Sunday, April 9, 2017

I Am Very Proud To Be Me

By Gabrielle Diolata Payla

My name is Gabriel. I am Gabby to my family, relatives and friends, especially in the wonderful world of transgender. Actually, I could not distinguish from among my friends whether transgender or not, if they are genuine or fake. My detractors and critics (who are known for being hypocrites but are trying to be saints) call me Gabriela with a Cebuano accent. So they say, I am amiable, cute, sweet and talented. And being a normal person,I do also dream, aspire and have ambitions – one is to join a beauty pageant for transgenders in several cities, municipalities and secluded barangays, aspiring to bag all the prizes and awards. Who says that I don't have the 3Bs – body, beauty and brains?

Joining a particular pageant for transgender is not an easy task. Of course, a transgender must have a beautiful body for the swimsuit and evening gown competition. Aside from being witty and being tactful, she must have brains for the question-and-answer portion of the pageant. Aside from her charm, winsome smile and exceptional talent, she must have beauty or a beautiful face as her ace card to win the several special awards of the contest, like Miss Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, and Miss Talent. Just like anybody else, however, I sometimes win and sometimes lose. But then, quitters never win and winners never quit!

I remember when I joined a beauty pageant for transgenders in a remote area of Barangay Matabang in Talisay City. A week before the pageant, the organizer of the event introduced us to the Screening Committee for auditions. Being one of the aspiring candidates, I was enveloped with mixed emotions. I was very happy to find out that some of the candidates were my friends. I was quite nervous, because some candidates were tall and beautiful, and could be mistaken as real ladies.

We were interviewed by the Committee. We showed a little portion of our talent. After a couple of days,the head of the Screening Committee announced the ten lucky candidates for the pageant. Fortunately, I was chosen to be one of the aspirants.

During our rehearsals, I came to know better the other nine candidates of the beauty pageant. My mind at first was filled with bad impressions about my rivals. However, these were replaced by a happy disposition because of the goodness they showed toward me. They were kind-hearted, friendly, and very accommodating. I couldn't help but laugh when they came out from their shell. They even gave me some useful tips for the beauty pageant.

Then the night came if the much-awaited beauty pageant. Backstage, my makeup artist did a lot of retouch on my makeup, unmindful of the national anthem and the invocation.

We were first presented to the audience with our festival costumes, made of recyclable materials. The crowd was very refined and civilized.

When we conquered the stage wearing two-piece swimsuits, however, the once-quiet audience became so unruly. The unwanted noise of shouts and laughter created by the crowd filled the covered court. Our focus was not to entertain the audience, but to win the hearts of the judges by showing our curves. The unruly crowd was not content just to laugh and shout. They even whistled with gusto, especially when their favorite candidate occupied the stage during the talent portion. Most candidates did a modern or pop dance. To break the monotony, I did a lip sync which, to my surprise,  wowed the crowd!

There was a deep silence when the candidates invaded the stage with our evening gowns, beautifully created by our loyal designers. All the candidates were elegant and sophisticated, and can be likened to actresses at the awards night. Clad in a rented blue gown, I walked down the aisle like Tyra Banks.

And then we were down to the Magic 5.

My heart beat so fast during the question-and-answer portion! I was asked, "What would I do as a transgender to help protect our environment or Mother Earth?" After a few seconds, I answered the question with a smile. I replied: "I will clean my surroundings to be an example to my neighbors. I will not burn trash to protect the ozone layer, but bury trash instead. As much as possible, I will plant ornamental and flowering plants to beautify my environment and trees, because our country is suffering from climate change."

Because of my exotic beauty and my extraordinary talent, plus my brain, I won the hearts of the judges. And presto, I got the crown.

I have learned so many values and ideals while joining beauty pageants. Some transgenders are selfish and jealous with their fellow transgenders, particularly in the world of beauty pageants. Instead, we must all unify and support one another, so we can fight against discrimination in our society.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I Am Lucky

by Khane Taylor

Hi! My name is Khane, but my friends and the people who know me call me Kenneth, because that's my real name. I want to share with you the story of my life, which I don't usually do, because I believe that if I will share it, it will make me feel better.

My dad is Australian, and my mom Filipino. They were still together when I was young, but after a while they lived in separate houses. I lived with my mom, with her new husband that my dad didn't know about. She had a child with her new husband, who was also with us.

