From the One Growling from a Corner in the Dark: Metro Manila Bear Culture and the Pandering to Patriarchy


  • Jose Santos P ARDIVILLA University of the Philippines Diliman


LGBT community, marginalization, social spaces, identity


The gay scene in Manila is hairy, not in the sense of hirsuteness, but in that of the strands interlocking gender, size, social status, and economic class that foreground identity politics. This paper on particular bear clusters of Manila highlights the manifestations of varied attempts of delineation within LGBT. The gay bears of Manila, consisting of burly men with a fascination for perceived manliness and the muscular, hedge identity within a marginalized sector that mirrors the normative enactments of hierarchy. This is problematic because certain Manila bears, being of approximate heteronormativity in terms of not looking “effeminate†or “femme,†exude in the primacy of the patriarchy and its adjacent agencies of oppression. From apps to parties, a certain aesthetic is approached by the Manila bears that has been extracted from international expressions of bearhood, be it the “bear smile†as exemplified in Japanese bara magazines to the fashion celebrating the lumberjack, despite the fact that the flannel clothes of these workers are not appropriate in the tropics. Ultimately, certain Manila bears exact power in their miniaturization or rendering toy-like or tokenistic of the proletariat figure as a visual of both celebration and ultimate domination for their desires.