Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I am. For TV shows at least.

I grew up in front of the telly. Not to sound ancient, but back then, we only had a a black and white TV as a source of entertainment. That started my romance with TV series.

Yagit, Flordeliza, Agila, Valiente, Mara Clara were some of my favorites. When I learned english and felt like being more cool in the I-watch-english-shows way, I went for Knight Rider, 21 Jump Street, The Wonder Years, Beverly Hills 90210, C.H.I.P.S., Booker, and some McGyver episodes.

Now, even without a TV with good reception, cable channels, and regular hours to be a couch potato, I still remain a sucker for TV series. And a looter to boot.

Just to give an idea of how a TV series addict I am: I have a schedule of when my favorites will be available on the net, my housemates oftentimes ask me what episode number of so and so has been shown, or when will the next season or episode air, and if they can “borrow” what I have.

Some of the shows I regularly watch:

Grey’s Anatomy
I enjoy the story, the drama and the comedy. I just wish Meredith can finally get it together, Cristina to be her lovable self all the time, George to also be “herself”, Izzie to be less hyper and Alex to always wear that black singlet even in surgeries.

Brothers and Sisters
The Walkers are a riot. They definitely do not represent any family I know of. Still, their antics are a blast. Especially when they get together around that big table or in the kitchen and throw punches at each other. I wish the Republicans will not win though.

Who doesn’t want any of those superpowers? I’ll trade my life to have Hiro’s abilities and go back in time so I can tell my past self that I should start being gay … or go to the future when GMA doesn’t sit in Malacanang.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
So I am into kung-fu. And cartoons. And hot men like Zuko. He’s a firebender for chrissake! I just wish Sokka will in the end prove that it’s the common people who overthrow tyrants like Ozai. Fine, the Avatar and benders can help.

Aside from these, I also watch Prison Break, Kyle XY, Desperate Housewives, CSI, One Tree Hill, Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights and The Practice. Oh yeah, I also watched all seasons of Queer as Folk and 24. And Jewel in the Palace.

Why do I watch all of these? Maybe because the choice is between watching these and watching Chinese series without subtitles. And how do I still manage to work ... and sleep? Beats me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hang ups

Tinanong ako ng kaibigan ko, in English dahil maarte kaming mag-chat: “why are we drawn to men with hang ups?” Muntik ko nang idugtong: “or fall for them.” Pero hindi ko ginawa dahil masyadong ma-drama.

Maraming tipo ng hang ups. Iba’t iba ang hugis, tindi at laki. Para ding mga lalaki. Merong slightly hung, merong well hung at merong hang up ang pag-iisip kung sya nga ba ay hung.

Hindi ko lang alam kung directly o inversely proportional ang hang up sa pagiging hung.

May hangups na malaki at may hangups na maliit. Mayroong relatibong petty at meron din namang halos lumalamon ng buong katauhan. Mayroong bitbit pa simula puberty at meron namang nakuha sa pagla-lamyerda sa buhay-mature daw. Mayroong hinggil sa relasyon, sa kaibigan, sa pamilya, sa sex, sa trabaho, atbp. Hahaba ito kapag inisa-isa.

Maraming drama ang bakla. Ironic dahil wala sa kahulugan ng salitang “gay” ang drama. Pero sabi rin nga, sino ba namang tao ang walang drama.

Tingin ko, lahat naman ng drama ay may pinagsimulan. Weird kapag nag-emote ka na lang bigla para lang mapaiyak o dahil trip. Parang art for art’s sake lang yun.

At katulad rin ng maraming drama sa buhay, pwede ring ugatin ang drama ng bakla sa kasalukuyang kalagayan. Mahirap kumilos ng labas sa batas at praktika – legal, pulitikal, kultural, sosyal – na itinatakda ng lipunan. Anumang arte sa personal at relasyon ng mga tao ay hinuhugis din ng umiiral sa kapiligiran.

Mahirap nga marahil ang mabuhay na gay and happy. Dahil sa huli, hindi happy ang maging gay sa sitwasyon ngayon. Batbat tayo ng drama sa pag-a-out, buhay ng isang out o ng pagtukoy ng ano ba o paano ang relasyong bakla. Nasa gitna tayo ng diskriminasyon at homophobia na umaabot pa sa puntong katakutan o kasuklaman ang sariling kasarian. Umiiral din ang pang-aabuso at karahasan sa kabaklaan.

Dahil nga lipunan ang nagtatakda ng buhay-bakla, tingin ko rin ay infectious ang hang ups. Dugtong nga ng kasing-arte kong friend/chatmate, “it’s something that even a condom can’t protect you from.”

