Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Our company had a workshop in Tara Woods, Batangas. It’s a great venue for workshops, mini-conferences, or even day-away meetings and planning sessions. It’s a three-storey farmhouse that’s been converted to a bed-and-breakfast place. Just like in Sonya’s, one doesn’t need to bring towels and toiletries because they’re already provided. They don’t heavily advertise the place; they prefer to limit guests to those the owners personally know. Good thing our president is a good friend of the owners!

Anyway we stayed overnight at the place and I had fun shooting people with the lovely sunset as a backdrop.

As we were leaving Thursday afternoon we heard word that storm signal number 3 was raised in Batangas with the arrival of super typhoon Reming (international codename Durian—ambaho naman ng pangalan na napili!) in the country. I pray that Reming won’t do much damage to Tara Woods.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Silly ‘Bate

I haven’t had sex in over a week and for some strange reason, I feel fine. Oh sure, there are nights when, driving home from work, I’m tempted to just drive onwards to Quezon City and go to F or have a massage and more. But unlike before where my attitude was a simple “Drop everything to drop my clothes off!” these past days I suddenly found various reasons that trumped the call of sex: I have to wake up early to avoid the traffic. I have to be early at work so I can have a decent parking space. I have to get enough sleep because I’m working out tomorrow with my trainer and I’ll need all the energy for it. Whereas before I’d easily shrug off any of those reasons—oh, I can make it—nowadays it seems sex is less urgent. Oh, I still keep alert for any chance encounters in the gym, but lately the only people I see are the early morning regulars.

Good gosh, am I turning celibate? Oh no, not at all. But I guess I find it easier to delay sexual gratification. I’m reminded of that TV commercial on emotional quotient or EQ. Given a choice between instant or delayed gratification, the child with the more developed EQ will resist eating the one marshmallow because he knows he’ll be rewarded with two if he passes the test. Am I saving myself for anyone in particular? Not really. I guess it’s just easier for me to forgo sex-just-for-sex’s-sake.

Or maybe I’m just too busy these days, hahaha. Hay naku, feeling ko I might just end up F-ing as soon as my work load lightens up. I may end up eating more than just my words by then, hehehe. Meanwhile it’s sariling sikap for now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More Love To Love

Sunday morning, 10:30am: I decided to listen to the audio DVD of The Beatles’ Love.

As I’ve said earlier, only those people quite familiar with the Beatles’ catalogue of songs will flip out over what George and son Giles Martin have achieved with their labor of Love. A reviewer likened it to bumping on a neighbor while on vacation in some far away foreign place—the clash of the familiar and the strange conjures forth a feeling of happy discovery.

Listening to the new album in full 5.1 channel glory, however, is an altogether mind-blowing experience. I thought I could do other stuff while listening to the album. But after plopping myself on the sofa in the middle of the room, literally being surrounded by Love, I couldn’t get up anymore. I was transfixed, transported. My god, so this is what it feels like to be on drugs!

Love is old, love is new
— “Because”

The album opens with the vocal track of “Because” mixed with the sound of birds tweeting from “Across The Universe,” an ethereal intro where everything old is made new, thanks to technology and the technical wizardry of the Martins.

The magical mystery tour begins in earnest with the rumbling piano ending of “A Day In The Life” played backwards, followed by the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” segueing into the dramatic drum solo of Ringo in “The End”—all that merely as intro to a blistering “Get Back.” That song then flows effortlessly into “Glass Onion” mashed up with snippets from other Beatles songs.

The reworked “Eleanor Rigby” was made achingly more beautiful by dropping the opening vocals and letting the dramatic strings shine through.

I never heard the song “I Am The Walrus” so powerful and insistent and ominous as now, what with the different elements coming in from all sides.

I thought one of the highlights of the album is the mash-up medley of “Drive My Car/The Word/What You’re Doing.” Here my breath was literally taken away when each song effortlessly morphed into one another. It’s like, of course it’s so simple and obvious why didn’t anybody ever think of combining them before? But this highlight would soon be topped by “Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows” mash-up, where the vocal track of the former is placed on top of the psychedelic music of the latter. George Harrison’s Indian-inspired mantra now sounds like a mystic drug trip.

Another beautiful tweak is the reworking of “Octopus’s Garden.” It opens with Ringo singing over the melancholy orchestral score of “Good Night.” It underlines what went unnoticed before—the inherent sadness in Ringo’s voice. This lends a previously lightweight, fluffy song more poignancy and drama.

Of course not all tracks are that drastically tweaked. A number of classics like “Help!” “Something,” “Revolution” and “A Day In The Life” are left almost untouched. The joy is in listening to them in crystal-clear 5.1, so that while the songs remain familiar, it’s like hearing them for the first time. Some songs merely had their intro or ending tweaked to accommodate the demands of the Cirque du Soleil show.

The beauty of Love’s version of “Strawberry Fields Forever” is in its alternate ending. Whereas the original had a long fade out only to fade in to an extended ending, this version had the ending mashed up with snippets from different Beatles songs. I identified elements from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “In My Life,” “Penny Lane,” “Piggies” and “Hello Goodbye” seamlessly segueing one after the other, as if time broke down and songs from different years all became one; Strawberry Fields really sounded forever.

The only music ever recorded for this album was an orchestral score for an alternate take of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The naked, acoustic-type rendition can be heard in The Beatles’ Anthology Vol. 3. For Love George Martin was asked to clothe the song with an orchestral background like what he did for the classic “Yesterday.” Today George Harrison has a song that’s a mirror image of Paul McCartney’s most popular tune.

