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)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Advocacy And Promiscuity

“As an advocate for HIV awareness, you of all people should not promote PROMISCUITY.”

When I read that comment off someone else’s blog, I wanted to reply right there and then. But then I thought otherwise. The blogger already has anonymous contrarians buzzing about like flies in his comments section, and I didn’t want to add fresh meat to the melee.

It appalls me to think that there are those who think that way. But I suppose one can assume that they lack sufficient information, education, and exposure to the different points of the issue.

HIV prevention is not a question of monogamous versus polyamorous, or faithfulness versus promiscuity. Rather, it is a question of safe versus unsafe sex practices.

Promiscuity does not automatically guarantee the spread of HIV. With promiscuity, the probability that one can get HIV is greater because the more number of sex partners one has, the higher the probability that one or more of those partners has HIV.

Now factor safe sex into the equation, and you alter the probabilities. If one of the partners always practices safe sex, then the probability of getting HIV is greatly diminished; furthermore, if BOTH partners engage in safe sex, then the likelihood of infection (assuming one of them is positive) is next to nil. HIV transmission during safe sex is next to impossible, regardless of whether the sex happens within the context of a monogamous relationship or with a multiple-partner set-up.

Of course the surest way for HIV to not be transmitted through sexual contact is to avoid sex altogether. But it’s like saying: “Riding in cars is dangerous because there’s a risk of getting into an accident; therefore, to make sure I don’t get injured in a vehicular accident, I will stop riding cars.” Life is full of risks. But that shouldn’t stop us from living, because Life is about taking risks. So let it also be with Sex.

Furthermore, here’s one more practical and rational reason why safe sex trumps monogamy in terms of preventing HIV. For monogamy to succeed in preventing the transmission of HIV between two people, both parties need to be fully monogamous. But while you can be in control over your life, you cannot possibly control another person’s actions. So even if you are monogamous, if your partner isn’t then he can infect you. With safe sex, however, the control totally rests on you. Thus, even if your partner is HIV-positive, you can still have sex with him so long as you protect yourself. If he refuses to play safe, then you can always walk away.

Some may consider sex to be a sacred act, reserved only for one person and within the context of marriage and having children. Fine, let them have their procreational sex. Others may have a more hedonistic view of sex, that it’s fun and pleasurable if done between consenting and responsible adults. Let them have their recreational sex. But while we may disagree on our sexual values, we can all agree that safe sex practices, particularly consistent and proper condom use, reduces the chances of passing HIV along.

So advocates need to promote safe sex. Whether they are into monogamy or promiscuity is none of our business.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh Well

What happens when you find out that a shining example of a person turned out to have clay feet? Does it negate all those years of her exemplary behavior?

To many, she was an exceptional person. Loving wife, thoughtful mother, and a generous friend who connected to a lot of people from all walks of life. Despite Life and Fate dealing her several heavy blows from left and right, she bore them up well. People practically canonized her. “Oh, look how strong she is!” “Such dignity, such bravery, such selflessness.”

Then she killed herself. No suicide note. No warning.

And now when you look back at her Facebook wall, what seemed like introspective musings of hers now look like unheeded cries for help. Are we just overreacting? Are we reading too much into her status messages? Do we just want things to make some sense?

None of it makes sense. Then again, the trials she went through didn’t make sense either. So in a way a certain balance was maintained. Her death was but the final inexplicable, nonsensical punctuation she placed at the end of her sentence.

At least she wrote it herself.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dominic Roco Is My New Crush

Isn’t he so cute? Don’t you just want to reach out, give him a hug, and say, “Oh there, there now. Everything’s gonna be alright” with matching “Mwah! Tsup, tsup!”?

So he looks like his dad back when Bembol was a fresh young talent in the late Lino Brocka’s Maynila, Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag (1975). And while some may want to debate who’s hotter of the two brothers, Dominic or Felix, I think it’s silly and ultimately unnecessary. Between Dominic and Felix? Put me there!

Meanwhile, here’s the Cinemalaya movie featuring both brothers, but headlining Dominic. It’s entitled Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There). I. Have. To. Watch. This. As. In.

First, the teaser trailer.

And now, the full trailer (more lingering shots of Dominic!).

Now I feel like telling him, “Merry Christmas, guwapo. Pa-kiss!”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Let’s Have A Circle, Jerk

Once in a while, we need to party hard. Well, this is really is it!

