Activist and supermodel Geena Rocero promotes ancient Philippine script with new magazine, “Surat”

SAN FRANCISCO — Supermodel Geena Rocero shows off her tattoo which is the name of an ancient Tagalog transgender goddess named Lakapati.

Rocero embodies the deity of fertility and agriculture as the cover of Surat Magazine — the first magazine written in pre-Philippine script in over 50 years.

Rocero — has teamed up with pre-Philippine script artist and educator, Kristian Kabuay, to make this magazine happen.

As a practitioner in understanding gender fluidity and an advocate for transgender rights, Rocero says learning the pre-philippine script of baybayin will help in breaking a system of colonization among Filipinos.

“I don’t want to force people to learn that they don’t want to learn but I also know the importance of the critical analysis and understanding of so long we’ve been fed this language of colonization and to deconstruct that and to decolonize our minds it’s so powerful,” said Rocero.

Kabuay purposely published the magazine in pre-Philippine script to urge readers to question the context.

“The obvious questions will be ‘who can read this? What does it say? What is the context of it?’ you’ll see receipts. You’ll see kulintang. You’ll see a fashion shoot. And you’ll see this beautiful woman on the cover but what is the story behind that?”

Kabuay hopes that surat will help make pre-Philippine script as noticeable as other ancient writings found all over the world.

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“I get it will be kind of like a souvenir but for those that know the script it will be an alternative to academic pieces that are out there.”

Rocero adds that Filipinos are already ahead of the curve when it comes to practicing gender fluidity.

“In Tagalog we don’t have he or she in our language. It’s siya, which is gender neutral. Even applying it right now especially when a lot of young generations are trying to identify with their pronouns. This is nothing new.” 

Rocero was shot by famed Filipino photographer Nicolo Cosmo, which she did free of charge.

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