Author Archives: Libay Linsangan Cantor

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Pulse of our matter 2: More than a room of our own

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 | Written by
pulse2_04

pulse2_01Perhaps queer women these days have an easier time finding each other. Thank the invention of the internet for that, your mobile technology, where you could do a quick Google search or download an app, and voila! You can find people of your own kind. And by your own kind, I mean people like us — women who love women: masculine-presenting women who love feminine-presenting women, genderqueer women loving each other, femme-to-femme women pairing with each other, or just plain women loving other women. There are all sorts; there are all kinds. But prior to the internet, where did we find each other?

 

In the Philippines where I discovered that I was a woman-loving-woman, making such a discovery during the 1990s is a bit difficult to manage. For one, you end up asking yourself ridiculous but not totally baseless questions like “But where are the other lesbians?” It is not an uncommon fact among us, and we’ve wondered about this fact during different points in our lives. The more matured of us sniffed out the others, and were successful in polishing the readings of their gaydar. Meanwhile, some of us who have no iota of social clues rely on the kindness of friends, linking you with a friend of a friend of a friend who likes girls, too (or maybe; sniff her out!). And then within these circles, it will be inevitable that you will meet one who has been to some place where the holy grail of findings could be discovered: in an exclusive disco party.

 

pulse2_02Exclusive here means exclusive dance party for women only. But we queers automatically know that “exclusive for women” really means “women-loving-women” only. In an age where everything seems to be blatant about many things, some codes still exist. However, these codes are being relaxed and substituted by bolder declarations today. While some announcements of queer women-only parties still don’t openly use the word “queer” or “lesbian,” there have been posters that proudly declare “exclusive party for women-loving-women,” and we’re happier with that declaration. Finally, some form of recognition, and it’s out there!

 

There was a time when these exclusive parties were held incognito, where the organizers would ask for your contact details and send you announcements privately for the details of their next shindig. These days, a quick search on Facebook could reveal many organizers announcing plans of their parties, and they work together sometimes, not in competition but helping each other promote each other’s parties. Now that’s solidarity.

 

pulse2_03There was a time, too, when one could see new faces, meet new friends, and find new souls to hang out with in these exclusive parties. Some of us who think finding love or lust in these spaces are successful in searching for what they came for. Some of us attend such gatherings as mere observers, lurking in the shadows while nursing a drink or two in our hands. Some of us come there as a couple, as a group of friends, to party and celebrate, to dance the night away, to lovingly hold our beloved’s body as we slow dance and savor the moment of intimacy, to happily bounce and dance to the rhythm of the DJ’s mixes and the beats in our hearts. And we do all of these in a space we deem as safe: safe to hold another woman’s hand, safe to embrace another woman’s body, safe to kiss another woman’s lips. If you are a woman and you did all of these with another woman in another space, sometimes you get inhumane remarks and reactions. And this is why some of us stopped patronizing mixed spaces already: the hetero boys find it baffling that women like us are not dancing with people like them, the hetero girls find it threatening that women like us might like-slash-take advantage of women like them, while some of the onlookers find us worthy of stalking, jeering, photographing without our consent, or bullying. Now you tell me: Is this a safe space for us? But the truth of the matter is, hetero men and hetero women also behave the same way, yes? But it seems that whenever there are non-hetero couples around, it suddenly becomes an “us versus them” club. So for us, we’re tired of this scene. So we search for our own — spaces where we deem we are safe, secure, and understood.

 

Yes, we just want to dance, but why do you have to butt in? Yes, we just want to have fun, but why do you have to disrupt us? Yes, we just want to celebrate, but why do you have to ban us? This is the reason why we build our own spaces, and we patronize spaces that welcome us for who we are. Because for people like us, the world is not that embracing, not that warm, not that cozy. On a Friday night where we just want to chill and have a few drinks without having to look over our shoulders for stalkers or bullies, we go search for spaces of our own to unwind and be ourselves. On a Saturday night when we feel like dancing the night away, we go head towards that place where we know people like us are welcome and respected. Yes, sometimes, we prefer places where they don’t look at the color of your money, for as long as you keep their businesses afloat. So to these places, we gladly share our hard-earned pink peso in exchange for a few moments of service or goods, with a side order of respect and peace.

 

More than having a room of our own, having places that temporarily own us will be treated as a welcome haven for human beings who simply want to exist. Now, if someone rains on our parade, and showers us with hatred and bullets, imagine the magnified pain that event would cause. We just want to dance, to exist, to be happy, to celebrate, to be. Ruin that for us, and what does that make you?

 

pulse2_04Thus, reading in the news that a room similar to our own was the site of such hatred, we felt nothing but sadness, the extreme kind. For yes, we know how it feels to be in such a space, and we know how it is to be targeted for who we are. To end lives the way the 49 lives ended that fateful night in Pulse, it is not only Orlando that mourns. We, too, mourn from here. And in every single place where bigotry against people like us exists, I know they mourn, too. For we collectively know what loss is all about, but we know more what safe spaces should do for us. And to be violated that way in a space we deemed safe for our own kind, there is nothing but sadness to feel for such a tragedy that has affected us all.

 

Sympathy is not exclusive, though. We know that many who deem this as a crime against humanity feel the same way. And so, we hope that more of humanity would work together to stop the hate. And no, not just for people like us — for all people. Because hate should not be a human trait. Not now, and hopefully not ever.
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Pulse of our matter: Because this is where we party survive

Monday, 20 June 2016 | Written by
pulse1_04

pulse1_01Shatter our bodies; just don’t shatter our spirits. Shatter our beliefs; just don’t shatter our souls. Shatter our lives, and there’s no more hope to hold.

 

It’s hard to fathom just what happened that fateful after-midnight hours in that pulsating nightclub that’s a haven for people like us. It was June 12, my country’s independence day, when echoed news in my cable feed said that on the other side of the world, about 49 people were gunned down in a supposedly safe space while they were having fun. Orlando, in Florida, in the United Stated of America, where it was just declared last year that people like us can freely marry the love of our lives, people died because of who they were. In a place where they’re protected that way, legally, supposedly, they’re also vulnerable in many ways. Like that time in Pulse.

 

To be inside the dance place, gyrating, drinking, laughing, singing along the beat, flirting, kissing, loving, existing. To some, they could be having the time of their life there, while some are just there to while away their time until part of their lives passed them by. Little did they know that life could also end, right there and then, in a split second, in a blink of an eye, or the beat of the DJ’s mix. Dead on arrival, no more pulse.

