GALANG Philippines’ statement and response to Cha Roque’s open letter to Eat Bulaga

Much has been written, posted, and said regarding the discriminating segment of Eat Bulaga, the longest running noon-time variety show in the country aired by GMA Network. The said segment was uploaded on the network’s online media platform on May 23, 2015 but it was taken down on June 2, 2015. In the said segment, a parent (Diamond) asked for advice and likewise expressed his fears on various forms of discrimination, which his three (3) children might suffer from because he is an out and proud married gay man. However, his call for help and advice was poorly interpreted by the hosts. A barrage of homophobic pieces of advice, sexist jokes, repressive comments, and even promotion of violence through corrective beating was verbalized by the hosts. Cha Roque, a lesbian mom, sent an open letter to the show, which GALANG Philippines regard as a brave and laudable move to step up and fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people’s rights. She did this not only because she belongs to the LGBT sector but most importantly as an LGBT parent like Diamond, she is fighting for her daughter’s right to be free from bullying or any form of discrimination for having a nonconventional family.

GALANG Philippines as a feminist organization supports Roque’s contentions regarding the show hosts’ discriminating regard for a gay parent. The hosts’ reactions and comments to Diamond showed their homophobic mentality towards the LGBT sector as a whole. It is very disappointing that the longest-running show still has not capacitated its hosts and staff as responsible influencers from the media/entertainment sector. This noon-time show with millions of Filipino fans is inciting a culture of hate, discrimination, and violence towards the LGBT sector. They could have instead promoted love, honesty, respect, and courage to accept diversities in society.

Roque was quoted in Facebook that the best response she received was the petition to compel the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to make gender sensitivity training mandatory. This is an affirmative petition aligned with MTRCB’s mandate as a regulatory and development agency that promotes an environment which may lead to authentic and responsible self-regulation. MTRCB’s function is to likewise create a sensitive media and entertainment environment for the family, vulnerable or otherwise children, gender, the disabled, the elderly, the indigenous people, and other sectors of the society. In short, inclusive development of media and entertainment for all sectors. GALANG Philippines recognizes this petition as a form of enabling policy that will capacitate media personalities/staff to understand sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE), which consequently empowers the LGBT sector. As such, GALANG will promote said petition to its lesbian, bisexual woman, and trans man (LBT) organization partners in the urban poor sector.

This segment was broadcasted from the network’s studio in Quezon City (QC), which enacted its Anti-discrimination Ordinance (ADO) in September 2014. However, QC ADO as a local ordinance applies only to QC. Diamond was interviewed live from Bulacan. This scenario may or may not satisfy the stipulated grounds of discriminatory acts in the QC ADO since the incident happened in and out of QC. Similar conflicts can happen to other places in the Philippines since there are only 11 provinces and cities that passed its ADOs. Philippines has no national law that explicitly protects its citizens from discrimination on the basis of SOGIE. The advocates have been lobbying for SOGIE-based/comprehensive Anti-discrimination Bills since 1999 and none has been enacted yet until now.

Media plays a powerful role in capacitating millions of Filipinos to understand SOGIE and end discrimination. However, real power ultimately lies in the voices of the people as media consumers – to collectively fight for equal rights, and social justice. Our history and socio-cultural practices tell us that Filipinos are family-loving people. This is not only about the rights of the LGBT sector but this is also a fight for the non-conventional families who are experiencing SOGIE-based discrimination. Let us not allow a culture of hate, discrimination, and violence thrive amongst us. Let our voices be heard and join the call to end discrimination!


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