Photos by Renzo Navarro
You’ve probably already heard, but the Pride March this year was pretty wild. The attendance count stood at 77,000 people. For some perspective, last year’s March was at 25,000, and the standing capacity of the Marikina Sports Center is at 70,000. The 40,000 rainbow bands (which were required to enter) ran out at 3:30 p.m., before the March proper even began. But even with more than a couple hiccups throughout the day, Metro Manila Pride continues its streak as the oldest and biggest Pride demonstration in Southeast Asia, in one of the region’s most Catholic nations. Wild.
Everything took off at 6:30 a.m., with the announcement that the program would push through. Rain had been falling the night before (I’m going to stop myself from making a Mariah Carey Through The Rain reference right here), but siyempre that wasn’t enough to stop a bunch of queers from marching down the street. The gates swung open at noon, and before long, literally thousands upon thousands of the LGBTQ+ community flooded the complex.
Inside, booths and activities were aplenty: the schedule was filled with solidarity speeches, talks and film screenings at the Pride Speaks Hangouts Tent, and performances by Lady Gagita, Juan Miguel Severo, Oh! Flamingo, and Paolo Castro later in the evening, to name a few.
This year’s Metro Manila Pride March was attended by an estimated 77,000 people, more than three times the attendance of last year’s March.
However, as you’ve probably also heard, not everything at the Pride March was all rainbows and butterflies. Lack of foolproof signs and changing instructions for where to enter and exit spread confusion around the area. The rain wasn’t helping either. Before the last float even got to the first corner, the march needed to be cut short. There was also a point where people weren’t being let in because the stadium was over its capacity. There’s obviously a lot to improve in the coming years as interest in join the Pride March grows, and the organization has said that it’s always welcome to feedback and criticism. The day following the march saw some lashing tweets from some truly privileged masc4masc cis gay men (Shade rattle!). But here’s the reality: Metro Manila Pride is an organization run completely by volunteers. No one is paid, and only so many can take the time away from jobs to provide manpower for free.
Volunteers said that the money from donors and partners had not even been remitted yet. While there were definitely contingencies that were planned and implemented, the sheer number of people that showed up also exceeded expectations (the largest estimate was at 40,000). It goes without saying, but safety and security are paramount issues, especially at events like Pride.