June is often a month of celebration for Filipinos, for it is when we celebrate our freedom and rights as an independent nation. With June 12th being our country’s independence day. It is a time when we, recall how important it is to fight for our freedom and to voice our concerns to be a better and more progressive nation.
However, June is also a special month for the LGBTQIA+ community across the world. Pride month is a month-long celebration to honor the bright and colorful LGBTQIA+ community and for them to stand up and be proud of who they are and their chosen gender identities. While there are changes in society in how members of the community are treated, there is still so much that must be improved and learned.
As such, did you know that before colonization in the Philippines, we were a polytheistic nation and that there are strong ties between queer and homosexual gods and goddesses that influence our religion? Even in our local language, we have relatively gender-neutral words, an example is that “jowa” can be understood as a term that can be used for both males and females.
Deities and legends across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao included stories of how gods fell in love with each other, or about transgender or non-binary deities that were worshipped for good harvest, and luck for the year.
And if you want to know these incredible fun facts about our rich culture, so Legazy® is here to give you a deep dive into the stories of these deities from our history and just how rooted the influence of the “Filipino Pride” community is within our nation.
The Love Story of Sidapa & Libulan
During the pre-colonial times, there is a Visayan myth about the two gods that fell in love with each other despite being of the same gender. The tale is about the god of death, Sidapa, who resides on Mt. Madjaas, from where he sees the seven moon gods that represent the phases of the moon. As such, one of the moon gods, Libulan, or (Bulan) has captured the hearts of many, including the gods Sidapa and Bakunawa, the sea dragon. Because of Sidapa’s apparent attraction to Libulan, he had asked the fireflies to light up a path to the sky for the moon god to find him. Thus, Libulan met Sidapa at this firefly path and gave him gifts while showering him with love. However, with jealousy, Bakunawa sought revenge on the lovers and rose from the sea to devour the moons.
Seeing the wrath of Bakunawa, Sidapa saves his lover and it is said in legends that the two lives together at Mr. Madjaas.
Many have also referred to Libulan as the patron god of homosexuality and even their story now has other reinterpretations and retellings to keep their story alive.
The Transgender Deities
Aside from the love story of Sidapa and Libulan, there are also myths of genderless and even transgender gods and goddesses during pre-colonial times. Filipinos were known to give offerings and sacrifices to the deities in exchange for good harvests for their crops. One of the known deities that Filipinos worshipped for better farming and harvesting season was Lakapati (Ikapati), the goddess of fertility and good harvest.
Often she was described as an androgynous goddess or transgender, while also being dubbed as one of the kindest deities that gift the Filipinos the knowledge of agriculture.
Because of this, pre-colonial Filipinos would offer gifts and sacrifices in the goddess’s name before planting a new field.
In some local myths, Lakapati is considered the consort of Bathala the creator of the world. Bathala themself are considered intersex because the literal meaning of their name is ‘Man and Woman in One.’
Our History of Gender-Neutral Language
Aside from the rooted influence of the Filipino Pride community in our mythology, did you know that our language also consists of gender-neutral terms?
According to an article by Arias, Jacqueline. “On the Filipino gender-neutral language and our egalitarian origin”. from Preen.ph. 4 June 2019, she stated that:
“In Filipino, mostly Tagalog, we only use “siya” or “them” to refer to a person. There’s no “him/her” or “he/she” either. As one Quora poster explained, “We just don’t distinguish the gender through the pronoun. So there have to be additional indicators in a sentence to let the audience know if the person in question is a he or she, like name, title, or genderized nouns/labels/classifications.”
It is also worth noting that words like “jowa”, “asawa”, and “kabiyak”, are known terms of endearment that have no gender indicators. Yet it is understood as a person having a significant other, regardless of gender.
Honoring Thy Roots and Freedom, Today
While the Philippines and many other countries still need to improve and educate the public on how to properly care for and acknowledge members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Pride month is a step in the right direction for many of us to remember that one’s gender identity should be respected and that we are free to choose our identity without living in fear or judgment.
Thus, as part of Legazy®’s way of supporting the strong and resilient LGBTQIA+ community, the brand launches two new additions to the exclusive Malaya collection. From its successful product launch in 2022, Legacy introduces the Sukbit 2.0 and Pasan 1.0 Malaya collection versions in stunning “Hatinggabi” colors.
As part of Legazy®’s way of continuing to show the world the beauty of our Filipino culture, while giving a symbol of hope and camaraderie to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, each Sukbit 2.0 and Pasan 1.0 comes with its rainbow strap, as a symbol of hope for the great Pride community in the Philippines.
So whether you are holding on to a better future for the Pride community or wanting to express your support to our local Pride, Legazy® is providing you with more ways to hold your essentials close and secured as you move forward in life and leave a mark of your colorful legacy.