Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pendulum 2

Dark times indeed. Suddenly all these apocalyptic prophecies are swirling in my mind. Even Nostradamus came to mind as I read how Digong is chummying up to Russia and China. Could he have actually meant Far East rather than Middle East for that 3rd AntiChrist? Then as I look at his initials - DU30, I tried to recall the name. It turned out to be "Mabus". What if... LOL Quite a stretch though.

It's just that I can't help but read all these events with such a frame of mind. Some posts back I talked about the Shemitah. I think I failed to mention that this 2016 was even a Jubilee year: 7 x 7 years. The changes are magnified. A few years off but weren't we just talking about the Mayan Calendar? I got reminded watching a documentary series made in 2012 entitled "The Pyramid Code".

In short, all these were meant to happen. Talk about being fatalistic. Pardon my rationalizations at this point. These are meant to happen because this shake-up is meant to jolt us into re-examining our values as human beings. Perhaps, even as we enshrined 'human rights' on walls and charters, we really have failed to make these truly inclusive. We need to re-examine the paths we took and the consequences of our previous decisions. We, as the human race, need to look at the foundations of our lofty ideals to see how fragile these have been. In the process, institutions will be shattered. But perhaps all that is needed in order to build better ones.

It is a darkness that we must go through. But even recognizing that should not mean resignation. On the contrary, now is the time to make our stand loud and clear. As arguments abound, as ideas are challenged and debated, being heard and being part of the cacophony is our right and our responsibility. Out of all this percolating milieu, hopefully, something good, true and lasting will emerge.

But I fear it will be protracted and even bloody. And there is where my cowardice surfaces. I am afraid. I don't know if I will have the courage to fight


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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pendulum 1

It was getting too good for us minorities. For years, we have slowly been shattering walls and ceilings in a gradual shift from segregation, ostracism to tolerance, acceptance. We are still far from the ideal - a society so agnostic to the diversity. But we have made great strides in the journey, including recognition of same sex unions.

We were thinking that it would just be a matter of time when the rights we had been fighting for would finally be ours. The pervading culture of 'political' correctness was a recognition of a common humanity over those that divide us. In many, many countries and societies, the present generation had started to enjoy certain freedoms.

Unfortunately, this 'blessed' status quo was misleading. There was growing discontent from those who used to enjoy all the rights and powers exclusively. For some of them, there was a real negative impact. They were losing opportunities, and maybe even jobs and revenues, to those 'minorities'. Even their 'churches', previously so entrenched in preserving the old world order, had slowly started to give in. Many have started to feel offended by this reversal of fortune. All this had started to seethe and boil from below the surface, under a veneer of civility and tolerance.

And it started to boil over. They found expression in that new medium created by technology. They found community in what were previously isolated feelings of anger, even hate. Then finally, they found real people who were willing to vent these in the political space. The push became a shove as they realized their collective strength. The political systems across the world allowed their ideas to flourish to finally be expressed in elections and referendums.

It remains to be seen exactly how far the pendulum will swing back, how dark it will actually go. No matter, we have to remain vigilant and become even more vocal. We have to protect those gains, the precious few human rights we have fought for and deserve.

When one group of human beings is denied their basic human rights, all groups' rights are at risk of being denied. All. We cannot live with the illusion that they are different from us. They have been labeled as 'drug users' and pushers, dregs of society. They have been summarily murdered on mere suspicion. They had no chance at all to defend themselves. They were 'threats to society'. What keeps these 'arbitrary judges' from making conclusions that other groups of people are similar 'threats', too?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MMJ6

I have a few friends who share this masahe plus predilection with me. We usually prefer home service. We rely on referrals. We like the way a masahista would subtly 'put us in the mood' without being pushy or transactional. I love the term one uses: hina-harass. LOL We would refer masahistas from time to time.

One particular guy I recall was Lloyd.

He was lean and quite plain (hmm too plain actually). He gave a good massage, which was a base qualifier. But the best thing about him was the way he would get you aroused. As you lay on your belly, he would 'reach' over to caress your dick while he worked on your thighs. I really liked the way it made me feel like he truly wanted my cock. With something like that, no negotiations. You know you are gonna end up happy.

He would then flip you over and go down on that cock. I was curious if he would ever allow me to bottom him. He seemed the type. But I never asked nor attempted. I was pretty content with really good head.

The funny side story to this is that I referred him to another friend, a friend who is exceptionally well-endowed. As in huge. He booked Lloyd once. He was amazed at the way Lloyd devoured his huge member. On their second booking, Lloyd actually sat on that pole, without any prompting. Well, with the proper protection according to my friend.

I find it funny because I never heard from Lloyd after that. It was as if he found the 'ultimate client' in my friend (or specifically his cock) so much that any other client would just pale in comparison.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

MMJ5


I tried different masseurs from Clique. One who lasted, well till last year, was Erwin. But before I talk about him, I briefly recall his cousin Joey. I remember him only because he was actually gwapo, tall and sexy. But unfortunately, he was very typical of a straight masahista. He would give you a massage but would try to hurry it up to the ES offer. And though I found him really hot, especially when he would strip to his undies before the massage, I just get totally turned off. So I never got to experience what his ES was. However, from a friend I referred him to, the feedback was not good. It wasn't such an endowment, and he was Laila Dee. (He just laid on the bed expecting the client to work on him.)

In contrast, Erwin was much more discrete. He was also obviously straight. He was attractive, too, though not at the same level as his cousin. He was shorter and leaner. But I liked his massage. And his 'Accidental' brushes against my member. Yet, despite seeing an erection, he didn't offer ES. That arrangement worked well for me especially when I started exclusively dating an ex. He became a regular that would extend for years. But I eventually grew tired of it. It also coincided with my new relationship that allowed for these 'transactional adventures'. Since I wasn't getting any from him, I quickly lost interest and ventured into other referrals.

