Category Archives: lgbt rights

Colt 45 and the ‘real men’ myth

In late 2008, Colt 45 Philippines launched four 15-second advertisements featuring a group of men in different situations. The ad campaign intends to reintroduce Colt 45 as the “strong beer for real men.” The marketing blitz however contains highly insensitive gender stereotypes.

In the first ad, a man is shown as making comments about an unseen woman’s fashion style even while his peers are drooling over the lady’s “sexy” body ( In the second advertisement (, a man is seen walking away from his buddies who are all watching a wrestling match on TV to make sweet talk to his girlfriend on the phone. The third advertisement ( shows a man weirdly wiping a glass with his hand towel even though he himself is already sweating. The fourth and last installment ( shows a man using a facial oil wipe.

After doing those “unmanly” acts, the deviant received uneasy looks from his peers before being obliterated by a Colt 45 giant bottle from above. A husky-voiced narrator will then say: “Men should act like men. Strong beer should truly be strong.” The media falls under what Louis Althusser describes as cultural ISA (ideological state apparatus)[1]. According to Althusser, social institutions “use suitable methods of punishment, expulsion, selection, etc., to ‘discipline’” individuals who refuse to abide by the ruling ideology.

The catchphrase “men should act like men” mandates that all men have to act according to socially-established gender rules of conduct. This include not showing a “soft” even to his girlfriend, not allotting so much time to clean his face, and not making any comments about a woman’s fashion style. Men who do not observe the standards of heteronormativity are regarded as “hindi tunay na lalake,” or worse, labeled as “effeminates” and “gays.”

One way for people to know about these gender prescriptions is through the media. We are constantly bombarded by the media with messages essentially dictating everyone how they should act in accordance to gender norms. The media is the main arena where the dominant ideology asserts its authority on one hand while on the other; this is also where marginalized ideologies fight for greater acceptance or inclusion into the mainstream.

Men should always be stoic, dominant, and unyielding even when proven wrong. There are also activities they cannot engage in as well as TV programs they can’t watch (Glee, for instance) because it is unmanly to do so. The media therefore becomes the platform by which a battle of gender symbols (ergo, what is manly vs. what is not) takes place.

However, as mentioned by Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, the status of the dominant ideology is perpetually challenged since not everyone readily accepts it[2]. Nowadays, the media no longer have qualms about featuring men who does not conform to the so-called standards of being “tunay na lalake” (e.g. metrosexuals, effeminates, and men having sex with other men) in films, television shows, and the like. One manifestation of this is the proliferation of independent films that focuses on a gay’s life (e.g. “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” and “Lihim ni Antonio”).

Meanwhile, some TV programs like GMA News TV’s Best Men put men who are extra conscious about their appearance in a better light. These attempts represent efforts toward making compromises as regards the dominant thinking of how a man should act. Despite these attempts, the ruling ideal for “real men” still remains and has to be reinforced. Hence, we have the abovementioned series of Colt 45 ads.

colt 45 strong beer for real men

Colt 45 positions itself as a “strong beer for real men”

Having this kind of heterosexist message constantly being harped upon in the media will affect an individual’s self-identity, especially for those who grew up not meeting the standards of being a “tunay na lalake.” A young boy for instance who is used to being told by his mom to bring an umbrella all the time might end up believing that he is not man enough just because of it.

The whole concept of “men should act like men” goes against the central thesis of queer theories, which says that sex, gender, and sexuality are “fluid continuums in which identity based on fixed categories is a meaningless concept[3].” In short, being sweet and extra-conscious of how you look will not lessen a man’s masculinity since everything is in a constant flux to begin with.

This alone, as Michel Foucault argues[4], means that drawing clear cute demarcation lines between gender and sexual identities are impossible. More importantly, these definitions are mere social constructions to begin with. In conclusion, it can be said that since the media plays a significant role in shaping a person’s gender identity, it should be extra careful in setting baseless standards like what “real men” should do. It is good to note that the Philippine Commission on Women two years ago blew the whistle against Colt 45’s gender insensitive advertising campaigns[5].

[1] Althusser, Louis. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatusses. ( Retrieved October 9, 2012

[2] Storey, John. (1993). An Introduction to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (2nd ed.). London: Prentice Hall.

[3] Jagose, Annamarie (1996), Queer theory An Introduction, New York University Press, New York

[4] Dollimore, Jonathan, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault ,The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991).

