Wednesday, August 26, 2009


this was my original letter in reaction to the sacrilege that is rowena joy:

To the producers, writers and production staff of the upcoming show
'Rowena Joy',


We are The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines, and we are writing you this letter to discuss with you our reaction to the information provided on your website regarding this series, as well as our feedback to the first episode, since it portrays a Filipino transsexual woman.

First, please allow us to provide you some definition of terms, definitions which we did not invent, but are actually wholly accepted worldwide by all organizations and what we and you should also adhere to:

You graciously used the word 'transgender' to describe the eponymous character to be played by Iza Calzado. However, it seems the use of the word did not fit your usage.

In its broadest sense, transgender can mean anybody regardless of sexual orientation, whose appearance, personal characteristics and behaviors do not fit conventional definitions of “man” and “woman.” This can include anyone from feminine acting men or masculine looking women to people who use hormones and/or surgery to realign their bodies with their gender identity.

Using this definition, the eponymous character is a transgender woman; therefore, feminine pronouns should be used to refer to HER. She is not a gay man.

Regarding sexual orientation, it is again erroneous to use this as a basis for Rowena Joy's identity. If one will Google sexual orientation, in a nutshell, it is one's preferences as to choosing and being attracted to a potential mate, it is a pattern of emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to any gender. It is not, however, the basis for one's gender expression and gender identity. By gender expression, we mean that which comprises the set of external characteristics and behaviors one projects in portraying one’s gender identity which includes dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, physical characteristics, and other acts. By gender identity, it is a person's sense of being male, female or neither, which may or may not correspond to that person's body or assigned sex at birth.

We would like to stress that being transgender is not a sexual orientation nor is it a product of it; in contrast, it is your gender that defines your sexual orientation. For example, using your titular character, if she is indeed a transgender and identifies as a woman, her sexual orientation will be classified as heterosexual, she is a woman, and since the norm is that if a woman is attracted to a man, she is hetero. She will only be homosexual if she is attracted to women. However, after the first episode, it seems our hopes to have the transsexual Filipina portrayed in a different light were shot down. Iza Calzado did a superb job, she was believable at being her character: a gay man who became a woman through science, just like how you described it. She was not effective as a transsexual or transgender. We feel, the whole story was shown from a gay man’s perspective and not a transsexual one.

We understand that there is limited information regarding these definitions as to why the description of the character came to be. We offer this to be an opportunity for everyone to be enlightened, for this is one of our goals as an organization. We are striving to incorporate in the Filipino mind that being transgender doesn't have to mean you are gay or homosexual, or in colloquial terms, bakla. We want to be identified and acknowledged by our gender identity, not our assigned sex at birth, and not most importantly by what the general public denotes as to, i.e. 'sexual orientation'.

We also understand that it was a good choice to cast a talented actress such as Iza Calzado to portray a transsexual woman since most male actors fail horribly in portraying such characters, and that there is absolutely no alternative. We are just saddened that transsexuals are portrayed in a flamboyant and ridiculous manner. We daresay it is not a transsexual woman being portrayed but the amalgam of what people think a transsexual is: a gay man wanting to be or becoming a woman without even knowing or feeling as one.

We would also like to remind you, being from a very influential and powerful network, to be cautious of the use of words because these words can create confusion or certainty. We can work hand in hand to better enlighten and educate our people, to instill respect and dignity, without regard to gender or lifestyle.

We certainly hope that this letter would have done its purpose: to inform you of what we stand for and that we will be watching the series with fervor, if finally, the oppressed Filipina transsexual will be portrayed as we are.

For future opportunities and questions, we offer our services as consultants regarding the transgender experience, being the first and only advocacy, information and support group in the Philippines for transsexuals.

To you we remain,

Gia Alessandra Valeriano Nolasco

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines
(contact info)

*~i hope we can finally send our reaction to gma so our voice can be heard. so our experience can be reclaimed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on rowena joy


this will be the second week when the new show that features a transpinay on gma: rowena joy. here is the information provided on their website:

Para sa nakararami, walang isang rule sa pag-come out of the closet. But when a person acknowledges his sexual preference, kaya ba niyang harapin ang lahat ng pambabatikos at rejection ng mga minamahal niya sa buhay?

That's what Rowena Joy learns, in this inherent drama of embracing and accepting one's sexuality.

Truly a class all her own, Iza Calzado gives a stellar performance bilang si Rowena Joy (RJ), a transgender who faces bouts of condemnation and apprehension in terms of his sexual orientation.

Joining Iza in this riveting story of love, acceptance and forgiveness are BB Gandanghari, TJ Trinidad, John Apacible, Shamaine Centinera, Rez Cortez, Lawrence Gutierrez, Joseph Paras, Sheree, Prince Stefan, and Renz Michael Valerio; with the special participation of Paolo Ballesteros.

Despite being raised under the care of an iron-fisted father, RJ grows up gay and longs to become a woman. Pero nang makuha na niyang aminin ito sa kanyang ama, he is thrown out and banished from the family.

Pero hindi naman tuluyang mawawalan si RJ, as he finds solace sa company ng kanyang mga kaibigan. With no other way to survive on his own, RJ flies to Japan para subukan ang buhay doon. Sa kanyang pagbabalik Pilipinas, RJ undergoes a total sexual transformation—changing his name from RJ to Rowena Joy to signify the new chapter in his, now her, life.

Okay na sana ang lahat—nang muling magkrus ang landas nina Rowena Joy at ni Gino (TJ Trinidad), ang longtime best friend and secret love niya noong siya'y si RJ pa lamang. Sparks instantly fly betweent the two, and soon, Gino also falls in love with Rowena Joy.

Kaya bang aminin ni Rowena Joy kay Gino kung sino siya talaga? Will her transformation really help her be more accepted by other people, and by her self? At mas matatanggap ba siya ng pamilya niya in her new form as Rowena Joy?

Find out the answers on SRO Cinemaserye presents Rowena Joy, Thursday nights after GMA Telebabad.

*~this description had so many wrong things. here is my summary of the first episode:

hello. i hope everyone was able to watch the first episode of rowena joy on gma. if not, let me give you a summary.

rj, played by paolo ballesteros, is obviously a transgendered character, understandable as still thinking he is a gay man since he isn't aware of the condition, hides his 'sexuality' or better gender from his bestfriend and parents. however, his father, portrayed effectively by rez cortez, discovers his stash of gay magazines and beats the hell out of him and throws him out of the house. notice, how i am using masculine pronouns because at this time, we are under the impression that rj is a gay man.

rj is then taken in by bb and joey paras. poor bb, having to play an unenlightened gay man. she even had to act like a boxer in one scene. to think she would have given some input on how the character should be played. rj is now given an opportunity to live his life.

next we see, seven years later, rj is back from japan(how typical) and lo and behold, rj is now rowena joy, a post op transsexual woman. they have tried their best to call her as such, a woman, however, the rampant 'bakla' is still thrown casually to her.

then, she meets her bestfriend again, who, is obviously attracted to her. this is where the conflict begins.

and so, what do we think about this? well, if they wanted to portray a gay man's love story and painful past, they were successful. if they wanted to portray how gay men who were able to go to japan and have operations done and go back here, they were effective. but portraying a transgender character, they failed horribly. as karla mae put it, the story was taken from a gay man's perspective. i feel, it was not partly the writer and director's fault, for they might be unaware of OUR condition. they might still think that what transgenders experience is what gay men experience. they might be correct. but couldn't they have done some research? was it too hard to try to check how this portrayal would affect transgenders and transsexuals in the country?

but well, the general public is unaware of our plight. certainly the transsexuals who did come from japan and back are still in the impression they are gay men. but not all of them, why, seanel did the japan thing, and she identifies herself as a transpinay.

i feel, the series totally negated any transsexual experience. its as if we were totally erased out of the picture. and it saddens me that this will be one of the ideas the general public will have when they see us.

so what should we do now? we fight. we will.

