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    Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Regina Layug Rosero

    Rainbows. Balloons. Music. Dancing. Happy hugs. Cheering. It was one of the most festive parties I had ever attended. I was holding my son in my arms, and every time he heard the music over the sound system, or drum beats in the distance, he swayed back and forth. Giggling, he told me over and over, “Mommy, let's dance!”

    We were at the Metro Manila Pride March, and we were there with our son.

    I can almost hear the comments now. “Hala, baka maging bakla yung anak mo!” “Bakit mo dinala dun? Baka kung ano makita niya dun.”

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    A lot of parents have dreams for their children. They might want their son to be a doctor, their daughter to be a lawyer. They might dream of walking their children down the aisle on their wedding day, of bouncing grandchildren on their knees.

    It took my husband and me five long years of trying before we got pregnant with Lucas, but long before he was born, we had our dreams for him too. We agreed that we wanted him to be smart but also kind. We wanted him to read a lot of books but also to kick up dirt and play in the streets. We wanted him to travel the world, meet people from different places, see how others live, and learn about history, music, art, and other cultures.


    We wanted him to be open-minded and sensible and to care about not just good grades but also have a thirst for knowledge beyond what you can learn in a classroom. We wanted him to be comfortable talking to anyone, from a tricycle driver to the CEO of a multinational company, from a childhood friend to someone he met five minutes ago. We wanted him to be comfortable with who he was, however, that turned out, and we wanted him to be comfortable talking to us about anything.

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    metro manila pride march free hugs
    “We wanted our son to be honest, brave, and kind.”
    PHOTO BY Walsh Ordoña Tripon

    Lucas is 2-and-a-half years old now, and I like to think we've been doing our best. Breast milk. Cloth diapers (at home, at least). Reading. Educational games. But one of the most important things we can do for him, I feel, is expose him to different stimuli. That way, he can absorb different things and understand, from a young age, that it's a big world and there are so many beautiful, mysterious, and amazing things and people in it.

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    We bring him to movies and book fairs, cosplay conventions and historical reenactments, malls, and museums, parks and playgrounds, board game nights, and play dates. And we make sure he meets different kinds of people.

    I brought him to my office, back when I was working for a health foundation, and we didn’t have a yaya. There, he met people with disabilities of all kinds, people of all ages, children with terminal illnesses, and youth leaders from all over the country.

    In my media work, I’ve brought him to shoots and event coverage, and he's met celebrity athletes, race car drivers, history buffs, and MMA fighters. I’ve often performed with a comedy group, and he's met writers, artists, costumers, cosplayers, actors, dancers, filmmakers, wrestlers, and programmers.

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    pride march marikina sports complex
    “I wanted my son to see people of different colors and shapes and sizes.”
    PHOTO BY Walsh Ordoña Tripon

    We brought our son to the Pride March, so he could meet people from the entire spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation and expression. We wanted him to see people dressing in diverse, colorful, and amazing ways, wearing feathers, headdresses, balloons, and rainbow flags.


    We wanted him to see men with long hair, women with short hair, men, and women being free to look the way they wanted, without fear or judgment. We wanted him to see that people are different, but different shouldn’t be scary, and that different can be so beautiful. We wanted him to see that human bodies, all of them, clothed or unclothed, draped in the colors of the rainbow or monochrome, are beautiful and that people should be able to do with their bodies as they see fit, according to what feels right and true to who they are.

    pride march philippines
    “We brought our son to the Pride March, so he could see that there are so many ways to live and to love and that nobody should be condemned for their choices.”
    PHOTO BY Regina Layug Rosero

    Our son is only a toddler, so he doesn’t understand yet that the people at Pride are people who have suffered abuse, discrimination, and hatred. He doesn’t know that many of the people there have been turned away by their families, that many of them have to love in secret, and that many of them have been kicked out of their homes. He doesn’t know that many of these people have been beaten up by their own parents, have been rejected by their church or their friends, and have been called many terrible things.

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    family pride march
    “We tell him that he will always be our son and that we will always love him.”
    PHOTO BY Marco Sumayao

    Every day, we say to our son that there are many kinds of people in the world, and it's completely okay to be different. We tell him that there are people who are scared and can't stand up for themselves, and if he can, he should try and help those who can’t help themselves. We tell him that he can love whomever he wants and however many people he wants.

    We went to Pride to give away hugs to those whose parents had shunned them, to those who felt lonely and scared, and to those who had to hide who they were and thought that the March was the only safe place. And we brought our son so he could see the power of love, the power of a simple hug, and the power of kindness between strangers.


    We brought our son to the Pride March to teach him love and acceptance, to teach him to be true to himself, and to be open about who he is.

    If all we can do is teach our son to love — selflessly, kindly, without judgment or condition — I think we will have done our jobs as parents.

    Regina Layug Rosero loves cats and her son Lucas. She likes rosé wine and has a burning need to write. And yes, she met her husband because of Star Wars.

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