The physical Pride March was stalled for almost three years, highlighting the pressing issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community here in the Philippines just online.  For safety purposes, the colorful march held every June was put on halt due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. 

The face-to-face Pride March celebration finally pushed through last June 25, 2022 at the CCP Open Grounds.  Organized by the Metro Manila Pride and dubbed as “Atin ang Kulayaan, Makibeki Ngayon, Atin Ang Panahon”, the event emphasized on remembering the history of Pride and what it really stands for the LGBTQIA+ community.  Likewise, it challenges the community to set free our own “colors” to safeguard the ideals Pride March espouses especially in this era of historical revisionism.

(from the Facebook Page of Metro Manila Pride)

LoveYourself is back at Metro Manila Pride!

Volunteers and Staff at the LoveYourself booth during the Metro Manila Pride March and Festival (Photo taken by Bryan Galvez)

Since 2014, LoveYourself has always been an active participant in most of the Metro Manila Pride March.  And for this year, the organization has returned to Pride March by offering innovative services during the event with the help of the Thinkbox Team as well as our volunteers.  

Aside from providing free condoms and lubes during the event, the Team also distributed free HIV self-testing kits via the SelfCare program.  Qualified Attendees have the option to use the kit onsite or do it at the comfort of their homes.  Sign ups were easy and automated using the SelfCare platform through the Facebook Messenger page.  A total of 110 qualified Attendees were provided free SelfCare self testing kits, including merchandise such as tote bags and shirts.  

Free condoms and lubes were provided to Attendees of the event (Photo taken by Bryan Galvez)

Attendees signing up for free SelfCare test kits online through SelfCare’s automated sign up platform (Photo taken by Bryan Galvez)

Qualified attendees are given SelfCare merchandise aside from the free self testing kits during the event (Photos taken by Bryan Galvez)

Aside from the SelfCare testing kits, qualified Attendees were also provided free Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP during the event. Access to free PrEP was made easy during the event where qualified attendee will just need to use the free SelfCare HIV test kit provided at the booth.  After the consultation with the doctor on site and PrEP 101 discussion with our PrEPPY Peers, PrEP is dispensed and initiated quickly.  A total of 16 free PrEP bottles were provided to qualified Attendees during the event.

Dr. Neil Patrick Lacuna and our Preppy Peer volunteer assisting qualified attendees in accessing free PrEP during the event.  (Photos taken by Bryan Galvez)

The event has likewise turned into a reunion of sorts for the Volunteers of LoveYourself who majority were unable to physically see each other even at the Community Centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Pride March event has solidified the relationships among the Volunteers as well as their commitment to the Community they serve.

Our unsung heroes during the Pride March event with Albien Revalde, Miss Trans Global Philippines 2021 (Photo taken by Bryan Galvez)

A reunion of sorts for the volunteers of LoveYourself (Photo by Bryan Galvez)

The Exciting Part

No Metro Manila Pride March will ever be complete without the presence of LoveYourself’s very own Rainbow Rat!  The Team of Volunteers come up each year with innovative and creative costumes to represent the colors of the LQBTQIA+ flag.  From their debut in the 2014 Come Out for Love Metro Manila Pride March, the Rainbow Rats has now become a staple during this event.  According to Reydante Banag, one of the members of Rainbow Rats, they base their costume concepts either from the Pride March theme or whatever is trending in the pop culture of that particular year.

Rainbow Rats wearing balloon wings debut during the 2014 Come out for Love Pride March (Photo by Paul Junio posted in Friends of LoveYourself Facebook Page)

The Rainbow Rats want to use their costumes as a way to initiate a fun and sometimes quirky way of discussing LGBTQIA+ issues including HIV awareness and prevention.

During the 2018 Rise Up Together Pride March (Photo taken by Borjs Villaluz posted at the Friends of LoveYourself Facebook Page)

Since the theme of this year’s March is all about preserving our history, what better way to showcase this than through a modernized version of the Katipuneros who are now fighting for the LGBTQIA+ Community’s rights.

Rainbow Rats as modern Katipunero during the 2022 Metro Manila Pride March (Photo taken by Wico Consul)

The Rainbow Rats hopes to see each member of the LGBTQIA+ Community freely expressing their own true colors without fear of discrimination through this Pride event.

Rainbow Rats as modern Katipunero during the 2022 Metro Manila Pride March (Photo taken by Bryan Galvez)

Makibeki Now!

Pride March celebration will only gain meaning if it truly highlights the different issues the LGBTQIA+ community is currently facing.  Though there already have been huge accomplishments since the inception of Pride March, there is still much work to be done to achieve our dream of a society free of discrimination against our Community.  We need to embrace our Community’s history and strive to use our own unique colors to move forward in promoting the LGBTQIA+ advocacy.  

Written by Ronald Bugarin