 

pulse1_02Ah, the time of your life. It could be just a moment of dancing, prancing about, strutting and peacocking, I’m sure. I’ve seen it in our own hallowed halls of party-landi land, back at the time when being gay also meant being really, really happy. And we were really, really happy in common places that were happy to have us. There’s Malate of yesteryears, before all the Korean groceries and eateries sprouted in the area and newer businesses ousted the older ones we’ve come to know and love. I spent a good deal of my twenties there, absorbing all kinds of vibes: from the bohemian to the yuppie, the straitlaced and the carefree, and every formulation in between. And then there were also the openly out and the closeted discreet, and both partied side by side without regret. Where did we do this? Let’s see, there was the very bisexual Verve Room, the artsy come-one-come-all hangout Penguin Café, the smaller venues for the gay guys called Joy then Mint, a favorite lesbian hangout within a restaurant called Café Caribana, and other dance clubs that sprouted here and there within the Orosa and Nakpil street areas such as our very own pulsating nightclub called Bed. Like Orlando’s Pulse, Bed lasted longer in recent years. You’re welcome to grind here, straights and queers.

 

So you see, all these places, they have similarities within the differences. Orlando’s got Pulse, and Manila’s got Bed. Yes, Bed could have been our Pulse. Easily, could have been. Thank goodness that within this patriarchal society we call the Philippines, there is still that thing called tolerance for the likes of us. We’d prefer understanding and acceptance, of course. But between being gunned down and tolerance, I’d take tolerance any single day.

 

There were many other places like these, but they have come and gone. All these spaces we termed safe, a place where we could be who we are. People who have nothing to lose probably couldn’t relate to this reality, so they shrug it off and say we’re being drama queens. Why weep for people who lived far from here? Why sympathize with victims who had different lives than yours? Perhaps they don’t realize that there are far more similarities than differences, especially for people like us, here in the margins.

 

Before discovering who I really was, I never realized that a space could be deemed safe and unsafe for the likes of us, or those who are outside norms. Many spaces are generally restrictive, anyway, and we’ve had our bouts of discrimination and being singled out in spaces that were selective in their acceptance. The Catholic church, for instance, while being an open space for worship, is not safe for the likes of us. Its head, the harbinger of the good news of the lord, he says, always has bad news for the likes of us, saying we are an abomination, and he has references to cite for this quote. The local or national governments, while having small provisions and ordinances here and there to protect people like us, they haven’t been giving us the comprehensive legal protection that’s being taken for granted by every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Juan, Boy or Cesar) walking the street. The schools, whether private or public, even produce teaching materials educating kids not like us to be wary of kids and adults like us. Stories are common of people like us being bullied, beaten up, scared to pursue an education for fear of being outed, so survival is the first lesson we learn outside of our home. And yes, there’s our home, where we are sometimes locked out if we tried to be ourselves, kicked out when we become defiant about who we are, and banned for life, sometimes by the very people who birthed us and gave us our lives to begin with. Where do we go? What space is safe for us?

 

pulse1_03Space. It is a struggle to find our own, for there will always be fences to keep us out, walls to bar us from re-entering, gates to shut us out. They say closets are for clothes, but the world outside cloaks us with doubts, fears, confusion, and sadness. What do we don now, if we have this gay apparel? This is the reason why we make our own, for better or for worse, since our original spaces–and the spaces that are supposed to protect and nurture us–are sometimes the very first places that deem us as persona non grata. How do you expect us to be grateful, kind, understanding, and caring? But we are. Yes, believe it or not, some of us sometimes, we still are. To a fault.

 

And this is why we find open spaces, safe spaces, no matter which kind, a solace if they will have us, to love and to hold, as we hold hands with the love of our life, in spaces that welcome us with open arms and open minds.

 

pulse1_04Do not ask us once again why we mourn with this loss at the other side of the world. For people like us, events like this matter. Because when hate invades a place where we celebrate love, it becomes a problem for us. And if you have some ounce of humanity left in you, I know you will be mourning, too. Hate is a world problem. If we truly are human, and humane, let’s not give in to hate.

 
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Of reunions and wakes (part 4 of 4): Flashbacking diversity, flashforwarding homophobia

Sunday, 29 May 2016 | Written by
reunion wake2_04

reunion wake2_03See Part 3 here.

I also remember when I first came out to my other high school barkada, my fellow Marikina-mates, as we were hanging out in Makati one time and they were trying to understand that there are different types of lesbians and they sincerely wanted to learn where I fit in the queer spectrum of which they have limited knowledge of. So I patiently schooled them on such things, and I’m actually happy that whenever they have questions about these things, they would call me up to ask about things, really eager to learn properly. Now that’s enlightenment for you. And I’m also glad that they afford me some kind of respect without the rainbow shade tinting our friendships in a bad light.

But I guess it’s not the same for all of us. Being exposed to the US and Canadian identity politics, my western-based BFFs indeed got it easily, especially my Minnesota-based friend. It also helps that her younger sister is of the queer kind as well, and she’s openly supportive of her sister’s life choices like my sister is supportive of mine. But I thought all of us would understand it more since we already have a queer-identified barkada ever since high school: Ms. Aussie immigrant. In fact, she migrated to Australia because her girlfriend was already working there and had the legal capacity to petition her as a domestic partner! So that is a happy queer story there.

With all these openness and self-educating happening around us, I just don’t understand why one of us remained quite homophobic in her ways and thoughts. I remember one time when we were hanging out because Ms. Saudi nurse was visiting, our homophobic-ish barkada commented about her super-malikot child, saying it’s good that he’s malikot because “At least sigurado akong tunay na lalaki siya,” equating the boy’s hyperactivity to heterosexuality. And during our get-together last reunion wake2_04week, she again told of a story of her son’s classmate having a foul mouth because the kid probably got it from his gay dads. So it was clear that she was still equating gayness with lewdness, since she explained that seeing the gay dads display their queer affection towards each other harms their kid which results to having a foul mouth and foul attitude. I couldn’t help myself so the advocate in me spoke up and corrected her on that, which she graciously accepted. But I don’t think that homophobia will go away soon, since she is also married to a macho-presenting guy who also dropped a homophobic line or two during the course of our weekly hangout last week. I guess with that one, you just shake your head and walk away.

I suppose, regardless of where we are in the world, not all of us could be expected to get updated about many things happening around the globe. I just hope that for those who have kids, they choose to get updated for the sake of their children’s better upbringing. And for the more progressive of us, or even those who are still learning how to be progressive, we continue to develop so we won’t get stuck in high school mentalities as we age gracefully. And regardless whether this certain barkarda has homophobic tendencies, I still love her no matter what, and will continue to educate her slowly, so she could have enlightenment in some aspects that still remain dark as the dark ages.

Overall, it was a grand time, and a happy time. Can’t wait to have a repeat.
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Of reunions and wakes (part 3 of 4): Flashbacking diversity, flashforwarding homophobia

Saturday, 28 May 2016 | Written by
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reunion wake2_01Last week, I had a grand time hanging out with my high school barkada, 27 years since we last hung out as a complete set of friends. And it’s greatly intriguing to see how we have developed as individuals and as adults over the years.

I remember being very introverted and shy when I first transferred to my small high school in Marikina, a far cry from the heavily populated Quezon City grade school I came from. Since it was a small school, people got to know people easily. And the nice ones gravitated towards me, one by one. And as the school years progressed, the BFF couples and grrlfriend trios merged to become a group of eight. Even if one of us migrated to Canada right after junior year, we all kept in touch. Even during our college years and after, we all still kept in touch for that occasional hangout, payday dinner pig out sessions, and updating of our personal and love lives, until some more of us flew out.

