Philippines: A Caring Nation

I have now lived for almost 20 years in Europe. I witnessed, experienced and lived in societies in Europe where LGBT rights are upheld and protected by the government and by its citizens. As a Filipino, it makes me feel sad that those same rights are not afforded to Filipino LGBTs. In fact, many are still afraid to come out due to fear of losing their jobs, being judged by their peers, being rejected from their community, or even worse, being disowned by their own families.

It makes me think how lucky I am to have a loving and caring family who supports and love me for who I am and accepts the person I love and embraces him also as their own. 

It also makes me think how lucky I am to live where I am now in a society that sees me no different from the rest, to feel protected because there are laws that safeguard and ensure my interest and wellbeing are cared for.  To be celebrated and welcomed as a member and part of the society you live in is fantastic!

Philippines is known all over the world for its hospitality, for its warm smiles and very caring nature. Filipinos work tirelessly to support their families back home, sending money monthly to their loved ones, sacrificing their own happiness and life for the advancement and betterment of their families. This is a living testament of the caring, loving nature of our people.

You will see Filipino nurses and other medical professionals in various hospitals in Europe, US or Canada caring for the sick and elderly. You will also see loads of Filipinos who are in the hospitality industry in the Middle East or aboard a ship caring for guests and costumers. Hundreds and thousands of Filipino mothers have left their own children and are now taking care of other parents’ child in many places in the world. The promise of higher wages and benefits lure Overseas Filipino Workers who want to provide for their children or send them to better school. We excel in this work because caring and loving for one another is second nature to us. It is who we are, it is our drive and our passion, this helps us motivated and keeps us strong to face those sacrifices we do.

Note: Photo from giz.de

“We have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, because Christmas brings our family together.”

We excel in these kinds of jobs because this is what we do daily back home unconsciously. We offer food to anyone who walks in our house, we automatically call someone who is older to us Ate/Kuya or Tito/Tita to give respect to elders, we grow up with our grandparents (our Lolos and Lolas) in our homes because we take care of our family especially when they are old and sick. 

We love watching our telenovelas because we love to see how it affirms our belief that love and good prevails at the end.  You often hear these phrases: “makita lang kitang masaya, masaya na rin ako” or “kung ang aso nga hinahanap kapag nawawala tao pa kaya” or “text mo ako kapagnaka-uwi ka na”. We have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, because Christmas brings our family together.

Family is focal to our very existence. Each and every INDIVIDUAL in our society has the same aspiration and drive for our family and people we love.  We will do everything for our children, for our parents, and for our loved ones. We proudly hold their hands, give them kisses to make them feel we care and embrace them to feel the warmth of their love. We want to show our love and care from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes.  To take care of them when they are sick and to demonstrate our love until they die.

These are just some of the basic examples that demonstrate how caring and respectful we are to one another as a nation.

Now lets read that paragraph again, but this time let us swap the word INDIVIDUAL with the word LGBTs.

Family is focal to our very existence. Each and every LGBTs in our society has the same aspiration and drive for our family and people we love.  We will do everything for our children, for our parents, and for our love ones. We proudly hold their hands, give them kisses to make them feel we care and embrace them to feel the warmth of their love. We want to show our love and care from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes. To take care of them when they are sick and to demonstrate our love until they die.

Filipino LGBTs have the same aspirations and dreams. Family and their loved ones are also the focal point of their life. 

Last year, Filipino LGBT Europe, a foundation for Filipino LGBTs living in Europe, hosted a discussion about “Same-Sex-Relationships in the Philippines” and to facilitate the discussion, a survey was released and Filipino’s living in Europe was asked to take part.

 

“We might have different dreams and desires, but our freedom and aspiration to seek them is the same.”

From the survey, the foundation managed to identify factors which are vital and important to everyone. For instance, arranging the burial and other final processes for their spouses ranked as one of the most important aspects for Filipino LGBTs. This reflects how loving and compassionate Filipinos are until the very end.

Unfortunately, there is a gap towards the protection for LGBT couples and their families in the Philippine’s current legal framework. There are also gaps on welfare protection in cases of accidents or hospitalization where medical decisions are required from a partner, burial, child custody, shared properties, social security and benefits.

For Filipino LGBTs in Europe, these gaps do not exist. Our partnership, unions or marriage are protected by government and supported by its laws. Our partnerships or unions have the same legal and social protection equal to heterosexual couples. Our right to build our own life, to seek to live our own dream and to pursue our own happiness are protected by the law.

To care and continue to LOVE one another is the ONLY thing we wish for.  Isn’t it about time that we enact laws that would reflect how CARING and LOVING Philippine society is towards one another by having laws that would protect and ensure every INDIVIDUALS in the Philippines including the LGBTs?

I started the Filipino LGBT Europe foundation having this in mind, I wish the same for other LGBTs like me. We might have different dreams and desires, but our freedom and aspiration to seek them is the same.

Chris Sta Brigida
Chairman, Filipino LGBT Europe

Saturday, 11 May 2019
Estepona, Spain

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