Even though we were living in a separate house, my dad was still supporting us. (He didn't know that he was also supporting my mom's new guy.) He was always a good father to me, even if we were not together. He always made sure that we always had the things that we needed.

I can say that my stepfather was so lucky, because he didn't need to work hard to provide our needs, because my father was doing it already. If he was lucky, I was not. My stepfather hurt me physically, whenever he was drunk and sometimes even if not.

My stepfather was always drinking. Sometimes he was also playing cards or gambling. My mom tolerated him, even though she could see that my stepfather was hurting me. He used different things to hurt me – he used sticks, wood, belts, sometimes the metal of his belt, and other things. One time he hurt me so bad that it made a lot of marks all over my body, and the neighbors were the ones who took care of me, because they saw the marks on my body. Also, one thing that he did to me that I can't forget, was, one time when he was so mad at me, he lifted me on the top of the bed and threw me to the floor. I was so shocked that time, I couldn't cry, I couldn't speak, and I couldn't even move. It was really hard for me to breath, until mom arrived; when she opened the door, she saw me on the floor, and she was shocked and she grabbed me right away, she cried and she was shouting at my stepfather, until I could breathe finally. I was crying while my mom was hugging me.

Every time I remember those things, I cry, even up to this moment (I'm really crying now). I was just around five or six years old at the time that I experienced all of those things. My dad didn't have any idea of those things that were happening to me. What could I do? I was just too young, I couldn't even talk to my dad about it because I couldn't speak English well yet.

There's still a lot of things that I experienced from my mom and my stepfather that I can't remember anymore.

Finally, my grandmother found out about it. She came all the way from Samar (our province) to Manila. She brought me and my two siblings back to Samar.

My grandmother has taken care of me since then until now. She supports me, loves me, and accepts me, even though she found out that I'm a transgender. She never lets me feel that I am different. Instead, she always makes me feel that I am special.

Despite what I have experienced in my past, I can still say that I am lucky, because I have wonderful people around me, especially my family, who are always there for me, to support, respect, accept, and love me for who and what I am.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

God Never Makes It Easy

by Rhea Abao Galicano

My name is Rhea... son of a policeman.

I grew up in a family where I felt so scared all my childhood days, because of my father was so strict. We all know that a policeman is a manly person! Who would think that one of his sons felt like a girl as he grew up... it was not easy for my father to accept that, and I was also scared that he might be treated badly by other people because of me.

High school days came, and I wanted to join the extra-curricular activities at school, such as the drum and bugle corps. I wanted to be the flag carrier wearing a semi-lady costume and full make-up... but fright first came to mind, and it's because of my family.

Two years after graduating from high school, I finally felt that it was time that I should come out of my shell and bloom the way I wanted to be. I made a decision to leave behind the fright towards my family (especially to my father). I let my hair grow long and trimmed my eyebrows. My family noticed my transformation, and they were angry and said some harsh things, but I never stopped myself from transitioning because I wanted something to change in myself at the age of 17!

But my father really was angry at me and wanted me out of his house. He said I was bringing dishonor and disgrace to the family. I felt so sad and depressed while I was packing my things and thinking of where to go...

Then one person came to mind: my grandmother!

I am grateful that she has let me live here now for almost seven years. Unfortunately, my uncle also lives here, and he is not really good to me, but my grandmom told me that it was OK and that I shouldn't worry about whatever he says. Grandmom told me that I was welcome here!

To prove that I can be happy in the life that I pursue, I work in a beauty salon where trans and beauty enthusiasts often work. Through this, I can contribute to my grandmom's house bills.

One day, I received a text from my sister, and it was Christmas season. She told me that our parents wanted to see me on Christmas Day, and invited me to spend it with them. I was so surprised and I cried thinking about it, because I really missed them a lot.

Then Christmas Eve came. As I walked toward our home, I really felt so scared, yet excited to see my family again after so long. And then my sister saw me and hugged me, and called everybody... and I saw mom and I was teary-eyed and gave her a hug... then my father looked at me for a few moments... I was so scared, thinking that he might be angry again, but I went to him, took his hand, and made a blessing on my forehead. After that, he tapped my shoulder and told everybody, "Let's eat! It's already dinner time!"

