The LGBT Community prepares a “reverse-forum”, a hack for the 2016 Elections debates:

by Brian Tenorio / Chair, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce



  • The media, various forum-organizing bodies, and the public have lost control of the fora and debates.
  • The control now is with the candidates on which channels they want to attend — channels they can manage and sometimes produce themselves.
  • The LGBT community creates the “reverse-forum format” for election fora and debates via their upcoming #LGBTvotePH (Saturday, Feb 13 2016 at Green Sun, Makati)
  • The candidates don’t answer the questions. The candidates ask the questions.
  • This format is more consultative and becomes an activity in listening and understanding–more interactive and more productive in terms of forming policy and ideas, while consulting communities.


We have all lost control of our fora and debates. The media and our public do not have control of what questions we want and need answered. We all now rely on managed statements from our candidates that they course through channels that they manage too. That is not good for a democracy, but it is expected of elections.

That is not good for us because what we get are half truths and sometimes feel good statement that make us feel good now but won’t mean a commitment for the future. The answers can’t all be “world peace”.

And lately from the last several weeks and months, from conversations with friends and allies from the media, academic institutions, and the private sector, we are all in a cloud of frustration from our candidates. When invited to high level forums and debates, our candidates keep these organizers hanging and more often decline last minute. On more unfortunate occasions they confirm their participation only a week before the event and then bail out on the last minute. This happens to even larger and more prominent orgs and even to the most prolific news agencies in the country.

Kumbaga sa relationships at panunuyo at panliligaw, hindi lang it’s complicated, it’s malabo pa. At paasahinin ka pa.

So the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce and our friends and allies from the LGBT community in the country have developed a new model–an approach that is more applicable to these times and turn of social behavior. Babaliktarin namin ang format ng public debates at ng mga forum. Hindi na kami ang magtatanong at ang mga candidates ang sasagot.

We are inviting all our candidates to come and show up. No need to review the issues thoroughly with your policy teams. We shall present to you the questions and at the same time walk you through our opinions and ideas. Let us figure this out together. Because who understands LGBT issues more than we do, the LGBT? Kayo na ang magtanong, kami na ang sasagot.

We shall do this together. Of all marginalized sectors and minorities in this country, the LGBT population probably knows best how it feels to be put on the spot, in the firing line, and sometimes even the occasional punchline. Kaya dapat sa atin na manggaling ang pagiging compassionate and understanding. Let’s treat our candidates like persons because we want to be treated like persons too. So with our new format, wala nang nakasalang na kandidato sa firing line. Hindi na natin silang hihintaying magkamali ng sagot. Together, tayo na ang magbubuo ng mga sagot. Pag-usapan natin ang mga issues na ito together because one person does not make a nation. We–all of us–make a nation. And our future president needs our help.

So by this new format, we are looking for a president who knows how to listen and understand. Genuine and authentic at talagang may tunay na malasakit.

So, to our candidates, we shall see you on February 13. No need to prepare your answers. In fact, even better, come with your questions and we shall look for solutions and answers together. Because that is how we build a nation.

We do not need a hero. No one person will have all the answers.  We can do this together. Candidates in our forum, #LGBTvotePH, you ask the questions, we shall answer. This new approach for presidential debates is the contribution of the LGBT Community to the 2016 Philippine elections

Delivered during the #LGBTvotePH PressCon on Feb 2 at Anu’man Kitchen+Pub, Pasig City

I felt very upset because this is not what we want to happen with our presidential candidates. The discussion should not be under the control of the candidates. It should be under the control of media and the public. Not media only. Not the public only. But media and the public. That’s how a democracy works.

So I thought, how do we get these candidates to come and make them commit? Make them do this and make them do that? And make sure that they have their answers correct. And then I realized that this is exactly  the kind of antagonistic behavior that we do not want to perpetuate especially coming from the LGBT Community. I thought that of all the communities in our society, the LGBT community must be the one to lead and stand for a compassionate approach to issues. We cannot be antagonistic and these candidates should not be in a firing line and we cannot be all up in arms and upset because these candidates said the wrong things. It cannot be candidates avoiding answering questions because they don’t have the best ideas on what to do. We shall do thiis together. The LGBT community will help you.