Chance and convenience were what brought Kent Ivann Rapada to AboitizPower (AP) as an Energy Accounting Specialist. Little did he know that a chance encounter would lead him home – one where he feels truly accepted for his sexuality.
It’s the people that make the place
A certified public accountant for five years now, Kent used to jump from one company to another. When asked about the factors that contributed to his career choices, Kent shares “[P]eople…’yun ‘yung pinaka-large factor. It’s really hard to find people who will like you for what you are, especially ako, with my sexuality. I’ve never been openly discriminated in the workplace, but I felt not quite accepted. Madali ako mag-connect with other people kasi I can easily adjust. Ang problema ko is if [others] will not adjust with me.”
Kent ended up working in AP just because he saw NAC Tower, and he decided to apply. He is now in his third year with the company, his longest employer. He briefly left for what he thought were greener pastures, but in the 9 months that he was away, he relapsed to jumping from one employer to another. Asked what sets AP apart from other companies, Kent pointed to his AP colleagues and the culture within.
Kent recalls the moment he decided to come back to AP. He was certain that he wanted to apply for the same position and to be under the same team and leader because they were his main reason for coming back. True to their brand of teamwork, the team welcomed Kent back with open arms.
Being true to one’s own truth
Kent always knew he was gay, but he admits that while growing up, he felt that he needed to hide his gender identity. “I never really had a coming out moment. I admit may denial stage… Kasi lumaki ako sa baryo — bukid pa nga eh. Syempre being gay was not so popular… Bata pa ‘ko, papaluin ako ng tatay ko, tapos sasabihin, ‘Ano, bakla ka ba?’ [Sasagot ako nang] ‘Lalaki po!’” He also recalls that his siblings used to blackmail him by making him do all the house chores, or else they will reveal Kent’s persona at school, an animated gay man.
However, Kent knew deep down that the issue is not who or what he is.
And this awareness comes despite being fully aware of the repercussions of his choices: “I think every gay person has experienced being bullied, being discriminated. To this day, being gay is an insult pa rin. It’s so common to hear ‘ay bakla sya’ or ‘ay sayang siya, bakla.’ You don’t hear that [being said] about straight people.”
When Kent was growing up, he saw gays as nothing more than beauty pageant fanatics, hairdressers and crossdressers. When he went to college, he met other people and discovered more of the LGBTQ+ community. There, he got the enlightenment he needed. “Dun ko lang na-discover na ‘yung alam ko pala is just one part of the spectrum…Hindi s’ya straight line na ‘pag bakla ka, gusto mong maging babae.”
Kent now wishes that more people would take the time to understand. “Now, you have all the ways and means para maintindihan lahat.”
“For those who are open and really willing to learn, i–educate natin sila. Gusto ko dun ibuhos ‘yung energy ko. Can you imagine, the pride march just started in 1969. Then 1973 lang natanggal ang homosexuality as a disease, pero pinalitan lang s’ya ng sexual orientation disorder. Eventually, tinanggal s’ya completely 1987 lang. Imagine that!”
Kent has been very active in the LGBTQ+ community and he hopes that through many different platforms and media, more and more people will eventually learn to accept the members of the community and be granted equal rights.
If you want the rainbow, put up with the rain
Kent proudly says that despite the difficulties he has faced, his gender identity has a positive effect on his personality and productivity.
“Nung high school nga ako, ang motto ko, ‘success is the best revenge.’ As in nabuhay ako dun. May effect talaga ‘yung pressure na dahil hindi ka nila gusto o tanggap, you tend to work hard[er]….Being gay is an advantage because of that.”
Kent would, later on, realize that while his mentality pushes him to become a high performer, like in all things, there is a downside to having a chip on your shoulder.“I realized a few years ago na ang pangit naman ‘nun na
I’m working my ass off para lang maipakita ko sa iba na pantay lang kami.
He shares that he only truly accepted himself when he became part of AP, and it was because of the respect and friendship he receives from his colleagues.
Far better things ahead
Kent feels grateful for the current company efforts to help the community. “There’s an LGBT community everywhere. We may not know how many, but they’re there. Siguro lang in AP, walang core group na nagre-represent. It’s a good thing na may Diversity Team na nagpu-push.”
Kent recognizes that even though there is no formal organization of the community, what’s important is that AP does not discriminate. “Siguro lang hindi ko lang nakikita ‘yung rainbow sa AP. Pero I guess, here kasi we look at people [beyond gender]. It’s about the credentials of the people. We’re focused on the value they bring.”
Just as AP is pleased to have him back, Kent is happy to be finally back home.