MANILA, PHILIPPINES — What is it like to have to leave your country to be able to feel at home? Last June 23, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in partnership with the Filipino LGBT Europe Foundation, MUJER LGBT, and ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, held a screening for a film that explored that exact journey — Tulipa.
Tulipa directed by filmmaker Rhadem Musawah, was shown at the Alliance Française de Manille Theatre last week. The documentary explores the stories, struggles, and aspirations of the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community, featuring four members of the community who have managed to find the freedom to be who they are and love who they love by moving to the Netherlands.
In the film, they don’t just examine what it’s like to live as themselves in the Netherlands, but their hopes and fight for a kinder and more open space for the LGBTQIA+ community in the Philippines as well.
“This film is a story of our Filipino LGBT community in diaspora, that despite all benefits they enjoy in the Netherlands, there is still this longingness of wanting to come back to a safer and inclusive Philippines, thus the fight for assertion and human rights continues even if they are not in the motherland,” said Musawah in his welcoming remarks during the screening.
He also touched upon the significance of the film’s title and how it represents the community they made this documentary for. “Why Tulipa? It is a local dialect for tulips that blooms bright with their diverse colors every June to August in the Netherlands… And just like our Filipino LGBT community, tulips’ origin came from other countries. It’s almost like it went on a journey to the Netherlands to find a new place where it can shine the brightest. A place it can call home.”
Following the screening, there was a forum called #SOGIEForward composed of a panel of SOGIE experts. In the discussion, they reflected on the film and what it means to be a Filipino migrant who not only plays a crucial role in the economy of the Philippines but also in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights back home where the community doesn’t have the freedom and security that diaspora Filipinos have.