28 May 2008

NO! hindi tayo papagay dito!

the letter, with the latest updates. fight on, sass!

this is a long read, pero kung pilipino kang dinedma sa sarili mong bansa at inuna ang foreigners, punyeta basahin mo ito!

actually, madalas mangyari sa amin itong racism na ito. back when my conconista friends and i were roaming metro manila, di rin kami pinapasok sa isang ayala area bar (giraffe) dahil sa "inappropriately dressed" daw kami, meaning naka-sandals at shirt lang yung iba sa amin. okay, point taken. pero nung dumating ang mga caucasian na naka-sando at shorts lang, punyeta pinapasok! tangina ilang beses nangyari yan, mangyaring tambay kami lagi sa giraffe nun.

tapos isa pa. sa hard rock cafe naman. punyeta mapuputol na kamay namin kaka-wave sa waiter na di kami pinapansin para mag-order ulit. pero nung dumating ang isang bunch ng mga caucasian teenagers, putangina lima-limang waiter ang dagliang tumakbo sa kanila! poootangina talaga. nang-away na nun kami, bilang asar na kami sa ganung tratuhan tangina. KANINO BANG BANSA ITO??? puta.

ito namang kay sass, iba rin. parang yung nangyari kay inday garutay sa aruba bar. pinalabas siya kasi di daw siya appropriately dressed. kasi bilang lalaki siya na naka-dress, bawal daw siya dun. bakit, may gender bias na ba ang pera ngayon? the pink peso is as good -- if not better -- than anybody's peso in this country. how sad that hindi nare-realize iyan ng mga kapitalista sa bansang ito. mga tanga. mga lgbts nga ang malakas ang brand loyalty e. tanga talaga...

anyway, read on.



An Open Letter of a Transgender Woman in the Philippines

[25 May 2008 / Sunday / 6.04 AM to 6.45 AM]

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

My friends and I have been made to feel inferior approximately five hours before I wrote this letter. I'd like to sweep this incident under the proverbial rug but there is no more space to accommodate it.

On the 24th of May 2008, my friends and I were celebrating the anniversary of our organization the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), the first transsexual women's support group and transgender rights advocacy organization in the Philippines. We settled to celebrate it in Ice Vodka Bar, located in Greenbelt 3, 3rd level Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila. It was my first time in that bar. Two in our group have been there before and they had nothing bad to say about it.

There were five of us. I was leading the way. The bouncer stopped us. I asked why. His reason was we were dressed "inappropriately". We were rather dressed decently, tastefully, and most importantly just like any other human being who lives her life as female 24 hours a day.

I asked for the manager. The bouncer was nice enough to let me in. The manager,Ms Belle Castro, accommodated me. I don't know if I spelled her name right. I asked for a business card but she had none available. Her telling feature though was her braced teeth.

I complained. Ms Castro listened to me. I found her sympathetic, even respectful as she addressed me all throughout as ma'am. She told me the following:

1. (Referring to my friends, and obviously to me) That "people like them" aren't allowed in our bar every Fridays & Saturdays;

2. That that was an agreement between all the bars in Greenbelt (she

particularly mentioned their bar, Absinthe, and Café Havana) and Ayala

Corporation, the company which owns the Greenbelt Complex;

3. That the reason for this policy is: "Marami kasing foreigner na nag-kocomplain at napepeke daw sila sa mga katulad nila." Loosely translated in English: "There are lots of foreigners complaining because they mistake people like them as real women"; and

4. That they have a "choice" to implement the policy.

I felt terribly hurt and uncontrollably agitated. This transphobic act is not the first time that it happened to me, to my friends, to people like us. To say that this has become almost a routine is an understatement.

I have shouted at Ms Castro several times, asking her why I'm f***ing experiencing racism in my own country and what gave f***ing foreigners the right to demand to block people like us to enter bars in our very own country.

Ms Castro tried to hush me by pulling the "It's our choice card" and asked me to talk decently. I am not proud at all of using the F-word as my intensifier and of letting my emotions ran raw and wild. My warm apologies to Ms Castro for losing my cool. Just like any of us, I know, she was just doing her job.

This may not be the proper forum to raise this concern. But is there any reliable legal forum to address this issue? Reality check: there is no antidiscrimination law in this country. And if you're discriminated, there seems to be a notion that you're supposed to blame yourself for bringing such an unfortunate event to yourself.

So, I'd just stand up through this open letter.

I am standing for myself. I am standing for people like us. I am standing up because I, am, very, tired of this incivility. We have long endured this kind of treatment for far too long. Enough.

I'll not go as far as campaigning for a boycott as it is definitely the simple workers that would suffer from any loss in revenue such an act may cause.

People like us would like to be treated just like any other human being. Just like those foreigners who complained about our existence: With dignity.

You know the civilized and ethical thing to do: Stop discrimination in your


Bigotry is never ethical nor a sound business strategy.


Ms Sass Rogando Sasot

Sass is one of the founding members of the Society of Transsexual Women of the

Philippines (STRAP) [www.tsphilippines.com], an Associate Member of Transgender ASIA Research Centre, and a member of Ang Ladlad Party.

To have a dialogue with her regarding this incident, you may reach her at srsasot@... or through her mobile at +639276257010.



Ice Vodka Bar apologized to us and is supporting our complaint to the administrators
of Greenbelt Complex

. Attached is the timeline of events.

Ice Vodka Bar is a breath of fresh air. I hope that the civility exercised by Ms Belle Castro
would set as a precedent to all bar managers in the Philippines.