I know that moment that he forgave me. Deep in his heart, I know that he missed me too... he was just not showing it, but deep inside him I felt that he was happy to see me again. I have never felt happiness like that moment in my life, the forgiveness that made me whole again as a person... the family that I belong with is whole again by heart.

For now, I'm still living here in my grandmother's place, and still dealing with the hardships in life. After all, life is about fighting and working things out. God never makes it easy in our lives, because he wants us to learn because He loves us...

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Thank You!"

by Mikaella Nacario

My name is Mikaellah Nacario. I'm 17 years of age, and single. My parents are far away from me, because they are working overseas for our family's future.

My brothers are not good to me, because I'm different from them. Because I'm beautiful and they are ugly, so they are insecure around me. Sometime they do not give me food, and sometimes I'm hungry because of them.

I grew up with my grandmother. She was the one who always took care of me. She was always by my side. She taught me to be a good person and God fearing. From the day my mother left us to work abroad, my grandmother took care of us, from waking up in the morning and going to school... I always accompanied my grandmother. Until my teenage years, I was always with her.

I promised myself that someday, I would be the one to take care of her. I planned to work hard for my grandmother, because I loved her so much. However, the day came when she got sick... I prayed, "Not my grandmother, God! Not now!" It hurt so much when I saw her in pain. Until the day she died, I asked "why?" That really hurt and I still miss her.

I stopped going to school because I needed to work, to lessen the burden on the family. But I pray I will go back to school someday. I believe education is the key to surviving poverty and having a better future, and so that my family (especially my grandmother) will be proud of me. My ambition is to travel all over the world, to see the beauty of every country, and become an inspiration to everybody.

I want to share to you that no matter how tough it is, we still need to be happy. And be thankful that we are still alive, and to continue to dream about our goal in life.

I'm a simple human being. Happy to see my God-fearing family. I'm scared to be alone... I pray that my family will be together as long as I live, but I know this life is only temporary.

I'm sorry for those people I've hurt, and I have already forgiven those persons who have hurt me, and I am thankful because I have become a stronger person.

I believe that forgiveness means we must forget.

I hope that someday I can reach my dreams, not just in my dreams! I want to help my mother, so I'm looking for a better work. I want my mother back, so that she will never need to go abroad again to work for us. Indeed, I want to work for her now. I know she needs to rest, and I am mature enough to support her.

I'm so thankful for my friends, who educate me even though I am not in school, because if not for them I would not know much. My brothers won't teach me because they say I'm not their true brother, because I have a different father. I'm so blessed because I have my mother and my friends.

Why is it that my brothers cannot accept me as their youngest brother? They don't even know that I accept them. I always ask myself, "What's wrong with me?" I asked my mother about that once. She told me, "Be patient, son. You don't have to be with them or to like them. Just know that I'm here for you always. Wherever you go, I'll be your guardian."

All I can say is, "Thank you!" Thanks to all the people who have been at my side, through hot and cold.  Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Simple Life

by Pinkster

My life starts like this...  You can call me Saii. I'm 25 years old. I have been dressing like a woman since I was 13.. but before that, I had an older cousin who told me to follow my heart, and let myself to decide to dress like a woman...

I meet other ladyboys where I live, who always want me to go with them and follow all the things they want to do... we go to the disco bar and to other places, to enjoy ourselves and just for a fun party... I have a lot of experiences.

I sell vegetables and fish in plastic bags, and the money i earn is used for my needs... since I live in my grandmother's house... my other relatives do not treat me very well, because of my gender... because they say it's a sin... for me. it's not a sin because God created me... that's why I always look for work... because they don't support me... and so I sell fish, and the money I earn is sent it to my family back in the province (my mother and father are farmers)... I don't know what's wrong with them or why my relatives do not treat me well. Maybe it's because they are in a good position in life, or maybe because of my gender..

I also try to earn money through joining contests, like dancing... and learned to dance while I was in high school... after I finished my studies, I would walk home and collect plactic to sell so that I could buy pills or hormones... I also collected metal. And when I get home, I do all of the housework because I live in my grandmother's house and so I do all the things they want... I follow all of their instructions... and when I'm finished, I go to the market and sell fish... and when it's closing time, I clean some of the tables and they pay me 40 pesos each table... so I have some money. I can say that I have a very bad experience... since my gender is still not accepted... because even my own relatives do not accept me...

