Legalize same-sex marriage in the Philippines
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I am just like you. I am a simple man who wakes up everyday to work hard for my plans of having a good life.
I am just like you. I eat, sleep, drink. I feel happy when I sing my heart out or watch my teleserye. I dream of traveling to far away places in search of the best meals and to experience cultures different from mine.
I am just like you. I pay my bills, my taxes, my debts, and sometimes I end up penniless.
I am just like you. I never stop dreaming and fighting for a better life.
But unlike you probably, I am a gay man married to another gay man.
I met Rolenz on social media. He swept me off my feet with his boy-next-door looks and charming ways. After seven months of being together I popped the question on November 9, 2017 under the giant aquarium of Manila Ocean Park. He said yes and immediately we started planning our wedding.
We considered doing our wedding outside the Philippines. I know gay friends who got married in the USA and New Zealand. However with the limited budget we had we knew it would be impossible to bring our loved ones abroad. It would be just the two of us if we had our wedding outside the country. And we didn't want that.
We wanted our special day to be witnessed by the people we love. We wanted to share the joy with them. And that's what we did.
On August 8, 2018 (8/8/2018), we were blessed by Father Crescencio Gaba Agbayani Jr. of LGBTS Christian Church in a simple wedding ceremony witnessed by a few dozen family members, friends, ninongs, and ninangs. We served a small feast of yummy Filipino food. We laughed, cried, and sang with people we love. It was truly a special night.
We left for Indochina on September 18, 2018 and started our 105-days, six-countries honeymoon. We saw the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, we fell in love with the lanterns of Hoi An in Vietnam, we conquered Kuang Si Falls in Laos, we had the best grilled Red snapper and made good friends in Ngapali in Myanmar, we learned how to cook khao pad moo krob in Thailand, and saw the Twin Towers in Malaysia.
We came back to the Philippines on January 1, 2019 with zero savings and a great desire to build our new life together. We dream that someday we can fulfill our goal of having our own restobar and beachfront hostel. Libre naman mangarap, di ba?
We borrowed money from my brother to get a business license to restart our travel agency Javalava Tours in Marikina. We borrowed money from Rolenz's sister and built office tables from scratch and got a broadband internet connection. We work hard day and night and enjoy the simple joys of being able to work together for our dreams. On busy days when I cannot even leave my desk for lunch, my husband spoon-feeds me while I work so I won't get an acid attack. On extremely hot nights in the summer while I was sleeping, he would give me spongebath to make me feel cooler. I could not ask for a better husband and life partner.
On May 23, 2019, Rolenz and I went to Social Security System (SSS) to have our membership data updated from single to married. I have been an active SSS member for over a decade and I have made significant contributions over this time. We submitted our marriage certificate issued by LGBTS Christian Church and signed by our ninongs and ninangs, hoping SSS would approve and recognize my husband Rolenz as my beneficiary so that if anything happens to me he would be the rightful recipient of what he is entitled to as my husband.
My beloved father, Papa Tony, passed away in May 2018. He left nothing to me except his ashes and a rainbow-colored handkerchief and to my Mama Pia, a monthly SSS pension which is really quite helpful.
I am not a rich man. If I pass away today, I won't have anything to leave to my husband except a mobile phone, a broken laptop, clothes that won't even fit him, and I was hoping, an SSS pension.
June 25, 2019 I received a call from SSS. I was informed that our application was rejected because we did not submit a marriage certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority, a document which we do not possess.
We are married.
If anyone asked my friends, they will say I'm married.
If anyone asked my Mama Pia, she will say I'm married.
If anyone asked Rolenz's family, they will say we're married.
I'm listed as married on Facebook. I tick the "married" box when I fill out any form.
In my heart and in my mind, I try my best to carry out the responsibilities of a married gay man.
It's a huge heartbreak that we cannot be married for the people of SSS.
The Philippines needs to legalize same-sex marriage. It needs to be done now. Everyone deserves equal treatment. We all deserve equal rights.
I am just like you. I am also human and we deserve a government that protects the rights of all.
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