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)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Addendum To “Teach P How To Doogie?”

While discussing the Piolo-KC fiasco with the Jonas Bagas (gay activist extraordinaire, staunch Riza Hontiveros supporter and all-around Mr. Humanity, thus the “the” before his name, LOL), he reminded me of a very important point which I totally missed in my previous episode of The McVie Show.

(What’s more, his reminder made me realize that I made an unstated assumption in my previous episode; by keeping quiet on my assumption, I was being unfair to Piolo. But more of that later.)

Some say it with concern, most say it bluntly and with much chiding: “Mag-out ka na kasi, Piola!” What’s more, the ones screaming for him to step out of the closet are gay guys.

Haven’t we in the community seen for ourselves how cruel it is to force people to come out when they’re not yet ready, for whatever reasons they have? Didn’t we as gay guys experience for ourselves first-hand how unsettling for us to be pressured into admitting we’re gay? Coming out is a personal choice, done on one’s own time and pace.

And here is where I will state my assumption plainly: ASSUMING that Piolo is gay, it seems clear that he has come out to certain guys (especially the ones linked to him). But to pressure him to come out to the whole world is, I think, unrealistic, cruel and unnecessary. Unrealistic because his current career requires that he appear straight. Cruel because it’s his call, not ours. Unnecessary because apparently most of the people I know in the community treat his sexual preference as an “open secret,” so what for?

Jonas Bagas raised a valid point. We may crack all sorts of jokes about the split-up, from the innocuous to the bitchy. But let’s draw the line when it comes to calls for him to come out. The community may want him to come out because he can champion the pink cause and wave the rainbow flag for us. He’ll be the poster child of the Proud Pink Pinoy, and I’m sure bonggang-bongga ang poster! But that’s not for us to decide.

That’s his choice to make. Or not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teach P How To Doogie?

So many people are a-buzz about Piolo Pascual and KC Concepcion’s break-up, and her interview in “The Buzz.” Let’s not beat around the bush: her interview further fueled talks that Piolo is gay. To be fair to her, she never categorically outed her ex-boyfriend. But this didn’t stop the Tweeple (including yours truly) from having fun at their expense. And why shouldn’t we? They are public persons, and what we’ve done is similar to what late-night show hosts dish out in their opening monologues.

But there are also those who have earnest takes on the matter, just like this following comment that I’ve seen echoed by several on Facebook: “Why doesn’t Piolo just come out and fashion a career just like Neil Patrick Harris?”

Perhaps some who said that were half-kidding. I am sure that some, based on the tone of their comment, were totally serious. So for those who earnestly think that Piolo can be the Pinoy NPH, let me say in all earnestness: it is not that simple.

Piolo cannot fashion a career like Neil Patrick Harris. NPH may have started as lead star of his own show “Doogie Howser, MD,” but he was a child actor back then. When he came back into the scene, he was in mostly supporting roles, often comedic in tone. His comeback breakthrough was spoofing himself in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. And he solidified his comeback with his performance in the ensemble comedy, “How I Met Your Mother.”

Piolo, on the other hand, is a matinee idol of a romantic lead mode. He’s not much of a comedian (in his romantic comedies with Judy Ann Santos, it’s Juday who supplies the comedy; he plays it straight, pun intended). And I don’t know if he can re-invent himself as an action star (besides, as far as local showbiz is concerned, the action genre is currently in deep hibernation).  So for now he’s stuck playing male romantic lead.

Aye, there’s the rub. So far, no openly gay actor of such massive popularity as Piolo’s (just among Filipinos, of course) has ever thrived as a romantic lead. Can you name one? Didn’t think so.

Rock Hudson built a career out of being a romantic lead, but it was only when he was dying of AIDS that his homosexuality was talked about in the open. But who remembers Rupert Everett? Didn’t think so either.

Romantic movies require a suspension of disbelief and the willingness of the audience to submit themselves to two hours of make-believe. The female audience members should identify with the leading lady, and the male audience with the leading man. (An aside: for me, one of the most effective romantic male leads today is John Lloyd Cruz. He is someone even straight guys will say is a tunay na lalaki whom they can easily identify.) By coming out, an actor ruins his chance to be the fantasy figure of the audience. By declaring himself in no uncertain terms that he’s gay, an actor allows too much of reality to intrude into the make-believe.

So what can Piolo do at this point? Nothing, really. He should just keep quiet and weather the storm.

Meanwhile, if I were him, I’d start charting a new career course. Revive the action thriller genre and do ala-Keanu Reeves in Speed, or play a spy like Kevin Costner’s role in the thriller No Way Out. Or perhaps he can produce and star in a Yam Laranas horror film.

But he should avoid a movie musical at all costs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

No More Drama

I used to be a drama queen.

When I was younger I didn’t have that many friends. And I couldn’t tell my parents or my siblings my problems because I feared they’d think me strange. So I just soaked and wallowed in all that drama. I perfected my personal pity party playing in my head. All the songs on the radio were perfect for my situation, and I’d listen to several songs again and again because every word, every lyrics slashed deeper and deeper into my heart. “All By Myself.” “You’re In My Heart, You’re In My Soul.” “What Kind Of Fool.” “Alone Again, Naturally.” “On My Own.” The whole soundtrack of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera. Notice a pattern? They’re all about love.

Yes, love was the one thing that I majored in drama. Family problems? Not much. Friends misunderstanding? I was too polite and courteous. But I was the poster boy for unrequited love. I was attracted to other guys, but at the back of my mind an alarm repeatedly whispered, “Beware!” And so I kept quiet, kept them all inside. But all the while I wanted the boys to reciprocate what I felt; worse, I fell for straight guys. This went on for years, even after I graduated from college.

When I was about to hit 30, I stayed out all night every Friday and Saturday. I forgot what my bedroom looked like during weekend nights as I looked for love in all the right—and wrong—places.

Then one day, it just hit me. Life is about choices. And happiness is a choice.

I don’t remember now how I ditched the drama. All I can remember—or maybe all I chose to remember—is vowing to stop feeling sorry for myself.

And whereas before I used comedy as both a crutch and a coping mechanism, I now fully embraced it. Life is random; life is absurd. And I choose to laugh in the face of all that. Life is already hard as it is, why make things harder? Shrug your shoulders, throw your head back and smile. After all, laughter is a far more enjoyable act than crying, and certainly far less embarrassing. Smiling uses fewer muscles so it’s much less tiring than frowning.

At first I stopped being romantic. But my mistake was to swing the opposite direction and appropriated a cynical stance. Eventually it became clear to me that cynicism has its limits; worse, cynicism is unsustainable. So instead I became a realist. And that was when I started to grow up.

I used to be a drama queen, but not anymore.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Prude Fabcast, Part Three

At long last, the third and last part is online! Pardon for the delay. Alam mo naman ang ating Ate Migs, maraming napakamahalagang inaatupag. But hey, these are alarming times, and responses like his are necessary.

But let’s put the serious aside first. Here is the third and last part of “The Prude Fabcast” with Iamtofuboy. Or maybe we should call it The Grilling of Paul.

As we finally conclude the recording, the Fabcasters and some members of the peanut gallery give their two-cents worth. We touch on the ideas of self-worth and self-image, closure and moving on from past relationships, and the idea of de-coupling sex from the relationship (or living a “compartmentalized” life, according to CC).

Click on the link and enjoy!

Download this fabcast (right click and save)

Music credits:
“Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang
“Change” by Tears For Fears
“Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana” by Muscagni
“The John Dunbar Theme (from Dances With Wolves)” by John Barry
“Theme from Father Of The Bride” by James Newton Howard
“If She Knew What She Wants” by The Bangles

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wait A Minute

In the public debate on the RH Bill, the Anti-RH camp often uses as a reason the “Big Bad Pharma Companies” that allegedly are supporting (and perhaps even funding?) the push to have the RH bill approved because it means more business for their products, be they condoms or medicines for abortion.

Fine, I understand the simplistic economic cause-and-effect. But using the same line of argument, wouldn’t more industries benefit a lot more from the birth of a child? From hospitals to medicines to baby products--these are multi-billion dollar industries. So why aren’t those companies supporting the Anti-RH camp?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Safe Spaces

I found it interesting that fellow Fabcaster Tony described gay places such as bathhouses, gay bars and dance clubs, and massage parlors (that cater to a gay clientele) as “safe spaces.”