Tapos, nakakairita pa kapag naging hang up mo ang taong may hang ups. Hindi ka makapag-isip ng matino. Hindi ka makapag-trabaho ng maayos. Ang plastic ng iyong tawa. Hindi ka makabuo ng coherent thought. Minsan hyper ka. Minsan naman eh catatonic.

Mas malala kung hang up mo na rin ang hang up nya. Para talagang gremlins na dumadami pag nabasa.

Panghuli, naisip ko rin na hindi totoo na we end up with guys with hang ups. Ang totoo, we go nowhere with them. Paikot-ikot. Paulit-ulit. Iba’t iba lang ang casts.

Pero lahat naman siguro ng hang ups, one way or another, ay pwedeng tapusin – itulog lang ng isang gabi o dumaan sa maraming araw ng pagpupuyat. O ng pakikibaka kung ang hang up ay ang sistema at lipunan.

Lahat rin naman ng drama ay may ending. Gaya nito.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Triple Tragedy

Still fresh from the rage that Jan-Jan's case stirred inside me, another issue close to my heart comes along.

Vicenta "Vicky" Flores, a 32-year old OFW in Hong Kong was found dead floating at the Tung Chung ferry pier on April 11. She worked as a domestic helper in Discovery Bay which is about a 20-minute bus ride - without traffic - from where her body was found.

Reportedly, after merely a week of investigation, the HK Police has considered the cause of death as drowning and declared it closed. However, there are telling circumstances that do not match up to the police's conclusion. Apparently, these were not accounted for in the investigation.

Concerned groups and individuals are now drumming up the issue and pushing for a more thorough probe on the case. A campaign has been launched that includes the participation of DB residents, Vicky's friends and families, migrant-serving NGOs, and OFW organizations. A blog has been created for this concern.

What is even more disturbing, Vicky's tragic death came from the heels of two more alleged suicide cases of OFWs in Hong Kong. One was that of Melba Alava Pardua and the other was of Caroline Agabin Dacqui who allegedly jumped off her employer's 9th floor flat in Aberdeen. Both happened on April 7. According to news reports, Melba was suffering from financial problems while Caroline's contract was terminated after only 10 months of work.

If Vicky's case turns out to be more than what the police has so far concluded, it is a tragic crime deserving of justice. The criminal or criminals must be apprehended and prosecuted.

If indeed it was suicide as what was reported of Melba's and Caroline's, it is still a tragic crime deserving of justice. Only this time, the criminal is the system that forces them to go through hell and plunges them in an unbearable situation. Unbearable enough for them to meet such fate.

When will these stop? How do we make them stop?

Somehow ... it ... we must.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Jolted by Jan-Jan

Jan-Jan rocked my world. Even if I don’t know him.

By now, many of the gaydom kind (at least the bloggers) are in an uproar over what the despicable alleged doctors, nurses, medical staff and medical students who were inside the operating room, did to him. I won’t repeat what procedure at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Centre in Cebu he had because that wasn’t the issue then and is definitely not the issue now.

I didn’t grow up gay though it didn’t mean I wasn’t one.

Probably like every other gay man, I didn’t have the guts to be gay before. Seeing how gay guys are ridiculed and hearing disparaging remarks about them (“bakla kasi kaya so and so”), who would want to be gay … or, even worse, an open one?

Unnatural, freak of nature, butt of jokes, looked down upon – we’ve all heard it before and it has not significantly changed. There may be more openly gay guys now, more films that tackle the issue, more gender-sensitivity education sessions that include homosexuality, more books on gay men, and more Pride marches.

But everytime we think that it’s better, gay pride gets a beating.

So no, I didn’t grow up gay. Even when I became an activist, I didn’t come out. Why? Maybe because I knew it didn’t matter with the people I worked with.

It was only about seven or eight years ago that I finally admitted to people around me that I’m gay. Being one within the activist circle shielded me from the brunt of ridicule and humiliation. Of course, it has not been a perfect world. There were still off-the-line remarks and attitudes from time to time but they could be, and they were, immediately challenged.

Ensconced within circles of politically-minded people, the reality that not everyone are like my colleagues was relegated to the back of my mind. Recognized but not realized.

Until Jan-Jan came along.

There’s the issue of ethics. There’s the issue of professionalism. And at the core of it, there’s the issue of homosexuality in Philippine society.

For all gays who have been ridiculed, laughed at and humiliated. For all those who have been forced to live in fear and in the shadows. For all those who love men and are not allowed to do so. For all those who suck, fuck and are into cocks. There’s a Jan-Jan in many of us. So, in a way, we know him.

