‘How do you present a walking group with a different look and feel from last year yet equally stunning and impressive with a little funds that you have?’
This was the question that lingered on the minds of the Core Group this year. With the theme of this year’s London Pride as ‘Love (and Marriage)’, it provided more of a challenge to juxtapose the theme, identity of the group and the stunning presentation on the parade. And back we went to the drawing board, with myself and Arnold Maneze responsible for the arts department, to draw sketches and pulling ideas to wield all the important elements of the theme of the Pride and mainly, the costume of the whole group.
What we really wanted to achieve this year was:
1. We don’t want to be predictable so we had to drop the body paint idea as this was last year (albeit enjoyed and loved by everyone)
2. The infusion of a music system as we did not have any music from last year
3. Adding a separate dance troupe for the group – dancing to contemporary dance tracks and moves!
Thus, this year it was all about sheer and colourful organza vests with yet again, the colours of the Philippine flag splashed all throughout half naked bodies with white linen cloth or skimpy shorts to complete the look. Red and blue on the front whilst yellow and white wraps on the back. Drama wouldn’t be complete if we settled with just the vest so we chose to really add more visual impact with the introduction of tall and colourful headdresses. Ostrich feathers were added to this as to give it more oooomph! After all, this is the gay pride right? It is all about getting noticed being the brightest, most colourful and outlandish group ever!
The ‘T’ (transsexuals, transvestites and all the in between) we’re encouraged to wear strong colours. Flower hoops were provided to recreate a ‘Santacruzan’ look this year. Ideas of butterflies, hues of royal blue and the colours of rainbow just flooded this section. What was new and added this year was the participation of the cast of Paper Dolls and by no means they were wearing, you guessed it right, gowns and hats all handmade out of paper! The dolls surely have lived up to their names. To complete this section, the Lip Gloss girls from Birmingham definitely showcased the colours of the rainbow with their beautifully layered and textured gowns with matching umbrellas that just catapulted the whole group on the headlines of at least seven main websites here in the UK and one in the US.
The ever supportive dance troupe, Lahing Kayumanggi, led by Ronnie Barrio yet again, performed and sashayed this year showcasing the best of Philippines tribal dances and regional costumes. As always, seeing a lady suspended and standing just above two bamboo poles is always refreshing to see in London. This dance troupe just showed a very distinct Filipino look and culture in every way!
With the group growing in numbers and snowballing in popularity, Filipino LGBT UK is now heading into a paying members only with an obligatory annual membership which has started this year. Any monies or donations raised by the group is always ploughed back to the group of its social events and participation. The annual fee helps to keep the group afloat. Bear in mind that the members that form the Core Group are all voluntary and non-paid members! Every Filipino gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual including their supporters is well and truly encouraged to join the group and the Pride March is not the only activity that this group is engaged in. All throughout the year, there will be more social activities planned. Plus this year, the move is towards approaching small and medium companies to become sponsors and to work in partnership with them. A fully functioning website and a Facebook page (not just a group) is also in the pipeline!
It has only been the second year that Filipino LGBT UK has taken part yet the following websites have have featured pictures of the group:
Fox News BBC UK
Daily Mail UK Guardian UK
France 24 Demotix Images
Londonist Daily Star UK
Proof that what was once a group that never existed in the the London Pride map is now very much a group that people look forward to and expect to deliver a diverse, yet more importantly, a colourful and creative group!
We are moving to Year 3 and expect that this group shall, from now until next year, ever be READY!
About the author: Arnell Rhee is one of the organizing members of the Filipino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association, United Kingdom. This article was first published at TheFilipinoExpat.com