Monday, February 28, 2011

This Way, Not That

A mother and child: who raises whom?

I remember when we were in the car, and you were talking about your son, and how you wanted him to be this way and not that. What “this way” or “that” was, you never fully explained, but I remember you emphasizing your point with a flimsy flip of your right hand. And that flip spoke volumes to me, because in that one small gesture, you summarized what it meant to be gay.

And I remember thinking how difficult it must have been for you to even begin to talk to me about this, considering how awfully hard it was for you to even say the word. Instead you flipped your hand again and again, knowing that I would know what you meant, because I knew where you were coming from, and because I knew your son.

Maybe you felt that speaking the words out loud would make them true. And you wanted so much for them not to be.

And I didn’t know what to say, or whether I should lie.

And so I said nothing. I wanted to hold your hand to say that your son would be more than fine, he is a decent, loving, caring human being who would no doubt grow up to become a fine adult, and this, this word you couldn’t even say, it doesn’t matter precisely because it doesn’t matter. In the general scheme of things, it is the least important of the attributes your son has been so blessed to be with.

And I wanted to say that I know that you are only worried about him, because he lives in a world that would no doubt think of him as abnormal, for a small trait that differentiates him from everyone else. And that your worry only underscores your love, but that it doesn’t change the fact that your son would rather have your support because, at the end of day, it is only when he accepts himself, and especially when the people he loves accepts him for who he is, will he be truly happy.

And I wanted to comfort you and tell you that you did not bring your son up wrong, he is a beautiful person, and that he is simply who he was meant to be. You could not have loved him more. 

Instead I remained silent, because, still, I didn’t know what to say, or whether I should lie.

And so we continued traveling, my thoughts a blur, imagining you in your corner, worried about your son in the inadequate and sometimes terrifying world he has to live in.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fond Memories

We were inseparable when we were young; like two peas in a pod, as they say. We liked the same things, and we spoke the same way. And in those common instances where we fought and shouted that we will never speak to each other again, we both knew that those wouldn't last, and we'd make up right before the day ends. Mostly because we'd want to play tag or hide-and-seek, and playing tag with yourself is really just sad. We were the best of friends.

It was fun while it lasted.
We were in high school when things started to change. He started hanging out with other kids, and whenever we were alone, there was this palpable awkwardness that hung in the air during our conversations. At some point, we became strangers to each other, and each sentence we uttered ended with an unspoken prayer that someone come and save us from this torturous situation.
I never really understood what happened. You might say we drifted apart, but to drift implies a certain longevity; this was more like a quick and quiet annihilation of a friendship. It seemed as if the changes happened overnight. As if I was suddenly a new person, or he was, or we both were, and we suddenly had no idea how to interact with each other.

At some point, I thought we stopped being friends.

Until I met him again a few months ago, on a street in front of my parents' house. Though the conversation felt forced and awkward, I realized I still harbored a certain fondness for this man, who was my best friend until our lives got in the way. And I realized that even if we can barely relate to each other now, the fact that we shared a close childhood friendship will always bind us until the end.

I remember a scene on a rice field. There were five of us, tumbling on a stack of hay. The wind blowing gently. The sky a rich blue, barely spotted with clouds. The sun hot on our skin. Our faces sweating, our laughter carrying over to the few houses farther away. And an afternoon that we wanted to go on forever.

Photo taken here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Attempted Murder, and a Love Post (a Capitalist Conspiracy)

Migs the Manila Gay Guy got an e-mail from a letter sender named Jake, which I thought was one of the worst things I have heard happen to a guy. Here's the part of his story that made me furious: 

I met a guy, a professional bodybuilder. Big, strong, healthy-looking. We went out and like an idiot, I let him bareback me several times. He told me YESTERDAY that he’s been HIV+ since 2007. I nearly killed him. I’m still cleaning the blood off my floor and furniture. And the weird thing is, that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever laid a hand on another human being in anger. 

I don't blame Jake. I probably would have killed the guy. It's one thing to infect another person with HIV, and quite another thing to KNOWINGLY infect a person with the disease. Fine, the rule is that you don't do bareback, period. Ok, we get that. But the bigger, more important, and so freakishly-obvious-I-don't-even-understand-why-it-needs-to-be-said rule is that you do not have unprotected sex with another person when you know you have HIV. In that case, you aren't just an idiot, you are a despicable human being that deserves no pity from anyone. You are evil. 