The courageous women of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) is standing up and we hope that you support us in confronting this irritatingly recurrent issue once and for all.

We are setting up a meeting with the security administrators of Greenbelt Complex to discuss
their "policy". We are excited about the developments of this case.

We will keep you posted. This is just the beginning.

Thank you.

Sass Rogando Sasot

Timeline of Events: The Ice Vodka Bar Incident

25 May 2008 [Sunday] – Between 6:00 am to 12:noon

1. Sass wrote an open letter: People like us: An Open Letter of a Transgender Woman Activist in the Philippines

2. Sass emailed the open letter to her local and international contacts.

25 May 2008 [Sunday] Around 6:30 PM

1. Sass went back to Ice Vodka Bar to give the open letter to Ms Belle Castro.

2. Ms Castro signed-received the letter.

3. Ms Castro apologized to Sass and promised that the incident will never happen again to anyone. Ms Castro admitted that what she did is indeed discriminatory and wrong. Sass accepted the apology. She invited Sass and her friends to dinner in Ice Vodka Bar.

4. Ms Castro advised Sass to speak with the security administrators of Greenbelt regarding the "policy". She promised to show her support to Sass.

25 May 2008 [Sunday] Between 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

1. Sass went to the security department office located at the parking lot of Greenbelt 3.

2. She was received by Mr Leo Sarian, Acting Detachment Commander.

3. Sass narrated the story and gave the letter to Mr Sarian. Sass also filled up a complaint form. The open letter was attached to the complaint form.

4. Mr Sarian looked for the "policy" which they have. He told Sass that the policy is about profiling prostitutes circling around Greenbelt. They do surveillance for a week and confront them when they have established that they are indeed prostitutes. Mr Sarian emphasized that they don't have any directive to ban any group of people in Greebelt.

5. Sass informed him that Ms Castro, manager of Ice Vodka Bar, has told her of the policy of the security administrators.

6. Sass told them this incident didn't just happen to her, that it happened to her other friends as well and to other people. They are not just complaining. She informed them that Havana is actually notorious about banning people like her in their bar. And that the often cited reason is the policy cited by Ms Catro.

7. Engr. Fritz Tiglau and Engr Patric Andaya came, the administrators (?) of Greenbelt, came. Sass narrated the story to him.

8. Sass told them that banning people like her just because there were those who were using Greenbelt as their prostitution hub is like banning ALL Filipinos in a particular country just because there are few Filipinos who were prostituting themselves.

8. Sass requested these three things:

    1. Clarification of the "policy" and its repeal if it's discriminatory.
    2. A meeting with the people concerned: the bars in Greenbelt and the security administrators of Greenbelt.
    3. A public apology be made.

9. Engr. Tiglau signed-received the open letter and promised that the complaint will be given high priority, that it will be forwarded to higher authorities, and that they will inform Sass about it immediately on Monday.

25 May 2008 [Sunday] Around 9.30 PM

1. Sass met with Nadine and Dee. They had dinner with Ms Belle Castro in Ice Vodka Bar.

2. Ms Castro apologized to Nadine and Dee. They accepted Ms Castro's apology.

3. Sass asked Ms Castro to formalize her apology by writing a letter. Ms Castro complied.

25 May 2008 [Sunday] 10.57 PM

1. Sass received Ms Belle Castro's apology through her email.

Prepared by:

Sass Rogando Sasot

26 May 2008



Dear flowers of the world

I am very happy that Ayala Property Management Corporation is acting expediently on my complaint. The development of this case is just very promising and exciting.

1. On Monday Mr Dennis Galimba, Operations Engineer of Ayala Property Management Corporation and head of the customer service department of all Ayala Malls, called me to inform me that he will be the main contact person for this case. And that they are giving high priority to this case.

He hasn't mentioned any "ordinance". But he mentioned that prostitution activities (of whichever gender) is really not allowed in their malls. I told him that I understand it as prostitution is really against the law; we can't do anything about it but obey the law. I am not even defending prostitution.

He outlined to me their policy regarding monitoring prostitutes in their malls.

a. They "discretely" monitor "suspected" prostitutes
b. After they have established that there's indeed "transactions" going on between their suspects and customers they invite them to their security office.

2. I told Mr Galimba that that is their written policy. But according to Ms Belle Castro, Manager of Ice Vodka Bar, the security administrators of Greenbelt complex advised them to refuse entry to people like me because there are foreigners complaining about our presence. And they refuse us entry on account of "dressing inappropriately".

I told Mr Galimba that Ms Belle Castro has promised to support my complaint.

3. Mr Galimba said that if it's that thing that is happening, that is really discriminatory. I also raised the issue of Cafe Havana. Mr Galimba is oblivious of what's really happening.

4. I also told Mr Galimba that I'm not the only one who experienced this in Greenbelt, that there are lots of us and that they are just being silent about it because they are Ayala Corporation. And that they take action on this issue as soon as possible.

5. I suggested that we are willing to participate to them in making Greenbelt complex discriminatory free as well as help in preserving the decency of the place. Mr Galimba is excited about it.

6. I stressed again that Greenbelt Complex should declare publicly that they are discriminatory free.

7. After our talk, Glen Danugrao, Security Supervisor assigned at Greenbelt Mall, texted me and informed me that there will be a meeting on Thursday (May 29) with Ice vodka Bar, other bars in Greenbelt, and the security administrators regarding the incident. I will attend this meeting. They will also furnish me a copy of the minutes of the meeting.

That's all for now.

Sass Rogando Sasot
M - +63 927 6257010
E - srsasot@gmail.com
B - nonethelesfiction.blogspot.com

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