Finding LGBTQ (shorthand, “Queer”) literature in mainstream Philippine bookstores has become easier. Despite their availability, however, queer texts have yet to be considered a standard part of reading lists in schools. To bridge the disconnect between shelves and the classroom, GlobalGrace Philippines, in partnership with the Likhaan: UP Institute of Creative Writing, is opening applications for the webinar, Teaching Philippine Queer Literature: A GlobalGRACE Teacher Training Seminar for Senior High School and Collegiate Teachers of Literature in the Philippines. It will be held online via Zoom on December 9-10, 2021.

The early 1990s saw queer literature bursting into the Philippine literary scene with iconic anthologies like “Ladlad: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing and “Tibok: Heartbeat of the Filipino Lesbian”. Nowadays, we see a wider variety of genders, bodies, romantic arrangements, and sexualities not only on the page but also on the screen with the growing popularity of the Boys Love and Girls Love genres. As the Filipino public’s understanding of the queer experience grows, so does the importance of making queer literature accessible and intelligible.

The need to update reading lists also relates to calls to give space to contemporary texts alongside classics like Ibong Adarna and Rizal’s works. GlobalGrace Philippines Director J. Neil Garcia addresses the biggest issue at hand: “We recognize as a clear dilemma the absence of an institutional structure, in the Philippines’s national education system, to present and properly teach queer texts in the senior high school and early tertiary levels, in which such texts are mostly missing.” Educational spaces are still largely heteronormative, from the authors of selected readings to the characters represented in their narratives. This conditions students to regard queerness as the outlier, and thus queer persons, whether it is their classmate or themselves, as lesser. 

Teaching Philippine Queer Literature is part of the project “Making Lives Lovable: Digital and Literary productions of cultures of equality among LGBTQ young people in the Philippines.” The project has conducted national and community-based workshops, and has produced two books: “Busilak: New LGBTQ Poetry from the Philippines” and “Lamyos: New LGBTQ fiction from the Philippines,” published by the UP Press in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The seminar will make use of these materials as primary resources for its teaching modules.

Through its thirteen modules, the seminar equips educators with the knowledge and skills to select, interpret, and properly discuss queer literature. Discussions will explore the applications of such literature and its intersections with different areas of learning, including identity, history, religion, and culture. Aside from lectures, there will also be a sharing of pedagogical expertise, including teaching demos and usable lesson plans.

The seminar ultimately encourages educational institutions to make classrooms a safe space that fosters creativity and self-expression in all its forms–to put all students, in all their diversity, on equal footing. In such classrooms, students can cultivate gender-sensitive attitudes and imaginatively explore queer experiences within their proper contexts, as they do with all the texts in the current curriculum.

The discussion of these teaching modules will be conducted by an expert panel of queer literature professors:

  • Romulo Baquiran, Jr., Department of Filipino and Filipino Literature, UP Diliman
  • Ronald Baytan, Department of Literature, De La Salle University
  • Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Department of Humanities, UP Mindanao
  • John Iremil Teodoro, Department of Literature, DLSU
  • With special Participation by Nerisa Del Carmen Guevara, University of Santo Tomas, GlobalGRACE Philippines Early Career Researcher

*course outlines for the modules are available at pinoylgbtq.com.

Through its creative outputs and educational resources, the project contributes towards the Department of Education’s programs to develop creative writing and its progressive aims to mainstream SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) training in secondary education.

The webinar is FREE of charge. Interested applicants will need to send in the following for pre-registration:

  1. Letter of intent which should include a pledge that the applicant is willing to participate in a seminar for teaching Philippine queer literature.
  2. Recommendation letter from one’s school principal or college/department head.
  3. A brief, one- to two-paragraph bio-note.

Submissions should be sent via email to [email protected] with the subject “GG_Teaching Philippine Queer Literature_[SURNAME]” The documents must be complete and valid for the application to be considered.

Deadline for submissions is November 23, 2021, 11:59PM.

Please note that there are limited slots and pre-registration to the event is required. Participants will receive supplementary materials from our panel of experts, via email and/or snail mail. Certificates will also be issued to participants.

This webinar is co-sponsored by the Likhaan UP Institute of Creative Writing. For inquiries, you may email us at [email protected].

Our teachers can help the youth understand that queerness is a part of normal, daily life as much as equations and grammar. As they say, the school is a student’s second home. As we move into a more diverse and accepting Philippines, it is crucial that not only parents, but also educators are able to use our growing resource of LGBTQ literature.

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ABOUT GLOBALGRACE PHILIPPINES’S MAKING LIFE LOVABLE

Drawing from feminist and queer insights about the conditions of possibility for making life both livable and lovable, WP4 explores the ways that digital literacies and creative writing can be used to disclose forms of discrimination and stigma that LGBTQ young people face in the Philippines, and the personal consequences of discrimination on mental health and wellbeing. The aim is to create new opportunities and prospects for bringing together and mobilising such practices more effectively across class and generation to enable a shift from public cultures of tolerance to that of rights and recognition.