By Mariel Abanes
There are always two sides of the coin, and the same principle also proves true to people. For human rights advocate Aranna Laine Pardilla, she describes how she’s living a dual-faceted personality. “Laine as a human rights advocate is someone who steps out of her comfort zone and put other people’s interests before her own. Meanwhile, Laine as a student is actually more reserved and introverted. I prefer to keep my thoughts because I’m super shy,” she explains. Despite the obvious contrast, this isn’t saying that this is ‘her’ per se—it only applies to the roles she’s taking on in her daily life. And while these said roles require her to be this and that depending on the situation, the real Laine is out and proud about who she is.
Laine is gay.
And Laine is also smart. Laine fights for social issues such as matters involving the LGBTQ+ community. Laine is passionate in life and her causes. Laine is sporty. Laine eyes to be in law school in the near future. Laine is a lot more other things, and she isn’t going to be boxed in society’s criticizing standards just because of her sexual identity.
Like you, she’s just a normal student trying to graduate in college. But growing up in the country’s conservative culture, she used to feel different. “Since I came from a Christian environment, I grew up thinking that my existence is a sin,” the Philosophy major shares. “A lot of my childhood was spent thinking that I could force myself to be straight.”
But growing up in this generation has its advantages, too. With more people openly expressing their individualities and identities, especially on social media, coping followed suit. “After I had accepted that there’s nothing wrong if I’m gay, the internet and YouTube was the most accessible avenue for me to learn a lot about LGBTQ+ issues. There were several popular gay and lesbian YouTubers who talked about their experiences—many of which I could relate to.” This also arose her will to stand up against discrimination, and the 20-year-old started reaching out and joining human rights causes. She’s now the Punong Babaylan of UP Babaylan, the State U’s premier LGBT students' support and advocacy group.
This fight for human rights is arduous and long, and Laine admits that hard times can also get the best of her beliefs. But giving up is never one of her options. So no matter the struggle, her group remains positive and puts preaching into actions—reaching out to people to educate and raise awareness on the LGBTQ+ struggle.
“What keeps the fire burning for me is when I see the help UP Babaylan is able to give to members of the LGBTQ+ community—particularly the youth. For instance, there was that one time wherein an SHS student who identified as a transwoman came to our tambayan with her father, who is a fratman, looking for a support group. She made me feel inspired and it affirmed that even though advocacy work may have trying times, it was moments like these that made it worth the struggle,” the youth leader relates.
Her ultimate dream? To live in a world where no one is discriminated based on their sex and gender. Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve, as a popular book quote goes. And as long as there are people like Laine who continue to voice out and fight for what they truly believe in, impossibility is out of question.
Watch Laine star in our 18th anniversary campaign #ChalkGen18 as part of this year's Chalk Bright Young Manila:
ALSO READ: #ChalkGen18: Meet The 18 Individuals Of This Year's Chalk Bright Young Manila
Photographed by Stephen Capuchino
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Madel Asuncion
Grooming by Lleoni Galang of Makeup Design Academy
Hair by Sam Corbillon of Triple Luck Brow and Nail Salon
Clothes by Forever 21