By this time, towards the end the album, the mood turns more sober, despite “A Day In The Life’s” jaunty mid-song shift, “Hey Jude’s” still-hopeful lyrics and the up-tempo reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Maybe it was in anticipation of the end to the marvelous magical musical mystery tour that the Beatles have brought us. It was more than 40 years ago today that Sgt. Peppers taught the band to play, and play they did. Even now in 2006 the four wonderful lads from Liverpool continue to “make” music that surprises and delights. Sure, other artists have broken their chart records and have pushed the envelope even further. But hearing their raw tracks reworked into something new, you can really tell that The Beatles were one of the important pioneers who broke new ground and unshackled pop music from its previous moorings. They were at the forefront of a new frontier and you can clearly hear them treading new territories. With Love they break new ground again—a legitimate mash-up album.

The album ends fittingly with “All You Need Is Love”:
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung…
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
It’s easy.

After hearing Love on 5.1, I may have a hard time going back to its stereo counterpart. Worse, I may find the original songs now lacking in crisp sound and brilliance (an unfortunate by-product of digital re-mastering). But I guess there’s no turning back. In the ending of “Come Together/Dear Prudence/Cry Baby Cry” Paul sings, “Can you take me back where I came from? Can you take me back?” and I realized the answer is no. How can I, when there’s more to love with Love?

And in the end the love you take
is equal to the love you make.
— “The End”

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Beatles Is Love


One of McVie’s most anticipated releases this year, Love began as a project for Cirque du Soleil. The Beatles’ legendary producer George Martin, together with his son Giles (in picture, second and third from left), crafted music of more than an hour long for a Soleil show featuring all-Beatles songs. With a successful run of the show in Las Vegas, the release of the soundtrack wasn’t far behind. With unprecedented access to the original tapes, the Martins created an album that any Beatles fan will swoon over. It’s the ultimate legitimate mash-up—all-original Beatles music tweaked with the blessings of the surviving members plus the wives of John and George. And sans the bootleggy sound, the Beatles never sounded so fresh. As Giles said in his introduction, “All the music was so well recorded by the EMI engineers that the attitude and passion were frozen in time. Had the music not been so familiar, the tapes sounded like they’ve been recorded yesterday.” But this isn’t just about hearing Beatles songs in crystal-clear, digital crispness. Thanks to the tweaking, it’s like hearing the familiar for the first time again. Of course, only those who are fans of the familiar will experience that. Beatles novices will be forgiven if they scratch their heads and wonder, what’s the big deal? Hearing the songs anew, I’m now compelled to listen to the originals all over again.

The copy I bought also includes the audio-DVD version (DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1); I’m looking forward to hear the whole album in full surround. For this particular Beatles McFan, that will truly be a magical mystery tour.

Tangina, ibang klase talaga sila.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


My friends in TA are the quite-creative ones. There was a time when we started coming up with risqué movie titles. Here are some we came up with:

Umaga Na Nang Hinugot (Ang Kurdon Ng Plantsa)

Lulunin Mo Kung Mahal Mo Ako (Ang Lahat Ng Pasakit)

Lumandi Ka, Lola
*(this one was suppose to be the ST-breakthrough for the late Mary Walter)

Ang Tikoy Masarap

Ang Sumo'y Mabigat


Agiw Lang Ang Pagitan

Touch Me, It's Hot, It's Tender

Huwag Mo Akong Pinggerin Sa Ibabaw Ng Jukebox

Bata, Bata, Gawa Tayong Bata!

Mahiwagang Hiwa

Mabuteng Kabute

Mabulunan Man Ako

He Bangs… Hibang?

Why the bangs? Why not? While I still can.
While it’s still hair today, gone tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I’m helping someone spread the word. Do you know this guy? Click on this site and be warned.

Ring Christmas Balls!

After I deposited my phone, wallet and keys I went upstairs. On the first landing was an attendant in charge of frisking all those who entered. “Welcome to Fahrenheit, sir!” he practically yelled at me his greeting. Sigawan ba ako?! I screamed back at him, only in my head of course. He must be either high on drugs or really bored. Upstairs at the bar area I was greeted by pounding dance music; it was still too early for someone to be massacring some Mariah Carey song on videoke.

When I went downstairs to enter the wet area, I was greeted not by the usual house music but by… gasp! Deck the halls? Christmas tunes?! Yah-huh, fa-lala-lala! But to maintain the atmosphere of F they played only dance versions of Christmas songs. Still, it was strange to hear words like “our savior Jesus Christ” and “Prince of Peace” in such carnal settings. But then again, it got me thinking: why is it that we dichotomize the spiritual and the carnal? What if there was a way to merge the two? After all, in F can you find a lot of men kneeling before the altar of the Cock. “Body of Christ” or “John” or “Ernie” or whatever name your companion-for-the-night gave you, say “Amen!” and then open your mouth wide and say, “Aaaaaaaahhhhhh-ummmph!”

Just make sure you spread Christmas cheer not STD, okay?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

“What Goes Around…”

“…must be round.”

That’s my new motto now.

Because I now have a new Moto—the Motorola W220. It’s the poor man’s Razor, the posh phone for the proletariat. It’s very affordable because it has no camera. I really thought things over and I decided I don’t really need a camera in my phone; I just need a phone for calls and text messages. While shopping for a phone and comparing prices and features, I kept seeing this all-black version of the W220. After a week of assessing and internal debating, I finally decided: I want the black W220.