Come and join the Love Yourself first anniversary party, entitled Circle Of Love. You don’t need to be a member of TLY to enjoy the party. And it’s great that you’ll be partying with these advocates--at least, if you hook up with one of them, the chances are greater that they’ll remember to play safe, BWHAHAHA!

Personally, I’m excited to watch Hong Kong’s legendary drag artist La Chiquitta perform. For the fans of The Dan & Rye Show podcasts, La Chiquitta is none other than Rye in his real form, ahihihi. (Charoz lang.) I’ve seen Dan and Rye perform in drag only in videos. Now I have a chance to watch Rye perform live. And let’s face it, Php250-300 is way cheaper than the plane fare to Hong Kong and back.

And if haven’t met me and D in person, now’s your chance. So hope to see you in Bed with us next Saturday, July 21.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Memory And The King (Plus The Queen)

When my siblings and I were growing up, our mother expressly forbade us to watch any local television shows (all of them are trash, she claimed). There were only two local shows that she and my dad watched faithfully (although I suspect she was the faithful one, while my dad, the dutiful, no-choice one): Pugak and Patsy’s Tang Tarang-tang, and Dolphy and Nida Blanca’s John & Marsha.

After John & Marsha folded, my mom didn’t bother to watch Home Along Da Riles anymore; she was a Nida Blanca fan, and didn’t warm up to Nova Villa until much later. By that time me and my siblings were very much into Starsky and Hutch, Space: 1999, and Man From Atlantis; my mom, Dance Fever. I never got to know the Kosmes on screen; instead, I got to know them firsthand when I joined ABS-CBN in 2000.

I was assigned to oversee the promotions of the comedy shows of ABS, so for the first time, I watched a whole episode of Riles. Eventually I would only watch the raw takes, given the hand-to-mouth existence of TV shows at that time (they would shoot, edit, score, then air in a span of 3 days). And I got to see the gaffes, the flubs, the take-twos.

In 2003 Riles was replaced by Home Along Da Airport, an attempt at refreshing the decade-old series. But that didn’t last long. Two years later in 2005 Dolphy, along with the more successful of his kids, came back with Quizon Avenue. I left ABS-CBN by 2006, so I was spared of seeing the Quizons be replaced by John En Shirley.

While I was there the network started making these all-star station IDs. It was our department’s massive headache to figure out the billing sequence of the stars. But even if internally we couldn’t agree who would go first, Claudine or Juday, when it came to the one star who would end the station ID, everyone agreed there can only be one. Even when we had FPJ in one of our station IDs, the Action King nodded in deference to the Comedy King.

Even back then, I saw the weariness. Caught on tape, in between takes, or right after when the AD yells “Cut!” and everyone drops down their guard, one can see age and work taking its toll on the King. I once asked the long-time executive producer of Riles and Airport, “Why doesn’t Dolphy retire?” She first gave me the ol’ “He loves the work too much to stop” line, and I didn’t doubt her one bit. But after a bit, she whispered to me, “Eh marami pa rin kasing umaasa sa kanya.”

I remember how hilarious Dolphy was in his heyday as a comedian. I grew up watching black-and-white movies of his on television during weekday afternoons. Two of my most favorite were Kalabog En Bosyo (1959) and Barilan Sa Baboy-Kural (1962); we watched the replays again and again. Even until now, I remember the villain Dr. Kagaw’s most memorable line in the former: “Revenge!” I remember the scene wherein Panchito and Dolphy experimenting with some batter-like mixture in a huge aluminum pot. Someone splattered the other with a small clump of batter by accident, prompting the other to retaliate. This escalated into a full-blown fight, ending with Dolphy lifting the pot, inverting it, then covering Panchito’s whole head in it. I can still see Dolphy, his head all covered with batter except for his eyes and mouth, smiling wickedly as he spun the pot around and around Panchito’s head.

The funny man I saw while previewing the tapes was old and tired. But when the AD yelled “Action!” and the camera started rolling, Dolphy would come to life, and beyond the slow movements and the stooped shoulders, one can see the flames of mischievous youth dancing in the corners of his eyes, in the curve of his smile.

Throughout the six years I was a Kapamilya, I had so many instances wherein I could have asked for a photo taken of me and the Comedy King together. But I always resisted. Instead, I preferred my memories of Dolphy, whether in black-and-white or in color, onscreen and off. I know how fickle memory can be, and how unreliable it can become. When it comes to the King of Comedy, what I treasure more are the warmth of fuzzy feelings versus the harshness of sharp recollection.

* * * * *

Dolphy may be the King of Comedy, but when it came to gay comedy, my all-time favorite Queen is Roderick Paulate. Dolphy’s gay characters were more ridiculous and ridiculed; Kuya Dick’s characters were proud and in fighting form.

It doesn’t surprise me that the whole Filipino nation is in mourning for Dolphy; his appeal is as broad as the range of characters he played. In contrast, Kuya Dick perfected the flamboyant, effeminate gay, whether he’s flaunting it with matching wide-brimmed hat and tasseled umbrella, or attempting to hide it with gruff lowered voice and macho posturing.

The Philippine flag may be at half-mast because of Dolphy’s passing, but should Kuya Dick bid farewell, it’ll be our pink flags that will turn one shade sadder.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Know Elections Are Coming

Grim-and-determined-no-more THE Jonas Bagas (sorry, I know it’s a private joke among us friends, but what the heck anyway) posted a YouTube link showing a music video that highlights a particular province’s charms.

So okay fine, that’s been done before. In fact, we’ve seen TV ads by the Department of Tourism done in music-video style highlighting the beauty of the Philippines. Even the Philippine National Anthem which reels off at the start of the last full show in movie theaters is actually a tourism ad disguised as a national obligation.

But politicians having the chutzpa to star in a music video?! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the song, “Pagsanjan - Bangkero, Lahat ay Masaya,” sung by Pagsanjan Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejercito, with a cameo at the end by Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan.

“Do you believe in life after cryogenic freeze?” Here Ms. Ejercito does her best Cher impression.

Is this an ABS-CBN station ID?

Oh so this is why this tourism spot was produced!

But wait, there’s more!

She and the good Gov must have had so much fun, they made another video! Here is “Laguna - Una Sa Lahat,” sung by Pagsanjan Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejercito featuring Governor Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan.

The Gov claiming Laguna as “ang numero unong lalawigan.” How he can claim that, I have no idea.

Particularly charming are the note-worthy lambat-and-orchid props of Ms. Ejercito. Here she channels Jennifer Love Hewitt.

I have to admit, though, that the Laguna song is so damn catchy. It has serious el-el-el-LSS factor, it can give Rebecca Black a run for her money. Rebecca, matakot ka na-na-na-na-na!

So I really don’t have a problem if a province has the budget to promote tourism with a song-and-dance number. And given that spots on tourism have a short shelf-life (while the natural wonders of a place may last for generations, Time and Man, especially local politicians, have this inconvenient habit of changing things), I can still stomach an appearance or two by the incumbent leaders of that place (though I’d really prefer that they stay out of it).

But having the governor and mayor acting as talents in the music video is something else. I blame this on the incestuous relationship between politics and showbiz. The two have entangled themselves so much that people actually treat politicians like superstars, and some politicians purport themselves like superstars. And then there are politicians who also are superstars. But I don’t care if that was Mayor Ate Vi delivering a speech ala-Sister Stella L. In my mind, something’s not right when a public servant appears too intent on building an image. There’s something Evita-ish about it that doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned to believe that action should still speak louder than words, and all this flimflam is just sound and fury signifying nothing but self-aggrandizement.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Press Release: Love Yourself Hub Set To Open July 8

The Love Yourself Project, an ongoing advocacy group which aims to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS is set to open ‘The Love Yourself Hub’ on July 8, 2012 at 1850 Leon Guinto St., Malate, Manila (at the back of PWU).

The Love Yourself Hub will serve as a resource center to further increase the levels of awareness and knowledge, counseling and education, wellness, prevention, cure and rehabilitation of the communities it serves, especially the youth and LGBT-MSM in response to sexually transmitted infections (STI and HIV) and other sexuality-related concerns. One of the main key programs is to conduct HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) with the able support of the Research Institute for Topical Medicine (RITM).

Over a period of one year, The Love Yourself Project exponentially grew to almost 100 educators and counselors, and over 500 volunteers nationwide from all sectors of society. In line with the first anniversary of the Love Yourself Project, herewith are the activities:

July 8 – (Sunday, 6 PM) Formal opening of the Love Yourself Hub with “How Do I Love Thee,” a fund-raising photo-exhibit by Ian Felix Alquiros featuring photographs of male torsos in black and white. “How Do I Love Thee” will be open to the public from July 9 to August 5, Monday – Sunday. Exhibit hours: 1 - 6 PM. For further details and information, visit or

July 15 -- (Sunday, 6 PM) Film Showing: “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa,” winner of Best Picture, 35th Gawad Urian, starring Rocco Nacino and Paolo Avelino (Best Actor, 35th Gawad Urian); and a short film “Nessun Dorma,” by Ron Genato and Jedd Rommel.

July 21 – (Saturday, 9 PM) “Circle of Love” – The Love Yourself Anniversary party, to be held at BED Manila. Special guest performers include: La Chiquitta – Hongkong’s top drag performer; Hotlegs; Soprano Beverly Salviejo; and Drag-ons.

July 29 – (Sunday, 6 PM) Wellness Demonstration conducted by Bay Leaf Spa on “Massage for Pleasure.”

Aug 5 – (Sunday, 6 PM) Forum: “Top Ten Tips: Succeeding in the Corporate World for People Like Us” conducted by Mr. Corporate Closet.

Dare. Care. Share.

Let’s all aim for a self-loving, happy, healthy, and HIV/STI-free Philippines. For further details and information, visit or follow us on Facebook at and Twitter@LoveYourself_VA

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Anderson And Toto

“Anderson Cooper admits he’s gay, from Inside Edition.” That was the text message which woke me up this morning. It was from our channel manager who was monitoring the international news programs.

Going to the office and online, I saw that the community was a-buzz with the news. Gay people were lauding him for coming out, as well as cracking jokes about it. After all, Anderson is one of those high profile celebrities who’ve always been on the Merely-Lacking-An-Official-Statement gay list.

And I laud his reason for coming out (below are excerpts from his reply to a blogger-friend of his, which he has allowed to be posted online):

Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist. I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. 

Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something - something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. 

The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted.

* * * * *

On this same morning, my officemate Gigi (all names henceforth have been changed to protect their identities) came up to me and said, with bated breath, “Have you heard the latest about Toto?”

Toto was this ex-officemate of ours who resigned a month ago. His stay was short in the office; most of his colleagues found him weird and difficult to understand. In my few encounters with him, I realized that his mind actually zips faster than his mouth. Worse, he also allows himself to be distracted by the myriad things running through his mind. He just needs someone to force him to focus during meetings. However not everyone has the patience, and so after several months, he was asked to resign. Everyone was mostly glad he left.

“So what’s the latest?” I asked.

Gigi said, “So when he turned over everything--his files, his laptop--there was a DVD that was left in the disc drive of his computer.”

“What was it?” I asked.

Teh, M2M!” she exclaimed.

That caught me off-guard. Never had I imagined Toto to be gay. He was a smallish man with a fidgety demeanor, like a rat that’s always sniffing around for food. He spoke rapidly, often jumping from topic to topic without any warning or transition. He never spoke of personal stuff, not that anyone bothered to get to know him more. In fact, people avoided talking to him as much as possible. He never really made any friends, so it was easy for everyone to make fun of him. Including me.

“OMG!” I exclaimed. “If that’s true, I think the community will not want him in, hahahaha!”

Oo nga,” Gigi agreed. “At sinabayan pa niya si Anderson. Ikaw, did you have any inkling with Toto?”

“Did I even care?” I retorted, and we both laughed.

* * * * *

How cruel, that was my afterthought. After Gigi left and I went into my room, I realized that for every clean-cut, role-model-y Anderson or Neil Patrick, there’s an Andrew Cunanan who is also one of us. He need not be as murderous as Cunanan; indeed, he can be just a Toto, weird and misunderstood and just a little too peculiar to belong and be lovable.

But that’s the price we pay for coming out. It would be naive to expect our gay examples to be all role models. People need to see that there are many, many different colors of the gay rainbow, and some of those colors aren’t pretty. Some can even be downright ugly. But that’s the truth. Because the big reveal, the big idea here is simple: homosexuals are just as fabulous and as fucked up as heterosexuals. So get off your high horses and stop discriminating. Be tolerant.

That also goes to me and Gigi, with the Totos of this world.