Saturday, October 31, 2009


Malate. Five minutes before midnight.

How did I find myself here, it never mattered. Especially when you're writing this entry at the exact Internet Cafe where you and the ex used to meet after work. I cannot deny that this hollowed corner brings back painful memories which I thought were long forgotten. The regret, hidden for ages appears once again like a tormented ghost searching for that ray of light towards the afterlife.

The month of ice, frigid and unforgiving have cast its arctic spell. I felt its chills on the first day of its onset. Only one person knew the number of souls who were briefly frozen. I will not speak his name, nor say much about the people I left in the wintry cold.

The same story unfolds. Boy finds boy in the internet. Numbers are exchanged and horny words are traded over sms. The moaning gives way to talking. If the other guy sues for peace before any hints of a bed war comes out of his sweet lips, we offer non-aggression in hopes of a union between rival states. A joint communique spells out a treaty of friendship. It paves the way for a first contact. We show up unarmed. Stories are shared in hopes of a warm reception. Meet-ups were mostly friendly, but sadly, ties lose steam a day or two after embassies are established.

We try to learn where things go wrong.

And for the first time me thinks.

I found the answer.

Si unang lalaki after ng meet up, ginawa pa rin akong fuck-buddy sa cellphone. Kapag taglibog, tatawag siya sa akin para makipag-SOP. Nang minsang naisipan niyang maging bottom, nagpaubaya ako sa kanyang gusto. Pero pagkatapos noon ay hindi na ako nagtext back o kaya naman ay sinagot ang kanyang mga tawag. Tama na ang isang linggong ginawa niya akong puta sa telepono. Si ikalawa na isang tropa. Hindi ko alam kung bakit ako ang kanyang hinanap. Malungkot isang gabi, gustong makitulog. Hindi pala makibahay ang hangad. Kaniig pala ang sadya sa kama. Hindi ko pinagbigyan ang lalaki. In the first place, hindi pa kami nagkikita. Naging ugat yun ng aming tampuhan. Ilang araw matapos ang mga pangyayari, nakipag-ayos din ako sa kanya.

Si ikatlo na natripan ko sa O-Bar. Balak akong iuwi sa kanyang bahay. Kasalanan ko rin naman dahil ako ang nanghamon sa sayawan. Ngunit nang mahuli kong sumablay ang boses, bigla akong nawalan ng gana. Makikipag-one night stand na nga lang, sa taong ni kahit kailan ay hindi ko na pipiliin makita. Iniwan ko ang binata at bumalik ako sa dance floor mag-isa. Karmahin na ang choosy pero mapili ako talaga.

Panghuli si Orion. Ang kaisa-isang lalaking inaya ko matulog sa bahay. Ang binata ay reto ng isang kaibigan, na nalaman ko na may pagtingin pala sa tala. Marami kaming napagkasunduan at tunay akong nag-enjoy sa aming tagpuan. Naging pananggalang ko siya sa tukso ng alakdan. Scorpion nights nang siya'y aking imbitahan. Mahigpit ang kanyang mga yakap, nakaramdam ako ng init sa kanyang mga bisig. Walang nangyari sa amin ng gabing iyon ngunit hindi makakaila na na-attach ako sa kanya.

Naging matamis ang mga sumunod na araw. Nakaramdam ako ng pagka-miss. Subalit nang ako ay magising sa katotohanang isa lang ang nakakaramdam ng paghahanap, bigla akong kumabig. Nahuli niya ako sa aking unguarded moment at dahil dun ay pwersahan akong nag-detach.

Gagawin ko sanang tropa si Orion.

Pero mukhang nagdecide na ang binata. Wala na akong narinig sa kanya mula noong Huwebes.

I will still have to learn to strike a balance between intimacy and friendship. But I know something's lacking in these four encounters. Perhaps, it was my own doing why these meetings never prospered. I wanted it fast and I wanted it deep, but when I get (or almost get) the affirmation that I seek, strings are loosened and I move on and proceed to my next target.

I don't know when this would end - the cycle - of searching for the right one over and over again. Me thinks, the more I learn to thrive in moments, the more I ignore the longings of permanence. Time is running out. The frigid my heart grows, the lesser I become receptive to the arrival of a new one. I saw this coming and now that I have learned; (after so many near-misses which left me terrified of the thought of closely being taken) now that I have gone through the same bad tale over and over again; (I cannot deny that I enjoyed dipping my hands into different lives)

Finally, acceptance comes that my life is better off if I stick on my own.

