Malilong: Toilet rights issues

The other side

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn is right. The LGBT community has come a long way in terms of acceptance of who they are: co-equal with, not inferior to, anyone, and therefore vested with the same rights as any human being.

Admittedly, the acceptance is still evolving and incomplete as there are areas where old notions are difficult to overcome. For example, who gets to use which comfort room has been undeniably a simple issue until recently; the men go to the men’s CR and the women to their own.

It is a rule that is apparently based on nature, meaning what you were at the time of birth, not what you have chosen to be years later. Call it bias if you may but it is what it is; there is no space where the lines that separate the male from the female is more defined than in the toilet and any attempt to blur these lines by legislation is more likely to generate controversy than settle it.

This was exactly what happened in Quezon City last week. A transgender woman entered the women’s CR, believing that it was her right to do so by virtue of the city’s Gender Fair ordinance, only to be escorted out by a janitress to the mall’s security office. I do not think the janitress intended any discrimination, she believed that she was just doing her duty.

The incident, which the transgender videoed, has stirred controversy, reviving divisive issues that would have otherwise remained dormant. I am not saying that toilet rights issues should be swept under the rug and kept there forever. But since this is a matter that evokes very strong emotions in both sides, it would have been a more prudent approach to wait for that time, which I believe was coming sooner than later, when everyone shall have become more comfortable with the idea of former men mingling with women in the privacy of the bath/comfort rooms.

The evolution towards total acceptance has just taken a step backward because of the Quezon City incident and it is sad. If it’s any consolation, the setback may only be temporary, part of Filipino society’s growing-up pains as the Cebu governor so aptly put it.


That was a quick response to a citizen’s plea for assistance. Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella should be proud of his men in the Department of Public Services.

Dra. Grace Joy Avila called Frankahay Ta yesterday morning to complain about the stench emanating from the garbage that had remained uncollected for five days in Bonifacio St. At 8:30 a.m., I relayed the complaint to former Lahug Barangay Captain Dodong Taborada, who in turn called the attention of the DPS. Two hours later, Avila texted me to relay her thanks to the mayor because a DPS truck had already collected the garbage.

But that’s not the end of the story. I was told that the reason why nobody came to collect the garbage in Bonifacio was that the barangay Tinago garbage truck was unavailable because it has been clamped for illegal parking.

Since the mayor is giving P5 million each to all barangays, I suggest to the barangay captains, who may be planning to use the money to buy garbage trucks, to reserve a few thousand pesos to pay for the fine in case their trucks are clamped by the Citom. They should learn from the Tinago experience.


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