Safe spaces. Until Tony mentioned that term, I never thought of such a concept. But I realized, yes, we gay men do need our safe spaces. These are places where we can go to and we can feel safe. We can be ourselves and not feel out of place or scorned by the rest of society. We can mingle with like-minded folks, people like us, and feel accepted.

If you look at current gay safe places, most of them are dark--dark interiors, discreet facades, and open only at night. I suppose this is in response to how homosexuals are marginalized.

Which is why the recently-concluded first-ever Love Yourself Cafe matters more than just a grand EB. The vision for the Cafe is simple, stated in its poster: “A safe space for casual conversations on topics that dare, with people who care, to question and share.” Of the more than a hundred who signed up, around 30 guys were chosen for the first Cafe.

It was a relaxing, enjoyable night. The venue was at an undisclosed condo in Makati. We met a lot of new faces for the first time; in fact, I’m sure there are in-the-closet guys there who perhaps will feel awkward if you bump into them during the day, perhaps, and they’re with their officemates and you’re, like, “Huuuuy, teh! Kamustasa?!” with matching flailing of arms. I bet in that instant they’d want the ground to open up and eat you--not them, mind you, but you mismo--alive. From as young as 17 to as old as 50+, from the closeted discreet to flamboyantly out, from the hopeful to the jaded (and back again), there was a rainbow coalition of different hues that night.

Of course the event still had to be done discreetly. That’s what happens when you include discreet guys. Perhaps there will be a world wherein being gay is not seen as being different, and straight-acting gay guys will not mind being identified as “gay;” but for now, this is reality, and we must learn to adjust accordingly.

One of the dreams of the Love Yourself people is that the Cafe become an actual venue. Now, how does one have a Cafe that closeted gay guys will not be afraid of being seen in there? Methinks it needs to be a for-members-only Cafe, and the entrance should be discreet. Maybe it should just look like a house on the outside, or the entrance is on a small side street. Haaay, one of these days.

Meanwhile, there will be another Cafe, I’m sure. Just watch out for announcements.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Heart Laughing

(Thank you, Jonas Bagas, for posting the following poem on your Facebook wall. I immediately fell in love with its attitude and its message. The title alone speaks so much to me. I just have to share it to you guys.)

The Laughing Heart
by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.

be on the watch.

there are ways out.

there is a light somewhere.

it may not be much light but

it beats the darkness.

be on the watch.

the gods will offer you chances.

know them.

take them.

you can’t beat death but

you can beat death in life, sometimes.

and the more often you learn to do it,

the more light there will be.

your life is your life.

know it while you have it.

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Wonder

When the call first came out online, I shrugged it off. “Vote for the Palawan Underground River as one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature!” Voting was online, so a lot of these calls were re-tweeted on Twitter or reposted on people’s Facebook status.

I never bothered to vote.

Not because I’m not nationalistic. Not because I’d prefer the Chocolate Hills of Bohol to be the Philippines’ nominee, simply because I’m a Boholano. Not because I have not personally been there and seen the site with my own two eyes.

It’s because I don’t agree that the new 7 Wonders of Nature (or any other 7 Wonders, for that matter) should be decided by popular vote. There should be more thought behind declaring sites as a “world wonder,” more than just mob mentality.

A cursory investigation will reveal that the new 7 Wonders is a private endeavor. Even the UNSECO has disavowed any connection with the new movement (from Wikipedia):

However, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a press release on June 20, 2007, reaffirmed that it has no link with the “private initiative.” The press release concluded:

‘There is no comparison between Mr. Weber's mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The list of the 7 New Wonders of the World will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the Internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.’

Makes me wonder what really is the true motive behind this new 7 Wonders movement.

(Here’s an interesting article:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be Responsible

Presenting two quotes from two people who will remain anonymous. Who they are is not important; rather, the situations in which they find themselves in, and how they view their situations is what I want to point out. Take a look:

[1] “When I like someone, I tend to make my whole world revolve around that person that it hurts me when my effort can’t be reciprocated the way I imagine it to be. Can’t really blame myself since I’ve been wanting this so bad for so long now.”

