Tuesday, January 6, 2015

AQAG #2





"Paano kayo dumadami?"

I haven't heard this question asked in a serious manner in a while. But I have heard it asked long before, yes, in a serious manner. More often though, the thought is expressed as a statement Ang dami-dami ng bakla (or the rest of the LGBT) ngayon. I note the tone of curiosity in the statement.

The heart of the question, methinks, is based on the infectious disease model of homosexuality, as previously perpetuated. Beyond just being 'environmental influence', some influential homophobes have likened it to a virus. Shield your children! Ang mga bata!

True, there seems to be more of us. But only because there are a lot more brave souls out there who proudly declare their sexual identity and preference.

His response:

Kung paano rin dumadami ang ibang tao. Pare-pareho lang naman tayong pinanganak sa mundo. Pare-pareho lang tayong nakatala sa Pambansang Tanggapan ng Estadistika. Pare-pareho lang tayong nagbabayad ng tax.

Hindi kami epidemya o sakit na nakakahawa. Hindi kami "gremlins" na kapag nabasa ng tubig ay nagpo-populate. Hindi rin namin minomonitor kung ilan na kami sa mundo. Hindi kami nagpapa-census. Marami nang bakla, lesbyana, transgender at bi noon pa man. Ganun talaga. Anong problema?


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

the Whole-y Family

The Sunday after Christmas is dedicated to the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

I recall conversations with young pre-eminent Filipino psychologists over dinners. My understanding: They mentioned how integral to the Filipino psyche the relation to "family" is, as it appears over and over again in various researches. We were talking about health motivation. Filipinos, it seems, would always cite as a primary motivator 'family' for a range of behaviors.

The OFW sacrifices to be able to send money to 'family' back in the Philippines. The budget-conscious adult female squeezes what she can from various saving mechanisms for 'family'. The need to be 'healthy' for the fitness adult is driven by a desire not to be a financial burden to 'family'. The over-achieving adult gay male would be motivated by a need to show 'family' what he has made of himself.

These examples contrast sharply to how Western counterparts are more 'self'-motivated or directed. Individualistic goals of 'being the best I could be', of achieving optimum fitness for 'self' are more pronounced.

Such deep connection also has an underbelly. We can get too caught up in 'family', to the neglect of self and/or other institutions. For gay men, unable to disclose their sexual preference and/or identity, could take such a heavy toll on them. I am reminded of a friend, my age, who never came out to his family. He lived in fear of how he'll be rejected. This was compounded by his discovery of his HIV status. I theorize that his fear made him drop his maintenance medicines for cardio-metabolic disorders. He couldn't bear the double whammy of disclosing his identity and his sero-status, even to his sister to whom he was closest.

He had a massive heart attack, alone in his condo. His body was discovered days after. It was particularly heart-breaking to hear his dear sister mention this during the wake: Sana hindi na-isip ni Kuya na wag sabihin sa amin, sa akin, ang kanyang pagkatao. Alam kong naging mabigat sa kanya na hindi niya ma-amin sa amin. Kung alam lang niya na hinding-hindi magbabago ang pagmamahal namin sa kanya kung alam namin na bading siya. (I wished Kuya chose to come out to us, to me. I knew it was particularly hard on him not to be able to share with us who he really was inside. If he only knew that nothing would change, not our love for him, he chose to tell us he was gay.

I am very fortunate to have truly wonderful, understanding and loving parents and siblings. I am one of the lucky ones. I have been out to them since first year college. And they have just all been very supportive and loving. I introduce my partners to them because I am proud both ways, proud of my partner and proud of my family. It always gives me such peace and joy to have dinners with family and partner.

Yet I can understand the dilemma of those who still feel that such disclosure would be unwelcome, at the very least. For some, the risks are just too high.

A friend of mine confided in me recently about his break-up. He has been with this guy for quite sometime. He is super closeted to his family, a complicated status since he is raising a son from a failed marriage. The guy broke up with him, because he "couldn't see a future" with him. My friend has been grieving to his confidants. One of them remarked "That's the problem when you date guys in the closet."