[5] __________. Beer ad pulled out for derogatory women portrayal. Philippine Commission on Women website ( Accessed October 9, 2012


Manifesto ng Tunay Na Lalake – 2012 edition

This post is “inspired” (is there any other word?) by Hay Men! Ang blog ng mga tunay na lalake!

10. Ang tunay na lalaki, hindi manonood ng “Glee” kahit kailan.

9. Ang tunay na lalaki, mas pipiliing manood ng NBA kaysa samahan sa mall ang girlfriend niya.

8. Ang tunay na lalaki, mas may oras sa DOTA kaysa sa girlfriend niya.

7. Ang tunay na lalaki, hindi magtatanong kahit kanino maski naliligaw na siya.

6. Ang tunay na lalaki, hindi naniniwala sa mabuting usapan. Suntukan ang kailangan!

5. Ang tunay na lalaki, gustong alamin ang bawat kilos ng girlfriend niya. Pero hindi pwedeng vice versa.

4. Ang tunay na lalaki, tingin sa lahat ng bakla ay type siya.

3. Ang tunay na lalaki, game sa mga one night stand kahit committed na.

2. Ang tunay na lalaki, walang pakialam kahit ilan ang maging anak niya.

Ramon Revilla Sr., ang lalaking may 84 anak! Tunay na lalake! (credits: Facebook page of Genelyn Magsaysay)

1. Ang tunay na lalaki, humihingi ng DNA test kapag may nabuntis. O kaya, hindi mo na siya mahahagilap kahit kailan.

LGBT rights in the Philippines – any signs of progress this 2012?

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities”from Ayn Rand’s “Collectived Rights”

United States President Barack Obama last week became the first sitting American leader to endorse gay marriages. “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said during an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts. His announcement was expectedly cheered by gay rights advocates and slammed by his critics. And for his efforts, Newsweek magazine dubbed Obama as the “first gay president” in its latest issue.

Andrew Sullivan, an openly gay columnist for Newsweek magazine, praised Obama for shifting not just the stand of the whole Democratic Party on the issue, but also how mainstream America sees it. Sullivan went on to enumerate the advances achieved by the LGBT sector during since Obama took office in January 2009.

Newsweek Magazine calls Obama the first gay president of America

The Obama government had dropped the 17-year-old policy of barring openly gay Americans from serving in the military. Last year, his administration stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied national recognition to gay couples. Obviously, the way Americans see the subject has also evolved through the years, as an article in Yahoo News suggests. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 47% of Americans now support same-sex marriage, up from just 35% back in 2001.

Obama’s historic declaration inevitably triggered renewed discussions on LGBT rights in the Philippines. Writing for, prominent gay rights activist Jonas Bagas flatly stated that this development “won’t alter anything here fundamentally.” He nevertheless added that the once-overwhelmingly negative social attitudes and behavior of Filipinos toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage are gradually changing, mainly in part due to the social media.

Nevertheless, the progress achieved by the local LGBT sector remains limited even if President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 received the endorsement of Ang Ladlad, the first accredited political party for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Filipinos. For one, the Anti-Gay and Lesbian Discrimination Bill or House Bill 1483 remains stalled in Congress even after many years.

Last month, Aquino signed a law decriminalizing vagrancy. However, the law was criticized by women’s groups sinceit left a key provision that only women can be considered as prostitutes untouched. More tellingly, one of his spokespersons reiterated that Aquino does not share Obama’s belief on marriage equality (as if the reporter who threw this question expected another answer).

Religion now seems to be the biggest stumbling block to further advances vis-à-vis LGBT rights in the Philippines. Last December, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) objected to the passage of the Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011. Despite not being LGBT-specific, CBCP lawyer Ronald Reyes baselessly claimed that the bill will “open the door for same-sex marriages in the country.”

On the other hand, two Filipino celebrities, 1999 Miss Universe runner-up Miriam Quiambao and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, lately used the Bible to reiterate their anti-gay sentiments. Quiambao wrote on Twitter: “Homosexuality is not a sin but it is a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived. God loves gays and wants them to know the truth.” She eventually apologized for her remarks after receiving flak from netizens.

In an interview with the National Conservative Examiner in US, Pacquiao slammed Obama for his pro-gay marriage stance, citing Leviticus 20:13. “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable,” Pacquiao said. He added that gay marriages “adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.” Pacquiao’s supposed defense of traditional marriage crumbles haplessly when put against his record of womanizing. Apart from his much-hyped affair with starlet Krista Ranillo in 2009, Pacquiao also has at least one confirmed lovechild.

