“Today is a good day to be gay!” says my friend Malu in her Facebook stat.

Just a few hours ago, I got word from Malu that according to Danton, the Philippine Supreme Court overturned the COMELEC’s decision in allowing refusing the application of Ang Ladlad to be a party-list candidate for the upcoming Philippine elections this May.  After much hard work and struggle, Ang Ladlad is now officially included as a party-list candidate.

The Supreme Court, surprisingly, opened their conservative minds, and allowed rationality, due process, and equality to prevail.

Quoting Justice Abad, “The lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans-gendered persons in our communities are our brothers, sisters, friends, or colleagues who have suffered in silence all these years.  True, the party-list system is not necessarily a tool for advocating tolerance or acceptance of their practices or beliefs.   But it does promise them, as a marginalized and underrepresented group, the chance to have a direct involvement in crafting legislations that impact on their lives and existence.  It is an opportunity for true and effective representation which is the very essence of our party-list system.”

Now the real work begins.

For my part, I will be urging my family and friends to vote for Ang Ladlad, #89 on the party-list candidates list.  You can do the same.  Remind your loved ones, friends, co-workers, classmates, Facebook friends, Mafia Wars, Cafe World, Famrville, and Vampire Wars friends to vote for ang Ladlad.  Every vote counts.

VOTE ANG LADLAD, #89! 🙂


After what happened in Surabaya, Indonesia and our LGBT activist friends, it’s just right that we show our support and solidarity in fighting discrimination and homophobia in the world.  See you at this event at MCCQC tonight!

WHAT: LGBT Filipino Activist Affirming Party

WHEN: 8 April, Thursday, 7:30 pm –> TONIGHT!

WHERE: MCC-LGBT Center

56 Mindanao Avenue, Project 6, Quezon City

======

Hi there, Fellow LGBT Activists. You are requested to attend this event. Please do come.

MCCQC is hosting the LGBT Activist AFFIRMING PARTY for the activist affected by the recent incident in Indonesia during the ILGA Conference.

Let us all affirm our fellow Filipino LGBT activists on their quest for equality and justice.

Let us hear their stories and experiences.

On

April 8, 2010, Thursday, 730pm
3/F 56 Mindanao Avenue Proj6 QC

Kindly bring food to share. Although we will prepare some food. Bring na din please. Thank you.

See you there.


Last March 18 and 19, individuals and groups from different backgrounds gathered to listen and learn about LGBT issues and concerns at a gender sensitivity and human rights training organized by Rainbow Rights Project, entitled “If You Prick Us, Do We Not Bleed?”  The workshop highlights the different issues and concerns the LGBT community is faced with, namely, discrimination, invisibility and biased representation in the law, legislative measures and international efforts for the protection of rights.

Attendees of the gender sensitivity and human rights training included members of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Civil Service Commission (CSC), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and Bureau of Immigration (BI).  Women’s groups and human rights organizations also came well-represented such as Sarilaya, Women’s Legal Bureau, Likhaan, UP Center for Women’s Studies, the Ateneo Human Rights Center, UP Human Rights, and Amnesty International.  LGBT groups that came were Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP!), UP Babaylan – Diliman, UP Babaylan – Los Baños, Task Force Pride, and Metropolitan Community Church.

The two-day workshop started with an introduction to gender and sexuality concepts and terminologies by Rocky Gacho.  Angie Umbac, long-time LGBT advocate, narrated real-life stories of lesbians and their experiences with family members, religious groups, school and workplace, and the law and government.  She pointed out how each of these institutions have perpetuated abuse and violence on lesbians and how lesbians, regardless of their social class and educational background, still experience discrimination and its after effects.  She also discussed the responses of these institutions in addressing discrimination of LGBT persons.

Finally, to cap the first day of the workshop, Atty. Jazz Tamayo gave a very entertaining and highly informative discourse on how LGBT individuals are unprotected by the law, the different Philippine laws where lesbians and gay men are mentioned, and the rationale behind the advocacy and need for laws specific to the LGBT community.  Also discussed were issues on parenting and adoption.  Atty. Germaine Trittle Leonin closed the Q & A session with a thought-provoking statement, “There is no unwanted child in a same-sex partnership.”