From now on and in the months ahead, everyone who comes along will only be treated as a friend. Those who dare to cross the line (or the ones my sweet, sweet nature deceives, unluckily) will serve only as a fodder to my so-called twisted unromantic life.

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back, the
Time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It's the bitter taste of losing
that I've held so dear...
Sarah Mclachlan, Fallen (Gabriel and Dresden Anti-Gravity Remix)

Friday, October 30, 2009

God Complex | Tropico 3

Imagine yourself a ruler of an island nation. Stuck somewhere in the tempestuous waters of the Caribbean, your stellar rise to power puts you to steer a country born out of necessity. The locals, whose fates and happiness lie entirely on your benevolence call you El Presidente. While the powers-to-be - the United States of A and the Union of Soviet Socialist R compete for influence in hopes that your country might one day become a bastion of their incorruptible ideology.

Set during the Cold War, Tropico 3 runs like a regular city simulation game that you can zoom in and out to learn of its hidden wonders. However, unlike in the Sim City Series where you build roads, zone vast tracks of land for development and run a city like a true mayor. (who cannot get voted out of office) In Tropico 3, your island, its people and its inexhaustible resources are yours to exploit.

Build plantations to feed your comrades. Export cash crops such as Coffee beans to the Starbuckses of the First World. Construct tenements and block apartments to house your citizens. Build churches, clinics, schools and entertainment venues to improve their well being. Attract tourists to your unspoiled beaches. Allow them to discover the long forgotten inland civilizations (and rebels who occupy its monuments) and suck up their dollars to put them to your coffers, and finally, grant favors to competing factions so they vote for you in the upcoming elections. But wait! I almost forgot. You are the El Presidente! The elections depend entirely upon the visions of your most favorite psychic!

While Tropico 3 boasts stunning graphics and Samba-like background music, my addiction to it lies not with its city-building and micro-managing features. It's not about running the economy and making your people happy (or suffer depending on your mood) It's about the great deal of character its programmers had invested on your chosen leader.

Not to mention the humor.

So I had Muguezio Galentinni as my El Presidente. He was a green-thumbed hippie installed by the CIA to run the island of Tropico. He used to be a Global Trotter who explored the world. However, his alcoholism and his penchant to say propaganda stuff during the State of the Island Addresses earn him not only the ire of his people but also the eternal gratitude of pay-per-view channels who profit from his speeches.

My El Presidente was still lucky. I could have chosen him to be a Kleptomaniac or a Paranoid (which had an adverse effect on the political stability on the island) if I'm not thinking of the tourists that I am planning to bring to my little outcrop of Paradise.

This entry may sound a little different from the ones I usually post because as some of you had read on Twitter, Tropico 3 has put me back into the wondrous world of simulation. This attempt to squeeze my time and write a review about something I'm most passionate about was born out of the need to complete my quota for the month. Don't ask why, for I am running out of words to explain.

So there. It's back to playing the game again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Stand Up And Be Counted

The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Next comes one whom they despise and defy. When you are lacking in faith, Others will be unfaithful to you. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!

- Lao Tzu

Elected class officer ako noon. Tinitingala, at ginagawang sandigan ng mga kaklaseng nangangambang mabigyan ng singko dahil sa kapabayaan. Masipag ako sa aking trabaho. Inuunahan ko nga ang CHED sa pagdedeklara ng no classes umulan lang ng malakas ng madaling araw. Kapag pinapunta kami ng professor sa kanilang opisina (na kadalasan ay sa newspaper publishing dahil nasa media talaga sila at nagpa-part time lang sa aming unibersidad) kahit inaabot ng gabi ay nagpapaiwan ako masiguro lang na ang lahat ng aking constituents ay nakasakay ng jeep pauwi sa kanilang bahay. Tanghali man ako magising pero sa kabila noon ay well-informed ang aking mga kaklase sa mga pagbabagong magaganap sa aming schedule.

Sino ba sa kanila ang makakalimot ng

4C5 News Advisory... Please Pass

na palaging GM ko sa text.