Yet, he would still text and offer his services. After about a year of not availing, I decided to engage him in text Conversation to tell him why. I told him that my 'wish list' for masseurs now included es. Since he never offered, I dropped him. Obviously, I was really trying to find out if he would.

He quickly replied that he was always willing to offer it. But he read my body language as one of disinterest. And he respected that. But he insisted that I try him again so I would know what he had to offer.

Curious, I booked him again. Just like last time, his brushes against my penis got me excited. Then he started to finally stroke my cock. But he stopped to 'finish the massage first'. After the massage, he stripped to his undies and laid beside me. Then he got on top of me and started kissing me passionately. That got me excited. Soon, we were at it. But he didn't get down on me (which was a bummer). But the whole situation - waiting years for this to finally happen - still got me aroused, and the deed was consummated.

I would contact him from time to time. There would be times of 'no es', just straight massage (pun-intended). His es had ceased to excite me because he didn't give me head. But he gave good massage anyway so it continued.

Early this year, I was a wedding reception. I remembered that his day job was as waiter for this catering service. The was the catering service of this reception. I texted him whether he was there. Unfortunately, he was off-duty. It would have been nice to see him all dressed up. We were exchanging messages during the night. He texted a waiter who was there and told him to 'take good care of me'. And the waiter did. But what he texted after just infuriated me. It turned out that the message he sent actually said 'take good care of him for he will give you a huge tip.' It just pissed me off that this waiter would eventually be expecting a big tip. I was meaning to tip him anyway but I didn't like that Erwin had to 'prime' him.

I stopped booking him since that time. I just felt that I could get more from other masseurs out there.

Before we leave the Clique spa boys, I have to mention this one therapist who was briefly a regular. I just can't remember his name. He looked like a handsome college kid, probably one of the handsomest therapists I have encountered. He didn't offer ES to me but that was fine. He was just such eye candy. I heard his stint as a therapist was very brief. Sayang.


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

MMJ4

Ram was a referral from a friend for home service. He was quite plain-looking but he had a nice muscular build. He became a regular for a while because of the way we would lead into ES (which was really just a hand job).

I normally do not get an erection anymore from just stimulation of the erogenous zones (navel, top of the legs, etc.) I respond only to direct stimulation of the penis, head or shaft. Ram does that very discretely that it could be interpreted as accidental. But surely enough, if he sees a response, it proceeds to be hand job eventually.

I like that unpredictability, the excitement of not knowing what happens next. I like that he didn't even stop short to whisper "would you want extra service?" That question leads to negotiation. I just hate that. It just takes out all the excitement.

He lets me feel him up, too. But it wasn't very 'substantial' so that did not lead to him also getting off.

Soon enough, I grew tired of it, or of him. I stopped texting him for service. I was looking for someone more attractive and/or something more reciprocal. That led to a referral to Clique spa based in Marikina (Yes. Marikina!) with therapists who do home service. The first they sent was this twink, who was quite soft. I can't even remember his name.

But what I do remember about his technique was the way you he would reach over to play with your cock even as you were still on your belly. He would massage the inner thighs up to the anal area. Then his fingers would brush your manhood very erotically. The erection would get uncomfortable if you happen to have your penis in a different orientation.

Once you are on your back, it is one major blow job. The turn-off for me was when he would lead my hand to his cock. I had no interest in touching it all. So I would keep brushing his hand away. Bitin siguro.

But from Clique I got to hire some ok therapists. Coming up


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

AQAG#10



Eh di kung sino ang unang nagkagusto.

In the old-fashioned world, straights would struggle to force-fit LGBT relationships into the neat and tidy dichotomies of Male, the hunter, and Female, the hunted. A lot of them fail to realize that the norms of dating have changed since the 60's.

A question like this would probably come from the Titas and Titos of Manila. They don't even realize that perhaps, their own sons and daughters, nephews and nieces have not been following those norms either.

But let me reply to this at a personal level.

I've always been the pursuer rather than the pursuee (?). I am predator not by choice but by circumstance.

In the gay world I grew up in, the beautiful ones, the gods of our age, were almost always the one being pursued. If you were such a beauty, all you had to do was show up in the dance club or the bar and the lesser mortals would be gravitating towards you.

I wanted to be one of them. I craved for the attention they got. But alas, my physical circumstances were not at that level. I have a buddy who was one: handsome, fair, tall.  We'd go to the clubs then and he'd get the stares and even the flirty chitchat. I realized then that my role was 'manliligaw' more than 'nililigawan'.

With that acceptance, I grew more confident and went after people I liked. It has worked for me immensely. I like that I have more 'control'. I also didn't take the situation as an excuse not to work on being a bit more attractive. On the contrary, I really worked on maximizing whatever potential I had. Even as the 'hunter', I had to make sure that the 'hunted' would willingly fall.

Looking back, it all seems so juvenile and immature. But those things got me started on my path towards physical fitness.

So yeah, ako ang nanliligaw. Pero kasi ako yung may gusto at ayokong maghintay lang.

Friday, August 19, 2016

MMJ3

The year and a half of being single about 6 years ago had me indulging in my masahe past time, both spas and home service. I would frequent this "legit" spa along Quezon Ave. usually after a Sunday afternoon run in UP. I call it 'legit' because that establishment explicitly bars their therapists from providing ES. And for the most part, the therapists do comply.

But still, their style of massage would always include a sensual groin or anal 'pass' or lingering touch. That would always excite me but leave me high and dry. Eventually, I encountered one who was 'creative' and courageous enough to provide an almost hand job. Sorry, I cannot describe it in words. Though still wanting, he was good looking enough for me to come back for seconds.