Below is an image of a poster that this writer saw in the intersection of Quezon Avenue and Araneta Avenue in Quezon City last week. Curiously, the group responsible for this poster chose not to disclose its identity. Just like Quiambao and Pacquiao, the poster mentions a verse from the Bible to condemn homosexuals.

Pray the gay away? LOL.

And as an added punch line, the group appeals to whoever reads the poster to pray “for them.” Pray for divine intervention so that LGBT Filipinos can become heterosexuals one day? As in the case of having a comprehensive national population policy, the Philippines stands to be years behind other countries once again as regards the advancement of LGBT rights. Indeed, there’s still a long way to go before LGBT Filipinos can achieve what their American counterparts are already enjoying.

Is Charice Pempengco lesbian? And so?

When 2008 American Idol runner-up David Archuleta came to a gay club in New York last April 2010, nasty rumors about his sexual orientation spread like wildfire. This prompted Archuleta to explain himself via Twitter, implying that he would think twice next time before going to such places. Turns out he was there just to watch his friend, international singing sensation Charice Pempengco, perform.

Two years later, Pempengco herself became the subject of lesbian rumors because of her chosen new hairstyle (which she described as the “edgy look”). One local showbiz website noted that the 19-year-old Pempengco  now “looks like a butch.” It also repeated the unfounded claim that the personal assistant who accompanies Pempengco in the US “is actually her girlfriend.”

Charice Pempengco’s new hairstyle has been ridiculed in social networking sites.

In a press conference last Thursday for her upcoming Infinity concert tour, Pempengco said that with her new image, she wanted to be more like Avril Lavigne and Rihanna. And for those insinuating that she is lesbian, Pempengco said: “This is the look that I want. I know what people think, and I don’t care.” She even criticized those who kept on insisting on this subject, saying: “Why would you ask me that question? I think that’s a very inappropriate question.”

She’s right. Why is it that bullying someone (a celebrity in most cases) into admitting that he/she is a homosexual has seemingly become a national pastime? This is the case especially at the height of the controversy over the break up last year of Piolo Pascual and KC Concepcion. Deviate from long-imposed gender norms and you’ll surely be labeled as gay or lesbian. Do you think David Archuleta would have to deal with such rumors if he did away with his goodie-goodie image? Or if Charice kept her teeny-bopper style? Or if Piolo got married years ago? Most likely not.

American television host Rachel Maddow wrote in her blog last year that gay people “have a responsibility to our own community and to future generations of gay people to come out, if and when we feel that we can.” And that is one thing only the concerned person himself/herself can determine. After all, coming to terms with one’s own sexuality is one thing, while asking for acceptance from his/her family and the society as a whole is another. So what if Charice Pempengco is lesbian? Should you care?

(UPDATE) has reported this August 10 Pempengco’s announcement that Courtney Blooding, a Canadian, will be her new “point-of-contact” after she fired Grace Mendoza, her erstwhile manager.

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Thoughts on the murder of Nelson Macam, Math teacher in RMHS Manila

Nelson Macam, a Math teacher in Ramon Magsaysay High School (RMHS) – Manila (the institution where I graduated back in 2006), was found dead in his Tondo, Manila residence. He was stabbed at least 20 times by a yet-to-be-named assailant. And as if Macam’s killing is not yet brutal enough, the local media’s irresponsible and sensationalized reporting on his death is tragic as well.

Nelson Macam, 1963-2012 (photo taken from his Facebook page)

Apart from being an alumnus of RMHS, what made me interested in this case is the fact that I was in the school doing research when the news broke out in the afternoon of January 12. Born May 13 1963, Macam has taught in RMHS-Manila for twenty years already. At least five tabloids and one broadsheet carried this story. They are the following (click the headlines to read the story):

Abante Tonite – Titser, binurdahan ng 20 saksak

Hataw – Bading na titser, tinodas ng lover

From Hataw tabloid: "Bading na titser, tinodas ng lover" (Gay teacher slain by lover)

People’s Journal – Robbers stab HS teacher 20X!

Philippine Star – Teacher stabbed dead in Tondo

Pilipino Star Ngayon – HS teacher, utas sa lover

Remate – Titser, binurdahan ng saksak, tigok

Reading the news stories made my stomach turn. All the writers either speculated or explicitly mentioned that Macam is gay. It is no secret that he is, but I am wondering if these journalists even bothered to ask for permission from the victim’s relatives if they can mention that.

I think the use of statements like “the victim had a constant male companion who frequented the place” and “the victim frequently entertained male visitors and gay friends in his room” seems nothing but malicious innuendo. It is disappointing to see journalists succumb to sensationalism.