Tinatamasa ko man ang kapangyarihang natatanggap bilang pinakamataas na class officer ng aming section, alam ng aking mga kaklase ang partidong kinabibilangan ko. Kami ang may hawak ng majority sa Student Council. Takaw batikos kami dahil dito. Sa classroom, kung saan maingat ako sa pagbanggit ng aking affiliation ay lubos na na-appreciate ng marami. Chairman kasi ng kabilang partido ang isang kaklase ko. Minsan ko na siyang naging katunggali nang magkaroon ng class election. Sa totoo ay natakot ako dahil tumakbo siyang Student Council President nung huling eleksyon pero natalo. Subalit dahil nasa akin na ang simpatya ng marami, pito lamang sa apatnapu ang bumoto sa kanya.

Well represented ng iba't ibang grupo ang aming section. Lahat ay may partido o kaya naman ay organisasyon na kinabibilangan. Sa kurso kung saan inaasahan na walang pinapanigan ang iyong mga salita, mismong pangulo pa nito ang nangunguna sa pamumulitika sa labas ng classroom.

Mabuti na lamang at ang pinatakbo niyang Society President ay yung walang kinikilingan. Nanalo ito at ang kanyang line up sa aming organization. Kaya't naging laganap man ang recruitment ng ibang partido sa mga freshman, ang lahat ng namumuno ay nanatiling neutral sa pakikitungo sa aming konseho.


I remember those days not to rekindle the glory that once was. In truth, I was secretly manipulating things for my own advantage. My favorite pastime was to put to shame the Junior Vice President, who had the face to use his own office to advance the interest of his own party. He was elected Society President a year after we left, but the credibility and respect our president earned never became his. We've heard that his classmates could not stomach the self-serving manipulations he did while in office. His authority was challenged and was disgraced from the Faculty long before he left its premises.

Honor precedes respect and trust is earned through spotless credibility and selfless dedication to work. I do not know how much we have lost, but it is the same principle that kept me away from exercising my right to elect my leaders. I should have voted for Roco the first time I was given a chance. We supported FPJ against GMA not because we knew he had a fighting chance but we found him most honorable among those who are running for office. Another shot at change happens now that election time is near and I think the right leaders are there,

and what they need is our vote.

So despite the long wait and countless attempts to write my name and register; the sleepless morning I had to ride a bus from Fairview to Manila City Hall to show up at COMELEC and get my precinct number; and the most difficult task of choosing who deserves to lead the nation and its people;

My heart says I found my vote.


Naalala ko na sa tuwing sumasapit ang campaign week ay inaasahan ng partido na maglalaan ako ng oras para sa aming mga kandidato. Isang linggo bago ang room-to-room campaign ay pasikreto kong kakausapin ang bise presidente at papakiusapan ito na tumayong lider habang mainit ang kampanya. Ito ay dahil sa mga matang nakatutok sa akin at mahirap maakusahan na nangangampanya para sa partido habang ako ay namumuno.

Matapos maalis ang responsibilidad sa akin, taas noo akong maglalakad sa corridor na may red and blue ribbon na naka-pin sa collar ng aking polo barong. Nakikipagkamay para sa mga kandidato at nambobola para makakuha ng boto. Naroong makakasalubong ko si girlfriend ngunit magtitinginan lang kami. Miyembro kasi siya ng kalabang partido at may bali-balitang planted daw siya roon upang mag-espiya para sa akin. Naroong makikipagkuwentuhan sa akin si classmate na chairman ng isa pang partido upang magsumbong sa pandarayang ginagawa ng partido ni girlfriend. Lingid sa kaalaman ng mga political players ng aming kolehiyo, maluwag ang palitan ng impormasyon sa aming dalawa.

Mapanlinlang ang buhay corridor at madalas ay hindi mo alam kung nasaan ang puso ng mga taong pinakamalapit sa iyo. Subalit ilang dipa papasok ng classrom, naroong tatanggalin ko ang pin, ang nametag at pati na rin ang kulay na winagayway ko sa buong kurso. Sa harap ng mga gurong walang kaalam-alam sa botohang magaganap sa buong kolehiyo, naroon ako't nakaupo.


