I Am Voting For Change

•May 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I am voting for change. Social Change that is. I hope that you can lend me a few minutes of your precious time in reading this article. I am voting for Risa Hontiveros. If you are too then let us spread the word further. If not, then I am fervently hoping that you open your hearts and mind and give me the chance to say why she deeply deserves our vote on Monday, 13th of May 2013.

I would not run down on the long list of accomplishments she had in the Philippine political arena. I would not deal on the fact that she is an accomplished and very successful journalist, a mother of two, and a widow. She never used it anyway. You would not hear Risa asking for your sympathy vote. It is not in her character to use her family, especially her kids and the hardships she had in losing her beloved husband at an early age of their marriage.

Many people hate her for various reasons. That is a fact. Mostly because of her stand on social issues. Her advocacy for the common people to have a choice. Her strong will on fighting for those who are unfortunately not as educated as we are. Her belief in common justice and equality for those who are not getting it.

Maybe you do not belong to these groups or further, you have an opposite view on things. You may be affiliated to certain groups or communities who do not espouse the rights and privileges she wants the marginalized, common, impoverished and illiterate to have full access to. Or the most common, the values instilled in you made you adamant to resisting change – drastic and not so comfortable change.   

But there are millions of Filipinos who need these changes. Those who live in poverty and wish they know how to feed their kids, give them shelter and clothing and let them go to school. Those with eight children and already five have died before even reaching the age of ten. Those who were abused and forced to bear children even before adulthood. Those who are suffering from discrimination and inequality because the society does not accept them for who they are. Those who are still hiding from the closet because of fear and rejection. Those whom the only option is to end their lives because of the lack of support and acceptance to live the life they choose. Those who do not have the same freedom, rights and lifestyle you are currently living because they do not have the societal acceptance that you are enjoying. Those who wish they have a choice.

Maybe that is not you. Maybe you do not need these changes. Maybe you are happy with how our society works and all your life aspirations, dreams and goals are within your reach. But there are people who are still yearning for the basic and fundamental rights that you are getting. That you are enjoying. That the current laws of the country already provided you with.

I know there are other solutions. But for people like me it might take a lifetime. The easiest is to leave this country we love so much and live somewhere else wherein we will be accepted for who we are. For us to enjoy the basic rights of that country because our own cannot provide us the same opportunity and freedom to live on the way we should be living.

If not for you, do it for someone you know, whether a friend, a family member, a stranger that you only heard of or read somewhere, or even for me. Because people like us need social change. We need people who will stand for our rights and bring us closer to our dream and to enjoy what you are enjoying. Would you deprive us of our basic rights, to be your coequal?

This is Risa Hontiveros. She is never afraid to stand for my right and the rights of those people who are commonly neglected. Many politicians have promised but no one has delivered. That is because they just need our votes. But for me it is different. I will vote for Risa because I need her. The society needs her. Again, if not for you, then do it because you and me, and everyone in this country deserves equality and choice.

I met her on a plane bound to Legazpi City last 2010. I had a small chat with her and asked if I could take a picture of a future senator. She gave me the most sincere smile then thanked me. I will never forget that moment. Yes she didn’t make it in 2010. But when I told her that she would be a future senator I know then and there that it was destined to be.

I would completely understand and accept those who will have a totally different view on things as I do. I respect that and I hope you also respect me. Respect us who need her. Respect our voices and our dreams. Respect our choices and freedom.

Let us vote for social change. Let us vote for Risa Hontiveros.Image

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The Power of NO

•October 3, 2011 • 2 Comments

I stopped. When I was nearing 300 views per article and getting compliments here and there, I stopped making one. It’s like this, when you’re doing good you gotta stop there. You gotta leave everything on a high note. I felt it was better to stay on a good standing than wait for the saturation point when you’ll end up beside the obituary page. I know I’m totally exaggerating. Honestly, I would even jump for joy if I get something published in broadsheet but something within me had spoken, just say no.

Done were the days when I feed on people’s admiration and breathe the air of glory. I used to be my own star. I went for broke and succeeded. Got a short stint in Broadway but ended up in K-Street singing in a late night brothel. Was I a people pleaser? No doubt I was. I was at fear of becoming insignificant and just being another head of white sheep in the prairie.

It’s a talent. I mean, to say yes to everything. It is like a wholesale market wherein you get everything at a discount price and you end up with a lot of stuff that you don’t actually need. I frequent that store. I wanted everything times ten, more friends, more parties, more booze and yes, more mistakes. So now, at this very instance I declare one thing that I haven’t done in a long time, NO.

The power of negative. I never thought about that before. I always thought of it as a bad thing, something detrimental to my character. Worse, a word that will make me leave the high street and live in welfare. A friend of mine introduced this concept and now I’m adapting it. It actually makes sense – no hassles, just your own freakin’ survival.

I’ve been practicing this concept a lot longer than I thought of. I said no to dating girls when the whole world was screaming for me to go straight. I shaved all my hair in college and stopped going to the salon every week to get my frizzy hair straightened and look like a J-Pop. I broke the conservative upbringing, had piercings and dawned a tat. Everything is about no. When it gets too uncomfortable and dishonest, there’s absolutely nothing wrong to giving rejections.

Now that I’m adapting this concept, I would say that it can work for me. After all, when I was all about the yes’s, nothing really good came out if it. I have nothing to lose and trying the negative side won’t do much harm in the long run.

I wish I could adapt it sooner to cigarettes. I mean I smoke more than I should or better, I should stop smoking period. I wish I could say no to men and all those sweet nothings. I wish I could say no to hurting, crying and all the gazillion pain that people are causing me. It will take some time but removing these things will surely keep me in line with my real goal, the better future.

This is PLUM, an article for the pink and fabulous community of Manila. Nothing gay about this article? Sure it does. It smells gay even from the third block away from here. We definitely need to say no to a lot of things, I won’t run it down for I’m in no position of judgment. But one thing’s certain; I can see a lot of yes’s if we start by saying no. Yes to a better life, yes to change, and yes to a whole lotta happiness.

I wish it will all work. I mean, I didn’t expect a lot of investments just by saying no. Now that it does, I’ll look at the brighter side of things. The simplicity of the concept will give me two steps back but a big leap after. As for my articles, I also will say no. Damn to the pressure of writing it weekly and just make one when a bright idea comes in mind. So here it is, with high hopes and full of negatives, I say No to the bullshits surrounding me.   

Depreciation

•September 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I became a full-fledged gay teen when I was seventeen. And because of all the nuances entailed on entering this crazy lifestyle, it became violently difficult to blend in. The most awkward of which is when a queer friend in college dropped the bomb and told me, “Dude, you need a makeover”. So I literally threw away the baggy six-pocket jeans, the size L and XL shirts (without any special diet I was suddenly a size S) and spent almost all my allowance on shopping and looking good. In a few months time it was ecstasy.

I never hesitated to spend on myself. After all, we live in an awfully and superficially material word. I was lucky that I had my financial support back then and when it drastically diminished, I worked my ass out just to sustain my lifestyle. Well I can only speak for myself and my fear to sink in on the back row of the bandwagon. But how does the gay community really spend the Pink Peso?

Whether it’s the latest gadgets, up and coming trends, and Billboard’s hot chart, we are always a step or two ahead. We are all gifted with intuition just like Phoebe Halliwell’s magical witch powers. And true to the “gadgets and gizmos a-plenty and the whozits and whatzits galore”, Ariel became our peg (and no, it’s not because she’s a mermaid and a princess).

When you go to an exclusive event, the most posh boutiques or a hatted restaurant, chances are a gay guy would be there. It’s like we became the guards of glam, the chief of the fashion police and the heiress to beauty. We evolved from mere spectators to a lion marking his territory. We can never be out of the first page of the fashion section of your weekend newspaper and our influence spreads more than how the legs of Carmen Electra extended. Whether the straight world accepts it or not, we can never be ignored because of our innate expertise.

The trend that we and our gay brothers and sisters set became a benchmark. Unconsciously we are pressured to look good, smell good and of course, taste good. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility (and the signature bag and shoes to boot). The truth is that we are the fad. And for the capitalists, we became the most cost effective form of advertising. We wear what is in, and throw away what is out.

As we empty our pockets on ‘what is’, shouldn’t we be more concerned on the ‘what if’? Are we investing on a long term relationship with all the sparkle, the leather and the booze? Is long term happiness available over the counter? Can we download satisfaction and a lasting relationship or are we just fooling ourselves in believing that now is forever?

The time when I’ve decided to hop in was also the time I tapped out. I shortened my lifespan and assumed a post that was given to those who needed it at the moment without lingering on what will be a bloody aftermath. I didn’t become sustainable. Further, I became dependable. I took the easy road to hide my fears of the present and took the hand of the devil wearing Prada.

I wished that I’ll be stuck in my youth. I longed that beauty will never fade. I dreamt that my existence will be marked with an awful load of trophies, tiaras and sashes. But sooner than I have expected, the alpha male was replaced by the young cub. My power to see the future didn’t work this time as fashion, parties and technology progressed without me. And that when I reach my expiration date, the spotlight won’t even touch my face and the
sexiest perfume won’t even hide my old tomato’s scent.

Soon enough your Pink Peso will turn to Old Rose and the pedestal needs a new Queen Femina Suarestellar Baroux. When the curtains fall and you’re lying on your queen size bed, all you have are the LV bags, Armani suits and Ferragamo shoes. “One day you’re in, the next you’re out”, as Heidi Klum said it. So after turning over the crown, taking the final walk with that silky-smooth wave and that big smile, say it loud and proud –  Auf Wiedersehen!

Endangered Species

•August 29, 2011 • 4 Comments

My friend and I were having this random topic about relationships a few years back. He said that the average life span of a gay relationship is only a quarter compared to our straight counterparts. I thought heavily about it and brushed off the idea. It’s like comparing us to dog years. Well I know we have bitches in our community, pun intended. But how true can this be? Is it a general rule for us to have short-lived relationships? Or are we just too fickle to fall in love easily? Is the blood gushing to our crotches more important than what our hearts are beating?

How fun can that be though? Couples celebrating their anniversaries every three months. I am starting to believe that the gay community invented the word “monthsary”. To compensate with this short-term love affairs.

When I started my pink journey, it was as confusing as devouring a monster-sized burger. You don’t know how to eat it; you don’t know where to begin. The rule is easy- advertise, hookup and have sex. I tried it out for curiosity’s sake. True enough, I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss (with a guy), and the other things you do right after. Something that I am not so proud of since it all happened on the same day inside a movie house. After all, I am allowed to be sloppy; I’m a gay man in the making.

Aside from my embarrassing ‘first’, I discovered the many places that we find love…and lust. The internet paved the venue for our underground dating world. With the advent of these chatrooms and social networking slash dating sites, the only limit is your imagination. Funny how we see more abs and nipples than faces. And if you ask for it, the much coveted ‘dick pics’. How we start everything with our physical stats than our personal qualifications. Are we living the material world? Do we long for the body and not the mind? I wonder what happened to forever. The ‘till death do us part?

I’m more of a conservative. Not many of those we know me agrees with that but I am raised in an oddly limited space. My mom always emphasizes on our freewill to choose but follows up with the doctrines on our moral obligation. How ironic can that be? It’s like saying have sex with the hottest guy and then burn him afterwards or eat your heart’s out, just don’t forget to spit and never swallow. I am a renegade and a rebel. I never listened but my consciousness always kicks in. I battled it out from within, the more it became confusing. I had to act fast.

I initially thought that we only get to know people virtually. Unless we have this name tag, sometimes it’s hard to spot the gay guy from the not. I was introduced to the G-spots a bit late. How all the malls starting with that letter are the places to be – Gay-belt, Gay-way, Gay-lleria and the recently added, Bi-Noma. The last one is still confused. Maybe they’ll changed the name in the future to let’s say, Gay-dom. It was a party all around the Metro. A fact in a sense that all types of the military men (refer to the previous article) are here for a big feast. It’s like a giant dick was in the center and everyone was worshipping in a fertility dance but nobody synced. I danced with them with two left feet and eyes wide open hunting for my prey.

Fact is, we are the most advanced human beings out there. We became so adaptive that we find our niche not just in a single space but to wherever we are in the Metro. From the restaurants that we frequent, to the hang outs and parties we attend, we were able to conquer it all. Not to mention the car brands, the fashion stores and the other merchandise that as gay men, are loyal to them. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t be as patronizing to our relationships just like how we are with the things we buy. Or are we buying the right thing, going to the right places and committing to the right relationships?

As big and better our community is, I still find it difficult to find the one. Sex is always on sale but relationships are prized items in the limited edition display. Maybe these men are like mobile phones wherein you have to wait for the next model to come out and when it does, make sure to stick with it because in a few months time there will be  more updated ones in the market.

No matter where we find them, the rule is simple – value, treasure and believe. Love is never enough to survive this crazy world. Trust and Faith have been over-used as well. We might have different formula to make it work but I hope everyone will try it out. What you don’t know or yet to discover might be the one to turn your world upside down.

In a nonchalant manner I still see myself doing what others failed to do. Stay in a relationship more than what the dogs (and bitches) have been doing. I still believe in fairy tales and the happily ever after. That I can find my prince not in a G-spot wearing nothing left for the imagination. After all, not everything in our gay life is a quarter of the normal time span – not my heartache, not the pain, and most especially not my tears.  

Carry On

•August 17, 2011 • 13 Comments

I remember this GQ issue with Matt Damon on the cover, from the magazine rack that I always bring to the backyard of our house. As naive as I was back then, I rush to the men’s underwear ads. I get mesmerized staring at those bulges. True to my standards, the bigger the better. Those sexy men in tight jeans, topless, tanned and chiseled were an added treat. I get a certain high while focusing on every cut of muscles, every hard rock abs, those blue sexy eyes, and don’t forget the curiously looking crotches. I scanned the pages just like a fugitive, secretively and vigilantly.  The magazine was my uncle’s. I was eleven. I love men.

We all have different stories to tell. Most of which we are not so proud of. Some might be funny, others are totally accidental and for a few, situations that we’d rather hide in our closets forever. It all happened to us, that single diminutive moment wherein we realized how far from normal we were. How things seem strange from what we observe. How our feelings are so different from what we were supposed to be doing. For the lucky ones it was a walk in the park (or the runway). But for the most part of the exploration, it was utter confusion.

As a kid you learn the basics from the do’s and the don’ts. From the way you should dress up, to how you should act, to the toys you should play, to the music you should be listening to, and to even the sport you should be in. Unfortunately, nobody taught us what to feel. We have learned how to step up and discover things on our own. Puberty would be the perfect time. Others do it earlier and for a few, a lot later. No matter when and how we knew, we all have one thing in common, we like men. We want to kiss, love and have sex with our own. That would be certainly, ridiculously out of this world. I used to believe that too.

Society looks at us differently. I can’t blame them. There are more ‘kinds’ of us than the orchid family but we can’t remove the single clause that binds us together, our affinity for the same sex. I thought of an ironic way to put things into perspective, the military. This hardcore (not the porn one) organization is close to my heart. As a cadet officer in high school, I traversed a semi-straight path which I would never regret doing. A man in uniform, particularly I, in battle gear is as hot as the morning coffee I’m having right now. Let’s look at some of our mistahs (or sistahs) and their class type.

The frontliners

Have you ever seen an old Filipino comedy flick? Usually played by Dolphy, this class is the most conspicuous one of all. They are your typical parloristas. They wear makeup, wear their most colorful lady’s dresses and emblazoned with their ever flamboyant personalities. Just like in an actual battle, they are the first to get the fire. They are the subject of all kinds of ridicule. But unlike the military, when they fall, no 21-gun salute will be given. The conservatives would even call them menaces to the society, worse than your average crook. Some people of their own kind would judge them for being true to themselves. Now where do these fallen heroes go? A retirement home would be a good place to start, if they will be open to have a loud one around.

The Generals

Boy Abunda would be a good example. I can go on and on with my list but to make it less controversial, let’s stick with one. They are the people who were able to climb into a certain level in the society that their accomplishment becomes their identity. They are the lucky ones who have thrived in the normal world with the normal people, embracing their normal society that nobody dared to look back and say, hey, you do not belong here. They have the power, influence for others. They are respected in their field, if not the community. They usually fight for their comrades’ rights but a few would choose the peaceful life and just meddle on their own backyard.

The Secret Service

In our common lingo, the closet queens and/or paminta. This would be the easiest to describe but the most difficult to pinpoint. They come in all shapes and sizes, breezing their way in our daily world. They are highly valued by their class for their masculinity and that would be self explanatory right? Some are in distress and when they come out, usually they will be the last to know since they’ve been the buzz of the town for the longest time. Watch out, you might be seating next to one.

Those mentioned are just a few of the class that we have. Of course you have the regular army, the ones you see in gay bars who are like M&M’s. Tough shell when you meet them, but softens when you get to know them more. We also have the spies who have taken the road to cross boundaries and become one of the female class. And who would not know the air force? The ones who are there during the good (and sexy) times but will be gone with the wind faster than you can unbutton your pants. I’m sure we have our fair share of them. You can even be one and don’t misconstrue me, you are still my brothers or sisters for that matter.

The list will take forever. The truth is, we can never be a single type or can be boxed up in a certain class. We are the least who wants to be put in that situation. We don’t want to be like how society pre-judged us and put us on the same spot – a sinner, mentally-ill, a criminal. Everyone has their notion and beliefs in life, in love and of course, sexuality.

My articles would be going around in circles on this not-so explored gifted, vibrant and talented part of our society. Who knows we can even go mainstream someday? But as of this moment, we’ll just have to settle with hope. In every battle, there should be a perfectly strategized plan to win. For some, it was laid out in front of them, to others it’s a trial and error situation, and for a few, a come what may attitude.

As I finish my fourth cigarette and concluding this article, I dream with you guys. For now, I’ll just write about us and share what I know and observe and no, I won’t be talking about bulging crotches anymore. There’s a bigger bulge that we need to score. As the last traces of smoke flies away from my peripheral vision, and the scrunching sound of a cigarette being put off in an ashtray, I stopped typing and continue with the war called life.

Aki @ 24

•June 21, 2011 • 2 Comments

First of all, thank you for everyone who greeted me on my 24th birthday. I really don’t mind if you saw it through a friend, in FB notifications, Tweets or other means aside from your own personal memory, I have worse memory than you do. Thank you for being a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, an adversary and even a critic. Because of you, I am who I am today and I’ve grown to accept things as they are. After all, nothing is an accident in this world.

To those who have been asking and wondering what is going on with me for the past hundred days or so, I can only say that it has not been the best of times. I have undergone a lot of changes from my personal life, relationships, career and even my beliefs in life and love. I have lost every inch of self respect, every ounce of confidence and all the slices of self esteem. Further, I began doubting myself, what I can do and the plans I have for my future. It came to a point that I wanted to give up, I wanted everything to end. Yes, I wanted everything to end and it lingered my mind far more than I have imagined.

But when everything seemed so lost and was nowhere to be found, I simply surrendered. I told God that I can’t do this alone and it’s too much of a burden already. I won’t elaborate on the issues I’m facing but it comprised of my personal life, my finances, my family, my love life and career – everything was failing. I couldn’t see the brighter future ahead. I expected a lot from myself and knowing what more I can do, I was a failure.

I hid it. At times I snap but more often than not people didn’t see what was inside of me. My friends are my ephemeral escape from my problems. When I’m with them I can run away from the issues that I have, from the problems I am facing and the troubles of tomorrow. I get a sense of happiness, of acceptance, of belief and of course love. I could not thank you more for being there for me. In spite of my brouhahas and fickled-impulsived personality, you remained true to me.

I know that I am a better person now than who I was 365 days ago. I might not be the best that I can be as of the moment but I am now gaining my trust on myself. I know that as I am writing this, something good is happening. God is preparing me for something great and these lessons and obstacles that I am faced right now will make it sweeter.

To God be the Glory. I love you all- my family, my friends and of course myself.

The Day I Started Believing

•April 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I have been a sloppy writer lately. Gone were the days that I find pleasure in every manuscript, articles and simple blogs that I do. I have been doing so many things at once and writing was not one of them.

It occurred to me lately that I’ve been struggling. Seeking what I want and not getting what I deserve. My peg was the fame, the money and the power. I didn’t get any. What I found though was more important, I found myself.

Lately I’ve experienced awful things. Things that you just want to get over with; experiences not worth mentioning on your most prized accomplishments. I did quit my job, lost a budding relationship and worst, hated myself. I was downright a failure.

When I decided to let go of my job it was difficult; lest it becomes ugly. I was not happy. I was doing something way below my level of acceptance. I didn’t feel respected.

When I lost the relationship I truly wanted it was devastating. I was left by myself, not knowing where to go or what to do. I kept on wondering why it had to end and what I have done wrong.

The former was a choice, the latter was not. Both were equally as painful, as hard and as horrible as it could be.

Strings of event came one after the other; mostly to crush me more from where I am at right now. Before the eve of giving up I have decided to get back on my feet. That is where I decided to stop running, not from reality but from failures.

To everything that has happened I give my whole hearted acceptance. I learned valuable lessons – humility, patience and self respect. Where is love and happiness? I’m still not sure. I know I’ll find it someday, somewhere, somehow.

I am writing again not just because I have been missing writing. I am doing so because I have found myself. For now I’ll continue running, to see the meaning of life and to achieve fulfillment from within.