Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Greetings 2011

Happy Holidays!


In behalf of Bisdak Pride, Inc., I wish to extend my boundless joy and thanks for giving us the opportunity to unite for and because of the LGBT / MSM community for the past year.

As a human rights organization dedicated to uphold, advance and protect the rights and responsibilities of persons with different sexual orientation and gender identity in the Bisaya (hence, Bisdak Pride) speaking populace, it is of utmost importance to ensure and intensify urgent social concerns affecting our community (i.e., HIV/AIDS prevention, human rights violations etc.).

It is on this premise that we will continue our tradition of assisting the marginal voices of the communities we served in order to cherish and enjoy, reflect and discern the holiday season in good faith.


In solidarity,


Roxanne Omega Doron
President

Friday, December 2, 2011

Strengthening our Oneness, Advocating our Rights


As we remember the creation of Human Rights Day on 10 December, 63 years ago this week of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we pay tribute and offer the highest honor and salute to all human rights defenders who sacrificed their life and ask you to take part in the arduous struggle for the genuine fulfillment of human rights for the marginal voices.

This is why, we, the convenors of S.O.A.R or Strenthening our Oneness, Advocating our Rights is organizing a one-week educational caravan on “Promoting Human Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS, LGBT-Discrimination, Trafficking of Women and Children and Students Rights and Welfare.”

The objective of the activity is to popularize the principles of human rights and applying it in different context like HIV and AIDS, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), trafficking of women and children and students rights and welfare.

These topics seem to be different and irrelevant from each other, however, from micro and macro level, they are all interrelated, interdependent, and inalienable. In other words, discussing the issues of students’ rights and welfare hand-in-hand with the issues confronting the rapid increase of HIV cases among young adolescents is more urgent than ever. It also holds true with trafficking of women and children as an important societal issue that should be addressed head-on by all sectors in our society including students and the LGBT or Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender community.

As long as the majority of the Filipino people are deprived of their right to own the land they till or receive a just and living wage, fulfillment and realization of human rights will remain far-fetched. The continued social deprivation of the Filipino people from their basic right to life and living is a good breeding ground for more victims of women and children trafficked and deepening discrimination based on SOGI.

An unjustified increase in tuition and other school fees will surely diminished the hopes of every student from earning a degree; thus, exposing them to issues like trafficking, commercial sex work, and HIV and AIDS.

On the other hand, what is alarming is that, “The Philippines is a source country and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. A significant number of Filipino men and women who migrate abroad for work are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude worldwide.” (US Trafficking in Persons Report 2011: Philippines)

Hence, the need to strengthen our oneness and advocate for the rights and welfare of everyone because it is our inherent right to do so.

Strengthening our Oneness, Advocating Our Rights (S.O.A.R) A collaborative effort of Bisdak Pride, Inc., Rotaract Club of Metro Mandaue 2006 – SWU Chapter, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines – Cebu, and Good Shepherd Welcome House.(rod)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Message sent