Two in the group became nurses and flew to greener pastures. We always have a blast whenever Ms. Saudi Nurse would come home since we literally pig out on pork dishes — the missing ingredients in her Middle Eastern culinary line-up. The other nurse, Ms. Minnesota, got married to a very kindhearted white dude and have four beautiful kids now, so it’s rare for her to come back home for a visit. Ms. Canada would also occasionally visit here whenever she could save up vacation leaves from her government work. And our late flyer, the Aussie migrant, would also come home whenever they have big family events such as her brother’s wedding this year. As for the rest of us Marikina-based and QC-based folk, we kept in touch with each other via Facebook until we all decided to coincide some family trips with a grand reunion of our own. So that happened last week.

It’s greatly intriguing to see how we’ve all evolved in some ways and, yes, devolved in other ways. Not that all evolutions are positive and all devolutions are negative. Sometimes it’s the other way around, especially when it comes to sensitive topics like sexuality and homophobia.

I grew up not really being burdened by heavy homophobia handed down by the Filipino kind of religiosity. So it was actually a “normal thing” for us to have “girl crushes” during high school. We had some outstanding female student leaders during our time, so it’s natural for us to have a crush on them because they were cool and/or kickass in their own respective manner. It was in second year high school when I developed the biggest crush of my life, and it was on this pretty fourth year girl who was a looker as well as a leader in our citizen army training activities. My high school barkada supported this crush; they were even helping me out in ways only high school reunion wake2_02girls do, you know the kind. So I never felt any kind of homophobia during that time. In fact, it was just a plain and simple fact then: I had a crush and it was a girl. I never knew how to define lesbianism, heterosexuality or homophobia back then. And neither did my barkada. And that was fine.

Flash forward to after college years and I find myself writing a 20-page letter to Ms. Canada, my best friend during our high school years. I completely forgot about this already until she reminded me a week ago during our epic reunion. I think I was hesitant to come out to her at first, because it has been years and we have oceans and time between us, making me unsure of how she thought and felt about such topics. But knowing her, I know that she will be able to comprehend such discourses, which she did. I was hesitant because it wasn’t the same when I came out to another BFF I had in college, who retorted with a resounding “I’m disappointed in you” when I told her I was happy to find myself in this queer sphere. My high school buddy had more depth in her to understand — and accept, wholeheartedly. So that was cool.

 

Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Of reunions and wakes (part 2 of 4): Burying homophobia

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 | Written by
reunion wake1_04

reunion wake1_03See part 1 here.

In a way, I liked what my older cousin was telling them. He was subtly schooling my prayerful tita on the fine art of letting your children live independent lives. Of course she won’t have that, that’s why half of her adult children — and their families and now their families’ families — all live under one roof, in her household. But you know how some Filipino mothers are, and some Filipino families just subscribe to this extended family household, too. When my cousin answered for me, I just smiled politely at them and headed towards the buffet table.

 

But it’s a different thing if you’re the subject of another taklesa blurt out by the prayerful tita, and it’s more hurtful because it’s within earshot of my mother and my own mother can’t defend her own daughter because she didn’t want to rile up her eldest sister in the process. I wasn’t expecting my mom to fight my battles for me. In fact, I preferred to fight my own battles myself, and sometimes I fight her battles for her, defending her from offensive persons even if the offenders are our own relatives.

I was no longer a struggling independent young professional when the second taklesa blurt out happened; I already made a name for myself in the professional circles I circulate in, and my family knows it. I was a year shy of celebrating my 40th birthday then, and I’ve had several girlfriends already under my belt. Thanks to Facebook connectivity, our lives were amplified to our families as they could now see in-depth what happens in each other’s lives (if we so choose to post it). I was never shy of posting my feminist and queer rights advocacies in my online life, and my prayerful tita’s children and my other relatives all see that.

So imagine this one yuletide family reunion where she blurts out to me, “You know, I pray for you every day…” and hesitated to finish the sentence. I know that at the end of that sentence, it says “…so you can be cured of your lesbianism.” When she blurted it out, my cousins — the more sensible ones — heard it, and understood the context of it, perfectly clear. My sister also heard it, and looked at me because knowing me, I don’t let such homophobic slurs slip by. But I chose to take the higher ground and just said “Well, you don’t need to, but thank you anyway.” And an hour later, that prayerful tita shared a joke that her son told her: that if my tita gave me her rosary giveaways, I will be struck by lightning. Some titas who heard the joke laughed a bit, but my mom didn’t. I waited a bit if my mom would speak up about it, but she didn’t. Now I know where I get it from: holding our tongue to avoid conflicts and choosing the higher ground by letting such things slip.

But I didn’t feel like letting it slip that day. I made a flimsy excuse to leave the party earlier, and only my sister and sensible cousins know the real reason why — and later, my mom. I never went back to our yearly reunions after that, especially if this tita and her brood will be there. Yes, as a queer advocate, sometimes you have to choose your battles. And for my mom, I chose to ignore this.

So that’s why I had mixreunion wake1_04ed feelings about attending her wake. But it was also equally poignant, actually, since I brought my girlfriend there with me that night. There were no better instances in the past where I could have brought a decent girlfriend to the reunion so they could see that we have “normal lives” like they do. But it’s only now that I snagged myself a great partner for life, and I am proud to introduce her to everyone. Too bad my prayerful tita won’t be able to see it now. But still, we went there and paid our last respects — even if she never afforded me any, just because I was queer.
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Of reunions and wakes (part 1 of 4): Burying homophobia

Sunday, 22 May 2016 | Written by
reunion wake1_02

reunion wake1_01A few weeks ago, I attended my aunt’s wake. This was the homophobic one, but religious as well. It was a strange time yet liberating, too, in a way.

I had mixed feelings about attending her wake. She was the oldest of my titas in my mother’s side, the side where my mother is the second to the last child in a brood of eight. I never wanted to attend this wake, really, unlike the wake of my other tita a few years back. Now that tita was just a happy person, as her always-smiling face faced us whenever we would pass by their house just a few villages from ours, when she was still alive. Right after college, I also asked permission from her to practice playing the piano in their house (during that time I pursued learning musical instruments formally) because we only had one of those small electronic organs at home. And whenever my mom had dressmaking needs, she would always go to that smiling tita of mine because she was an expert dressmaker. But yes, this recollection is not about my smiling tita, but my prayerful tita. So back to her.

Yes, back to her. Now how do I remember this prayerful tita? Well, she was the one who always led the prayer whenever we would have a gathering in one of our mother side clan’s houses. I think she was also a member of some religious club or group that were in vogue during the ‘80s (maybe they’re still there now, but I’m not too sure if they’re still that many). My older cousins remember her as the most fashionable tita, the one who was always elegantly dolled up, make-up and all. She was one of the prettier ones, too, they said. Not to disrespect the other titas in the clan, but some of them did stand out in the looks department, and my mom was definitely in that category of a stand out. Little did I know that I would also be in another category of being a stand out in this prayerful tita’s eyes, though, which will make her summon all her praying powers to “do good” in the skewed way she saw it.