There was this spa near the airport, South Bay City Spa, which was also 'legit'. But their boys were a lot more 'non-compliant'. Even in common rooms, they manage to give their guests hand jobs. But if you get the exclusive treatment rooms, it becomes free-for-all.

I recall Jobert specifically. He was quite 'malambing' with a nice smile. There were even light kisses on your lips as he massaged your head. He was quite participatory, giving and receiving head to clients he likes. I liked that I felt he was attracted to me. That feeling always adds to the pleasure. And those kisses still linger in my mind.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Many-faced God

I'm a Game of Thrones fan. One of the side stories in the wildly popular series involves a mysterious cult led by this figure imbued with power to assume different faces. It seems that his followers eventually exhibit this power, too.

I am reminded of how Jesus himself seems to have this power to be unrecognizable. I get a glimpse of this from the Transfiguration. But after the Resurrection, it seems that this has become a 'regular' feature, starting with the way Mary of Magdala did not recognize him at first. Then there was the story of the Road to Emmaus, with two disciples chatting with him the entire time and not knowing till the last minute. Even Peter and the other disciples did not recognize him while at the shore. His 'identity' had to be 'revealed'. I wonder why this power to assume 'many faces'.

At a very superficial level, perhaps this was to keep him from being discovered by the Jews and taken into custody again. But that speaks of cowardice, and that is not how I know Jesus. Googling this, I encounter this thought: Perhaps Jesus “veiled” His identity so the two disciples would truly think through the things Jesus was saying, rather than accepting the teaching blindly, as they likely would have if they had known it was Jesus.

This explanation appeals to me. And it is consistent with the way Jesus also delivers his messages, i.e. in parables. I have come to believe that our Christian life is meant to be lived in constant reflection of His Word. Just like having many faces that have to be 'peeled off' to reveal the true identity, His Words need to be read and re-read, reviewed and reflected to discover the rich layers of meaning and interpretation. I believe that is how He has designed it to be.

Unfortunately, the many possible interpretations of His Words and His Life would lead to conflicting translations even among the learned. We know of the way some devout Christians interpret His Words to sow even more divisiveness and even hatred. Did He intend this to happen, too?

Reflecting on yesterday's Gospel, it may seem so:

"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division. "

Our differing interpretations can, and will, lead to conflict if we become stuck in just one interpretation and label everything else as false or illogical. Part of my learning here now is that my interpretation can never be the ONLY interpretation of His Words. His Words have many layers, as he can assume many faces. I become argumentative and combative if I hold on to my interpretation and assume it as law. And I use it to justify hate and divisiveness. All of us are students of His Word and His Life. Yes, some may have spent more of their lives in deep study. But even they will not have the monopoly of interpretation. It is in humbly recognizing that 'The Life' of a Christian, is a Journey or 'The Way' of learning the 'The Truth' do I stop myself from being 'holier than thou' and imposing my interpretation on others. We will remain divided, as Jesus predicts, if we choose to hold on too tightly to our interpretations rather than allow ourselves to listen and learn from each other.


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Sunday, July 10, 2016

MMJ2

Despite lacking the wet floor scene, and the amenities, I just love getting home service massage. The convenience makes up for everything. I usually have massages weekday evenings, after my workouts. This becomes even more satisfying after a run. My achy feet and legs are treated to kneading that is both painful and pleasurable.

I have special linens for the purpose. These are laid on top of the beddings so these don't get stained with oil (and other body fluids LOL). Sometimes I am considering buying that portable massage cot in S&R, but it won't fit inside my itsy-bitsy bedroom. I recreate the spa ambience with the diffuser (mist humidifier) from Muji, which has its own mood light.

After the massage, I can easily take a quick hot shower and go straight to bed. I am just so relaxed after a great massage.

I know of the horror stories, though. I have heard of gruesome reports on media of 'single guys stabbed repeatedly by an assailant who must have been familiar to the victim.' I am thankful that none of that has happened ever. I have also put up some precautionary steps to minimize the risk.

I would prefer referrals though lately, I have taken chances with some who were not. I ask the household help (yes, they know that I have regular massages) to always open the door for them. This way, the therapist knows there are other people in house. And they have been seen and 'monitored'.

I definitely hide the valuables from sight and just put the payment somewhere else for easy access. The rubbers and lube are also at the bedside table. But that's another story. :-)


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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Memories of a Masahe Junkie 1 (MMJ1)

Yes. *stands up. I am a Masahe Junkie. And no one is surprised. LOL

My earliest memories of massage would go back to the 90's. I wasn't earning much so I couldn't go to spas as often as I would have wanted. Back then/, there was The Spa along C5, SM Kenko, The Ritz in Malate. My partner then and I would visit these places more for the action in the wet floors, though. But the massage itself was always a welcome 'ending', usually performed by female therapists.

We didn't go to the 'spakols' of that time. I always found those too expensive, unsanitary. Though the idea of being massaged with happy ending or extra service in the hands of a hunky therapist has always been a fantasy. It was just too expensive. And in those days, those spas were hole-in-the-wall types, with little cots separated by plywood walls. You can literally hear the moans and groans of everyone else.

I would, from time to time, have this lady therapist, a bit old, who would come to give me a good massage. She was quite a talker, Aling Helen, but she did give a good massage. The funny thing is that she would always burp during the massage. She said that was part of 'imbibing' the client's 'energy.' In the comforts of my home, on my bed, a good massage was a welcome treat.