At nagfefeeling na isa lamang akong hamak na mag-aaral na gustong matuto, at nasa piling ng mga taong isang linggo lang ang nagdaan ay akin pang pinaglilingkuran.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Guro (Last Part)

Para sa aking ina na nagdiriwang ng kanyang kaarawan ngayon.

Sa loob ng classroom ay may dalawang uri ng guro. Una ay yung basta makapagturo ngunit kulang naman ang laman ng utak (kung hindi man, masyado itong mapagmataas at walang ginawa kung hindi mag-power trip ng mga estudyante) at pangalawa ay yung matalino (at mapagkumbaba sa pagbabahagi ng kanyang mga nalalaman) Bilang dating estudyante at laman ng paaralan, alam ko kung sino sa dalawa ang higit na nirerespeto ng mga bata. Karanasan ang nagturo sa akin na dumaan man ang maraming taon ay yung mapagkumbaba at matalino pa rin ang siyang natatandaan ng mga estudyante.


Tumayo ang second reporter ng klaseng aking binabantayan. Gaya ng nauna ay hindi ito handa sa pag-uulat, bagkus ay binabasa pa nito mula sa xerox ang kanyang nirereport. Nakaramdam ako ng antok kaya't pinili ko ang maupo sa tabi ng estudyante. Siyempre tumabi ako sa lalaki. Biased kasi ako. Nagpatuloy sa pag-didiscuss ang babaeng nasa harapan ng classroom, subalit ako ay piniling makipagkuwentuhan na lang sa aking katabi. Just like the good old days, nagfe-feeling lang naman ako. Naalala ko kasi na may katropa ako noong third year college. Kapag buraot kami sa professor ay umuupo kami sa likod ng class upang pagpantasyahan ang mga kaklase naming babae.

Sa awa ng langit ay sumakabilang buhay na ang tropa kong ito matapos mag-iwan ng isang byuda at isang junior na ako pa ang piniling maging ninong.

Natapos ang ikalawang reporter na wala akong na-recall sa kanyang discussion. Basta tungkol sa education ang kanyang topic. Samantalang yung katabi ko naman, nalaman kong sixteen years old pa lang at graduate ng Ramon Magsaysay High School sa Cubao. Nalaman ko rin na hindi pa ito nagkaka-girlfriend at ayaw sabihin kung sino ang crush sa loob ng class.

Sumunod ang ikatlong reporter. Babae rin ito at mukhang sa tono ng kanyang pananalita ay alam ang kanyang ididiscuss sa klase. Tungkol ito sa introduction to Family Planning. Ang kanyang topic ay ang natural family planning methods. Hindi man ako bihasa sa usaping ito, ngunit nakita ko ang maningning na daan upang mapalapit sa klaseng aking binabantayan. Confident ang reporter, bibo ito't maganda ang presentation. Siya ang binigyan ko ng pinakamataas na grado sa lahat ng nagreport hindi lamang dahil pinaghandaan niya ang kanyang presentation, binigyan pa ako nito ng opportunity upang makapagsalita sa harapan ng kanyang mga kaklase.

"Class listen!" Bungad ko sa maiingay na tsikiting.

"Alam naman natin na ang religion lang ang siyang nagdidikta kung bakit kailangan natin ng natural family planning methods tama ba?" Lahat ay sumang-ayon sa aking opinyon.

"At alam naman natin na lahat tayo ay natural na MALILIBOG? Correct? Malutong ang aking pagkakabigkas ng salitang malibog. Hiyawan ang buong klase. May mga namula ang mukha lalo na sa hanay ng mga dalaga. Ang mga binata naman ay parang kiniliti sa kanilang mga betlog.

"Kung gayon ay I want you to pay attention. Mahalaga ang topic na ito sapagkat nakasalalay ang inyong hinaharap sa inyong mga mapapakinggan."

Hindi ko alam kung ano ang nag-udyok sa akin upang maging maharot ang dila, lalo pa't mga menor na edad ang nakikinig sa aking bawat salita. Subalit sa mga oras na iyon ay alam kong mahalaga ang makuha nilang aral mula sa mga magsasalita.

