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Reflecting on Manila Pride Parade 2024: A Journey of Celebration, Protest , Challenges, and Hope for the Future

 At 12 noon on June 22, 2024, I woke up with excitement to get ready for the Manila Pride Parade. After taking a refreshing bath, I hopped on the MRT from Shaw to Centris Mall. There, I met my ally friend Joy, a cisgender woman, for her second Pride parade. We had also attended the event together last year in 2023. We grabbed a bite at Jollibee and Joy picked up a coffee from Starbucks. We needed to be full and energized before heading to Quezon City Memorial Circle, as the Pride parade demands strength due to the heat, congestion, and overall exhaustion - based from our 2023 experience. 

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Drone screenshot courtesy of Pride PH

From Centris Mall, we initially planned to take a jeepney from the terminal behind the mall, but the long queue made us decide to walk the 30-minute journey to the venue - QC Circle instead. Along the way, we encountered a small religious group holding signs and shouting for repentance. Initially, it felt unsafe, but seeing that they were outnumbered reassured us that the event was designed to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, not to cater to religious protesters.

We arrived at the location around 3 PM, by which time the pride march had already begun. The program at QC Circle had started at 12 noon with performances and solidarity messages from sponsored brands and NGO groups. Organized by Pride PH, "Love Laban 2" was the theme for this year's event, focusing on celebrating, protesting, and commemorating the annual June Pride March. The 2024 theme, "Love Laban 2 Everyone Pride Festival," emphasized the call for passing the SOGIE Equality Bill and promoting inclusivity. This was not just a concert, but a protest.

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Drone screenshot courtesy of Pride PH

We didn’t join the parade but went directly to the main stage to secure a spot. However, it was already congested with young attendees, including minors and parents, and surprisingly, many cisgender men and women who appeared to be homophobic fans of a girl group called BINI. Their presence felt unsafe, as Love Laban was supposed to be an LGBTQIA+ event. We welcome allies, but not homophobic fans whose only intention was to support their idols. Throughout the event, I witnessed people fainting, with medics responding quickly, and children getting lost, prompting announcements from the host of the event.

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Drone screenshot courtesy of Pride PH

At 7 PM, heavy rain started. We decided to stay and endure the downpour for two hours. The program was halted as the stage got flooded, compromising the technical equipment. By 9 PM, organizers announced the official stop of the event due to safety concerns, including wet wirings and the risk of electrical accidents for both attendees and performers. Fans of BINI were visibly frustrated, having waited all day only for their idols not to perform.

Looking forward to the next Pride Parade in 2025, improvements could be made. Firstly, the venue should be closed and only opened after the parade to ensure fairness for genuine attendees. Secondly, preventive measures and action plans should be in place for unpredictable weather. Lastly, it would be better not to announce the celebrities and performers (e.g Vice Ganda and Ben&Ben)  ahead of time. This would encourage participants to join the parade for its true essence rather than solely for the performers. Instead, surprise guests could be invited but not disclosed, focusing the attention on the spirit of the Pride march.

WATCH MY SITDOWN VLOG:

Overall, the event was a success. Despite the challenges, the spirit of Pride was strong and the community came together in a powerful display of unity and resilience. A huge thank you to Pride PH, the organizers, for their tireless efforts in putting together such a significant event. Your dedication to celebrating diversity and advocating for equality is truly inspiring. Looking forward to an even better and more inclusive celebration next year

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