Tuesday, May 5, 2009

For a while...

Life is an artwork in progress. It is an endearing adventure.
A train that takes us into our own unique journeys. And the journey
unfolds the masterpiece we are meant to be.

But along the way, we need those occasional breaks: the step back
from the adventure; the replenishing relaxation; the time to just let
the universe take its course. These breaks are the moments when
the lessons we learned from our experiences seep deeply into the core
of our beings. And through these moments, the grace of the movement
of our lives renew itself.

I'll not be updating my blog for a while. And for a while, I'll be elsewhere
to take a dose of those invigorating moments. The rhythm of our dreams
dances best when we revitalize our energies. Afterwards, renewed and refreshed,
we turn with an elegant spin in the next flip of our fate…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Time For Change!

“Rules,” Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” The incident that happened to me and my friends on the night of April 23 is an example of rules violating the principles which motivate humanity to live in equality, to treat each other with respect, and to uphold each other’s dignity.

I was all set to watch Rannie Raymundo’s show in Metrowalk. Dee and my assistant Sass were with me. I didn’t know where exactly in Metrowalk the show would be. So while I was on my way, I texted Maegan, who would also be watching with us. She told me that it was going to be in Aruba Bar & Restaurant. Upon hearing that it was going to be there, Sass brought up the unfortunate incident Inday Garutay experienced there. I heard it before but I didn’t know that it happened there. Feeling worried, I requested Sass to ask Aruba Bar & Restaurant whether they have any problem with me watching the show.

Sass talked to the bouncer of Aruba Bar & Restaurant but she was then referred to the manager. She asked Sass: “What is she wearing?” Sass told her that I was wearing what every modest woman wears. The manager then iterated the blatant “No Crossdressing” policy hanging on their door. Sass refused to accept her reasoning. The manager then offered to consult the owner of the bar. The manager returned and gave a compromise: We can stay outside of Aruba Bar & Restaurant. Sass left and narrated what she was told. We left Metrowalk and transferred into a bar that understands that bigotry is not a sound business strategy.

I have felt perhaps the same feeling Rosa Parks felt when she was asked to give up her seat so a white passenger could sit. We, and countless human beings like me, suffered and are continue suffering the same indignity of discrimination: Rosa Park was discriminated because of her skin color; human beings of transgender experience are being discriminated because of their gender identity, the deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which of course does not always match the sex assigned by the doctors upon our birth.

I wasn’t demanding any special treatment from them. I was just there looking forward to enjoy the music and performance of Rannie, just like any other human being inside their bar. Certainly, I dressed up as a woman because I am a woman. If I dressed up in a masculine way, that would be the time that I would be crossdressing. But let’s discard all the labels, it’s not the issue. I am a human being just like yourself, just like the owners of Aruba Bar & Restaurant. I’m a human being denied of her right to express her unique existence.

What special right does Aruba Bar & Restaurant have that they can just force human beings to conform their gender expression to the gender expression traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth? What special right does Aruba Bar & Restaurant have that they can just inflict indignity on their fellow human beings? What special right does Aruba Bar & Restaurant have that they can just enforce such transphobic policies with impunity?

I don’t understand where they are getting these special rights. My Christian upbringing has instilled in me one of the two greatest principles Jesus Christ deemed to be the commandments at which all commandments bow. This principle is also common in all spiritual teachings: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself”.

We can also find this same principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood (Article 1). And “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms…, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (Article 2).” This is also echoed in the Yogyakarta Principles: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights (Article 1).”

Even the Philippine Constitution upholds this: “The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. (Article II, Section 11).” Jesus Christ was all about love, compassion, and inclusion and never about discrimination. The Philippine Constitution and international law are all about upholding the dignity of each human being regardless of who and what they are.

Without a need for complicated mental calisthenics, discriminatory rules, practices, and policies are very incompatible with these principles. And history has shown that rules, practices and policies constantly change so society can fulfill the highest principles of humanity: women getting the vote, end of apartheid, outlawing child abuse, to name a few.

So what special right does Aruba Bar & Restaurant have that they can just enforce rules that violate these principles of humanity? What special right does Aruba Bar & Restaurant have that they can continue doing business like this for years? Since when did a business license become a license to violate human rights? Does my gender identity & expression violate their right to conduct their business in a socially responsible way? Why are we turning a blind eye to this inhumanity?

Enforcing gender conformity is not, and will never be, a corporate social responsibility; ending discrimination is. Philippines, it’s NOW time for change.

Love & Peace,
Ms. BB Gandanghari

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When eyes meet

It was the first time I met my mother since I returned to the Philippines. I wasn’t a bit nervous, just worried that her eyes might betray feelings contrary to her supportive words in her media interviews. After all, our eyes are the mouthpiece of our souls, of our intentions, of what is behind every utterance, of what beats beneath our skin. But feelings of worry aside, I was very excited to see her and for her to see BB, the daughter she always had.

