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Rainbow voices through the pine-scented mist

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UP Oblation dressed in rainbow.

Inclusion, equality, the fight against gender-based discrimination and hatefulness, human rights, dignity and respect were among the issues promoted during the 13th Metro Baguio LGBT Pride March held on 23 November in the tourist favorite Summer Capital of the Philippines in northern Luzon.

Bannering the theme “Diverse But Equal, Equally Diverse, Equally Human,” which emphasized equal rights and diversity, the march gathered members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and others) community and allies.

Organized by Amianan Pride Council (APC), a network of organizations and establishments, and was led by Bahaghari University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio Chapter for first time, the march started at the University of the Philippines Baguio’s Oblation Grounds, proceeded along the historic Session Road and ended at People’s Park of Malcolm Square, catching attention with colorful costumes and messages of love and protests.

“As we celebrate the 13th Metro Baguio LGBT Pride March, we look forward to a year of love and victory. The LGBTQ+ community has been through a lot over the past months,” the Bahaghari UP Baguio Chapter stated. “We have witnessed the rampant hate in our trans community with the recent case of Gretchen Diez, including the heinous series of hate crimes. These events reinvigorated our conversations on equality and discrimination, thus the heated discussions on the Anti-Discrimination or SOGIE Equality Bill. With love and pride, we will champion the passage of the bill to help safeguard the rights and welfare of LGBT community. It is very much clear that discrimination in various forms and even within the LGBT is yet to find itself dead in the ditch.”
The opening and closing programs included rousing performances and speeches of different groups.

The march was included in UP’s Baguio Pride Month, which carried the theme “Ang Pag-Ibig ay Ipaglaban!” On the other hand, Saint Louis University (SLU), through its Supreme Student Council, also held its Pride celebration titled “HUEnified,” held on 21 November at the Saint Louis University Quadrangle, with a lineup of activities.

The march goes through historic Session Road with staight allies sending love and everyone sparkling with pride.

Activist group Anakbayan Metro-Baguio expressed support for the march and sent its message: “Bitbit ng ika-13 Metro Baguio Pride March ‘di lamang ang pinakatampok na panawagan ng sektor para sa pagkilala, kalayaan, pagkakapantay-pantay bagkus ay mabisa itong ikinabit sa pundamental na usapin ng karapatang pantao. Gayundin, sa pangunguna ng mga kasama sa Bahaghari UP Baguio ay nagsilbi itong plataporma upang ipanawagan ang pinakamalupit at mapaniil na katunggali ng mga LGBT at ng sambayanang Pilipino sa kasalukuyan: ang matinding karahasan at kahirapan, pagtapak sa karapatang pantao at ang pasismo sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte. Tunay ngang ang paglaya ng mamamayan ay magmumula sa kanyang paglaban. Ang ating pagkakaisa ang ating lakas, at ang dagundong ng ating mga protesta ang hudyat ng ating paglaya!” (The 13th Metro Baguio Pride March not only featured its call for recognition, freedom and equality but also the fundamental issue of human rights. Led by Bahaghari UP Baguio, it served as a platform to call out the cruelest and most oppressive adversary of the LGBT and of the Filipino: the intense violence and poverty, the violations of human rights, and fascism under the Duterte regime. Indeed, the freedom of the people starts with rising up. Our unity is our strength and the thunder of our protest is the signal of our freedom!)

Innabuyog-Gabriela Youth UP Baguio also sent their solidarity statement: “We hold hands in resistance against all kinds of gender-based discrimination, violence, state repression, and harassment that remains persistent in this day and age.

“There is a growing percentage of Cordillera women who self-identify as part of the LGBT community. This is a manifestation that our fight for women’s rights should never be separated from the fight of the LGBT community for liberation. The LGBT community’s struggle is not something new. The Stonewall Uprising, which we commemorated earlier this year on its 50th anniversary, paved way not only for the movement of gay liberation that the members of the LGBT community from all sectors of society fought hard for, but also for the fight for human rights that continues to this day, decades later.

 

“This is the very essence of Pride marches all over the world. This month, as we celebrate our very own Metro Baguio Pride march, let us remember our brothers and sisters who fought tooth and nail for equality and freedom that we have today, and we keep fighting for. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who have died under the hands of the misogynistic, repressive, and homophobic state. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who are behind bars for defending human rights. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who have yet to truly accept who they are. Let us remember our brothers and sisters who continue to fight for the love that they so ever deserve without the fear of judgement from society. The Pride March is not just a celebration, it is a protest.”

Baguio City held its first Pride march on 28 June 2006, organized by groups Lesbond and Progay Metro Baguio, with the theme “Rainbows in Black.” The second was held on 20 June 2008, organized by Baguio Pride Network, with the theme “Respect and Celebrate Diversity.” Since then, it has been held annually with different themes — “Life. Love. Freedom. One Pride. One Struggle” on 27 June 2009; “Educate. Liberate. Celebrate” on 27 June 2010; “Live. Love. Be. Justice Today. Equality Forever” on 26 June 2011; “End Homophobia. Celebrate Diversity. Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill Now!” on 24 June 2012; “Stand Up. Stand Out. Stand Proud” on 30 June 2013; and “Celebrate the Heritage of Struggle. Continue the Fight for Equality. Let a Thousand Flowers Rise” on 22 June 2014.

 

On 5 December 2015, with the theme “Out and Proud. One Pride. One Celebration,” APC started organizing the march, which was followed by marches on 3 December 2016 with the theme “Celebrating a Decade that is All for Love and Pride;” on 2 December 2017 with “Itultuloy ken Iballigi: Struggle for Human Rights and Equality;” and on 24 November 2018 with “This is Pride.”

LGBTQ+ members have been experiencing ridicule, discrimination and even violence in Baguio City and the northern Luzon area, as with the rest of the country. But the community has been making strides. In 2017, Baguio City passed an anti-discrimination ordinance, called Ordinance No. 13 series of 2017, principally authored by then vice mayor Edison Bilog, who filed it in 2013.

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