PFIP’s 9th Anniversary and the 1st Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards Night

by Rocelle Aragon, edited by Robin Traballo

In furthering their commitment to build an industry that is safe and inclusive to LGBT+ professionals, the Philippine Financial & Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) launched the first Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards during their 9th Anniversary Gala.

Taguig, Philippines, October 28, 2022 – “We have dedicated ourselves to creating advancement opportunities for all… Together we can make a more inclusive Philippines,” says Rich An Cruz, the Filipino who leads IBM Business Services’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in ASEAN and Korea.

IBM Business Services, Inc. was named PRIDE Company of the Year, Manulife’s MBPS PROUD was named PRIDE Network of the Year, and Emerson Sr. Counsel Leo Almera PRIDE LGBT+ Leader of the Year at the 1st Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards, announced recently by the 80-member organization Philippine Financial & Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP).

The awarding took place at the organization’s 9th Anniversary Gala, keynoted by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, and attended by an estimated 500 LGBT+ leaders, team members, and senior executive allies from the finance, shared services, tech, and other industries.

DEI is a familiar buzzword among the Philippine offices of global corporations. But its local on-ground meaning is often lumped together with corporate citizenship. Meanwhile, Philippine public discussions of gender rarely consider the specific context of the workplace.

That has now evolved. Corporate recognition for DEI has taken a landmark step with the Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards, created and launched by PFIP. The winners topped a field of 14 finalists, each one a standout in LGBT+ corporate inclusion:

  • PRIDE LGBT+ Leader of the Year finalists: Christian Andrei Gabrino (Wells Fargo); Dennis John Paul Roda (JP Morgan Chase & Co.); Leigh Capule (HSBC Electronic Data Processing); and Myke Celis (Best Me Ever Consulting).
  • PRIDE Network of the Year finalists: EAGLE (IBM Business Services), PRIDE Network Manila (Chevron Holdings), TP PRIDE PH (Teleperformance), and Spectrum (TTEC).
  • PRIDE Company of the Year finalists: Accenture Inc., JP Morgan Chase & Co., and Northern Trust.

Awards were presented and finalists recognized by senior leaders from PFIP member companies, demonstrating full corporate support. Meanwhile, recipients and speakers represented their companies in vivid, spectacular ensembles, several in full drag. It was a powerful visual signal of the “whole self” concept at the heart of corporate DEI efforts, whether LGBT+, race, disability, or whatever makes us unique..

Beyond the Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards, the Gala also celebrated PFIP’s growing network of members and executive allies whose support has been invaluable. PFIP’s Board recognized its first set of BAHAGHARI Champions: The Global Chief People Officer of Bottling Investments Group of the Coca-Cola company, Drew Fernandez, for his career-long DEI work and personal example as an LGBT+ executive and a father; Quezon City Mayor, Hon. Joy Belmonte, for the city’s official support and her active sponsorship of the pioneering QC Gender Fair Ordinance; and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Philippines, for its continuing support of work to benchmark LGBT+ inclusion in the country.

Completing the evening was PFIP’s advocacy program, the Rainbow Youth Academy. PFIP Advocacy Co-Head Don Andrew Mendoza spoke movingly of growing up less fortunate and her success story as an LGBT+ professional; as he introduced 12 apprentices from around the country. The students joined Mendoza onstage and remotely, recognized as part of the next generation of LGBT+ professionals.

Member companies also renewed their commitments and welcomed 15 new members, including some from the manufacturing, healthcare, and power sectors.

Though serious, the Gala was far from somber. The red carpet exploded with countless other colors, and the celebration of Filipino LGBT+ excellence continued on and offstage. Performances were from all-Filipino, all-LGBT talent: star vocalists John Mark Saga and Sheryn Regis; young Tondo dance team Vivacious, soon to represent the country in Sydney; and the quartet of drag queens Aries Night, Naia, Shawarma, and O-A whose rousing opening kicked off the show. Work by LGBT+ visual artists was also exhibited as part of a fundraising sale to showcase queer artists and benefit PFIP’s Rainbow Youth Academy.

The PFIP Board and event committee thank the member companies; hosts Sean Ortega and Z Saldua from ABS-CBN Live, and prize donors Seda, Nestle, IHG Hotels, HandKraftPH, wine partner Wine Depot, and official beverage sponsor Coca-Cola.