Day two started with an enlightening talk on transgenderism by Bemz Benedito.  Aside from educating the participants on the differences between transgenders, transvestites, and transsexuals, she talked about the many issues transsexual and transgender individuals face everyday, including legal issues on changing one’s name and sex in legal documents and documented instances of discrimination on transgenders and transsexuals.

Atty. Germaine Trittle Leonin took centerstage once again and explained how certain criminal laws may be applicable to LGBT individuals, discussed the possible violations that LGBT individuals may be accused of and how to deal in the event one is apprehended by the authorities.  The Pink Card and Blue Card for gay men and lesbians, both included in the workshop kit (along with other handy wallet-sized informational sheets for LGBTs), contained basic criminal procedure as well as a brief summary of the violations discussed.

From a discussion on Philippine laws, the workshop progressed into a short introduction on the different human rights laws and treaties that the Philippines signed into.  These human rights assertions starting from the early 1900s have always upheld individual human rights for all yet there is a significant lack of protection for the LGBT community and individuals.

Cases of discrimination against LGBT persons from different countries have shown that there is indeed a need to reassert and reaffirm LGBT rights.  Cases of discrimination globally have shown that despite these treaties and conventions upholding human rights, there is still a huge gap when it comes to LGBTs and that these need to be addressed ASAP.

As discussed by Bem Uychinco, a gathering of human rights experts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia brought about the creation of the Yogyakarta Principles, a reassertion and reaffirmation of one’s basic human rights.  The document contains a preamble and 29 principles that addresses current needs within the LGBT community and the challenge that “what’s on paper (as is with the other conventions and treaties) is not the reality.”

The 29 Principles, divided into seven sub-groups, surprisingly, are not LGBT-specific.  These are not “special laws” as some critics would say, rather, these are basic human rights principles that apply to all.

Finally, Atty. Leonin gave updates on current happenings within the LGBT community such as the Anti-Discrimination Bill and the party-list candidacy of the Ang Ladlad.

===

As a newbie in the LGBT advocacy arena, it is always enlightening and educational for me to participate in activities such as this training workshop.  There are days when I think that I know much – or at least have experienced much – as a lesbian.  But there are days when I realize that I do not know even half of what the rest of the LGBT community goes through.

While working on my masteral paper on lesbians and their online usage, I had to read LeAP’s published book on case studies of discrimination of lesbians.  Having been interested in lesbian studies since senior year in high school (circa mid-90’s), I have conducted enough research and kept myself updated on lesbian issues yet, I was sincerely shocked to hear about the plight of our trans sisters.  I realized that their situation was indeed more complicated.

But despite this, I know I can only do so much.  I still need to focus my energy on my own community and circle of family and friends, much of whom need to be educated and  informed.  This workshop not only reaffirmed what I had sought to do as a lesbian advocate which is to educate others, particularly non-LGBT persons, of LGBT issues, and to push for laws that protect and address the needs of LGBTs, but also awakened in me a desire to empower fellow LGBTs and let them know – remind them even – that they have rights just like everyone else.  There’s no room for self-pity or apathy.  No one will protect and fight for our rights.  And most of all, no one else can teach others that lesbians are people, too, who get hurt and feel pain when ridiculed, rejected, and discriminated on, except lesbians ourselves.

Sometimes, I still hear friends or family members who say things or even do things that they think are not hurtful to gays and lesbians.  A simple joke recklessly thrown at some character or personality on TV, or a snide comment said about stranger who may appear to be gay or lesbian may prove to be innocent yet damaging.  Something as simple as this must be stopped and used as a time and chance to teach others about being more sensitive and respectful of LGBTs.  Letting these opportunities slide is letting the seeds of discrimination grow and bear fruit.