My heart goes out to Jake who made a mistake in trusting someone he really shouldn't have trusted, and who is now paying a terrible price. What the guy did to him was nothing short of attempted murder. It had all the hallmarks of the crime: evil intent, treachery, infliction of serious physical injuries. One does not always need a knife or a gun to kill.

Photo taken here.


On to nicer topics.

So it's Valentine's Day once again, and the only thing running through my head right now is how broke I am. On the one hand, I think it's fantastic to show your affection by buying your loved one cool and expensive gifts (who doesn't like gifts?); on the other hand, I kind of feel like I'm being manipulated by capitalist forces beyond my ken.

Of course, I always end up spending more than what I should spend. Take for example earlier, where I spent four times more than what I planned.

Damn you capitalist forces, I cannot win. I always bow down to your masterful manipulation.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Or rather, Happy Suckers-who-fall-for-genius-marketing-and-consumerism Day everyone.

Tip to make this day easier for those who spend more than they should: Embrace the dark side (of shopping). It's true, we are suckers, but we also have more fun. And, regardless of what anyone tells you, a little fun is always most of the time sometimes a good thing.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Angelo Reyes, a retired high ranking general caught in the center of a corruption scandal, committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in front of the grave of the love of his life: his mother. I never liked the guy as a public figure but what he did tugs at my heartstrings in a truly elemental way. The Philippine Daily Inquirer put it quite beautifully: "The crisis in which Reyes found himself was truly turbulent, and the Loyola Memorial Park (where his mother was buried) in Marikina City had turned out to be the still center, his personal zone of peace, in a storm of surprising ferocity. Many of us were shocked when we heard of his death, and the shock deepened when we learned that it was in that central stillness where Reyes had drawn the strength, not to persevere, but to kill himself."

It instantly reminded me of a high school classmate who killed himself a few years ago. I went to the funeral with a handful of friends. It was a closed casket. We were told that the reason was because he shot himself in the head.

His Friendster page "About Me" section contained only two paragraphs: first, about how lucky he was that he had found the love of his life, and second, about how he wanted to die surrounded by family and friends. And in my head I imagined him, alone and in front of a computer. When asked to describe himself, incapable of doing so in notions less than love and death. I believe he had the heart of a poet, tragic and beautiful at the same time.

I would like to say that I believe that suicide is never the answer. But I find it difficult to judge the people who choose this path. My head is unable to comprehend the depths of despair one must feel to inflict this kind of pain on one's self and on the people one loves. Why choose oblivion?

I would like to end this post with an answer, but I really couldn't. All I've got are more questions.

Photo taken here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fab News

Some of my favorite bloggers/podcasters in the world, collectively known as the Fabcasters (who, incidentally, are also gay), have come out with their favorite blogs of the year. They have 15 but they've only released their first eight. I'm part of those eight, along with another favorite blogger of mine (citybuoy), and blogging institutions chuvaness and Jessica Zafra.

What can I say? It's a huge honor to be liked by bloggers I admire and look up to.

To the Fabcasters, thank you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Making Merry

The party was in a small apartment right in the middle of the financial district of Makati City, in an old building that had parquet floors and beige walls. The people were the usual mix of expats and locals; art experts, businessmen or lawyers in their professional lives. It was casual and oh-so-chic; red and white wine served with deviled eggs, hors d'ouvres and snappy, intellectual conversation. There was much laughter and merrymaking. 

I felt like a fish out of water. 

As is usually the case in small intimate settings with people I do not know, I was out of place and awkward. I latched onto my friend Jay all night, and tried to feel some security in his presence. I do not know what happens to me when I'm in the company of strangers, as if I suddenly grow a new personality, one entirely too polite and quiet. Definitely different from the personality I exhibit when I'm with friends.

I tried to make small talk with some girl whose name I now forgot, but I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was there, and I was listening to her talk, but I also felt like I was somewhere else, watching myself listening to her talk. It was altogether too strange and forced. Merrymaking is an apt word I think. In my case, there seems to be much more "making" involved for the "merry" I tend to get.

At some point, I remember asking the host how she knew all these people. And she said that she didn't, and that she met most of them that night. Basically, she told me that everyone was practically a stranger to everyone else.

And I remember looking around, and wondering how all these people in this room can feel so at ease with themselves. And how easily their personalities, witty and charming, seem to come out. 

And I vowed (vowed!) that I would try to do the same. I was going to squeeze out every bit of "merry" I can get from this party, even if the "making" part of it kills me.

Guess what? It didn't kill me.

Photo taken here.


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