Ilang estudyante pa ang nagpresent ng report sa harap ng class. Lahat ay puro tungkol sa pagpapamilya. Wala na ang nakatumbas sa husay ng ikatlong reporter ngunit ang diwa ng mga estudyante ay gising na gising na. Sa bawat pagkakataon ay pinipili ko ang magsalita. Naroong ginawa kong halimbawa ang palabas na Katorse sa Kapamilya Network upang maging babala sa mga pasaway na bata. Nasabi ko rin sa mga lalaki na dapat ay laging silang may nakatagong condom sa bag. Hindi ko na sinabi ang dahilan, ngunit sa edad nilang iyon ang maaring na-figure out na nila kung ano ang nais kong ipahiwatig. Ang kaisa-isang mag-jowa sa klase ay halatang kinakabahan. Magkahawak ang kanilang kamay at tila naghahanda sa oras na sila'y aking pagdiskitahan.

Prumeno ako't naisipang maging mushy. Bigla kong naalala ang mga panahong nangarap akong magkaroon ng gerlprend sa klase.

"Tandaan niyo lagi class, hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay nauuwi sa break-up ang isang relasyon." Bitter na kung bitter, ngunit kailangang itago ang sarili kong mga kuwento. "May kilala akong tropa, nagsimula ang pag-iibigan sa loob ng classroom." May sumigaw sa likuran ng puppy love, habang ako naman ay nakatingin sa lovebirds na magkahawak pa rin ang kamay sa aking harapan. "Ngayong Disyembre ay ikakasal na sila sa simbahan, so huwag kayong maniniwala na walang happy ending sa mga nagmamahalan."

Nagpatuloy ang reporting hanggang sa ito ay matapos. Naroong pagtripan ko ang kanilang presidente, (at sabihan itong manyak sa dami ng alam pagdating sa contraception) at asarin ang nagrereport tungkol sa contraception dahil wala itong dalang condom at pills na ininsist ko na dapat ay kasama sa kanyang visual presentation. Sa totoo ay nagsisisi ako't naubos ang Frenzy na laging nakalagay sa loob ng aking bag. Kung may natira sana ay gumawa pa kami ng lobo't pinagpasa-pasahan ito hanggang maging riot ang section na aking binabantayan.


Sa wakas ay natapos rin ang lahat ng nagrereport. Bakas sa mukha ng mga nakinig ang shock (at aliw) na aking iniwan sa isang gabing kami ay magkakasama. Pati ang bitchesa na naglakas loob magdemand sa akin na simulan na ang reporting ay masaya sa aming naging katapusan. Matapos i-announce ang nakuhang score ng mga bata sa kanilang midterm exams ay maari ko na silang i-dismiss. Subalit gaya ng mga gurong nag-iwan ng magandang alaala sa akin, panahon ko namang mag-iwan ng magandang ala-ala sa mga batang kahit kailan ay hindi ko na makikita.

"Alright class, bago tayo magtapos ay gusto kong mag-iwan ng payong kaibigan sa inyo." Sa halip na magpatuloy sa pag-aayos ng kanilang mga gamit, ang mga bata'y masinsinang nakinig.

"Ngayon ang una't huli nating pagkikita. Most likely ay magkakalimutan tayo pagdating ng bagong semester. Subalit bago muna iyon, gusto kong malaman niyo what to expect sa mundo ng college." Unang semestre pa lang kasi nila sa unibersidad.

"Unlike sa high school na umiikot ang mundo sa atin, sa college ay kanya-kanyang langoy ang bawat estudyante. May mag-iiwanan, ilan ay malulunod at titigil sa karera sa pag-aaral at ang marami ay matatagpuan ang pampang pagkaraan ng ilang taon. Subalit bago niyo matagpuan iyon, asahan niyo na marami ang pakikisamahan. Bawal maging spoiled brat sa mundong ito." Matalas ang aking naging tingin sa bitchesang dalaga.

"Hangga't may oras ay mag-explore kayo sa labas ng classroom at higit sa lahat, sa tuwing kayo'y naliligaw ng landas, tandaan niyo lagi na ito'y paghahanda lamang sa totoong buhay. Eight years na akong graduate ng college ngunit kapag naalala ko ang mga panahong ako ang nakaupo sa kinauupuan niyo ngayon, hindi ko maiwasan makamiss."

"Magpaparty ba kayo pagkatapos nitong last class niyo?" Masyado yata akong nadala ng alaala ng aking kolehiyo. Nakalimutan kong nasa State University pala ako.

