Pride celebrations are no longer concentrated in big cities. Two municipalities in Nueva Ecija, a 3-hour drive from Manila, launched their first celebration of the Pride month this year.
San Jose City, a component city, headed by father and son tandem, Mayor Mario “Kokoy” Salvador and Vice Mayor Alexis “Ali” Salvador, graced the first ever Pride event in the city last Friday, June 23, 2023. Their all-out support in recognizing LGBTQIA+ acceptance and integration in mainstream culture is a reflection of their election campaign tag line “Kasali All”, regardless of their sexual orientation, economic class, religion and political color, leaving no one behind.
Mayor Kokoy already had plans to institutionalize the Pride celebration through a Sangguniang Bayan resolution and the creation of trainings and programs benefitting the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition, he is contemplating on establishing a GAD (Gender and Development) Center. He said his next task is to find the budget for this upcoming project.
Meanwhile, Zaragoza, a third class municipality headed by Mayor Lally Belmonte and Vice Mayor Edwin Buendia also graced their first ever Pride event last Friday, June 23, 2023. It was attended in full attendance by the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, barangay chairmen and SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) members.
Prior to this event, Mayor Lally has always been a staunch supporter of the LGBTQIA+ assimilating them into the mainstream culture mostly on matters of job creation. Like Mayor Kokoy, she has plans of institutionalizing the Pride celebration and unifying the several small groups of LGBTQIA+ in Zaragoza.
In Zaragoza, a few programs are already in the pipeline to be rolled out in the coming days targeting the LGBTQIA+ folks such as creation of a livelihood program, medical assistance, among others. Mayor Lally welcomes more visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ in the community. In her speech during the celebration, Mayor Lally quoted US President Biden’s message to the LGBTQIA+: “You are heard. You’re understood. And you belong.” And she really meant those words.
by Elle Gines