Jan-Jan rocked my world. And it’ll take nothing short of liberation that can put it back in place.

(I do hope that gays back home will do something about this. If gays abroad can do anything, I’ll put in what I can. Some ideas are here.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Of Music and Me(n)

When someone asks me what music I go for, I usually give a vague answer. I have a varied taste in music as varied as my taste in men. Fine, not really with men.

I am no music critic for sure. I know neither heads nor tails of the nuances of a good music. I pick up whatever music that takes my fancy. And no, that’s not how I do it with guys.

Just last year, I’ve built a whole new collection from the album of Pink to Snow Patrol, from KT Tunstall to Maroon 5, from Amos Lee and Gary Jules to a smorgasbord of OPMs that included great songs from The Company. There were also some more albums from various artists that I played from time to time.

Last year with men, I had a collection of one. I haven’t played his memories for a while now.

Early this year, I rekindled my love affair with the Indigo Girls. Their poetic songs just about fit a wide range of emotions from the longing in Ghost to the decisiveness of Last Tears. Add to that their political leanings especially on women as expressed most recently in Pendulum Swingers, the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers – with their beautiful blending – have never left my playlist for months.

While my affair with the girls was raging, I also had a tryst with Michael Ball. Notwithstanding his boyish good looks and those adorable dimples, his rendition of some popular songs and Broadway hits makes for memorable mushy sessions.

For the past months with men though, there were no affairs or trysts. There was a guy … but never mind.

Since last week, I’ve been listening to Sigur Ros. When I first played their music in the office, my colleagues rushed to the window to see if there was a funeral march outside. Talk about getting knocked out on the first round.

Last week when I was all alone, I played them again and I was lost.

I got lost in their music and just sat down for about an hour drinking coffee and smoking. There is something in their beat that soothes and relaxes. It actually feels like being transported to a magical place where fairies, including me, fly about freely.

Each song of theirs reveals a story – from the simple enough intro to a whole gamut of climaxes and to an ending that sometimes make you wonder why did it happen that way.

I got lost in their words, literally. Nobody really knows what most of their lyrics mean. Then again, it did not actually matter.

And that voice of Jon Birgisson! Ethereal.

With men, or at least a man, I got lost and am now finding my way back.

So yes, how I choose my music is very much different from the way I fall with men. But they actually have two things in common: I stick with them like warts for a long, long time and both excludes Britney Spears.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

30 @ 30

He is dead. But GMA did not kill him.

Lately, he had been known to take a swing at GMA every time he could. You could see it in his blog. He was a political animal that no PSG could have controlled him had he met La Gloria on the streets. He would have, uhmm, tripped her at the very least.

But his life could not really be defined by the past months or even years. Others have known him in various ways in the three decades that he lived.

Some knew him as the kid who read Mills & Boons, Harlequin and Silhouette Romance. Later in his life, he even shifted to Tagalog romance prose. Even much later, he was the fantasy and sci-fi reader who still rooted himself with reality.

Some knew him as the Mama’s Boy who was never afraid to be seen with his mother even in college. He had much love and respect for his mom. Had his father outlived him, he would have also loved to be called a Papa’s Girl.

Some knew him as the “plant” who never seemed to show libido or take notice of species of the opposite sex. If only they knew him later they would have known why.

Some knew him as that pretending-to-be-straight turned pretending-to-be-bi turned gay-with-no-pretension guy. Especially in the last years of his life, he finally left his comfortable closet and even ventured out of the room.

Some knew him as the guy who lived up to his star sign of the Virgin ... kidding!

Some knew him as that perennial joker who never seemed to stop making fun even of serious situations. Once, a friend forlornly told him that it was her dad’s nth death anniversary. He silently thought for a while then asked, “so should I say condolence or happy anniversary?”

Some knew him as the guy who couldn’t seem to get his stuffs in proper order. It usually took the highest level of tolerance to live with how he just put his things around. He lived a cluttered life. Literally.

Some knew him as the wannabe singer, wannabe lawyer, wannabe guitar player, wannabe photoshop guru, wannabe writer, wannabe lover. Indeed he had wanted many things. He might not have gotten most but for him, what he had was what mattered.

His life could not be defined by the past months or years. How the people around him knew him could sum up how his life had been. At different periods, indeed it was him.

Yes, lately he had been known for his activism and stand on GMA and her policies. To his last breath and his last post, he could not help it but take another swing at her.

He is dead. But GMA or the likes of her did not kill him. They never really could. Never in life and not even in death.

