MANILA — The Philippines' Pride celebration this year ended with a "verdict" against the current administration's brand of "machismo."
"Sa araw po na ito sa ating sama-samang pag-aaklas, sa ating sama-samang pagkilos, ipinapaalam po natin mismo doon sa Malacañang na hinahatulan ng sangkabaklaan ng pagwawakas ang macho-pasistang rehimen ni [President Rodrigo] Duterte," Rey Valmores, Bahaghari spokesperson, said on Saturday in a speech.
(On this day, as we gather here, we are letting Malacañang know the verdict of the LGBTQ community: Duterte’s macho-fascist regime ends now!)
On June 26 last year, Salinas, a transwoman, and 19 others — collectively known as "Pride 20" — experienced first-hand what they say as the "macho fascist" hand of state forces when they were violently dispersed and detained by the Manila police for holding a Pride protest, claiming violations of pandemic restrictions. Charges against them were eventually dismissed.
Exactly a year later on Saturday, despite threats of a similar brutal harassment, hundreds of LGBTQ members and allies held a Pride march and protest, led by Bahaghari and Metro Manila Pride, as a culmination to a month-long celebration observed all over the world.
The crowd settled at the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, where a short program was held. Several speakers, including Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, addressed the queer-dominated audience.
Cullamat cited what she said was "state-sponsored violence" against Filipino LGBTs, including the release of a US soldier who killed a Filipina transwoman as well as the recent killing of Lenie Rivas, a lesbian, at the hands of the Philippine military.
Salinas said the queer community continues to suffer under Duterte’s "failed" pandemic response.
"Ang martsang ito ay di lang selebrasyon, protesta ito… [Tuloy] ang pagpapahirap sa sangkabaklaan dahil sa kapalpakan ni Duterte sa pagtugon sa pandemya."
(This march is not just a celebration, this is a protest. We continue to suffer because Duterte has failed to respond to this pandemic.)
After the event, ABS-CBN News spoke to Salinas and asked her what led Bahaghari to hold another Pride protest despite she described as a traumatic police harassment a year before.
"Sa kabila ng pandemya, sa kabila ng fear na may dahas na mangyari, nangahas pa rin po ang LGBT community na lumabas para sa ating mga karapatan... Kami po, humuhugot kami ng lakas, ng inspirasyon sa iba pang LGBT na nagde-decide na hindi na puwede ang ganito lang, lalaban tayo," she said.
(Despite the pandemic, despite the fear of violence, the LGBT community still braved the streets to fight for our rights... We get our strength and inspiration from other LGBTs who believe that the status quo is no longer acceptable.)
For Salinas, pandemic restrictions and prospect of another violence should not hold LGBTs back from asserting their rights because, according to her, so much more is to be done and to be conquered.
"Actually, ang task at hand ay kailangan pang mai-unite ang LGBT. So may napakalaking potential... Kailagan ma-harness yung power na yun kasi marami tayong kayang maisusulong through that," she said.
(The task at hand is to unite the LGBTs. There is so much potential. We need to harness this power because we can do so much through that.)
In December 2017, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Duterte administration wants Filipinos to enjoy their rights, freedom and equality before the law, regardless of gender.
Roque issued the statement after Duterte said at the time he is planning to create a commission for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Speaking at the 7th LGBT yearend gathering at Azuela Cove, Lanang in Davao City that year, Duterte asked the LGBT community to find the brightest nominee to lead the commission.
The proposed commission has yet to be established to this day.
The conclusion of Pride 2021 was punctuated by a "kilig" moment when Pride 2020's legal counsel Minnie Lopez proposed to her now fiancé.
"Pumapayag ka ba na umibig at lumaban tayo nang sabay hanggang sa kalayaan?" Lopez asked her partner. She said yes.