Monday, October 31, 2011

Swing it Open!

Paint is Paint. Let's celebrate diversity!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

UP Babaylan 2011 Sem-Ender A

Last October 22-23, the members of UP Babaylan went to Laguna for a weekend Strat Planning activity for the next semester. The previous semester were analyzed and there were major changes that will be put into place for the coming semester, primarily with the Application Process. The new Application Process will prove to be more reflective of the ideals of the organization. The Applicants for the coming semester and school year should look forward to a more exciting and rewarding application process. Visit our Sign-UP Booths soon! Or you may choose to apply online now.


The two day planning event was sponsored and facilitated by the Babaylanes Inc and TLF Share Collective. Thank you very much! (^_^)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Narrative of Babaylan (part 1) - Atty. Venir Turla Cuyco

It is amazing how a single event could define the trajectory of one’s life. For me, it happened when I was in college, living with three other roommates in a dormitory (Narra Residence Hall) at the University of the Philippines. For looking—admittedly affectionately—at another resident, my roommates became victims of campus violence. Apparently, one of my roommates had a huge crush on said resident. My roommate wanted to see the object of his affection through one of the big glass windows in the latter’s room. The resident reciprocated with violence.

Coming from a part-time job I had at the House of Representatives that time, I tried opening the door to my room but it was locked from the inside. I had to call my roommates’ names several times before a timorous voice asked if I was alone. When I said there was nobody else but me, the door was opened and my roommates quickly dragged me in. Then they immediately pushed a couple of the beds against the door. My initial irritation was quickly replaced with trepidation when I beheld the scene before me.

Shards of broken glass were strewn all over our room—on our beds, study desks, cabinets, chairs, and the floor. They were the remnants of one of my roommates’ wine bottle collection. But more than the broken bottles, I saw how the violence that occurred that day also resulted in breaking my roommates’ spirit. They were crying and shaking with fear as they recounted what happened. Apparently, the resident brought a couple of his fraternity brothers to our room to confront my roommates about the “peeping incident,” and to maul them.

My roommates were threatened with further bodily injury, and even death (“Pag nakita namin kayo sa labas, papatayin namin kayo!”). I had to report the incident to school authorities. I threatened to write a diatribe in the school paper if the administration sweeps the incident under the rug. I pleaded and cajoled the office of students’ affairs to wangle a signed undertaking from the offenders not to harm my roommates again.

But my roommates still wouldn’t get out of our room. They were so convinced that to walk out would mean certain injury, if not death. Their desperation was almost palpable. I had to get the campus police to escort my roommates out of the dormitory. I hailed a cab for my roommates, but they insisted that I go with them to a “safe house” hundreds of miles from the campus. Sighs of relief were audible once we were on our way.

This event, perhaps more than any other experience in college, caused me to become a gay rights advocate. It was also one of the reasons why I wanted to become a lawyer. It didn’t seem right that a person should be subjected to physical and psychological violence because he looked (admittedly with affection) at somebody of the same sex. As I said in a previous blog post, it was in my college dorm where the idea for a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students’ organization in UP was born. UP Babaylan was, in a sense, a reaction to violence against LGBTs.

I’m not sure if my roommates have already forgiven the resident and his fraternity brothers. From all indications, it appears that they have moved on from this incident. While the incident caused one of them to alter his academic plans, today all of them are successful professionals in their respective fields. But I’m not too sure if I myself have moved on from this incident.

Perhaps it is time to move on. I hope writing about the incident will help me in bidding goodbye to a rancorous memory. I hope my roommates will forgive me for writing about something that they would probably rather forget. I need to forgive the resident and his fraternity brothers for what they did almost two decades ago. But before I can do that, I need to forgive myself for allowing hatred to wallow in my heart all these years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

HB515 Anti-Discrimination Bill Committee Hearing Photos

Present during the House Committee hearing for HB515 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill were Atty. Venir Turla Cuyco (founding president of UP Babaylan), Ms. Ramil Andag (Executive Director of Babaylanes - UP Babaylan Alumni Association) Ms. Daria Barra (UP Babaylan Alumna) and Ms. Heart Dino (UP Babaylan Member, UP Diliman University Student Council Councilor, Head of the USC Gender Committee). They are with Akbayan Representative and Co-author of HB515, Atty. Kaka Bag-ao.

photo:  Alyansa

Sponsorship speech for HB515 - Anti-Discrimination Bill

this is from the facebook page of Akbayan representative Atty. Kaka Bag-ao

Fulfilling the promise of basic fairness
Sponsorship speech of Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao on the Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB515)
September 27, 2011 / Committee on Women and Gender Equality

Good afternoon, Madam Chair and honorable members of the committee.