Then by the start of the millennium, with a new partner, I started frequenting spas that had male therapists, and very active wet floor action. The best example would be City Lifestyle on the corner of Morato and Timog. It had a huge wet floor, three hot pools and a shower stalls tucked-in one corner, all perfect for cruising. But beyond the cruising, some of the male therapists offered extra service, at a negotiated add-on cost, of course. The guys were average-looking but they were trained in good massage. I recall a must-try therapist, Edward. He was a bit better-looking than the others and also a lot more aggressive*wink wink. Would you believe I have a friend who actually was de-virginized by him? Good grief. Na-carry away ang bading at nagpabottom.

There was also the more upscale Basilica. It started in Malate then had a branch in QC. That place in Malate was a converted old house. It even had a cafe. It had a maze for a steam room, patterned after Bangkok's bath houses. The adventures you could have in that maze! The guys looked fine, too. Hehe

Both spas are closed now. One that is still around is New York Spa also on the corner of Timog and Morato. It's been ages since I visited. It didn't seem as well maintained even then.

And after a while, I soon got referrals for home service therapists that incorporate massage with extra service in the comforts of home. I slowly shifted away from the spas to home service.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A milestone recalled

I celebrated my golden year of life in February. Turning 50 is a milestone that certain cultures feel it is worth celebrating. But supposedly for Chinese, they do not celebrate at 50 but at 49. A colleague reminded me of this days before my birthday. This is supposedly related to the good 'feng shui' of ages that end with the number "9". According to him, one should be extra careful at those ages. He knows of different people who passed away at 59, 69, etc. It wasn't a very good thing to be reminded of! LOL

Nevertheless, I considered it a milestone. And rather than just have the usual party, I decided to checked of one on my bucket list - hold a personal concert.

I had to have a platform to show off all that voice training. I needed to build my confidence in singing. No, I do not have a fantastic voice. I can carry a tune. I also wanted to challenge myself to learn how to sing classically. After about 4 years (?) of voice lessons, I just had to do this.

What better time than during my 50th birthday? I am going to have a party anyway. I might as well subject my guests to torture first before receiving the reward of food. LOL

The plan was hatched in November 2015. I wanted to sing with a sunset as a backdrop. I was able to find a function room that had just that. I wanted February 27 but it was booked. So it had to be on the birthday itself, which fell on a Sunday.

I engaged my voice teacher for more lessons than usual, starting December. I started working on my set list. But it needed a theme. I'm glad to have thought of the theme - 5milest0nes, cleverly embedding "50" while also thinking of the different milestones of my life that made me smile. (Of course some people would continue to read it as 5 milestones. Sigh.)

I ended with the following segments as 5milest0nes of my life: My faith, Work, Failed relationships (Lost Loves), Current Relationship (Love Found, hehe), Family and Friends, Aspiration. I put in songs that reflected the theme and pushed me to have that 'tenor' voice range, yes, birit as tenors would do it.

By the numbers - 3 prayers, 3 cross-overs (2 Grobans and 1 Bocelli), 2 kundimans, 2 Broadway musical numbers, 3 oldies/classic Arias and 50 guests. LOL

The rehearsals were grueling. Although I have been singing some of those songs, trying to sing them as faithful as the way the music sheets were written proved to be more difficult. A few of those songs I had to learn from scratch.

Then I had to get a pianist even as I started finalizing the details of the menu, the program. I had to set the rehearsal schedules with both pianist and voice coach. Then the technical details had to be layered in. Sound system? Lights? The digital piano? OMG

And my voice wasn't consistently cooperating either. There were times I felt I sounded fine and I hit those notes effortlessly. Then there were the other times. Or if it's not the notes, it's the lyrics, or the beat.

Then I had to time all this in for the sunset. Ultimately, I had to drop the sunset-backdrop, as a one-hour program would include a time when the sun's glare would still be too much.

A week before, I was having fever. Two nights before, I had insomnia. And I felt I was developing sore throat. All doubts started setting in. Why am I even doing this? Why am I the type to always have to push myself out of my comfort zone?

On the day itself, it was all cloudy. Then it started to rain. And even when the set-up was being done, it was obvious that there wouldn't be any sunset. But the 'show must go on'. The rehearsals before the program started as a disaster. My voice was cracking. I was missing them notes. Well, if I make a fool of myself, it would be to family and friends who would (or should) continue to love me anyway. Hahaha. All they had to do was endure the program and they'll get their reward.

But as I started to forcibly relax myself (that sounds wrong, right?), I got to be a bit more comfortable. And I realized now that the most important lesson I learned from my voice teacher is the control of my 'instrument', my voice box, my diaphragm and all other support systems so that despite whatever stress or circumstances, I could still perform. That was what I had to learn.

Then I got on that stage and started singing. The more I sang, the more relaxed I got. Making the audience smile and laugh helped me, too. I felt I did fine. Not perfect but not grossly out of tune or out of beat, methinks. I was able to relax even as I was singing, even when I have sung quite a number of songs already.

I remember the quote "They may say that I can't sing. But they cannot say I didn't sing." This was from this American heiress, Florence Foster Jenkins, who similarly staged a personal concert. Incidentally, that movie came out in May, starring no less than Meryl Streep.

And when the concert finished, I was just on cloud nine! Yes, the weather did not cooperate. I did not end up 'singing to the sunset' but it was fine. The venue came out nice, the program flowed smoothly, and the food was served well. C3, my fag hag, my family all helped me pull it off.

The lessons here:

Only you know what your comfort zones are. So only you would know what will push you away from those zones. And from time to time, you just have to do it. Some people run marathons. Some people make career changes midlife. You do it because your 'self' needs to be stretched to a new form. The world is changing. Your new form will allow you to adapt to those changes.