But when I went to shop after shop where I saw the black W220, I was told that they were either out of stock or their black model was merely a model unit and not for sale. Argh! I was this close to buying the silver version, but decided to wait until the weekend. That’s when I found an available model in a shop in Megamall. The black just looks cooler and slimmer. Now I can go to Bed and not hide my phone. Then again, because the W220’s so slim it will be easier for me to hide my phone.

My first phone was a Motorola Microtac. After so many years I’ve come back full circle—as the motto at the beginning says. Which brings this episode—in content if not in form—in full circle.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Marry For You?

My next episode is ironic given the previous one on gay marriage.

Novelist and essayist Gore Vidal, 81, on gay marriage: “Since heterosexual marriage is such a disaster, why on earth would anybody want to imitate it?”

Okay, I know that this idea will not go down well with a lot of Filipinos, gay or straight. After all, the predominant culture is geared towards the idea of marriage and the “‘til death do us part” routine. We are primed to think: No one wants to grow old alone. You need someone to be whole, to make you complete. Oh yeah, and that idea of a “soul-mate” is still gasping for breath even at this day and age.

But because circumstances have conspired to keep me single my whole life, I’ve been forced to rethink things, to question ideas that were just imposed on me by our culture while growing up.

So far I’ve come to this conclusion: while I will support the right for gays to get married, I don’t exactly want to be married myself. Well okay, ‘wag tayong magsalita ng tapos; malay mo may makilala ako who might make me change my mind. But knowing me it’ll take me yeeeeeeeears before I decide, “Okay, you’re the one I will get married to.” And I’ll only do that to get the legal benefits of marriage. Otherwise I believe that sticking it out with someone should be a personal decision and not due to social, legal or (most especially) religious pressure. Plus I am also open to the idea that, if there be marriage then let there be divorce too.

And what’s the big deal on exclusivity? What’s the rationale behind it? Why the need to be exclusive? I can understand why polygamy is unwieldy from a material possession standpoint: how will numerous wives share and divide the wealth of their husband? But can two or more people share the love of one man? Isn’t a man’s heart big enough to accommodate loving many people? And if you think about it, maybe the idea of “sharing the love” of one man is not possible at all. After all each individual we love is loved uniquely; trying to measure and compare love may be futile.

And if love is really a generous, outward-looking emotion, then are people being “selfish” when they insist on exclusivity in a relationship? Is this “selfishness” a justified kind of selfish? Or is it a “healthy” kind of selfish? Is there such a thing?

Anyway, I have those questions. I don’t have answers.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hello Africa!

From the cradle of apartheid, here’s something breathtaking: South Africa parliament passes a bill approving same-sex marriage.

* * * * *


South Africa bill approves same-sex marriage

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) -- Gays in South Africa can be joined in matrimony under new legislation passed by parliament—an unprecedented move on a continent where homosexuality is taboo.

Traditionalists said they were saddened, and gay activists said the bill, passed Tuesday, did not go far enough. Veterans of the governing African National Congress hailed the Civil Union Bill for extending basic freedoms to everyone under the spirit of the country's first post-apartheid constitution, adopted a decade ago by framers determined to make discrimination a thing of the past.

“When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed, culture and sex,” Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula declared.

South Africa's constitution was the first in the world to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That provided a powerful legal tool to gay rights activists, even though South Africa remains conservative on such issues. A traditionalist lawmaker, Kenneth Meshoe, said Tuesday was the “saddest day in our 12 years of democracy” and warned that South Africa “was provoking God's anger.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and most other sub-Saharan countries. Even in South Africa, gays and lesbians are often attacked because of their sexual orientation.

Cheery Chirp-Chirp

We have a new officemate. She is very cheerful. She is forever smiling. She is always ready with a laugh, and she is quick to apologize if she thinks she made a mistake. She is effusive in her thanks, and is always mindful not to offend anyone.

She is sooo creeping me out, I swear.

I think she’s the type who keeps resentments and ill feelings to herself. In short she gets my vote for Most Likely To Flip Out. One day when Ms. Chirpy-Cheep-Cheep cannot hold things inside anymore she’ll just lose the smile, grab a submachine gun, and start shooting people in the office. I hope I’m on client call when that happens.

Mandy and More!

There’s this spa in QC that has a wet area that’s often full of PLUs on the prowl, but that’s not exactly why I go there. It’s this particular masseur named Mandy. First of all, he told me I could take off my shorts. Next he would glide his fingers ever so lightly along my inner thighs, reaching deeper and deeper until… bingo! His finger would oh so gently brush against my family jewels. And even when I was already sporting a raging hard-on, he didn’t mind letting his fingers stray along my pubic area. If I were in a massage parlor—you know, the Masahista kind—I would by that time be receiving some extra service, or in their parlance, “sensation.” But because this is not a “massage parlor” but a “spa” I decided not to risk it.

The second time I got Mandy, he got a little bolder. He engaged me in small talk, even revealing where he goes home and commenting on my living in Marikina, “Too bad it’s too far for me.” This time his fingers actually brushed this close to, uhm, a certain member of the McVie anatomy. Then when I was dressing up after the session, he said quietly, “Sir, next time maybe you want some sensation.” Jackpot! Bingo! Full house! Pong!

I smiled. “Next time,” I whispered back.

Next time I’ll be singing to myself, “Oh Mandy! Well, I came when you gave without taking. Then I sent you away, oh Mandy!”