As I left the workshop, I have grown more aware not only of the plight of others but also more informed and enlightened that the key to a more accepting and respectful society for LGBTs lies within the LGBT community itself.  The problem of discrimination and homophobia may be caused by others but the solution is within each LGBT individual who chooses to fight against it.



Was watching “Chopped” on  cable this afternoon and one of the contestants was a butch-looking woman who had really short hair and was so ballsy compared to the other guy chefs. She’s the third butch-looking chef who’s joined that show and naturally, I was rooting for her.

Her “losing” dish was a pork stuffed eggplant dish with guacamole sauce with poblanos. The judges thought her dish was a “bold and brave decision” but the pork was undercooked and overly spicy. Too bad she didn’t have the chance to show what she can do with dessert. I think she would’ve done well there.

In my own circle of lesbian friends, I can name at least eight other people who love to cook.  These are not women who cook out of necessity but who sincerely have a passion for it. And well, we all love to eat anyway so this is a big bonus. 🙂

Which makes me wonder, are lesbians naturals in the kitchen? If we are, then is it because of our refined taste that has been developed by our, erm, constant use of our terminal sulcus (a.k.a. tongue)? 😀

Because, really, come to think of, these TV chefs are not known only for their kitchen skills but also for their bold tastes and unique recipe innovations.  Which means their taste buds are highly sensitive and well-developed.  Aside from this, it’s also interesting that these chefs are vibrant and dynamic personalities who are not just skilled chefs but are also smart, entertaining, and charismatic.

My own set of friends are just as smart, entertaining, and charismatic. 😀

So what do you think? Is it a mere coincidence or is it because of our common diet of…? 😀

Just a thought! 🙂


Was watching this movie on tv just now. Didn’t realize it had been 3 years since it was shown!

Reposting this from my personal blog, along with comments from the director.

If you have the edited copy of “Rome & Juliet”, please lend it to me naman. Would love to see the changes made since I saw it in 2006. Thanks!ü
===============================

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2006
IMO: Rome & Juliet
[This post first came out last 25 November, right after the screening of ROME & JULIET in Robinson’s Galleria. I have edited it a bit and added a few more comments since. Additional comments are in lavender.]

Just saw Rome & Juliet, Connie Macatuno’s creation for Cinema One Originals. We were actually forwarned that we might be disappointed by the film. But since L had the hots for the two leads, and I’ve been on drugs for weeks now, I had prepped myself well for the two hour (which turned out to be almost three hours) long movie.

I had kept an open mind and hoped that the film will treat Filipino lesbianism with a fresh and modern flair. Although I had been briefed that the lead characters were of a wedding planner and the bride, very very reminiscent of Piper Perabo’s Imagine Me & You; I hoped that there would be a different twist in this story.

[One thing I remember very clearly in Mr. Ricky Lee’s scriptwriting class was to choose a topic, a plot, that we are quite familiar with; it was made clear that while an idea or a concept may be new to the Filipino viewer while it has been done in Hollywood or other Western Cinemas, it does not necessarily mean you can use the same plotline in a Filipino movie.]

There were no stereotypical tomboys in the film, as evidenced by its two leading ladies, Mylene Dizon and Andrea Del Rosario. I was pretty sure that neither of them will act even a tad bit boyish as Mylene was too beautiful to be made into a dyke and Andrea had a sexy image to consider. Although I’m pretty sure both ladies would have pulled off a butch persona, it would be a waste not to use their looks for some cinematic eye candy. And I’m quite sure they were the reason the premiere was SRO.

The movie starts off with Rome being introduced as a woman of the world — gorgeous, independent, and sexually available but emotionally unattached. She is dressed very sophistacatedly, fitting very nicely into her LBD. Her so-called love scene with, I think, some French guy establishes that she isn’t into relationships, much less love, and that she is very much in control of her life. Incidentally, Rome takes on the woman-on-top position to state this fact further.

Juliet, on the other hand, is very typically Pinay. Morena, with kind yet dramatic features, long hair and dressed very feminine attire — long billowy skirts, floral skirts and shirts, lace tops, etc. in very soft hues. Her light, almost non-existent makeup say that she is a simple girl with simple desires. Or so we are made to believe. She is engaged to be married to Mark, a charming politico but a mama’s boy. So Pinoy, isn’t it?