Sometimes, it is the unlearning more than the learning. I have picked up some singing habits that do not allow me to tap into my voice. I have adaptation mechanisms that make singing actually more effortful and stressful.

There is this three-dimensional axis of talent, training with performance as the dependent variable. Some people, by sheer talent, will perform well, but these are outliers. Some people will Not be able to perform, no matter what training is given. These are also outliers. But most of us, with some measure of talent, and lots of training and hard work, will be able to perform, perhaps even perform well. So it is the combination that allows for peak performance.

And finally, it matters less what people will say and feel about it but what you feel about it. You may receive mixed reviews but that doesn't matter as much as how you felt during and after.

After singing that last note, I was on a high. I did it. I survived. I saw happy faces greeting me, even congratulating me. I was just giddy after, drinking and eating with all my family and friends. It just felt so wonderful.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Shemitah complete

With May's ending came the end of my 'Shemitah year'. Funny that it coincides with the proclamation of the new president, riding on a campaign of coming change. The changes in major aspects of my life have come to pass as I celebrate 50 years of life.

It is weird state to be in. It is 'business as usual' but also very different. Haha. I am now transitioning to the new order. I think of two machines, one huge and another small, both with many moving parts slowly integrating midstream. The gears and wheels of both are turning rapidly yet will have to seamlessly lock-in at certain points to become one huge machine.

I am excited. I thought that at 50 years old, I was going to prepare for retirement. It was going to be an academic life for me, and maybe a business on the side, consultancies, too. All that would have to be postponed for now as I look at the prospects. The challenges remain daunting but there is now some measure of relief in sight. I was about to hang up all those ideas, all those initiatives but now, maybe, I can actually test some of them. That excites me.

But it also weighs me down. Sometimes I don't know if I could still take the load and the stress that comes with it. This body is old and creaking at the joints. Again, a mix of emotions is at play.

On the lighter side of things, though, I feel good about how 'this old body' is still able to maintain itself. I may actually be in a better fitness level than before. It may be my best ever. I think I have finally gotten the right recipe of diet and exercise and willpower to lower my body fat percentages. It doesn't show as much but I try not to fret as much, too. It ain't looking great but it ain't so bad either.

As a whole, things are looking up.


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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Thoughts of An Eternal Optimist

I want to see the silver lining in this super-acrimonious election campaigning reaching fever-pitch levels. It's getting harder and harder as I find it more and more difficult to read social media posts of friends without raising my eyebrows, rolling my eyes or cringing. But I will still try.

With so many presidential candidates to choose from, it is still anybody's guess. I sometimes think of the simplicity of a two-(dominant)-party system, just like in the US. One aligns with a party idealogy first. Then the party chooses its standard bearer. And that process could be just as bitter and dirty. But eventually, the electorate will settle with the two major candidates slugging it out.

But this is not the case for the Philippines, of course. Our political-economic circumstances somehow prevent clear idealogical battle lines as basis for party-building. So we have all these parties with no clear party stand on anything. But instead of sighing, perhaps there is something good to be said about this current state we are in.

My bold, maybe naive, conclusion: the plurality of choices is raising political consciousness of the majority. With no clear black and white choices, the masses have started to think for themselves. I think that in previous years, the majority of the electorate (more rural than urban, more of the have-nots and have-less) are confined to just 'going with the flow'. They vote based on personalities, on the choices of their leaders, religious or otherwise.

But now, I hear of people truly debating one another on a political plane. More people are thinking for themselves about their choices. More people are starting to choose based on considering the impact of political outcomes on their lives.

Do I want a president who will solve the problem of crime I fear most about? Who is talking about my family starving in the drying rice fields? Who will change the circumstances of traffic in the Metro to allow me to go to work on time? Who will make sure that my children will have equal opportunities when looking for jobs?

People have started to think for themselves. Despite all the hurtful, hateful things being said now, I see this as progress.

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Travel Must-dos: SG

A friend once posted "Don't know what else to do in SG. Been here so many times." My first thought - why'd you go there in the first place. But I wonder if that is a popular predicament, now that people are much more mobile. Although there a zillion other cities to visit, inevitably one finds visiting certain places more than once.

My advice: Start out by listing places you want to visit again. A 'must-do-everytime' list. This will probably include fave restos, even tourist spots or sceneries and shops. I build on top of that places crowd-sourced, either from friends and family or lately, from online apps and sites like TripAdvisor and Foursquare. There's always an updated list of trending restaurants, shops and must-dos.

In our last trip to SG, some of the regular must-dos: shopping at this specialty store in Ion Orchard. My mom collects dollhouse miniatures. I discovered this brand (https://www.reutterporcelain.com) from Germany in my previous trips to SG. The shop Das Erzebirge-Haus carried the brand among so many other collectibles. The detail is so intricate. You can find the shop at the top floor of Ion Orchard.

Another mall I like visiting is Orchard Plaza. This 'fashion-forward' place houses shops and stores that have a 'hipster'-feel to it. From accessories to bags to even furnishings, I like the mix of stores here.

During my last trip, the bakeshop Lady M was high on the trending list. I finally got to try the layered crepe that made this shop famous. It was good, not too sweet. I like the airy interiors of the place, located inside that mall, too.

I just love the croissant at Tiong Bahru Bakery. I usually visit the one at Tang's along Orchard. Freshly-baked, with the right butter-creamy taste, crisp and flakiness, the croissants also come as sandwiches.

Finally, a trip to SG won't be complete without having an attendance check at Neil Road's rainbow bars. Between Tantric and Taboo, I like Tantric better. It's actually like choosing between a bar and a dance club. I happen to like bars better, I guess. I saw a lot more foreigners in Tantric, too, as the locals converge more in Taboo.

So far, that's what I have on SG. Next up, Boracay.



