It’s no secret that we love local folklore. Aside from displaying our rich cultural heritage, Philippine mythology has a lot of stories that represent minorities.
For some of us, we gravitate toward the queerness of our homegrown mythology. The diverse genders across pre-colonial Philippines appeal to our culture as a nation, and a group of young queer artists got to show all of that in a virtual platform for queer Southeast Asians.
“Be/Longings” is a virtual festival uniting queer Southeast Asians creators and activists through exhibits, performances, artwork displays and live events. Filipino creators Renz Botero, Natu Xantino and Ram Botero (Candy Darling) used visual art to recreate queer experiences through local folklore, showcasing the range of Philippine pre-colonial culture in their vision at their exhibit called “Diwata.”
“Just as mythology is not historically accurate, our reimagination of pre-colonial deities transcends history to represent true experiences. It is a celebration of our boundless capacity to transform,” reads the exhibit’s description.
Their exhibit takes viewers through characters from pre-colonial Philippine culture; some from mythology, like the star-crossed lovers Bulan and Sidapa, the sirena, and Oryol the princess-turned-snake woman.
Some are even from actual history, like the Babaylan, the equivalent of a priestess in pre-colonial Philippine society. The Babaylan held an important role in the community, even equal to a Datu, and many queer people today identify with the Babaylan especially regarding how this piece of our culture had been supressed by colonizers.
“We have been made to believe that transgender people and genderqueers are spawns of the devil, an abomination of nature. But we have always been part of this country’s history. Always,” reads the description about the Babaylan.
Catch the rest of the mythical stories and stunning exhibit displays at the cultural fest’s website from until Mar. 13.
Concept and production design by Renz Botero
Photography and editing by Natu Xantino
Wardrobe and makeup by Candy Darling
Modeled by Renz Botero, Candy Darling and Kimberly Ysulat Escote