[2] “One of the things that I really am working on processing for myself has a lot to do with my relationship with my mother and how in many ways I try to re-live that in my interactions with (Name of Girlfriend). I really turn into an immature boy when she is trying to address a grievance with me. In Freudian terms, I see this as part of the so-called Madonna-Whore Complex. I’m still trying to work through all these issues but I do know that I also tend to treat (Name of Girlfriend) as an extension of myself and not an independent person who is entitled to her own thoughts and feelings.”

* * * * * *

Two different guys, two different sentiments. One is already in his forties, the other in his early twenties. And to both of them I want to ask: “Where is your sense of responsibility?”

In life, many things are beyond our control due to outside forces, be it natural or man-made. But the one thing we can take control of is ourselves. Self-responsibility entails that a person take charge of his life, of his feelings and his actions. One becomes the captain of his self.

I get it when people look to their past in an attempt to understand their present. The manner in which we were raised by our parents, the way our relatives and friends treated us, and even the way authority figures like teachers behaved towards us--all of those have affected the way we look at ourselves, how we comport ourselves, and how we interact with others. I understand that knowing the past can help some people let go and move on. However I also fear that the past is used as an opportunity to lay blame on others.

I believe that part of growing up is to be able to rise above the transgressions of the past and live a responsible present. One doesn’t even need to dig up the skeletons of past wrongs to be able to do the present right. Wanting something so bad is one thing; but you only have yourself to blame for throwing your self-pride, dignity and common sense out the window just to snag someone. Not treating your girlfriend as her own independent person? You are responsible for your present actions; more importantly, you can choose to improve how you treat your loved ones.

In taking responsibility for ourselves, we also need to adopt a “Get real” attitude. This means that we should face reality on its own terms. To be captains of our souls we should not rely on Fate or Karma or 11-11-11 or the Almighty God to pave our futures for us. It would be nice to think that there is a Higher Power looking for our welfare, but I wouldn’t rely on it. Things happen, pure and simple. We plan what we can, we control what can be controlled, but things have a way of falling into place that we can’t always predict. How we accept them, and work with the cards that have been dealt to us, is a mark of someone willing to be responsible for his own fate.

Taking charge of our life doesn’t mean that we put ourselves above others. Rather, we own up to whatever it is we say or do. And we acknowledge that improvement comes from within. This means that we need to learn to be a friend and a mentor to ourselves. In improving ourselves, we cannot be too harsh or too self-critical with ourselves. We need to motivate ourselves not through fear, but because we love ourselves.

Past is past; the future is not yet written. So live in the present, be in the now. And be man enough to take responsibility for your choices, your actions, your life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lucban Longganiza, Part Two

That Monday morning was a bright and cheerful one, perfect weather on our last day in Lucban. D decided to sleep late that morning, so it was just Londonboy, Calvin and I who went to town to have breakfast and to have a look around.

My two companions have been to Lucban before, and they recommended a restaurant near the plaza for breakfast. Calvin warned us that the serving time takes a little longer than usual, as is customary in most provincial eateries.

While waiting for our food, I couldn’t contain my curiosity. “Teka lang, guys,” I said, “I’ll just go to the 7-11 and check and see if Marvin is on duty again this morning.”

Malamang,” Calvin said. “He was also on the morning shift yesterday.”

The convenience store was a short block away from the restaurant. I was there in no time. Even from the outside, I could see Marvin manning the counter.

I pushed the glass door in, and entered.

Without looking, I could tell a pair of eyes was following my every move. Instead of going towards the cashier, I turned right instead. I pretended to look for something on the shelves furthest from the counter. I also took that opportunity to check out the store. Aside from Marvin, there was the female supervisor behind the counter, but she was busy typing away at the store computer. At the small eating area near the microwave and the dispensers was a policeman having a snack. We four were the only ones inside.

I stopped in front of the toiletries, pretending I was looking for something. I bent over, looking at the bottommost shelf, curious what items were displayed there. When I stood up, Marvin was already beside me.

Aba! He left his station to approach me!

Ano po ang hanap ninyo, sir?” he asked.

For a split-second I was stumped. I really wasn’t looking for anything, and I hadn’t thought of getting any item as an excuse to be in the convenience store.

Hindi ko pa alam eh,” I decided to be truthful.

Marvin smiled. “Aaah,” he replied. “Hindi pa ninyo nahahanap” (truth be told, I’m not quite sure if the punctuation mark at the end of the word “nahahanap” should be a period or a question mark; the way he said it so softly, it sounded like something in between).

I’m impressed. He’s a sly one.

Anong oras matatapos ang shift mo?” I asked. Hey, two can play that game.

Ano, sir,” he replied. “Mga four, sir, ang tapos ko.”

Aaaah,” I nodded. I knew we would be on the road back to Manila by then. Still I smiled, then raised my eyebrows knowingly at him as I asked, “So, taga-rito ka lang ba?

Again Marvin had that shy smile on his lips. But his reply had a hint of a rueful tone. “Ay hindi po ako taga rito, sir. Ano po, taga-Majayjay po ako.” That was the next town after Lucban.

“Ah okay,” I replied. Then I walked away, pretending to continue browsing. He also decided it was best that he return to his post, lest his supervisor start wondering why he was taking so long with a customer.

I grabbed a small pack of Kleenex and walked to the counter to pay. Again, Marvin refused to break his eye-to-eye stare; again, I let my fingers brush his as I gave him my payment. And again, as I walked out the door I turned around and saw Marvin still staring at me.

I stepped out and never looked back again. The Lucban air was cool despite the bright morning sun, and a slight breeze caressed my cheeks as I smiled and walked back to my friends.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Lucban Longganiza, Part One

Sunday morning in Lucban, we trouped to the only 7-11 near the plaza to buy provisions I realized I forgot to bring. While the others were lazily looking around the convenience store, I headed to the cashier after grabbing the stuff I needed.

Behind the counter was a man of about early twenties. His uniform looked one size too big, but I could tell his body type is more of the rounded kind. His round face was topped by wavy hair swept back and parted off-center, and he had eyes that naturally looked sleepy even when wide open. A shy smile was plastered on his lips. I took a peek at his nameplate: Marvin.

As he was ticking off the items I was purchasing, he kept looking at me straight in the eyes. He almost never took them off of mine. Mind you, I’m used to prolonged eye contact, and can match them in length and intensity. But after a few seconds I was the one who felt unnerved and broke off contact. WTF, is this Marvin coming on to me so blatantly?! I looked up again. His gaze was penetrating and constant. Dammit! I looked down again.

“Sir, may two pesos ba kayo?” he asked.

I looked back at D and the others, who by this time were behind me, waiting for me to finish my transaction. “You have two pesos?” I asked D. He fished out the coins and handed them to me. When I placed the coins on Marvin’s outstretched hand, I made sure my fingers brushed his palm. Then I looked at him again. His facial expression never changed, but he also didn’t take his eyes off me. Only when he dropped the coins in the cashier and got my change did he look away. I got my change, my purchases and went out behind the others, who had proceeded to exit earlier. Because I was last at the door, I looked back at Marvin. He maintained eye contact as I stepped out the door.

Outside, Londonboy exclaimed, “Teh! Anlagkit ng ngiti ng cashier sa iyo, hah! Ahahaha!

D placed his arm around my shoulder and chimed in, “Oo nga. Jusko kung makatingin.

Aba! Will I get to taste fresh local longganiza here in lazy Lucban?

To be continued.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Things One Sees On Facebook: Week of 6-12 Nov 2011

Let’s face it. Sometimes we see things posted on Facebook that make us laugh out loud, or at the very least get us going in a giggling fit. Sometimes we see something that moves us, or astounds us, whether in a good way or otherwise.

Here are some which got my attention recently:

[1] Corruption of the line: “Pag bakla, salot agad? Di ba puwedeng malas muna?”

[2] Steven Spielberg does a George Lucas. On the occasion of the Blu-Ray release of Jurassic Park, the director reworks his masterpiece to make it “less scary for the kids.” In turn, he makes it terrifying for adults.

[3] Will the real Ramona Bautista please stand up? Please stand up? Please stand up?

[4] Ramon Revilla, Sr. is a prime example of why the RH should be passed. Sheesh, no wonder he entered politics; otherwise, where will he get that money to support all of his children?