5.14pm/26.08.11/rod


To compliment efforts to ensure our continuing contribution and passionate commitment to prevent, reverse or to maintain it at its alarming condition (read: hidden and growing) the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic, Bisdak Pride Inc. (BPI) sponsored the 7.00pm and 9.30pm Cebu premiere of “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa shokot si Remington” last 25 August 2011 at SM City Cebu Cinema 2.
The film was produced, written and directed by an-all writers media group Origin8 Media Inc. BPI, a non-stock non-profit  gender equality advocates since 2005, organized the premiere to ensure that the activity will help boosts the film’s rating in time for its national regular screening last 31 August.  
This is part of our commitment to support locally produced and exceptional films that tackles the standard issues of the day. Zombadings is one film that stirs debate. It lurks into our consciousness and mobilizes our thoughts, allowing us to understand the film as it presents issues worthy of our support. No film, with all its vigor and creativity that breaks ice – save Zombadings – can present such ease and comfort.
All proceeds of the film will go to our HIV/AIDS prevention campaign dubbed as “Pink Mobile Discussion Group” a one-year internally-funded project which will be implemented to various communities, schools, and workplaces.
The advance screening coincided with the one-week conference on HIV/AIDS response organized by the Local Government Academy (LGA). The one-week conference, was attended by local government officials from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Health (DOH) nationwide and Men-Having-Sex-With-Men and Transgender (MSM/TG) communities in the Visayas.
I am thankful that some delegates attended the advanced screening. Thanks to Anastacio Marasigan and Renier Bona of TLF Share Collective Inc., Philip Castro of UNDP Philippines AIDS response, Glenn Cruz of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), Jerson See and some Cebu Plus Inc. members and volunteers, Dr. Ilya Abellanosa-Tac-an of the Cebu City Multi-Sectoral AIDS Council (CCMSAC) and some staff, Ronnie Sab-a adviser of Self-Motivated Gays of Barangay Luz (SEMGAB) together with some members, members of Gay Empowerment of Minglanilla (GEM), the dashing Magdalena Robinson of COLORS together with some glittering members, among others.
To Cebu’s academic community, our advocacy partners, thank you for watching and appreciating the film.
To the following sponsors whose passion and commitment to help the advocacy of BPI, were also there giving their support and moving us an inch closer to sainthood. Thank you!
To Dreamline Productions Inc., Cebu’s premiere production outfit for the tarpaulin, discounted tickets, for the photos and videos, thank you. We cannot reminisce our beautiful smiles and moving acts without you guys. Esteemed thanks to their president Mikio Makino Jr for all the support.
For plugging daily the screening of Zombadings, many thanks to ASLE Resto Bar, owned by Charina and Tony White for giving our staff and volunteers the dinner reception they rightfully deserved. To the bands performing at ASLE’s thank you for plugging Zombadings screenings everyday for a week. Such simple gestures really help a lot.  
Giving us a taste of Cebu’s glorious Spanish delicacy heritage, countless thanks to IPAR’s Spanish Restaurant. IPAR’s delighted not only our empty stomachs but also our press conference due to its delicately and well decorated restaurant. The press conference was attended by Cebu’s active bloggers and mainstream media, they give us and the film a more fitting and appropriate space.
To my dearest friend, Ferliza Contratesta, the host of SUGBO PAGPANGINLABOT, a daily radio-magazine program aired live from 7:00pm-8:00pm on Bantay Radyo DYDD 1260 KHz for giving away free tickets to its loyal listeners, please accept my boundless joy.  
To Casa Escario for the free lunch to the cast, thank you.
To Cebu Fair Trade Shop for selling tickets, many thanks.
To the Law Students Leauge of Cebu, most especially to Jaime Tumulak, thank you for all the support.
Finally, to the Cebu City Legislative Council especially to Hon. Raul D. Alcoseba and Hon. Alvin Dizon whose support for BPIs endeavors is exceptional. We hope to sustain our collaboration in the years to come. (to be continued)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Media Advisory: Archdiocese of Cebu Hosts Church-Workers Solidarity

September 10, 2011

The Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) is inviting our friends from the media to cover the first National Conference of Church People and Workers on September 12-15, 2011 at the JPSU Mariners' Court, Legaspi Ext., Pier 1, Cebu City.

In line with this, the media is encouraged to attend a media briefing during the opening ceremony of the National Conference on September 12, 2011, 1pm., at the Mariners' Court Convention Hall. There will also be a Press Conference with CWS convenors (bishops, priests and workers) on September 13, 2011 at exactly 10am at the said venue.

For inquiries and clarifications, please get in touch with Roxanne (09238720288  09217862022).Thank you very much.

Signed:

Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
CWS Convenor

Convenors:

Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu
Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo D.D., Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D. Auxilliary Bishop of Jaro
The Most Rev. Ephraim S. Fajutagana, Obispo Maximo of Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Friday, April 1, 2011

Missing

A scary incident occurred last 12 March in a scary television show called “Willing Willie” by no less than the scary billionaire host Willie Revillame, catapulted again into our national psyche – so scary.

All walks of life condemned the incident, notably coming from the internet savvy citizens at the prime of their life, triggered by no less than a six-year-old boy gyrating ala macho dancer on national TV.

It goes to show we are still a nation of rightful people, even if sometimes, we are selective for being right and it is good to see young people at the frontline.

Boundless condemnation occupied social networking sites after the portion of the show was uploaded on the net. All brouhaha meant to defend common sense and the protection of the rights of the child. Boundless hatred too for the host, which was only just and right, for tolerating and for taking advantage of the child’s innocent despair and abject poverty – such is utterly condemnable.

However, the episode, a child gyrating or titillating innocently was influenced by the mass media itself, the medium that brought the six-year-old live on stage. And “suddenly” we felt his pain and agony as ours.

TV, film, radio, and tabloids and lately the availability of five-peso for a few minutes of internet use in depressed communities influenced our children by following the footsteps of adults for adults. And those mediums are everywhere others are for free which can easily be downloaded or grabbed.

Unfortunately and understandably it is a common occurrence in depressed areas in our country, which covers as far as our eyesight can see. Children are even asked what the problems of their parents, and in an innocent reply, the child’s middle finger touched his/her palm several times to emphasize sex as his/her parents’ problem.

