We asked Filipino advocates and action leaders from the LGBTQIA+ Community on what they are marching for this Pride Month
June 26, 1994 was a historic day for the LGBTQIA+ community in the Philippines. It was the time when members of the community came out of the shadows of prejudice, waved the rainbow flag in the air, and went to the streets to hold the first-ever Pride March in the country.
Organized by the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (PROGAY) and Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the maiden Pride March echoed the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. With around 50 participants, the march took place from the EDSA corner Quezon Avenue to Quezon City Memorial Circle, aiming to shed some light on the concerns and issues the LGBTQIA+ community are facing through a peaceful protest.
As years passed, the Pride March garnered new supporters, blowing up its number from 1994’s 50 to an estimated 70,000 participants in 2019. While its marchers blew up to a whopping crowd, the purpose of the march remained the same, and became even stronger.
But the yearly protest took a different turn in 2020 with the COVID-19 and the arrest of 20 LGBTQIA+ protesters. The global pandemic also pushed the annual march from IRL to URL, taking the protest online with a series of Pride events.
Although we are still under the dark umbrella of the pandemic, 2021’s Pride March is proving to be one historic event yet again. Playing with the theme “Sulong Vaklash! Sama-samang Pag-Aklas Ang Ating Lunas,” the march goes back to its brave roots by empowering the voiceless, creating noise to end discrimination, and fighting for what is right and just as solution to today’s problems.
“This 2021, Pride will remain as a protest,” says Metro Manila Pride organization. “We’ll continue to fight for our rights, especially the Filipino LGBTQIA+ individuals. We’ll continue to move as we celebrate the colors of our rainbow: colors that mirror the different talents and voices, joy and creation, and the life and love that fuel our battle.”
In light with the organization’s mission of finding cure to COVID-19, injustice, and LGBTQIA+ discrimination, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle holds its own digital march by asking advocates and action leaders from the community on what they are marching for this Pride Month, encouraging everyone to claim their stories, build safe spaces, and, in their own way, protest and yell #SulongVAKLASH!
This year, I’m marching for equality, rights, and hope. We are all God’s children and we deserve equal treatment.—KAYE MORALES, fashion designer
I march for those who can’t yet. I march to celebrate with my brothers and sisters in the community. I march for those whose lives were taken away from us. I march so we can continue our fight for equality.—NARIESE GIANGAN, co-owner of Food For The Gays Cafe
Dee Dee Marie Holiday
This year, I am marching for my fallen sisters who passed on during this pandemic. Alanis Casipit, Rica Beba, and Alexa Whatevah, your memory lives on, forever!—DEE DEE MARIE HOLIDAY, drag artist
This year has been a historic moment of social protest against police violence, and LGBTQIA+ rights especially toward queer black youth and adults. This year, I’m marching to say out loud and proud that we are finally acknowledging our own queer history. We are honoring the fact that the first Pride events were not parades, rather protests often led by black trans and gender non-conforming leaders. This work of solidarity will always be an important legacy within our communities and cultures. Let this be a reminder to everyone that Pride started as a riot pioneered by trans people of color. Happy Pride!—DOMINIQUE CASTELANO, fashion model
This Pride Month, LoveYourself continues to march for quality and holistic health, for safe spaces of LGBTQIA+ members and allies, and for increased visibility of transgender people. Since #PrideStartsWithU, we keep in mind that everyone, no matter what their gender is, matters in society—that (you) U Matter. It’s deeply rooted in our core values of empowering one’s self-worth to create ripples of positive change in the community.—RONIVIN “VINN” PAGTAKHAN, founder of LoveYourself
Equality. Equal rights is what I fight for and one step forward would be the passing of SOGIE Bill.—BILL BELLO, lifestyle content creator
I march for sisterhood. As we all know, every time there is a topic involving LGBTQ+, everyone has an opinion, different tones mostly end up with conflict. Sisterhood because we always aim for equality yet most of the time, we forget about it within our own community. Everyone is entitled with their own opinion, yet if we can deliver it in a nice way at walang bangayan, pataasan ng boses, I think we will live a better world. That’s why I go for sisterhood. The key is always to be kind.—RUI MARIANO, entrepreneur of The Fairygodbarbie House of Beauty
I’m marching equality, of course. Most of us are labeled and introduced as “Trans, yun lang.” “Friend ko pala si __. Trans siya” Yun agad yung description sa amin. Hindi mo naman ipapakilala ang cisgender person na “Friend ko pala si __. Babae/lalaki siya,” ‘di ba? We are more than that, just like any cisgender person. As a transgender man, wala na akong ibang hinihiling pa kundi tratuhing bilang normal person lang din. We are all special and unique in our own ways.—NICK ESCALDERON, aspiring physique athlete
I am marching for my truth. Pride Month is a personal reminder of acceptance and self-actualization, of battles conquered through years of perseverance, patience, and trust knowing that better days would come. Growing up in a traditional Filipino family wherein queerness and non-binary gender realities were frowned upon, I have struggled to come to terms with my own identity—enduring moments of insult and ridicule as a young boy acting differently from the rest.
Identity develops over time. As I gain power and voice in discovering my truth, I have embraced the positive presence of people who accepted me every step of the way. Better days have come. But we continue our march for others who have yet to discover their identity and live their truth.—RONN ASTILLAS, advocate for greater inclusion, diversity, and equality; and chair of Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce