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)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mass Entertainment

For the first time in years I attended the Misa de Gallo at our parish church in Marikina. And I was surprised by what I saw.

I never knew that our current parish priest is so showbiz. Through the years our parish always had two anticipated masses on Dec. 24. But this year he limited it to one mass, which had us worried because the church cannot accommodate all the parishioners in our village. So he had wide-screens and projectors set up all around the church so that the overflow of people in the parking lot would be able to see the mass like on TV.

He also had the old lady collectors dress up in Filipinana costumes and do a dance number after they finished doing their rounds for the second collection after communion. In the beginning of their dance number, the lights in the church were turned off. Then the dancers held up blinking lights as the music played. Karir kung karir ang dance number! The dance itself looked like a traditional Filipino folk dance mashed with tai chi simplicity to accommodate the osteoporostic participants.

And before the final blessing, our parish priest announced that there was going to be a fireworks display at the parish parking lot.

As I watched the night sky ablaze, I wondered how the mass would look like if Master Showman German Moreno overhauled it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Zombadings!

From the brains behind Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Olivero and Endo comes this brain-busting comedy, scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.



Personally, just the mere presence of Roderick Paulate in the movie is enough to make my head giddy with excitement and anticipation. OMG, si Kuya Dick, doing what he does best!

Watch out for it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Make Christmas Merry

So this is Christmas,
And what have you done?
Another year over,
And a new one’s just begun.

-- John Lennon

2010 has been quite a year for me. It was the year I ended my Single Since Birth status. It was the year I moved out of the condo I shared with a housemate and into a place of my own. It was the year I took my second test and breathed a sigh of relief. But it was also the year two of my friends found out they were HIV-positive.

A decade of the new millennium past, and a new decade beckons. One of my favorite quotes has been: Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. I’ve always believed that every problem has a solution, but when it comes to the bigger picture of Life, one just goes with the flow—sort of. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” and all that jazz. But I guess wisdom happens when one knows when to fly into a rage and when one quietly submits to what is and what will be.

May we all be a little more ignorant, a little bit wiser, and a lot gentler this coming 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I. Will. Never. Get. Drunk. Again!

My officemate Donita* is the tomboyish-looking kind of girl, but she’s definitely straight. She prefers jeans and t-shirt, and wears her hair short. She’s very much into sports, which is why one could cast her as Sporty Spice. It’s her lack of femininity and her love for traditionally male-centric games (like basketball) that can throw people off.

An artist from my department, Calvin* is wiry thin with a boyish demeanor. Newly hired just a few months ago, he exudes the enthusiasm of someone fresh off college. He’s still very gung-ho and open to almost anything.

The following incidents were reported to have happened last Wednesday at Amber, during our post-Christmas party gimmick. I have absolutely no recollection of them whatsoever; let it be stated for the record that I am just repeating what my officemates told me the following day.

[1] While dancing with Donita and some others at Amber, I leaned over to her and said, “Alam mo, okey ka. Kahit medyo butch ka.”

OH EM GEE.

[2] The following day, Calvin went up to his immediate supervisor and said, “Sir! Ang guwapo ko pala!”

“Ha? Bakit?” asked his supervisor.

Calvin laughed and said, “Eh kasi sinayaw po ako ni Sir Joel! Naramdaman ko pa nga yung balbas niya sa aking leeg!”

OH EM GEE!

Donita just laughs about it now. I still have to give Calvin a good whack on the head when I see him.

*Not their real names

Monday, December 20, 2010

Close To Home

On the first week of December, I found out that a friend of mine was HIV+. He was the first guy I knew who turned out to be positive after I’ve met him (unlike, say, Chronicles of E whom I’ve met after he found out that he was HIV+). Several days after, a Fabcaster told me that another friend of ours was also HIV+ (though he refused to name the friend).

As another Fabcaster said, it really makes a difference when someone whom you personally know has HIV. It brings the virus closer to home. And if it’s a close friend, the disease is literally breathing down your neck.

For those who have never taken the test, believe me when I say that I know the fear of taking it for the first time. I was lucky; I was literally dragged to the test by Chronicles of E. Having him plus a friend for company, plus the fact that the test was done on such a public area (in the streets of Malate), helped shoved my fear aside. What’s more, the results were to be given two weeks after, so I had time to actually “forget” about it.

But it took me almost a year after to take my second test, and the reason was simple: fear of “what if?” What eventually helped me conquer the fear was my sense of responsibility to myself (and consequently, to my loved ones), which, as it turned out, was much more compelling than just coasting along on the blissful irresponsibility of ignorance.

So for those who still haven’t done so, please take the test. And if you tested negative, take the test again after six months.

And always, always, always PLAY SAFE. (Thank you to those who reminded me about this reminder.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mind Versus Body

I never really liked getting drunk. Tipsy is fine, tipsy is great. You get that buzz while still aware and able to enjoy what’s happening. But drunk is just plain awful. Everything gets tuned out, and you’re left grasping at yourself, trying to keep yourself together—and to keep everything you drank (and ate) to remain in your stomach. It’s a test of mind over body, wherein the mind itself is weakened and the body threatening to break down.

After hosting our Christmas party (successfully, so I was told), I joined everyone in drinking and dancing (okay, okay, more drinking than dancing). And when the booze ran out, our bosses dragged several of us over to Amber. There I downed 5 shots of coffee-flavored Patron Tequila. Needless to say, I ended up sitting on a chair, my head reeling and the music fading into a blur.

Then I heard my officemate Howie asking me, “Are you okay?” I shook my head. Then I felt someone hand me a glass of something cold. “Here,” my other officemate Trisha said. “Drink this. You need sugar!” I looked up and saw the soda can she was holding. I drank from the glass she gave me.

As she turned away, I whispered to Howie (who was still beside me), “Sugar? She gave me a Coke Zero! There’s no sugar in Coke Zero!”

Even with the world spinning like crazy, my mind is still very, very aware. But unfortunately my body isn’t as controlled as my mind. A few minutes later I was barfing in Amber’s bathroom.

Smooth.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bed Manila Is Back-la!

First, the official press release (with matching pictures):

BED Manila will finally hold its grand public opening on December 17, Friday.


The long wait is over and after a series of endless teasing, BED Manila brings you the real deal! A bigger and definitely better BED Manila for you to explore.

With more than 600 square meters, 3-storey dance and music playground, now you can truly play all you want in BED Manila. This is the biggest BED ever!

BED Manila aims to be Asia’s capital of lifestyle celebration giving its unique market the most innovative entertainment, products, services, facilities and exceptional individuals all in one equally uniquely designed space.

Its battle cry: “Live Loud. Live Proud.”

In BED Manila, everyday is a celebration of diversity as well as individuality. It celebrates music, the soul of its home. It celebrates dance, the way we play. It will be the home of great individuals who celebrate their passion for success, love, life and freedom.

The grand public opening is supported by Dove Men, Vaseline Men, Folded & Hung and Finlandia Vodka.





Last Saturday, Dec. 11, we attended the invitational launch of Bed Manila. Since it was an invitational event, the crowd was more of friends of friends of friends. And what can I say about the new place?

In Goldilocks’ tale, she didn’t like Papa Bear’s bed because it was too hard. She also didn’t like Mama Bear’s bed because it was too soft. But she loved Baby Bear’s bed because it was just right.

When Bed first opened, it was a small hole-in-the-wall two-storey affair. When it got crowded, it got really packed. But the Manila gays didn’t mind feeling like sardines; it was a chance to snuggle up (or maybe cop a feel or two) to your crush. It was like a private (jam-packed) space that we grew up with, and to this day I still remember the small space with much fondness. But Bed closed down for renovations.