At first, I couldn't get the connection. What did being in the closet have to do with it? Upon reflection, may be these things were related. Maybe, the compartments of his life have started weighing him down. He is perceiving pressure for longer-term commitment from my friend, having been together for five years. But committing may mean outing himself to his family, to his son. And that may be a future he couldn't bear to see. The pressure from 'family' forced him to give up the only person he could be himself with. Maybe.

'Family' is so integral to a lot of us, for better or for worse. We may be out in different circles and closeted in some. But with the value we place in 'family', with the kind of connection we have with it, perhaps being comfortable to be ourselves among 'family' is something we ought to work for and ultimately deserve.



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Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Question A Gay (Keeps Ignorance Away) #1

I was recently give this very special photobook, published by the UP Center for Women's Studies in coordination with Babaylanes, Inc. and UP Babaylan. The Project Director himself gave me my cherished copy.


Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi? at iba pang tanong sa mga LGBT is a compilation of questions asked of members of the LGBT, scribbled on a board, held by the member who contributed that question, then dramatically photographed in the beautiful UP Campus by Rod Singh. They also wrote the answers to the questions, presented beside their photographs. Kudos to editors Tetay Mendoza and Joel Acebuche!

It is an amazing collection of provocative, poignant photos and text, all resonating in the chambers of the LGBT heart. The book is available at selected shops, like Popular Bookstore along Tomas Morato Ave. in QC and online thru goodreads

The book inspired me to begin a series of posts around the book. I have asked permission from the project director to post excerpts from the book. The excerpts are personally chosen, and are not faithful to the pagination of the book.

AQAG #1


Kanino mo yan namana?

I love the way he answered: Nung chineck ko, wala naman sa last will and testament ni Lolo.

The nature vs nurture debate remains hanging. Personally, I know of some LGBT relatives from both sides of the family. But could sexual attraction really be passed on genetically? The last time I read, there seems to be some biological differences between a section of heteresexual and homosexual adult male brains. But that is hardly conclusive. And one can always argue that the environment could have been the cause of the difference.

On a deeply personal note, I have always felt that my sexual attraction could not have been 'developed' or learned. Something as deep as a yearning for another man could not have been planted from outside ("inceived" hehehe). I must have been born this way. (cue in Lady Gaga). At the least, it is congenital. Maybe.

What about you? What do you feel?


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Despair and hope

To be so hopeless and totally in despair...

That must have been how the Jews were feeling after having been subjugated by Rome. The utter humiliation of having these foreigners suddenly becoming your rulers, your leaders. They were a proud nation, definitely. For hundreds of years, they have felt so special as a people. They have had kings handpicked by their God to lead them to prosperity. They won battles, won lands and riches. That was their heritage. Because of that faith in their God.

All that is gone now. It has been decades since the last humiliating defeat. Yes, they retain their 'king', but he reigns and does not rule. A puppet of the Roman government to keep them at bay. But they are so far from what they were before, from what was promised to them. And it seems that there really is no relief from this.

They toil, daily. They labor under alien masters. But very little of what they reap and harvest, of what they produce actually becomes theirs. They are paid as taxes to the conquerors. And they can't complain. They are lucky to be kept alive anyway.

These are dark times. And though they are well-versed in the law and rules of conduct, they only have contempt for those who enforce their religion, those hypocritical religious elders. They see them corrupt, pandering to the Romans so they could keep their status in society, their wealth and their creature comforts. All the while, they help the Romans keep them at bay, to stop any insurrection. They use religion, the law of Moses to be submissive.

What hope is there? Why even bother to be good in these times? So they themselves lose their moral compass. It is survival. It is just a matter of getting by. And sometimes that would mean cheating a bit on the wages, or their collections. Or bribing themselves out of problems. They can't even turn to their elders for direction.

Dark times indeed. Even for those who still have some good in them, some sense of righteousness. Even for them, the flame glows weakly. It doesn't help them any to be moral and virtuous. The cunning ones, the ones that take advantage, these are the ones that thrive and prosper. So they are tempted on a daily basis. And as much as they want to believe in some good in others, they only see wretchedness.

Such hopeless times.

