s accreditation as a party-list group. I know that an appeal is in order, and I pray that this manifestation is considered for all its worth.

Let me note that the constituency of a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) group is a sensitive and tricky issue. Because of pervading prejudices, broadcasting one’s homosexuality is not as convenient as standing up as a woman, youth, laborer, peasant farmer,or any entity belonging to other marginalized and underrepresented sectors. This suggests that we go beyond a simplistic yardstick of constituency in determining Ang Ladlad’s worthiness for party-list accreditation. I am a very private person, and I would always rather keep my sexual persona to myself and the people close to me. Recent developments however demand not silence and passiveness, but courage against—and compassion for—those who continue to decide not to understand. And so this humble letter.

May the political representation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders be a part of the Abalos legacy in our electoral history, in particular, and our national life, at large.

Thank you for your attention.

*****

Unfortunately, the Comelec en banc upheld the thoughtless judgment of the Second Division, and Abalos is best remembered today for the NBN-ZTE scandal, and for the Hello Garci controversy.

But Ang Ladlad is not a group that is easily disheartened. It strengthened its presence in all regions in preparation for the 2010 polls. There is no way the Comelec can now claim that the group has no national constituency.

However, Comelec is denying, yet again, accreditation to Ang Ladlad, this time on grounds of immorality.

*****

The Pahayagang Malaya hit the spot right in an editorial published November 16. Part of it reads:

Homosexuality is now a contagious moral and spiritual disease from which our youth need to be quarantined?’

The Commission on Elections decision last Friday denying accreditation to the Ang Ladlad is the very proof that gays and lesbians are so marginalized they need to be represented in Congress.

They are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual preferences. They are powerless against the dominant culture that classifies them as aberrations of nature. They are victims of beliefs that treat them as moral misfits.

The Neanderthals in the Comelec, in effect, disenfranchised a class of citizens on the basis of a set of prejudices.

The grounds cited by the Comelec second division are laughable.

“Should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to our faith,” it said.

It then gratuitously added that homosexuality is against Christianity and Islam.

Are Christianity and Islam now state religions that citizens who do not subscribe to their tenets should be stripped of their right to be voted into office? There is no religious test for running for office. This follows from the doctrine of separation of state and church. Let’s not confuse a sin with a crime. Gays and lesbians certainly have not committed any crime that would disqualify them from forming a political organization by preferring their own sex.

“As an agency of the government, ours too is the State’s duty… under the Constitution to protect our youth from moral and spiritual degradation,” the Comelec said.

Accrediting a party, which is fighting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, leaves our youth open to moral and spiritual degradation? What drivel is this? Homosexuality is now a contagious moral and spiritual disease from which our youth need to be quarantined?

Homosexuality, if we understand the Catholic doctrine correctly, is not a sin although acts are. These old farts at the Comelec are trying to be more popish than the Pope.

*****

This Nicodemo Ferrer added insult to injury by saying that there are already a lot of gays in Senate and congress, and, ergo, no more need for party-list representation. He is probably right, and I say gays are abound in all other institutions, including the media, the church, the academe, and even the military. But that LGBT’s in these institutions cannot “ladlad” on fear of discrimination and prejudice is the issue.   Otherwise, Ferrer could have named names.  Truth to tell, many “closet gays” are gay bashers par excellance.

Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby missed a shot at greatness when they sued Lolit Solis for libel a few years ago when the latter insinuated in her column that the two may be lovers.

The two hunky actors went ballistic over Solis when they could have simply said, “we would not mind being gay, but just that we are not.” Instead, Piolo and Sam denounced Solis’ insinuations as if being gay debases human dignity. All muscles, no substance.

*****

Hello to Daryl Velasco, a Legal Management student of Divine Word College of Laoag, who expressed to me his discontent over the Comelec’s rejection of Ang Ladlad. Outraged by the election body’s reasoning (or the lack of it), he vowed to join the struggle for the emancipation of the Filipino gay against stereotypes and prejudice.

Now is the time to come out. Now is the time to unite. Now na.

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Filed under Gayhood, Gender, Government/Politics, Polls

Thank you, Ramos Family

THE ILOCOS TIMES turns half a century plus two years in the service of the Ilocano, and it is fitting that we thank the family behind the institution.

While this paper is a family business, I don’t think its continuous operation is driven by profit.  Community newspapers are not known as big earners.  Truth to tell, many local newspapers in different provinces have folded up into oblivion on account of financial woes.  In Ilocos Norte alone, a couple of weeklies have come and gone, and only The Ilocos Times remains legitimate and strong.

Members of the Ramos Family, I’m sure, make sacrifices to let this paper thrive.  I assume there are issues when advertisements do not suffice to cover the cost of printing, even as the paper is sold at only seven pesos a copy, one of the cheapest in the Milky Way galaxy. Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Ilocos, Media