Bed re-opened to a bigger venue, with an even bigger mirror ball. There was more space, space, space. Though it frequently got crowded (especially on Saturday evenings), the bigger space meant more maneuvering room. It didn’t feel like the private “hideaway” that Bed used to be, but change was inevitable. More guys were more open to exploring their sexuality, and Malate was losing some of the old-time gay-friendly establishments—the pink crowd needed a place to call home. Bed was big enough to welcome all of them.

The fire unfortunately killed the music for a few months, and the Bed crowd flocked to other alternatives (in The Fort and Ortigas). But now the brand new Bed Manila is back.

What struck me most was how Bed Manila raised the ante on the interiors. Most gay establishments have this somewhat seedy, thrown-together look; it’s like they didn’t have much money to really spruce up the place. The new Bed Manila is light-years cooler than its previous incarnation. Gone is the ubiquitous throw-back-to-a-bygone-era mirror ball. From the snazzy interiors designed by Ricky Disini to the too-too cool monitors and huge screen in front and behind the DJ’s booth, Bed Manila now looks first world. And why shouldn’t it be? Why can’t we have international DJs come in and spin for us?

What’s even better, they now have converted the third floor/rooftop into the smoking area. My biggest beef with the old venue was the lack of proper ventilation; all that cigarette smoke would eventually sting my eyes and made the place unbearable.

My other complaint was the heat, especially when the place gets too packed. In the following days we’ll see if the new airconditioning units can take the heat of a jampacked Bed. Then again, maybe the place will never really reach the crowded levels of the old Bed—if they increase the entrance fee, then that will naturally put a limit to the number of people crowding the place.

On the 17th of December we’ll find out if the latest incarnation of Bed Manila is not too big, not too hot, but just right for all of us Goldilockses.

It’s The Month Of Decemo

“It really hurts when you give your full attention to someone, tpos you know, ahhmm hindi xa ganun sayo… sigh.”
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
“Many are dying for a piece of bread, but many more are dying for love.”


The above quotes I lifted from a Facebook group account. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so the song goes; however, most suicides are also recorded around this time of the year. Yes folks. It’s Christmas time, there’s a need to be afraid. Be afraid, because of all that emo shit and the neediness of people that abound. Be afraid, because ‘tis the season of break-ups and the Twitterverse is suddenly awash in hate and hurt. Be afraid, because Hubert Webb and Hayden Kho have been given reprieves, and now the jokes are flying fast and furious. (Okay, that last statement was irrelevant; I just wanted to toss it in.)

Okay, fine; December is the month of emo-ness. Ah, all the lonely people! Strolling in a mall with D one Sunday evening, I flashed back to the time when I’d stroll the mall alone and seeing all those people with their loved ones. It can get stressful and lonely to be alone in a sea of togetherness. But thank god I was someone who often went against the tide; seeing all that togetherness made me appreciate my singlehood amidst them.

So how does one handle the attack of the lonelies? Here are some practical tips:

[1] Appreciate the term “single blessedness.” As much as married couples are blessed with one another, blessed too are the lone wolves who prowl the earth. We were alone when we were born, and we’ll face Death alone. The sooner you deal with that, the better.

[2] Learn to dine alone. Start with the sit-down restaurants; it looks more sossy eating alone in an expensive establishment. When you do fastfood joints, bring something to read. It makes you look busy, plus it diverts your mind from the attack of the lonelies. But if they do attack, just remind yourself: you’re feeding your mind as well as your tummy. You’re being good to yourself.

[3] Do physical activity. Take up a sport you like. Enroll in a gym. If you’re going to work out, do it to be healthy. Don’t do it because of a narcissistic need to be adored for your physical beauty. Do it because you need to be good to yourself.

[4] Your singular presence in a sea of togetherness already screams “I’m alone!” It is best followed by, “And I’m okay with it!” instead of a pathetic, “Please someone, anyone, love me!” Smile. Be aware and be interested in everything around you; live in the now. Do things with a purpose; even if it’s to just wander and waste your time, do so purposefully.

[5] Appreciate and devote time for your “me-time” (which is different from “single blessedness.”) Even though I am already in a relationship, I still treasure my me-time (and D also has his own me-time). Me-time means reading. Me-time means treating myself. Me-time means being good to myself.

[6] Fall in love all over again with your friends. If you have few, make some new.

[7] Fall in love all over again with your family. If you are not close to your family, then see #6.

[8] Sing: “Learn to be lonely; learn to be your one companion. Never dreamed that out in the world there are arms to hold you. You’ve always known your heart was on its own. So laugh in your loneliness, Child of the wilderness! Learn to be lonely; learn to love life that is lived alone.” (from the movie The Phantom of the Opera)

[9] Sing this too: “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout; I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

[10] Christmas comes but once a year. But remember this: Christmas comes every year. Get used to it.

Ho-ho-ho! Jingle your balls, dick your halls. Have a merry Christmas, folks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Synchronicity And Serendipity

Migs started this activity last year. He would send out an invite to his readers, and those who sent him an email would be invited to a little tête à tête. For this year he accommodated more than the usual, so he asked me to help him facilitate two groups in one Saturday afternoon, Dec. 11.

It was an interesting experience to meet 13 strangers, with 7 of them joining me in one table for a free-flowing chit-chat session. To be honest, at first it was a bit awkward, but I always had this fascination for people and their stories. So soon we were just talking and sharing.

What I found fascinating is that several of them admitted to not having a group of gay friends that they can hang out with. It’s not surprising really; most of them aren’t as out of the closet as, say, the majority of the Fabcasters. Most of them are discreet and straight-looking; some are so straight-acting, they can fool several gaydars.

To those who were at S&S Batch 3, thank you for your time, your honesty, and your company. To Migs, thanks for the opportunity to join this batch of S&S.

At the end of the day, what matters really are the people you meet in your life. Many will fall by the wayside, some will stay with you for a long time, and a choice few will be with you ‘til death do you part. By the third or fourth Fabcast I knew that AJ, Corporate Closet, Gibbs, Migs and Tony will be my BFFs.

I hope you guys find your gay BFFs too.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

For Those Who Grew Up In The 80s

My brother was beside himself with excitement when he sent me the following SMS: "This. Will. Blow. Your. Mind." (Guess we have the same genes, huh.)

Apparently he stumbled upon this video in YouTube. It's a promotional spot for this Norwegian(?!) television series entitled Gylne tider (in English: "Golden Times"). According to Wikipedia, "The show has produced four seasons which premiered in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010. Presenter Øyvind Mund, cameraman Steinar Marthinsen and sound engineer Ingar Thorsen travel to meet their childhood heroes." Interesting premise. In their 3rd season they focused on international stars, with emphasis on the 80s.

In this promotional spot, the crew asked their childhood heroes to lipsynch to an uber-80s song, "We Are The World." For those who grew up in the 80s, this one's for you.



There's also another TV spot, this time their guests are lipsynching to "Let It Be." Unfortunately it's not on YouTube, but you can view it here:

http://www.wat.tv/video/gylne-tider-let-it-be-382r7_2g4lj_.html

Saturday Night...

...I feel the air is gettin' hot...


(I just hope the place has a new sprinkler system in place on the 11th, bwhehehe.)

No Gaydar? No Problem!


Last Monday, London_boy and I went to the Ayala Triangle to try out one of the new restaurants that opened there. Unfortunately the crowd was still quite thick, so we ended up retreating. And that’s how we got to watch a portion of the light show at the Ayala Triangle Gardens (Mon-Fri, every 30mins from 6pm to 9pm).

