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The Philippines is a Southeast Asian archipelago nation on the Pacific Ocean. Bakla is the Filipino word for cross-dressing men or ‘gay;’ it is also traditionally known as ‘the third sex’ or ‘an effeminate man.’ Filipinos sometimes say hap-hap (half-half), balaki, lalaki, babae, or binabae when they are referring to a man who considers themselves as women or is identified as a man with feminine qualities. Men are expected to be married to a woman and have children. If they choose not to, then they are referred as a bakla. In addition, LGBT in the Philippines is known to be lesbian, gay, bakla, and tomboy. Today, many Filipino television shows feature cross-dressed men who host a show or star in a telenovela. Cross-dressers are mainly accepted in specific social classes especially if they are entertainers and celebrities. To their belief, “all art is to be judged and appreciated only for the experience its features produce in a suitably placed observer” (Davies 5). They are just trying to express their own unique style and aesthetic appreciation of homosexuality through their make-up, clothes, and knowledge. Transvestism, the act of dressing and being like the opposite sex, may seem like it is highly recognized and praised as people hear about the islands, however, the social stratification and aesthetic contexts are what makes the bakla community engaging and interesting.
The unique thing about the Philippines is that the male homosexuality there is accepted in society and ‘gay-friendly,’ yet they are not. Statistics show that “73% of the people surveyed that society should accept homosexuality,” oddly yet after changing the question, about 70% of the entire Philippines population believe that “the homosexuality community was immoral” (Mis). It is very weird to see that the Philippines accepts the gay community, yet, they are not considered moral. Compared to the other Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the Philippines has the highest percentage of moral acceptance towards homosexuals. Catholicism is widely spread in the country, so it would make sense that people do not accept gays but still many people want to accept homosexuality; “the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines stated the ‘church won’t tolerate same-sex marriage'” (Mosbergen). 80% of the population were Catholic which makes it seem that people are appreciating the aesthetic and vivid life styles the baklas have to offer. Because of these surveys and beliefs, the Philippines are imaged as a ‘gay-friendly’ country. Homosexuality acceptance in the Philippines is truly confusing yet an interesting topic people should look at. Still, it is clear to see the homosexuality, specifically the baklas, are progressing in being accepted in society publicly and morally. 
According to Davies, author of ‘The Philosophy of Art,’ “the best source of relevant information comes through observation of the other’s behavior” (136). Therefore, not only do people need to take in account of the majority of the population, but also the specific group of people affected by it. An International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission Filipino activist named Ging Cristobal stated that “there is high tolerance here, there’s not real acceptance” (Mosbergen). From their point of view, they do not feel like they are being really treated as fairly as the mass majority of the population claim they said to be. As I was growing up, I was taught from the Catholic Church and school that homosexuality should not be accepted morally. As I was having that thought, I saw Filipinos enjoying the TV shows with homosexual people hosting that show. I had always thought it was unusual because the religion I was taught and the pop culture of the Philippines was oddly mixed. Based on that, I noticed that people accept the homosexual community when it comes to entertainment and the media because they bring happiness and joy to the people, however when it comes to religion, they seem to not accept it at all because it goes against the Bible. 
In the modern days, the Philippines contains a lot of violence and negativity towards the transgender community in society; murder and hate crimes against trans were highly reported since 2008. Of the other Asia countries, the Philippines has the second highest number of murders of trans people. The Philippine’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, is known to have conservative ideas on crime and is very opposed to drug users and drug dealers, and he even allowed forces to kill them if they are caught using any drugs; he openly stated that he was against gay marriages even though he claimed that he has nothing against them. With the president against gay-marriage, it is going to be extremely hard for the community to be accepted country-wide because they are scared of his power. As part of the third world party, there are thoughts and beliefs that the country has complicated issues on, unlike the United States. The LGBT’s rights is one of the complicated issues because there are “no clear rights for either spouse in same-sex and transgender-heterosexual partnerships regarding hospital and prison visitations, making medical and burial decisions, transfer of joint properties, custody of children, insurance benefits, and other privileges, accorded to married and unmarried opposite-sex couples.” Also, the LGBT community share that they “are treated unequally in a whole host of ways in comparison to heterosexual married couples” (Mosbergen). Therefore, it is really difficult to truly see if the bakla community is tolerant in the Philippines from the government and people who do tolerant homosexuality.
In the media, TFC, the Filipino Channel, contains numerous of shows like ‘Showtime,’ ‘I Can See Your Voice,’ and ‘Ganda Gabi Vice’ that stars openly gay people. Vice Ganda and Allan K are seen as two of the many influential homosexual TV stars that the Filipino community appreciate and enjoy seeing. It is possible that people do not appreciate them for their “identifications of their contents” which leads them to be judged and not accepted in society (Davies 109). When it comes to these stars, they show compassion and humor in these shows which makes them a lot more accepting in society compared to other homosexuals in the country. They also are richer and active in the LGBT community that leads them to be well known. Like Americans, the LGBT community is trying to have more people accept their group and not be shy about themselves. As Filipinos are coming to the United States, people are spreading the Filipino cultures all over the country. Social media celebrities in the United States such as Bretman Rock and Patrick ‘Patrick Starrr’ Simondac influence people, especially the Filipino community, to be a lot more open about themselves and be confident. The common mind-statement they are educating the public is that anyone is beautiful no matter what gender they are. Their beliefs are basically “the creation of an artwork depends on the treatment of its identifying elements” (Davies 88). They are feeling more and more loved by society as people are seeing them as human now. Bretman and Patrick are helping and inspiring people to open up about their sexuality; “the emotions displayed by them can alert us to things that they have noticed about the environment that we have so far overlooked but that are no less relevant for ourselves” (Davies 131). So, their ideals are improving the community through their makeup and comedic statements and posts in social media where the majority of Americans are looking at.
It is not a secret that modern society in the Philippines and America are working slowly to have society accept and understand the LGBT communities. The similarities between the baklas’ social stratification and art are that people are going to have different point of views no matter what. When a person sees a photograph of the ocean, some people will not consider it as art because its something that people see every day, and others would believe it is a masterpiece and very beautiful because it holds a deep value and meaning behind it. With the LGBT communities, some people are going to be against it and not consider them as part of society, and some are very accepting towards them. The baklas in the Philippines are like a “layer of symbolic content” (Davies 186). They are were born with strict culture, traditions, and religion in a third world country. Throughout history, even before the Spaniards took over, this community has been trying their best to be accepted in society. They have been entertaining and inspiring people via media, but still, there are barriers that society created to not be part of them. Other than the negative side they are receiving, the baklas are a unique community that are aspiring people to speak up, spread love, and show the beauty within. 

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