Lucban Virgins No More

We’ve always wanted to go to Lucban, Quezon ever since our friends told us of how peaceful, how cool, how relaxing the place was. So leading up to the long weekend, when Londonboy wanted to take a road trip on his newly-bought vehicle, D and I (along with Tony and Calvin) immediately said yes to a two-night stay in the land of longganiza and Zombadings.

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Banahaw, the most mystical mountain in Luzon, Lucban is a quiet town of unhurried minutes. The streets are narrow, given that they were built before those huge airconditioned buses were invented. Like our town Bilar in Bohol, Lucban has a cool climate given the higher altitude; the water that flows through town is cold and fresh from the mountain. Londonboy swears bathing in those waters gives you clearer, glowing skin. The pace and atmosphere is bucolic; however, unlike in Bilar, Lucban seems to stay alive way past dinner time. This is the town that seemingly never sleeps. Fittingly, there’s a 7-11 very near the plaza.

(The lamps in Abcede's.)

A food trip is what I had in mind, and so our first stop was at Abcede’s, where I had breakfast of the famous Lucban longganiza, fried egg and fried rice. We also ordered grilled porkchops for sharing. Dipped in spicy vinegar, Lucban longganiza is the best local sausage for me--crispy, garlicky and not sweet at all. Then we ate at Palaisdaan, the kind of resto wherein the tables are on rafts floating on several ponds full of fish. I especially enjoyed their grilled tilapia in gata, okra and grilled pork.

I had a blast walking around town, taking in the vibe of the place. We looked inside the church. The Catholic Church, despite all the money they get from the faithful, seem to be more inclined with getting the latest Pajeros and SUVs instead of spending for the restoration and upkeep of their historical churches. And they have no idea of maintenance and restoration; instead, when their church is damaged (say, by a storm or by old age), they repair it in a modern, uninspired way. Perhaps it’s just provincial small-mindedness, I guess. As a result, the inside of the church is a disappointment compared to the impressive exterior.

Before we left we ate at Ground Zero, Lucban’s pizza place that serves thick, generously-topped pizzas, calzones and delicious bacon-twists, which is a flat narrow bread twisted with bacon inside.

(Supreme pizza at Ground Zero)

(Their calzone, or as they stated in the menu, "wrapped pizza")

I asked Calvin to give us a bit of a Zombadings tour: he pointed out to us the locations where certain scenes were shot. I particularly wanted to see the street where the final scene (with the end credits) was shot.

Lucban is far enough to be considered a get-away, but near enough to be convenient when one wants an impromptu escape. I want to visit that place again.

P.S. -- I was also able to buy a pair of “Crocs” for only 95 pesos. When Tony found out the price, he exclaimed, “Ang mahal naman!” (He thinks had I bought it in Liliw, Laguna, it would fetch for less.)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Prude Fabcast, Part Two

Presenting part two of our rambunctious discussion. Here we get to dissect more Paul aka Iamtofuboy’s dilemma. He apparently had met a couple of guys who became his benchmarks for guys he’d like to be his partners. And now he’s having a hard time meeting guys who can meet his standards.

And after “perineum,” we came up with a new buzz phrase, c/o Migs: “Good job!”

Click on the link and enjoy.

Download this fabcast (right click and save)

 Music credits:
“Let’s Misbehave” by Eartha Kitt
“Baby Elephant Walk” by Rene Touzet
“Get Myself Together” by Robyn

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Love Yourself Cafe

We’ve always talked about this; Migs was the one who first came up with the idea. It’s his idea of Serendipity & Synchronicity, but expanded. It’s like a Fabcast, only multiplied and (I suspect) less noisy. It’s kinda like TEDTalks, if TED were fab and had break-out groups.

The Love Yourself Cafe. It’s bringing gay men together in a safe place for casual conversations on topics close to the pink heart. And for the first LYS Cafe, the topic is, “Love and Relationships Among Men.”

No, we don’t expect to be able to have all the answers to everyone’s questions. These talks are meant to be a forum for guys to be able to speak their minds and to hear others as well. We hope that with these exchanges the participants will be able to hear other points of view, and get something out of them--whether it’s a confirmation of their beliefs or a eureka moment that points them to a new direction.

Or at the very least, they have a relaxing, meaningful afternoon.

