On Monday afternoon, 14 December 2009, I along with three other STRAP members went to the House of Representatives (see pic above). The Lower House was in joint session with the Senate that day to deliberate on the President's Martial Law declaration in Maguindanao following the now infamous massacre there orchestrated by the powerful Ampatuan clan, said to be very close to the President. The Maguindanao massacre where almost 60 people were murdered in broad daylight including women, journalists and innocent passerby, is now being touted as the defining moment of the morally bankrupt rule of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). It trumps the other scandals that rocked her administration including the corruption allegations regarding the building of the Macapagal highway, named after her father, the Hello Garci scandal, the ZTE scandal and so many others.
While we have rallied against GMA, it was not because of her that we were in Congress last Monday. We were there to have a brief audience with Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of AKBAYAN (see pic above). In the picture from right to left are me, STRAP treasurer Joy Cruz, Cong. Baraquel, STRAP members Santy Layno and Bemz Benedito who was with her boyfriend Gary, far left.
Rep. Baraquel joined the 2009 Manila Pride March where we were formally introduced by her assistant, a long-time friend of mine, Jet. When we saw each other last Monday, she said she could not forget the sari I wore during the Pride March. I actually wore a traditional Indian dress not a sari during the Pride Parade but I chose not to correct her. I told her that we were there to discuss the possibility of her helping the Filipino trans community by filing a gender recognition law similar to the one in place in the UK and elsewhere. Although STRAP joins the bigger TLBG community in the struggle against discrimination, our main legislative agenda is to ensure that transgender and transsexual Filipinos are recognized as persons under the law by recognizing their gender identity first and foremost.
Risa was about to speak in the deliberations that afternoon so she just asked us to set up another meeting with her office where STRAP could discuss this initiative with her further. We thanked her for her time and told her that we would schedule a meeting as soon as possible. I know that I may be aiming too high and I do want to be realistic. But I have hope that if STRAP does what it needs to do, that is if it continues educating people and brings its advocacy all over the country, getting a Gender Recognition Law passed in the Philippines is not too big a dream. It is always, always a possibility.
I hope it becomes reality in my lifetime.