NHCP talk tackles the term ‘bakla’

Photograph courtesy of FB/Gio Caliguia Resource speaker Gregorio ‘Gio’ R. Caliguia III.

The Philippines, despite being home to some of the largest Pride celebrations in the Asian region, has a long way to go in terms of ensuring the safety and dignity of LGBTQ+ Filipinos, who are often targets of aggression, and even brutality. The Filipino term “bakla” signals “effeminacy” and “homosexuality,” which stigma signifies being “weak,” “fake woman” and “unreal man” in Philippine society. It serves as an identity marker, but the term is also burdened by an oppressive past that shapes its unsettled present.

The lecture “Rethinking ‘Bakla’: A Keyword in Philippine Conceptual, Sexual, and Social History” aims to educate the public on the etymology of bakla, its crystallization into a label for “effeminate homosexual male” identity since the 1960s, the socio-historical processes that further reveal its etymology, and why the word bears so much stigma. It will also explain how “effeminacy” and male “homosexuality” become semantically linked with bakla’s historic senses.

The talk will feature history professor Gregorio “Gio” R. Caliguia III of the Department of History of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila. It will be held on 24 March 2023, 1 p.m., at the Cultural Center of Laguna in the Provincial Capitol Grounds, Santa Cruz, Laguna.

“Rethinking ‘Bakla’” is a Gender and Development (GAD) project with the vision of achieving a gender-responsive society, organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ Museo ng Libingan Sa ilalim ng Lupa ng Nagcarlan (Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery) in Laguna, in partnership with the Laguna Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Trade Office. For more information, e-mail at [email protected]

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