It’s really just Christmas lights on trees that are set to blink on-and-off to music. It’s pretty straightforward, if you think about it. But gather thousands and thousands of lights and hang, twirl, wrap, or spread them around trees and on the ground beneath them, and you’ve got a spectacular sight.

So it happened that we stumbled upon the middle of the trees while a slow song was playing (something like, “Silent Night”), so the lights were also gently, slowly fading on and off in time with the music. Most of the lights were off, in keeping with the stillness of the song.

But then it was immediately followed by a lively tune. Suddenly all the lights in the trees burst forth in a blaze of color. It was a gasp-inducing sight! London_boy and I couldn’t help ourselves; out of our mouths burst forth an awe-inspired tili:

“Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

A split-second later we realized what happened and burst out laughing. “Shet, nabisto tayo!” said London_boy.

So! If you suspect someone of hiding inside his pink closet, just invite him to the light show at the Ayala Triangle Garden. And watch his inner bakla burst out in a kaleidoscope of tili.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hiya, Tush!

I will be on indefinite online hiatus starting today. I am physically fine, don't worry about me.

(This gives me a great excuse to think of a banner for a new season.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Faith, Hope And Charity

Growing up I had no choice regarding my faith. It was thrust upon me the day I was born, when I was baptized a Catholic and raised as one. I was taught that nightly prayers would keep me safe, the number of rice that fell on the floor would equal the number of years I would spend in Purgatory for wasting food, and that any wound gotten during Holy Week would never heal until after Easter Sunday. It was a faith fueled by fear of punishment and a promise of future everlasting happiness.

As I grew older, the simple lessons of black and white gave way to the grays of moral complexity. Theology and Philosophy made the Catholic faith less clear-cut, though it remained rigid. Ironic? Some of my Jesuit priests and teachers taught me to question the very faith that was ingrained in me.

But the turning point was when I realized that I was gay. As a kid I was deathly afraid to be gay. Gays were mocked and laughed at; gays led sad lives; gays lived on the edge of society. Realizing that I might be who I feared to be was a shock; but eventually it forced me to face it. Accepting it required courage and a certain degree of self-deprecating humor. And if I can question myself, I can question everything taught to me, including religion.

The more I questioned, the more I found hope. Perhaps what I was taught wasn’t true. Perhaps the Church can change its stand. Perhaps the God I choose to believe in is a more embracing, accepting God.

Eventually I also was exposed to other forms of faith. And seeing how different folks had different strokes, it became clear to me that the Church and its faithful had no monopoly on the truth. What is the truth? Who knows? Faith requires a leap from logic; with that, all bets are off. So who’s right or wrong? Or who’s more right or more wrong? Such questions become irrelevant.

What is more relevant is living together peacefully despite the differences. It calls for mature tolerance and a live-and-let-live acceptance of our differences. It requires us to not just be open-minded but also to throw our hearts wide open to others. It’s an unlimited loving kindness to all others; in Christian theology, that’s called charity.

So I say, let’s be charitable to those who insist on calling Pro-RH Bill supporters as “Satan” and deserving of abortion. Perhaps they’re still reeling from the shock of the Pope’s recent pronouncements regarding condoms. To question long-standing faith is a painful process. Let’s hope they make it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ensemble Heroes

I grew up in theater. From grade school to high school all the way to college, I chose theater as my extra-curricular activity. I kept at it even though I knew I was not going to do theater full-time after I graduated. I did theater because I loved it. And I still do.

When I was in Basic Advertising, our chairman (the late) Mr. Antonio Mercado said he always had a bias for hiring those who have had theater experience, because he felt that theater teaches important and practical lessons that people can use in work and in life after college—teamwork, excellence, pride in one’s work, creativity, flexibility and improvisation, to name a few.

Dr. Ricardo Abad, the moderator of Tanghalang Ateneo, recently wrote a piece about Ateneo theater; specifically, the students who do theater. These students do it for the love of, because there is no monetary compensation. They don’t do it for a living; they do it because it makes them feel alive.

Reading it brought back so many fond memories. But more than that, Dr. Abad was able to articulate theater’s social nature and its heroic demands.

* * * * *

exerpts from ATENEO THEATER: HEROISM OF THE ENSEMBLE
by Ricardo G. Abad
(posted with permission from the author)

Addressing the Ateneo de Manila’s graduating class of 2009, Chris Lowney says that leaders aren’t always those persons who take charge, command great wealth, or appear often on television. Leaders, he argues, can be anyone – you or I, a student or teacher, a child or parent, an employee or employer – any person who can “move out into the world to find ever new ways to construct the edifice, cultivate the garden, and paint that masterpiece that God is unfolding in your life.” Lux in Domino. Light in the Lord. Leaders are women and men who light the way forward for others.

Heroes are leaders too. They are not always those persons who are endowed with power, possessions, or popularity. They are also persons who lead ordinary and unspectacular lives. And they are also men and women who light the way forward for others. But not all leaders are heroes. What sets heroes apart is the way they shine that light against overwhelming odds, many times at great risk to life and limb, and for a cause infinitely greater than themselves.

My mind draws to these kinds of local heroes – unknown, unspectacular, unsung.

I recall, most fondly, the many students who kept Ateneo theater alive since I joined Tanghalang Ateneo twenty-five years ago. These students, working onstage and offstage, are not your high-profile Ateneans – like the Sanggunian officer, for example, or the varsity athlete, the champion debater, the Guidon editor, or the consistent Dean’s Lister. They stand on the average side of academics, unsure of what they’ll do after college, but wishing that whatever work they do later will still allow them to do theater. They’re not poor but are often short of cash. They’re not professionals but knowledgeable about many things. They’re not lunatics but act screwy during cast parties. Several say that their parents aren’t too keen about their involvement in the theater; their parents, the students say, fear that too much theater jeopardizes their children’s chances to secure well-paying jobs, endangers their grades, or distort their sexual preference. Several add that the Administration, not understanding what it takes to do theater, makes miniscule improvements on available venues and imposes too many rules. They also claim that the absence of an honest-to-goodness theater that they can call their own shows how little value is placed on what they consider a vital part of their college life. The gripes echo year after year.

But the gripes recede when a production’s afoot. Deadlines are made, and students put in the hours. There’s a set to build and paint, lights to wire, props to construct, costumes to sew, materials to buy from Divisoria or Kamuning, and for actors, lines and movement to memorize. Other members are called to help but often the task is left to the few, the heroic ones, who’ll finish the work on time. Like the two students who stayed up with me most of the night to make a gigantic mask for a Shakespeare play. Like the student who was in charge of sponsorships: she went to her parents’ bowling league tournament one night and passed a hat, asking donations from bowlers and their families. She collected twenty thousand pesos that night.

The job gets tougher on tours. Working under battle conditions, and in unfamiliar venues, and after long bus rides, the students set up the stage late into the night and groggily run a show the next morning to thousands of students. Beyond stage work is social work, like giving confidence-building and drama workshops to the public high school students of Pathways every summer – a project that always elicits joy despite the long hours of work.

These students are not paid for their labor. Nor are they required to put in long hours as a requirement for graduation. But they continue to sweat, slog, and struggle. Academic obligations – a midterm exam, long test, or paper – often intrude, but do not deter them from plowing through, knowing that the show will flop if they don’t cut their share of the work. So they manage their time as best they can, if they ever do, and leap into the fray. Many, happily, survive. Rarely with a grade of A, but they pass. Hallelujah!

Some risk their health. Many spend sleepless nights to finish a script, loop music, complete a report, design a poster, compose letters, layout the playbill, or edit a video. Several get sick before a performance. But a flu, vertigo, sore throat, severe cold, or abdominal pain isn’t enough to prevent these actors from stepping onstage and giving it all. One slipped a disk in the middle of a scene, grimacing in pain on his exit; he returned onstage after intermission with a brace around his waist. Another actor, I learned after a show, stepped on a stray nail backstage just before his entrance. Biting his tongue, he entered the scene, hobbling his way through the final dance sequence. All got well, praise God, thanks to immediate treatment after the show. But the real cure came from a surge of dedication that numbed the pain, pushed up the energy, and restored the humors. I suspect basketball players injured on the hard court, and rising to play again, experience something similar.

But like winning basketball teams, the heroism of the theater does not rest on one person. Theater is a supremely collaborative act and the grind to transform the mundane to the magical requires the intense dedication of a collective – the heroism of the ensemble. That heroism is what makes an opening night special: it’s the triumph of many heroic deeds that took place from the first day of rehearsal to the minute before the opening show. It’s an occasion deserving of revelry, hugs, and thanksgiving.

And that’s why any achievement I’ve made as director isn’t mine alone to keep. And I’m sure the Ateneo directors before me – Irwin, Reuter, Pagsanghan, Tinio, and Saludo to name some – feel the same way. We wouldn’t be around were it not for the heroism of students who helped us to mount one production after another, year after year. And this collective heroism doesn’t happen only in Tanghalang Ateneo. It’s the same guts and glory scene in Entablado, Blue Repertory, Dulaang Sibol, Teatro Bagong Tao, and the Ateneo Children’s Theater. And I’m certain it’s the same story with drama companies of Ateneo’s past –the salon de actos of Intramuros, the Ateneo Dramatics Guild of Padre Faura, and the Ateneo Players Theater, the Ateneo Experimental Theater, the Ateneo Playhouse, and the Teatro Uno Dos Tres of Loyola Heights. For 150 years, the Ateneo de Manila University has kept the theater alive through two colonial regimes, the Commonwealth Period, the Japanese Occupation, Independence and right through the present covering martial law, EDSA, Manny Pacquiao, and the Maguindanao Massacre. And who kept it going? The students of course, the heroes of the theater: the heroism of the ensemble runs across the University’s history, kicking alive in the Ateneo even before there was basketball!

In his book Heroic Leadership, Chris Lowney said that the Jesuits (and he does not mean specific Jesuits but the collective, the Society of Jesus) did not become successful leaders (and heroes too!) simply by committing themselves to religious beliefs but by the way they lived and worked. “And their way of living,” Lowney adds, “holds value for everyone, whatever his or her creed.” That’s the way the heroism of the theater ensemble survived in the Ateneo since the Escuela Municipal opened in 1859. By living and working in the theater, Ateneo theater artists of one generation inspired the next generation of theater artists to lose oneself to a greater and most fulfilling cause. That heroism is infectious and the bug still bites today.

Lowney has just ended his commencement speech, and it was my turn as master of ceremonies to step into the podium to announce the next number of the program. As I did so, I looked at the faces of the graduating class, trying to spot the faces of my theater heroes whom I had the joy of working with during the last four years. I saw a few and saluted them with my heart. I walked down from the hill of that graduation stage, the Ateneo hymn reverberating around me, and headed to a drinking place in Katipunan where younger Ateneo theater artists, soon to be full-pledged heroes, sat with a bucket of beer before them, waiting for me to reveal my plans for the next season and their place in the scheme of things.

The bug still bites, I told you.

(Written January 2010 for a forthcoming publication on Ateneo Heroes, a book prepared in honor of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Sesquicentennial Year. The book will be launched on Tuesday, November 30, 5pm at the Leong Auditorium.)

(Photo taken from Facebook.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing 2



I am neither surprised nor saddened when I saw opponents of the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) screaming, “Begone, Satan!” and “Your mother should have aborted you!” at the supporters of the Bill. When long-held beliefs are questioned and challenged, it is but natural for people to be on the defensive, perhaps behave immaturely, and even resort to name-calling. The scene actually reminded me of kids at a playground, when one side can’t win an argument and so they resort to teasing and taunting instead. When their “sacred” beliefs are challenged, they close their minds instead of arguing things through.

But we all know what happens to those kids who resort to name-calling and cruel teasing.

Their days are numbered. Reality is catching up with them; even the Pope has already relaxed his views on condom use. I never thought I’d say this, but maybe, just maybe, I may actually live to see major changes on the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding—Gasp! Dare I say it?—homosexuality.

(Images from Manchester Pride 2010)

Also, this is the reason why I rarely hold anything as “sacred.” At the back of my mind there’s always a nagging thought, “What if I’m wrong?” I’m not saying we should live untethered lives. Rather, we should always keep an open mind on things, and be willing to consider the possibility that one day the rug we are standing on may just suddenly be pulled from under our feet. Yes, even the idea that “nothing is sacred” shouldn’t be held sacred. Be skeptical even of skepticism.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ang Ganda Ganda!

Having silly fun with the "Kay Ganda" app in Facebook.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Euphemisms

One time my friend G and I were recording a message for our friend D who’s in the U.S. (instead of sending him email, we send a voice recording). We got to talking about me and my current status.

G: So how are you two? How many months has it been? Have you had issues?

McV: Yeah, we have had issues—including sex.

G: Oh… that’s interesting!

McV: Kasi he’s friskier and I’m older… and mas kailangan ko na ng more lead-time…

(We both laugh.)

McV: …and I need more…

G: Time to recharge?

McV: …time for intermission.

G: Oh, I see! Sometimes ba they like it in succession?

McV: Ay, well, it’s easier for the young ones to have shorter gaps in between songs. Minsan nga parang gusto nila, medley!

(We both laugh.)

McV: Eh ang hirap n’un! Mas kaya ko pa siguro, mash-up!

(We both laugh again.)

McV: At saka, mas gusto ko na ngayon yung extended play, yung 12-inch…

G: (mock indignation) Oh my god, 12 inches ang gusto mo?! (laughs)

McV: …hindi! 12-inch remix, gaga! You know, you take longer to play the whole song out. It should be like The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”

G: (impressed) Ooooooohhh!

McV: (suddenly realization) Ay, wait a minute! Mali ako. Double album pala ang “The Wall.” (laughs)

G: Ay, matagal-tagal yun ha! (laughs)

McV: Oo, sobra! Sobra pala.

G: Are you boasting? (laugh)

McV: No, that’s over-promise! (laughs) That’s called advertising!

(We both laugh)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ho, Ho, Whoa!

A beki’s essential Christmas three under his Christmas tree.


Threesome books are now available at the following National Bookstore branches:

Metro Manila

Alabang
Cubao (Superbranch)
Ermita
Glorietta 5
Greenbelt
Katipunan
Market Market
Mall of Asia
Megamall
North EDSA
North EDSA Bestseller
Ortigas Galleria
Ortigas Bestseller
Podium Bestseller
Quezon Avenue
Rockwell
Shangri-la
SM Manila
SM Marikina
St. Luke's Bestseller
Taft Avenue
Trinoma
UP North

Luzon
Legaspi
SM Baguio
SM Lipa
SM Pampanga
Subic

Visayas
Ayala Cebu
Mango-Cebu
Robinsons Iloilo
SM Cebu
SM Bacolod

Mindanao
Davao Gaisano
SM Davao
NBS Cagayan de Oro

Limited edition box sets are only available at:

IBON Bookstore
IBON Center, 114 Timog Ave., Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
Telephone numbers: +632 9277060 to 62

Or order online www.mybookstore.ph

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If You Pass The Test You Can Beat The Rest

After I took the HIV test last year, I promised myself I was going to take another one 6 months after, just to make sure (it takes about 6 months for the virus to be detectable, thus the window period). But it took me more than a year to haul my ass to take another test, and only after I found out that one can take it for free at the Social Hygiene Clinic at the Makati City Hall.

