I almost didn’t make it to the march. In the morning of Saturday, the 29th of June, I was at PICC attending the commencement exercises for the College of St. Benilde. As a part-time faculty member of the school, I have to attend at least one graduation ceremony every year (CSB has three because we’re on a trimester).
So, I had to go to this one and it was on the same day as the Pride March.
By the time I left the reception lunch, I was rushing to get to Marikina, at the other end of the city, and I knew I was going to be late. I couldn’t afford to take a cab or a Grab and I knew that it would be traffic, so I took the MRT to Cubao and then the UV Express from the Cubao station to Marikina.
I was already in the UV Express when I young lady came in asking if this was the shuttle to Marikina. I could tell it was her first time to take this route and that she was going to the Pride March as well.
The traffic was terrible and we were going to be late, for sure. As we got closer to Marikina, the streets got more jammed and I knew that the march had begun and the Marikina local government unit had closed off major thoroughfares for the parade. I kept checking Google maps and when I saw that we had been stuck in the same spot for almost half an hour and that we were so close to the venue, I asked the driver to let me down and I told the girl that if she wanted to make it, she should come with me.
She did. We talked and I found out that she was going to the Pride March for the first time ever. She had work too and her friends were already there. I told her all about last year’s Pride celebration and she asked me what it was like to march.
And as we got closer to the venue, I saw the beginning of the march. They had just finished their route and were coming back to the venue. I told her to come with me and we slipped into the march. Fiona, the young lady I was with, got to march anyway and I took out my rainbow flag which I had bought the year before and gave it to her to wear as a cape.
She was so excited. I was so happy for her.
When we got to the venue, we said good bye as we both separated to look for our friends.
It felt nice to have been able to do that for her. I hope that it made her first experience in Pride memorable.
Metro Manila Pride was way bigger than last year this time round. Last year, we counted over 7,000 people and we had an estimate of 25,000 people in Marikina Sports Center last Saturday.
It was amazing. This time, they had flags enough for everybody and they were selling like hot cakes. People came with their friends and family. People were dancing and everyone was just smiling at each other and being so nice.
It was such wonderful energy, being surrounded by all these people being themselves and not afraid of being judged. Everyone was their best selves, their truest selves and it was wonderful.
I didn’t stay too long, though. A friend had a ride home and I had been awake since 6am and I was tired. I would have loved to stay but I was exhausted and I didn’t want to tire myself out.
But I was there. I was so happy to have been around that energy for even just a few hours. It was worth the tiredness and the long commute (which was rather cheap, having taken public transport). I’ll plan better for next year and stay for longer and dance with everybody until the wee hours of the evening.
Happy Pride, everyone.