Yes, there used to be talk of someone who would bring them out of this slavery. Someone who will rule again with justice and might. Someone who will be able to a beacon for all them, a light in the darkness. He will establish the might of their nation and vanquish the tyrants. And goodness and right will be rewarded again. But talk of those prophecies have long since died. No one is coming. We are all doomed to die.

Especially for those at the lowest rungs of their hierarchical society, shepherds, farmers. What hope is there for them?

Then on a cold night, a flash of light, a brilliance engulfs them and fills them not with fear and dread, but of joy! They look about and see in fronf of them, men garbed in dazzling clothes, beautiful, a sight to behold. They could only be... angels! With the most beautiful voices.

Suddenly they are all around. And their leader, this head 'angel', approaches them and greets them. They feel so ashamed of the way they look, their smell, their clothes. But the angels have taken no notice of that. There is only just joy in their faces, in his face, in his smile, in his voice.

"I bring you good news! The prophecy is true, my friends! Yes, that old, old story of one who will be born to lead this nation into greatness again. He will destroy the shackles that bind you. He will free you from the oppressors. He will be a true leader, righteous and benevolent. That person is about to be born. The future king, your future king! I give you a sign: a virgin has given birth, the child-king wrapped in the most humble clothes is there! Go! Pay homage to him! God is no longer hiding and distant. God is with us!"

And for the first time in their lives, there is hope, real hope.

Merry Christmas! God is with us!


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Boracay once again

c3 and I spent a Novembe weekend in Boracay. I can never go tired of the place. It's something that c3 and I want to do on a yearly basis.

This trip became some sort of gastronomic search and discover adventure. Thanks to TripAdvisor and the other write-ups, we shortlisted restos we wanted to try for this trip.

We agreed with the top of the TripAdvisor list: Sunny Side Cafe. We ended up going there thrice! The cafe is located within Boracay Sands Hotel in Station 3.







I enjoyed my Chorizo with rice (choriburger without the buns. hehe). c3 liked his Corned beef. But we kept coming back for the amazing Mango-Calamansi pie. Perfect mix of sweet and sour. Mango bits in a dulce de leche.

Another one on the list was Paupatri Restaurant. The food reviews were quite mixed. But the ambiance seemed to be a drawer. Getting there from the back road was a lot easier.

The place was on stilts, with long wooden pathways that lent to its charm. You need to deposit your footwear at the lobby part.





The choicest seating areas are actually alcoves for big groups. And you sit on the floor. We went there mid-afternoon so we had one of those to ourselves, just the two of us. The waiters were very attentive, but with an attitude, a stiff upper-lip attitude. (or is it just me?)

I do have to agree with some of the reviews. The food is over-priced though it is tasteful. We had the garlic prawns and chicken tinola. But for the ambiance, I would still recommend that you try to this place out when in Boracay.

It certainly is not easy to find, coming from the beachfront. You actually go through this narrow corridor just to get to the place.





The last place we tried was along the back road. Cork is basically wine and tapas bar, located in Boracay Regency Lagoon, but you will see the Henann sign more prominently.

The place is small, intimate, cozy. We enjoyed the wine, cheese and cold cuts platter. Some of the guests were nice enough to say hello to us. And they mentioned that we missed Tony, the owner. He is usually around to chat with guests. That explains the very 'homey' feel of the bar.

My only regret is that it is not on a beachfront. It would have been lovely enjoying that during sunset.

Check the places out the next time you are in the world's best beach!


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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Frotteur Buffet

I just recently heard of this story.

Do you know about what happens in the last train car of the LRT/MRT, especially during rush hour? It has become a buffet for groping and grabbing. Bekis and others into this would 'gravitate' towards that last car. And the rush of passengers getting into the train becomes the venue for crotch-grinding.

It is supposedly so democratic. From corporate DILF's to college hipsters to BPO fashionistas to transgenders. Take your pick. They all want to crowd it out with everybody else.

Then once inside, with all those bodies and crotches pressing against you, lower that hand and let your fingers do the walking. Nobody is supposed to complain. It's part of the experience.

I guess these guys ain't complaining about the train services. Hihihi

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