In an interview in New York during the Asia Society Forum last month, President Noynoy Aquino reiterated his position on LGBT rights: that while the Aquino government is not ready to tackle the issue of same-sex marriage, it believes that LGBTs should not be discriminated.[1]

The statement of the President breaks the atmosphere of invisibility and silence that the previous GMA administration has build around the issue of equal rights. For almost a decade, the Philippine government turned a blind eye to the plight of Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders, and instead of engaging in meaningful dialogues about the inclusiveness of human dignity, it allowed divisive sectarianism to trump equal rights. Not everyone would be pleased about the stance that President Aquino made on same-sex marriage: by stating that it is not his administration’s priority, those who are opposed to it would see the stand as tepid; on the other hand, those pushing for same-sex marriage would see it as a concession to the Catholic Church.

But whether one is anti or pro same-sex marriage, it is important for all of us to step out of the hostile atmosphere that has marked our discussions on LGBT rights and go back to where the debate should be situated: within the context of human rights and equality. This is why the pronouncement of President Aquino is important: that whether we believe in same-sex marriage or not, we should all make a stand for equality.

The nature of the bill that we are tackling today, Madam Chair, is precisely that: basic fairness, and realizing the promise of equality guaranteed in our constitution. It reflects the yearning of many Filipinos for that chance to be treated as equals, and to live in a nation where dignity is not determined by one’s gender, or the sex of the person we found ourselves loving.

Basic fairness is the prayer of any mother whose child is being bullied in school for being too effeminate, for cross-dressing, for being “bakla”. It is the common aspiration of lesbian and gay students who, having faced prejudice in their schools and communities because of their sexuality, fear that they would encounter the same gender-based biases once they’ve entered the labor force.

When a gay man goes home after spending three nights in jail, where he suffered extortion, physical abuse, and humiliation in the hands of policemen who arrested him for vagrancy or prostitution, solely on the basis of the presence of condoms, his thoughts would be on the ordeal that he went through. This incident of police abuse would sear on his mind how dignity could be taken away easily and arbitrarily by abusive law enforcers. Same-sex marriage would be the last thing he’d think about.

Reducing LGBT rights to same-sex marriage renders invisible the inequality and abuse faced by Filipino LGBTs. This is the status quo, Madam Chair, that the Anti-Discrimination Bill aims to cure: we hope to provide a remedy for the inequality experienced by LGBTs by ensuring that human rights violations committed against them are penalized.

The Anti-Discrimination bill introduces the language of sexual orientation and gender identity in our laws and defines these concepts. This is not entirely novel, in a sense, since both sexual orientation and gender identity have been mentioned in some of our laws already. Currently, there are four laws where the above terms have been mentioned:

  • Under Section 59 of the PNP Reform Act of 1998, the NAPOLCOM is mandated to establish a gender sensitivity program that includes the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;
  • Section 17 of the Magna Carta for Public Social Workers (2007) includes protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as one of the rights of government social workers;
  • The Magna Carta of Women (2009) has included sexual orientation as a protected category in its human rights principles (Section 3, para 4) and gender identity in its women in sports provision (Section 14);
  • The definition of crimes against humanity under the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity (2009) includes widespread persecution against any groups or collectivity on the basis of several grounds, including sexual orientation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We join the world in celebrating International Coming Out Day today! All we have is LOVE for all those who are in or out of the closet.

closet squares courtesy of Ron De Vera (From Amnesty International)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

High Five for HB 515! Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill

Gender Equality quarantees equal opportunities to people
regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

We encourage everyone to join the campaign for 
Gender Equality and fight against disrimination.

Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill!

Friday, October 7, 2011

High Five for HB515! Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill!

University of the Philippines Diliman University Student Council Official Statement through the USC Gender Committee head by UP Babaylan member, Councilor Heart Dino.
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