My other titas recognize this prayerful tita as a “taklesa” one, or one who would blurt out tactless comments she deemed as harmless. Before the hashtag/meme #TitasOfManila was invented, she was already living it. Indeed, she had many “victims” of this tactless trait, and of course I was one of those victims. Why of course? Because I’m a dyke, of coursreunion wake1_02e. And an independent one at that.

 

I remember attending one of our yearly yuletide clan reunions some 15 years ago or so. At that time, I already moved out of my parents’ house and started renting apartments on my own. I had fulltime jobs back then, so I can afford to be an adult on my own terms. During one of these yuletide reunions, I remember my older cousin, the one who left for America a long, long time ago to find his own independence and adulthood, was visiting that year, and it was the first time we both met as adults during his visit here.

I arrived later than the others there, and as I was lining up to make mano or beso to my mom and then my titas, I remember my prayerful tita’s first taklesa thought blurted out on me: “O, may bahay kayo pero hindi mo inuuwian.” This pertains, of course, to my path of being independent and moving out of my parents’ house as soon as I got a job to support myself. I was still in my late twenties back then, so I restrained myself from answering back — even if I so wanted to. Out of respect for my mom, I chose not to engage that quip.

But it was my balikbayan older cousin who answered for me. “No, it’s actually cool that she’s on her own. That means you can be independent. You know, if you’re in America and you do that there, wow, you’ll easily make a lot of money. You’ll get rich there easily!”

To be continued…

 

Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Eleksiyong LGBT 2016: Sama-sama, iba-iba, hati-hati (Part 2 of 2)

Saturday, 7 May 2016 | Written by
eleksiyon2_04

eleksiyon2_01Tingnan ang unang bahagi rito.

Tulad ng sinabi ko sa unang bahagi ng pagmumuni-muni na ito, sinulat ko ang sanaysay na ito hindi bilang ehersisyo ng paghuhusga kundi bilang isang ehersisyo ng pag-iisip, at siguro ay pagtataka na rin. Sa ingay na nababasa ko sa loob at labas ng social media kasi, nagtataka lang ako sa kapwa LGBTs kung bakit tila may kinakaligtaan ang ilan sa kanila na isaalang-alang sa pagpapahayag ng kanilang saloobin ukol sa mga iboboto nilang kandidato, lalo na sa pagka-presidente.

 

Nariyang may mga baklang maka-kaliwa na kahit ano’ng bahid ng dilaw ay sinisiraan at inaalipusta nila, lalo na’t ang tumatakbong dilaw ay kadikit ng kasalukuyang dilaw na namamayani, na di kaaya-aya sa kanila mula’t sapul, simula pa nang umupo at namayani ang nanay nito. Nariyang may mga bi na neutral lamang ang kulay pero hindi nila alintana na ang kandidatong kanilang napupusuan ay walang-pusong mamamaril na lamang ng mga kriminal nang basta-basta kapag siya daw ay nahalal, at wala rin daw lugar sa puso nitong harapin ang mga nagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao. May mga transpinay akong nakikitang tila malapit sa kandidatong mamamaril kaya parang di nila alintana na okay lang gawing patawa ng kandidato nila ang panghahalay at panggagahasa sa mga babae, kahit na sila mismong mga kapatid na trans ay post ng post kada may sisterette dito o sa ibang bansa na hinahalay at pinapatay dahil lamang sa sisterette ito. May mga dilaw na lesbiyanang naniniwala din sa kakayahan ng tandem ng kandidato ng administrasyon kahit na parang isa lang sa tandem na ito ang nagsasabuhay ng tunay na daang matuwid, dahil sa ang dinaanan ng ka-tandem niya dati ay daang ayaw magparaya sa mga tulad nating LGBT pagdating sa pagbibigay ng legal na basbas sa unyon natin (at nariyan ding bumaligtad siya sa sinabing ito at susuportahan na raw niya tayo, balita kamakailan lamang), maliban pa sa ilang pagkakataong kinailangan ng bansa ng tulong pero tila may pagdadalawang-isip minsan ang mga kilos at hakbang nito sa daang matuwid sana kung ang puso at paa niya ay nasa tamang lugar. At nariyan din ang mga matatalinong queer na marahil ay sawa na sa mala-gangster o mala-trapo na kandidato kaya doon sila sa matapang magsalita pero matalino rin kahit na meleksiyon2_02insan din itong naghain ng panukalang magsasabatas na ang kasal ay hindi para sa mga LGBT tulad natin, at saka di bale nang ang pinili niyang ka-tandem ay anak ng dating diktador na maaaring maging diktador junior sakaling maluklok siya sa posisyong tinatakbuhan. At nariyan din ang mga patumpik-tumpik magkomento na sumusuporta sa dating Pinoy na naging Amerikano na naging Pinoy ulit.

 

Oo, walang perpektong kandidato, tulad nang wala sigurong forever sa relasyon. Pero kaya ba nating panindigan ang ating mga boto kapag ang ating naihalal ay iiwanan tayong nakabitin sa ere sa paglaon? Siyempre, hindi natin ito masasabi agad ngayon. Pero hindi ba dapat ay natuto na tayo sa ilang beses na nating pagboto sa bansang ito? At sana, natututo din tayo sa mga nakikita nating pag-uugali at pananalita nilang lahat ngayon pa lang, para kapag nahalal na, may konsepto na tayo kung anong uri ng lider sila. Kaya lang, iyon na nga, minsan ay daig pa natin ang bulag o bingi sa pangdededma, pero hinding-hindi tayo pipi sa pagdadakdak ng pagtatanggol natin sa kanila.

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Para sa mga bagong botante, sana ay sinusuri ninyo nang maigi ang mga isyung dala ng inyong mga kandidato. Pero sa mga tulad kong nakakailang boto na sa ilang pangulo ng bansang ito (o baka ako lang ang nakakaramdam nito, sige ako lang), tila nawawalan na ako ng tiwala at kumpiyansa sa karamihan ng tumatakbo sa anumang posisyon. Dahil kadalasan, ang mga karapat-dapat na nananalo ay nadadaya at natatalo, at ang mga di karapat-dapat ay siyang nahahalal at paglaon ay palilibutan ng tila kulto na di matitinag ninuman. Pero tulad ninyo, hindi ko pa rin sasayangin ang boto ko, at bahala na si Batman sa a-nueve de Mayo.

 

Minsan na akong nakakita ng isang presidenteng binoto ng napakaraming botante sa Pilipinas. Pero dahil sa artista siya dati at karamihan sa pinaasa niyang tutulungan ay ang mga mahihirap, nagkaroon tuloy ng bansag sa mga kawawang bumoto bilang “bobotante.” Bobotante daw sila dahil mahirap sila kaya bobo, hindi nakatuntong ng kolehiyo o haiskul man lang, pero hindi pa rin yata tamang sabihin na hindi sila matalino. Heto na nga ang mga matatalino sa paligid ko, mga tituladong doktor, inhinyero, manunulat, artista, guro o anuman, pero kapag pinapahayag nila ang tila nagbubulag-bulagang pananaw nila sa kung bakit ang kandidato nila ang magsasalba sa Pilipinas sa susunod na anim na taon, nagtataka ako kung ano’ng uri ng talino nga ba ang meron sila at tila pinipili lang nila ang mga pananaw na gusto nilang paniwalaan at binabalewala ang ibang pananaw dahil lamang sa kontra ito sa pinaniniwalaan nila.

