#DearSurvivor Pride 2024: Celebrating Queer Joys and Empowerment through Collective Care and Vogue

Here is an inspiring thought piece contributed by one of our dedicated volunteers. In this article, "Alex" guides us through their #DearSurvivor PRIDE journey as a volunteer facilitator. Through their perspective, we explore the queer joys, empowerment, and the profound impact of collective care and solidarity.

On June 15, Lunas Collective commemorated this year's Pride Month with its flagship event, #DearSurvivor: Pride Edition. It's a safe space for queer folk and allies, where they quite literally took center stage. Along with its signature sharing circles, this #DearSurvivor partnered with  Filipino Ballroom Community leaders, Father Misha dela Blanca and up-and-coming legendary trailblazer Mother Xyza Mizrahi, and concluded with a vogue jam.

#DearSurvivor was held in the We are Shapeshifters Movement and Gatherings Studio at the First United Building in Escolta, Manila. True to its name, the two-room dance studio that day was transformed with a pride flag and other decorations in queer colors to welcome over 30 participants. This number marks the biggest face-to-face run of #DearSurvivor yet.

Photo Credit: SPARK STUDIOS, De La Salle - College of St. Benilde

As a volunteer facilitator, it was comforting to see circles of people sitting casually on the floor as they shared lunch—volunteers and participants alike, friends and strangers alike. Everybody stayed seated and cozy during the opening remarks by Lunas Collective’s Founder, Sabrina Gacad and warm welcome remarks from Father Misha dela Blanca. This was followed by a Safety Orientation by the organization’s Helpline and Project Coordinator, Janine Del Mundo. Before the activities started, they also played a video message of solidarity from Commissioner Faydah Dumarpa from the Commission on Human Rights.

After the welcoming portion, we got to the heart of the event—the sharing circles. Participants gathered in small groups, each assigned to a uniquely creative space, thanks to the support of Belg Belgica and Espacio Creativo Escolta, Ziv Rei Alexi, and Arts Serrano and One Zero | MNL | Design. 

Being a trained facilitator for these conversations, I'm aware of the kaleidoscope of emotions that they could bring about. With tissues and a few discussion questions prepared, my partner documenter and I made sure our participants felt comfy and started the discussion. 

Sharing the Care
Each time I facilitate a sharing circle discussion, I find myself grateful for the diversity of perspectives, fears, and hopes the group shares with one another. It's through these that I'm able to learn from and connect with different people, which nurture my practice as a responder. 

For this conversation in particular, I was in awe of all the different ways one's sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) can color their experiences in aspects of life. These labels carry with them implications, many times making queer people vulnerable to gender-based violence (GBV) and othering. 

Yet beyond these experiences of GBV, Lunas Collective believes that queerness is about discovering and living one's most authentic life, which deserves to be celebrated. So together, we shared stories about intimacy, sexual health, work, and even growing older as queer people, as well as the tears and laughter that come with them. 

And just as we shared our vulnerabilities, we also discovered our collective strength. While events for queer folk and survivors of GBV typically bring people together to talk about their shared struggles, an often overlooked aspect of their healing journeys is joy and lighthearted shared experiences that help unapologetically bring out their authentic selves. 

Photo Credit: SPARK STUDIOS, De La Salle - College of St. Benilde

By the end of the discussion, the participants wrote messages for their fellow survivors and allies, and they put this up on the studio mirror for everybody in the big group to read as we reconvened for snacks. 

Following the snack break, Mother Xyza Mizrahi from Ballroom Culture PH enlightened the group about the rich history of the ballroom community as a safe haven for self-expression. She then led the group in an exhilarating vogue jam session. Members of Ballroom Culture PH joined Mother Xyza in sharing their art and their passion for ballroom with #DearSurvivor participants and volunteers. They demonstrated how movement and empowerment intertwine to hold space for healing in this vibrant cultural space.

So on that day, we shed more light on queer joy through movement.

The Art of Voguing
Mother Xyza talked about how people in the Black and Latino queer communities in New York, excluded from positions of power in their communities, families, and the workplace and whose identities were erased by mainstream media, gave birth to ballroom. They came together after hours to discover and showcase their own power via subversive dance movements that were inspired by fashion photo shoot poses, which they called "voguing." This caught on fast in the 1980s and created an international movement, which is now making its way to the mainstream in the Philippines.

Photo Credit: SPARK STUDIOS, De La Salle - College of St. Benilde

Today, ballroom culture continues to liberate people in the queer community, and sometimes even outside of it. The movement hyperbolizes gender as performance and gives everybody the opportunity to express their most flamboyant, authentic selves, whatever that may look like. This way, ballroom reminds people time and time again about the autonomy they have over their bodies and their stories. 