And the time is running... when I was 18, I searched for a partner online, but it's really hard because most of the men who are online are looking for naked shows... I found one who I thoughi was serious, but he was just after sex when we met... so I didn't give myself to him just for that... I finished my relationship with him...

So I went back to working in the market and saved, and I was thankful because I saved enough to buy a few things and to bring my mother and father here in the city... I'm happy because my family accepts and loves me for who I am, even though other people and my relatives always discriminate against my gender... life is very hard, and I know it's a challenge, so I need to be brave and face the life I've chosen... at least I'm happy for who I am...

In 2010, I joined an organization.... all the ladyboys in our barangay (neighborhood) united and began to advocate for ourselves. We have a feeding program and donate blood... and we plan what projects we are going to do so that the barangay will help us and support our gender... so it makes me happy and proud to be part of the third sex because it's not about the gender, it's about how you share true happiness and joy to all the people we help in our organization. And I've met a lot of ladyboys from different places.

In 2013, I met a man who I thought would make me happy and complete, but he just give me a nightmare... at the start it was very good and happy... but after a year, the guy I thought would make me happy was always hurting me... yes, he worked hard for us and for our needs... but he would go home drunk and jealous if i wouldn't have sex with him.. and he would force me... I don't know why I couldn't go away from him, maybe because he was the only man who accepted my gender and treated me like a girl, but the problem is that when he was drunk, he would act so wild and I don't know why... the last time we fought, I was hit in the face, and I had a lot of wounds on my body... and I went home, but I dont know why I always back to him, even when he treats me like that when he is drunk.. and now it's almost three months that we are not together, because I still want to think if it's really love or I'm just afraid that I can't find a man like him...

I am ready to start a new chapter in my life.  I have a plan to start a small business for my family so that I can have a better source of income... and so that we won't be hungry and have to ask help from our relatives or other people...

I can say now that, because of all the experiences I have been through, I have become a very strong person.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Nobody Can Stop Me

By Gabrielle Diolata Payla

It was a terribly hot summer. A bottle of Coke was not enough to quench my thirst, while sitting under a shady acacia tree trying to construct some answers to the questions that kept on   haunting me. What’s wrong with being a ladyboy? Everybody’s telling me that I’ve changed a lot. Is it because I am fond of using gay lingo from morning till night? Or is it because I joined a certain LGBT community? My relatives and friends kept on reprimanding me, they wanted me to go back to my old self. But then, I asked myself: “Where were they when I needed them the most? Where were they during my desperate moments?”

I remembered back to my early childhood. I am not ashamed to say that I was born to this valley of tears with no silver spoon.  Just like my older sister, I haven’t seen my biological father since birth. In simplest terms, nobody provided a father figure to me.
Despite this unwanted chapter of my life, however, any kind of regret was invisible on my face. I was raised by my mother wonderfully, even though she was a single mom. She lovingly taught me to fear our Almighty God more than anything else. She patiently brought me to church every Sunday. Who says that I am a non- Bible-believing Christian?  
From a private school owned and managed by our pastor, I transferred to a public school for my high school days. When I was in my sophomore year, however, something strange happened regarding my personality which I could not comprehend. It’s not just that my voice changed, new hair started to grow, and inevitable pimples began to appear. I loved to mingle with my girl classmates, rather than the boys. I loved to be with them most of the time. In fact, I experienced a secret crush on a boy classmate. Before I knew it, it was the very beginning of my transition period regarding my gender identity.
After I finished high school, my mom told me to stop school for a while. She went to Manila to work. I was left all alone under the custody of my sister, who already had a family of her own. Mind you, she was shocked a little bit when I decided to come out from my closet. But then, it seemed that I was freed finally from a prison for men.
Sadly, most of my relatives rejected me upon knowing that I was gay. They shunned me as if I was suffering from leprosy. They even denied that I was part of the family. The harmonious relationship between my sister and I was sabotaged because of them. I felt I was an outcast. Their bad attitude toward me made me decide to live with another ladyboy in the city, who accepted me for who I am. Also, she persuaded her parents to let me work at the grocery store owned by them. (I was quite envious to witness how my friend Devie was treated by her parents and relatives, despite being a ladyboy.)
At Devie’s house, I learned so many things. She taught me the correct fashion.  She was an excellent teacher and a mentor, especially about the question-and-answer portion of a typical gay beauty pageant. The fact is, I’ve won several times as Miss Gay Barangay in several neighboring cities. And I’d like to borrow the famous line of Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach: “I am confidently beautiful with a heart.”   
Recently, I came to know a German guy through the internet. I told him everything about me, particularly of being a ladyboy. To make the story short, we developed a long-distance relationship. Surprisingly, he once paid me a visit here in our country. I was not able to resist when he offered to help me financially. However, our relationship lasted only for a year, because our communication stopped. I didn’t know the reason why.   
Right now, I am living independently. I am renting a small room in a house near the grocery store where I am working. My mom and my sister come to my place more often. Maybe they have come to realize that I’m not a total menace to my family and society. I am enjoying all the freedom of being a ladyboy. Even though I don’t have a love life as of this writing... yeah, I am very happy. Hopefully, I am waiting for Mr. Right to come at the very perfect time. Above all, nobody can stop me from living as a ladyboy. I will and I can!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Ex-Darling Wanda