Let me discuss the appalling lapses of each abovementioned news items:

Abante, Hataw, People’s Journal, and Remate

What is the purpose of including in your article the complete address of the victim?

Hataw –

“Sa imbestigasyon, nabatid na madalas magdala ng bisitang lalaki ang biktima na kilalang bading sa kanilang lugar.” – Ito ba ay tsismis?

Hataw and Pilipino Star Ngayon

Paano ninyo nasabing “lover” ni Mr. Macam ang pumatay sa kanya?

People’s Journal

What is your basis for writing that Macam “had a constant male companion who frequented his place”?

Philippine Star

Did journalist Nestor Etolle ask where the police officer he interviewed got the information that Macam “frequently entertained male visitors and gay friends in his room”?

"Teacher stabbed dead in Tondo" - Headline from The Philippine Star (click image to enlarge)

The news items are totally appalling and very disrespectful to a man who’ve dedicated over half of his life to molding the minds of his students. #

My Rejoinder to Fr. Bel San Luis’ “Making a Mockery of Marriage”

by Mark Pere Madrona

The constitution guarantees the right to free speech, at all times and in whatever medium available. However, as a popular journalism adage goes, “comment is free but facts are sacred.” Everyone can throw his or her two cents worth on anything, but does not exempt anyone from the need to base his or her views on solid arguments. This is especially true for opinion writers.

Last July 20 2011, Filipino priest Bel San Luis wrote an opinion piece for the Manila Bulletin titled “Making a Mockery of Marriage.” He criticized both the recent approval of same-sex marriages in New York, United States and the holy unions administered for same-sex couples by Metropolitan Community Church in Baguio City. While it is understandable for San Luis to be hostile toward the LGBT community because of his religious affiliation, the arguments he raised are off point.

Fr. Bel San Luis, I have a question for you: what has incest got to do with gay marriages?

Fr. Bel San Luis, I have a question for you: what has incest got to do with gay marriages?

He tells of two “stories” to prove that the approval of “such outlandish laws” like gay marriages will lead to “to a lot of abnormal possibilities in the name of freedom and human rights.” First, there’s the tale of two male siblings (Tim and Jim Jones) who wanted to marry not only because they love each other but for the financial benefits as well (and also because they have “no other prospects.”) The second one, a certain David Deets, wanted to marry himself as he claims he has dual personality.

These are fiction stories, obviously, but San Luis failed to adequately present it as such. One can only wonder where he really got those tales. Instead of raising valid points as to how gay marriages adversely affects his civil liberties and other’s right to marry the one they love, he relates the former to incest. Fr. Bel, I have a question for you: what has incest got to do with gay marriages? He’s speaking as if only homosexuals are involved in incestuous relationships, when in fact; heterosexuals are the ones who engage in it more often.

He also implies that gays want to marry because of financial benefits. What about people who enter into fixed marriages primarily to protect their families’ business interests? What about those who marry foreign nationals (e.g. Americans) only to have a path toward citizenship? Isn’t this a blatant mockery of marriage, Father Bel? It seems to me that the good priest, like many others in the Catholic hierarchy, preach how loving God is to everyone on one hand, while promoting hatred toward LGBTs on the other. They probably have dual personality like David Deets!

Before criticizing the holy unions administered by MCC Baguio, Father Bel should have verified his facts first. He may not be journalist by training, but as an opinion writer, he has that responsibility to his readers. Before claiming that MCC leaders are “liable to be prosecuted before the court for doing something illegal,” he should understand that the holy unions are NOT marriages. I’ve written about MCC before, and I have learned that a holy union is the spiritual joining of two people of the same sex. These ceremonies are not legally binding (not necessarily illegal), and no one within MCC claims otherwise.


Fr. San Luis’ article can be accessed at Please take note that I am a registered Catholic, and that I am not member of MCC or any LGBT organizations for that matter. He did not provide any contact details in his column, which makes it impossible for concerned citizens like me to send our reactions to him personally. Feel free to disseminate this. 🙂

Related posts:

About the writer:

“The Approval of Same-Sex Marriages in New York is one of the Legacies of the 1969 Stonewall Riots” –

MCC Quezon City’s Rev. Ceejay Agbayani’s thoughts on the Bible, LGBT rights, and same-sex marriages:


Rev. Ceejay Agbayani’s thoughts on the Bible, LGBT rights, and same-sex marriages

This is a two-part post. Here’s the first one: “MCC-PH’s Pastor Ceejay recalls his days as a seminarian”:


Rev. Ceejay Agbayani has been all over the media lately. He has been interviewed by the likes of Karen Davila, Vicky Morales, and Kara David as the administrative pastor of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) – Philippines. MCC-PH has gained considerable attention because it administers holy unions for people of the same sex. These ceremonies may not be legally binding (gay marriages are not recognized in the country), but a significant number of LGBT couples has nevertheless been “solemnized” the past years. Three years ago (March 2008), I did a profile of Pastor Ceejay for a journalism class in UP under Prof. Yvonne Chua. I am reposting it here because although the public already know what he stands for, they still need to know him better as a person.