Ang corny ng joke ko.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Bitch Is (Come)Back!

Guess who’s making a “quiet” comeback in the McVie music charts? Why it’s Sir—or should I say, Dame?—Elton John! My top two tunes these days are: at number two, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” by Scissor Sisters; and at number one, “In Private” by the Pet Shop Boys. So where’s Sir Elton, you ask? In the Scissor Sister’s track (which, by the way, they dubbed as “the happiest song in the world”) Sir Elton plays the piano, while in the PSB track he is the guest vocalist singing a duet with Neil Tenant.

Both songs can be heard on my McMultiply site under “Happy Music.”

Trick Or Drift

(The following is not a belated Halloween episode of The McVie Show.)

Watching Trick, the movie by Jim Fall starring Christian Campbell, J.P. Pitoc and Tori Spelling, can be, uhm, tricky when one is in a reflective mood. Actually most people will say “lonely” mood but I’d prefer “reflective” or better yet, “self-aware” mood. It’s all semantics, baby, yeah.

Anyway, on to Trick. It’s structured like a classic Hollywood romantic comedy—two guys meet, they are attracted to each other, but people and circumstances converge to prevent the two from really hooking up, including the oh-so-needy-but-misunderstood-best-friend, but after several mix-ups and the prerequisite big confrontation and revelation scene, the two eventually declare their feelings, and eventually end up with a passionate on-screen kiss before movie fades to black. Roll end credits. Because everything is a cliché the movie is actually a tricky act to pull off successfully. But succeed it does. I mean, can anyone really believe that a guy as cute as Chris Campbell (wow, feeling ka-close na ako sa kanya! Er, he’s the one on the right in the picture below. John Paul Pitoc is the one on the left—he’s hot too!) can’t find someone interested in him? C’mon, pull our legs some more, puh-leez! But this is a rom-com, so you go with the flow. And the movie actually flows quite smoothly over those implausible spots. It even manages to end with a character launching into a song that continues over to the end credits roll.

The problem with rom-coms is that they often fade out at a high and happy point. But life never stops at those high and happy moments. In fact they always are messier than what is shown onscreen. If one wants his life to end up like a Hollywood ending, then he should end his life after a particularly high point. Like maybe after finally getting the guy he’s going out with to agree to become his boyfriend, he should slash his wrists right there and then. Or after celebrating their fifth anniversary, a couple should just jump off a building. Of course in a Hollywood ending the fade out happens before the slashing or the jumping off.

So it was a good thing that after watching Trick I immediately watched Drift, a movie by Quentin Lee, an Asian-Canadian gay filmmaker. It’s about Ryan and Joel, a couple who breaks up after three years. The lead character, Ryan, is an Asian American who feels that he’s just drifting in the relationship, so he calls everything off on the eve of their anniversary. The movie then effortlessly drifts into three alternative endings: one wherein Ryan replaces Joel with a crush he met when they were still a couple; another wherein Ryan and Joel get back together again; and a third wherein Ryan ends up alone but not regretting any of his decisions. All three endings are in their own way “happy” endings, but the audience also sees the compromises and the what-ifs and the trade-offs that accompany each so-called happy ending. By the third ending, the audience gets the drift: there really are no happy endings, but endings are as happy or as sad depending on how we make them to be—and depending on where the fade out happens.

I’m glad I watched both films. Trick puts a smile in your face, while Drift puts that smile in its proper place.

(Both films can be found on VCD format at Top & Bottom, on top of O Bar, 1800 Orosa St. corner Nakpil Street, Malate, Manila.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Winner Taxi Name

And now for something completely brainless: taxi-spotting! We spotted this taxi at our building’s driveway: “The Wheel of the Win.” Panalo! Pang-Spin A Win, hahaha!

Here Comes The Sun

From Shafts Of Sun:

reading your post, I kind of see where you're coming from, i just don't agree with it. basically, you're saying that the freedom of private business establishments to come up with their own rules within the confines of their own property as long as they don't violate the law (choosing who to let in) is more important than each person's individual liberty (how one wants to dress up). the problem with these two concepts is that basically they're both important, and should be respected up to a certain point. Re: cross-dressers and people wearing sandos not being allowed to go in certain establishments; the question becomes, do they cross the threshold where the importance of freedom of private establishments crosses over and infringes upon another person's liberty to express oneself? I would say yes, and, though not unlawful, at the very least enforces the idea that these people who choose to express themselves in this way cannot be trusted to behave themselves.

Re: the example of people not being allowed in city hall because they wear sandos; well, the whole thing is just, honest to God, unconstitutional. Last time I checked, this wasn't China. I'm actually surprised no one has brought it to court yet. The government has no power to discriminate against people especially on the basis of how they choose to dress themselves, and especially if the people who are going to be affected the most are those who need government help the most. Check Article III (Bill of Rights), XI (Accountability of Public Officers), and XIII (Social Justice and Human Rights) of the Constitution.

* * * * *

Thank you, Shafts Of Sun a.k.a. Polite Megalomaniac for your comments. You’ve made some very good points.

Let me just clarify something first. You stated: “you're saying that the freedom of private business establishments to come up with their own rules within the confines of their own property as long as they don't violate the law (choosing who to let in) is more important than each person's individual liberty (how one wants to dress up).”

I’m sorry but I never said that the freedom of establishments is “more important” than a persons individual liberty. Pardon me if I gave you that impression. I was just stating the sad reality that establishments justify their house rules as their means of protecting their business from “undesirable” customers. That’s why I asked the question “Why do certain establishments insist on a dress code in the first place?” twice. I wanted to thresh out the thinking behind dress codes and house rules.