D and I decided to take the test together; furthermore, D also invited his two gay friends (V and K) to join us. So there we were, a 44-yr old together with an 18-, 19- and 20-yr old braving the Monday afternoon Makati traffic. We were advised to go there around 2pm, so that there won’t be that many people.

The Social Hygiene Clinic is located on the 7th floor of the City Hall. There’s always a long line at the elevators, so patience is needed. While we were waiting for our turn at the elevator, we were all joking and laughing and generally trying to ward off the worry and the fear. D asked me if I was okay; he usually does that when he notices me going all quiet and serious. I had put on my Take-Charge McVie; being the oldest made me feel responsible for my three companions.

From the elevators on the 7th floor, the clinic is the third door on the right; there’s a big sign that says, “Social Hygiene Clinic.” We went in and were greeted by 5 or 6 women seated around two desks by the entrance. They all looked at us, but none of them moved or said anything. For a moment I was speechless. They looked like they saw aliens; their facial expressions read, “Hey! We have people. So soon after lunch break?”

I spoke first. “We’re looking for Ms. Tess Pagcaliwagan,” I said. A portly, middle-aged woman with curly salt-and-pepper hair and wearing thick eyeglasses asked, “Why are you looking for her?” she asked. In my nervousness I answered, “We’re here to take the AIDS test.” A pause, and then I corrected myself: “I mean, the HIV test!” And to break the awkwardness, I added, “Hindi pa yata full-blown kami.”

The nurses turned out to be friendly and accommodating, especially when they realized the three were young beklettes. Ms. Tess had us fill up forms; they never asked us for our IDs, so technically you could use a pseudonym on your form. But I chose to write my real name. If I turn out positive, I wanted it to be on the record. She then sat us down one by one for a short interview and orientation. She asked me primarily how I found out about the voluntary test. She also clarified that several other cities aside from Makati (I remember Marikina in particular) that offered this free testing.

Then we were ushered to another nurse who was to extract blood from us. When I was a lot younger I was deathly afraid of needles; but one day I just decided not to be a pussy and just take it like a man. I would usually look away when they were about to stick the needle in. For me the only “painful” part is the slight prick that happens when the needle punctures your skin; parang kagat lang ng langgam, my mom used to say. Looking away meant I couldn’t anticipate when the pain would happen, thus lessening my anxiety. But this time I did not take my eyes off the needle. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel anything; it was as if the needle slipped easily between my skin. “Wow ma’am, ang galing ha! Walang aray!” I had to compliment the nurse. And unlike in my first test, they didn’t extract a syringe-full of blood; they filled just a third of it.

Then came the waiting. I asked Ms. Tess how long the results would take. She said in 15 minutes. (It was that fast because no one was ahead of us.) But really, it was the waiting that was the hardest. I mean, I am fairly confident that I’ve played safe all this time, but you still won’t really know, right?  Life can throw a really mean curveball if and when it wants to.

At first we were joking, but soon our talks turned a little serious. “If you turn out positive, do you think it’s a punishment from God?” V asked out loud.

From her desk, Ms. Tess immediately responded, “Hoy! That’s misinformation! That’s not true.” We fell silent then changed the topic.

Around 15 minutes later, a nurse stepped out of the lab with four folded pieces of paper. She handed them to Ms. Tess, who then called out our names one by one. “V!” she said, and V nervously approached her desk and sat before her. We couldn’t hear what she was saying, but from the smile of V’s face when he stood up afterwards told us that his test result was negative. The next to be called was K. He too left Ms. Tess’ desk smiling.

I was the third to be called. When I approached her, she just said, “Congratulations! Here’s your diploma!” and handed to me a piece of paper; written on it was the word “non-reactive.” She reminded me to still always play safe, and that I should take the test every six months.

D also turned out negative.

Afterwards, all four of us wanted to celebrate by gobbling up KFC’s Double Down. We’re afraid of dying due to complications from AIDS, but we’ll happily die of a heart attack due to clogged arteries.

* * * * *

Interested to get tested? Please do so. HIV is on the rise, especially among men who have sex with men. Better get tested twice, with the second one after 6 months. Testing is really easy and the results are confidential. Is the testing discrete? Well, the clinics are found in the city hall, so there are lots of people roaming around. If you bump into someone you know, just be prepared with an alibi. “I’m here to pay my land tax,” if you bump into each other somewhere within city hall. “I’m accompanying my friend,” if they bump into you inside the clinic (or you can always turn the tables on them and ask, “And what are you doing here too?”).

For more information, click on this link.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wha-Pak Man

Before I joined my current company, I never watched a boxing match in full. (When Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier at the Araneta Coliseum for “Thrilla In Manila,” the whole grade school trooped to the auditorium to watch it live on TV. I couldn’t sit through one round; I was standing and walking around the whole time.) But thanks to my job, I was able to watch Manny Pacquiao in his last three fights.

When Manny whupped Cotto’s ass, I wasn’t so impressed, though I could see the difference in his skill level compared to the undercards before him. But then my trainer at the gym, noticing I was getting bored with our usual routine, made me do boxing—sparring mostly. That’s when I realized that boxing wasn’t just physically grueling, it was also mentally challenging. It requires a grim determination and steel-cold discipline to meld both mind and body into a well-oiled machine that can think quickly on its feet. After that, I had newfound respect for the sport.

When he pummeled Clottey, I realized that Pacquiao’s power comes from his lightning speed and power punches—imagine being hit by a charging rhino again and again on all sides in rapid succession. That’s when I got really impressed with the guy.

You may laugh at Manny the Wannabe Singer. You may cringe at Manny the Wannabe Actor, Comedian and Host. You may even dismiss Manny the Congressman as some neophyte do-gooder whose popularity got him voted and whose naiveté will be his Achilles Heel. But one thing is undeniable: Manny the Boxer is the world’s best, pound-for-pound.

In the fight last Sunday with Margarito, Manny was easily winning. The Mexican did his best to subdue Manny, but with every punch that connected, Manny retaliated with six more that hit with laser-like precision. Margarito suffered a nasty cut under his right eye, which had swollen so much he couldn’t see with that eye anymore. By the eleventh round it was pretty clear Margarito had no chance of winning. Then everyone saw it: Manny looked to the referee as if asking him to stop the fight.

Suddenly, Manny was elevated from just being the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world. Despite talks of marital infidelity, unprofessional tardiness and the like, in that instance inside the ring in Texas facing a bigger opponent, Manny Pacquiao looked every inch like a true gentleman.

The Trevor Fabcast, Part 3

And now, here is the third and last part of the Fabcast on The Trevor Project. The Fabcasters and the peanut gallery offer their individual “it gets better” messages to the pink Pinoys out there (youth or otherwise) who are being picked on because they are different, because they are gay.

Listen.


Music credits:
"Getting Better" by The Beatles
"Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by Sweetbox

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sondhe—who?

What clowns? Sweeny who? Forget that, I’m definitely losing my mind watching THIS!

Get Outta My Way (Boys) Tribute from Jeremy Lucido on Vimeo.

FYI: They’re porn actors. Let’s see how many of them you can name.

Sondheim State Of Mind

It started when Gibbs asked his readers to tell him their favorite Stephen Sondheim song. He then revealed that one of his was “Losing My Mind.” I said to myself, “Hey, that has the same title as the song that Liza Minnelli recorded with the Pet Shop Boys!”

When I first heard that song in 1989, I thought it was the PSB trying to help reinvent Liza-with-a-z-not-with-an-s’ career, and make her relevant again in the 90s. And it sure sounded like a Neil Tennant-Chris Lowe collaboration, with sharp, smart lyrics, mournful melody and thumping beat, mixed with a generous amount of wry, throwaway sense of irony and casual wit. But then my friend (who first alerted me about the song) mentioned the songwriter; thanks to having too much trivia stuffed in my head, I vaguely remembered only one fact: it was originally a song from Broadway.

So imagine my surprise when I watched Michael Ball’s performance: “Oh eM Gee! It’s a Sondheim original!” It really helps that the guy who played the Phantom of the Opera is not just a great singer/actor, he’s also cute to watch!

Losing My Mind by Michael Ball


And here are Liza and the PSB at the BBC, performing their synth-pop rework of the song. (Liza plus PSB equals gay, gay, gay!)

Losing My Mind by Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys


I love how the song best illustrates the helpless of someone teetering between knowing and not knowing, of being hopelessly in love yet afraid of hoping. It is the agony and the ecstasy of uncertainty.

“All afternoon doing every little chore,
the thought of you stays bright.
Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor,
not going left, not going right.
I dim the lights and think about you.
Spend sleepless nights to think about you.
You said you loved me
or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Define “Zombading”



Like na! Follow na! Now na!

Define Chimera

“Is there such a thing as unconditional love?” someone posted on his Facebook status. Some replies were funny, others cynical. Most were an earnest variation of “Yes, but…,” which was funny because it meant unconditional love had conditions. Which got me thinking: Is there, really?

So the first thing I did was to define terms:
·      Unconditional: Without conditions or limitations; absolute
·      Unconditional love: A term that means to love someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions. The paradigm of unconditional love is a mother's love for her newborn. Unconditional love is often used to describe the love in an idealized romantic relationship. It may sometimes also be used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships.
·      Love: Having stated the above on unconditional love, we will now limit ourselves to romantic love, because that was the context in which the original question was asked. We will exclude other forms of love, like platonic love, filial love, love of family, love of friends, love of country, even love of Siam (that’s just a movie, folks!). We will also exclude deities like God, Allah and their ilk, for obvious reasons.

Then it hit me. Unconditional love is a chimera, a myth.

By its very definition, unconditional love should have no limits or conditions; and yet, we know for a fact that our love has reasons. We say, “I love you because…” and those reasons, in effect, are the conditions. “I love him because he’s straight-acting;” what if he’s effem? “I love him because he makes me laugh;” what if he doesn’t have a sense of humor at all? “I love him because he really cares for me;” what if he wouldn’t even give a damn even if you’re dying? Can you still love that person even when he shows no cause, no reason for you to love him?

In fact, the definition of “unconditional” is so absolute, that one should love a person for no apparent reason at all, except for the fact that he or she exists. Going even further, if true unconditional love exists, then we should have achieved world peace by now because everyone will love everyone else, regardless.

So the next time someone tells you, “I love you unconditionally,” give him a good whack on the side of his head; that ought to knock some sense into him. And if someone says, “Unconditional love exists,” a stronger whack will do the trick. Love will always have limits, often set by you.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Fickleness Of Feelings

For several years now, I have never felt that which most people call kilig (I did before, but not recently). I tried looking for a direct English translation, and the most that people could give me is “heart a-flutter.” I must admit I have experienced something close to it, but ask me to describe the feeling and I can come up with two, either being “lighthearted” as well as “my heart is full.” Opposite images, right? Still, that’s how I feel.

I guess there are varying intensities of kilig, and age eventually blunts even the sharpest of emotions. If I often don’t show sudden gushes of emotion, it’s my fault that I’ve learned how to be like that. And I am sorry. I had to deal with rejection time and again in the past, and each time it hurt like hell. I couldn’t control rejection, but I could control the hurt. So I learned not to cry out loud; eventually, I learned to always anticipate the other shoe dropping.

So for years I’ve taught myself to develop a sense of detachment from the fickleness of feelings. At first my mistake was to avoid feeling emotions at all; that was unhealthy. Then I realized that I should learn how to feel emotions without being carried away by them. Be still my beating heart, because my mind’s in charge.

(In fact, one reason why I have a hard time with acting out emotional scenes is that for the longest time I’ve learned to detach myself from my emotions. I’m now re-learning how to be in touch with them again—in case I want to act.)

I may not be kilig, but rest assured I can and do appreciate sweet gestures, and I am more than grateful for any kindness and generosity thrown my way. In fact, so I’m easy to please that I make it easy for everyone. I don’t need you to impress me; it’s so easy for you to touch me. Just the sight of you looking at me with complete trust is enough for my heart to feel light and full at the same time.

So please forgive me if I don’t get tickled pink at stories of grand gestures. Tickle is fickle; I much rather do gestures.

Whatever Happened To Friendster?

First, a hilarious mock-clip from Onion News Network:



Although I was laughing out loud watching the clip, I noticed that the Friendster page they featured was the old one. I remember that Friendster changed its look some time ago, so I decided to take a look again at my profile.

Bingo! Here is what it now looks like:

A cursory browsing revealed that there were several women offering sex who posted on my “testimonial” page (the precursor of Facebook’s wall). I had four friend requests, one of them from a woman who insisted, “No Horny Dickheads Allowed!!! Sexy + Cute Gurlz and Decent Guyz Only Accepted!!!” yet her profile picture showed her wearing a barely-there dress and striking a provocative pose. On the “activity stream” (which is their equivalent of FB’s status bar) I saw that some of my friends were still doing some form of activity in Friendster.

So I decided to do this:


Now I’m all gone… now I’m all gone….

The Trevor Fabcast, Part 2

Here is the second part of the Fabcast, wherein we further discuss gay youth bullying and suicide here in the Philippines. Is bullying really prevalent here? And is suicide prevalent here as well (especially in the context of being bullied)? How do we as a people take bullying? How do we cope? Is there something in our culture that helps us cope?

Plus the others in the peanut gallery share their stories of growing up. So go ahead, listen and enjoy.


Download this Fabcast (right click and save)

Music credits:
"Stronger" by Britney Spears
"Wonderful Life" by Hurts

Friday, November 05, 2010

Saan Na Nga Ba Ang Barkada Ngayon?

In my early youth I didn’t have that many friends. I knew well enough not to stick out like a sore thumb—that was the fastest way to get bullied. I had to blend in and be one with the general crowd. I kept my head down and looked for classmates like me: somewhat quiet, a little more studious than the usual (as opposed to the more sporty kind), and very much ordinary. Find an acceptable box, fit in it.

Before grade 5 it was easy for me to stay under the radar because I only made individual friends. But then I got into the honors class, and suddenly I found a barkada. We were 8 all in all. We were the brainy but not sporty ones. In the beginning, I was wary; having a group meant that we’d be associated with one another, and we clearly were neither the jocks nor the popular ones. But we were the smartest and the most artistic ones in class. So the others knew well enough not to antagonize any of us whom they could assign as leaders in our group projects. They needed us.