*~we will take an initiative to enlighten gma, the writers, the directors, everyone. let's see.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

of lying

yes, like kris aquino, i am sorry, i lied. not to tita cory though. i lied to everyone i spoke to and said that i am happy and hopeful. well, not entirely lying. i am somewhat happy, that i get to talk to him again, even if i have to make so much effort in reaching out to him. i am hopeful, that he will someday realize that he loves me as much as i do him.

i lied, when i said i would be ok with him not acknowledging and reciprocating my feelings for him. that i would be ok if he just wants to be friends. that i would be willing to wait.

i lied.

but not entirely.

i'm just saying, of course, i would want something more with him than friendship. of course i would want him to be my boyfriend.

i am willing to wait. but how long?

this is my fear: that there will be nothing of me after i'm 25. that's several months from now. i have this unnerving feeling that my life will just stop at that age, whether naturally or on my own terms. i feel, my depression will get the best of me.

so, if ever i would cease to exist, i would want to be happy at least.

*~ incidentally, while trying to write this, i suddenly got inspired again. hope really does spring eternal. i say, so what if he likes another girl? that only means i have to make him realize i'm the one for him more. he will like other girls, yes, but he will eventually choose me. and of course, i'm not the only one around, BUT i am the only one for him. he has to realize this.

to you, the one i adore, watch out. there's a storm coming.

of missed opportunites and twisted possibilities

i had wanted to write this last night, or more accurately, this morning, when i was about to sleep. or, when i had wanted to sleep. first, the story...

last night was supposed to be an eventual night for me. it was my good friend roan's last event last night, and of course she invited me and guess who? he, he who i love dearly so, he who holds my heart of hearts. he confirmed that he would attend and even said, in his own words, he would only come because he wanted to see us. and being the deluded {other word for hopeful, i didn't want to use this word because it means so special to me, maybe dreamer, yes that would do.} dreamer i am, i believed that he meant me when he said us. a code, a way of saying he wanted to see me, that he will only attend to see me. oh how delusional.

but alas, roan contracted a virus that manifested red rashes on her face and body. needless to say, my eventual opportune moment never existed. i was devastated. i had hoped last night would have been THAT night, you know? i was sure something could have happened. but i can't blame anyone. i'm just unlucky. so, i comforted myself with his text messages. oh how sweet i am, you see, i'm happy with just his text messages.

now the clincher. i had thought he would not continue with the plan, but he did, and he shocked me too. during the wee hours, he texted roan and i with the same messages, that it was roan's fault for not coming. and here i went again, was he blaming roan because he was unable to see me? for if roan were there, i would be there for sure. but she wasn't, so had i. again, i was happy he texted me.

but then, an evil thought bore through my mind: what if, he liked her? was he blaming her for not coming because he wanted to see her? he even texted her this morning apologising for his behavior last night and ASKED her out again tonight.

and just like that, my world crumbled, and no one seemed to care.

it is of course possible that he may like her. of course it is. but why her?

this is what gets me the most... why her? i surely am far more beautiful, and thinner. but we are forgetting the most crucial difference between her and me: she was born a girl, and i, a boy. and that's all that matters in this country.

and now i am defeated.

oh loneliness... oh hopelessness...

i will end this note with two sentiments:

if i had only been born a girl, he would have chosen me, loved me.

but as my hopeful heart of hearts beats, if not this lifetime, then the next, and the next. i will search for you, and hope that in that next, it would be i you choose and love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

transphobia rearing its fugly head

i am saddened that two of my sisters, naomi and sass, were victims of a recent hate mail. you can read more about it here.

why does hatred like this still exist? is it to remind us that the battle is not yet over?