I really like how you explained the delicate balance between the rights of the establishment versus the rights of individuals. In fact, the following statement of yours is pretty telling: “(it) enforces the idea that these people who choose to express themselves in this way cannot be trusted to behave themselves.”

The fear that flamboyantly cross-dressers as well as tattooed, leather-clad folks will behave embarrassingly is, I’d like to think, a fear born out of: [1] past bad experience/s; [2] passed-on or acquired bias; [3] the uncertainty of the unknown. Because there is no fool-proof way of screening queens who’ll behave appropriately versus queens who’ll behave badly (let’s not forget that what constitutes “bad” behavior is also subjective), is an establishment justified to impose a dress code/house rules as a preventive measure? Wow, talk about a preemptive strike.

Also, here a reality we have to consider: between a person exercising his freedom (wearing what he likes) versus an establishment exercising its house rules (including dress code), what often happens is that the person is the one ejected from the establishment. There are establishment that lend a dinner coat or jacket to customers who aren’t in the proper attire. How come the establishments get their way in most cases?

Re. the Marikina City Hall, I really don’t know why no one has questioned that rule yet. Maybe even the poorest of the poor in Marikina have at least one plain t-shirt? (I’m tempted to joke about them having shoes, but that’s just way too obvious.) Maybe the guards at the gate ask the people very gently and politely? Maybe the government—and the people—of Marikina doesn’t see it as discrimination, but teaching the people to be presentable? Maybe the rule isn’t as iron-clad as it sounds; maybe they do allow exceptions to the rule? I really don’t know.

I’ve never actually set foot in the City Hall, but my mom has and she was the one who told me about the rule. At first I was taken aback; isn’t that discrimination? But my mom told me how clean and orderly and behaved and—most importantly—disciplined the people were inside City Hall. (Or at least, that’s what it looks like on the surface; neither she nor I can attest that no under-the-table stuff happens inside.) Queues were orderly and properly observed; service was efficient, if a tad slow (not surprising). No one asked her for grease money to facilitate processing whenever she pays our real estate tax annually.

The cynic in me doesn’t believe that all is right in the Marikina City Hall. But I cannot deny that many Marikina residents attest to an improved City Hall; nay, to an improved city. They say there’s no arguing success; maybe that’s why no one has questioned the dress code. Yet.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

“What Is The Essence To Be A Gay?”

Benevolent judges, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!

Trying to define “homosexuality” and “gay” and thinking that the two words are synonymous will get you caught in a discussion that is still ongoing. Worse, terms such as “sexual orientation,” “sexual history” and “self-identification” are also thrown into the fray. I am not about to write a thesis, nor am I going to choose this topic should I decide to write a book.

I guess the simplest way I can define a homosexual person is this: if he is sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same gender, and if he identifies himself as such.

(Dear lesbians, for the sake of simplicity I just decided to limit my pronouns to “he” and my discussion to gay men, no offense meant of course.)

Which means that everything else—the fashion, the attitude, the loud behavior, the love for beauty contests, the tight-fitting muscle shirts, the impressive pecs, the cross-dressing, the discreet-acting—all that is relative and merely indicative of what most gay men appropriate for themselves, in their lifestyle, behavior, manners and values. At best these behaviors and manners are generalizations of what gay men are. Call them “circumstantial evidence,” so to speak.

Let me put it this way. Many New Yorkers are seen as pushy, aggressive, hurried people. That’s due to the effect of living in a fast-paced city. But not all New Yorkers are pushy, aggressive and hurried; likewise, not all pushy, aggressive and hurried people are New Yorkers.

Not all gay men should be discreet and straight-acting; in the same spirit, not all gay men should be loud and flamboyant. But gay men should have the freedom to choose to be discreet and straight-acting, or to be loud and flamboyant, or to be somewhere in between, or to be both depending on the occasion. The beauty of this “rainbow coalition” is that we should embrace all our differences, because the only thing that’s similar to us homosexuals is our sexual preference. We can view all other preferences as what makes us human, not just gay.

Taken to another level, gays and straights should be able to act any which way they want, whether conservative or flamboyant. It would be a wonderful world if we all can be tolerant with straight guys who sport Mohawks, leather jackets and tattoos as well as with flamboyant queens who parade in feathers and high heels.

Too idealistic? Impossible to achieve in this lifetime? I suppose. But there’s no harm in starting now.

And with that, I thank you benevolent judges. Bow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

‘Tis The Season To Be Folly?

This public service reminder is brought to you by The McVie Show.

Because the holiday season is fast approaching, I’m sure there will be a rise in criminal activity over-all. Pick-pockets, snatchings and hold-ups may become more common as the Christmas and bonus season approaches. Which is all the more reason to avoid picking up strangers and bringing them home. I was just told by an online friend that he had been robbed of a cellphone and cash by his take-home. The guy slipped out of his place before he woke up in the morning.

The additional spending during the holiday season makes people more desperate for extra cash obtained in any which way. I don’t want to sound praning, but better be safe than sorry.

May this season of cheer be what it really should be, a time of blessings and joy. Take extra care, all of you.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Inday Will Always Love Youuuuuuuuuu!

Gotterdamerung raised some good points for further discussion re. Inday Gee and the Aruba Bar incident.