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Friday, March 25, 2016

For They Know Not What They Do… Or Say.

I believe we are at the cusp of major change in world view, a hazy demarcation point when attitudes about gay love are changing. And at this point, we will encounter a lot of people, friends and family included who are also transitioning, some stuck in the old world view, as well meaning as they are.

What Boy Abunda mentioned, as he reacted to Manny Pacquiao's statement likening this to the fight of African-Americans or even women for equal rights was spot on. I try to imagine myself during those times when the tide was just about to change maybe as an American of color…

At the macro perspective, political discussions have started, a lot of them heated and even hurtful. But these have not filtered down to individual lives yet. They would seem abstract and even alien. A part of me would watch the news, listen to the commentaries. But at the start, these remain so far from me, an impossibility even to imagine.

I would go about my life as a black man, obeying the laws and complying with segregation. But I would also imagine that not all my friends would be black. I would have white friends, workmates, neighbors maybe. Some of them would be geniunely nice to me. We would consider each other as friends. Our personal relationships would be color-blind even as we all led lives of conformance. Yet the discussions on equal rights would already be brewing.

Our lives go on, our friendships would develop no matter. But as the discussions start to become more viral, it is harder and harder not to take notice. I begin to know some friends who are ‘participating’ in the conversation, some more active than others. Some of them join the protests. It is now becoming real to me, ordinary person, and even to friends of whatever race or color.

Slowly, we form opinions regarding it. Some would articulate such opinions in social gatherings, maybe even during religious meetings. I am sure I would start to hear some of my friends, some of those whom have treated me genuinely with care and affection, to be voicing such contrary opinions. Some of them will justify the status quo of segregation, on whatever grounds, including religion.

A bulb suddenly turns on inside me, a paradigm shift happens within me. I understand at the deep, personal level that I am disadvantaged. I do not have the same rights as others just because of my color. But I also know that some of my friends, especially white friends, will not have the insight. They may even vociferously against what I have begun to believe. Will I start to hate and despise them?

I replace ‘color’ with ‘sexual preference’, ‘black’ with ‘gay’. And it seems to unfold in the same way. And I am asking myself if I should start blocking them, hating on them as they defend ‘marriage’ and Catholic faith and Manny Pacquiao and deny me my right to love and for my love to be recognized by the State?

Could it be that they simply cannot go beyond their training, their education, their religion, their old world view. They just cannot step beyond that. Some would say that these people WILL not step beyond. But sometimes, I wonder how willfull could one be? Is it possible that they ‘simply know not what they do?’

Could this be at the heart of what Jesus said when He asked for pardon for those who have sent Him to his suffering and death? These people, from the crowds who asked for his crucifixion and jeered at him during the Way of the Cross, to those Roman soldiers who actually inflicted all that pain on him, right up to nailing him on the cross, could they really “not know what they do” because they are just so ‘trapped’ in their world view? And that is the reason why the Lord Himself asks for mercy and pardon on their behalf?

Perhaps, I can still believe that these same people are good and loving people. Perhaps, instead of hating my ‘friends’ who have such contempt for what I am (as gay love is what I am), as I read their pro-Manny Pacquiao posts and statements, I can simply show some love and mercy, for they ‘know not what they do or say’, even if they state to the contrary.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

AQAG #9





Maraming bakla ang nagpaparlor pero hindi naman lahat nasa parlor. Meron ding mga guro, doctor, driver, abogado, engineer, empleyado at marami pang iba. Hindi naman mahalaga kung ano ang trabaho mo. Ang mahalaga mahal mo ang ginagawa mo. At ginagawa mo ito nang bonggang-bongga.

Stereotypes. Labels that have a life of their own.

I remember previously how I detested the label "shoke". That was the worst sounding of all the terms used on gays, used on me. It was laden with so much contempt for being 'not like the other boys'.

I don't even know how that term evolved. I know though, that images of a Dolphy character, Fifita Fofongay Vda de Falayfay, best exemplified that term. And if my memory serves me right, he actually worked as beauty parlor hair stylist.

The association with parlor, persists. But that 70's term "shoke" faded away.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

AQAG #8






Tinatanong sa akin sa tuwing malalaman ng aking mga nakikilala na ako'y miyembro ng LGBT community. Marahil ay nagtataka sila o nagugulat na malaya akong kumilos at manamit ayon sa aking tunay na nararamdaman. Bakit ka nga ba hindi matatanggap ng iyong pamilya? Ito ba ay isang kahihiyan? Dahil ba ito sa takot o hindi pagkaunawa? Hindi ba katanggap-tanggap ang pagiging totoo sa iyong sarili?

Coming out to one's family remains to be a very sensitive issue among a lot of friends. It is a very personal decision, laden with so much anguish. I am one of the lucky ones, blessed actually, that I am very much accepted, and loved, by my family for who I am.

Initially, I wanted to focus on one aspect of her response - "when people I meet know that I am a member of the LGBT community." - particularly the word "LGBT Community". I was thinking then that even though I am gay, I do not feel like I belong to a 'community'. I still felt like my 'community' is Gay, not L-G-B-T and all the colors of the rainbow.

In an instant, all this changed for me. With simply one callous, bigoted statement from PacMan, I saw the "LGBT community" emerge. I suddenly found kinship with each and every person who has been labeled "masahol pa sa hayop". I felt the collective indignation as only a community could feel.