(Written on a dare of blogger friends to post a eulogy for myself. Morbid but it’s in the name of good ‘ole fun and friendship. Bruised my knuckles knocking on wood. Check this for others who bid themselves and the world goodbye.)

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Out of all the lines and words I memorized, this was one of the classics. Not only for its wit but for the reality it represented then.

In 2006, nine Filipino seafarers were left stranded by their employer in Hong Kong. They were not given their proper salary, were instead issued checks that bounced, then were left to fend for themselves.

They approached the Philippine Consulate General in HK but were told that they could not be able to pursue their case. Undaunted though, they sought the help of fellow Filipinos who referred them to the Mission for Migrant Workers (HK) Society (MFMW) or Mission.

Together with the Mission, they pursued their labor claims.

Aside from their labor case, however, they had to contend with the problem of sustaining themselves while their case was heard. Generous members of the community contributed to their needs but it was not enough.

So of course they approached the PCG-HK for assistance again. So of course they were denied again. So of course we rallied … were denied … and rallied again.

It was in one of those actions that a seafarer coined the term “memo-rice” to depict how they had to stare hard at the rice in every one of their meals because they were not sure when and where the next bowl will come from.

I was moved then and it all came back to me now. Will it reach such a point back home?

But in the first place, has it not been happening at all? Even the data of the National Statistics Coordination Board (NCSB) said that 33% of Filipinos live with US$1 a day. That can barely cover daily meals much less other basic needs.

The rice crisis has raised long-standing issues on Philippine agriculture such as liberalization, non-subsidy to farmers, land monopoly, land conversion and even corruption. These are the issues that have brought about the greatest irony in our land – the producers of food are the ones who go hungry.

In the face of rising rice problem, the development GMA boasted of while in Hong Kong sounded more hollow.

It was kinda dramatic that while GMA wined and dined in one of the most lavish hotels in HK, about 2,000 domestic helpers were shouting for some of the most basic things that are usually disregarded in such expensive events – rights, food, jobs and services.

GMA has no problem with memories and memorization. It’s the reality in the ground that she conveniently forgets.

By the way, the stranded seafarers won both of their cases. The PCG-HK was pressured to provide for their needs and, more than a year after, they won their labor claims.

These are the fond "memo-rice" to hold on to.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Burden of Guilt

It can be very heavy to the point of being made a stuff of horror films. At least in the case of Shutter.

I have never been a fan of horror flicks. But I let myself get persuaded by a friend to see this one. Of course, the most persuasive line was that the lead actor was an eye-candy.

Yes he was. However, it was not what struck me with the film. Neither was the dirty and matted-hair ghost of a dead woman floating beside a speeding car nor her almost decomposed body on the bed because her mother couldn’t just bear the thought of burying her. Still to be honest, I now refuse to look behind me while walking in dimly-lit halls.

But what struck me was the image of guilt carried on the shoulders of Tun played by Ananda Everingham. Disturbing for it is true.

Guilt is indeed a weighty burden to bear. As such, there are times that I do not want to pick it up.

Maybe due to pride, a high regard of one’s self (healthy on one respect, can also be destructive on another), self-preservation, or just plain denseness– I sometimes take guilt in strides.

But I do know that I cause harm.

Of course they are not deliberate acts like murder, plunder or cheating on elections. Only a pachyderm of the highest level will not feel guilty with these.

The more complicated ones are those I do inadvertently. But I guess, the most well-meaning among us can also offend others. Nobody can be Ms. Congeniality every second of every minute of his life. It can be something I said in jest, a joke that was way out of line, or something that I did. Or something I did not do.

Most of the time, I am not conscious about it and it takes a while for these to sink in. Sometimes I even try to lighten my guilt by placing the blame on the other party. Blame it on his oversensitivity. Blame it on his hangups. Blame it on his nature. Blame it on the weather. Whatever.

True, the blame cannot be equal. But who said that it should be? Inequality is part of the current societal setup and fault is of no exception.

But the point really is that I also have my own faults. They may be minor or secondary but they are there and nothing good can come out with getting all uppity and high-handed about them.

We need a healthy dose of guilt sometimes. A good exercise is to imagine the harm we’ve caused others, the hurt we inflicted on those around us, the anxiety we made others feel, and the pain that we somehow stirred on other people.

It can be very heavy indeed that we may find ourselves depressed and our backs bent to a 90-degree angle with the stuffs we are trying to carry. Then again, if handled well, it can be liberating and can usually make us a better person.

Now, if only I can imagine Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo doing the same ….