[1] “…what if a really butch dyke entered the premises, you know, very masculine, sporting short hair, polo and slacks, with an obvious macho swagger, do you think she will be shown the door as well? She should be, but chances are, she’ll get away with it. (I am presuming, of course).”

Since none of us are associated with Aruba Bar, let me begin by stating that the following will contain presumptions and assumptions.

If they followed their dress code to the letter, the Aruba staff should not have allowed the dyke in their premises. This assumes, of course, that the staff at the door does not mistake her for a guy. Given your description, there is a possibility that they’ll let her in simply because they thought she was a he.

However, assuming that the Aruba Bar is bent on screening out really loud, very obvious cross-dressers, then it’s possible that the staff will allow that dyke inside. This will go against the letter of their code but it will be in keeping with its spirit.

This leads into the next point you raised.

[2] “It seems to me that the bar simply didn’t want to alienate their straight patrons who might not want to mingle, mix, or at least be seen with loud and flamboyant queens (well, can you ever imagine Garutay not in drag?). The dress code is in place precisely to keep them out. After all, Aruba bar isn’t a gay bar, for crying out loud. Management ostensibly wants to keep the bar’s core customers, i.e., straight patrons. It boils down to a question of economics.”

This is the sad reality we face. Business establishments want to keep their primary customers comfortable inside their venues. But in our society most straight people (and not a few gay ones too) find it very uncomfortable to mingle with loud and flamboyant queens, especially in venues where they just want to relax, hang around and be entertained. If these queens start invading a comfort zone of theirs, like a bar or a gym, then it’s likely that the straights will feel uncomfortable, maybe even threatened. They may even start avoiding that particular venue altogether. It’s not surprising, therefore, that bars like Aruba will put up rules that limit, if not totally exclude, “undesirables” in their venue.

But how does one keep “undesirables” out without appearing like a bigot? Aye, there’s the rub. “No cross-dressers” is neater and simpler while “No noisy, flamboyant and openly-gay cross-dressing men who rub straights the wrong way by talking really loud and who act obnoxious by straight men’s standards” is a tad too unwieldy a sign.

[3] “Just because the bar has the right to impose its own policy and enforce it doesn’t mean it is right. Think of apartheid in South Africa a few decades ago. Discrimination against blacks was institutionalized and made a policy. Legally speaking, Botha’s government didn’t breach any rules, but that does that mean the policy was right?”

Interesting choice of analogy you used. Discrimination against a race is on a different level versus discrimination against choice of wardrobe. One can decide to change clothes, but one cannot decide to change skin color, Michael Jackson aside.

But I do appreciate and get your point. That’s why I raised the bigger question: why insist on a dress code in the first place?

Let’s be honest here: “No sando, slippers and shorts” is usually meant to exclude the can’t-affords. But what if Bill Gates wanted to be comfortable while shopping and decided to wear flip-flops? (Assuming, of course, that Mr. Gates will go out of his way to physically shop and not just buy things online, or have someone else do the buying for him.)

Maybe the key is in examining the real reason behind imposing such dress codes. The “no sando, etc” could have been born out of an attitude of excluding the poor-who-cannot-afford and the dirty-who-may-soil-our-merchandize from loitering in a venue that’s clearly not meant for them. Is this attitude “hoity-toity” and “snooty”? Or seen in another way, is it just being “practical” (the thinking behind it being: just to play it safe, let’s discourage people who have no chance of doing business with us from entering)?

Here’s a different perspective on dress codes. In Marikina City Hall, no one—employee or visitor alike—is allowed to enter wearing slippers, shorts and sando. No matter how poor you are, if you have any business to transact in City Hall, you must dress up. You need not dress up to the nines; plain sneakers and a plain t-shirt will do.

The reason behind it is simple: to teach people—employees and public alike—to respect the institution by forcing the change to first start from the outside. This idea is also the insight behind that by-now famous book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: changing the environment can also change the behavior of the population.

So is it “wrong” then for the Marikina City Hall to enforce a dress code? Obviously the difference in the two examples is in their intentions. One seeks to exclude, the other seeks to effect positive change. One is seen as negative, the other looks positive on the surface. Will a positive intention justify a rule?

Okay, that’s enough. I’m getting a headache already. And I’m not sure if this is funny or entertaining to read at all.

I’m going out to dinner now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why Is There A Dress? (a.k.a. Dress-crimination)

I met up with Migs the Manila Gay Guy, Air in G, and other bloggers and non-bloggers last night. Migs asked me what I thought about the Inday Garutay and Aruba incident. It was my answer that inspired the title of this episode of The McVie Show, Season 5 and counting.

To be honest when I gave my answer last night, I was just blurting out things at the top of my head. But after mulling things over, I decided to write my thoughts down. Here they are.

* * * * *

For those who don’t about the Aruba incident, a quick recap: Inday G, an out-and-proud gay celebrity, attended an event in Aruba Bar in Metrowalk. He came in drag. Unfortunately the bar had a “no cross-dressing” policy. So even though he was already inside the bar, the staff went up to him and asked him to step out. Of course this angered Inday, but he was ejected from the bar nonetheless. So he sued the bar, and in subsequent interviews in the media he decried Aruba Bar’s discriminatory stance against gays. I think several gay organizations also spoke up in defense of Inday, and also lambasted the “no corss-dressing” policy of Aruba as “anti-gay” and “discriminatory.”

