Erimar Ortigas is the Philippines' representative to the 5th Mr. Gay World pageant. Photo from the official website of Mr. Gay World
MANILA -- The Philippines' delegate to this year's Mister Gay World pageant is bringing with him a message about the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Erimar Sayo Ortigas, a 29-year-old communications manager for a business process outsourcing company, hopes to be an "ambassador" of LGBT-related issues with international reach.
"Gusto ko pong ipakita na ang gay ngayon, we can be a good role model in the society," he told ABS-CBN News at the sidelines of a press conference held Thursday announcing him as the Philippines' candidate to the 5th Mister Gay World pageant.
"Gusto ko pong patunayan sa kanila na despite being gay, may kakayahan akong ipakita sa mundo na we are strong enough, that we have the ability to prove that we can stand for our rights," he said.
The finals night of the annual competition will be held in Antwerp, Belgium on August 4.
In taking part in the pageant, Ortigas also wants to break the stereotype about gay men, saying his own appearance and personality can show the "other side" of the LGBT community.
"I would like to show to the world that this is the other side of being gay, that we are professional, that we could be a good role model.
Prior to his stint in Mister Gay Philippines, Ortigas said he was already an active participant in several LGBT organizations and charity projects based here and overseas.
He is also a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS awareness and for the organization Love Yourself, his chosen charity for the People's Choice Online Competition of Mister Gay World.
Ortigas' involvement in LGBT groups, as well as his communication skills, were pointed to as the reason for his selection as the Philippines' candidate to the international pageant.
He was chosen by Mister Gay World Regional Director for Asia, Noemi B. Alberto, and Winnstruck Productions President Mac Bordallo.
It helped that Ortigas was among the finalists in the local Mister Gay World competition in 2009.
Beyond representing the LGBT community in the Philippines to the international pageant, Ortigas said he would welcome shouldering a bigger responsbility should he win Mister Gay World.
"Of course, I want to prove to the world that I can be an ambassador not only in the Philippines but globally, especially in raising LGBT issues [on the international stage]," he said.
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