i believe that this is an opportunity for transpinays to uphold what STRAP is here for: to inspire. let us take this hatred and use it to show how beautiful transpinays really are.

we can get affected by it, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. i pity this simple minded ignoramus. much he doesn't know. he is stuck to the bigotry and blindness that he is still believing to be true. and we should pity such a person, despite his efforts to bring us down.

to you my sisters naomi and sass, i will always always be here for you, in the moment you can no longer take the pain, the ignorance, the hate, i will be there to embrace and comfort you. that time may never happen, but when it does, my arms are always here.

to transpinays everywhere: keep the flame burning!

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines Renaissance Manifesto

last august 8 and 9 of the year of lour lord 2009, the monthly support group meeting of STRAP was held at the renaissance makati city hotel manila. this was one of the most historic events in our organization, one, for we have reached a plum number of 12 attendees, and two because this was when the titular manifesto was drafted. here is the said manifesto:



here's to hoping we can make it all happen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

hope and despair

sometimes we falter, but what's important is we stay on track and hope for the best.

that was one of my status messages on my facebook. i wrote that, because, at that time, i was indeed faltering in my dream. i felt, would he really like me for me? is he avoiding me? what if he doesn't realize it is me?

but then, hope sprung eternal.

'Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.' -anonymous

now that is my status. for like i often say, even if he does not reciprocate my feelings, even if he turns me down, even if he hurts me, i am prepared. i am even willing to get hurt, if that is what is needed for myself to prove to him my love.

for i want my love for him to be truly unconditional, never asking for anything in return, and can do anything in the name of love.

i don't know, some people might think i am delusional, or obsessed, but i feel sane. i am just very hopeful. and well, i think you really can't understand how i feel if you don't know how it is to have hope. when you have hope, everything seems possible. nay, everything IS possible. and despite obstacles and bumps in the way, we should still keep on track, for the end of the road will come sooner or later.

i love him, and i just do. that is why i shall never lose hope.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the epiphany

An epiphany (from Ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια Epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. The term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has "found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture," or has new information or experience, often insignificant by itself, that illuminates a deeper or numinous foundational frame of reference.

that, is the definition from wikipedia of the eponymous word for this post i am writing. i, gia alessandra, indeed has had an epiphany. i have suddenly realized and now found the last piece of the puzzle that is my life. it is funny, that the missing piece was always that one i always knew.

and so, this is my epiphany. it's him. he is the one i've been waiting for all these years, he is the reason i exist. i feel, not to be pessimistic, but more so ideal, i can no longer love anyone else. i may meet someone else, but in my heart of hearts, i know it's just him. my heart beats only for him. he is the person i want to live the rest of my life with. he is my destiny.

and no, i am not just being carried away with what my friends say. i've been constantly having these dreams, and when i am sleepless, only his face shows up in my mind. and no, i am not obsessed. i am only realizing how much i loved him, how much i still do, and how much he is the one for me.

now, the hard part is for him to realize now that i'm the one for him. am i ready to wait for another ten years, for it took me that long to realize this? maybe. i feel, he is the mate my soul has been looking for all this millennia. if not in this lifetime, then i will go back and live another life, if only to search for him again and again. it's him. i'm sure. i've never been this sure.

i am happy, that i have finally realized this, i feel a sense of contentment, that i know who or what i need to be complete, and afraid at the same time, for he may not know it yet, or if for him, i am not the one he is looking for. but it is ok. what's important is i love him, and that's what matters.

i love you. i have always did. i still do. and i will, forever.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


he was my first, and i want him to be my last.

i guess, i'll never love again, if this is to be true.

i am happy i got to see him again, and even talk to him even if just for a few minutes, but they were the longest minutes of my life.

i do regret, however, that my courage failed me to come out and talk to him, despite the many claims he was looking and asking for me.

i will forever have a hole in my heart.

i will get through this, perhaps forget, but i know i will always have that hole.