(2nd UPDATE) With colorful outfits, avant-garde floats, and upbeat music, it’s easy to think of Pride march as a spectacle.
On Saturday, participants conveyed the message that while the event celebrates expression and identity, it remains a form of protest.
With the theme #ResistTogether, Filipino members and supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community chanted and raised placards calling for gender equality and an end to discrimination.
Some 70,000 participants joined Saturday’s event, more than double last year’s 25,000, organizers said.
Hash de Vera, a transgender man, said he is marching so that Filipinos will be more aware of their struggles.
“Nagma-march kami para ipakita sa mundo na trans man exists. Kasi ang alam lang nila is lesbian, gay, bisexual . . . medyo baguhan pa sa mga trans,” de Vera said.
Meanwhile, Rev. Fr. Osmar Macana, a priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, said he is marching to show the world that the LGBT community is an important part of the society.
“Ipinapakita namin dito kung gaano kahalaga ang LGBT community sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo. Ito ay pagpapahayag ng aming karapatan bilang isang tao at bilang isang maka-Diyos na lumalaban . . . Nagre-resist sa mga nakasasama sa amin,” Macana said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, one of the leading lawmakers pushing for the enactment of laws pushing for LGBT rights, attended the march. Speaking before participants, she promised that the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill will be passed in the upcoming 18th Congress.
“May ‘rainbow wave’ na dumarating. Bilang ally, ipinagmamalaki ko at nagpapakumbaba na matatanggap ang LGBTQIA,” Hontiveros said.
“Balang araw, sooner than later, yung prejudice mabibigo, ‘yung Pride magwawagi.”
- Marikina signs anti-discrimination ordinance -
To coincide with the event, Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance.
“Nagpapakita ito ng pagkilala at paggalang sa pagkakapantay-pantay ng lahat . . . Karapatang pantao ang ipinagdiriwang natin ngayon. Sinasabi natin sa lahat na laban tayo sa lahat ng uri ng diskriminasyon,” Teodoro said.
Protesters also highlighted other social issues such as the lowering of age of criminal liability, China’s encroachment on Philippine territory, and some of the President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s policies.
While the Philippines has a reputation of being accepting of gay and transgender people, same-sex marriage is outlawed and legal protections are nearly non-existent.
Duterte has repeatedly used gay slurs against critics, and told a crowd last month that in his younger days he "cured" himself of homosexuality with the help of "beautiful women".
"He's absolutely wrong on that one. That's not how it works!" said marcher Noel Bordador, 55, an episcopal priest, told Agence France-Presse.
But Bordador told AFP that the gay community faced deeper issues than worrying about Duterte's outrageous comments.
"Can I get married here? Do I have rights?" he asked. "Legal protections, that is what we are fighting for."
- ‘A human rights movement’ -
Divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage are all illegal in the deeply Catholic nation, where a gay rights bill has made very little progress in the legislature after decades of pushing.
"It is a human rights movement — and as such, is a call for active solidarity with other marginalised communities," march organizer Nicky Castillo said.
Manila's rally comes as New York expects millions of marchers for its 50th commemoration of the city's Stonewall riots, a turning point in the LGBTQ community's fight for rights.
Pride march began after a riot broke out in 1969 at Stonewall Inn, a gay club in downtown Manhattan. The first Pride event was held in 1970 to commemorate the anniversary of the riot.
The Metro Manila Pride March is the oldest and largest Pride parade in Southeast Asia. This year’s march had more than 50,000 participants according to organizers despite. This despite the bad weather brought by monsoon rains and heavy traffic gridlock in the country's capital region. — With a report from Agence France-Presse