"Wala sir, mag-uuwian na kami."

"Kung gayon ay tapos na ang ating klase. Happy Sembreak sa inyo." Kaagad nagpulasan ang mga estudyante. Samantalang ako naman ay tahimik na lumapit sa aking backpack upang bumalik sa classroom kung saan patuloy ang reporting ng mga estudyante ng aking ina.

Sa aking paglabas ng kuwarto ay may natira pang mga estudyante. Sila yung mga cute na lalaki na nagkumpulan malayo sa aking kinauupuan. Wala ni-isa sa kanila ang aking napagtripan, ngunit sa aking pagdaan, puro pasasalamat ang bukambibig nila. Hindi ko alam kung iyon ba ay dahil masyado silang natuwa sa pagiging unconventional ng aking pag-tuturo, o dahil sa kabila ng aming one-time na pagtatagpo ay nakaramdam sila ng concern mula sa isang taong nagkukunwaring kanilang guro.


Naikwento ko sa kanilang maestra ang mga nangyari. Liban sa mga detalye, (na iniwasan kong sabihin sapagkat baka ikagalit lang ito ng aking nanay) nasabi ko na kapag binenta mo pala ang iyong sarili na kaiba sa maraming guro, lubhang papakyawin ka ng iyong mga estudyante. Kung alam lang ni Mama kung gaano ko kinorupt ang kanyang mga estudyante, maaring sa loob ng dalawang oras ay higit na maraming nakuhang aral ang mga bata sa mga turong hinugot ko sa lesson plan ng panahon.

Habang tinutulak ang wheelchair patungo sa nakaabang naming sasakyan, nalaman ko na kung hindi pala ako nagpakita ay isang malaking problema sa aking ina ang punan ang grades ng mga estudyanteng nagsipagbakasyon na.

"Naku anak, kung alam mo lang kung gaano katinding stress ang dadalhin ko kung wala ka kanina," paliwanag niya sa akin. Lingid sa aming kaalaman, ang pag take-over ko sa kanyang klase ang simula ng mga pagbabagong ni minsan ay hindi ko lubos napag-planuhan.

Isang linggo matapos ang reporting ng mga bata.

Pormal na naging bahagi ng aking trabaho ang mag-retraining ng mga ahente sa aming kumpanya.


Pangarap ko lang naman ang makapagturo sa harap ng dalawampu hanggang tatlumpung estudyante - mapa ito man ay sa linya ng pagsusulat, kasaysayan o kaya naman ay sa fitness. Ang kumita ng sapat upang buhayin ang aking pamilya, ang makapaglakbay at mag-explore ng maraming lugar dala ang aking camera at ang makapagsulat ng mga bagay tungkol dito ang masasabi kong ideyal na buhay para sa akin.

Ang hindi alam ng marami, isa sa mga top agent sa trabaho ay personal kong binigyan ng coaching noong ako ay OIC pa lang. Hindi man kami madalas mag-usap, ngunit sa aking pakiramdam, higit ang tiwalang binibigay niya sa akin kaysa sa mga team-leaders na humahawak sa kanya ngayon. Sa gym, hindi man direkta ang mga aral na binigay ko kay El Tigre subalit ang aming naging simula ang nagmomotivate sa kanyang pagbubuhat ngayon. Isa siya sa mga paboritong member ni Head Coach at ang huli kong balita, malakas rin mang-recruit ang binata kahit hindi man ito lantarang nag-iimbita ng bagong members sa gym.

Hindi na ako magtataka kung sa aming henerasyon ay patuloy na dumaloy ang dugong mga guro. Pasaway man ang aking kapatid ngunit ang kanyang mga karanasan sa lansangan ang magbibigay ammunition sa kanya sakaling seryosohin niya ang pagiging instructor ng NSTP. Ang pinsan naming nagmamasters sa Economics ay magiging dalubhasa sa field na ito balang araw. At ang isa pa naming pinsan na ang talento ay nasa visual arts ay hindi nalalayong maging tanyag na pintor at guro balang araw.

Ito marahil ang destiny na sinasabi nila.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A group of eight people, your ate Ella included, went to one of DSWD warehouses to help in repacking relief goods. We know they need volunteers pero hindi namin akalaing WALANG TAO TALAGA SA LOOB NG WAREHOUSE!

