Watch Me Entertain Myself!

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Project Run(a)way

I don’t get it. So one day you’re in a relationship, the next day you’re out. What is this, Project Runway?

When I was a lot younger, I bought into the whole “‘til Death do us part” bit, which is why in my hopeful mind I thought that the only right way to companionship was to have a long and thorough courtship period. That courtship period serves as time for two people to get to know each other well enough, so that they have enough basis to decide whether to plunge into a serious commitment or not.

It was only much, much later on when it dawned on me that gay Filipinos don’t (and most probably won’t for several years) have the institution of marriage; thus, separation between two gay men is less messy. Consequently, two guys can officially become a couple before the “getting to know you” stage commences. No big deal, really, since we don’t have the institution to tie us down outside of personal choice.

The lack of institutionalized commitment means that gay relationships will rise and fall on the decisions of the two parties involved. On the one hand, this makes gay relationships sound so flighty, so easy-come-easy-go. But on the other hand, this separates the men from the boys.

To be committed takes dedication, patience, and honor. It can be difficult, even more so if there is no legal document that forces one to stay committed. When it’s so easy to just run away, then commitment becomes an act of will.

So if you’re someone who just jumps into a relationship, who doesn’t even stop and consider the implications of choosing to be with someone, who is more in love with being in love than with a real person, then you’re just a kid. Or you’re an old guy who perhaps needs to grow up.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pride And Survivor

What constitutes national pride? I ask myself that as the worldwide juggernaut of a TV show begins its latest installment, Survivor Philippines. Online I see people tweeting or posting on their Facebook status, “Survivor Philippines makes me so proud of my country!” or some similar sentiment. And that made me wonder. I’m okay with the fact that the show brought in dollars for our economy. I’m also happy that the show becomes an international platform to showcase the beauty of Caramoan in Camarines Sur. But to be proud of it? What is it about Survivor Philippines that makes it a source of national pride? Why should we be proud of as Filipinos?

Predictably, as soon as I tweeted my musing, some immediately reacted, saying they were proud that this international show is showcasing the beauty of out country. One even chided me for being a sourpuss. They must have thought I was bursting their happy bubbles.

But I really am just curious: why should we be proud of being the setting of Survivor? Is it because Survivor shows the beauty of the Philippines, unlike The Bourne Legacy whose producers admitted that they chose Manila because of its dirt and chaos? But if it’s just showcasing the beauty of the Philippines, our Department of Tourism has been doing that for the longest time. Besides, anyone in production will tell you that the choice of location does not rest solely on its telegenic beauty. And if being a Survivor location is a matter of pride, then Upolu, Samoa and Koror, Palau have us beat, with the former being the location of two seasons and the latter of four seasons.

But it seems some of us really make a big deal out of any mention of anything Filipino on an international platform. I’m reminded of Phil. Daily Inquirer’s Ruben V. Nepales who, whenever he interviews a foreign celebrity, always looks for a Filipino connection with that celebrity. A friend of mine tweeted: “Eh kung proud nga tayo na Pinay ang asawa ng pinsan ng kabit ng kapatid ng isang NBA player eh.” To which I replied: “O proud tayo na yung may 1/4 Pinoy blood yung kapatid ng katulong ng teacher ng mga anak nina Brangelina.”

I’m proud of our heroes. I’m proud of our athletes. I’m proud of our country’s beautiful locations. But in Survivor Philippines the country is just a backdrop for the show, not front and center. The contestants are Americans, the whole production is American. I’m happy that part of our country is seen by millions of viewers all over the world. But proud?

Nationalism and patriotism should go deeper than just getting excited every time we hear the words “Philippines,” “Filipino,” and “Pinoy” uttered by foreigners, or when we find out that a Filipino is six or less degrees of separation from (insert foreign celebrity name here).

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Fabcasters On Relationships, Part 4

The fourth and last part, as we wrap up our discussion on monogamy and open relationships. What was supposedly a discussion on the relationship status of the Fabcasters turned into an exchange of views on open relationships and monogamy.

Producer’s note: At the end of the recording, Tony blurted out, “Ambagal ng mga utak ng mga matatanda ngayon ah.” And while I was editing this particular Fabcast, I realized he was right; in particular, I was quite scatterbrained during the whole recording session. On reflection, I wasn’t ready to discuss my open relationship simply because I’m in the middle of it all, and that I’m learning new things every day, mostly about me. So it’s difficult to step back for the bigger picture when you’re deep inside the frame.

Boy, I’m so glad the Fabcasts are not live, ahahaha.

Music credits:
“My Love Life” by Morrissey
“Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj feat. Ester Dean
“Love Me For What I Am” The Carpenters
“I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Fabcasters On Relationships, Part 3

And now it’s Corporate Closet’s turn to be under the spotlight. Or on the hot seat, if you will. Here CC discusses his past relationships and gamely endures the slings and arrows and barbed quips from his fellow Fabcasters as well as from the peanuts gathered in the gallery.

And maybe it’s unconscious on my part, but when choosing songs for this part, I ended up choosing songs from the 70s. I guess it reflects my age as well, LOL.

Music credits:
“Love Isn’t Easy” by Abba
“Father And Son” by Cat Stevens
“It’s Sad To Belong” by England Dan and John Ford Coley
“Mahirap Magmahal Ng Syota Ng Iba” by Apo Hiking Society

The Fabcasters On Relationships, Part 2

On this second part of the Fabcasters’ discussion on the relationship, D and I answer Jason’s question, “Aren’t you enough for one another?” We also conclude our story of our open relationship, as Tony joins belatedly into the discussion.

“Are you open to an open relationship?” This question is tackled by the others, especially by Gibbs and Bogs, Migs, and Tony.

The second part ends with an unexpected arrival by another latecomer to the peanut gallery.

Music credits:
“Love Me For A Reason” by Boyzone
“Love Is For Singing” by the Apo Hiking Society
“Turn Up The Radio” by Madonna
“A Different Point Of View” by the Pet Shop Boys

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ang Pagdadalaga Ni McVie, Part 4

Part 4: That’s What Friends Are For (or On Friendships)

Friends have always been very important to me. They provide me with support, inspiration, stability and, since I like to surround myself with witty people who know how to laugh at themselves, much laughter.

It was in grade school that I first joined a barkada. We stayed together until after college. Today my original barkada is now scattered all over the U.S.; only two of us stayed in the country. Thanks to college theater and work, I formed new sets of friends. With Internet, the world opened up to me, and that’s when I met other like-minded gay guys. And that’s how the Fabcasters were formed.

There was a time in the past that I saw my friends as my alternative to the lack of a lovelife. Having different sets of friends meant more choices if I needed to hang out with someone. And different sets meant shifting gears and having a wider repertoire of interests. That’s why when people ask me, “Isn’t it lonely to be alone and single?” I now disagree. It took me years to realize, but eventually I first discovered that my friends keep me from being bored. And a couple more years, I learned an even more important lesson: I myself can keep me from being bored.

You can’t choose family, but you can most certainly choose your friends. So choose well, choose wisely, especially when it comes to gay friends. I first came out to a female friend because I felt she was my safest choice. But immediately after that, I made it a point to also come out to the gay friends that I had. Because being gay means being treated differently, it’s great to have similar-minded people with whom you can bond with, look up to, emulate, and eventually learn from.

And don’t be afraid to let some go, eventually and organically. It’s a fact of life; there will be people whose path of growth will diverge from yours. You may have a lot of shared past, but you now face separate futures. So learn how to move on with grace and love. It’s a valuable lesson that you will definitely keep coming back to, and will serve you well with your family and even with your partner (or partners).

That’s why nowadays I don’t see friendships as an alternative to a lovelife. No, friendships are, in and of themselves, a special and different kind of love. It is not romantic love, but it is love nonetheless.

And if what they say is true, that ideally your lover should also be your friend, isn’t it great that you already have people with whom you can hone your skills in the art of devotion, loyalty, respect, selflessness, and eventually, saying goodbye? (Hello, AJ!)

Thank god for friends.

(Up next, Part 5: We Are Family)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Fabcasters On Relationships, Part 1

Two years ago the Fabcasters were all single, and we marked that occasion with a Fabcast that’s also significant because it was also to be the penultimate recording with AJ.

Today, Migs, Gibbs, CC, Tony, and I are all in relationships. So now we marked the occasion with a Fabcast recording on relationships. (We hope it’s not the penultimate recording of someone though, bwhahaha! Excuse the ghoulish sense of humor, I rarely get to flaunt it these days.)

I guess D and I were chosen to go first because we were the only partners present in the recording. So first on the Fab grill: “Danyeeear” and I discuss our open relationship.

Click on the link below and listen.

Music credits:

“Out Of The Game” by Rufus Wainwright
“Lovegame” by Lady Gaga
“Left To My Own Devices” by Pet Shop Boys

Ang Pagdadalaga Ni McVie, Part 3

Part 3: All You Need Is Love (or On Relationships & Love)

So far my biggest, longest-lasting hang-up was: “Why am I single since birth?” From the time I was attracted to the same sex until I was 44 years old, I was enjoying what is euphemistically called “single blessedness.” I thought the euphemism was cloying, annoying, and condescending, until I had a boyfriend. Now I still think there’s a tinge of consuelo-de-bobo shade in the term, but now that I can compare being single versus having a partner, I can now say with conviction that, indeed, the former has its blessings.

But that will fall on deaf ears of the desperate and the delusional. Desperate because they want a partner above all else; delusional because they think that love is the answer. All they need is love, love is all there is.

Actually this need to be coupled is a universal need. But among gays, it becomes especially significant because we’ve been accused of being incapable of having long term relationships of the monogamous kind. Makati at malandi are easily attributed to homosexuals. Not surprising; as I said in Part 2, sex is seen in a narrow context (I blame this on imposed Catholic guilt regarding sex). Thus I think this spurs a lot of gay guys to want to prove that gays are capable of achieving the Holy Grail that straight couples aim for: a long-term monogamous relationship.

This need to be coupled is reinforced by pop culture. Literature, popular music, and the movies all have their share of love stories. That these soap operas, melodramas, and romantic comedies aren’t limited to one culture indicates that this is very much a universal theme. And there is a good reason behind it. Man is a social creature; he is built to socialize with his fellow men.

Nature also made falling in love desirable. The joyful rush, the increased heart rate and blood flow, and the dilation of the eyes--the physical manifestations of falling in love are akin to being high on drugs. And there’s a natural logic to it all; Man needs to copulate so as to ensure the species survives. But Man is unlike animals. In the animal kingdom, when females are in heat they and the males respond instinctively. But Nature has kicked Man out of that instinctual habit. If we want to have sex, we don’t release pheromones; instead, we negotiate. We flirt. We even bamboozle.

Since birth, we are bombarded with all of these Love! Love! Love! messages from both Nature and Nurture. No wonder we’re always looking for love.

Back in high school when I started getting interested in guys, I was attracted to only straight men. That led me to a series of unrequited love, and it took me a while to snap out of that vicious cycle. When I was in my late 20s, I was desperately seeking love on weekends, first in Malate, then in Makati. When I was still single when I hit mid-30s, I told myself, “Career na lang nga muna. Love will happen when it will happen.” And yet still I secretly wished, “Lord, give me a lover!”

It was only when I was into my 40s that I finally found some peace in the idea that I may be single for the rest of my life. It was the fear of “OMG, I’ll still be single when I get old!” that fueled my need for a partner. And when I turned 41, 42, and so forth, I still didn’t find someone. More and more I got comfortable with the idea of being single. My only regret was that I could never really know what it was like to have a boyfriend. But that’s something I have no control over. The one indisputable fact of love is that it takes two to tango.

At 44 I finally met a tango partner.

So now that I can compare, I can safely say that having someone in your life gives you a chance to know yourself even more. Most of these lessons you can actually learn from family and friends. However, it’s so easy to take family and friends for granted. With a partner, the lessons are a lot harder to avoid and evade. And I’m so thankful that it’s D who’s with me on this.

What I also realized is that Love doesn’t favor straight or gay. We actually share in the same fears and go through the same problems (well, except for the sex problems, of course).

Some people, when they hear my story, would react with, “Oh wow, it took you so long. Poor unfortunate you.” But I don’t feel unfortunate; in fact, I count myself lucky. Knowing how emotional I was when I was younger, I am glad that I met D when I was more stable and less emotionally volatile. (D may want to disagree with me on the last statement though, hahaha!)

At least Fate spared me and you many an emo post.

(Up next, Part 4: That’s What Friends Are For)