Going back to the story… Juliet decides to visit a wedding coordinator to help her with her coming wedding to Mr. Politico. But on her way to the coordinator’s, she is turned down by her friend Sarah who had made plans to go out with “a friend,” who picks her up from work and who, incidentally, turns out to be a girl. Mabait na friend, ‘kamo, di ba? Anyhow, she is curious and intrigued by her friend’s friendship.

As she gets to the wedding coordinator’s floral shop, she sights this beautiful and arresting girl getting into her SUV (what is it with lesbians and SUVs?). Shots of the woman’s pointy, olive green snakeskin stilletos smoothly climbing into the SUV’s driver’s seat slow mo us into Juliet’s initial surge of attraction.

Interspersed between some of the scenes establishing the two leads’ heterosexuality (moments with their respective boyfriends/fiancee) are scenes of Rome in the convent talking to or praying with some nuns and Juliet doing shores with and for her mom, father and siblings. Picture perfect moments of opposing realities.

Juliet finally sees Rome while in church, and we see how she is so unwittingly enthralled by Rome, she can barely say a word. With Juliet finally getting the nerve to talk to Rome, she points out the sheet of Kleenex that gets stuck in Rome’s stilettos. The two start a converstaion, which blossoms into friendship which develops into an (implied or imagined?) intense attraction for each other. And as they say, the rest is history, or in this case, literary history.

Now to get to the nitty gritty.

Technical direction of Rome and Juliet is not its weaker points. As a digital film, the movie manages to tell its story in a dynamic, almost in an as-we-might-have-actually-seen-it mode. Camera shots, expectedly, are jerky, with many focus-defocus problems, a tape defect here, a pixel problem there. Lighting was quite natural, except for the Rome shots which were carefully chosen and set up to give her an almost ethereal, glamorized look. Not a huge feat as Mylene Dizon is so naturally seductive and soft. It seemed a little bit too carelessly seamed, with some editing techniques misused in several scenes. If editing doesn’t satisfy much, much less does audio. Important scenes and dialogues were lost with the too noisy ambient sound (Pasig City traffic, anyone? Hospital bustle, perhaps? Or the too quiet chapel where the two leads can barely be heard at all?). Perhaps a simple lapel would have sufficed if a boom mic was not available.

In as much as a digital film does not require that many an equipment, digital films also demand so much more skillwise and creativity-wise. Don’t have an available boom? Use a computer microphone. Boom visible in a medium shot of the leads’ dialogue in church? Move it to the top and reduce some headroom. Planning how a scene should go by rehearsing each one to the last movement from the actors to the cameramen or merely framing a scene beforehand (by taking a mental picture or by storyboarding) is necessary to avoid those jerky camera movements. The Blair Witch Project may have succeeded in the Jerky Movements Category, but last time I checked, jerky camera movements have not been merited as good filmmaking skills. This isn’t to diss the cameramen but siguro naman they could have taken more care in avoiding those nakakahilo scenes, right? As for editing, cut to cuts are inevitable, but careless editing does not help in the narration of a visual story. I suppose time was a major factor on why the editing was not very clean and pulido.

In the acting department, Mylene Dizon wins over many more followers with her sensitivity to the varying emotions that Rome has to go through. She is impressive with her very natural reactions, allows her personality and warmth to permeate through a character, does not seem contrived or forced. A simple eyebrow raise, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips, her eyes raging intensely in anger or softening in affection, she manages to pull off a very real, very natural reaction to what her character is going through. Andrea, on the other hand, seems too busy trying not to look (pa-)sexy, struggles a bit as to whether to be boyish or girly in mannerisms and actions. She lacks that certain oomph, that fire and intensity and heat that is there when two women are in love — and in lust, with each other. This challenge to bring the fire onto the screen is on her shoulders as she is the one who shows interest from the beginning. Not a difficult task as Mylene Dizon is one h.o.t. mama — definitely a MILTF!

To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed on how the Mylene reading-her-poetry-response-to-Juliet scene turned out. It was a let down considering that Mylene was doing a fantastic job as Rome. She seemed sabog (all over the place) parang free style na walang sense. But the thing is, it was obviously just caused by bad editing. If the movie was too long and needed to be cut shorter, why sacrifice the poetry which has to be seen whole instead of the establishing shots of the two lead characters’ heterosexuality? The shots for Mylene’s poetry scene were pretty good, the close ups, the panning from behind the beaded decor, and lastly, the music, were quite nice. But the whole time this was going on, we were wondering, what the hell happened to Juliet??? Lastly, parang mas na-excite pa si Sarah with what Rome read than Juliet herself. (Oh, kudos to Glydel Mercado for her very real reaction to the two women’s kissing scene. :D)

As for Rome and Juliet’s kissing scene, as hot as they are and as hot as it is to see them kissing, for me it lacked fire. FIRE. Any lesbian will attest to the fact that lesbian kisses are usually, if not always, heated and burning. Di ba? 🙂 I mean, really, if it isn’t, then how come even men want to see it? 😉 But the shots were really nice, I’d have to say. I liked the shots of their hands, caressing each other, stroking the nape, pulling the hair. Another highlight is the morning after scene where Juliet wakes up and nuzzles Rome’s neck, eliciting a smile to form on Rome’s face. It was so natural and real for me, like it was taken from my own memory. 🙂

Pero bitin yung kissing scene. Nasaan yung love scene??? To the producers and director, was the version shown in Robinson’s Galleria a cut version? Because if it was, that’s just too bad. You could’ve beaten the other films in sales if you didn’t! 😀

The movie was truly too long to sit through, but thank God for Mylene Dizon, it wasn’t hell to endure. There were unecessary scenes that would have been better repleced by more substantial scenes that would establish how the friendship developed into a blossoming romance, the heterosexuality was too much impressed upon the audience with too many scenes of the boyfriend/lover/fiance-girl, scenes that would have been better shorter (KISS! Keep It Simple Stupid). Lastly, the ending could’ve been reworked. Think out of the box, naman. SPOILER UP AHEAD!!! Baka mamaya magpasagasa na lang mga lesbiyana para matanggap ng pamilya. Very dramatic, we Pinoys are pa naman.

It tackled too many lesbian issues in one movie. Was the film about exploring one’s sexuality? Was it about coming out? Perhaps it was a story in finding The One, regardless of gender? Or was it about society’s acceptance? Or an individual’s acceptance of the ever-changing sexual continuum? Was it about familial ties and the consequences of being gay/coming out? Or was it simply to take the curious audience into a glimpse, a tour of how a lesbian sometimes comes (Excuse the pun.) to be one. Too many, too much.

Perhaps the fear of not having a second chance to explore this arena once more loomed on the producers?

For movies such as these, it really is best not to have high expectations. But to take a risk and for someone who isn’t gay to take a chance in producing something like this has some merit.

Overall, the film was entertaining. Despite the fact that it was a copycat film with a few differences to make it seemingly distinct, I’m pretty sure people who saw it enjoyed it. It got its laughter where it was due, gasps and oohs where it was expected, and tears where it was asked for.

But most importantly, it dealt with a reality that lesbians like myself have longed to see on the big commercial screen.

Personally, I learned to appreciate — even love, for a moment, Mylene Dizon for her sensitivity and cinematic allure — and most especially her fabulous, oh-I-want-that/that-will-look-good-on-me wardrobe. If you can hook me up with her to go shopping, I’d give this film five stars and even offer my time to help tweak it better. 😉

On a more personal note, I’m again saddened a bit by the fact that the first (kindly call my attention as I may be mistaken) commercial lesbian film was not made by a lesbian herself. The producer, writer and director isn’t a lesbian, right? And yet, she made it pa din. For that a big thank you Direk Connie. For the lesbian filmmakers out there, take this as a challenge! Speak up! Tell your story to the Filipino viewer. It’s about time.
Labels: reviews

POSTED BY LAVENDER GIRL AT 11:53 PM
4 COMMENTS:

The L Word Manila said…
Hey Ceia. Isdatchu? Well anyway, I was pointed here by a blogger. Thank you for the review; despite the fact I was incapacitated last weekend, I’d still want to see this film someday.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006 7:17:00 PM PHT
Connie M. said…
thank you for all your well-meant comments.

the story behind rome & juliet was mounted within only a month and a week to its premiere night (compared to the the other 6 films in the cinema 1 competition who had at least a minimun of 3 months to work on it). funny, though i’m not a lesbian—i got discriminated BIG TIME while doing the film.

the theme isn’t something anyone can easily accept/understand as real thus the script got held up for a looong time creating a domino effect on the whole production sched. it got its final approval just about the third week of october, the budget released a week after that and film grind a few days later. i have been researching since feb, became an official entry to the film fest by april—but why get the final approval almost a month before screening with minimal changes in the screenplay that has been submitted since mid-august? good thing basically everything has been planned BUT the editing/sound needs at least 2 stressful weeks to do if u really want to stretch it. the shoot took almost 10 days with a short lull bec of the nov holidays. final shoot day was 9 days before screening.

not an excuse but what you have seen during the premiere night wasn’t how i fully intended it to be. a few days after the final shoot, our xdeal post house accepted a paying client and unprofessionally disregarded any of our agreed deadlines (bec we are not paying clients.) to cut the looong S.o.a.B.’s story (amongst this one), there were good souls who helped us put it together within 6 days.

people who do not know each other but believed in the project and the materials with super minimal honorarium. i already felt like giving up, advised the cinema one group that there is an 80% possibility of not making it (and it’s their decision anyways that brought us into this damned situation).

it’s suicide to put together a full feature within 5-6 days (even if you have the money and a big pool of experienced talents to work on it 24/7). with prayers and lots of words of encouragement from people who believed in us–we were able to pull it through.our frame of mind was giving our BEST EFFORTs considering we were running against hours NOT days. pressure from people who are expecting to see the film, co-directors telling me that this is the only film they are waiting to see in the festival. whew!

i don’t know any production group who has gone through the same shit we did for a month/1 week that pulled through? thanks to all the brave good souls who took a chance with us.

this film is basically a one-woman team project (when u have a minimal budget of P690,000–u just have to be play multiple roles.) but with my support group–anything is NOW possible.

my vision is to create an indie-type-concept-wise digital film that can crossover to mainstream viewers (and not solely the lesbian market.) it also saddened me to share it to all of you in this premature form. to see the potential but not the actual fruition of the vision.

sunday showing is a lot tighter than the premiere since i had another spare day to tighten the scenes and choose shots. given a few more days, u would have seen a totally different rome & juliet (as you soon will at the UP/CCP Theaters). edited to its original intended running time of 120 minutes, better quality audio/music, chosen shots–who knows? you just might have a different take on the film.

i appreciate your blog 🙂 thus i’m writing to you. in everything that we do, in any circumstance we are in –we can’t definitely please everybody. But there will be at least a few… who will. thank you for supporting us.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2006 3:55:00 PM PHT
Anonymous said…
With all you views about this movie it seems that I really want to see it for myself. I’m some kinda interested and curious on how two straight girls fell in love with each other. Nangyari ba ito in just a snap of a finger or what? Would you know kung kelan sya ipapalabas sa mga sinehan? Besides sa premiere night nya. May possibility pa kayang ipalabas sya sa sinehan ngayon? Hope to hear your feedback. Thanks!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2006 10:49:00 AM PHT
merrie said…
where can we watch this film kaya? it’s not in cinemas na right? or is it still? baka u guys have video or something.. we’re really interested in seeing this film…
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007 10:46:00 AM PHT
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Oh brother!

30Aug09

Blech. Yun lang.


Gearing up for my gripe post about the second coming of MyFemme Magazine. Hold on to your seats! It’s gonna be a helluva ride!