As in sa isang humongous warehouse (1000++ sq.m) NA PUNONG-PUNO NG RELIEF GOODS HANGGANG BUBONG, ISANG DSWD employee lang at ISANG SECURITY GUARD ang tao!!

It was the evening between two storms. Ondoy had just struck the country early last week, while Peping threatens to make landfall in Cagayan in a matter of days. I was back at Sagip Kapamilya after some Encantos responded to the network's plea for help. Two of my barkada went ahead, while I chose to wait longer and decide whether to spend my entire night in the company of fellow volunteers or go home after my duty is over. You see, I was planning to take a sick leave at work but I'm not sure how my supervisor would react to it, and so I waited.

I arrived at one of ABS-CBN's studios at past 10 in the evening. I saw Rain Darwin and Centurion packing some used clothes while standing next to a bunch of guys who were assigned with the "human conveyor team" To give you a clear picture of how this team works, a group of "abled bodied" men and women would line up the entire stretch from the truck delivering the donations to the warehouse where the goods will be stored. One by one, crates of bottled water, boxes of canned sardines, noodles, detergents, or any goods coming outside the base camp would pass through this human conveyor belt. Sometimes, when the packing of relief goods were done, the sacks coming out of the warehouse also pass through this belt to be stacked and arranged inside the waiting trucks for distribution.

To be stuck with this team is a nightmare. Not only does the job require back-breaking work, instant boredom hits once you realize there's nothing much to see. Meanwhile, volunteers keep signing in - students of all ages, pa-sosyal girls and girls, tambay boys who live in a squatter's colony down the street, old folks wanting to take part in this selfless effort - everyone who saw on television the outpouring of support to help the victims of the recent floods. I'm sure many of them wanted to be assigned in the field. They wanted to see the devastation with their own eyes. Learning from experience when I first volunteered, I went to the team leader for relief distribution to suck up and secure my slot. The one I spoke to said the next convoy leaving the compound will deliver goods to Marikina.

"Ground Zero," I said to myself. Finally my wish will be fulfilled.

Even though there were already volunteers assigned for distribution, I hid inside one of the trucks in hopes that the leader assigned in the field would never find out that I was merely a stowaway in the group. He never noticed how I shoved myself in. In fact, he might have mistaken me as one of the senior volunteers.


We were back at base camp at 3 in the morning. My team mates were eager to go home, but since I told my mother that I'd be working graveyard shift as an excuse, there was no choice but for me to stay. We all went our separate ways after saying our last farewells. I was back in the studio helping another team move sacks of relief goods to the waiting 10-wheeler truck outside. While doing my part, I noticed some teens (who probably went to party first before showing up to volunteer) were still signing up despite the announcement that the base camp would close down for the night. They said the organizers need to prepare for the flood of volunteers and donations that would appear at the first hour of sunrise.

The announcement fell on deaf ears. For we have learned that some goods - especially sardines and rice were already in bad shape when they were donated to Sagip Kapamilya. They smelled awfully and when these goods reach the victims, there is a good chance it might become a public relations nightmare for the network. We were done cleaning the studio when the team leader decided to unpack some goods for distribution. The goal was to double check if there were spoiled items inside the bags and take them out to be replaced by new items.

A bunch of tambays were still outside. With nothing else to do but hang-out until the base camp opens again, they could afford to wait. Their stubbornness was legendary, for even when the guards started shooing volunteers out, they stayed behind hoping that a new assignment would be given.

"Papasukin yang mga yan," the Relief Ops manager decreed after learning that they were still there.

Exhaustion had set in among the team leaders. Most were simply eager to go home. Some stayed behind and preoccupied themselves as to how the repackaging operations would continue since the stocks of rice had already dwindled. Meanwhile, being one of the older people remaining, the Team Leader of the packing group passed his responsibilities to me: I will lead the team assigned to inspect the goods. So off we went to unpack the relief goods with the barest of instructions. All those volunteers we found around the base camp were invited to help in so we could weed out the spoiled items before it reach the flood victims.

And for the first time, Sagip Kapamilya's operation was extended for 24 hours.

