Category Archives: Gender

Pasuquin’s Pride: oldest gay parade in Asia


GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Amor Albano is crowned as this year’s Queen of Sunflower Festival. Held in Pasuquin, it is the oldest organized gay parade in Asia. Richard Bumanglag, aka Kristina Cassandra (second from left), was adjudged as Miss Ilocoslovaklush 2014.

Richard Bumanglag, aka Kristina Cassandra, is Miss Ilocoslovaklush 2014  (photo by Inot Villanueva)

Richard Bumanglag, aka Kristina Cassandra, is Miss Ilocoslovaklush 2014 (photo by Inot Villanueva)

Queen Amor

Queen Amor

Pasuquin is arguably one of the most backward municipalities of Ilocos Norte. It is economically slow, unprogressive, and stagnant. The town’s tourist attractions, if any, are not as well-known as the mindless bickering of its political families. Its Biscocho, though good, has never made it big on a national or regional scale. Salt-making, once a pride of this town, is no longer exactly traditional as the rock salt they use is now imported by bulk from Australia. The town could have made it big if only they supported the idea of setting up a dragon fruit farm first broached by resident Editha Dacuycuy, but she instead set up her now-famous farm in adjacent Burgos town after Pasuquin officials showed little interest.

These said, Pasuquin may not exactly be a model town, but there is, dear karikna, one thing the town is proud of. Such is little known, little emphasized, but is actually huge: its gay pride.

The Manila Pride March bills itself as the “oldest gay pride march in Asia.” Its first edition was staged in 1994. But did you know that an organized gay parade is being held in Pasuquin for forty two years now, starting in 1975?

A group of successful gay professionals formed the Sunflower Organization in the 1972. Its first project was the Sunflower Festival, a drag parade that celebrates pride in gay identity and fosters camaraderie among its members. Surprisingly, the people of this small and tightly Catholic town welcomed the idea. Mothers and fathers were supportive of their gay sons. Town folks watched the festival participants not with ridicule or contempt, but only with respect and admiration. It was such an extraordinary phenomenon that led American filmmaker Shawn Hainsworth to produce the documentary “Sunflowers” which earned critical acclaim in the 1997 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and other film fests in North America. The film brought the Sunflower Festival in the international gay radar.

It’s a puzzle, dear karikna, how gay empowerment has become ingrained in the culture and consciousness of Pasuquenos, but Benly Agudelo Academia, current Sunflowers Organization president, offers this insight: “Sunflowers was started by successful professionals who were respected members of the community.” That is why, he said, “at the end of the day, people looked at our talents and contributions, and not on our gender.” Truly, the organization, through its yearly parade, has shown everyone that success and honor is no monopoly of heterosexuals and so no gay must be forced to linger in the dark. Aptly, the organization is named after the Sunflower which is known to face the sunlight. Members call themselves “sunflowers.”

In the absence of any record that would prove otherwise, Sunflowers is the oldest gay organization in the Philippines, if not in Asia. The University of the Philippines Babaylan, the largest LGBT student organization in the Philippines, was oranized only in 1992 while Progay-Philippines was formed in 1994.

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Filed under Gender, Ilocos, Revolution, Uncategorized

Piolo the anti-gay

But first let me greet Cleng and Karmina. Nope, not Carmina who married the pre-Bebe Gandanghari Rustom Padilla, but Karmina Krenz Fagaragan Undonero who works at the Communication and Media Office of the Ilocos Norte Capitol. She and my dear kumare Clenntroy “Cleng” Guzman Magbual, also from the same office, are among the new breed of government employees striving to make a difference in the service. Efficient, hardworking, honest, and committed, these two women, only in their early twenties, show that there is a bright future for the bureaucracy if we get the right people and provide them with appropriate training.


Now let’s talk about Piolo who continues to trend in social networking sites after her ex-girlfriend KC Concepcion, in an interview with fellow kalbo Boy Abunda, talked about their breakup. Her words were controlled and tempered but they revealed meanings even the dumbest of human beings could get. Facebook and Twitter users made explicit what KC didn’t on national TV: Piolo “Peejay/Papa P” Pascual, Philippines’ phenomenal male heartthrob, is gay.

I should be saying it’s not an issue and that we should leave the man alone. But no, it is an issue, not only because Piolo is a celebrity and thus a public property, but because the beefcake himself made it a sizzling issue.

A few years ago, Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby missed a shot at greatness when they sued Lolit Solis for libel when she insinuated in her column that the two may be lovers. The hunky actors went ballistic over Solis when they could have simply said, “we would not mind being gay, but just that we are not.” Piolo and Sam denounced Solis’ insinuations as if being gay debases human dignity. That incident defined for me how Piolo views homosexuality—that it is shameful, dishonorable, malicious.

The issue of Piolo’s homosexuality died down in recent years, although there are occasional write-ups and blind items about his alleged trysts with actors like Yul Servo, now a Manila councilor, and crooner Mark Bautista who is believed to be the third party in the Piolo-KC romance. But the stir created by the girl’s subtle revelations, I am sure, would leave a permanent dent on Piolo’s persona. To the uninitiated, the next paragraph sums up the megadaughter’s tearful discourse. Continue reading


Filed under Gender

‘Babaeng bakla’

OK, I’m writing about her again, and at the risk of being suspected as a paid PR.  But what can I do?  I am a fan.

Besides, it’s enough that God knows how much I value my integrity as a writer.  Never have I asked nor accepted payment, monetary or otherwise, for anything I write in this space.  Without rendering judgment on those who engage in it, journalistic prostitution is not my cup of tea.  I am young, and, when you are young, you are always idealistic, unless of course you are a juvenile delinquent or a Sangguniang Kabataan official, whichever is worse.