During reading of honors, 5 would often be first honors, one would sometimes be first, often second honors, another one would be often second honors, sometimes honorable mention, while I often would be sometimes honorable mention, sometimes not mentioned at all (to be fair, I almost grazed the underbelly of second honors in one quarter). One was very musically inclined, composing and writing songs. Four of us would join the high school theater group. And while we all did not excel in sports, three of us became very good at playing the gayest of sports, volleyball; two actually made it to the high school varsity team.

And none of us ever had a girlfriend during our student days. Only one came this close in college to ever seriously consider dating a girl (as opposed to just going out on one date). But the Lord had other plans; our friend was killed during our first year college.

Then we graduated.

Now we’re all in our 40s. Three are certifiably straight: one married, one divorced, and one still single and married to his job. Two are certifiably gay, both with books out. Two others are still single; but if you were to ask me if either of them plays for our team, my answer would be, “Officially no; but it will not surprise me if I am wrong.” No one among us has had the courage or the chutzpa to raise or even hint at the issue to either one. But then again, we’re at that age wherein ambiguity has lost its ability to confuse and to scare. Now we know better than to pigeonhole ourselves. Our group stats are ever changing.

But one day, we will all have the same status as our kabarkada back in first year college.

The Trevor Fabcast, Part 1


The Trevor Project and the “It Gets Better” campaign have been quite a-buzz online recently, especially in the light of recent gay teen suicides in the U.S.

So the Fabcasters decided to give our take on the subject. We asked ourselves (as well as members of the Peanut Gallery), when we were young were we bullied because we were gay? Or were we the ones bullying? How did we cope with bullying?

Part 1 can be subtitled: “CC’s sissy youth, and other growing-up stories.”

Listen and enjoy.

Download this Fabcast (right click and save)

(Music credits: "Hey Jay" by Eraserheads)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Send In The Bekis (In The Elevator)

After watching A Little Night Music, Gibbs, London_boy and I (along with J and E) headed for the elevator to take us to the basement parking. A certain moneyed woman and her showbiz husband had entered the elevator before us, along with their two bodyguards; Lea Salonga and her mother were in front of them.

After they all had stepped off the elevator at the ground floor, London_boy (who had stepped inside the elevator ahead of all of us) turned to us and said that the bodyguards attempted to dissuade him from entering, presumably so that us hoi polloi will not mix with the crème de la crème. But London_boy did not earn his nickname for nothing; after staying in the U.K. for more than a year, he knew a thing or two in dealing with class snobbery. “Eh, pinagpilitan ko sarili ko kaya! Sumingit ako sa kanila,” he triumphantly declared. “Walang magawa yung mga guwardya.”

I looked at the rest and sang a portion of “Send In The Clowns.”

“Aren’t they… rich?” and I pointed to the elevator door where they exited earlier. The group laughed.

Then I gestured to us remaining in the elevator: “Aren’t we… queer?”

Bwhahahahaha!

Meanwhile

For years I was familiar with the song “Send In The Clowns” but I never really understood what it meant. Apparently its meaning is quite difficult to get when the song is taken out of context from the magnificent musical, Stephen Soundheim’s A Little Night Music.

I saw the musical for the first time last Sunday at CPR Hall at the RCBC Plaza. The main draw of the Atlantis production is of course Ms. Dawn Zulueta essaying the role of Desiree Armfeldt; she also gets to sing “Send In The Clowns.”

The musical is about three couples, listless with their respective partners. In the course of the play, they mix-and-match with one another. But this isn’t just about love liaisons and the like—the director also said that the play is about “wasting time” (interestingly, it has songs entitled “Now,” “Later,” “Soon,” “Remember,” and “Perpetual Anticipation,” songs that touch on time).

Dawn was surprisingly good, given the lowered expectation one has of screen actors going into theater. But she can carry a tune, and as an actress her skills have blossomed through the years. She looks stunning and radiant, perfect for the part of a theater actress who manages to snag men easily. Nonie Buencamino’s performance is exceptionally disciplined, a true actor who sings in character without being too showy. The play was cast well; no one seems to be a weak link in the show.

But this is not going to be a review of the play; I leave that to professionals like Gibbs Cadiz for that. Instead, I will reflect on particular things from the play that really struck me.

* * * * *

“I’m sorry. I should never have come. To flirt with rescue when one has no intention of being saved…. Do try to forgive me.” (exits)

That particular dialogue happens in the middle of the song “Send In The Clowns.” The song itself is a sad realization of things that can’t be, of hopes being dashed.

Too often I’ve heard of hearts being dashed, simply because they made a mistake of assuming that someone is in need of saving, that the Other is the answer to a “yearning for a coherent existence after years of muddle.” The mistake often lies in the thought that some Other will give coherence to the muddle; reality is, most cases the Other is part of the muddle. Learn to find coherence within you. Only you can rescue yourself.

* * * * *

While most of the lead characters are uptight and neck-deep in ennui, the character of Petra is one who seems happiest. Why? Because she is always busy. She doesn’t waste her time over-thinking things.

She has one solo number, “The Miller’s Son” in which she contemplates on being “trapped” by marriage (at that time, women are expected to marry and bear children). So she sings:

It’s a very short way from the fling that’s for fun
to the thigh pressing under the table;
It’s a very short day ‘til you're stuck with just one,
or it has to be done on the sly;

In the meanwhile—

There are mouths to be kissed
before mouths to be fed.
And there's many a tryst
and there's many a bed.

There's a lot I'll have missed,
but I'll not have been dead when I die!
And a person should celebrate
everything passing by!


More and more I admire people who appreciate what happens in the meanwhile, not being trapped by what was in the past nor enslaved by what they desire in the future. It is in the living of the here and now that we truly live.

I also admire people who just suck the marrow out of life (and I bet they suck more than just marrow, hehehe). But I do also appreciate the value of being responsible for one’s actions and decisions. Hmmm. “Responsible sucking” sounds like a good motto for me.

There is a saying, that Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. I want to add to that a sentiment from another musical, Wicked: Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived—and a dance number to be performed.

Let’s dance.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whozits And Whatzits Galore

When Disney’s The Little Mermaid first came out, I thought it was one of the gayest Disney animation movies to ever come out. (Of course I eventually realized that most of their animated movies were sooo gay.) Watching Han Christian Andersen’s Disney-fied tale, one is struck at how girls (and gay guys) can easily identify with Princess Ariel. But an obviously gay character was Ursula—she was just 8 tentacles away from being an underwater drag queen.

Her definitive song number is Poor Unfortunate Souls, and for me, her winning moment comes when she sings:

“And don’t forget…”

“…the importance of…”

“…body language! Hah!”

However, nothing beats Ariel’s moment in Part Of Your World (Reprise), where she sings, full of hope, atop a rock. And at that precise moment when she hits crescendo with:

“Part of your…”

“…world!”

The waves crash behind her and the wind dramatically billows her hair as she lifts her upper body up in time with the last high note. Hanep sa ending, yan ang dramatic! Until now, that image is still one of my most memorable in the Disney animation canon.

What’s your favorite Disney animation moment?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Tell It Like It Is

An excerpt from a chat I had with, let’s call him Champaca, an MGGFF-er, over FB:

Champaca: I hope l’ll find true love.

McVie: Ah well….

Champaca: Hehehe…  I want to be commited naman.

McVie: I think one does not look for true love. One just loves truly.

There was a bit of pause here. Maybe Champaca was busy chatting with the others in the MGGFF chat box.

Champaca: And love is not to search on to (sic)… it will come in due time. And God will bring me there.

