Statement of UPCWGS Director Dr. Nathalie Lourdes Africa-Verceles during the SOGIE Equality Bill Hearing on 4 September 2019

I was Catholic school-educated from pre-school to high school, and the God I came to know is compassionate, just, and intolerant of oppression. 

I am as heteronormative and cisnormative as it gets. Assigned sex, female. Sexual orientation, heterosexual. Gender identity, woman. Gender expression, feminine. All in perfect congruence. Everything in place according to what society dictates as appropriate for my sex. Privileged on the basis of my sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Free from the daily oppression experienced by those who do not fit into the socially-constructed norms on human sexuality.

Oppression. The scholars Launius and Hassel define oppression as, and I quote, “prejudice and discrimination directed toward a group and perpetuated by the ideologies and practices of multiple social institutions,” end of quote. They draw attention to how privilege and oppression are fundamentally about unequal power relations. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a position of privilege, is it compassionate and just to exercise our power by demanding adherence to ideologies and practices that we know are oppressive? Is not the moral imperative to dismantle all structures of oppression, to end all forms of inequality?

Human sexuality is diverse.

Launius and Hassel also pointed out that, and I quote, “the scientific and historical evidence of the malleability of gender—the wide range of sexualities across cultures; the range of expectations for masculine and feminine behavior across culture, time, and even an individual’s life span suggests that gender is not quite as ‘natural’ as we suppose,” end of quote.

A statement by the Psychological Association of the Philippines asserts that, and I quote, “Decades of scientific research have led mental health professional organizations worldwide to conclude that lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are normal variants of human sexuality,” end of quote.

Rigid beliefs on sex and gender place people in boxes, or entrap them in closets, and they do not represent realities on human sexuality. It is diversity that is a natural characteristic of human sexuality.

Sexuality is a development issue.

The Sexuality and Development Program of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex in the UK, emphasizes that sexuality is a development issue. It asserts that, and I quote, “Development should be about increasing people’s well-being, particularly of those who are poor and marginalized. Social and legal norms and economic structures based on sexuality have a huge impact on people’s physical security, bodily integrity, health, education, mobility, and economic status,” end of quote. Nobel Prize Laureate Amartya Sen declared, and I quote, “Development is freedom…the freedom to do and to be, to live the life one values or has reason to value,” end of quote. Being a member of the LGBTQI sector can have deleterious effects on an individual’s welfare. Prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTQI individuals impinge on their human dignity, their freedoms, and their capacities for self-actualization. 

LGBTQI rights are human rights.

According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and I quote, “Deeply-embedded homophobic and transphobic attitudes, often combined with a lack of adequate legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, expose many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages and in all regions of the world to egregious violations of their human rights. They are discriminated against in the labour market, in schools and in hospitals, mistreated and disowned by their own families.

The legal obligations of States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people are well established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties. All people, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law, including in respect of rights to life, security of person and privacy…the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of expression,” end of quote.

I am as heteronormative and as cisnormative as it gets, but I denounce a world that oppresses those who are not like me. The sufferings of members of the LGBTQI community cannot simply be negated, ignored, or dismissed. Their struggles are inextricable from all other struggles for social justice.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex individuals are not going to disappear despite the non-fulfillment of their rights and the absence of adequate legal protection for them. They will merely remain persistently vulnerable to discrimination, abuse, and violence. From our position of privilege, do we choose to turn a blind eye to this?  Or do we utilize our power to create and nurture an economic, social, political, and cultural order that embraces an inclusive view of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression?

Human sexuality is diverse. Sexuality is a vital development issue. LGBTQI rights are human rights.

UP Pride 2019

This UP Pride 2019, we carry on with our fight for equality.

With the theme “Embracing Diversity Towards Equality,” UP Pride 2019 aims to push forward the formulation and adoption of a university system-wide policy on equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). While there remains no national legislation recognizing and protecting the rights of persons with diverse SOGIESC, in UP, the time for equality is now.

We invite everyone to join the effort in fighting for equality, starting here in our University. Because the fight for gender justice and human rights will not be over as long as discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI community persist and equality remains elusive.

Let our diversity unite us for the greater fight for equality and human rights.

UPCWGS Extramural Program: Call for Participants

[NOTE: The extramural on Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting is rescheduled from 16-20 September 2019 to 25-29 November 2019.]

The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), in partnership with the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. (UPCWSFI), is organizing an extramural on Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting, exclusive for Local Government Units (LGUs), on 16-20 September 2019 at UP Diliman, Quezon City.

Training fee is P12,500.00, inclusive of food, materials, kit, and certificate. Reply slip must be accomplished on or before September 13.

Reply slip can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/GRPBReplySlip-Sept

An Official Confirmation Letter will be sent upon successful receipt of the Reply Slip. Should there be questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch with Vince Hermoso of the UPCWGS Training, Outreach, and Extension Program at (+632) 9206950, (+632) 9818500 VoIP 4226, 09358185499, or 09612595082.

Conversations through Art: Tapping Various Creative Modalities for Intervention, Growth, and Transformation

The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), together with the Youth, Adult Survivors, and Kin in Need (YAKIN), and the UP College of Fine Arts (CFA), will be hosting Maria Reimondez for the second part of the discussion series entitled, “Conversations through Art: Tapping Various Creative Modalities for Intervention, Growth, and Transformation,” on 9 September 2019 (Monday), 2:00 PM at the UPCWGS Conference Room. Ms. Reimondez is a feminist Galician writer, translator, and activist, whose body of work includes poetry and novels for adults, children, and young adults. Through her works, she carves spaces for conversations around the intersections of gender, language, sexual orientation, ethnicity/race, coloniality, poverty, ability, and celebrate polyphonic feminist spaces across frontiers.

Conversations through Art is an initiative by artists, advocacy builders, social workers, and those in the helping professions to collectively promote arts for social change. Envisioned as a series wherein various creative modalities are highlighted in each session, the invited resource speakers will be individuals from different parts of the world who are making contributions to the establishment of the expressive arts practice or use specific creative modalities for personal-professional, community, and sectoral development.

STATEMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SYSTEM GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT (GAD) COMMITTEE AND OFFICES OF ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON THE POSSIBLE RELEASE FROM PRISON OF EX-CALAUAN MAYOR ANTONIO L. SANCHEZ

The University of the Philippines System Gender and Development (GAD) Committee and Offices of Anti-Sexual Harassment condemn in the strongest terms the possible release from prison of convicted rapist and murderer, ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez. We are outraged that the perpetrator of crimes so heinous they were described by presiding Judge Harriet Demetriou as a “plot seemingly hatched in hell,” will benefit from the retroactive application of R.A. 10592, which increases the time allowances for good conduct among prisoners resulting in the reduction of their jail sentences.

In 1995, Pasig RTC Judge Demetriou found Sanchez and six of his men guilty in the 1993 rape-murder of Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of Allan Gomez, both of whom were UP students. The sentence imposed was seven terms of reclusion perpetua and P11.3 million in damages for the students’ families. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1999.

We demand proof of “good conduct” for any consideration for his release. In 2010, it came to public attention that Sanchez was caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu inside a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his cell at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, and is allegedly involved in the drug trade in Muntinlupa.

We recognize the potential of R.A. 10592 to benefit political prisoners and low-income individuals who have been unjustly incarcerated due to lack of access to adequate legal representation. The crimes committed by Sanchez are so heinous that he should not qualify for any release. Seeing him walk free gravely defiles our ideals of justice.

Current Philippine conditions have shown how lives have become expendable through extrajudicial killings and how women are dehumanized by persistent attacks that legitimize misogyny and sexism. The release of Sanchez from prison will further reinforce the cheapening of human lives. 

We vehemently oppose any release for Sanchez from the New Bilibid Prison and demand that he serves his full sentence. 

UPCWGS conducts Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting

As part of its Extramural Program, the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), together with the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. (UPCWSFI), conducted Are We Gender Responsive Enough? Making the GAD Plan Work: A Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting on 13-17 August 2019 at the Institute for Small-Scale Industries (ISSI), UP Diliman. Resource persons were Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson, Deputy Director for Training, Outreach, and Extension of the UPCWGS; Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea, former Director of the UPCWGS; and Gichelle A. Cruz, member of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Gender Resource Pool.

The seminar-workshop aims to capacitate and enhance the skills of the participants in preparing the Gender and Development (GAD) Plan and Budget Report (PB) and the GAD Accomplishment Report (AR) that all government offices are mandated to submit yearly to the PCW, the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). An orientation in crafting the GAD Agenda, which “shall be the basis for the annual formulation of programs, activities and projects (PAPs) to be included in the GPBs of agencies,” was also included.

Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson (top row, second from right) of the UPCWGS, Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea (second row, eighth from right), and Gichelle A. Cruz (second row, seventh from right) with the UPCWGS Secretariat and the participants of Are We Gender Responsive Enough? Making the GAD Plan Work: A Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting on August 17 at ISSI, UP Diliman

[With a report from Fernand Vincent M. Hermoso]

UPCWGS Extramural Program: Call for Participants

The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS) is organizing an extramural entitled, “Are We Gender Responsive Enough? Making the GAD Plan Work: A Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting,” on 13-17 August 2019 at the Institute for Small-Scale Industries (ISSI) and the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), UP Diliman.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  • Training is open for members of the GAD Focal Point System of SUCs, government agencies, LGUs, and GOCCs.
  • Training fee of Php12,500 will cover food, materials, kit, and certificate.
  • Reply Slip should be accomplished and submitted to Vince Hermoso of the UPCWGS Training, Outreach, and Extension Program ([email protected]) on or before 2 August 2019.
  • Upon successful receipt of your Reply Slip, an OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION LETTER will be sent to your office. You will need to download or print this letter, and present it upon your arrival on the first day of training. Only those who will receive the OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION LETTER are counted as official participants for this extramural.
  • PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS RECEIVED THE OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION LETTER BEFORE BOOKING YOUR FLIGHTS AND ACCOMMODATION. THE OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION LETTER WILL SERVE AS YOUR ORGANIZATION’S TRAINING PASS.

Reply Slip can be accessed here: 
http://bit.ly/GRPBReplySlip

Should there be further questions, please feel free to get in touch with Vince Hermoso at [email protected], (+632) 9206950, (+632) 9818500 VoIP 4226, or 09358185499.

UPCWGS launches Conversations through Art series

The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), together with the Youth, Adult Survivors and Kin in Need (YAKIN), the Art Ventures and Advocacy Network (ART VAN), and the Office of the Vice Mayor of Quezon City, launched the discussion series, “Conversations through Art: Tapping Various Creative Modalities for Intervention, Growth, and Transformation,” on 27 June 2019 at the QCX: Quezon City Experience, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.

The first session of the series, Storytelling and Literary Expression in Healing from Sexual Abuse, featured a book reading of “Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse” by Eirliani Abdul Rahman of YAKIN and the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation US. Other storytellers were Dr. Conchitina “Chingbee” R. Cruz of the Department of English and Comparative Literature (DECL), College of Arts and Letters (CAL), UP Diliman; Prof. Marie Rose “Yot” H. Morales of the Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP), UP Diliman; and Prof. Ernyros “Amos” V. Manlangit of the Department of Art Theory, College of Fine Arts (CFA), UP Diliman. A creative intermission was performed by Prof. Sabrina Laya S. Gacad of the Department of Women and Development Studies (DWDS), College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), UP Diliman.

Officials and staff of the UPCWGS with the storytellers, guest speakers, and attendees of Storytelling and Literary Expression in Healing from Sexual Abuse on June 27 at QCX: Quezon City Experience, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City

Conversations through Art is an initiative by artists, advocacy builders, social workers, and those in the helping professions to collectively promote arts for social change. Envisioned as a series wherein various creative modalities are highlighted in each session, the invited resource speakers will be individuals from different parts of the world who are making contributions to the establishment of the expressive arts practice or use specific creative modalities for personal-professional, community, and sectoral development.

Conversations through Art: Tapping Various Creative Modalities for Intervention, Growth, and Transformation

Session 01: Storytelling and Literary Expression in Healing from Sexual Abuse

The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), together with the Youth, Adult Survivors, and Kin in Need (YAKIN), and the Office of the Vice Mayor of Quezon City, is hosting Eirliani Abdul Rahman for the launch of a discussion series entitled, “Conversations through Art: Tapping Various Creative Modalities for Intervention, Growth, and Transformation,” which aims to promote art for social change. The first session of the series, Storytelling and Literary Expression in Healing from Sexual Abuse, features a book reading of “Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse,” which was co-authored by Ms. Eirliani and published by Marshall Cavendish Asia in 2017. Ms. Eirliani is the co-founder and Executive Director of YAKIN, which helps child victims and adult survivors of child sexual abuse, and the Program Director of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

Date: 27 June 2019 (Thursday), 2:00-5:00 PM                                                                                   Venue: QCX: Quezon City Experience, Quezon Memorial Circle

Conversations through Art is an initiative by artists, advocacy builders, social workers, and those in the helping professions to collectively promote arts for social change. Envisioned as a series wherein various creative modalities are highlighted in each session, the invited resource speakers will be individuals from different parts of the world who are making contributions to the establishment of the expressive arts practice or use specific creative modalities for personal-professional, community, and sectoral development.

UPCWGS conducts Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting

As part of its Extramural Program, the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), together with the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. (UPCWSFI), conducted Are We Gender Responsive Enough? Making GAD Agenda Work (Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting) on 17-21 June 2019 at the Institute for Small-Scale Industries (ISSI), UP Diliman. Resource persons were Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson of the UPCWGS and the Department of Family Life and Child Development (FLCD), College of Home Economics (CHE), UP Diliman; Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea of the UPCWSFI; and Gichelle A. Cruz of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

The seminar-workshop aims to capacitate and enhance the skills of the participants in preparing the Gender and Development (GAD) Plan and Budget Report (PB) and the GAD Accomplishment Report (AR) that all government offices are mandated to submit yearly to the PCW, the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). An orientation in crafting the GAD Agenda, which “shall be the basis for the annual formulation of programs, activities and projects (PAPs) to be included in the GPBs of agencies,” was also included.

Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson (seated, sixth from left) of the UPCWGS and Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea (seated, center) of the UPCWSFI with the participants of Are We Gender Responsive Enough? Making GAD Agenda Work (Seminar-Workshop on Gender-Responsive Planning and Budgeting) on June 18 at ISSI, UP Diliman

[With a report from Laniza R. Lacsamana]