Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — At last year’s Metro Manila Pride March, around 25,000 LGBTQ+ folks and allies marched together to demand equal rights and protest not only the oppression of queer people, but also issues affecting other marginalized Filipinos, from contractualization, the rising price of basic necessities and the privatization of social services to misogyny and the displacement of indigenous peoples.
This year’s “Resist Together” theme calls back to Pride’s roots as a protest — as “solidarity in action.” And despite the strong rain showers that occurred all throughout the day, the number of attendees more than doubled, with an estimated 70,000 people at the Marikina Sports Center.
The call to end social injustice and demand equal rights for all was stronger, louder, and all the more empowering.
Here are five of our favorite moments from that day.
The Marikina City mayor signs an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance
At the program before the march proper, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro went onstage to give an impassioned speech welcoming the LGBTQ+ community to the city once again, declaring how much of an honor it is for them to host the Pride March and Festival. It was a reminder to everyone that Marikina City is a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.
“Welcome to Marikina City, this is our home, where each individual is respected and valued as a person. Here, there is no room for violence, nor discrimination,” he said. “Ito ang aming tahanan kung saan sinuman ay nirerespeto at pinahahalagahan. Dito walang diskriminasyon at kaharasan … Isang karangalan muli sa lungsod ng Marikina na maging bahagi ng pinaglalaban ng ating LGBTQI+ community.”
Teodoro also took the opportunity to stand firmly by the community’s call for the passing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill.
“I am an ally. Kaisa ninyo ako,” he said to an eruption of cheers from the crowd. “Kaisa ninyo ang Marikina City sa inyong laban upang ipasa ang SOGIE Equality Bill o Anti-Discrimination Bill.”
The mayor doubled down on his pledge that Marikina is indeed a safe and inclusive city by signing their own Anti-Discrimination Ordinance right then and there.
“Bilang pagpapakita ng aming pakikiisa at pagsuporta dito sa lungsod ng Marikina, sa araw na ito aming lalagdaan at ipatutupad consistently and fairly ang isang Anti-Discrimintion Ordinance,” said Teodoro. “[Ito ay] magbibigay ng pantay at pare-parehong karapatan sa trabaho, sa edukasyon, sa tirahan, at mga serbisyo ng pamahalaan. Walang sinuman sa basehan ng kasarian, pinanggalingan o pananampalataya ang maaaring hindi tanggapin o tatanggihan.”
This year, there was a surplus of attendees giving out free hugs, from young queer kids to parents and allies to public servants like Senator Risa Hontiveros, who gave out hugs to dozens of LGBTQ+ kids who approached her as she lined up for the march.
“Pride is finally living one’s truth w/o fear. Pride is finding work & going to work w/o discrimination. Pride is our children not getting bullied for who they are. Pride means members of the LGBTIQ+ community getting the healthcare they need & deserve w/o judgement,” said Hontiveros in a tweet.
Another group of parents stationed themselves near the arc where marchers would exit later in the day to give out “mom hugs” to anyone who wanted one. The gesture is inspired by a movement by parents in Pride festivals abroad to make LGBTQ+ kids who have experienced rejection and abuse from their own families feel loved and accepted on Pride day.
Attendees confront fundamentalists with love
Though there were Christian groups who joined the march to express their support and solidarity for the community, holding banners reading “homosexuality is not a sin,” there was still a small group of religious people standing by the fringes of the march to protest the event.
“Warning: God Will Judge You” read one sign. However, several members of the LGBTQ+ community showed grace and compassion in spite of the protestations, offering protesters flowers and kind words.
A display of intersectionality
“[Pride] is a human rights movement — and as such, is a call for active solidarity with other marginalized community,” said Metro Manila Pride co-coordinator Nicky Castillo. “As human rights spaces across the region continue to shrink, it becomes even more pressing that, at Pride, we come together to resist oppression and social justice in all its forms, and through it, push for cultural and legislative change.”
As such, several marginalized communities had the opportunity to take to the stage to express their struggles with the crowd. A group of Lumads spoke about their experiences under martial law in Mindanao, and led a chant to save Lumad schools. The Pinoy Deaf rainbow, an organization of death LGBTQ+, was also there to march and share their unique experiences.
Youth in revolt
This year, the Pride March and Festival also saw an influx of younger attendees. There were teens and pre-teens in rainbow shirts and makeup, holding up signs of protest, and giving out hugs to strangers and friends. Several families also came out that day, with straight and queer parents bringing their young children along despite the rains.
Check out more photos from the march and festival below.