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Brian Bantugan
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To unfurl a protective cape also means to come out.
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Capes, closets and butterflies

Nawruz Paguidopon on the difficulties of coming out in the Philippines

01.17.2013

The Kapwa Collective, a group of Filipino Canadian artists, is presenting a program of short films from Canada and the Philippines on Saturday, Jan 19. One of the films featured is As Told by the Butterflies (trailer at vimeo.com/20046734), by emerging Filipino filmmaker/animator Nawruz Paguidopon. The film presents the struggles of the Philippines' first gay political party, Ladlad, which is running for congressional seats in the May 2013 elections. In Filipino, mag-ladlad means to unfurl a cape that is used to cover one's body as a shield. It also means to come out of the closet, to assert one's human rights. Along with Ladlad, Paguidopon's film is making history.

Brian Bantugan:
What inspired you to make the film?

Nawruz Paguidopon: I started my first documentary when I was still in college in the University of the Philippines, and there I saw the potential of showing film to connect to people.

Why animation?

After I graduated at
University of the Philippines Fine Arts, I got interested in animation. My first animation was a music video. My documentary As Told by the Butterflies ended up being the integration of two genres, documentary and animation, which became a way to connect my personal involvement as a gay man to the LGBT issues and in the community.

How was it growing up gay in the Philippines?

It was hard. I had lots of issues with my faith. My family are conservative and we don't talk much about sexuality, and it was also taboo in our religious community.
I did not have any involvements with the Ladlad party list, but I’ve known Danton Remoto, Ladlad's leader, [since] I came out in front of a LGBTQ-friendly church gathering when I was still in college.

What was your intention in making the film?

I want to show the status of the LGBT political climate in the Philippines from the perspective of a young Filipino gay man.

What can audiences expect from the film?

The audience will witness a slice of Philippine society as a whole and how they respond to social issues, such as LGBTQ struggles.

How do you think your film will affect Torontonians?

I think this will create awareness about the LGBTQ issues in the Philippines. Running and creating an LGBTQ political party list in the Philippines is really not an easy thing to do. It takes courageous and serious people because they are putting themselves in front of religious and conservative groups.

What is your impression of Toronto LGBTQ culture?

I know that Canada in general is way ahead of the USA when it comes to the  issue of gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. I know that it’s safer being out as a gay man in Toronto and that there is an active LGBTQ film festival there.

Another gay Filipino filmmaker's work will also be featured alongside Paguidopon's As Told by the Butterflies. Auraeus Solito, internationally acclaimed for The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros and films about indigenous people's rights, showcases his work Pisay, a
heart-warming film about eight exceptionally gifted high-school students set in the politically volatile 1980s.

As Told by the Butterflies screens with four other films on Sat, Jan 19 between 6 and 9:30pm at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. $10 or PWYC. kapwacollective.tumblr.com


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