Tanggap man ako o hindi ng pamilya ko, ng opisina ko, ng parokya ko, ng boksingerong sikat ay hindi kasing halaga ng pagtanggap ko sa sarili ko. At dahil tanggap ko na ako ay isang tao, taong nagsusumikap maging mabuti, wala kang karapatang tawagin ako, at ang aking ginagawa sa loob ng silid ko, ng anumang pangalan, lalo na ng 'hayop'. At dahil tao ako tulad nilang lahat, ang mga karapatang tinatamasa nila ay dapat ring tinatamasa ko.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Temptation of Jesus

Today's gospel talks about how the Devil tempted Jesus during the 40-day fast he was observing.

I just noticed how Jesus rebukes the first two attempts of the Devil by quoting the Scriptures. But on the third attempt, the Devil himself quotes the Scriptures and uses it to tempt Jesus to prove His credentials, i.e. the Son of God.

This dramatizes how the Word of God could easily be used not for the good it was intended to do. Don't we hear so many accounts of so-called religious folk who justify their words and actions using Bible verses, with vile or even heinous outcomes?

It is so easy to be led astray by wolves in sheep's clothing. I believe that the best guard against this is to truly be reflective, analytical of His Word and the Scriptures in an ongoing manner. Ultimately, it will be our consciences that must be empowered to discern. But our conscience will only develop such power if it receives the training, a training within the context of a humble heart eager to seek out and listen to His Wisdom.


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Saturday, February 13, 2016

I Am What I Am

I was virtually alone in the resto of Discovery Suites in Tagaytay last year. It was a cloudy afternoon. I decided to get their cheese platter and help myself to some wine.

And I recalled my dream.

AQAG #7





Nakupo kapag:
- Maraming tao
- Bitin ang pinto
- Napipigil pa an gihi
- May tissue na pwedeng upuan
- Nagpapa-impress sa mga lalake
- Sa damuhan
- Isasabay sa pagtae

Nakatayo kapag:
- Ihing-ihi na
- Wala namang tao
- Hindi bitin ang pinto
- Madumi ang rim ng toilet
- Nasa dilim naman at pader lang ang equipment for immediate relief

Nakahiga kapag:
- Napapihi sa panaginip

Walang partikular na posisyon kapag:
- Napapaihi kasi kinikiliti


No, I haven't been asked this question. I just love the way she answered. Throughout the book, the replies speak of breaking dichotomies. I never thought of that before. It's all about 50 or more shades of grey.

BTW, this post is part of a series of reflections lifted from the seminal book "Anong Pangalan Mo Sa Gabi? At Iba Pang Tanong sa mga LGBT" published by the UP Center for Women's Studies, edited by Tetay Mendoza and Joel Acebuche.


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Thursday, February 11, 2016

One Day Challenge

Lent started yesterday with Ash Wednesday. I challenged myself to have an 'immaculate' and 'sin-free' day. LOL That meant being patient, being kind, being slow to anger (or not getting angry at all). That meant no lustful thoughts, no judgements of others. I wanted to try to be love personified. I'm trying to imagine how the Virgin Mary was, being holy and blameless all her life.

Well, I realized how totally difficult that was.

Upon waking up, I opened my gadgets to tune in to social media. I see posts from my sister, the one I have frequent disagreements with, that made my eyes roll. Oh my! I just judged her! I realized that it was so easy for me to dismiss her because of what I felt towards her. I suddenly replaced those thoughts with more loving vibes towards her.

The Viber group of my high school friends was filled with messages. I looked at them and see shared photos of almost-naked hunks! Oh no! I am tempted to open one and zoom in. I stopped myself and scrolled down, just to get rid of the notifications.

I was rushing to attend the morning mass. But I was trying to feel calm even as I was hurrying. Leaving the house, the household help was rushing to give me my lunch. She almost forgot. I was instantly annoyed. Stop! I quickly changed how I felt and just smiled at her.

All that in the first two hours of the day.

And it got more challenging at work at a meeting. I was becoming irritated at the way things were moving so glacially. I noticed I was starting to raise my voice. I caught myself and calmed down. I smiled and made a joke instead.

At the gym, I was trying to stay focused on surviving my workout. Cute, hunky kid, a crushie, I admit, walks in. Oh my! Lustful thoughts! I turned my attention to the Spotify playlist and tuned him out.

You can imagine now how my entire day went. At the end of the day, I noticed how almost automatic it is for me to be irritable, or lustful, or annoyed, or judgmental. The thoughts, and emotions, seem like reflexes to the stimuli. I had to consciously stop myself every time, if only to keep me on track.

I may not have been successful at this challenge. But I am happy that I was able to exercise some mindfulness and some control in my thoughts and feelings.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cruise Instructions

You see him from afar. You notice him.
You are not sure if he notices you as you walk towards one another.
As you come closer, you like what you see.
Was that a look from him, too?
A few steps away and yes, you notice him checking you out, too.
Or so you think.
You walk past each other.
After just a few feet, or three seconds, you glance back.
You check if he glances back, too.
If you are really interested. STOP.

Look back.
Check for a glance-back.
If he doesn't (or if you didn't catch it), it's not meant to be.

But if you see that momentary glance-back, hope is alive.
Just stay there. Pretend to be looking at the window display.
Never mind if it is all women's clothes.
Yeah, the point is to be obvious to HIM that you are stopping for him.
Casually look back and see if he is going to stop, too.
If he does, and he pretends to do exactly what you are doing, BINGO.
Or even better, he starts walking towards you, BINGO.

Go for the kill.
Slowly, start walking to approach him.
Don't be shy. Walk towards him.
I said walk. Don't run. You don't want to look That desperate.
Slow down as you approach him. Hopefully, he'd still be there. He'd still be faking appreciating a stupid window display.
About two feet away, stop. Preferably at the same window display.
Smile to yourself. As if you saw something you liked at that stupid window display.

