Pride in the time of Marcos-Duterte

Published June 25, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Tonyo Cruz


Tonyo Cruz

Had the cynics prevailed, there would be no Pride events this year.

This year’s Pride events in the Philippines come at a most challenging time: A new Marcos is set to become president while the outgoing leader presides over a period of escalating prices of petroleum and basic goods. Several activist and media websites have been ordered taken down, while dozens of farmers and advocates have been arrested, detained and charged.

But all over Metro Manila and many parts of the country, there would be Pride events. The rainbow flag will be unfurled and not kept in any closet. Senator Risa Hontiveros and the Makabayan bloc of Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel are set to refile the SOGIE Equality Bill.

This is good for the country. It means that for the LGBTs of this country, they see that the fight for change continues despite a terrible election outcome. For many, the fight continues more so because of the terrible election outcome.

When Ferdinand Marcos Jr. takes his oath on June 30, there would be two displays of defiance and resistance to their complete political restoration: the LGBTs would be one of them. (The other would be from the national democratic activists who have announced protests.)

This is positive to the country because it is both a learning and teaching moment for all Filipinos, whether LGBTs or non-LGBTs. Together, we learn more about the plight and aspirations of many Filipinos who continue to be denied of the full benefits of citizenship. Together, we teach one another that we must continue to press on with a just cause especially in the worst of times.

If the LGBT movements and its allies successfully organize and mobilize to win the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill and force the hand of Marcos to sign it into law, it would be a long-overdue victory of all Filipinos. It is possible too that Marcos would do it, if only to show he is different, or to lay claim to being progressive, or to steal the thunder from the opposition. Regardless though, we need the SOGIE Equality Bill to be passed into law. Dreams of having it under a perfect Congress and a perfect president may make it impossible to happen. We cannot postpone its enactment any longer: oftentimes, lives and livelihood are at stake.

The fight for diversity, fairness and equality is one thing that unites millions in our hyperpartisan world. We may have picked different candidates in pageants or in elections, but we share a common cause of crowning each Filipino with the same set of rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution. We may be different as Filipinos due to class, region, language, or creed, but everyone must be equal in law. This is not just a belief of the LGBTs. This is provided for by the Constitution. The Bill of Rights did not make an explicit exemption to any subset of Filipinos.

The Pride marches, parades and rallies of 2022 give the nation the much-needed hope and push and shove. History did not end on May 9. History continues to be written and made. Our dreams of a new and better country did not expire. Sure, many are disappointed. But out of the collective sadness, we must collect ourselves, learn from our defeats, and press forward. We cannot give the bigots, misogynists, sexists, homophobes and transphobes any impression that the next few years would go unchallenged.
Thus the Pride 2022 theme “makibeki ngayon, atin ang panahon” carries much weight not just for the LGBTs but for all Filipinos. There’s much to fight for, or to fight against. Prices are going up, the value of wages and salaries is going down, jeepney drivers are refusing to ply their routes, mass transport is in shambles, human rights and press freedom are under attack, neoliberal economics is set to continue wreaking havoc on our lives, and a Marcos-Duterte victory mean more for the duo but may mean close-to-nothing to the tens of millions who voted for them.

Thanks to LGBT Filipinos, we get a sense of what needs to be done moving forward. The darkest and most difficult times call for a most brilliant and shining display of defiance and resistance. Come out of the closet, Philippines. Open the jail doors to political prisoners. Open the web to Save Our Schools, UMA, Bulatlat, PinoyWeekly. Open the doors, windows, drawers and SALNs of government. Makibeki.