An Exploration of Sexuality – Manila Bulletin
A brief history lesson and a list of must-see local LGBT movies and series
June is pride month. News about lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered, gay men and more (LGBTQ +) flooded the internet during this time. For example, a recent study found that in the UK there was a decrease in the number of people aged 16 and over identifying as heterosexual in 2019. Boy’s Love (BL), a literary or media genre that portrays the romance between men, is booming in China. All over the world, brands and private organizations are supporting the LGBTQ + community. Suffice it to say, the world is increasingly accepting the LGBTQ + community.
The Philippines, in fact, is ranked among the most gay-friendly in Asia and 10th worldwide in a survey of 39 countries. In Filipino society, LGBTQ + has been generally tolerated if not accepted since pre-colonial times.
Before Spain came on the scene, we were a polytheistic nation that worshiped various deities, including a transgender god, Lakapati. Described as an intersex androgynous goddess, Lakapati is a major fertility and good harvest deity in Tagalog mythology. Meanwhile, in the mythology of Suludnon or Panay-Bukidnon, there are tales of female binukots or well-groomed maidens who had the power to become male warriors – such as Ranma 1/2.
Crossbreeding was also practiced before colonization. Take for example the Babaylans who were female spiritual leaders in indigenous communities. The position can be taken by men who have crossed the sexes called asog.
Jump into the ’80s and we have the formation of various movements promoting LGBTQ + such as Justo Justo’s Home of the Golden Gays (1975), the women’s movement that focused on the lesbian struggle of the Philippines, the collective Lesbian which was the official lesbian organization in the country, organizing the first LGBT pride march in Asia and the Pacific by Pro-Gay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church Manila in 1994.
As the country that dominates the world of beauty pageants, beauty pageants are a staple at city parties and other barangay-level events. There are many types including Miss Gay Philippines that all types of sex can join in.
In 2016, Filipino journalist Geraldine Roman became a politician and was the first representative of the Bataan district, becoming the first transgender to be elected to the Philippine congress.
In law, the House of Representatives approved LGBT rights on September 20, 2017. In favor of House Bill 4982, otherwise known as the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Equality of Expression Bill (SOGIE), 198 votes to 0 were cast. It aims to prohibit any discriminatory act against LBTQ + people by sanctioning offenders with a fine of ₱ 500,000 and / or a prison term of one to six years. Unfortunately, it has not yet been passed in the Senate.
Either way, Filipinos have come a long way when it comes to LGBTQ + culture and acceptance. Of course, there is still a long way to go. To better understand the LGBTQ + community, here are some local shows and movies you can check out:
This is the very first gay web series in the Philippines. This light, slice of life mini-series, created by Team Magazine, premiered in 2016.
David accidentally crashes Adrian’s birthday party after his connection sends him the wrong address. David is allowed into the apartment because Adrian’s friends mistake him for the guy he’s currently dating. This leads David to become part of the group and to develop a real relationship with Adrian.
A film that was screened and won at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival, and an official entry into the 2016 Manila Metro Film Festival. This Filipino LGBT comedy-drama directed by Jun Robles Lana stars Paolo Ballesteros as Trisha, a trans woman who died after winning a gay beauty pageant. He also dives into his life dealing with issues and successes as a transgender in the Philippines.
Never separate us
This 2018 experimental film was shot entirely with an iPhone X. Originally titled Fisting, the film follows the life of an aging spy named Q portrayed by Ricky Davao determined to hunt down “The Shadow,” a resentful serial killer against promiscuous women. The bizarre image explores human sexuality with scenes of man-to-man intimacy, BDSM, and fisting.
Billie and Emma
A dramatic film set in the mid-90s examines the story of two female college students. Billie was sent to a remote town of St. Isidro to attend a Catholic school for girls where she met Emma. The two fall in love, but Emma learns that she is pregnant with her boyfriend Miguel.
The 2018 feature film written, directed and produced by Samantha Lee was sparked by a series of anti-LGBT tweets surrounding same-sex marriage laws in Taiwan. A particular message called for “No to SOGIE. Yes to the family! prompted Samantha to consider variations of what a family could be like and whether a teenage girl could become a father.
This 2020 BL series directed by Ivan Andrew Payawal is presented as a film for the computer screen.
A live streamer played by Elijah Canlas finds another player played by Kokoy De Santos online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gavreel (Kokoy) started out as a player and fan of popular live streamer Cairo (Elijah), getting to know each other after the former defeated the latter in an anonymous game. Despite the competitive nature of their initial interaction, they become fond of each other.
Si Chedeng at Si Apple
Fatrick Tabada, screenwriter of Born beautiful and Patay na si Hesus, directs this 2017 comedy starring Rae Red.
Following the death of her husband, Chedeng, 66, decides to come out of the closet by announcing on a radio show that she is looking for her ex-girlfriend Lydia Cantillo. Meanwhile, Chedeng’s best friend Apple, 63, accidentally kills his abusive spouse. Bound by friendship, the two, with a Louise Vuitton bag in tow, set off in search of Lydia on a great adventure.
2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten
Petersen Vargas’ directorial debut feature is written by Jason Paul Laxamana.
This award-winning film premiered at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival in 2016 and was released a year later.
Set in the period after Mount 1991. Pinatubo’s Rash, the film focuses on the sexual arousal of sophomore Felix. He meets and becomes interested in the semi-American assignees, the brothers Snyder Magnus and Maxim.
A psychological, erotic thriller written by Yam Laranas. Naive provincial girl finds a way to gain her independence with the help of her best friend. In a remote and barren village, 16-year-old Ellen, played by Rhen Escano, is locked inside the house by her father. When Ellen learns that she will be trafficked to pay off her father’s debts, she escapes with her best friend Marian, portrayed by Cindy Miranda. Their actions, however, have devastating consequences.
Gaya sa Pelikula
This web series, which debuted on YouTube in September 2020, made its way to Netflix earlier this year. It stars Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan in a BL romance written by poet Juan Miguel Severo and directed by JP Habac, in which two teenagers make a practical deal to share an apartment, only to find themselves sharing a lot of other things. The series also pays homage to some memorable scenes from Filipino love movies, hence the title.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP