When I received this piece from Filipino writer Rav De Castro and had learned that it had not been published, I knew that I would publish it. I was born in the Philippines and when I was two years old, my parents moved the family to Australia. Growing up in a pretty secular society afforded me the opportunity to think critically, unburdened (somewhat) by the ‘rules’ of organised religion. When I established Eco Warrior Princess, I did so knowing that I would give a voice to those who feel they don’t have any (including the ‘voice’ of the environment) and explore subjects close to my heart: social justice and human rights being two of them.
This is the spirit in which I am publishing this reflective piece. I hope it moves you to compassion and to consider views you may not hold yourself. And I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Centuries of colonization created the colorful, at times confusing, cornucopia of ideals, values, and zeitgeist that is the Filipino culture. Yet what baffles me is that while we aspire to become as light-skinned and twang-tongued as the celebrities we love to watch on cable TV and follow on social media sites, the majority of us still do not ascribe to Western ideals of equality, tolerance, and respect for basic civil rights.
As the United States rejoice in triumph over the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, the Philippines has let out a collective groan of disapproval. According to a survey conducted by Laylo Research Strategies published in May 2015 (which was timely posted on their Facebook page a day after the historic US Supreme Court ruling), 70% of Filipinos “strongly disagree” with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
I strongly disapprove.
Are we so mired by our religious beliefs that we always view things in light of the laws of our chosen Gods? I have seen a few Facebook status updates condemning other people who are happy with the strides that the LGBT community in the US is making. Between the rainbow-tinged profile photos and comments ended by the #lovewins hashtag, statements of hate litter my virtual recluse.
I have been in a serious relationship with a kind, smart, handsome gay man for more than ten years now; all that is missing from us is a wedding ring and a legal contract binding us legally as one. All I want is for my country to recognize my civil right to marry.
Without the ceremonial walking down the aisle and exchanging of rings, my partner and I have made a pact to be each other’s life partner. We have been there for each other, through sickness and health. But if I lose my job and medical insurance coverage, his HMO could not cover me shall I fall sick. Because that is not allowed.
Apparently, being in love with each other and sharing years together is not reason enough for the law to see us as two individuals that it can legally bind as one.
I am not asking my fellow Filipinos to welcome me in open arms and stage parades to express their support. All I am asking for is kindness, openness and tolerance. We are people, too.
The road towards my country opening its mind towards acceptance of the basic civil rights of gay people is as long as the distance between our shores and the shores of the US; we have an ocean to cross before we arrive at our destination. But in spite and despite of this, I am hopeful. Because at the end of every fight, #lovewins. Always.