In fact it is what we are as an impoverished country. Failure to provide a decent living for our countrymen, you expect them to be culturally backward. And sex and sex jokes seems to be a normal refuge for the dispossessed, courtesy of the cultural influences.

Taking advantage of our compatriots’ misery by giving dole-outs or conditional cash transfer (CCT) for P1, 400 per family with a budget of P29B, you ask P-Noy and Dinky Soliman what a dole-out is, which is also Willie Revillame’s expertise. In that way the poor are ensured to be poor forever.

Just look at the seemingly infinite long lines when the government begins to distribute the financial aid to the poor and Willie Revillame begins his show and, lo and behold, it shows no difference at all. This is what we call public and private partnerships (3Ps).

Perhaps, the only difference between the current regime and that of Willie Revillame’s show is that Willie provided cheap laughs and highly exploitative program while the government ensured that we are beggars forever – highly dependent on government’s aid to breathe.

The former can be corrected by “online activism” the latter by a social volcano erupting through a revolution.

Even so, the show’s host and the show itself, magnified what we experienced daily, and we condemn when we saw it, thankfully. Such condemnation hopefully will also magnify our efforts to continue to be visible our campaign for morality in our country by ensuring that a child like the six-year-old boy gyrating on TV will have enough food on the table by giving and providing a decent job for his parents and the 2.3 million families more like them, as identified by Dinky and PNoy.

Then, after ousting Willie Revillame, let us broaden our rightful dreams. Let us include, stopping exploitation of senior citizens degraded in almost every shows, women as forever subservient to men on TV shows and theatre, and the LGBT community as laughing stock. Or include the rights of ordinary people for decent livelihood, land to till and others that deprived them of their right to life.

As long as the cultural institutions, the exploitative structures are still there, the economic deprivation of millions of our compatriots who wallow in abject poverty to the extent of selling their vital organs literally or showing their half naked body or a child gyrating just to earn a living, we will still be producing more Willie Revillame, more shows that demean the oppressed people, and more child exploited and molested.

And aided, no less, by a government that provided the social conditions for its continued existence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

40,000 and 100

Before the month ends, let me say a piece.

March is women’s month, not because M when inverted is W, but it signified deep and heroic as its origin can be traced way back in 1911 in many European nations as well as in the United States that on 8 March they celebrated the First International Women’s Day.

In the United States, aside from the right to universal suffrage, the fire that gutted the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on 25 March 1911 and left many dead was said to be a key event in labor and women's history. The factory was a typical shop where immigrant women and girls could find work.

(In the Philippines, perhaps, it is the warmth comfort of March that brought Sen. Panfilo Lacson to surface. Will his presence now brings more foe or friend to Reproductive Health or RH bill?)

Women’s right then, as in now, was a political hot topic.

If winning the vote was a priority of many women’s movements a century ago, in the Philippines (and many parts in other impoverished countries), it is winning the right to reproductive health – a universal and basic human right – counts the most.

This is why, when the Roman Catholic hierarchy reiterated its reality detached opposition to RH bill, it signified once more its opposition to the full deliverance of women, at least within the context of the right to informed choice and family planning. Denial of information is a basic human rights violation.

Disturbing data provided a grim reminder that 11 mothers dying everyday due to pregnancy and birth complications did not even touched the selective “pro-life” stance of stone-walled hearts of some church leaders. Whatever happened to the child left behind by the mother is another disturbing reality.

Taking a cursory look at the way some Catholic Church officials opposed RH bill is beyond their opposition to the bill as anti-life and deeper than their inconsequential “pro-life” stance. It is their desire to continue a feudal and patriarchal culture that will continue women to be submissive to men in all aspects of their life. Submission is exploitation.

Encouraging women to be at par or equal, again within the context of the right to reproductive health, will encourage more issues, beyond reproductive health, for women to participate and fight for. One thing Catholic hierarchy don’t want to happen as it faces an internal problem of women religious and lay who are beginning to lurk within the church’s womb for more religious freedom.

The 40,000 who attended the Luneta grand rally called by the Catholic hierarchy against the right to reproductive health all came from women. And if the 40,000 survived, we don’t know how many of those who gave life to the 40,000 died due to pregnancy and birth complications or how many were denied of maternal health care services that lead to unnecessary maternal death.

March is the most opportune time of the year to remind ourselves how grateful we are seeing the women in our lives safe from risks and vulnerabilities of their physical and social well-being. But it is also a time to save the threatened due to their inability to protect themselves from maternal related risks.

Let us revisit the past by learning lessons how women’s movement victoriously won the right to vote by applying it to win victories to women and men’s inherent right to reproductive health.

