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)

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.

* * * * *

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


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

Cubao (Superbranch)
Glorietta 5
Market Market
Mall of Asia
North EDSA
North EDSA Bestseller
Ortigas Galleria
Ortigas Bestseller
Podium Bestseller
Quezon Avenue
SM Manila
SM Marikina
St. Luke's Bestseller
Taft Avenue
UP North

SM Baguio
SM Lipa
SM Pampanga

Ayala Cebu
Robinsons Iloilo
SM Cebu
SM Bacolod

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

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.


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

Thursday, November 11, 2010


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?”



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.