The last time I met Imee Marcos was in May prior to the elections.  During a barangay tour in Laoag, she spoke at a lightning rally incidentally held in front of our house.  Posing for a souvenir photo with my parents, Imee noticed my mom’s garden and told us of her love of plants.  Gloria, our househelp, was not to be outdone.  She approached Imee to say “thank you.”  Luzviminda, Gloria’s daughter, finished college as a Scholar ni Imee.  “Kumusta na si Luz?,” asked the then gubernatorial candidate.  “Nakapagtrabaho na po siya, at may anak na,” Gloria replied.  “Ang tanda ko na pala, may mga anak na ang mga scholars ko,” Imee replied, sounding pensive.

That, dear karikna, was the last time, but I manage to keep track of Manang Imee.  I am lucky to know some Capitol insiders who attest to the remarkable work ethic of the lady whose age I mistakenly put at 58 in a previous column.  (She’s actually younger, a bit.)  Ferdinand and Imelda’s eldest child is said to work long hours and is meticulous on how things get done.  True to her campaign promise, the gobernadora is determined to create more jobs here in the province where, as with the rest of the country, unemployment and underemployment figures remain high.  I am very confident that Imee will deliver.  In fact, I tell my students in the university, especially those in the lower years, that they are luckier than their seniors because more jobs would have been generated in the province when they graduate.

Yes, Imee is a hard worker, but not the nerdy type. Giselle Sanchez, in her Manila Bulletin column Gossip Girl, wrote about Miss Marcos’s lighter side in an article titled, “A birthday tribute to the original ‘babaeng bakla’.”  Sanchez attended the Princeton-educated governor’s birthday celebration here in the province last week.

“You know the saying that there’s a thin line between genius and insanity? Imee is a genius but once she cracks her witty one-liners, you are going to go insane,” the comedienne revealed.  She then went on to share what she considered as “the top 10 unforgettable quotes of Miss Imee Marcos,” to wit: Continue reading


Filed under Gayhood, Gender, Government/Politics

Brainless Bayani

photo taken by your karikna at a highway in Batac

Why, Bayani?  How different is “Lalakeng Kausap” from “Babaeng kausap,”  “Bading kausap,” and lesbiyanang kausap?

I knew all along that you are Hitler’s reincarnation, what I did not know is that you are also a remnant of our oh-s0-macho past.  I would not have thought you embrace such gender stereotypes.  After all, you painted Metro Manila pink.


Filed under Gender, Government/Politics

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


PIDDIG sex scandal, Burgos scandal, Pangil scandal, (rumored) Dingras scandal, 5-sisters scandal, Hayden Kho scandal, and all those campus scandals.

If you cannot beat them, join them? That we do nothing to kill the monster we call pornography; that we have accepted perversion as part of everyday life; that we have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of the least of women and children, our women and children, that to me is the gravest of all scandals.

How does one solve a problem like pornography?  This issue has always been the subject of fierce debate.  What delineates art from pornography?  Does censorship infringe on our freedoms of expression and of the press?  Is digital exhibitionism an inevitable consequence of modernity? Continue reading


Filed under Gender, Sociology

Mga Larawan sa Maharot na Dilim (Huling Bahagi)

(Heto po ang ikalawa at huling bahagi ng sanaysay na sinulat ng isa sa aking mga pinakamahusay at pinakamasigasig na mag-aaral—si Cherry Gatiw-an. Tungkol ito sa kanyang mga karanasan sa pagsasagawa ng pananaliksik sa red district dito sa Ilocos. Si Cherry ay isang third-year Sociology student ng MMSU. Siya ay tubong Pudtol, Apayao.)

SA CLUB NA IYON, walang guwardiya. Mas magulo. Mas marahas ang mga tagpo.

Tumayo ang isang pareha at lumapit sila sa may counter. Halatang lasing na ang babae, nakaakbay sa kasamang lalaki. Kung tama ang dinig ko, may nabanggit na “1500”.

“Ana ‘diay 1500?,” siniko ko ang kasama ko.

Bar fine!”ang maikli niyang tugon. “Inruardan.”

Saglit pa, humarurot na sa labas ang isang motosiklong tatlo ang nakasakay. Nakapagitna sa dalawang lalake ang babaeng sa tingin ko ay mas bata sa akin ng di hamak.

Nanggagaling ang kita ng mga bahay-aliwan mula sa mga perang ipinapasok ng mga GRO. Sa bawat lady’s drink na inoorder ng mga kostumer, 50 pesos ang komisyon ng GRO at sa management ang 100. Ibig sabihin, tumataginting na 150 ang bayad ng isang bote ng inumin na inoorder para sa tumeteybol na GRO. Depende sa tapang ng sikmura at tibay ng katawan, ang isang GRO ay maaaring kumita ng humigit-kumulang limandaang piso sa bawat gabi. Kung makuha nito ang kiliti ng kostumer, may tip pang dagdag iyon. Hindi pa kabilang diyan ang nakokolekta nilang 20 pesos na show charge sa mga kostumer. Show charge ang tawag sa bayad ng panunood sa mga floor show, ang sayaw ng mga GRO. Kinokolekta iyon pagpasok pa lang sa club. Sisenta porsyento ng kabuuang koleksyon ang paghahatian ng mga nagsayaw, ang matitira ay para sa management.

Mukhang ayos ang kita, ‘di ba? Continue reading


Filed under Gender, Sociology