Save women and society, say yes to our right to reproductive health.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

“Amigo”: What price friendship?

Last 10-11 February, instead of joining my friends in the reproductive health community, a community so dear to my heart, to attend the by-invitation only International Institute for Education (IIE) and Asian Institute of Management (AIM) leadership conference in Manila, I chose to stay crawling in Cebu instead of flying to the capital to ensure the success of the Cebu Leg of “Lakbay Amigo: Philippine Sneak Previews.”

Origin8 Media Corporation, through Ms. Tammy Dinopol its president, asked me and Victor Villanueva, another budding filmmaker with a directorial taste following the footsteps of director Joyce Bernal, to be their Cebu partner to help them ensure the realization of the film about Filipino-American war.

With so short a time left, and the pressure to ensure an all-round exposure, I responded positively. Not just because they knocked my door, but because the film is about our story, the story of ordinary Filipino and American people caught in between.

How can one ignore a beautiful film set during one of the most tumultuous period of our history and consciously ignored by a significant portion of local and American historians? Beyond the film, how can one ignore a masterpiece by a Hollywood filmmaker dubbed as one of America’s preeminent and best-respected independent filmmakers? Furthermore, how can one set aside the presence of Joel Torre, Chris Cooper and an ensemble of Filipino and American actors and actresses whose love for their craft in making a historic film is beyond compare?

The first day, 10 February of Cebu leg of Lakbay Amigo was viewed by 3,500 students of Cebu Normal University (CNU). The timing was historic and the resourcefulness of its administrative officials especially Dr. Leodinito Y. Canete, Board of Regents (BOR) and university secretary and Dr. Marcelo T. Lopez, the university president, is encouraging. Dr. Canete’s efforts to ensure that the film be shown in time for their Centennial + 9 celebration is remarkable. And we, the organizers of the Cebu leg should compensate that the “CNU Centennial + 9 = Amigo” will respond according to the celebration.

It turned out exactly what we wanted. Three thousand five hundred students watched the film, together with university officials and faculty. The solidarity dinner at CNUs Centennial Quadrangle witnessed by the rare presence of two TV giants (ABS-CBN TV 3 Cebu and GMA 7) completed our longing for local exposure. I thanked both TV networks for joining us during the dinner cum press conference. It is rare to let them attend a night activity.

I also thanked Jonas entertainment/lifestyle writer of Cebu Daily News (CDN), an affiliate of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Gerald one of the most well-read columnists of CDN, Nathalie and her team of The Freeman newspaper, an affiliate of The Philippine Star, for spending time to interview Amigo contingent, namely, John Sayles the director, writer and editor, the gracious Maggie Renzie John’s wife and the film’s producer, John Arcilla and Joel Torre the lead actors.

The second day, 11 February was sponsored by the department of History of the University of San Carlos (USC). With an estimated 2,600 history students as projected viewers, it guaranteed massive exposure among the youth. Thanks to Prof. Delilah Labajo, the current chair of the department and the entire faculty for believing in the movie. Historians like them never fail us, as much as their students.

The second day ended with a not-so-late discussion with the faculty and the Amigo contingent. Prior to that, an organic dinner was served by Cebu Fair Trade Shop of Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center (SPFTC), the first fair trade shop in the country. Many thanks to Geraldine Labradores, the managing director and the rest of the fair trade staff for serving a delightful dinner.

Boundless thanks goes to Bern, Lucky, Daniel, Liz and Joe for assisting me and Victor. We cannot spell success without you guys. My sincere apology goes to my dear friend Ms. Nilda de Vera, administrative officer of Health Action Information Network (HAIN), to IIE-LDM and AIM, Ms. Magdalena Lopez, country director of IIE-LDM, Bicbic Chua and the rest of the leadership conference organizers, for my failure to deliver a positive response.

With our stomach and the cinema full, coupled with the university students’ positive response, we can only say Amigo’s Lakbay has just begun, though a successful one. As we discover and re-discover, learn and re-learn our own story as told by an American filmmaker, we hope to contribute not just an educational and intellectual activity but entertaining and rewarding as well.

Watch the film and tell others to do the same as it premiers this coming July in the country and August in US theaters, make sure its success and let’s see the price of friendship between a colony and a colonizer happened more than a century ago if it still rings true today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Death of an Angel


Pain cannot suffice our sorrow over the death of Ellah Joy Pique, a six-year-old elementary pupil of Calajoan Elementary School in Calajoan, Minglanilla, Cebu. Abducted on her way home by a pedophile Caucasian male together with a Filipina counterpart, Ellah Joy was deceived and joined the death ride she never wished to happen to her.

