Hi, my name is Ebenezer, but a lot of my friends call me Bheng. I’m one of the associates at Foundever Manila (WCC) and currently working in a financial account. I want to share my story, not just to inspire others, but also to raise awareness about certain aspects.
During my days at Sykes in 2019, which is now Foundever, I felt discomfort because I was new to this industry and didn’t know the culture of this job. But as days went by, I started to feel the vibe that I belong to this group, and I am loved and supported by them in all things I do. When I heard that there would be a pageant open to everyone, whether you are a girl, boy, or part of LGBTQIA+, I felt an instinct and eagerness to showcase my skills in fashion design. This vibe pushed me to join the pageant, and unexpectedly, I won the RUNWAY CHALLENGE 2019 CAPONE EDITION. It was the first time someone appreciated my work and efforts.
But not all the time we experience a happy scenario; there are many times we need to face judgment, discrimination, and critiques. Back in March 2020 during the pandemic, we were left onsite taking calls when the government announced the total lockdown, which caused a halt in transportation, and we needed to stay in the office due to this lockdown protocol. Some people don’t believe that LGBTQIA+ individuals really exist because they believe that God only created a man and a woman. During that time, I was with my friend in the office, and when we went to the girls’ bathroom, a facility personnel saw me entering and said, “Hey, sir, this is for girls. If you want to use the comfort room, you need to go to the other side of the door.” I faced him calmly and replied, “Sorry, sir, but can I use this comfort room because I’m with my friend, and I feel discomfort when I use the men’s comfort room.” He replied, “As much as we want to, sir, you’re not allowed to use the bathroom.” Then my friend got angry and said, “Why shouldn’t she belong here? We treat her as a girl.” The facility personnel just walked away.
After we finished our business in the comfort room, we went to the front desk to report the incident. We were able to escalate it to the admin head at that time, but they took the side of their agent and said that it’s really not okay to use that comfort room because it’s only for GIRLS. They stated that if I wanted to go to the restroom, the allotted restroom for us temporarily was located on the 4th floor end alley of the building, which would take a lot of time for me to walk after using the escalator. I replied, “Sorry, this won’t happen anymore. I’ll use the restroom allotted for us instead.” To settle the case, I apologized to the admin and faced the reality.
Moving forward, when this was escalated to my manager at that time, she felt sorry for me and talked to the admin head about what they had done to me. She promised that this wouldn’t happen again and that she would raise it to the FGD, by any chance. My manager helped me a lot to cope up with the adjustment since this was new to me. She helped me understand the situation and said that she is an ally who can help and escalate the situation if I feel that it’s discriminating my personality. I’m glad because Miss Mira really helped me a lot in all manners.
As days went by, I learned a lot from this company. I realized that I needed to stand up for my own rights in a professional way. They helped me improve my communication skills and enrolled me in a program to hone some of my skills, especially in arts and teaching, because I’m a graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education major in math. They also let me attend a program that helped me promote my advocacy about mental health and women empowerment. Foundever provided me a safe space to become a butterfly from a cocoon and the brightest star in the sky by exposing me to activities that promote my gender identity and advocacy.