Candidate’s confession sparks public reaction

The recent “coming out” of one the candidates in the 2019 Mutya ng Dabaw sparked discussions on the need for the inclusivity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) in society.

On Monday, Louise Ann Canalija shocked the public during the presentation of the 29 candidates for the annual beauty pageant for Dabawenyas, as she declared herself a lesbian.

She said during the question and answer portion that she will continue to lobby for the rights of the LGBT if ever she will be crowned as this year’s Mutya.

Norman Baloro of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) said in an interview that Canalija’s move signifies that the LGBT community in the city is empowered, thanks to the government’s initiatives and programs that recognize the sector.

“I admire her for standing loud and proud what she is,” Baloro said.

He then said that Canalija must “walk the talk” as it would make a huge impact in the community.

“Promoting the LGBT rights had been a long struggle. With the current push for the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) bill, there hasn’t been enough support,” Baloro said. “It’s a huge challenge for her to exert double efforts in lobbying it to legislators and other stakeholders.”

Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) head Generose Tecson clarified that for as long as the candidate is a “natural born female”, she is qualified to join the pageant.

“Whatever her inclinations are, for as long as she carries herself well, then she should be able to discharge her duties and responsibilities, if ever she will be crowned as Mutya,” Tecson said.

Meanwhile, a former Mutya ng Dabaw winner said that lesbians are welcomed to join the pageant.

Pamela Framil, Sinag ng Davao 2018, that sexual preferences and personal beliefs should not be any hindrance of joining the pageant.

Framil, a self-confessed agnostic or “a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God”, said that it did not hinder her from joining the pageant, nor representing her city.

“Davao City can be represented by anyone who is ready to accept the crown together with the responsibilities and duties that come with it. 

And I am utterly sure that someone who comes out publicly is resilient and responsible enough to know that even though there may still be bigots in this city, she stands up for what she believes in and which preference she is most comfortable with,” Framil said in a public Facebook post.

Another Mutya winner, who opted not to be named, said “the words she will speak, and most especially, the decisions and preferences she will make which encompass her views about gender and sexuality.”

“As Davaoeños, let us ask ourselves how we want our city to be known if it is to be represented by someone to the rest of the world,” she said.