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Bodies Split in Two: Contested Monsters and Queer Space in the Philippines

Part 1 Dissertation 2021
Ian Davide Bugarin
London Metropolitan University | UK
The dissertation gives voice to a voiceless monster and explores how colonization, gentrification and colonial myths have affected space for queer people in the Philippines.

As soon as you enter a home in the Philippines, you step into an intrinsic relationship between space and the supernatural. Traditional Nipa huts are still heavily influenced by supernatural beliefs. Yet, this influence is tainted with the legacy of Catholic colonialism, as Spanish colonizers shifted the meaning of these traditional myths in order to discredit Babaylans - women and queer leaders, accusing them of being monsters. Facing the brunt of discrimination queer people journeyed from the villages to the metropolitan densities, particularly Malate in Manila. The district became the Asian sex tourism capital, as well as a haven for queer people who revelled in the magical feeling of being able to reinvent themselves.

Malate has gone through waves of gentrification that have at their heart an agenda to prioritise weather, expatriate and Western gays. Just like
a shapeshifting monster, poorer queer people have created new ways of occupying and turning spaces into multi-functional sex selling zones
Filipinos live in a world of erasure and flux that necessitates living in the cracks between changing and creating new ways to live.

Ian Davide Bugarin

Ektoras Arkomanis
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