“We are celebrating because at work, we don’t have to say sorry for our sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. We’re proud of ourselves and don’t have to worry about what others think of us.”
— Sam Pragoso aka Samanthastic
Lucky are those who have found the community that truly, fully accepts and cares for them.
“In our life, there will always be people who will bring you down, but always remember that there are more who will lift you up and those are the people you should focus on,” says Ports Portento, also known as the fabulous The Portia, the drag queen persona they created after being inspired by the TV show Rupaul’s Drag Race.
“I have been following the show ever since it launched, and I was inspired by all these gorgeous men in wigs,” Portento relates.
Portento is able to express themselves and let The Portia shine in their place of work – an important matter especially in a country where Portento believes is not as accepting as it thinks it is.
“People think that the Philippines is an accepting country, but no, it’s just tolerating. Because of the toxic masculinity culture here in our country, people are afraid to come out because of these perceived consequences,” Portento laments.
The Portia was recently featured in TELUS International Philippines’ Pride event “Ready, Set, Drag”.
TIP supports the LGBTQIA+ community by providing safe avenues and vast opportunities for its team members to express their true selves.
“Ready, Set, Drag” is an event across all TIP’s seven location sites that encourages spontaneity, expression, and creativity of one’s true sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE). Participating team members are invited to join and perform in drag and encouraged to incorporate as much artistry and positivity in their performance.
“TELUS International Philippines has been very supportive when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community,” Portento says, as he represented TELUS International Digital Solutions and Support teams.
“Gender neutral restrooms, Pride parades and marches, and no discrimination policies are some of the examples of how the company is supporting us. We are treated as equals. And because of that, I am more than grateful for the company and what they have provided me and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Another fierce queen who joined the event was Jamie Amorante aka Eva Prada, representing TIP McKinley West. Like the cold, sweet saging con yelo with evaporada milk that inspired her drag persona, Eva Prada brings refreshing inspiration and laughter as she performed during her company’s Pride event.
For Amorante, “Pride is a celebration of being your true and authentic self. It is an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate our differences. But we cannot also forget that it is a reminder that we’re still on our journey fighting for equality that we all genuinely deserve.”
“We cannot deny that discrimination is still rampant in our country. It’s sad that we’re just being tolerated but we’re not being fully accepted in our country. This is the very reason why we need to be more visible, to be stronger than ever and support the passing of the SOGIE Bill as soon as possible,” Amorante emphasizes.
Sam Pragoso or Samanthastic seconds, adding that Pride is a celebration of her optimism, courage, and confidence in showing who she really is.
“We are celebrating because at work, we don’t have to say sorry for our sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. We’re proud of ourselves and don’t have to worry about what others think of us,” says the CSE Mobility and Corporate EPP Teams representative.
Pragoso is fortunate she has found a community that accepts her like how her family accepted her. “They always supported me even up to this day,” she shares.
“There are many reasons to honor our LGBTQIA+ community, and one way we’ve chosen to celebrate together is with drag,” says Warren Tait, TIP vice president of facilities, brand, and culture and the executive sponsor of Spectrum, the company’s employee resource group for LGBTQIA+ community.
Tait continues, “Drag is where people come alive and stories are made. A person turns into a character without any fear of judgement. We foster a very inclusive, diverse, and caring culture at TELUS International Philippines and we support our team members.”
While a supportive, loving community is a gift that a person can receive, Portento, Amorante, and Pragoso believe the gift one can give to themselves is acceptance.
“Self-acceptance is the first step, and the longest journey always starts with a single step,” says Portento.
Amorante adds, “Just love yourself first. You’ll be surprised, the next thing you know, people around you will appreciate you for who you are.”