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Gays in the Philippine Military: Welcomed With Open Arms?

philippines-army

The United States isn’t the only nation struggling with the issue of gays in the military. While President Obama (and others) sort out whether repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an immediate priority, the Philippine Army is now experiencing the backlash of embracing openly gay service members.

In an interview, Col. Remegio de Vera, commanding officer of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (IB) in Cagayan, said that if he will have his way, he would prefer to stick to the traditional military recruitment of straight men and women.

“I don’t have anything against gay people but I am still in the dark, I cannot imagine how they will perform and discharge their duties once they are accepted in the military,” he said.

De Vera’s statement comes on the heels of Army spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., who says the Army is open to anyone willing to serve, including gays. “There will be no discrimination as long as the applicant is physically, emotionally and mentally fit. We will be happy to work and even go to war with them.”

In the Philippines, the decision which emanated from the military top brass has created a stir among some soldiers and “gay hate” groups who still regard “machismo” as the main requirement to be able to enter the military service.

An Army sergeant from Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela — who declined to be named — said he and other troopers will welcome the recruits with open arms but are also worried how gay people can handle life in a war zone. “In combat, we put our lives in the hands of other soldiers. I don’t want to judge their worth but I can’t help but wonder how we can rely on gays, baka alagaan lang namin sila sa halip na makipaglaban sa kaaway,” he said. (Translated as: “Instead of fighting the enemy, we might turn out to be their baby-sitters.”)

At least 3,900 recruits from the 6,700 required by the Armed Forces of the Philippinesd (AFP) this year are needed by the Army. [GMANews]

Fears of gays being too weak to serve in the military, from a nation known for this:

By:           editor editor
On:           Mar 11, 2009
Tagged: ,

  • 28 Comments
    • darek
      darek

      I’m always amazed when Filipinos are homophobic…arent you either Catholic or Gay in that country?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin (not that one)
      kevin (not that one)

      I agree that gays are not prone to violence or machismo. But we excel at our jobs, no matter what the job is. The military is a profession, period. The police force and fire department are jobs. Let the best person qualified get the job based on merit, not prejudice. Is that so hard for these knuckleheads to understand?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 4:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      @kevin (not that one): But apparently some gays ARE prone to sweeping generalisations…

      Mar 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gurlene
      Gurlene

      Oh come on. Couldn’t you have shown just a little of that asian booty. Some filipino men have beautiful butts.

      Mar 11, 2009 at 5:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin (not that one)
      kevin (not that one)

      @Jack: I assume you’re speaking from personal experience?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ousslander
      ousslander

      love the tranny prisoner, she acts better than clair danes

      Mar 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      @kevin (not that one): I was referring to your statement, ‘I agree that gays are not prone to violence or machismo.’

      Mar 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew Triska
      Andrew Triska

      @kevin (not that one): Jack was right – it’s a generalisation to say that gays aren’t prone to “machismo” – or anything else, for that matter. The Filipino army backlash is based on just those assumptions: that gays can’t be tough or manly enough to serve in the army. Let’s not make the same mistake in our own community. There are gays of all different stripes out there, macho or not.

      Mar 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      @Andrew Triska: Thank you, Andrew, you put it more eloquently than I have time to right now! :)

      The gays applying for positions within the armed forces (no innuendo, please…) are not of the same breed as those applying for ‘head stylist’ at Toni & Guy…

      Mar 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sebbe
      Sebbe

      Where is Charles?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 6:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Timothy
      Timothy

      I didn’t see homophobia, per se. It sounds like the Filipinos they interviewed were personally supportive but still unsure how gay soldiers would behave. It seemed more of a matter of uncertainty about change rather than opposition.

      Once they find out that gay soldiers are like straight soldiers, their concerns will melt away.

      Mar 11, 2009 at 6:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin (not that one)
      kevin (not that one)

      @Jack: You guys seem to be supporting the misconception that military service requires an innate aggressiveness and bravado that turns out good soldiers. But the reality is a good solider is someone who can fire on command and do the job they are hired to do (at least in the US, where it’s a career). Many of our servicemembers do not even see active combat and yet they are valuable members of the armed services. And yes, the military does employ hair stylists – and canteen workers, truck drivers, medics, clerical workers, and even musicians. So even a nelly queen can be a good soldier, because (here I go again) LGBTs are VERY OFTEN good and loyal workers – so long as they are treated fairly.

      Is that too much of a “generalization”?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 7:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chip
      Chip

      Still and all, I’d love to see some of our big, tough, macho, leather-dude gay gays leaning up against that dude and saying: “Uh, you think I need a babysitter?”

      Mar 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • River
      River

      The Philippines, although a largely catholic nation is still very much more accepting of their gay citezens compared to their asian neighbors and also the west. Stories that come out of that country concerning the LGBT community is almost always positive.

      Mar 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      @kevin (not that one): I’m not supporting any such misconception. I have no idea what makes a good soldier. What I’m saying is you’re generalising when you say ‘gays are not prone to violence and machismo.’ What about same-sex-relationship domestic violence? What about some of those who feel they have to prove a point – ‘I’m not one of those sissy-gays, so I feel I have to act like a testosterone-fuelled meathead?’

      etc.

      Mar 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @Sebbe:

      Charles is right here, Sebbe, getting a boot out of reading some of the commentaries. LOL

      @River:

      As a part-time resident of the Philippines for the past six years now, I am inclined to agree with you. My partner and I both find that being gay in the Philippines is not an inflamed issue as it is here in the States.

      In the small town that we live in in Northern Luzon, it is a known fact that we are a couple and many of the straight neighbors and business people with whom we deal, have enjoyed coming to our home for birthdays parties and such.

      Likewise, my partner’s family, some who live in Cabanatuan City and others who live in Manila, are accepting of our relationship and always opened their homes and their hearts to the both of us.

      Given the amount of violence I see directed toward gays here in America and how accepting people in the Philippines are of gays, despite it being a heavily Catholic Nation, I must say that I feel safer there than I do here in the States.

      That’s kind of a sad statement, isn’t it?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 9:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rick
      rick

      that video never ceases to amaze me

      Mar 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Oliver
      Oliver

      @darek: That’s rich. As if there are no gay Catholics!

      And how DARE you make generalizations like THAT about MY country. WHo the hell do you think you are?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 11:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Oliver
      Oliver

      @River: That is SO true. Unlike the United States, we can’t be fired here in the Philippines just for being gay. YES we are a largely Catholic nation (and a large part is also Muslim) but we don’t experience atrocities like gays do in the States.

      @Charles J. Mueller: “Given the amount of violence I see directed toward gays here in America and how accepting people in the Philippines are of gays, despite it being a heavily Catholic Nation, I must say that I feel safer there than I do here in the States.” – couldn’t be more true!

      Mar 11, 2009 at 11:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @Oliver:

      I apologize for darek’s generalizations.

      Obviously, he has never been to the Philippines to observe Mabuhay first hand for himself. Had he, I am certain he would not have made that comment.

      While not a citizen of your fair country, Oliver, I have come to love it and it’s peoples as much as my own and the longer that I am away from it, the more I find that I miss it.

      It’s a much more laid back existence and not as hectic as the pace here in the States. As in Mexico, manana is soon enough for most folks in the Philippines.

      But getting back to my adopted home again, is not too soon for me, however. ;-)

      PS: Are you currently in the US or in the Philippines?

      Mar 11, 2009 at 11:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • darek
      darek

      I have about 20 thousand filipino best friends. Hell I was practically raised by filipinos – pansit, lumpia, melon all delicious and some of my favourite meals/desserts – I sent this link to my best frienD (a Pinoy sista, if you will, that I have known since I was three) and my ex (filipino as well) and they were in stitches over my comment.

      So yeah, spare you’re delicate sensibilities.

      Mar 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @darek:

      “So yeah, spare you’re delicate sensibilities.”

      Perhaps unwittingly, Darek, you have not only insulted a Filipino, you have also committed a breach of etiquette that Filipino people do not take well to. It definitely won’t get you an extra lumpia or two from the waiter or waitress at your fave Filipino restaurant.

      Knowing about pansit, lumpia or Adobo is all well and fine but, have you ever actually visited or lived in the Philippines?

      Had you, then you would be aware of Hiya or saving face.

      Saving Face is a common Asian characteristic and is also present here in the Philippines. Face saving (or saving face) refers to maintaining a good self image. People who are involved in a conflict and secretly know they are wrong will often not admit that they are wrong because they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. They therefore continue the conflict, just to avoid the embarrassment of looking bad.

      To avoid this problem, it is important to allow one’s opponents to make concessions gracefully, without having to admit that they made a mistake or backed down. Often a simple change in wording, or an exchange of concessions will help negotiators maintain a positive image, even when they are actually giving in very substantially.

      (it has both positive and negative conotations: Negative, because, being closely related to hiya and kasi, it enables a person to shirk responsibility. One is never accountable for anything. Positive, because one’s psyche is saved from undue embarrassment, sleepless nights, remorse of conscience. It saves one from accountability or responsibility) This trait enables one to make a graceful exit from guilt instead of facing the music and owning responsibility for an offense.

      Put more simply, no one likes being made to look like a dumb fuck. And if your twenty thousand or so best friends haven’t availed you of this information, then I would have to question just how honest and forthright they are with you?

      Incidentally, how does one have twenty thousand best friends?

      I fear that you have just caused Oliver to lose face, so, don’t expect him, or any other Filipino, for that matter, to take kindly to you for that callous disregard for Asian sensibilities.

      Mar 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • darek
      darek

      “It definitely won’t get you an extra lumpia or two from the waiter or waitress at your fave Filipino restaurant.”

      I dont eat at Filipino restaurants – there’s no comparison to home cooked meals from :)

      “Knowing about pansit, lumpia or Adobo is all well and fine but, have you ever actually visited or lived in the Philippines?” – nope

      “Saving Face is a common Asian characteristic and is also present here in the Philippines. Face saving (or saving face) refers to maintaining a good self image. People who are involved in a conflict and secretly know they are wrong will often not admit that they are wrong because they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. They therefore continue the conflict, just to avoid the embarrassment of looking bad.”

      That’s all well and good, but I still stand by my comment not to save face but because in MY experience, every filipino person I’ve met has a gay kuya/ate/tito/tita/ninong/ninang, you name it. In fact most filipino people that I know are incredibly accepting of their gay relatives, hence why it always shocks me when I see filipinos being homophobic. There is such an abundance of gay culture in the Philipines that I just don’t quite grasp homophobia existing in that culture when essentially “everyone” has a gay relative somewhere, in their enormous family trees.

      “Put more simply, no one likes being made to look like a dumb fuck. And if your twenty thousand or so best friends haven’t availed you of this information, then I would have to question just how honest and forthright they are with you?”

      I would say pretty honest, as they are the ones to usually bring up this topic, not me, the Polish Gay Twink that befriended them.

      “Incidentally, how does one have twenty thousand best friends?” – Ugh, it was an exaggeration. I have many, better? Ontario, the province I live in, especially the city I live in, Filipinos are the number immigrant population, followed by, guess what, us Poles.

      Mar 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @darek:

      Hi Darek,

      Nice to hear back from you. I didn’t realize that you live in Canada. My Filipino partner has relatives in Canada as well and he did mention to me that there are quite a few Filipinos living up there.

      My partner and I have a mutual gay friend from Manila who visited me about three years ago. Through him, I was amazed to find that there were quite a large Filipino cimmunity right here in Tampa, which is my main home.

      I agree with you that the Filipino people are very accepting of gays in the family. This is true in my partner’s case and his family has been very accepting of me as well. I know that they think highly of me, as I do them.

      My partner and I live in the northern (Iloconos) part of the Isle of Luzon. I normally spend my winters there with him, but did not go this winter because of health issues. He just renewed his passport and will be going into Manila to file for a visa to come here for a visit instead. I will be eagerly looking forward to his arrival, as we have not seen each other since last April.

      Mar 13, 2009 at 6:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew Triska
      Andrew Triska

      @Chip: I would pay good money to see that!

      Mar 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sedative
      Sedative

      Yes, the Philippines, although largely Catholic are only very indirectly homophobic. Being gay is frowned upon by the older generation but it simply isn’t a big deal. Sure, some filipinos feel it’s a sin, but it certainly isn’t the make-all-or-break-all mortal sin like how it’s regarded in the western countries.

      Heck, I’m atheist, but some of the most religious people I’ve known are part-time drag queens and such. Church volunteer organizations for instance almost always have at least two openly gay guys in them (and often in leadership positions).

      And there is virtually NO gaybashing here. A lot of good-natured teasing, yes (like the infamous parody song about a guy who finds out that the ‘girl’ he was dating was actually a guy – colloquially, a ‘darna’), but almost never anything that devolves into real homophobic name-calling much less violence.

      That said, a lot of filipinos (and not only filipinos) have this misconception that homosexuality automatically makes you effeminate. That simply isn’t true. I for one, am a gay filipino and I’ve always known I was, but I have never even remotely considered the idea of looking or acting like a woman. LOL

      I’m just a regular guy who just happens to only form romantic connections with the same sex. This is probably because masculine gay guys are always less visible than their more flamboyant counterparts. In the Philippines much more so, because it makes you avoid uncomfortable situations, something very important in filipino interactions, where the main objective is to make the other person feel good about himself. Not to mention, that all the more famous filipino gay public figures are effeminate.

      That said, I have nothing against effeminate gays. :) They’re some of the most loyal as well as the most entertaining friends anyone can have and I wuvs them. :P But I just felt the need to point out that not all gay guys are ‘nelly’, because that’s probably what these army guys are worried about. I’ve been in a military environment before, and know what selflessness/teamwork, duty, honor, and discipline is all about. I was actually a Captain in the Reserve Army Training Corps, an experience I enjoyed immensely.

      What the Armed Forces of the Philippines needs is a little more education on what sexual orientation really is.

      P.S. Don’t be too hard on darek. LOL. I wasn’t offended in the least, because it’s true. Filipino families are humongous, and there’s always at least one gay relative that everybody accepts no matter what. And darek… be careful when generalizing about filipinos, national pride is a very touchy subject among us. ;)

      May 24, 2009 at 6:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James
      James

      We can follow military rules but you people should accept who we are. we are capable to protect our country. you don’t accept gays in military because it not in your preference oh common. Parang sinabi mo na rin na wala kaming karpatan na protektahan ang pilipinas dahil bakla kami? di namin pwedeng protektahan ang pilipinas dahil di nyo prefer ang gay?

      Jun 5, 2011 at 6:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Unknown
      Unknown

      yeah he is correct its not about the soldier its about his capability of protecting the country and about the capability of doing the job

      Apr 28, 2012 at 9:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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