The vogue jam began with basic tutorials as we slowly got into the groove and awkwardly watched ourselves in the mirror. Yet after a while, the speaker started blaring punchy music with hard basslines. Through the increasingly maarte movements, we discovered parts of ourselves that we rarely get the chance to discover, much less bring out around other people. 

Photo Credit: SPARK STUDIOS, De La Salle - College of St. Benilde

By the time the sun had set, the vogue jam ended and the program was officially concluded soon after. Yet the notes from survivors stayed on the mirror and I left the venue feeling a little more in touch with my queerness and the community. 

Regardless of where we might be from or where we're going, events like #DearSurvivor Pride stand as a testament to the importance of finding comfort and pleasure in one's own skin. Chances like that might not be available everywhere, especially for the LGBTQ+ individuals, but I like to believe that a vibrant and welcoming community has always existed—and will continue to exist—for as long as queer people do.

I'm grateful that the queer community can grow more connected and empowered through events like #DearSurvivor. Even beyond Lunas Collective, it was supported by the UP Center for Women's and Gender Studies, EMpower - The Emerging Markets Foundation Ltd,  and The Asia Foundation

Everybody was brought together with the help of our partner organizations, Aromatic and Asexual Support PH, GALANG Philippines, UP Community Development Circle, Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network, Commission on Human Rights, and LakanBini.

And of course, none of the memories we made would have been possible without the spaces of We are Shapeshifters, Espacio Creativo Escolta, Ziv Rei Alexi, and One Zero | MNL | Design, and the refreshments and freebies from First United Building Corporation, the Kula Press, SogieLane, and the Kabataan Community Health Advocacy Team (KaCHAT).

#DearSurvivor 2023 and our Practice of Radical Love and Care to End GBV

The 18-Day campaign to End Violence Against Women is a vital period of activism for gender justice, and we at Lunas Collective are sharing the heartfelt highlights of our work promoting radical love and care for all.

Photo Credit: Tiara Imperial

Our work in the 18 days of activism demonstrates our commitment to establishing safe spaces and making an inclusive world free from gender based violence and discrimination a reality. where each and everyBODY can celebrate and express their diverse pleasures!

Our involvement commenced on November 24, as we participated in the #Safecity Caravan to End VAW led by Bayi Inc. and Safecity. As a partner organization, Lunas Collective joined the call for the urgent need for safe spaces for all. Our Helpline Manager, Joey Bernabe, co-hosted this event while our Director of Communications, Ria Landingin, joined the solidarity ride from the Quezon City Memorial Circle to the Commission on Human Rights.


Photo Credit: Michael Varcas, Philippine Star

The event drew the presence of influential figures such as Senator Risa Hontiveros, Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Atty. Richard Palpal-latoc, UN Women Philippines Country Programme Coordinator Rosalyn Mesina, along with numerous organizations, advocates, bikers, VESPA riders, and government champions.

Photo Credit: Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Following this impactful event, Lunas Collective was honored to attend the reception hosted by the British Embassy on November 30, 2023, commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence.

Photo Credit: British Embassy Manila

This gathering served as a platform for reflection, uniting guests from various women's rights organizations, activists, private sector, and government officials to collectively ponder on our progress and the continued journey towards a safer and fairer nation.

Photo Credit: British Embassy Manila

We also participated in UP-CIFAL's forum and fair titled "Leading Safe Spaces: The Role of Good Governance in Ending Violence Against Women." Here, the discourse revolved around the current status of GBV in the Philippines, existing laws, policies, and the crucial role of good governance in eradicating gender-based violence.

Our Founder, Sabrina Gacad, contributed significantly to the panel discussions, emphasizing the importance of care work, collective action, and the challenges faced by non-profits and civil society organizations in community building and organizing efforts.

Photo Credit: UP-CIFAL

The pinnacle of our campaign was our annual flagship event, Dear Survivor, with the theme, "Canvas of Courage: Ang Love and Care, Dasurv!" This poignant gathering brought together people with lived experiences of gender based violence, storytellers, and allies to find safety and care through our community. The event is solidarity in action, supporting participants in making meaningful connections through private sharing circles facilitated by our dedicated volunteers and through a healing-with-art workshop guided by Teacher Liz Rañola. Here, survivors and allies coalesced in a safe space, nurturing one another's vulnerabilities and finding a semblance of healing through art.