WHEN: Saturday, 19 November 2011, 6-9pm
WHERE: to be announced when finalized, but most likely somewhere in Makati

Migs, Gibbs and I will be some of the facilitators. Limited slots available, so if you’re interested, email ASAP. Or request an invite via this form:

Let’s talk.

Oh Baby, Baby!

U2 first burst big into the Manila music scene back in 1983 with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day.” Their huge hit “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” cemented their status as a critically-lauded rough-and-jangle rock band that wears its heart out on its sleeve. The latter quality was most evident when they honored the American legends of rock n’ roll, blues, folk and gospel in their album Rattle And Hum. But their sixth studio album received mixed reviews and harsh criticisms.

Thus Achtung Baby was born.

Whenever I talk to U2 fans about their favorite U2 album, most are divided into two camps: the pre-Achtung and the post-Achtung. Most rockers favor the pre-Achtung sound (and to some extent, are happy with the band flexing their rock and roll muscles again with their post-2000 albums).

For me, though, U2 was at their most creative best when they released their seventh studio album, Achtung Baby (1991), and its audial sibling, Zooropa (1993).

From the opening guitar salvo of “Zoo Station,” you immediately hear the band stretching their sound into new territories. This is a band coming out with an album on their own terms. They tap into alternative sounds like electronica and dance to pump new energy into their rock songs. But more than just their music, the band also seemed to have relaxed with their “heart-on-sleeve” attitude. They still had earnest songs, but at times they also sound more flippant and fun.

For me the first ten songs segue effortlessly from one track to the next. From “Zoo Station” to “Ultraviolet (Light My Way),” no track sounds like a filler or a throwaway. Only in the last two track do the band sound like they’ve run out of steam; despite that, “Acrobat” and “Love Is Blindness” still impress on their own.

U2 pushed the envelope even further with their follow-up album Zooropa. More electronically-sounding than its predecessor, the eighth studio album is a more uneven mix. But it still boasts of “Numb” and “Stay (Faraway, So Close!).” Another personal favorite of mine is the last track, “The Wanderer,” which features the sonorous voice of the legendary Johnny Cash. Like in “Numb,” Bono hands the lead vocal chores to someone else and contents himself with supplying falsetto back-up vocals.

Sadly their foray into electronica and dance reached its most experimental (and least appreciated) with Pop. With this album, it’s like the band stretched itself too far, and the strain is apparent.

For me, Achtung Baby remains the zenith of the band’s creative achievements.

So imagine my excitement when I found out that, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Achtung Baby, they are coming out with this:

It’s the Uber Deluxe Edition, a limited edition “magnetic puzzle tiled box” which will contain:
• Gatefold wallet containing 6 CD audio discs (the album, follow-up Zooropa, remixes and reworkings from Achtung Baby sessions)
• Gatefold wallet containing 4 DVD discs (including “From the Sky Down” documentary, “Zoo TV: Live From Sydney” videos and bonus material).
• Album vinyl on 180gsm black vinyl in wide spine sleeve with 2 x inner bags
• 5×7” clear vinyl in original sleeves housed in a slipcase
• 84 page hardback book
• 16 page 12×12 oversized booklet
• Bono’s trademark “The Fly” sunglasses
• 4 x enamel badges
• Propaganda magazine
• 16 art prints in wallet
• Sticker sheet
• Exclusive numbered lithograth

It’s enough to make a rabid fan curl up and go into a coma.

Of course, when I tweeted the damn thing, I got a reply from Paul: “@mcvie nakakaloka tong deluxe ed na ‘to. tinalo ang deluxe ed ng westlife. hehe. choz.”

So I replied back: “@paulopocket 20 years from now tatalunin ang U2 ni Justin Bieber’s ‘My World 2.0/20 Biebelicious Edition.’”

Meanwhile, I wonder which bank I can rob easily?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Final Destination

The funny yet weird part was, when I woke up that morning, the last line of Bryan Singer’s breakout movie The Usual Suspects was looped in my mind: “And just like that, he was gone.”

I went to the bathroom for my usual morning routine. In the shower, I poured cold water all over my body to wake me up. When I reached up for the soap dish placed on top of the wall divider, I realized there was no soap at all. Dripping wet, I parted the shower curtain, stepped over the tiled divider (which kept water from the shower from splashing all over the rest of the bathroom floor), and got the soap on the sink. As I stepped back into the shower, I was still repeating the line in my head: “And just like that, he was gone.”

