In 2008, Copenhagen was ranked as the Number 1 Most Livable City in the World. To this day, it is living up to its reputation as the host of the World Outgames 2009. Last Saturday, July 25, was the Opening Ceremony of the Outgames. All the delegates to the Sports, Culture and Human Rights tracks from the different countries of the world trooped to the city square for the Parade of Nations and the Opening Program. For this purpose, I brought a modernized traditional Filipino garment, the patadyong (see pic above). The patadyong is just a piece of colorful woven fabric that Filipino women from Panay Island wear as a wrap-around. Since, I was the only one in traditional Filipino wear, the members of our delegation, composed of members of the Filipino community in Copenhagen and others from other parts of the world (see pic below), decided for me to be the muse of the delegation, allowing me kindly to walk in front of them as the front liner.
The Parade of Nations and the Opening Ceremony
Before the Opening Program, all the delegates were asked to line up by country (see pic below)near the City Square where the stage was built for the Opening Ceremony. Each country got its turn walking center stage while almost 8 thousand people surrounding the stage cheered on.
There was some wait before we walked the short distance from the back of the Copenhagen City Hall to the stage. While waiting, I tried to take pictures of the other nations. I could only take pictures of the delegations near the Philippines though because we could not leave our post. Many people dropped by to take pictures of us. Some members of our group brought the Philippine flag which they proudly unfurled each time someone wanted to take pictures. We were approached by people from various countries but the most heart-warming were people of Filipino descent who were not born in the Philippines. They would say they were half-Filipino or pure Filipino but that they were born in Canada, the US, and other places. It was truly a touching experience and I was happy to represent our country well.
When it was our turn to to be introduced on Center Stage, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. There was a sea of people to the left and right of the stage and they broke in loud, welcoming and warm applause as I stepped onto the stage first. I could do nothing else but smile and wave. It was like 15 seconds of fame in a good way. It made me feel both small and big at the same time. Small, because I realized that I was just one person in this mass of humanity from across the world, and big because I was only one of two people (the other one was Sass) who came all the way over from the Philippines for the Parade of Nations. I beamed happily in my traditional attire as I walked that stage, happy to represent the country that I am very proud of.
Two days later, I still could not get over the experience. I kept repeating it in my head. When I spoke with the other delegates, they had their own profound experience during the Opening Ceremony. The delegates from Nigeria said that someone approached them for a picture and after said "Okay, I will head to the next continent now." This touched the Nigerians so much especially the thought of the Outgames bringing together thousands of people from all over the world in an event that truly erases borders.
Run For Love
The next day Sunday, members of the Outreach Program of the Outgames braved the early morning cold to go to Beach Park for the Run For Love marathon. People had a choice to run a full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K. All of us decided to go for the 5k. The event was very special because my friend Sass and my room mate Tamara Adrian, a lawyer and trans activist from Venezuela were there with me (see pic below).
I have been running for more than 10 years now and have never been in a race before. I was so thrilled to be doing my first 5K in Europe at that. I finished at 28 minutes 33 seconds which of course stuck in my head as I passed by the finish line. I learned in running class not to sit immediately after a run so I was walkind around near the finish line before I realized that I forgot to take a picture of my finish time! I was able to take it almost 2 minutes later (see pic below).
At any rate, the marathon was great. After the race was over, everybody that participated hung around the beach park looking at the sights. There were sports workshops to be held that same afternoon and the beach volleyball event was happening right there as well. Sass and I decided to head back to the Outreach camp to get on with our day. Today we are excited over the opening of the 2nd International Conference on LGBT Human Rights. I am heading there now to begin my day. I will talk about the conference in my next post.