Innocent as she was, the culprits succeeded. Her decomposed body was found 40 kms. away from their home a day after she was last seen. Naked and wrapped inside white blankets with three big rocks and tied with a cable, the innocent child was found below a cliff with brushes and contusions in her head and both arms.

One can only imagine a defenseless little girl being robbed off her right to breathe under the hands of individuals without mercy. The autopsy report added tremendous pain. It showed that the innocent little girl was struck in the head and had bruises on her shoulders, indicating a struggle. And a lacerated wound in the head causing her death.

A lot has been said over the death of Ellah Joy. The entire community is grieving. Our indescribable hatred to the culprits reached beyond we can imagine. Our pain diminishes us all. How can we assure ourselves that Ellah Joy will be the last? How can we assure that the community we are living will experience the kind of safety children like Ellah Joy need?

We asked. As if answers will comfort us. And hoping it will never happen again. But can comfort replace the death of an angel?

And then, a lot of Ellah Joy’s are dying each day too.

While her death is truly unimaginable and throwing the culprits into a cliff may not be sufficient to give justice to her untimely demise, why can’t we grieve also to those like her, innocent and young, literally dying in the midst of an un-mindful society? We ignore them, minding our own business. And grieve only when their death is reported and we begin to howl.

We are a society filled with children who are prone to inhumane conditions. In school, children attending classes with empty stomach suddenly collapsed before the flag ceremony. Child labor, as a product of an unjust social structure is rampant. Instead of going to school, children begin to work to help feed the family and their right to experience the beautiful life of childhood is taken away from them. Others are involved in a more disturbing and deeply saddening situation – sex work.

Those are material basis for culprits who abducted Ellah Joy is taking advantage of. Such is a grim reminder of our society filled with hypocrisy where children are easy targets.

Widespread poverty, corrupt justice system and ineffective bureaucracy are reason enough why demons like them used the Philippines and in particular the rural areas as their base to exploit the young and innocent. As long as our children will continue to live this way, more children are vulnerable to be the next Ellah Joy and bleed the headlines.

And our hearts will continue to melt in pain, grieving and dying each day in the midst of an environment that aided the death of Ellah Joy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11

Today, I remember the other life.

A few minutes before 12:00 midnight, as we welcome the first day of the first year of the second decade of the millennium, our dogs and all the animals that strived to co-exist with human beings painfully wondered how brutal we can be to them. Our actions directed as if we are solely the lone lodger of a decaying world. Our celebrations as we welcome the New Year with a bang are self-destructive that we haven’t foreseen it’s after effects. Perhaps, the most that we destroyed are the animals we claim to be our best friends whose ultra-sensitive senses we utterly destroyed. For how long should we realize that human beings are not the only sentient beings?

Today is a good day to renew one’s commitment for life after destroying or altering the life of animals.

As I promised last year, and I still do now, I should take good care of my decaying health. Though exposed to some of the physical exercises like swimming and walking on a regular basis, I still cannot deviate myself from unwanted and highly destructive practices which might lead to disastrous consequences, eating is one. However conscious and cautious, the denial of one’s rights started without understanding and access to the right to information. I should not deny myself the right to know, I promised.

Like what I am doing now, I am drinking decaffeinated coffee without sugar. I wanted to limit my sugar intake. Maybe, a day without sugar will do or, a day without salt too. Today, I ignored the meat and only ate fruits and bread. Perhaps that’s enough for a soul that wanted to limit itself to what is available? Not difficult to digest, everyday we see people begging just so a cent that we gave will fill the empty stomach they have. But begging is not good. Why should people beg when others are extravagant and lazy? And why should people beg when natural resources are for all. Truly, we should abhor unequal distribution of wealth.

For how often should we remember the things that should not happen at all. Given the full stomach of select few everyday, millions are wallowing and starving in their misery. Perhaps enough to concede and put a limit to ourselves. But conceding is not enough, never will be. It allows the millions more in their misery to be deprived of their right to life. Defeating misery will do.

For sure, going organic before it’s too late will help fighting misery? Making it a lifestyle now will not only improved one’s health and fitness. Not the commercialized organic, but the organic in our backyards and neighboring sari-sari stores. It also encourages maximizing limited area for backyard gardening. It means you are going green. Going organic is also hitting two birds (or several thereof) with a single stone. It protects our only planet; it discourages massive exploitation of our limited natural resources.

It mobilizes people to be contented with what they have as opposed to consumerist practices we are exposed to.

Today, I remember all these. And hope to remember them again in the next year or two to come.

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