- BERNARD JAMES REMOLLINO
Harvesting Joy and Healing Filipinx Masculinities with Brokada Kollective Healing Circle
What is a Filipinx man?
In early 2022, Wayne Jopanda, Alyan Layug, Kirby Marquez, and TJ Simba-Medel imagined a space that would bring masculine-identifying and gender-nonconforming Filipinx men together to harvest healing masculinities in their communities.
At the annual meeting of the Filipino American National Historical Society in August 2022, they workshopped what became the Brokada Kollective Healing Circle. They grappled with the uncomfortably complicated reality that there are no easy answers to questions of Filipinx manhood and its traumas.
“What does a real Filipinx man look like?” Layug said. “I think he’s truly hurting. He’s trying to figure himself out.”
Brokada’s praxis is modeled after the work of Bloom Homie, a group founded in 2018 by Figgy Baby and other Latinx artists and organizers in the Los Angeles community to facilitate liberatory discourses for men seeking self-improvement, spiritual growth, and professional development. In this spirit, Brokada is actively troubling dominant heteropatriarchal regimes.
“For generations, we’ve been constantly told we don’t cry. We’re not supposed to. We shouldn’t be going to other men to seek emotional support,” Jopanda said. “But we’re defying that, and I think that defiance is beautiful. It’s revolutionary.”
That defiance is embodied as Brokada learns to engage more meaningfully in the emotional labor traditionally foisted onto femme, nonbinary, and queer community members.
“As Filipinx men, we care,” Layug said. “We’re trying to care better for the women and everybody else in our lives.”
This emphasis on intersectional care work reflects visions of safety, harm reduction, and collective liberation undergirding Brokada’s mission. The group understands the paths toward this goal are paved with struggle.
“Some of the greatest things in life are on the other side of fear,” Simba-Medel said. “There’s just something greater there. And it may be painful. It may be joy.”
Dozens of regular attendees encounter the swirl of emotions elicited in Brokada’s virtual gatherings. The Kollective held its first official session in November 2022. Since then, the group’s monthly meetings centered discussions around Filipinx manhood, gender, and sexual identity. Attendees grieved together in the wake of anti-Asian gun violence. They found grace in the empathy of their intergenerational and international peers as they shared virtual space and intimate stories.
“People want to know that you’re broken just like they are,” Marquez said. “Being able to see ourselves in each other’s stories is really powerful.”
Simba-Medel reminds people that the spirit of Brokada is to help Filipinx men restore a sense of humanity within themselves to build a safer world rooted in radical love and tenderness. That ethos acknowledges the slow work of change.
“I like the image of harvesting,” Marquez said. “That image of harvesting, planting seeds, doing so with the knowledge that you might not be around next season to see the fruits of your labor.”
In this work to manifest its dreams of what Layug describes as “brown boy futurities,” Brokada encourages people to come as they are; to embrace the imperfections that foster critical self-reflection.
“I see brown men learning how to share power and not thinking that means they are powerless,” Layug said. “We want rest and power, and that’s only going to be sought and cultivated when men realize that the most masculine thing they can do is ask for help and be tender.”
The group recognizes they are a work in progress. Simba-Medel finds comfort in that liminality because of its generative possibilities.
“I know you’re scared. I am too,” Simba-Medel said. “What makes me feel more courageous is that I’m not in this alone.”
The Brokada Kollective Healing Circle is a space of transformation and hope.
“Rebellions are built on hope, and we’re rebelling against cis-heteropatriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia,” Jopanda said. “If you want to join that rebellion, join that work. We’re here to welcome you with hugs, love, affirmation, and more.”