 

Marahil ay “human nature” nga na matatawag ito, na awtomatikong tatalikuran mo ang paniniwalang sumasalungat sa kung ano ang pinaniniwalaan mo. Pero hindi ba ito din ang pinaglalaban ng bahagharing sektor: na sana ay maibsan ang mapangmatang tingin sa atin ng lipunan, na kaya tayo nagpaparada kada taon ay nais nating ipakita na mga mamamayan din tayong may saysay, kahit na pinipilit tayong iwaksi sa kasaysayan at kasalukuyan ng bansang ito? Namulat tayo sa negatibong salungat, at ipinaglalaban nating maitama ito. Tama ba?

 

Pero ito na nga, ang eleksiyong ito ang nagpapakita sa atin na iba-iba nga tayo. Oo, maganda iyon. Lahat tayo ay iba-iba ang opinyon. Oo, maganda rin iyon. Pero sana, sa pagkakaiba-iba nating ito, isaalang-alang pa rin natin ang respeto natin sa isa’t isa. Natutunan ko nga sa eskuwelahan ang “We agree to disagree” at marahil ay hanggang dito na lamang ang muni-muning ito, dahil sa kahit tila nang-aaway na ang iba riyan na hindi beleksiyon2_04oboto sa kandidato nila, agree pa rin ako sa kanilang karapatang ihayag ito kahit disagree ako sa laman ng argumento nila. Dahil ito ang tunay na demokrasya, at sana lang ay walang kandidatong maluluklok na magtatanggal nito sa ating lahat. Iyon lang siguro ang punto ko. Maluwag kang mag-disagree kung nais mo – at irerespeto pa rin kita, kung respetable ang gagawin mong pagpapahayag nito.

 

Vote wisely na lang, mga kapatid. At iwanan sa kangkungan ang nega.

 
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Eleksiyong LGBT 2016: Sama-sama, iba-iba, hati-hati (Part 1 of 2)

Friday, 6 May 2016 | Written by
eleksiyon1_04

 

eleksiyon1_01Minsan nang naging LGBT Pride March theme at slogan ang pagiging iba-iba ng mga sumasali sa taunang lesbian, gay, bisexual at transgender queer pride march dito sa Metro Manila.

Noong 2012, ang tema ng martsang ginawa sa Makati City ay “Sari-Sali: Pride in Action.” Ang gandang pakinggan, ano? Ibig sabihin, ang pagiging proud ng isang LGBT Pinoy ay kasama sa iisang bandera ng bahagharing watawat na siyang sumisimbolo sa pagkakaiba-iba ng mga tao sa komunidad; iba-iba ang kulay bawat habi, pero kapag pinagsama-sama, tila iisa itong matingkad na walang humpay ang tagumpay kung iwagayway ng may hawak nito. Iwinawagayway, ibig sabihin, may aksiyon na nagaganap sa pinagsama-samang kulay na kapag iyong tinitigan, malakas at may saysay sa kanilang pagsasama-sama, tila iisa ang binabandera.

 

Noong 2015 naman, ang martsa na ginawa sa may Luneta Park sa kalakhang Maynila ay may temang “Fight For Love: Iba-iba, Sama-sama.” Muli, ang ganda lang pakinggan. Ibig sabihin, iba-iba man tayo sa ating sexual orientation o gender identity o gender expression na tinagurian, hindi sagabal ang SOGIE natin para magsama-sama at umaksiyon sa lipunan, lalo na’t kailangan nating ipakita sa mata ng iba na di dapat tayo matahin dahil lamang sa iba ang uri o anyo ng ating pag-ibig kaysa sa kanila. Ang mga babae ay may karapatang magmahal ng kapwa babae, gayon din ang mga lalaki na nagmamahal ng kapwa lalaki at ang babae o lalaki na puwedeng mapusuan ang sinuman sa dalawang kasarian. Sa ilang taon nang nakalilipas, palakas nang palakas na rin ang boses ng mga transpinay at transman, at nabibigyan na rin ng boses at espasyo ang mga identidad nila. Kung pagsasama-samahin lahat, napakaraming uri ng pag-iibigan ito. Pero kahit iba-iba man ang uri ng pagmamahalan natin, mas importante na pagmamahal ang nasa gitna nito, at karapat-dapat lang naman na ipaglaban nga ito.

Kahit napakaraming personalidad na naglalaban-laban minsan sa komunidad, hindi pumapalya na pagsama-samahin ang lahat sa taunang pride march sa Maynila. At ngayon na nagkakaroon na rin ng iba’t ibang pride march sa ilang lalawigan sa bansa, marahil ay ganiteleksiyon1_02o din ang nangyayari sa mga lugar nila. Oo, hindi pa rin naman nakakasali talaga ang lahat ng bakla, lesbiyana, bi at transpinoy o transpinay, pero masayang makita na kahit papaano, marami nang unti-unting namumulat sa ating hanay – namumulat na may mga karapatan tayong kailangang ipaglaban, at naipapakita natin ito sa isang masaya at mapayapang paraan. Sa isang banda, ang taunang pride march ay isang pagtitipon kung saan puwede nating ipakita sa madla kung sino tayo at ano ang ating kakayahan bilang indibidwal at komunidad. Sa kabilang banda naman, plataporma din ang pride march para mailabas natin ang mga nais nating makamtan sa lipunang ating kinabibilangan, lalo na’t may kinalaman ito sa di pantay na pagbibigay ng karapatang pantao nating buy Viagra 100mg online lahat. Kaya habang masaya ang pagsasama-samang ito, pinagsasama-sama din natin ang kolektibong boses natin para mapakinggan tayo nang mas malakas at mas mainam ng mga karapat-dapat na nakikinig sa atin.