My right foot slipped on the wet tiled floor.

My mind registered my falling down in slow motion. As my right foot slid forward and up, my left foot started to slide forward also. I could feel my body falling backward quickly. And then suddenly Time jumped forward. I felt the bicep of my right arm slammed against the tile,  and the right side of the back of my head, just above the neck, smashed against the tiled divider.

And just like that, I found myself on the wet shower floor, naked. My butt was cold because of the wet floor. There was pain on my right arm, and the back of my head throbbed with pain. Shocked. Stunned. But still awake.

And just like that, I remembered the line: “And just like that, he was gone.”

Wrong movie, I thought. Thoughts of Final Destination came to mind.

Without moving, I took stock of my surroundings. I can hear the water from the open faucet filling up the pail. The neighbors were cooking breakfast; I could hear something frying. I could feel my butt and lower back getting wetter and colder.

I carefully stood up, rubbed the back of my head. I could feel a small bump. Hairline fracture. Concussion. These lines immediately came to mind; I’ve been watching too much TV. Still, I knew I had to have myself checked.

I drove myself to St. Luke’s emergency room. The doctor asked me if I blacked out or felt sleepy or threw up. No, no, no. He felt the bump behind my head. I told him I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any concussion. “Hindi naman malaki yung bukol,” he said. “Pantay pa naman yung likod mo.” But still he ordered a series of x-ray tests.

In the x-ray room, I felt like a model in a photo shoot because the technician kept giving me instructions like, “Turn your head to the left,” “Place your arms at the back, and lower your shoulders,” “Chin down, chin down!” and “Hold that pose.” Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.

After waiting for the results, the doctor told me the good news. They didn’t find any fractures or breaks. He prescribed some painkillers just in case; on the way home, I decided not to buy any of them. Yeah, I am that hardheaded. I was also told to observe myself for the next 24 hours. But I never felt any dizziness or nausea.

And just like that, I guess Death still has no need of me. Yet. (And no, it wasn’t karma, I’m sure. If only the good die young, then I’ll live to be a hundred years old.)

Karma’s A Bitch

Karma is that cosmic equalizer, the one that rights a wrong. It’s punishment that boomerangs when bad things are done or a reward for the good ones. It’s a great idea, much like God rewarding the good and punishing evil on Judgement Day.

But face it, karma doesn’t really happen; we just choose to think that events are karmic-induced. “Oh my, I’m late for work!” That’s karma for staying up so late. “I fell in love with a man who cannot commit.” That’s karma for playing around. Karma is a convenient reason, an effect to a cause. And so when bad things happen when we were bad, we attribute it to karma. Because it helps put balance and order into the universe. A chaotic, random universe is a frightening concept to behold.

But until there’s scientific, empirical proof that karma exists, then it’s just an outside substitute for a conscience... or of coincidence. It’s as comforting as the thought of Santa Claus and angels, but less juvenile.

(Image taken here.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Grave Visit

We were putting flowers and candles on my dad’s grave when my older brother muttered out loud, “I wonder if the ordinary lapida will be replaced in the future by interactive ones.”

“You know what would be a great invention?” I said.


I pointed at the marble tablets on the ground. “Imagine they’re weatherproof touch-screen tablets with sensors,” I began. “When it detects someone approaching, it flashes information on screen while a Siri-like voice says, ‘Welcome! You’re visiting Mr. So-and-So. He was born in Dec. 4, 1944 and died of a heart attack on April 1, 2003. Needless to say, he pulled a cruel April Fool’s joke on everyone.’ Ahahahahaha!”

My younger brother chimed in. “The tablet should also be able to recognize the visitor. So when it does, then a pre-recorded voice of the dead will playback: ‘Thank you, Vanessa, for visiting my grave!’”

“How about all the tablets are wired to the person’s Facebook account?” I wondered. “If he or she has one, of course. So the visitors can leave messages on the deceased’s wall.”

My nephew, who’s a third year college student now, quipped, “Wouldn’t it be so tacky if there was also a Like button?”

We all burst out laughing.