by Unikaaka

I’m sure I have mentioned her in the past, and probably her name will come up in my future articles as well. I can say she’s played a huge part in becoming who I am right now as a ladyboy and a friend. We shared a lot of ups and downs. I loved her so dearly that I can't decide what I consider her now, after how she bad-mouthed me on Facebook.


At first, I really didn’t like her because she seemed a fake person to me. We weren’t close friends, yet she complimented me every time we met. She's the sporty type of ladyboy who plays volleyball, so we didn’t mingle much. After the company where I used to work closed, I sought out friends to hang out with, but nobody was around and she was the only one who welcomed me and was always available for chat. Soon after, I began to like her, and we shared time together most of the time when I got out of the house, and sometimes she visited me at home. She was almost courting me to form a tighter bond, and then our relationship bloomed and we became close friends. At that time, I was at the peak of my career from having a few foreign sponsors, and so every time we went out, I always treated her (and I mean always).

Our quarrel started when I posted a comment about the money she owed me – which, by the way, was my very first time I tried to collect from her, after so many years had passed.

At one of her birthday celebrations, she borrowed my cellphone.  This was at her sister’s place. We drank quite a lot that night. Soon we realized that my phone was gone, and she blamed my ex (whom she personally invited). I believed her at first, but I had a gut feeling that my ex didn’t do it.  Then I found out from my ex that Wanda confessed to him that she might have left it at the store where she bought the liquor. She promised to repay me for losing my phone, and therefore this became her debt to me. Also, I lent her money for the electric bill (after telling her mom that I had money, so I couldn’t refuse).

She also found sponsors of her own, but I never felt like she was willing to reciprocate. Then I started to question her friendship. I heard stuff from other friends that she was having a party, but I didn’t get any invitation. Not only that, she introduced me to bad people who happened to be her friends, who cheated and stole from me. But I didn’t care much back then, as long as she remained true to me; and, well, of course, I considered her my best friend.

From everything that was going on, my doubts became deeper. I read a seemingly happy status on her timeline on Facebook, and so I commented to remind her to pay her debt. I didn’t try to collect her debts before, because I knew what she was going through with her family. This was the only time I found proof that she had money, and so I took the chance. I had a very bad connection at that time, so I wasn’t able to read her comments after leaving mine. The day after, I was astounded how negative the comments were coming from her. That I wasn’t really pretty, that I just had fair skin and that if I were darker, she’d be better looking than I am. She also told me that I had no real friends, which was really saddening.  When I read everything she wrote, I felt sad and mad at the same time. I felt like I didn’t deserve what she’d done to me. My love turned into hate, and all I felt like doing was to eliminate her presence and to not get associated with someone like her any longer, and so I cut off our communications (which she helped me by blocking me first).

I found bliss in talking bad behind her back every time my other friends visited me to have a chat. She has remained our topic of discussion for as long as I can remember. And to be honest, I don't feel bad about it. It’s therapeutic in some way, that by doing so I was letting all my frustrations and anger out.

Now that it’s all in the past, I take the lesson from this experience to no longer trust quickly. That loving a person can also bring you sadness when you don’t take good care of the relationship. And that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference.