AMSTERDAM — It was a perfect ‘coming-out’ party for the Filipino LGBTs in Europe.
The boat by the group Filipino LGBT Europe won third place, out of 80 participants, in best design during the Amsterdam Canal Pride Parade last Saturday, August 3.
It was the first time that a Filipino and Asian boat sailed through the Canal Pride Parade, one of the most unique and biggest pride events in the world. It was the highlight of the month-long pride celebration in the Netherlands.
Hundreds of thousands of people packed the main canals of Amsterdam for the parade that is held annually since 1996. It was expected to draw between half a million and a million people.
Wearing indigenous costumes showcasing different regions in the Philippines, the Filipino LGBTs rode a boat inspired by the 'balangay,' a pre-colonial Filipino vessel, through the canals of Amsterdam along with other floats from various groups and organizations in the Netherlands.
Filipinos in the Netherlands and others who flew from all over Europe, threw their support, cheered and waved flags as the ‘balangay’ sailed through the picturesque canals of Amsterdam.
The more than 60 Filipino participants, their partners and friends executed a 10-minute, five-part performance that called for unity among LGBTs, HIV awareness, out and proud and marriage equality advocacies of the group.
Filipino LGBT Europe chair Chris Sta. Brigada, who was dressed as a chieftain, chanted in Filipino as drums reverberated. The dance routine, music and indigenous costumes took the audience back to the past and relived some of the richest parts of the Filipino heritage and ethnic culture.
“Daar komt een fantastische boot aan—the Filipino LGBT Europe...Prachtig! Prachtig! Ik hou er zo van! Kijk die hoofdtooi! Geweldig! (Here comes a fantastic boat—the Filipino LGBT Europe. Beautiful! Beautiful! I love it so much! The headdress, look at the headdress! Magnificent!),” said actress and host of Pride Amsterdam livestream Eva Van de Wijdeveen. The host, who mispronounced ‘balangay’ as ba-lan-GAY, also narrated to the audience the significance of the Filipino boat that was making history as the first Filipino and Asian in the parade.
Meanwhile, Genibe Molavin waited hours along the canal to see the parade for the first time. She said she couldn’t be more proud than today as a Filipino in the Netherlands.
“It is my first time to see the Canal Pride and I am so proud to see the Filipino boat and our flag being waved for all the audience to see!” she enthused as she cheered for the Filipino LGBTs on the boat.
Lora Milan, another Filipino who saw the Canal Parade for the first time, was impressed by the Pinoys’ boat.
“Kakaiba talaga. (It’s so unique) It stands out. I am so proud,” said Milan.
This year’s Pride theme is “Remember the past, create the future”, which commemorates the Stonewall riots that broke out in New York 50 years ago and form a decisive moment in the history of the LGBT movement. The Filipino LGBT boat designed by Red Domingo played on the theme to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines that has yet to adopt marriage equality. The colorful design also symbolized equality and acceptance.
“I am just so teary-eyed with the news (that the Filipino boat got 3rd place) because this is the first time that the Filipino LGBTs in Europe joined forces together. It is a milestone. Kudos to the group! I am an ardent supporter because I believe that if we unite together all the countries that make it difficult for gay people will be awakened,” said Jitty Dela Cruz, a Filipino salon-owner and resident of Amsterdam for more than 30 years.
Participants on the boat flew in from the all over Europe not just from the Netherlands. They were also joined on the boat by fellow Pinoy and Mr. Gay World 2019 Janjep Carlos.
Josepher Balesa and his partner Victor Glanville came from London to join the parade. Balesa said he practiced the dance routine and songs through regular teleconferencing with the group.
“I made my way here because I want to be part of history,” Balesa said. His partner Glanville added that “the effort the Filipinos made was marvelous. The color was great. The routine was good…I’m glad we did come here… Except next time I’ll bring a go-pro so I can get over the heads of all the Filipinos waving their flags.”
During the after parade-celebration, the Filipino LGBT Europe chair Sta. Brigada said despite the success of their first ‘coming out’ in the Canal Pride, there were still a lot of things to be done.
“The anti-discrimination bill needs to be passed, our marriages in Europe need to be recognized in the Philippines, HIV-AIDS awareness campaign needs to be strengthened,” said Sta. Brigada, ending that this participation sends love to all Filipinos especially in the Philippines to be proud of who they are.