Photo Credit: Tiara Imperial

Watch the highlights from this event here: #DearSurvivor 2023

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Rappler and Pia Ranada for featuring our Founder and the Collective on the "Be the Good" series' second episode. This platform provided us with an invaluable space to amplify our work and encourage people to get involved in providing survivors a safe platform to share their stories and reclaim their power towards healing, safety, and justice.

Screengrab from: Rappler

As we reflect on these impactful moments, we see a vibrant tapestry painted by our community of care—a tapestry woven with courage, care, and unwavering commitment. Together, we continue our journey towards a world where safety, pleasure, and equity prevail for all.

Lunas Collective and Roots of Health Mount #DearSurvivor 2022: Communities of Care for GBV Survivors and Allies

In a historic first, the #DearSurvivor event took place simultaneously in Quezon City, Metro Manila and in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and online, on December 3, 2022, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

We organized this event in collaboration with Roots of Health, bringing together GBV survivors and their allies together in a hybrid format onsite and with a group virtually joining the event on Zoom, and emphasizing the power of community and healing.

Our volunteers, together with participants of the Feminist Boot Camp and Feminist Leadership training, facilitated private sharing circles – which created a safe space for survivors and allies to connect, share experiences, and strengthen bonds of solidarity.

A movement workshop, led by Philline, provided a creative and empowering outlet for expressing emotions and experiences.

“As a survivor myself, this was the space and collective that I’ve always wished for within the Philippines that I never thought would happen,” Philline said, emphasizing how important safe spaces like this are. “There is so much care that we can cultivate and nurture and also relearn through all kinds of acts, from art to movement to conversations,” she added.

#DearSurvivor 2022 was made even more significant by the presence and heartfelt messages of support from allies and partners.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to:

  • Roots of Health
  • Bayi, Inc.
  • CHR Gender Equality and Women's Human Rights Center
  • Youth Voices Count
  • IDEALS, Inc.
  • Sagip Babae Foundation
  • Asian Medical Students' Association-Philippines
  • MP Pictures for their exceptional video production

This event was supported by the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc., the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) through the Women’s Rights, Action, and Advocacy Project (WRAAP).

#DearSurvivor 2022 showcased the strength of solidarity, providing a platform for survivors to heal and share their stories. It demonstrated the power of collective action and the significance of creating safe spaces for survivors to come forward.

Watch the highlights from this event here: #DearSurvivor 2022


#DearSurvivor 2022 Pride Edition: Celebrating Individual Power and Collective Pleasure

We at Lunas Collective marked an empowering and historic moment this Pride Month with its first-ever #DearSurvivor: #PrideMonth Edition on June 28, 2022.

The event focused on creating a safe space for queer individuals and allies to come together and discuss stories of resilience in the face of gender-based violence – while also celebrating the pleasures that make each person unique.

This #PrideMonth edition highlighted the importance of care, compassion, and support in helping individuals take the first step toward healing, justice, and empowerment.

The event was held in collaboration with esteemed partners including the PAP LGBT Psychology Special Interest Group, the University of the Philippines Department of Psychology, UP Center for Women's Studies Foundation, Inc., and UP Center for Women's and Gender Studies.

Our event brought together a distinguished panel of speakers who lent their voices to the cause:

  • Bea Torre - Chairperson at PAP LGBT Special Interest Group, Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Department of Psychology, and Qualitative Analyst at Lunas Collective, served as the host, guiding the event with wisdom and compassion.
  • Brenda Alegre - A board member at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association - Asia (ILGA) and the Society of Trans Women of the Philippines (STRAP), as well as a Gender Studies Teacher at the University of Hong Kong, shared her insights on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQI+ community.
  • Nina Araos - Qualitative Data Analyst at Lunas Collective and a Graduate Student majoring in International Development and Policy Studies in Tokyo, Japan, brought a global perspective to the discussion.
  • Lakan Umali - A talented writer and graduate student based in Metro Manila, added a creative and reflective touch to the dialogue.
  • Philline - A Movement Artist and Embodiment Teacher, showcased the power of art and expression in healing and celebrating one's identity.
  • Brian Baretto - SOGIE Specialist for the Ateneo De Manila University Gender Hub, Lead Volunteer for Flourish by LoveYourself, and a Drag Artist and Host known as Clea T, embodied the diversity and strength of the LGBTQI+ community.

#DearSurvivor, an initiative born out of empathy and solidarity, has been a sanctuary for survivors of gender-based violence to share their stories and heal.

We introduced this virtually in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, it took a hybrid form, incorporating on-the-ground activities during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a period running from November 25 to December 10 of that year.

The #DearSurvivor: #PrideMonth Edition was a testament to the strength, resilience, and unity of the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. It served as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, healing and pleasure can be found, and that together, we can overcome challenges and celebrate love and identity.

Watch the online streaming here: #DearSurvivor PRIDE 2022



Reflecting on #DearSurvivor 2021: An Overview of Gender Based Violence Discussion and Safe Spaces

Our #DearSurvivor 2021 event was an insightful online discussion shedding light on gender-based violence (GBV) and the need for safe spaces and support for survivors.

Understanding how to create safe spaces as a bystander is crucial. It's about caring for survivors, helping them start their journey towards healing and justice, which isn't easy given the challenges they face.

We believe in empathy and support as the key to empowering survivors. Sharing experiences of GBV, discrimination, or abuse is tough, and seeking help can be even tougher.

Sabrina Gacad, Founder of Lunas Collective, covered topics on GBV, emphasizing the importance of active listening, understanding, and providing support to survivors.

Participants in private sharing circles found solidarity in discussing their experiences and shared struggles.

During the panel discussion, it was clear that harassment can happen to anyone, anywhere. The focus was on not making excuses for perpetrators and intervening as bystanders in public spaces using tactics like distraction, delegation, delay, direct action, and documentation.

The discussion also highlighted the Safe Spaces Act in the Philippines, showing the legal support available for survivors everywhere.

DearSurvivor 2021 was a powerful reminder of the need to understand, support, and take action against GBV. Let's continue these conversations and efforts to create a world free from gender-based violence.

Watch the online streaming here: #DearSurvivor 2021


Empowering Voices, Uniting Allies: Reflecting on our #DearSurvivor 2020 Event

Our journey as Lunas Collective took a significant stride in creating awareness and fostering positive change during the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

On December 5, 2020, we orchestrated our inaugural #DearSurvivor even – a virtual space where survivors and allies converged to delve into the impact of gender-based violence, discrimination, and the critical need for survivor-centered responses.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which happened from November 25 to December 10, mobilized global communities to combat one of humanity's pressing issues: violence against women.

On our founding year, we seized the opportunity to provide a platform for survivors to share their experiences while allies extended their unwavering support.

Our event showcased an exceptional lineup of speakers and contributors. The courageous Rosem Morton shared her own journey, inspiring attendees to embrace their narratives and commence the healing process. Sabrina Gacad, our Founder and a Professor of Women and Development Studies at UP Diliman, steered conversations on privilege, intersectionality, and crafting empathetic responses to gender-based violence.

Sabrina led participants through a transformative breathing and connecting ritual, shifting from emotional discussions to a space of unity and empowerment. This unique approach fostered a sense of togetherness, reassuring participants that their struggles are not solitary, reinforcing their pursuit of justice.

In addition to our esteemed speakers, a dedicated panel contributed significantly to the event's success. Shebana Alqaseer, co-founder of the Young Feminists Collective, emphasized gender and human rights. Danna Aduna, a volunteer manager of Lunas Collective since its inception in March 2020, offered valuable insights. Ellie De Castro, a National Geographic Explorer and archaeologist, discussed safer research spaces, while Viola Torres, handling gender-sensitive psychosocial assistance at the UP Center for Women's and Gender Studies, contributed her expertise.

The collaborative support of esteemed partners such as Australia Global Alumni, FamiLigtas, UP Center for Women's and Gender Studies, and many others elevated the impact of our #DearSurvivor event, solidifying its position as a catalyst in the fight against gender-based violence.

At Lunas Collective, we remain dedicated to advocating for a world free from violence and discrimination. Our inaugural #DearSurvivor event marked a significant stride towards this vision. By establishing a platform for voices to resonate, stories to be shared, and healing to begin, we've made a monumental move towards a safer, more equitable world for all.

Key insights from our #DearSurvivor event, visualized by Claudine Delfin:

Privilege Walk
Participants examined their personal privileges through a virtual check-in.

Some challenges related to experiences of gender based violence included the survivors’ distrust in the system, highlighting the importance of communities and allies in providing essential support.

The private sharing circles brought forth keywords like guilt, fear, low self-esteem, emphasizing the need for empathetic listening and empowering survivors.

Another key insight in the sharing circles was survivors’ need for empathetic listening and empathy – emphasizing community building and recognizing survivors' strength, and the role of allies in supporting survivors and letting them reclaim their space.

As part of the closing activity, some participants and panel members gave their words of affirmation, starting with the phrase, “Dear Survivor.”


We at Lunas Collective remain committed to championing change, amplifying voices, and building a world where every individual thrives without fear or discrimination.


Watch the online streaming here: #DearSurvivor 2020