 

Hindi nga maiiwasan ang pagkakaiba-iba ng ating opinyon at hinaing. Ang mga bakla ay may sariling isyu, tulad ng may sariling isyu din ang mga lesbiyana, mga trans, mga bi, at mga queer. Nariyang may mga hatian ng samahang nagaganap minsan, at hindi talaga ito maiiwasan. Pero sa tagal ko nang nakikihalubilo sa iba’t ibang sirkulo ng bahagharing ito, hindi ko sukat akalain na isang eleksiyon lang pala ang maglalagay pa ng napakalaking pitak sa gitna ng ating pagsasama-sama bilang komunidad. Ang dating matitingkad na kulay ng bahaghari ay tila nagiging dalawang panig na lamang ngayon: ang puti o itim. Kung hindi ka dito, doon ka. Kung hindi ka doon, dito ka. Kapag ganito ka, may bahid ka siguro ng pula, asul, kahel, dilaw, luntian. Kapag ganyan ka, dinudumihan mo siguro ang matingkad na kulay ng pula, asul, kahel, dilaw, luntian, dahil sa inggit ka o bobo ka o elitista ka o hindi ka maka-mahirap et cetera et cetera. Aba, ano na ang nangyari sa iisang kolektibo ng mga kulay? Nalusaw na ba sa init ng tag-araw ang krayola sa mga kahon ateleksiyon1_03 wala nang natira kundi ang dalawang magkaaway na kulay? At ang pinakamalaking ipinagtataka ko ay – bakit kailangang mag-away ng dalawang kulay na ito? Hindi ba puwedeng mamuhay nang tahimik at matiwasay sa loob ng iisang kahon?

 

Mahirap namang humusga kung ano ang iyong pagkatao base lamang sa kung sino ang iboboto mo. Pero hindi rin ito maiiwasang gawin, dahil simula kasi ito ng pagtingin sa iyong pananaw at paniniwala bilang tao, bilang mamamayan, at bilang Pilipino. Masyadong malalalim at malalaking konsepto, oo, pero minsan, ganoon lang din ito kasimple. Sabi nga nila sa Ingles, “You are who you vote for.” Tama ba ito? Kakambal marahil ito ni “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Kaya lang, tila The Prince and the Pauper ang peg ng kuwentong ito ng pagkakaiba sa hanay ng ating sektor pagdating sa botohan. At sa totoo lang, mej sumasakit na fatale ang aking tenga at mata, lalo na ang puso at kaluluwa, sa nakikita kong bangayan sa ating hanay, dahil lamang sa kandidatong ating winawagayway.

 

Sinulat ko ang sanaysay na ito hindi bilang ehersisyo ng paghuhusga kundi isang ehersisyo ng pagninilay-nilay at pagtataka. Malaki kasi ang pagtataka ko sa pagiging masigasig ng ilang bakla, lesbiyana, bi at trans na nakikita ko sa aking komunidad, lalo na sa social media. Kilala ko ang karamihan sa kanila nang personal habang ang iba ay kaibigan ng kaibigan o kaya’y minsan kong nakilala at naging kaibigan online. Nagugulat ako sa asta at porma ng iba dahil lamang sa pinangangalandakan nila ang kanilang paboritong presidentiable sa madla. Wala namang prublema iyon, pero nagtataka lang ako sa kanila kung bakit tila may kinakaligtaan silang isaalang-alang sa kanilang marubdob na pagpapahayag ng kanilang saloobin.

 

Sino ba ang iboboto mong bakla ka? Hoy tomboy, katulad ka rin ba ng iboboto mo? Ano na mga bi, iwawagayway nga ba nila ang bandera natin kapag naluklok sila sa posisyon? Mga kapatid na trans, saan ba talaga kayo pumo-posisyon sa tinatayo ng inyong kandidato?eleksiyon1_04

 

Mahirap, masalimuot, magulo. Hay eleksiyong 2016, sakit ka sa bangs teh! Sandali. Wait lang. Di yata kinakaya ng powers ko itey. Recharge!

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Ang halaga ng buhay at ang buhay ng pagpapahalaga (3 of 3): Relationship to (lesbian) person

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 | Written by
halaga3_04

halaga3_01Tingnan ang unang bahagi at ikalawang bahagi rito.

Ibang klaseng pagmumulat ng mata pala ang magaganap sa iyo kapag naaksidente ka sa Pilipinas. Dito tatambad sa iyo nang bonggang bongga kung ano’ng mga karapatan ang mayroon ka at kung ano’ng mga karapatan ang ipinagkakait sa iyo dahil lamang sa kung sino ka at kung sino ang minamahal mo.

 

Isang gabing binangga ang sasakyang sakay ko, kasama ang mga tomboy na kaibigan, paakyat sa matatarik na kalye ng Antipolo, swerteng walang gaanong napinsala maliban sa mga minamaneho nila at ilang mga bahagi ng aming katawan na hindi naman ganoon kalala. Pero siyempre, may kaakibat pa rin itong sakit, kaya nang dumating ang isang ambulansiya para dalhin kami ng mga kaibigan ko sa isang pampublikong ospital, sumama ang aking partner para alalayan at gabayan ako. Ang partner ng isang kaibigan ay hindi sumama dahil siya ang nagmamaneho at sasakyan niya ang nabangga kaya kailangang bantayan. Ang isa pang kaibigang kasama ko sa ambulansiya ay nakauntugan ko sa likuran kung saan kami nakaupo, at wala siyang kasamang katipan noong gabing iyon na nais lamang naming magsama-sama nang simple at magkuwentuhan.

 

Pagdating namin sa pampublikong ospital kung saan kami kukuha ng medico legal, hindi kaaya-aya ang kalagayan ng pagsalubong sa amin doon. Tila ayaw hawakan o sipatin man lamang ng doktor sa emergency room ang sumasakit kong tadyang para tingnan kung may pasa ito o anuman. Sinabi pahalaga3_02 nitong “Naku mahirap na, baka ma-sexual harassment ako” na ang ibig sabihin ay baka maakusahan pa siyang may malisya at hindi medikal ang pagtrato sa aming kababaihan. Napailing na lang kaming tatlo, mga lesbiyanang peministang tunay at tapat, sa inasal ng lalaking doktor na iyon.

 

Nang matapos ang walang kuwentang eksenang iyon sa pampublikong ospital, bago umuwi ay dumaan muna kami ng kasintahan ko sa pribadong ospital sa sarili naming siyudad kung saan lagi kaming pumupunta kapag kinakailangan namin ng serbisyong medikal. Dito mo makikita ang kaibahan ng pagtrato nila sa iyo bilang isang taong nangangailangan ng tulong. Hindi petiks ang mga nars na humarap sa amin, at hindi nangingimi ang duktor na tumingin sa amin para maniguradong wala kaming iba pang mas malalang natamo sa aksidente. May mga prosesong ginawa dito sa pribado na hindi ginawa sa pampubliko, at doon pa lang ay nalungkot ako para sa milyun-milyong Pilipinong napapagkaitan ng tamang serbisyong medikal dahil lamang sa pinagkaiba ng uri ng ospital na dudulugan mo.

 

Pero hindi usapin ng uri ang kuwento kong ito, kundi usapin ng karapatan. At ito ang naisip ko: Mga tomboy, kapag pinapasok ba kayo sa ospital, sino ang kamag-anak na hinahanap sa inyo kapag kayo ay tatanggapin doon?

 

Ito ang realidad na unang beses tumambad sa aking kasintahan ngayon sa pagpasok namin sa ospital na pribado. Dahil sa nahihirapan akong magsulat gamit ang bahagi ng katawan kong nasaktan sa aksidente sa kotse, siya ang nagsulat ng mga datos ko sa dokumentong nilahad sa harapan namin. Inamin niyang natigilan siya nang isinusulat na niya ang pangalan niya bilang taong nagpasok sa akin doon dahil hindi niya alam kung ano ang ilalagay niya sa bahaging nagsasaad ng “relationship to person” na pinasok bilang pasyente.

