Palma Tayona’s REYNA ELENA, LIBERTAD, AND OTHER STORIES, an art exhibit, runs from June 13 to June 30 at the NCCA Gallery.

reyna libertad-ncca gallery

The gay Filipino (or bakla) has existed in our cultural psyche way before colonial times, even before the word ‘gay’ became a term steeped in socio-political meaning, and have played an active role in leadership, the community, and the socio-cultural web of human relationships. And yet, in spite of it, the LGBTQ community still remains a minority sector in our country during these modern times.

Within this reality, Palma Tayona, the visual storyteller, celebrates his own humanity within the LGBTQ identity. Through his images, he shows how he navigates his way through life as a mainstream gay person; and of the life lessons, travails, joys, and thoughts amidst the burgeoning issues that directly affect his community – the HIV crisis, discrimination, and social empowerment.

From exemplifying fortitude in Beautiful, where a transvestite who is borne with a crippling disability sees in a mirror the marvel that she is, to encouraging an open dialogue of the HIV crisis in Listen. From humanizing the dreams of a drag queen in Reyna Elena, to how a young child coped in his struggles with his identity while relying on the strength of his father’s stories in Fantasy, the artist culled from his and other’s stories to create these visual narratives.

With his bright colors and rotund images, the artist paints a fundamental desire to be what he is, as is, a sort of proud unapologetic stance in announcing, “I’m here, and I’m queer.”

 No more than the few lines from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise can this indomitable spirit be exemplified, when she wrote:

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

REYNA ELENA, LIBERTAD, AND OTHER STORIES, an art exhibit, runs from June 13 to June 30 at the NCCA GALLERY, 633 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. For more details, please send an email to, Like/Follow the NCCA Gallery on Facebook, FB Messenger: @nccagalleryofficial, or call (02) 5272192 loc. 324, 328.