I hesitated. I thought of quipping about God being a divine matchmaker, but changed my mind.

McVie: Actually love IS all around you.

At this point, I wanted to sing, “Na-feel mo na bang ma-finger? Na-feel mo na bang ma-tow?” but I knew that joke on Wet Wet Wet’s hit song will never translate well on chat.

Champaca: Maarte lang ako.

McVie: One just needs to learn how to recognize and appreciate love.

Champaca: I’m a perfectionist.

(Hay naku. Patay kang bata ka.)

McVie: There is nothing perfect in this world, including love. So as a perfectionist, you are bound to always be disappointed. And you will never find that perfect love. So... I guess you need to either relax and lighten up, or be prepared to be single all your life!

There was no reply for quite a long time. And just like that…

Champaca is offline.

Tron-tastic!

Two things: Tron and Daft Punk! I am sooo stoked for this one.


I remember watching the original one on—wait for it!—Betamax! (Now you can breathe.) The special visual effects were so primitive that it was like watching first-generation Atari. Today they can do anything visually, including make Jeff Bridges look 30 years younger.

The first movie looked amazing for a teen like me, but the plot was so thin, no model would want to stand next to it. Now this 2.0 version looks and sounds stunning, but I’m ready to put my brain down on the chair beside me when I watch this. Hey, it’s just eye-and ear-candy; anything beyond that will be a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Taste Of Things To Come

My fearless forecast? This is going to be the next big indie.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Video Of The Week

This one really held my attention from beginning to end.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trip Lang

Londonboy and Tony accompanied me when I brought D to his hometown in Bataan for the semester break. It was, to borrow Tony’s tweet, a road trip, food trip and laugh trip.

* * * * *

From Makati, we drove straight to Bataan. We had a bit of discussion as to how D will introduce us to his family (he’s not out to them). We agreed on “church-mates” as our cover story. At the backseat Tony was practicing how to say, “God bless, po” while Londonboy declared he could pull off “straight-acting” if he limited his speaking to the bare minimum, like, “Yes,” “opo,” and “Good evening po.”

When we got to D’s place, we helped him unload his stuff from my car. We could hear him tell his dad and sisters, “They’re church-mates.” After unloading, his dad went to buy soda for us. When D served us the soda, all three of us had the same reaction: “Hu-whaaat?! Regular Coke?!” Later on we three confirmed that the first thing that entered our minds when we saw Dad walk in with the Coke Litro was, “Eeep, sugar!”

We bid a hasty yet respectful exit after downing one glass each. Our excuse? We wanted to reach Subic by dinner.

* * * * *

Dinner in Subic was at Texas Joe, a barbeque place along the Boardwalk strip. Great spare ribs and beef brisket we ordered.

Over dinner we were talking about whether we were successful in pulling off our straight “church-mates” act. Tony and Londonboy insisted that D and I were obvious because we acted so familiar with one another. “What?!” I was incredulous. “I didn’t make any physical contact with D the whole time!”

“But remember when you were looking at the family pictures in the sala?” Tony pointed out. “You asked D if he had any pictures there. No straight guy would ask another guy for his pictures!”

“Especially baby pictures,” Londonboy chimed in.

I wanted to drop my fork. “Eeep! Oo nga noh.”

Then D texted: My dad said Londonboy is gay. Ang hinhin daw kumilos… bwhahahaha!

Toink!

Tony said, “Tanungin mo si D kung tinanong ba ng dad niya kung mambababae tayo sa Subic?” I texted Tony’s query.

D replied: Sabi nga mga bakla ata kayo… wah… my gaydar tatay ko…!

Double toink!

* * * * *

Then we went to Angeles, Pampanga to witness the nightlife. Tony brought us to the Coffee Academy, where majority of the baristas and the waiters were eye candy. (Local eye candy, yes, but still eye candy!) And a cup of coffee that fetches for a hundred-plus pesos in Starbucks only costs 65 pesos there.

We then moved on to Zulu, a garden café/bar that had a breezy, relaxed ambiance, very affordable pints of frozen margarita mango and pizza with ultra-thin yet crunchy crust, it’s almost like a cracker. Yummy! We ordered the Lucban longganiza pizza, which had generous servings of that delicious sausage plus salted egg and lots of cheese. The whole time we were ogling at two of the waiters. One was a short guy with a very cute boy-next-door face (Tony said he was in a television commercial before) while the other one was a bulky hunk who, while past his prime, still had a hunky-daddy aura to him.

We stayed until past midnight, drinking despite the liquor ban. I liked the vibe of the whole place. It’s beki-friendly despite the mixed crowd.

* * * * *

And the prettiest quotable quote came from Londonboy that night: “Kaya siguro ako mahilig sa natural na guwapo, kasi pagising sa umaga eh mga guwapo pa rin sila.”

Triple toink!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Me McLikey!


(From Ads Of The World here.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Song To (Subtly) Slash Your Wrists By

Songs about love that are too obvious in their “I’m hurting!” message are a dime a dozen and are screeched ad nauseam in karaoke/videoke bars everywhere (insert Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” here).



However, when it comes to feeling sorry for myself, I prefer to wallow in not too shallow ways, especially with my song choices.

Thus, when “Getting Away With It” by Electronic came out at the end of the 80s, I thought it was perfect. First, Electronic is a duo composed of two members from seminal 80s groups, Bernard Sumner of New Order and Johnny Marr, ex-guitarist of The Smiths. Add to that the guest vocals of Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, and you have an 80s electronica super-group.

And the lyrics!

I’ve been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose.
I’ve been forcing myself not to forget, just to feel worse.
I’ve been getting away with it all my life (getting away).


I remember the time when it was such a narcotic high to wallow in self-pity. And the more I focused on how miserable I was, the more I felt that the pain was all worth it. So I did things to keep me wallowing, like walking in the rain and not forgetting. I needed to justify all that pain, all that suffering and all that wallowing.

However I look it’s clear to see,
That I love you more than you love me.


Yes, that was my biggest, longest-running angst growing up, spanning seven straight guys then countless gay guys who were either taken or not interested.

I hate that mirror, it makes me feel so worthless.
I’m an original sinner, but when I’m with you, I couldn’t care less.
I’ve been getting away with it all my life,
Getting away with it all my life.


The line about being a sinner was especially poignant when I fell for guys who were with other guys. That tug-of-war between doing what’s right versus doing what I wanted was especially delicious at that time. Age and experience made me realize how much time and effort I’ve wasted.

I thought I gave up falling in love a long, long time ago.
I guess I like it but I can’t tell you, you shouldn’t really know.
And it’s been true all my life.
Yes, it’s been true all my life.


Of course, after being burned once, I said to myself, “Never again.” Hah, famous last words. After a while I was telling myself, “It’s been true all my life,” and I actually believed in my own press release.

I’ve been talking to myself just to suggest that I’m selfish
(Getting ahead)
I’ve been trying to impress that more is less and I’m repressed
(I should do what he said)
However I look it’s clear to see,
That I love you more than you love me.
Get away with it...
Get away with it....


Yes, I was just being self-indulgent and selfish.

Now that I think about it, “Getting Away With It” is a song you don’t really slash your wrists by. Instead, you just slowly poison your heart—and your mind—until you actually think you really are getting away with it.

But you really don’t.

* * * * *

Below are two video versions of the song. The first one is shot as if they’re in the studio.



The second one is an example of New Order’s video aesthetics: no concept, just special effects, with lip-synch sometimes unapologetically obvious.



You choose. Enjoy.