I think this was an incident that was badly mishandled by the Aruba Bar management. I’ve never been to the bar but I was told that there is a sign on their wall informing the public of their “no cross-dressing” policy. It should be displayed properly and clearly; otherwise, the customers aren’t to blame if they didn’t follow the policy. Plus, why did their doorman allow Inday to enter in the first place? The staff at the entrance should have enforced their rules. Clearly there was negligence on the part of the Bar to inform Inday of their policy as well as to enforce their policy at the entrance. If I were their manager I’d just allow this one incident to pass.

However, I think Inday’s reaction—calling this incident a case of “discrimination against gays”—is the equivalent of The Gay Who Cried Wolf. Aruba’s policy of “no cross-dressing” should not be seen as discriminatory against gays in general. (This attitude should still apply even if we do find out that, indeed, the Aruba management came up with that policy specifically to prevent gay cross-dressers from entering their establishment.) I believe that policy discriminates against cross-dressers, whether they be gay or straight. In other words, if Brad Pitt were to attempt to enter Aruba Bar wearing a skirt, he should not be allowed entrance either. This whole issue should be about a dress-code issue, not an anti-gay issue.

Insisting that the “no cross-dressing” policy is anti-gay presupposes that only gay people cross-dress. That is not true, especially in this day and age; I know of a straight male (a former officemate) who wears skirts to parties. Corollary to that, it also reinforces the notion among straight people (especially those with limited exposure to gay men) that all gay men cross-dress. Now, isn’t that reinforcing a gay stereotype? Aren’t the efforts of all these pro-gay group aimed at eradicating stereotypes? Inday’s actions then are a step backward, not forward, towards eliminating gay stereotypes.

Besides, there is an obvious proof that Aruba Bar doesn’t discriminate against gays in general. I’m pretty sure that so many pa-mhins and They-Who-Call-Themselves-Bi have gone in and out of Aruba Bar with impunity. In fact, I know of a top executive of a leading network who celebrated his birthday in Aruba Bar; aside from celebrities, many of his guests were out-and-proud gay folks—producers, designers, and even production assistants. Their obvious swishy demeanor and high-pitched vocal histrionics are dead giveaways: they are indubitably G-A-Y. But were they turned away at the entrance? Hell, no. That’s because none of them were wearing a dress.

The problem arises when gay people try to appropriate certain behaviors, actions or attitudes, and insist that all these are “gay qualities”; ergo, to be against these behaviors, actions and attitudes is to be against gays. If there’s one thing that defines being a homosexual, it is only this: given a choice, we will always prefer to have sex with people of the same gender. All the rest—the bitchy attitude, the lisps, the keen fashion sense, the near-universal love for Madonna and Barbra Streisand, the fascination for beauty contests—they are not what define gay people. Because I know of several straight men who happen to like listening to Streisand; I am also a gay man who, for the life of me, does not have nor will ever have the Miss Universe “gene” in me. Does loving Streisand make a guy any less straight? Does ignorance of who the winner was in the 1967 Miss Universe pageant make me any less gay?

We’ve been fighting for years to break out of stereotypes. Please, Inday, don’t pigeonhole us. Besides, in the universe of all gay men only a small portion actually cross-dresses. Please, Inday, do not speak on behalf of the majority who are not fond of wearing taffeta. In the meantime, I will defend your right to cross-dress, just as I will defend the right of Brad Pitt to wear a skirt—preferably very, very short and with no underwear underneath.

* * * * *

Going back to the dress-code issue, it is a fact that private establishments have the right to choose the kind of people they will allow to enter their premises. That means it is their right to discriminate, to be choosy. I see this as just a function of marketing and economics—if a bar wants to maintain a certain look or image, then they must have the right to impose limitations (age, dress-code, height, whatever).

So “no sando, slippers, and shorts” is as discriminatory as “no cross-dressing.” For me the bigger question is this: why do certain establishments insist on a dress code in the first place?

What’s more, if the public disagrees with such dress codes, then people can just boycott the establishment. If you’re a cross-dresser and you know you aren’t allowed into Aruba, they why insist on going in at all? Take yourself—and your money—somewhere else. Don’t insist on crashing into a party when you know you’re not even invited to it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Gays

Last year a gay showbiz writer was found brutally murdered in his home. Several months before that incident there was also a series of murders; all involved gay men killed in their own homes. The series of killings prompted speculations of a serial killer (or a gang) preying on gay men who lived alone. The modus operandi was frighteningly similar: the victim is often found totally naked in his bed and stabbed to death. No visible marks of forced entry, so most probably the killer was invited inside. But after the killing of this showbiz writer and the subsequent heavy news coverage that followed—including short news features on gay nocturnal activities that may encourage further serial murders—the killings stopped.

That was until yesterday when I received a text message from my friend at ABS-CBN. Joselito “Joel” Siervo, an executive producer of “Pinoy Dream Academy,” was brutally murdered in a similar fashion as the other gay victims. According to my friend Joel’s face was covered with a towel; otherwise he was totally naked. Plus my friend’s inside scoop was that there were some oils or ointment found nearby, stuff used for giving a massage. Hmmm… is this a case of a masahista murderer? The murder is still currently being investigated.

For me this case is made even more disturbing because I personally knew the guy. We weren’t actually close, just on nodding-along-the-corridor terms. But prior to leaving the network I was supposed to work more closely with him because a show of his was just recently assigned to me. But I resigned before I even found it necessary to save his number on my cellphone. Thank god; otherwise, I just might receive text messages from him from beyond!