Choose appropriate pick-up line. Some suggestions:
Straightforward. May kasama ka?
Pa-cute borderline pathetic: (looks at stupid window display) Ang ganda nun no?
Lame and corny but may be appreciated because of corniness: Anong oras na?
Stalker-ish: Nakita kita. (Notices something he is either carrying or wearing and uses it as a line) Galing ka sa school?

Alternative endings:

He doesn't stop walking BUT still glances back.
You have to follow him. Don't run. Just walk a bit faster to catch up.
If he wants you, he will continue walking but will slow down so you can catch up anyway.
There should be a series of glance-backs with half-smiles as confirmation.
Once you catch up, choose appropriate pick-up line.

The more aggressive type may actually make you follow him.
It may be towards a restroom. BINGO.
Follow him. But don't be over-eager.
He will go to a urinal. Choose the one beside it. BESIDE his! Not the time to be coy.
Do Not Initiate Conversation At The Urinal.
You May Check-out Package BUT be discrete.
Conversation will transpire at the sink area.
Or, if there are too many people, outside the restroom.
But confirm interest with direct eye contact on the mirror above the sink.

If he leads you to a dark and secluded place. DO NOT FOLLOW.
The risk of being held-up is higher than risk of quickie sex.
I repeat. DO NOT FOLLOW. Abandon mission!
Always go for areas where there are still people around.

Disclaimer: This post is for reading pleasure and not meant to be construed as instructional, despite the tone.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

BIrth Month starts

Good Grief! I'm turning 50 by the end of the month. I turn gold!

It's absolutely ancient in millennial terms, maybe even prehistoric. And I get a lot of the ribbing from younger pals. I used to do that myself.

In my 20's, I would look at people in their 50's and think of how old they must feel. That is not necessarily a bad thing. As I was climbing up the corporate ladder, I would be inspired by those already up there. I would think that they would have so much wisdom.

As I fast approach 50, I don't feel so old, or so wise. Yes, my body has changed much. There are really more aches and pains, especially in the joints. I can only lift so much weights. The effort to burn that fat is twice as much.

I am reminded of this quote "Just when I knew all of life's answers, they changed all the questions." That is exactly how I feel, especially with work. I got to this executive position, leading a change in the industry dynamics. Then, almost in an instant, the dynamics changed again. I am back to almost zero.

I don't feel so old because I don't feel so wise. I was hoping that at this age, I would be this 'guru', this 'sage' just dispensing quote-worthy statements, lessons of life. Unfortunately, I haven't collected much yet. I am still learning.

Maybe it's a good thing. It is certainly humbling. I'm still pushing myself, challenging myself, in all aspects. This 50 year old is still not giving up on having a slimmer midsection. This 50 year old is still wracking his brains to come up with solutions to work problems. Yeah, it is getting tiring. But it is not enough to make me pull a hard stop.

Not just yet. Let's see how I feel when I change my citizenship to Senior.


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Joross, Pia and me

Everybody seems to be talking about that Joross video scandal. I pity the guy. It turns out to be a 4-year video that somehow surfaced. A friend of mine shared one particular comment from Direk Joey Reyes: "Well, at least... Very good and grammatically correct English, di ba?"

I can't help but laugh. It was also the "other" thing that I remember from that video, his 'very Pinoy' way of speaking English, grammatically correct yet very Pinoy. I recall Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach's Miss Universe Q&A's and all the interviews that followed. It was also distinctly Pinoy.

I am proud of their correct use of English AND that they speak English without having to 'adapt' an American slang or British stiff upper lip. I didn't use to feel this way. I used to think that one needed to speak English as a native English speaker, accents and all.

I have a sister who has spent more than half her life in the U.S. She has managed to retain Pinoy-accented English, with all the nuances that come with it. I used to laugh about that, or even be embarrassed, but not anymore.

In my last trip to the U.S., I was alone in a small cafe in the little New Jersey township. The waiter, cute and young, was taking my order. I followed it up, and asked for water. He came back with all my orders and chatted a bit with me.

"You must be Filipino. You said 'wa-Ter' " he mentioned matter-of-factly, emphazing that I didn't slide my 'T' as Americans would. I nodded and smiled though I was asking myself whether I have just been insulted.

"I'm half-Filipino. My father is from Olo-ngapo." I laughed and talked to him a bit more.

Afterwards, I was still mulling over how I said "water.' I never thought I pronounced it differently. But rather than be insulted, I thought I shouldn't make a fuss over it. It's about time I 'embrace' my Filipino-ness, even in speech. Other nationalities don't care about how their accents when they speak English. Why should I? As long as I am grammatically correct, I shouldn't have to change the way speak and be ashamed of it.

Yes, another glass of waTer, please. Thank you.


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Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello 2016

I haven't experienced a rainy New Year (at exactly 12am) in a long time (I actually can't recall any.) It was actually quite a spoiler. But it didn't keep the neighbors, nor me, from lighting up those sparklers and some fireworks.

I used to do much preparation for a new year: haircut, new clothes, having all those round shapes in the house. I didn't do anything special at all this year. Maybe it's the age. Maybe because whether I prepare or not, how the year turns out is totally unrelated to that. That is the very definition of superstition, I suppose.

2015 is over, and I'm all the better for it. I was just so hopeful when 2015 came. But as the months passed, I became less and less enthusiastic. It was a difficult year for me. My folks' medical challenges returned (after a 2014 hiatus). Even the challenges at work were worse than before. Again, it's all over.

The bright spot is that my relationship with c3 is wonderful and stable. He is a beautiful person (confidently beautiful) with a good heart (not just a heart). I am blessed by his love and support.

I'm turning golden this year. Yes, I am preparing for that. I feel that is still a milestone that needs to be celebrated.

Hello 2016. Hello from the other side.