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Hindi ito ang una niyang relasyong babae ang kasama pero ito ang una niyang relasyong babaeng lesbiyanang peminista ang kasama. At doon tumambad ang isang katotohanan sa amin na dati ko pang nakita pero siya ay ngayon lang: na may limitasyong legal ang pagmamahalan namin sa mata ng lipunan at batas, na nakakaapekto sa mga dapat ay simple at ordinaryong larangan o kalakaran tulad ng pagpapasok ng isa sa amin sa ospital. Mulat ang kasintahan ko sa mga bagay at laban ng peminismo pero limitado ang karanasan niya sa ilan pang uri ng diskriminasyong tatambad sa mga tulad naming babaeng nagmamahal ng kapwa babae.

 

At hindi siya nag-iisa. Marami sa mga babaeng tulad namin ang hindi mulat sa di pantay na pagtrato ng lipunan sa mga tulad namin. Dahil sa mas abala kami sa pamumuhay nang tapat at sapat, minsan ay hindi napapansin ang ilang bagay na dapat ay lahad na binibigay sa amin o nakukuha namin. Kaya nang kunin ng nars ang dokumento sa kamay niya at tinatanong sa akin isa-isa ang mga datos ko na nilagay ng aking kasintahan doon, hindi ko na ininda pa kung may kakaharapin akong diskiminasyon dahil lamang sa lesbiyana kami, at bagkus ay nakatuon ang lahat ng aking pansin at kamulatan sa lumalalang sakit na nararamdaman ko mula sa aksidente.

 

Kaya nang tanungin ako ng nars kung sino ang nagpasok sa akin bilang pasyente, sinabi ko ang buong pangalan ng aking partner sabay turo sa kanya. Nang tanungin ako ng nars ng “Relationship to person?” ay sinagot ko siya ng mahinahong “My partner.” Pero nang tila nalito siya at inulit niya akong tanungin ng “Relationship to person?” ay sinagot ko siyang muli, pero di na mahinahon, ng isang kalmado pa rin nguni’t may bahid na ng inis na “My partner!” At nang tingnan ng nars ang partner ko at tingnan niya ako, tila alam niyang wala siyang magagawa sa pagkakataong iyon kundi tanggapin ang sinabi ko para lamang maasikaso na nila ako (bago pa siguro ako magreklamo ng kapabayaan dahil sa di niya agad tinugunan ang kalagayan ko dahil abala siya sa pagtatanong kung sino’ng kamag-anak ko ang kasama ko sa madaling-araw na iyon).

 

Nang mahimasmasan na ang lahat at nagpapahinga na ako sa emergency room kung saan hinihintay na lang naming opisyal na palabasin kami, saka namin napag-usapan ng kasintahan ko ang naganap sa amin kaharap ang nars. At nakita ko sa mukha niyang masakit para sa kanya na hindi namin alam kung paano iikutan ang ganoong mga pagkakataon kung saan hinahanapan ng legality ang pagmamahalan naming illegal pala sa mata ng batas, na nakakahawang nakikita rin ng ilang batas ng mga sektor (tulad halimbawa ng ospital) na hindi kami legal at kuwestiyonable ang kalagayan namin sa isa’t isa bilang magkatuwang sa buhay. Masaklap, pero mainam na rin na tumambad ito sa kasintahan ko, sa mahal ko sa buhay, na may limitasyong pinapataw sa amin ang lipunan, dahil lamang sa kapwa kaming babaeng nagmamahalan.

 

Kaya tila sasabog sa tuwa ahalaga3_04ng puso ko nang marinig kong sinabi niya ang “I want those rights.” Ang palaban kong mahal, dahil sa pagmamahal, ay handang ipaglaban pa ang karapatan naming magkaroon ng mga karapatan. Kahit iyon lang ang kinalabasan ng aksidenteng ito sa akin, malaking bagay para sa akin na maintindihan ng kinakasama ko sa buhay na may kailangan pang mga laban na dapat naming harapin. At masaya ring makita na handa siyang harapin ang ganitong mga laban sa buhay na kasama ako – dahil sa nagmamahalan kami. At ang pagmamahalan namin ay karapat-dapat lamang na ipaglaban ang karapatan.

 

Talaga nga namang marami kang madidiskubre at maiisip sa mga pagkakataong di mo aakalain, tulad nga sa aksidenteng ito. Lahat talaga ng pangyayari ay may dulot na aral – at muni-muni. Habang may buhay, may halaga – at pagpapahalaga sa lahat.

 
Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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Ang halaga ng buhay at ang buhay ng pagpapahalaga (2 of 3): Lesbian to call in case of emergency

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 | Written by
halaga2_04

halaga2_01Tingnan ang unang bahagi rito.

Kapag mapapasabak ka pala sa isang aksidenteng maaari mong ikamatay, kung anu-ano pala ang papasok na muni-muni sa iyong isipan habang nangyayari ito, habang sinusubukan mong makaraos sa pangyayaring iyon, at habang pilit mong sinusubukang kalimutin ang kaganapang iyon.

 

Apat kaming magkakaibigang magkakasama sa iisang sasakyan noon, isang SUV na astigin kung tingnan ang gamit namin. Pero kapag may rumaragasa palang mas maliit na kotse pababa sa matarik na kalye ng Antipolo, kahit anong laki pa ng SUV ay mapapaurong ito sa kalye kapag sinalpok ng isang mabilis na sasakyang matulin ang takbo.

 

Ang nagmamaneho sa amin ay isang kaibigang tomboy na kasama ang kanyang matagal nang partner sa buhay. Katabi ko ang isang tomboy na matagal ko na ring kaibigan kahit hindi kami madalas magkasama dahil sa malayo ang kanyang mga nagiging trabaho o tirahan. Ako naman ay iniwan ang aking partner sa bahay at naisipang makipagkita panandalian sa mga kaibigang ito. Buti na lang pala at hindi ko kasama ang aking partner, dahil ayokong pati siya ay masaktan sakaling may naiba nang bahagya sa ilang detalye sa aksidenteng iyon.

 

Pero habang nakaupo kami sa gilid ng kalye at naghihintay sa mga barangay tanod o pulis na mag-aasikaso sa mga kailangang asikasuhin sa nagbanggaang sasakyang nakaharang pa rin sa kalye, doon unang sumagi sa akin ang halaga ng unang tatawagan.

 

Kaya napaisip ako: Kapag may ganitong aksidente, sino ang inyong “call in case of emergency” na tao, mga tomboy?