This latest killing has again made the pink community—especially those in Quezon City where all the killings have occurred—to be on the alert again. But all the killer (or could there be killers?) has to do is lay low for a while; then we get careless again. I believe we should all take it upon ourselves to help stop these killings. How? By practicing safe sex—and I don’t mean just using condoms. We need to bring “safe sex” to another level.

So for those among us who live alone and are fond of bringing home tricks and pick-ups, keep the following in mind:

[1] Never bring home a total stranger.

[2] If you must bring someone home and you live alone (those without stay-in help, for example), always have a trusted friend whom you can inform that you’ll be having company. As much as possible do this in the presence of your take-home, so that he knows that someone else knows you won’t be alone that night.

[3] There are “massage parlors” that allow their masseurs to be taken out for “home service.” Avoid using home service; stick to doing it in the massage parlor. The masseurs themselves may not be the actual killers and robbers, but they may be part of a larger gang. Once the masseur is inside your house, he’s the key that will allow the gang access inside.

[4] Avoid street walkers like the plague.

[5] Just because you picked him up in a “reputable” bar or dance club doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to bring him home. Stick to a motel. If he doesn’t agree, then it’s safer to just cut your loss early.

* * * * *

So far the victims targeted all lived alone. It’s easier to kill them (no possible witnesses) then search the house for valuables they can steal.

Thank god I don’t live alone.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Splitting Ears

I can understand the use of earphones. Sure, one can choose to use them to block out the world, but in general people use earphones so that they can enjoy whatever they’re listening to in private, without disturbing others around them.

What’s funny is when the volume level is raised so loud that people in close proximity of the earphone-wearer can actually identify the song and maybe even sing-along to it. It kinda defeats the purpose of the earphones, right? I find especially embarrassing the following situation in a crowded elevator: everyone is minding their own personal space, keeping quiet and trying to make no unnecessary noise as possible… and here’s this one guy thinking he’s the only one listening to his music but actually everyone can hear the song blaring out of the small speakers.

What’s even funnier is when one realizes that the guy—this towering hulk of a man who looks like he can just pick me up with one hand and nonchalantly toss me out of the elevator just because he can—this, this… mammoth of a man is actually listening to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.”




(another pause)

Not only that….

“I Have Nothing”(!)

Hay naku. Next time ha, “I’m Every Woman” na lang. Para mas obvious, dah-buh?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ghost Stories – A Postscript

This evening while doing overtime work, I entered the bathroom on our floor. The lights switched on automatically as soon as I entered and triggered the motion-sensors. Immediately after taking another step or two I felt the hair on my right arm all the way to the back of my neck rise suddenly, seemingly for no reason. Or was there one? I didn’t stay any longer to find out. I immediately turned around and walked out.

I ended up using the bathroom on the third floor (where the 24-hr restaurants and the 7-11 are located).

Ugh. All these ghost talk about our bathroom is making me jittery in there.

Ghost Stories

In honor of All Souls’ Day.

[1] One morning about two weeks ago I was in the men’s bathroom on our office floor. I had just finished washing my hands and was just giving my hair a final check when I noticed a movement on the mirror to my right. It was something white, and direction of the movement was towards the mirror. But given the angle of my sightlines, that would mean that, one, the white thing was a reflection on the shiny tiles of the walls, and two, the figure would have to be moving behind or just beside me. But there was no one else there in the bathroom. I immediately skedaddled out of there.

[2] My brother’s wife came from a broken family; when she was in college, her father left his wife, son and three daughters for a woman just a couple of years older than his eldest daughter. And he stayed estranged from his wife and children until he had a massive heart attack this year. On his deathbed, he looked only for his children and wife; he never once asked for his mistress. Just before he died he made peace with his wife, who had to fly in from the U.S. where she’s now based.

Days after, my brother and his family would smell cigarette smoke in their house. None of them smoked except for his father-in-law (he chain-smoked Marlboros). Once the maid was sleeping in the living room waiting for my brother and his wife to arrive home from watching the last full show of a movie. She woke up to hear footsteps coming down the stairs. But when she looked up there was no one there, but the sounds grew louder and nearer. That’s when she shut her eyes and started praying. A couple of days later when the whole family went out, the maid was left alone in the house again. This time she heard the screen door open and chairs being pushed around upstairs. She stayed in the garage until the family came back. Only when my brother’s mother-in-law left for the U.S. did the strange sounds and the smell of smoke stopped.

[3] The scariest thing for me is something that was just told to me. It happened to a friend of mine and this was her story: One evening she couldn’t sleep. She tried reading, counting sheep, even drinking milk, but nothing worked. So she decided to pray the Hail Mary over and over again, hoping the monotony would put her to sleep. It didn’t. In fact, the more she prayed the more she stayed awake. But she couldn’t stop praying; slowly she realized she could hear, faintly but clearly, another voice praying along with her. When she listened closer, it was a male voice saying the words just a beat or two behind her in a mocking way: Hell merry, fool of grays…. When she realized that, she got so rattled she prayed faster and louder, trying to block the voice out. Eventually she got so tired she fell asleep; she didn’t even remember nodding off.

A few years later I heard a similar story, but this involved two girls and a loony mocking them with the Hail Mary. I’m not sure now if it was her story that came first and had evolved, or if it’s the loony story that came first then she heard it and, in turn, it became the subconscious trigger that made her “imagine” this demonic voice taunting her. To this day she swears she heard a voice, though she now acknowledges the possibility that she just imagined it and believed that it was real at that time.

And what is your ghost story, mga multong bakla?