"Why we discriminate
Yet we say love wins and we celebrate
We say no prejudice
Yet we turn our blind eye with injustice..."
Woven into Jake Zyrus' new Star Music single “Love Even If” is his message of letting love win despite all odds. It encapsulates all his "feels" so to speak that are relevant to the times, as he banners the rainbow flag at home next to his partner—registered nutritionist-dietitian and fitness coach Shyre Aquino.
Like some couples, Jake, a proud transman, spends these days tucked in away with Shy— "celebrating" Pride the simplest way how.
“We celebrate, yet, we be ourselves and keep going. Syempre, iba-iba tayo ng take, but for me, Pride Month, syempre it’s important. But I celebrate it just like every other day—by being myself," he told ABS-CBN Lifestyle at the online launch of his single. “Syempre, lagi kaming magkasama ng partner ko. Ang paborito kasi nya, Korean food—mga samgyupsal—so I cook for her, wine lang, and we celebrate."
At the launch, the recording artist spoke more on issues presently hounding the LGBTQIA+ community—bullying, transwomen joining beauty pageants, cancel culture becoming rampant, and more.
[related: Love Actually: Jake Zyrus On Building A Family With Fan-Turned-Fiancée Shyre Aquino]
"I still go through it hanggang ngayon, every day. I think lahat naman tayo, talagang araw-araw, hindi matatapos 'yan as long as public figure ka. Syempre hindi ko naman po mapipilit lahat na bullying is something na pwedeng makaapekto sa ibang tao emotionally pero lagi kong sinasabi na 'Gaano po ba kahirap magbigay ng respeto at kabaitan sa ibang tao?' 'Yun yung lagi kong tinatanong. 'Gaano ba kahirap 'yun? Bakit mas madaling mang-bully kesa mangrespeto?"
On cancel culture:
"We don't have the right to cancel someone. Kung nag-po-promote tayo ng love tapos kinansel natin yun, ano yung si-ne-send nating message? We promote equality tapos we hear a negative word, we cancel that someone. The thing is, we hear negative words towards LGBT, regarding racism, ganyan, pero we have to understand din na actually, lahat tayo pareho, lahat tayo nakakatanggap ng ganyan. But who are we to cancel someone? Kahit alam kong frustrating talaga minsan, we still don't have the right to do things like that. In fact, sana nga kung may nagsabing ganun, magsama-sama tayo para i-educate sya. Kung hindi pa rin nya maintindihan yun, hindi na natin probelma yun. Hindi na natin sya kawalan."
[related: In Focus: Catriona Gray And Her Years-Long Fight For Inclusivity]
On transwomen joining Miss Universe:
"The thing is like, tama naman yung sinabi ni Ms. Kevin Balot kasi actually, 'yun din yung point ko. Sabi nga nya, meron nang pageant para sa mga transgender women. Para sa akin, for example, nagpa-pageant ako and meron na talagang naka-assign na beauty pageant for us as well, it’s not that hinihiwalay mo yung sarili mo but also you have to realize the truth. Kailangan, bukas din yung utak mo sa katotohanan. I’m glad that actually she said that, it’s to educate din the transgender community na parang most of them na parang sobrang superior and everything, na parang 'No, just because we’re this, we’d be able to do this. Kailangan dun din kami, kailangan ganito rin kami.' No, I don’t think that’s right. That’s not real equality anymore. Maging kuntento tayo na meron na nga diba? Tama sya, prestigious yun. That’s as great as Miss Universe. Let’s be contented kasi kung tutuusin, meron tayo. No matter what, may ibibigay at ibibigay sa atin and that’s equality. Just because hindi ka pinasali dito, alam mo namang meron naman, nagkakagulo na lahat. Wala nang equality. Magulo na eh, and then you start a war towards something. So, nasaan na? Nasaan na yung equality dun? So, I agree, I actually agree with Ms. Kevin Balot. It’s right what she said, actually. I’m sure some transgender people will be like 'no,' pero sabi ko nga, ito yung opinion ko, hindi ko rin ipipilit."
His message for the LGBQTQIA+ community:
"Syempre, first of all, always be yourself but at the same time, syempre, ang gusto ko pong i-send na message ay be understanding of others as well. Kasi diba ang isa sa mga biggest issues hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas pero sa ibang bansa, sobrang tina-try natin na LGBT community to push for equality and everything? I just hope na while we’re doing that, sana i-open din natin yung eyes natin to understand others because we cannot force other people to actually accept all of us. Ang pagkakaintindi ko nalang sa ibang tao when they don't understand what we’re going through, is whether you don’t understand or you don’t accept the person, at least respect them."
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Banner image taken from Shy Aquino's Instagram account