 

Marahil ay kung single ako, ang natural na tatawagan ko ay ang nanay ko. Kahit mahirap para sa akin na maiparamdam sa kanyang nasa delikado ang kalagayan ko sa gabing iyon, tatawagan ko pa rin siguro siya para lang alam niya. Pero siguro, palilipasin ko mhalaga2_02una ang gabi o ang ilang oras para masigurado kong okay na ako at wala namang sabit at makakauwi na ako nang maluwag. Puwede ring hintayin ko na lang ang kinabukasan at saka ko siya tatawagan sa bahay. Ayoko kasing nag-aalala siya sa akin nang lubusan, kaya gusto ko munang siguraduhin ang mga bagay-bagay tungkol sa lagay ko bago ko siya sabihan, iyon ay kung hindi ako nasa malalang kaso, siyempre. Ibang usapan kung nakaratay ako at malala ang naging kondisyon; ipapatawag ko talaga sa kanila ang mga magulang ko para puntahan ako.

 

Pero iba ang usapan kapag hindi ka single. Ang iyong “person to call in case of emergency” number ay numero ng iyong partner. Siya ang nilalagay mong pangalan sa mga dokumentong humihingi ng ganoong mga datos. Kahit na hindi kayo legal sa paningin ng anumang batas sa Pilipinas, pilit na ilalagay mo pa rin siya doon, dahil sa siya ang unang taong tatakbo sa piling mo para damayan ka at alagaan ka. At kung may pagkakataon, siya din ang unang taong magagalit sa nagmamaneho ng sasakyang bumangga sa amin at kung di lang bawal ay siya ang unang sasapak sa nagmamarunong na drayber na walang pakundangan sa tamang paraan ng pagmamaneho sa kalye. Bilang partner, katuwang sa buhay, siya kasi ang unang aalalay sa iyo kung nasaktan ka, at siya ang taong hindi hihiwalay sa piling mo kung kailangan kang ipasok sa ospital hanggang sa ilabas ka doon. Sa mas malalang pagkakataon, maaari pa nga niyang iwanan muna ang trabaho niya para asikasuhin ka, o gagawan niya ito ng paraan para hindi naman siya mabulilyaso sa mga iiwanan niyang ibang responsibilidad.

 

Pero napaisip ako dito, noong mangyari ito sa akin. Kahit ba sa mga legal na dokumento tulad ng pasaporte o cohalaga2_03mpany ID ay pangalan ng partner ninyo ang nilalagay ninyo sa patlang na ito?

 

Sa akin kasi, hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay partner ko ang nilalagay kong pangalan. Siguro ay dala ito ng uri ng karelasyong kasama ko sa buhay kung may mangyayaring ganoon. Dati kasi, noong una akong nagkaroon ng pasaporte at nanghihingi nga ang pahina nito ng tao at numerong tatawagan sakaling may mangyari sa akin, hinding-hindi ko nilalagay ang pangalan at numero ng aking katipan noon. Nakakatawang pangalan pa niya ang di ko nilalagay gayong abogado siya at maaaring magkaroon ng kakaibang aspetong pabor sa akin kapag may “Atty.” na nakalagay sa harap ng aking “person to call in case of emergency.” Pero sa limang taong kasama ko siya, ni isang beses sa mga dokumentong legal o sa mga papeles para sa aplikasyon sa trabaho ay hindi ko nilagay ni minsan ang pangalan niya, kundi pangalan ng nanay ko o tatay ko ang naroon. Hindi ko masyadong iniintindi o iniisip ito noon, pero ngayong malayo na ang perspektibong nakikita ko mula sa panahong iyon, may mapapansin ka rin sa ayaw at sa gusto mo.

 

Nakailang katipan na rin naman ako matapos ang pinakamahabang karelasyon kong iyon, pero pangalan at numero pa rin ng nanay ko ang nilalagay ko sa mga dokumento sa mga panahong iyon. Ang kinasama ko kasi matapos ang isang iyon, tila hindi talaga bagay na ilagay ang pangalan sa “person to call in case of emergency” dahil siya mismo ang magiging dahilan kung bakit ka mapapadala sa emergency room. Iyong sumunod naman doon, wala ring kuwentang ilagay ang pangalan niya sa dokumento mo dahil sa hindi naman siya nagpaparamdam minsan, at may panahong nagtataka nga ako kung may katipan pa ba ako o naglaho na, kaya walang saysay ang buhay sa kanya. Sa sumunod naman doon, dahil sa mas bata nang di hamak sa akin ang katipan kong iyon, ako dapat ang nasa “person to call in case of emergency” niya dahil sa baka mas akmang ako ang mag-aruga sa kanya kaysa sa siya ang mag-aruga sa akin pagdating sa mga grabeng eksena ng buhay. Lalong walang saysay ang mga sumunod sa kanya dahil sa laging nasa malayo ang mga ito at ni hindi man lang nga ako kinukumusta araw-araw, kapag may emergency pa kaya? Kaya sa lahat ng pagkakataong iyon, nanay ko lang ang tumataginting na alam kong tatakbo sa tabi ko in case of emergency, hindi lang dahil sa obligasyon kundi dahil na rin sa tunay na aruga, alaga at siyempre pagmamahal.

 

Ngayon lang na natagpuan ko ang katipan ko ngayon, na handa kong kasamahin hanggang sa malagutan ako ng hininga pagtanda ko (at ganoon din ang pakiramdam niya para sa akin), ngayon ko lang maluwag na nilalagay sa mga dokumentong ito ang pangalan niya at numero niya. Marahil ay mas palagay ako na siya ang kasama ko sa buhay kaya ko nagagawa ito. Malaki ang tiwala ko sa kanya tulad ng malaki ang tiwala niya sa akin. Siya ang una kong hinahanap kapag may sakit ako, at siya ang gusto kong mag-alaga sa akin dahil sa eksperto siya sa larangang ito. Pero mas mataas pa doon, nakikita ko kasi siya hindi bilang simpleng partner, girlfriend, o katipan lamang kundi isang taong kapalagayan ko ng loob, isip, kaluluwa at puso. Kung hahanapan ito ng titulo, “asawa” ang nararapat, dahil sa pantay kaming nagmamahalan na may respeto. Sa kanya ko lang naramdaman ito; siya ang isa sa mahalagang babae sa buhay ko kahanay ng nanay ko. Kaya in case of emergency, silang dalawa ang tatawagan.

 

Minsan ngang hiningi rin ng isang dokumento ang “relationship to person” sa akin, kumbaga kailangang sabihin kung kaano-ano ko siya, nilalagay ko doon ay “partner.” Kay sarap sigurong isang araw ay maabutan pa namin ang panahong ang ilalagay ng isang babae sa kanyang “person to call in case of emergency” at “relationship to person” ay “partner” o kaya ay “wife” pero alam naming malayo pa iyon – o kaya’y nangangarap lang kami. Sa ngayon.halaga2_04

 

Talagang kung maaksidente ka ano, maraming tuhog-tuhog na isyu ang sasagi sa isip mo.

 

(to be concluded)

 

 

Libay Linsangan Cantor is an award-winning Manila-based queer writer, media practitioner and gender advocate. Email her at leaflens@gmail.com. She blogs at Culture Popper Leaflens and tweets as @Leaflens. She answers queer-related queries at her Askfm leaflens site.

 

Photos by the author. Some rights reserved.

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