Pastor Ceejay says that the Holy Bible is the chief source of discrimination against the LGBT. There are many so-called anti-gay verses interspersed in the bible like those written in the Book of Genesis, Leviticus, and the Corinthians. Pastor Agbayani is quick in explaining these seemingly “damning” verses. He takes Leviticus 18:22 as an example. The said verse explicitly prohibits a man from sleeping with another man. “That order was meant for the Levites who were the holiest of the holiest people then,” he said. “This is not anymore true for us,” Agbayani adds.

He reiterates that since the original text of the Bible comes from different old languages like Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew, its meaning has become reliant on who interprets it. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis has been widely interpreted as another anti-gay Bible verse. It says that the males of Sodom were punished by God because of immorality after they supposedly expressed desire to gang rape Abraham, who was then visiting Lot.

“The key in that text is the Hebrew word ‘yadha’. It can mean either ‘to have sex’ or ‘to know.’ Sodom is a prosperous city and its people are known for their inhospitality. It is likely that the male Sodomites just want to know Lot’s visitors,” he said. He adds that there is no concept yet of homosexuality then.

He lamented the fact that Filipino LGBT’s seldom read the bible. “They should read the Bible. They should educate themselves. It is not against us. In fact, John 3:16 says that ‘whosoever’ believes in God will have eternal life. It is not meant for heterosexuals only,” Pastor Agbayani explains. That verse serves as the cornerstone of the MCC’s struggle against the LGBT’s religious exclusion.

How does he see the current state of the gay rights movement in the country? “It is very pathetic. The LGBT groups here do not have a direction, mission, and vision. They are very individualistic. Gays and lesbians who are satisfied with their private lives, LGBT’s won’t take part in the concerted struggle for equality here,” he said.

Within the MCC itself, he admits that administrative problems have hampered the growth in its membership during the past years. He remains an optimist, though. He envisions a thriving MCC Philippines that would ultimately boost the struggle in the quest for gay rights here. He also mentioned the role minority churches plays in empowering the marginalized. “Look at America. Equal rights were achieved since Afro-Americans communities established small churches for them,” Pastor Agbayani said.

Rev. Ceejay Agbayani - one of the most vocal  proponents of gay marriages in the country in recent years

Rev. Ceejay Agbayani - one of the most vocal proponents of gay marriages in the country in recent years

The self-confessed Marian devotee says that he does not see same-sex marriages happening in this country, in his lifetime at least. “It will only happen if the Philippines becomes a socialist country like Spain where there is total equality in the society,” the political science graduate from the Far Eastern University says. “The farthest we can go here is to allow domestic partnerships,” he adds. A domestic partnership is a personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not joined by marriage or civil union.

He believes there’s no difference in the kind of love between two same-sex individuals compared to that of two persons of the opposite sex. How about gay couples adopting children? “It is just right so that they can practice responsibility as well,” he said. How about the apprehensions of some that children nurtured by gay couples would most likely end up being gay too? “I don’t think so. Homosexuality is innate. It is not a contagious disease,” he said.

He thinks that if he’s not into theology, he’d most likely be a professor of political science. Does he have any plans after graduating from the seminary? “I want to devote my time here in MCC. I want to personally oversee its growth,” he said. He dreams that one day, all Filipino LGBTs will have a unifying church in MCC. In fact, he is planning to put up MCC chapters in all cities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. This plan however is not time-bound.

Before the end of the interview, he expressed his objections to the reference to the LGBT as the ‘third sex.’ ”Why is there a third sex? Do we have a first sex? Are the males the first sex?” he said. He says that one main converging point for the gay and lesbian liberation movement would be the challenge it poses to social patriarchy.

Six days later, the man who described himself as an “ordinary beauty queen with an extraordinary beauty” and an admirer of beauty expert Ricky Reyes became the first openly gay graduate in the 100-year history of Union Theological Seminary. (the end)


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