WIM on Campus: Q&A with College Students on Gender and Representation

Representation in media is important because it tackles and effectively normalizes ideas about a particular group of people. When you watch films, television shows or advertisements, do you feel that you are well-represented?
In this special photo essay co-presented by Out of The Box, When in Manila interns asked some millennials about how they think they are being represented in media texts.

Words and Photos by Jules Gapuz

Media serves as a reflection of our reality and today, that reality is changing. So I wanted to ask people what they thought about their own representation in media today. I simply asked them, “Do you feel that your gender and sexuality are well represented in media today?”, and got
interesting and varied responses.

Jessica Brown

Gender and representation 05

Yes and no. Because with my sexuality I’m like, “Hell yeah, I’m straight!”, so there’s a lot of representation for me out there. But as a woman, there are very specific types of girls [found in media]. I’m not known to act like a stereotypical girl that everyone’s like “Oh my gosh, she’s so sweet!”. I’m very rough and tumble, I swear a lot, I’m very rambunctious, very loud, and you don’t see many girls like that being represented in media.


Ponch Escobar

Gender and representation 07

Oh yeah, I am incredibly normal. Outstandingly stereotypical.


Miguel Santiago

Gender and representation 08

I feel like we’re getting there. Because I haven’t really seen that much media that portrays a gay character that I can relate to, except maybe on Yuri on Ice. Kasi the only gay thing that I can think of off the top of my head in media is Vice Ganda. And he/she isn’t an accurate representation of the gay spectrum.


Pia Salazar

Gender and representation 03

I don’t think so? Because as someone that doesn’t particularly identify with your traditional genders, it’s sort of hard to say that I’m being represented well. Because insofar as I’m concerned physically, I present most of the time as female, but the thing is, I don’t consider myself feminine? Because the things that I do and wear, I don’t believe that they are particularly associated with any one gender? So based on that, it’s hard for me to find someone on television who’s like, not pa-girl or tibo, or feminine or masculine. Because a lot of the time we’re so, at least in Philippine television, really hooked on the whole kababaeng tao, or mapaklalaki, so it’s sort of hard to negotiate that with the way that I am. I think that gender is oppressive, insofar as the whole binary thing. The idea that you can not be part of a gender is what I subscribe to, so I don’t think that I’m well represented.


Francis Alcantara

Gender and representation 06

Well I’m a straight male, and I guess that’s the majority of everything represented.


Jon Buban

Gender and representation 01

I would say no, because there’s a lot of stigma behind it, like there’s a lot of stereotyping behind the bisexual and androgynous being? Like there’s a lot of stigma behind it and a lot of people are saying that “Oh, it’s just a phase!”, “Oh, you’re indecisive!”, and stuff like that. So like there’s a lot of… kind of backlash to saying that “I’m bisexual!” or “I’m androgynous or gender fluid or whatever!”. Whatever kind of gender of sexual orientation you have, you’re going to get backlash for it, because in terms of the Philippine media today, it’s not really that responsive, and sure we may be praising it right now for films like Die Beautiful, Baka Bukas, 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, all of those films, those depict them [gender and sexuality] well, pero even then, though we’re “tolerant”, we’re not really accepting.


Andre Aquino

Gender and representation 10

Yes. Well I’m a male, and as you know, males have been historically the representative of the human race. That’s no insult to women, just a historical fact. However, we are working to rectify that today.


Patsy Elias

Gender and representation 09

Yeah actually like with all the kinds of shows that are coming out, there’s more ambiguity with that character’s relationships with other characters. Where you can be like “Maybe you’re into girls, maybe you’re into guys”. I can just use my imagination to help me in finding myself in those characters.

Franny Manaloto

Gender and representation 04

I guess so? I don’t think as a guy I’m allowed to say no.

Shaneika Lim

Gender and representation 02

If we’re talking about local media, not as well as I’d like it to be. Because specifically for me, we’ve made a lot of strides in the past few years, especially in terms of characterization, but a lot of the time whenever I watch teleseryes there’s this formula that you have to follow. The heroine is always portrayed in a particular way before she can become something else. Like one of my favorite teleseryes to watch was On the Wings of Love, and I really liked it, but I only felt like I could completely relate to Nadine Lustre’s character later, when she chose to prioritize her job and her work over her love life. And that’s why she also went through a significant change, externally. I’m just saying like why can’t we have a heroine who looks like bomb af, like from the get-go? Why is it always the kontrabida who always looks really good and who’s always powerful but is also portrayed as crazy? I just think that we could do so much better than the stock characters that we have now and as a creative writing major, I hope someday that I can contribute to that discourse, and help change the way Filipino women are perceived, and how they’re represented in the global community.

I know that we still have a long way to go in terms of representation across all genders and sexualities, but it’s a comfort to know that media is moving forward and that people are aware of what they want to see in it. Awareness is the first step for change to happen. So hopefully this small project inspires someone to think about their own representation and its importance.