Friday, July 21, 2017

See This Movie



After watching Kita Kita last night, I predict that it will be a modest sleeper hit among Pinoy audiences who automatically lap up romantic hugot films, TV commercials, and songs. We are a hugot nation, after all.

Kita Kita (I See You) opens with Alessandra de Rossi as Lea, a Pinay who works as a tour guide in Sapporo, Japan, who goes temporarily blind. A Filipino neighbor, Tonyo, comes over to make friends with her. Eventually he slowly woos her. Empoy Marquez plays Tonyo with just the right light touch, striking a careful balance between charming and trying too hard.

It is largely to the credit of the two leads that their cute-meet and the eventual development of their relationship are mostly engaging and believable. On-screen, the two share an easy chemistry that works; in fact, a woman behind me muttered to her friend, “Shet, kinikilig yata ako!

The movie upends the usual romantic clichés by replacing them with another cliché. In this rom-com, it’s possible for a pretty woman like Lea to end up with a guy like Tonyo because love is (temporarily) blind.


In true rom-com fashion, the audience assumes that the true test of whether Lea really loves Tonyo will be when Lea regains her eyesight and sees Tonyo for the first time. (In a previous scene, when she tries to “see” what he looks like by tracing his face with her fingers, she says, quite confidently, “Ang guwapo mo siguro,” to which Tonyo replies in an aside, “Bulag ka nga.”) Will she accept Tonyo, looks and all?

When her eyesight returns, he’s across the street from her. Everything is in slo-mo, she sees him, and smiles.

Then, bam!

At this point the movie does a 360, and we rewind to the start of Tonyo’s story. The movie shifts to his point of view, including a change in voice-over. There are surprises and revelations, and their love story becomes fuller when his part in it is plugged into the timeline.

But while writer-director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo does something unusual in Filipino rom-coms, this two-sides-of-a-story is actually a well-worn storytelling device that the Japanese and Koreans have almost mastered to a T. So while I smiled at the slightly-clunky-at-times but generally smooth execution by Sigrid, I can’t help but think, “been there, seen that.”

Still, I prefer to see our filmmakers stretching their wings and giving the viewing public something more than the usual fare. And for those who are tired of hugot rom-coms, here’s something that’s worth seeing.

Kita-kits tayo sa Kita Kita.

(Kita Kita is Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Almost A Month of PrEP

As a participant in the DOH study on PrEP, I’m required to keep a diary that records my PrEP intake as well as my sexual activities. This is what our diary looks like:


(Already, some people pounced on the words used in our diary. Instead of having “unprotected” sex, it should be “condom-less” sex, since having sex without a condom but while on PrEP means, technically, “protected” sex. They have a point.)

We’re also asked to take note if we experience any side effects while taking PrEP. Those taking PrEP have noted drowsiness. Others said they’ve had very lucid and psychedelic dreams. And some have experienced upset stomach in the first few days.

For me, I didn’t experience any drowsiness or psychedelic dreams. My stomach got upset easily, but Loperamide helped me get through those days.

But there was one curious effect on me that was totally unexpected.

While filling out my diary every morning (after taking my daily PrEP), I’d see all those checks on the top, and a row of empty, unchecked boxes on the bottom. They seemed to be mocking me—“Have you turned into a prude, McVie?!” Was I pressuring myself to put out, because of PrEP?

Entering my 20+ days on PrEP, I’ve only had sex 3 nights since June 26 (my first day on PrEP). Granted, one night was in a bathhouse, and the other two nights were organized orgies in hotel rooms. But still, 3 out of 20+ days is too low compared to the three-times-a-week bathhouse visits during my 30s and early 40s.

Ah well. Less sex, less likely to get infected, right?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Come On Guys, It's 2017


I am put off by parents—especially mothers—castigating Nadine Lustre when she answered, if she and boyfriend James Reid were living together, “I’m not gonna confirm, I’m not gonna deny. But then, ano naman (so what)? If that was true, so what? ‘Di ba, it’s not new anymore. Come on guys, it’s 2017.”

These parents feel that her home studio should retrain Nadine to answer properly such types of questions because they feel that little girls look up to her, and she should set a proper example.

What?

First of all, Nadine is an adult at 23 years old.

Second, she’s an actress. She plays roles, not role models.

But ultimately, if there’s anyone responsible for how children should or shouldn’t act, it’s the parents. Why should parents abdicate their responsibilities to a total stranger? Nadine isn’t here to teach people how to behave. She’s not even herself when you see her onscreen.

Sure, there are a few exceptions, like Emma Watson, for example. But the fact that they’re exceptions only means that we lucked out with the likes of her. When she was chosen to play Hermione Granger, it was specified in her contract that she couldn’t behave in a manner unfitting for her character’s image—that’s the studio protecting their massively expensive assets. That she grew up an upstanding young woman is a welcome delight, not an expectation.

But ultimately it goes back to the parents. The showbiz world and its denizens do not owe you a favor by making your jobs as parents any easier. They’re your kids, they’re your responsibility—not Nadine’s.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A One Year PrEP Study


Sunday, 25 June 2017:

We go to TLY Anglo Clinic around lunchtime to get pre-screened and tested for PrEP Pilipinas’ “Project PrEPPY”. I signed up because I wanted to get into PrEP while at the same time contribute to the DOH’s yearlong study on PrEP in the Philippines.

During the screening, I find out that, for the first time, my blood pressure is high. “141… sir, matagal na bang mataas blood pressure n’yo?” the male nurse asks me. I am shocked. In all the annual corporate physical exams I took, my blood pressure has always stayed within normal levels. Well I am older, I haven’t been working out for more than 6 years now, and I don’t exactly follow a strict healthy diet. Still, it is a rude awakening. Part of me is still hoping the reading was an anomaly.

But thank goodness my blood pressure isn’t too high to boot me off the PrEP program.

By 4pm that afternoon, they hand me my PrEP diary, wherein I am to record my pill taking as well as any incidents that may expose me to the virus (in other words, any sexual dookit or pak ganern, I’m to record it). And then they give me my bottle containing 30 PrEP pills.

Monday, 26 June 2017:

First day of PrEP; I decide to take it after eating an oatmeal breakfast. My PrEP counselor says I should take it on an empty stomach; but upon reading the literature, I find out that PrEP is best taken with meals, for better absorption.

The whole day goes by without anything out of the ordinary.

My mom cooks spaghetti for dinner, and I love her spaghetti. I eat too much and drink a little too much soda. That night I feel a little too gassy/burpy than usual, but I attribute that to my dinner splurge.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017:

PrEP after oatmeal breakfast, and I am off for work. By afternoon I’m feeling sleepier than usual, but I assume that’s because I lacked sleep the night before (playing, of all things, Candy Crush Soda).

I still feel gassy/burpy/bloated. I’m now wondering if it’s a side effect of PrEP.

* * * * *

In the pre-test screening, I was asked if the statement “PrEP encourages promiscuity” is true or false. I wanted to give a more nuanced answer, but my PrEPPY Counselor insisted I stick to the two one-word choices.

What I wanted to say was this.

I can’t answer for other people, because I can’t read their minds. But for me, taking PrEP isn’t a license to be promiscuous. If people want to be promiscuous, they will—and they’ll look for any excuse to justify their actions. If PrEP is a convenient excuse for them, then they’ll use it. As an excuse.

But promiscuity is not the more important concern. “Will PrEP encourage condom-less sex?” is the bigger issue. But even with this one, I’m not entirely convinced that the issue stops at condom-less sex.

I think ultimately condoms, safe sex, and PrEP all point to the essence of why we do what we do: What is our sense of responsibility, to ourselves and to other people? Do we take responsibility for our actions? Do we act responsibly or carelessly? And do we consider the effects of our actions on others?

It’s your choice whether you have protected sex or not. But do you take full responsibility for your choices? Are you willing to live with the consequences of going bareback with a total stranger—consequences to you and to your sex partner? And will you be gracious enough to allow your hook up to turn you down if he finds out that you’re not packing rubber?

Taking PrEP doesn’t mean that I’m allowing myself the luxury of letting my guard down and occasionally engage in condom-less sex “just because I can”. On the contrary, taking PrEP is about me taking responsibility for my (thank god still active) sex life. PrEP is an additional arsenal I can use in my quest to protect myself from HIV.

We acknowledge that we aren’t perfect; we occasionally make mistakes. Being infected with HIV has lifelong consequences. Wouldn’t it be nice to have protection for those times we do slip up and open ourselves to the possibility of infection?

Instead of encouraging me to be careless, PrEP reminds me every day, before I take the pill, that I should be careful out there.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Neutral Is For Pussies

Most of them are well-meaning Filipinos, and they justified their vote or, after he won, their giving him the benefit of the doubt with, “His heart is in the right place,” or “He really loves the country,” or “It’s time to try a change from the usual politicians”. This, despite his track record as the mayor of Davao, his outlandish, bigoted, and cavalier pronouncements, his refusal to show his bank account, and many more. They wanted to give the system a chance; they wanted to give the man that 16 million out of the 54 million possible voters chose in the last elections a chance.

Now most of them are just quiet. Or they’ve stuck to posting about their family, cats and dogs, or the latest movie they’ve seen.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Yesterday I Stopped Wearing My Ring


Almost three months after we broke up, I kept wearing my ring. My friend G noticed it and asked me if it was a manifestation of a subconscious desire on my part. My honest answer was that it was a manifestation of a physical need to have something on my finger. After almost six years, I’m so used to wearing a ring that, whenever I take it off, it felt weird. There were times before when I’d forget to wear it after taking a shower—after a few minutes I felt like something was off, like when your tongue feels around for a missing tooth. So I continued wearing the ring if only to shut up that nagging feeling of incompleteness.

Then yesterday morning after showering, I grabbed my ring but it slipped from my fingers. It landed on the floor and almost went into the drain. I looked at it and thought, “A few more inches and it’s bye-bye, ring.”

So I picked it up, went to my bedroom, and placed the ring inside my cabinet.

After that, I didn’t miss the ring on my finger at all.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Siya Ang Ma-Fillet, Hindi Ako!

I saw the guy before me order a fillet with rice, so when he left and it was my turn at the counter, I asked the female crew who was serving me:

Me: Miss, ano yung in-order niya? Chicken o fish? (pointing to the order of the guy as he walked away from the counter)

Crew: Fillet po.

Me: Oo nga, pero chicken ba yun o fish?

Crew: (insistent) Sir, fillet po.

Me: (pause) Alam ko fillet yun. Ang gusto ko malaman ay chicken ba o fish.

Crew: Oo nga sir. Fillet.

Me: (giving up) Fish fillet?

Crew: Hindi po. Iba pa po ang Fillet-O-Fish.

Me: (bingo!) So chicken siya.

Crew: Opo.

TANGINA THIS. THANK YOU, PROCESS OF ELIMINATION. NOW KINDLY PROCESS HER ELIMINATION FROM MY WORLD.

Monday, May 22, 2017

And So I’m Back…

…from outer space.


Upon entering a relationship—even when it became an open one—I never found the urge to go back to the place where “the thrill is in silence.” Perhaps it was too far. Perhaps the ubiquity of gay hook-up apps made it unnecessary. Whatever my reason or reasons were, the raid on CB by the police (twice, in fact) sealed its fate for me. I let my old membership card expire, and I didn’t bother renewing my membership.

It’s been almost six years since I last set foot in this place. The gym area and the TV room look the same. The stairs leading up to the second floor is the same, including the row lights placed on the banister. The second floor looks the same; even the bathroom looks the way it was 6 years ago.

But when the attendant showed me to my room, bingo! Aha, here’s something new. They now have a built-in drawer in side the bed. Inside the drawer is a huge plastic storage box, the kind you buy in SM. You can now store your valuables inside the plastic storage box, for added safety. I decided to stuff my clothes, wallet, and shoes inside the box.

The showers are still the same. The steam room though has been expanded—they ate up one shower stall to make room for the extension.

Up on the third floor, everything remained as I remembered it. The small free-for-all rooms, enough space for two guys to stand. The open-air smoking area. The dark room. Even the posters remained the same.

And even some people remained the same. “Hmmm, I remember him.” “Oh my, he still goes here?” “He looks familiar.” But there are also new faces; I wonder how many of them will turn out to be recurring new faces.

The second floor smoking area has become the choice area for those who want others to see them do it. Several times I saw it get crowded, a sure sign that a “show” was ongoing.

The music, thank goodness, is new. I mean, they still play wall-to-wall dance music, but at least they didn’t play any Gregorian monks chanting. (Oh wait, that was in Fahrenheit. Wrong bathhouse!)

Had a pretty straightforward hook up—nothing out of the ordinary, nothing blog-worthy.

Who knows, maybe next time, I encounter another polio victim. Fingers crossed!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lumandi Ka, Papa


“Can you still move?”

“Lo.”

Just a couple of messages I received on Grindr and other similar online apps. And that’s because I clearly state my real age on my profile: 51 years old.

Clearly these guys were trying to get a rise out of me. Luckily I remain largely unaffected by such attitude, because ever since I marketed myself as a “daddy” I’ve have a good number of 20-somethings (and a few 30-somethings) approach me, wanting to hook up with me. Apparently daddy issues are more prevalent than I thought among Filipino gay men.

Like this 21-year old senior college student who lives 6 short blocks away from our house; a brisk walk to his house won’t take more than 7 minutes. The first time he messaged me, he wanted to do it, but his parents were at home. We didn’t push through with it.

Sunday morning, he messaged me: “Are you free? My dad will be gone for about an hour.”

“Sure,” I replied.

“What can we do in an hour?” he asked.

“We can do a lot of things within just 30 minutes,” I assured him.

We wait until his dad went to mass (the church is less than 5 minutes away from their house), then I walked over to his place.

When I arrived just outside their house, he was standing at their porch, nervously glancing at his neighbors’ front yards. He wanted to make sure no one would see him sneak a stranger inside the house. I quickly snuck inside.

After he made sure the front door was locked, we headed to his room. His 50-inch flat screen TV showed a PS game on pause. The moment he locked his bedroom door, he immediately pulled me over to the side of his bed. He took off his eyeglasses (which made him look nerdy; his post-teenage pimples didn’t help either), sat down on the side of the bed, and pulled me closer. I pushed him down on the bed and kissed him hard on the lips. Even though his mouth was full, he kept making these excited noises.

Soon our clothes were tossed on the floor beside the bed.

He hugged me tighter and tighter as I kissed and licked him all over his face. And he moaned louder as plunged my tongue in his ear. “Oh god, oh god, oh god,” he said, which made me think, “His dad must be in church already at this point, and he might also be saying, ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God’ at this very moment.”

And as I let my tongue travel down and towards the back of his neck, he whispered into my ear, “Abuse me, daddy.”

At that point I wanted to stop and conduct an in depth interview. Why do you want me to abuse you? Were you abused before? Did your dad abuse you when you were younger? Was it an uncle? A neighbor? How old was the guy?

Then I thought, I really ought to stop speculating, accept his inputs, and just go with the flow. It’s so very improvisational theater.

(Of course, all that thinking earlier happened within several nanoseconds only. Otherwise I’d have lost my erection and my interest in having sex.)

I felt I had to say something. “You’re body’s mine,” I whispered back in his ear.

“Oh yeeeeesss, yeeeeeesss! Daddy, I’m all yours,” he hissed back in my ear. I was glad his response was that, because my mind was already berating me at that point, “Really Joel? ‘You’re body’s mine’? How cliché is that?!”

He whispered again, “Do what you want with me, daddy!”

So I said, “I wanna cum inside you so badly.”

Suddenly he snapped out of it. “No, no, no,” he said in a normal voice, not whispering. “Not without a condom.”

I too was out of the moment in a snap. “Of course!” I replied. “I don’t want to do it without a condom too. I meant next time. Not now, of course.”

He looked relieved. “Ah, okay, okay.” Pause. Then he added, “Next time, I want you to fuck me.”

“Oh sure,” I nodded. Now where were we?

Several minutes later I paused and looked at my phone. “The mass should be ending soon. Your dad will be home soon.”

We decided to cum together at the same time on his chest.

A few minutes after, I was poised near their front door while he was outside their porch, waiting for his all-clear go-signal.

Can I still move? You betcha.

Am I a lolo na? If to you I am, then I’m a lolo who can still f**k your ass sore.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our Winter Of Discontent


I just found out that even before November last year, D already thought of breaking up with me. He was already dissatisfied with our relationship around two-ish years ago; I suppose there were needs of his that our relationship (and I) could not answer. Or maybe his priorities and needs had shifted already.

So why didn’t he? At that time he felt that if he broke up with me, he had no place to go. He still wasn’t earning enough to afford a place of his own. His mom and sisters live in the metro, and he also has relatives in Taguig; technically, he could have moved in with any of them. But it would have been a big hassle not only for him but also for his relatives.

(Let’s also assume that at that time he still had enough feelings for me, making it harder for him to leave. Because otherwise, if he were really unhappy, he would have been compelled to do something.)

By the time he broke up with me during the ides of March, he was in a much better place financially. And his mom and sisters had moved to a bigger apartment, with an extra room for him. Conditions were right for him to break up with me.

Was it unfair to hold on for several months given the discontent? Because a relationship involves two parties, let’s tackle that question in two parts.

Was it unfair for him? Well, it was his choice; he decided to grin and bear it. And for most parts, I did not sense anything out of the ordinary from him, so he was able to hide his discontent well. In that sense, kinaya niya. So whether it was unfair or not, I suppose it didn’t matter that much for him, because he stayed on.

Was it unfair for me? Did I deserve to at least be told? Do I deserve someone who is not discontented with me? Personally, I don’t mind having a partner who harbours some discontent, so long as he can live with his decision to stay with me.

The truth is, everyone can have some level of discontent or dissatisfaction with everyone else. Let’s get real here. The saying “No one’s perfect, but you’re perfect for me” is a huge fallacy. Walang perfect, walang forever. So staying with a partner means learning how to live with a certain level of discontentment and unfulfilled needs. The question one should ask oneself is: Can I accept him, warts and all of that? One must be able to determine the level of acceptable discontent and disharmony. Because if they go beyond that—we call them “deal breakers”—then the deal is off, so to speak.

Which is why, upon hearing that D had been thinking of breaking up with me earlier, I wasn’t really fazed or bothered that much. I was more curious as to why he didn’t say anything earlier.

(And to some extent, I feel bad for D that he had to endure months of discontent with me, when he could have extracted himself from that situation.)

Do I feel bad that he stayed for practical reasons? No. We all have different motives in life. And when we choose a particular path to take, often there’s more than one motivation at play there. We do this, we choose that, for several reasons; and it’s possible that there is no clear ranking of motivations. What’s the more important motive? What’s the least important? Most people act without much deliberation, which requires self-awareness and self-assessment.

At no time in our relationship did I feel that he was just using me. So no, I do not feel bad. In fact, it’s more likely that he had other reasons alongside practical ones for staying with me. And those are enough for me.

Friday, April 7, 2017

“This Is Where We Broke Up”



Okay, DO NOT read too much into this. This is not how we broke up. I just think this is a wonderfully executed short film.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Two Top 5 Films Lists


My friends asked me to make a list of my Top 5 films “of all time,” but they qualified it to mean that the films should be ones that “stayed with you or meant a lot to you through the years” and that “you won’t mind seeing them again and again”.

For me, there’s a difference between “stayed with you, meant a lot to you” and won’t “mind seeing again and again”. The latter qualifier allows for movies that are just freaking fun to watch again and again, and may not mean a lot for me except for the amount of fun or joy it gives me while watching.

I’d also like to point out that there are particular movies with scenes that I loooooove watching again and again and again and again (The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded are especially my favorites; the action scenes are mini-lessons in staging and editing, and are not as relentlessly painful to watch compared to George Miller’s Mad Max movies). I’ve seen those scenes more times than I’ve seen E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the record-holder for the movie I’ve seen the most number of times, but I wouldn’t want to wade through the whole movie just to watch those scenes (hooray for DVD/Blu-ray!). So I will exclude those movies from my list.

To that end, here is my list of Top 5 Films I Won’t Mind Seeing Again & Again In Their Entirety:

5. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) – It’s got Taron Egerton in a shirtless scene, muscles taut and rippling. It’s got gentlemen spies. It’s very British. It’s got a killer lady assassin with killer legs (literally). And it’s got Samuel L. Jackson with a lisp. What’s not to love?

4. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) – Spielberg’s and Lucas’ ode to their swashbuckling afternoon matinees of their youth. This film also is a mini-film class on how brilliant Spielberg stages action scenes (another Spielberg class in staging and editing is Jurassic Park).

3. Kick-Ass (2010) – The runaway star here is Chloë Grace Moretz, making Hit Girl the cutest killing machine not older than 12. Her fight scenes energize the movie, and kick it several notches higher than your usual superhero movie. It also gives Nicolas Cage a role that fits his weird persona perfectly. Aaron Johnson anchors the film with his earnest and funny portrayal of a teenager who believes he’s doing the right thing. This is the second movie directed by Matthew Vaughn in my list; the other is Kingsman.

2. The Princess Bride (1987) – Fall in love with a movie that makes you fall in love with falling in love. The movie is a story-within-a-story, and is chockfull of quotable quotes and earnest yet winking performances. Plus you see Robin Wright at her prettiest, Cary Elwes at his most handsome and dashing, and the rest of the ensemble delivering inspired performances. You didn’t fall in love with this movie? Inconceivable!

1. Shaun Of The Dead – The zombie movie to end all zombie movies. It’s a wonderful blend of horror, comedy, and buddy movie, with a bit of drama and pathos thrown in. They also manage to throw in a joke about using vinyl records as weapons against zombies—and they toss Sade’s first LP.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Aliens, All About Eve, Bangkok Love Story, Chicago, The Curse Of The Golden Flower, The Devil Wears Prada, Hero, Love Of Siam, Shelter, The Wedding Banquet, Y Tu Mama Tambien

And here’s my Top 5 Films That Have Stayed With Me And (Still) Mean A Lot To Me (Even Though I May Not Feel Like Watching Them Again And Again):

5. Airplane! (1980) – This parody of 1970s disaster movies led to a slew of big- and small-screen comedies that featured wall-to-wall jokes. There were even jokes in the foreground while a visual gag played out at the back. And despite a few jokes that now feel old, it’s still fun to watch again and again, especially with people who have never seen a comedy that’s this relentless in throwing every possible gag at you. Shirley, they must be kidding.

4. Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979) – Superb performances from Dustin Hoffman, child actor Justin Henry, and the incomparable Meryl Streep, plus measured, masterful direction from Robert Benton. Hoffman, Streep, and Benton went on to win Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director respectively, while the movie won Best Picture. It’s a weeper that doesn’t try very hard to make you cry. It’s one of those few well-made dramas that managed to emotionally affect me while impressing me intellectually.

3. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) – If Steven Spielberg’s Jaws made you afraid to go in the water, this movie made you watch the skies. This was the Spielberg movie that made me want to become a director when I grew up. The sight of all those moving, flashing lights fascinated me no end. The whole movie is one big reveal, and when it does, it invites more questions from the audience. Who are these aliens? Where do they come from? What do they want from us? It is an intriguing, compelling, and ultimately, hopeful view of what’s out there.

2. Halloween (1978) – This mother-of-all slasher horror classic was another movie that made me want to be a director. I went in on the penultimate screening for the day. By the end of the movie I was so impressed that I stayed on to watch the last full show; or rather, the reactions of the viewers who watched the movie. And it fascinated me how, under the tight control of director John Carpenter, the movie had two different sets of audiences reacting the same way, at the same time, in the same scenes. Very Hitchcock.

1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – This movie showed the world how superb storyteller Steven Spielberg was also capable of doing more than just shock or surprise. I was so taken in by the story of Elliot and the botanist alien, two beings alienated from everyone around them, that I ended up watching the whole movie seven times. (But it was only on the fourth or fifth viewing that I got teary-eyed during the scene when the flower started wilting as E.T.’s health deteriorated.) Even until today, E.T. still holds the record for the most number of times I’ve watched a movie in its entirety.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Ordinary People, Phantasm, Poltergeist, The Poseidon Adventure, Star Wars: A New Hope, Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

My New Itch

When I hit 40, I decided to embrace singlehood. Since my 20s I had been going out almost every weekend to bars, seeking and searching. I knew that I was unlikely to find love in those hopeless places, but still I went because, honestly, I had no idea where “people like us” converged. My most desperate seemed to be at age 29 and 39—just before the start of a new decade.

But at 40 I told myself, okay, fine, so I may end up single for the rest of my life. Let me embrace that. There are other things I am grateful for, and I know I will not be wanting of love from friends and family. Sure, I may end up wondering what it’s like to have a partner, but that may be an itch I will never be able to scratch. And I was beginning to be fine with that. Then D came along.

Itch scratched.

So now that I’m single again, I ask myself, “Do I want to go into another relationship?” I know that it really takes two to tango, so if there’s someone who comes along, why not? I feel I still can dance.

But now there’s a new item in my bucket list that I’m dying to experience, to know what it’s like to be in one.

I’m curious to know what it’s like to be in a polyamorous relationship.

Who knows maybe one day, when I least expect it, I just might stumble into one. Hehehe.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

The “Press Con”


I met with the Fabcasters for dinner, and of course it turned into the inevitable “press conference” about the break-up. They asked questions, I answered, and they made side comments—and some oversized, big-theater reactions.

What was interesting was this: I realized, while I was explaining things, how easy it is to make a mistake in recounting stories. Details can be missed. Quotes can be reworded, and with that, meanings changed. Memories can be muddled and switched. And it’s really hard to have reliable witnesses; everything is filtered and reframed by the individual. The veracity of memory rests on one’s own subjectivity—what is true depends on you.

One side is not enough, but even both sides may not even reveal all. So where does the truth lie?

Maybe it’s somewhere between his version and mine, over time.

My New Old Flame


So how is it like to be single after having a partner for 6 years?

I actually said something about this topic before, early on in our relationship. I’m not sure now if I told this also to D, or I just mentioned it to my Fabcaster friends. Or did I say it out loud in a Fabcast? Sorry, senior moment kicking in. But if I did tell D this, I now regret it. I don’t think partners need to know this kind of thing early on in a relationship.

And what is “this”? It is a realization on my part. I’ve been single up until the age of 44. When I hit 40, I began to embrace the fact that I may end up single for life—and that was fine. (Sure, there’s that nagging feeling of knowing only secondhand what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone, but a lot of things in life we live vicariously anyway.) And I was already slowly making my peace with that idea, when D came along. (That’s why I also have this nagging sensation that the moment you decide on something else, Fate will come and give you what you originally wanted. Like God, Fate has a sick sense of humor.) So my realization was: If I do end up single once again, I’m perfectly okay with that.

It’s not something you say to a partner in the early stages of the relationship, right?

But it is true. And that’s why I am thankful that D held off until I got a new job. Because part of my accepting this new job is also moving in back with my mom, brother, and sister in Marikina. And so now that I have no boyfriend, my family now becomes my new “partner”. Or rather, I’m just going back to my former flame before D.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump Pet Sounds

You may want to read THIS first.

After I read the Time article, it became clearer to me that there’s something unhinged about Trump. Either that or he’s a great actor, totally committed to be in-the-moment at all times, doing his best “I’m going to fool them into thinking I’m this unhinged president.” 

Or maybe this is really the secret to what made him successful all these years—an insistence to believing what he wants to believe, and sticking to his worldview. It makes him very laser-like in his focus towards his goals (in contrast with the seeming lack of focus in his statements). 

And why, oh why, does he remind me of someone so much closer to home?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beware Facebook's Algorithm

Sometimes I think that Facebook’s got a sick sense of humor. And when we die, I expect to find it laughing. (So always watch out for the post that comes after yours. It just might be *winking* at you.)





Beware The Ides of March

In the Roman calendar, the ides of March falls on the 15th. A day of religious observations, the ides of March achieved notoriety as the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination.

For me, March 15 also marks the day when we met for coffee in Makati after I finished work. That’s when he broached the idea. He initiated it, and I concurred. But because we wanted to make the announcement at the same time on our social media, we had to wait several days after he came back from a scheduled out-of-town trip (he was worried there won’t be a strong 3/4G signal in Marinduque).

Sunday, March 19 would have been our 81st monthsary. Late that evening, he was back in Manila. After a brief coordination over SMS, we synchronized our postings on our Facebook accounts. And on 12:17am of Monday, March 20, the same statement appeared on our respective news feeds:


* * * * *

He told me that back in November 2016, he was already thinking about it. Unfortunately I was on my eighth month of being jobless, and he felt it was too harsh and unkind to leave me at that time (especially with Christmas coming up). Instead, he chose to bear it for the moment.

I accepted an offer to do part-time work for an ad agency in Makati at the start of February 2017. He considered telling me then; however, he realized Valentine’s Day was coming up. So he delayed it again.

March came along, and with it, a new and permanent job for me. I thought, at last! My almost one year hiatus from work has ended. He thought, at last! I can tell him. But then my birthday was coming up, and right after that, his birthday. He decided to tell me after my birthday and prior to his.

I am grateful that he chose to delay talking to me about it, even though he had every right to raise this issue even way back in November last year. More than that, I am grateful for the 6 years and 9 months we were together officially as a couple.

We bonded because it was easy to talk to one another, and we made each other laugh. But I did notice that beginning sometime in November last year, he wasn’t talking much to me, preferring the company of his mobile games. He said he played games to de-stress from work, so I gave him the time and space. But I also noticed that, more and more, he was not listening to me—I’d tell him something, then a few minutes later, he’ll go, “Wait, what was that you said?” I had been meaning to point that out to him. Now I know why.

That’s why when he initiated it—and I could see that he was sure—I didn’t oppose it. It would be selfish of me if I did.

Barely half an hour after we agreed to break up, we were already making jokes about it.

Our lives go on. Life goes on. Live and love, always.

To hon, with much love. 
 Joel

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Think That God (Through Waze) Has A Sick Sense Of Humor

I can’t believe it. Same exact place, same exact violation.

A couple of months ago, I was on my way to my brother’s place at The Fort. It was a Saturday evening, and I was coming from Marikina. Waze advised me to avoid C5 due to heavy traffic. It led me into the bowels of Pasig.

Approaching an intersection with a traffic light, I had a tall van blocking my view of the traffic light. As we neared the intersection, the light turned yellow. The truck in front of me continued, and I stopped. Big mistake. Although my car was clearly not within the yellow box-with-an-X-inside sign painted on the road, the pedestrian crossing was already behind my car. I should have stopped before the pedestrian crossing lines.

Inside that yellow circle is the sweet spot for traffic enforcers
to catch vehicles that don't stop early enough.

So I was pulled over. But because I was in a hurry, I managed to convince the traffic enforcer that I would pay the fine directly to him, to avoid “the hassle of getting a ticket, etc.” The enforcer was an old man, and after a while he agreed to the arrangement. I drove off from that intersection, vowing to myself I will never, ever pass that way again.

Cut to this morning, on my way to work. Traffic along Ortigas Extension was so bad, Waze redirected me to take the East Bank road and turn right on a bridge that connects Taytay to Pasig. Big mistake. Turns out, Pasig has this stupid, stupid, STUPID number coding scheme wherein even-numbered cars (like mine) couldn’t pass through that bridge during Wednesdays. But instead of turning around, I forged on. Waze had me going through narrow side streets, and then coming out to a main road. Looking at the signs around me, I realized I was already in Pasig. In front of me was another van. (Uh-oh.) And as we approached an intersection, the van in front of me turned left, allowing me to see the traffic light in front turn yellow. So I stopped.

I looked around. It seemed familiar. Then it dawned on me. Oh. My. F**k. Same exact place. Same exact violation. Different time of day only.

I saw a different traffic enforcer (he was much younger) approach my car.

Sigh. Here we go again.

(Maybe next time, when Waze starts directing me towards the innards of Pasig, I’d turn around and stick it out in traffic.)

Maja Kita, Paulo! “I’m Drunk, I Love You” (2017)


I’m glad I waited until tonight to watch I’m Drunk, I Love You, starring Paulo Avelino and Maja Salvador, directed by JP Habac. At the height of its popularity, there were raves left and right. I’ve noticed that recently in pop culture, if positive buzz for something reaches a certain noise level (as in, it’s inescapable; everybody has heard only good things about it), there’s an inevitable backlash that swings in. It’s a good thing that IDILY never reached those heights. Still, everyone was raving about it. Well, every millennial I knew. And that was what got me slightly worried. I was afraid its topic and theme might be boring and irrelevant for 51-year old Fuddy-Duddy Me.

Thankfully the movie held my attention from beginning to end, even despite the distraction of two guys right in front of me who were leaning towards each other, whispering to one another; one of them went out twice to go to the bathroom. And I attribute its success to several things:

[1] Maja Salvador’s acting was topnotch. She made Carson come to three-dimensional life. My favorite scene was during breakfast with gay BFF Jason Ty (played by Dominic Roco) the morning after she revealed her feelings to Dio (Paulo); meanwhile, Jason was bemoaning his imprudent declaration of “I love you” to a hook up the night before. While stuffing her face with danggit and rice, Maja recounts what happened last night, mixing regret, sadness, anger, defiance, and self-pity along with hunger. No wonder the boys at the next table couldn’t help but glance over to her. Give this girl a best actress nomination in the next awards season.

[2] Paulo Avelino has all the right ingredients to play Dio—he’s handsome, he’s laid-back, and he can sing. There may be those who think that any good-looking actor can phone-in the part of Dio. But one can see in Paulo’s eyes that there’s something brewing inside. The role may not be a stretch, but he did work for it.


[3] Admittedly, there were times when Dominic Roco’s swishy and punchline-delivering gay BFF veered dangerously close to parody. (I found myself almost drifting off during that long, single-take, stationary-camera bar scene with Carson and Jason; it was Maja’s performance that pulled me back in.) But in subsequent scenes he manages to imbue Jason with a humanity and a depth that most third-wheel characters don’t get. And in the end, Jason’s third-wheelness may have actually prepared him for a shot at romance in a potential polyamorous relationship.

[4] Despite its youthful themes of unrequited love, friendzoning, and moving on, IDILY remains relevant to viewers of all ages. In examining a moment in the lives of Dio, Carson, Jason, and Pathy (with an H, played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith), the movie’s very specificity makes its appeal a lot more universal.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gay Loneliness

There’s an article by Michael Hobbes entitled, Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, that’s being shared on Facebook. The click-worthy blurb for the article asks the question: “Why didn’t gay rights cure gay loneliness?”

In his article, Hobbes posits that the members of the gay community are subjected to “minority stress” even (or, in certain cases, especially) after coming out. The stress comes from learning how to engage with other people, hetero and homo alike, as a member of a minority. And this stress leads to feelings of loneliness. If that’s the case, then learning how to cope with stress—regardless of whichever causes it—is the way to cure this loneliness.

But stepping back further, I believe that the answer to the article’s title question, “Why didn’t gay rights cure gay loneliness,” is this: Loneliness (in general, not just for gays) is a result of a lack of loving and accepting oneself; if you love yourself, you can be alone but not lonely. Having rights (gay or otherwise) will not necessarily fill that void. The government giving you rights is an example of someone or something from outside telling you your worth; loving yourself is knowing your worth from inside.

A kid growing up knowing that being gay means having the same rights as any other kid will most likely have better self-esteem than a kid who thinks he’ll be ostracized by society. But the road towards a life with self-dignity has several possible pathways, not just “one right way.” (After all, my generation and the ones before me grew up without “gay rights,” and some of us turned out fine.)

We only need to hark back to George Benson’s original hit song, “The Greatest Love of All,” for that important insight people need to live by: “Learning to love yourself / It is the greatest love of all.”

We need to learn the greatest love of all, folks.

* * * * *

P.S. – Did you know that Lea Salonga recorded a cover version of that song in 1981, four years before Whitney Houston’s more popular 1985 cover? Lea was only about 9 or 10 years old at that time.

P.P.S. – I do acknowledge a certain kind of loneliness arising from our being social creatures: our need to connect with others. This is often a temporary feeling, and not a deep, depressing kind of loneliness. Minsan ayaw lang natin mag-isa at gustong may kasama. Keri lang yung.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

About Last Night


Remember when I said that nowadays I prefer convenience over lust?



And my Saturday evening ended with coffee with friends, then straight home to watch the latest episode of “Riverdale”.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Web Series

When I was growing up, there was a dearth of movies and TV series that featured gay characters or tackled gay issues and topics. And if there were, they were classified as “For Adults Only,” so I had no way of watching them. The only gay men that gay kids like me would see on video were from gay porn.

Slowly, the movies and television started featuring gay characters and subject matter. But these movies were mostly from other countries (especially European), and the Marcos government wasn’t going to let homosexuality “corrupt” the minds of Filipino kids. So the Board of Censors never allowed any overtly gay movie to be produced locally or to be commercially shown in theaters. To watch a gay movie, we had to seek out the people who had access to videotape copies (VHS or Betamax) smuggled into the country.

But thanks to digital technology and the Internet, the baklitas growing up today now have role models they can watch on the big and small screens.

* * * * *

For the past few months, the sangkabaklaan have been following the exploits of David, Adrian, and the rest of the latter’s gang in “Hanging Out,” a web series directed by award-winner Petersen Vargas, created by him and Patrick Valencia, and presented by Team Magazine and Blued (yes, that gay social app).


It’s the first locally made gay-themed web series, which may explain the sky-high expectations on the series coming from the community. Naturally, not everyone was happy with it. But for an initial effort, the series was interesting and engaging enough.

The series focuses on the 20-something gay men in the metro who try navigating the post-coming out world of gay Manila. Along the way, relevant topics and issues are presented in subtle and not-so-subtle ways: HIV testing, safe sex, transitioning, etc.

The primary plot driver—will David (played by Paulito Del Mundo) and Adrian (played by Jox Gonzales) get together?—played out over six episodes in its first season. For those who’ve never seen the series, I won’t spoil your viewing by answering that question. But you know that what happens between the two can fuel the episodes for the next season.

Now that the first season of “Hanging Out” is over, what can the sangkabaklaan watch while waiting for its second outing?

One can look to Singapore’s similar web series, “People Like Us,” by filmmaker Leon Cheo. It is co-developed by Action for AIDS, so certain topics like HIV testing and safe sex are also presented. However, they smartly avoid the trap of presenting such topics in a heavy-handed way within the narrative by having a short video attached at the end of every episode. There, three guys from the website gayhealth.sg discuss further the issues presented in the episode.


Like its Philippine counterpart, “People Like Us” also has six episodes in the first season, and more focus is spent on whether Joel (played by Josh Crowe) and Ridzwan (played by Irfan Kasban) will end up as a couple or not. There are many other similarities between this and “Hanging Out,” including an episode devoted to the two “will-they-or-won’t-they” guys taking a long walk while getting to know one another. (HBO’s “Looking” got there ahead of these two, while majority of the movie “Weekend” is focused on two characters chatting. And then there’s “Before Sunrise.”)

But it seems that this Singaporean series has a deeper pocket than the Philippine series, and one can see it in their production design, lighting, camerawork, and even the audio recording and mixing. Makes me wish that the “Hanging Out” team would get more funds for their second season.

Then again, maybe Petersen and Patrick ought to approach Manny Pangilinan. For those who think that Pinoys cannot produce a web series that can technically rival the slickness of Singapore’s output, check out “Sabagay Life” produced by D5 Studio, the digital content arm of TV5. Thanks to the Manny P’s funding, “Sabagay Life” has excellent video and audio qualities. Aside from the technicals, what this series has going for it are its very game cast, a sprightly script, and a light touch by director and creator Joel Ferrer.

“Sabagay Life” is about a mixed barkada composed of three guys and three girls, and their post-college shenanigans. It’s really the dynamics between the characters that fuel interest in the series. There are no gay characters; at least, not yet (well, there’s one guy who was described as “open-minded” and kissed another guy, but he was just in one scene). But I think viewers—gay or otherwise—will find something to enjoy in the series. There’s a drama queen; there’s the torpe-in-love; there’s even an unrequited lover who continues to persist even in the face of repeated rejection.


Besides, this series’ tone is more light-hearted and humorous than the first two series mentioned here. So if you want to watch 20-somethings try to navigate life, love, and lust (oh yes, there’s sex among characters here too, but not as graphic as in the gay series—baka ayaw ni Manny P!), watch “Sabagay Life”.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Restart @50

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to leave your job at age 50, and then go look for a new one. But back in March of 2016, I told my superior that I was resigning. She understood why, and signed my terminal leave form. 30 days later, I was officially out of a job.

As early as May 2016, I started checking out jobs from other ASEAN countries. This was right after the elections. I didn’t mind being away for a few years from this circus of a government. Months went by, nothing. So towards the latter part of 2016, I started applying for jobs in and around the neighboring areas (hello, Clark!) of the metro. Belatedly I realized that the “-er” months aren’t the best time to look for a job.

But when January 2017 rolled in, I suddenly had several replies to my applications. And now, a few weeks before I turn 51, I’m happily employed again.

In the process, I had to move back to the house I grew up in. D and I couldn’t afford the condo unit where we were staying. Besides, D was also helping his mom and sisters with their payments at the apartment they were renting. So it made economic sense for us to move back to our mothers’ for the meantime.

It’s a good thing that I never felt the need to “be a millionaire at 30 years old” or “have my own company at 40.” I have my ambitions, but they were more along the lines of “learning more things” or “being happy and proud of what I do” instead of what businesses regard as clear, concrete, measureable goals: amount of money in the bank, position of power, status, etc.

Oh, and once in a while, safely hook up with a daddy loving, no-strings-attached insisting 20-something.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fab 50

What is it like to be 50 years old and gay today?

I came out to myself in my late teen years, came out to others in earnest after college, then started fully embracing the urban Pinoy gay man’s lifestyle when I was already in my mid-20s onwards.

(Let me just make a quick qualification: There really is no one definitive “gay man’s lifestyle” at any time in history. But there are many similarities to the gay men’s journey that one can come up with a loose set of milestones: coming out, meeting other gay men, experiencing homosexual acts, falling in and out of love, learning to navigate their particular gay culture, etc. To the best of my knowledge, my lifestyle as a gay man in Metro Manila was fairly average, with just a bit too much on bathhouse sex than the average Manila gay guy, but too little experience on romantic pursuits.)

By the time I was in my 30s I was very much into going to gay clubs on weekends (Zoo and Penguin Café in Malate first, then Giraffe in Makati ‘til the early morning), visiting the bathhouse when I’m horny and still have pocket money, and cruising the movie houses when it was petsa de peligro time of the month. It was also around this decade that I hit the gym. At first I just wanted to get a hunk body that I can show off at clubs and bathhouses. But then I also discovered the joys of illicit encounters in the shower areas and saunas of the gym.

When I reached my 40s, there were several major changes in my lifestyle. First was physical, the advancing age. With it came reading glasses, a slower metabolism, and, when it came to sex, a longer recuperating period in between orgasms. But I was also earning more, so I was eating more—in quality and quantity.



Bizarre trivia: The term "slaps ___ with a large trout" 
was popularised in chat rooms.

It was also around this time that technology and connectivity improved, and more opportunities for hooking up became available, from chat programs like ICQ and MIRC, to sites like guys4men (that eventually became GayRomeo and then Planetromeo) and Downelink, to mobile apps like Grindr and Hornet. From physically going to particular areas in the metro to find “people like us,” gay guys can now conveniently meet online and mate offline.



At 46 years old, I met D and we entered into a relationship. It was our first for the both of us. From exclusive we eventually opened our relationship. This allowed us to pursue (safe) sex with other men; despite this, I noticed that I didn’t feel the need to hook up as much as I did before. Looking back, it’s a combination of several factors: [1] my libido wasn’t the same as before; [2] I preferred convenience over lust (if the guy was a borta bottom who had his own place, insisted on safe sex, doesn’t sound clingy, but lived all the way in Sta. Rosa, I’d easily decline; whereas before, just the borta bottom fact alone might have made me drive all the way to the south); [3] the fact that I was in a relationship made me very comfortable in not pursuing other guys, even if I was allowed to go at it.

And that’s the strange thing about freedom, at least in my case. Precisely because I have the freedom to hook up with other guys, it’s easier for me to take hook ups for granted, and I can shrug off offers because, well, there’ll be others. If I had been barred from hooking up, I’d greet every offer as a delicious, dangerous treat that’s doubly exciting to pursue precisely because it’s not allowed.

Give me freedom, and I’ll choose to be boring.

Well okay, honestly, not that boring. As I grew older, I had less time to go to the gym, but more time to treat ourselves to eating out. I began to mimic my father’s figure. But I also found out that there is this market for daddies. And these daddy-loving gay guys are often young, in their early 20s. When I do the occasional hook up, it’s with guys in their 20s or early 30s. Hey, that’s marketing, that’s just the law of supply-and-demand.

You just may find out more about it here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Three Second Rule (Gay Guy Edition)

Google “3-second rule” and you’ll get rules about food that fell on the floor, basketball, or keeping your seat. But we gay guys have our own 3-sec rule, and it’s related to the hada process.

I don’t know how this rule was established. I’ve read somewhere that the straight world also has a 3-sec rule. In a bar, if a guy sees that a girl has made eye contact with him, he should approach her within 3 seconds, before self-doubt or bad thoughts prevent him from making a connection.

The approach of something wonderful

But for gay guys, it’s different. It’s about knowing how to properly identify another gay guy while in public; more importantly, it’s about figuring out if that gay guy is also interested in you.

Of course, today you only need to tap your smartphone or swipe to the right to know if someone’s interested in you. Back then, we had to navigate differently. And it taught us to be observant always and to be aware of context clues. The last thing a gay guy wants is to hit on some guy, who then turns out to be straight, so the gay guy is hit—literally—on the face by that guy.

So how does the 3-sec rule help in the hada? Let’s set up the scene first. You’re walking in a mall and you see a guy walking towards your direction. You fancy him; and from all context clues available (Does he have a keen fashion sense? Does he saunter or sashay? Does he have any hint at all of a pilantik in his movements?), there’s a possibility that he’s gay. And then it happens—you both locked eyes on one another.

Ordinarily, most people will immediately break off that eye contact. But because you’re interested in him, you employ the 3-sec rule. And it’s a two-part rule. The first part is this: try to hold his gaze for three seconds before you look away. That 3-sec hold is meant to convey: “Hey, I’m interested in you. Are you interested in me too?” And then afterwards, look away.

Since both of you are walking towards each other, that 3 seconds gaze should occur before you pass each other. Now comes the second part of the rule. As soon as he passes you, count one, two, three, then look back. If he also looked back to check you out—PAK! That’s it. Confeeeearmed. You can now approach him.

So that’s it. First, hold your gaze for one, two, three seconds. (Keep your gaze somewhere between neutral to friendly. Do not frown or do a Blue Steel pout on him; you’ll send mixed signals.) Then when he passes you, count one, two, three, then turn back to look at him. If he’s also turned around and looking at you—jackpot! Reel each other in.

What happens next is solely up to you guys.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Top 5 Hada-riffic Places I Frequented

Last time I mentioned about aura-han and the places where gay guys do it. Let me tell you about my favorite hada places in the metro. Since I lived in Marikina at that time and commuted to work in Pasay (and then Makati), the places that I frequented were mostly in the Cubao area. Back then, instead of fighting among fellow commuters for a seat in the jeepney going home, I’d kill time by watching movies.

Let’s count up, starting from number 5.

5.  Pre-renovation era (1989 to 2000) Greenbelt 1, including the public restroom beside the outside food stalls

This was the old entrance facing AIM; notice it's called Greenbelt 1
by this time. The shops and restaurants on the right side aren't there
anymore; they were replaced by Rustan's Supermarket and a BPI branch. 

When I worked in my first ad agency in the mid-90s, it was within walking distance from Greenbelt 1. Back then it was just “Greenbelt” because there were no 2 to 5 yet. It had two movie houses, shops and restaurants, and was much smaller than the sprawling corridors it has today which connects it to Greenbelt 5. Back then, the men’s bathrooms inside the movie theaters were cruisy with yuppies and white-collar workers. Once I hooked up with a middle-aged guy who was standing at the back; he was only wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. When things got hot and heavy, he invited me over to his place—he had a condo unit near Greenbelt. Eventually I found out he was the business (and domestic, I assumed) partner of a local couturier more known for his wedding gown designs. (He wasn’t among the more popular, upper tier designers often mentioned in society pages; in fact, I never heard of him until after my hook-up. But he did have a shop in Glorietta before. I don’t see it nowadays.) Interesting also is a public bathroom that serviced the patrons of a number of food stalls and small-sized eateries located in an outside area beside what is now Rustan’s Supermarket and BPI (the food area is now occupied by the multi-level steel parking building between Greenbelt 1 and the stand-alone McDonald’s). Those bathrooms were near the lockers of the Greenbelt security guards; they’d often use the bathroom to change in and out of their uniforms. I suspect they all knew what was happening there, especially at night. I never saw any of them participate in the happenings; I guess they were just being careful not to be spotted by their fellow guards (never shit where you eat, and all that jazz). But they sometimes provided a short but sweet feast for wandering gay eyes whenever they took off their sandos or pulled down their pants. Late at night, when it was only the night shift roaming the premises, the action inside that bathroom could get pretty active. However, the roving guards made it a point to always drop by the bathroom during their rounds, so often a look out was needed. But you know how resourceful, resilient, or just plain persistent cruising gays could get. Whenever a guard appeared, the gay guys scattered and disappeared. Once the guard left, everyone reappeared and flocked back to feast. Just like cockroaches.

4. Coronet, Remar, and Diamond Theaters  

Their old logos.

With the advent of multiple theatres
in malls, Coronet...

...and Remar were reduced to showing
second-run and sex movies.
 

Aurora Boulevard heading towards EDSA, pre-LRT2.
Look closely to the right side of the photo;
you can see the signage of Coronet. 

This triumvirate of movie theaters stands in a row along Aurora Boulevard, one beside the other. Each theater has its own appeal: Coronet has a small restroom, so it’s busiest at the orchestra wall and side aisles; Remar’s restroom has no urinals, but instead has a long wall with running water (easier to take a peek at the junk of the guy beside you); and Diamond had the biggest orchestra floor space. That made all three very cruisy; one can surely hook up every time one goes to any of the movie theaters.

3. Quezon Theater 2 

I couldn't find an old photo online. This church replaced
the old Quezon theatre. (On the right side off-frame
is the multi-storeyed National Book Store Cubao branch.)

Theater 2 was cruiser-friendlier compared to Theater 1 because of its layout. It was on the second floor, and one had to go up winding staircases and two escalators to get to its orchestra lobby, then another flight of stairs and escalator to get to the lodge/balcony area. It wasn’t audience-friendly and didn’t encourage loitering. So one knew that the guys hanging around were there to do one thing: aura-han. Also, the owners often showed the less-popular movies in Theater 2; the major hits were placed in the bigger Theater 1. That meant less ordinary audiences, more cruisers.

2. Slimmer’s World Pasig (along Marcos Highway; sorry, no photo available) – Because its location was not public transportation-friendly, that branch was rarely crowded, and most of its clients were car owners. I would only go there during weekends, but every time I went there, I always got hot-and-heavy action inside their wet area. While fewer people meant slimmer (pun intended) pickings, it also meant that when cruisers got lucky, they could take all the time in the world in its cruise-friendly sauna. The sauna was located at the farthest corner of the shower stalls; a noisy door separated the stalls from the lockers. All cruisers needed to do was to either turn off the light or drape a towel over the lamp inside the sauna; from the outside, no one can see what kinky things occurred inside. The noisy door gave cruisers an initial audio warning. And one needed to traverse the whole row of shower stalls to get into the sauna; that distance gave cruisers additional few seconds to disengage. P.S. – The only Marikina-based celebrity I saw working out there was a former member of a musical act that featured kids. But he was just all-business, not minding anyone but his trainer and a few acquaintances. After his workout, he took a quick shower then was gone.

1. Ali Mall 3 & 4 

This is the facade where cinemas 1 & 2 were located;
3 & 4 were situated at the back, on the P. Tuason side. 

The best time to cruise was during the last full show (or you can start cruising during the screening before it). These two theaters were seemingly designed to be hada-friendly—when you enter the bathroom, you need to turn a corner before you get to the bathroom proper. This allowed cruisers inside the bathroom precious few seconds to disengage from any overt sexual activity so that any unwanted newcomer (a straight guy or a roving guard) won’t be able to catch anyone in the act. Plus, the cubicles were pushed way back from the entrance; that allowed cruisers more warning time and buffer distance. I found it the most-friendly hada place too. The LFS crowd was more game, more adventurous. Some even got off giving a free show to the people around them. P.S. – I actually witnessed a celebrity cruising in Ali Mall. Back then, he was still mainly a theater actor, so he wasn’t as well-known as he is now. It was years later when TV soaps regularly hired him to play supporting roles (the bida’s uncle, father, boss, etc.) that he became familiar to the telenovela audience. Clue: A huge blockbuster indie movie made him a household name.

When I made more gay friends, I started hearing of legendary hada places all over the metro: Ugarte Field (now Ayala Triangle); the areas around Araneta Coliseum (cruising gays and callboys would lean against the steel dividers on the sidewalks, trying to entice pedestrians and those with cars passing by, thus the term “bakal boys”); the whole of Quezon Circle, but specifically the areas around the restaurants (a cluster of trees nearby, the parking lot in front of the restos); the lagoon within UP Diliman’s Sunken Garden; particular movie theaters in the Manila district (the patrons there do not bother pretending to watch the movie, and the people running them just turn a blind eye). I’ve only experienced Quezon Circle (the wildest was on a Good Friday). Maybe some of you can share your old haunts/hunting grounds during the pre-online years.

Where did you make hada?