So on 14 April the doors of our house in Parañaque opened to me. No words were needed. No explanations were demanded. No lips pursed. No facial lines twitched to reveal any sign of rejection. Our eyes did most of the talking. Right in front of me was just my mother’s opened heart radiating through her gentle smile. I saw in her eyes that she saw what my eyes have seen. And I have affirmed at that moment what I’ve always known: Her love has not staled. Suddenly the walls that are used to be between us transformed into bridges.

Then Richie, my youngest sibling, joined us. Richie and I grew up together; I even used to accompany her in her dance classes. It became the focus of the reminiscing we did all afternoon. Mama even narrated, even reenacted, how Richie struggled to dance tahitian with her stiff body. Now, I’m the one taking dance classes – not Tahitian though but ballet. My mother then encouraged me to just study in a nearby dance studio as they have a handsome dance instructor. It made us all laugh!

Unfortunately, my next appointment was already calling me. I then retouched my makeup; I did it in front of them. It was the first time they have seen me doing it. I didn’t plan to but the warmth I felt between us melted any fear within me to hide myself. Mama and Richie were just there watching me smear blush on my face and gloss my lips. Mama even asked what blush on I was using as she found it really good and natural. I told her it’s Shu Uemura. Time then ticked the last minutes of our meeting. But before I left, Mama borrowed my sunglasses and fitted them. Richie joked Mama looked like a bumblebee on it. Laughter punctuated our goodbye.

I left with a familiar joy in my heart. The joy I had felt the first time my heart opened its windows to the refreshing breeze of first love. The joy I always feel whenever I meet people who look beyond the image; under their gaze, one is like a fish that swims with playfulness and rapturous abandon. It is the joy that speaks when we just share time with someone: the tenderness of being there just to be there. It is the joy that is born whenever we share the same space with someone not as two separate individuals but as two intertwined souls. And this joy is one of those moments when ‘Life is Beautiful’ suddenly leaves the realm of cliché and enters the realm of the world from where the freshness of every great poem comes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

'Don't Lie to Me' BB Gandanghari

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

The following questions won our "A question for BB" contest. We gave them to the writers for Showbiz Central; unfortunately, they were not the questions used by Showbiz Central.

1. Do you want to wear a two piece in a cover of a magazine?
(by Ghandia Lee on April 4, 2009)

BB's Answer: Working on it! Hahahahahah! :-)

2. If you were not Rustom before and he's not related to you. Is there any possibility na mainlove si BB Gandanghari kay Rustom?
(by Edison on April 4, 2009)

BB's Answer: Basing on what I know about him, I think so. He's such a God-fearing person.

3. Do you fear being lonely?
(by anonymous on April 4, 2009)

BB's Answer: No.

4. Is it true that when you are alone in your house you walk around naked?
(by anonymous on April 4, 2009)

BB's Answer: Sometimes.

5. Is your life more enjoyable now compared before?
(by anonymous on April 4, 2009)

BB's Answer: Yes. Only because I can express more.
Thanks everyone!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A question for BB

Hi guys!

On Sunday, I'll be hosting Showbiz Central and will be the guest in the Don't Lie to Me segment - scary but exciting! Hahahahaha :-)

I'm thinking that the questions that I'll be answering will come from you guys. How's that! So if you're going to ask me a question answerable only by yes or no, what will it be?

It's your time to ask those questions you've been meaning to ask BB. The top five questions we think are funny, exciting, and witty will win special BB dog tags!

To join, please enter your question plus your email address in the comment section of this entry.
Deadline of entries is at 12 noon on Sunday.

Thank you!

P.S. We will notify the winners of this contest via email.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Rustom was an obligation. Living as a man, whether as a straight or as a gay man, was suffocating for it is not an expression of what’s inside of me; it was an obligation required of me. Rustom is the Emperor’s New Clothes tailored using the finest threads.

Then the child inside of me began to point out: You have nothing on. Now, nothing’s left but my nakedness. It’s what God sees when he looks at me. It’s the little bird coming out of a freshly hatched egg, the integration of my inner and outer world, the expression of the music God whispers to my soul. I am BB Gandanghari.

I’m an artist who uses film as the vessel of her creativity; and if I have a message to tell, it is through films that I can best impart them. I’m a woman expressed – not trapped – in a body called male. I’m a newly-born child; I’m still learning how to walk, finding my voice, exploring the world as a tenderfoot.

Artist, woman, child, and whatever label you and I use to articulate my experience - let’s not get lost in words. What I am now is not a product of finding the right word to describe my experience nor it’s about finding the most appropriate label to frame my existence. What I am now is a product of self-discovery and recovery, of reuniting with the unlabelled expression of my being: it is the uniqueness every child brings to this world.

And reuniting with this uniqueness gives me a renewed strength, a tenacious courage made possible by the grace of God. Yes, I’ve walked through the streets of confusion. I’ve faltered every now and then. But the power of prayer transformed every of my fall into opportunities to begin anew. Rascall Flatts puts this so beautifully in his song I’m Moving On: “I’ve found you find strength in your moments of weakness. For once I'm at peace with myself. I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long. I'm movin' on...” And yes, I’m moving on.

Welcome to my blog!

Love & Peace,
BB Gandanghari

(11:40 A.M | 30 March 2009)