Kailangang magpa-register at i-schedule ang volunteering

1) UNICEF Registration (as a volunteer)

The warehouse can only take as much as 50 volunteers at a time or per shift. Here you will find that there is a 4-hour shift, and an option for a 6-hour shift for the volunteers to indicate their availability.

What “volunteers”? Nasaan?

Aside from the 8 of us? Nope, there was nobody there. Bakit kailangan ang scheduling? Feeling hindi ba magkamayaw at nagu-unahan ang mga volunteers?

I know somebody who wanted to volunteer many times. She was always bumped off, laging nirere-schedule kasi “there were too many volunteers” daw. At tuwing Sunday lang daw puwede. What the hell is going on here?

The sun was already peeking through the clouds when we have finally repacked all the goods requiring inspection. The girls who joined the team had long left, while the tambays, whose goal was to actually join the relief distribution waited for the San Mateo-bound trucks parked outside to leave. As early as 6 in the morning, fresh volunteers came in trickles. They form a line outside the base camp and motorists passing along Tomas Morato who were uninformed of the Sagip Kapamilya converted studios in one of the side streets would mistake them as the audience for Wowowee.

I only had a yosi break that morning because when another team leader found me loitering around, he called my attention for another task at hand.

"Kailangan namin ng sanay na sa ganitong operations." The team leader explained while the two of us walked towards another studio.

"Kita mo, nakakalat lahat ng goods hanggang dito sa labas. Kapag nagsimulang magsidatingan yung mga bagong donations, magkakaroon ng bottleneck mamaya."

Barely a word after the team leader was done explaining, another team leader showed up bringing with him around ten people who just signed up for volunteers.

"Heto mga tao mo. Start na kayo mag-linis ng warehouse."

Logistics is a field I am never familiar with. Not even by a long shot. And when they tapped me to organize the warehouse before the new batch of consumer goods arrive and pile up the studio's already limited space, experience may be masqueraded by trying to appear in control of the situation.

"Hey guys! Here's what we gonna do." my booming voice bounced across the studio converted warehouse.

"Our goal is to take in whatever goods we have outside. Lahat ng noodles, dito ilalagay." I pointed at the spot where the boxes of noodles were already piling up.

"Dito naman ang mga sardines."

"At yung mga bottled water, dito natin ilalagay."

Among the relief goods that needed most attention were the bottled water. Not only were their boxes already deformed or destroyed by leakage, we found a lot of plastic bottles flung inside used sacks. I don't know if it would pose a health hazard, but to deliver them to victims to drink - would be simply outrageous. So we decided to stack them behind the wall of bottled water boxes where they would be least needed. At least, when the supplies run out, those who are still manning the warehouse have spare bottles in hand.

Another challenge was to save the loaves of bread, the boxes of Monay and the crates of hard-boiled eggs, which are all bound to get spoiled before they reach the mouths to feed. We had to let go rather than let them rot inside the warehouse and not be consumed at all. Most went to the janitors and helpers, which ABS-CBN apparently bolstered since the volunteers were dumping more trash than all their employees do. The remaining went to the people queing outside despite the searing heat. There were so many food to give that the receptionists manning the booth were complaining of the sudden surge of left-overs when there was none when they needed it most.

Running the warehouse - despite the lack of experience handling logistics or instructing strangers as to what to do - remain a great honor I'd like to keep in secret. This is why nothing was said about the twelve hours I volunteered in Sagip Kapamilya nor made reference to it until this shameful act of DSWD was blogged by a fellow writer. The volunteers under me were more than eager to help (in fact, nobody EVER complained even when the task at hand was too difficult to accomplish.) People rise up from the ranks to share their knowledge and experience. In fact, the plumpy lady I tapped to become my assistant turned out to be the one who run the warehouse before I showed up and took the responsibility when she was not around.

It was pure hard work, which a week in the gym would never accomplish: I went to the heart of the disaster, distributed relief goods and saw the misery and destruction myself. I carried heavy sacks on my shoulders, which I would never do at home. Finally, strangers saw me as a leader - a side of me I hardly see - and played the act for everyone to believe. As batches of volunteers come and go, I was asked to join the photo ops for remembrance. Even the kids (who volunteered alongside their parents and teachers) had a field day taking out the damaged hard boiled eggs from the ones that could still pass for consumption. It was memorable. It was the spirit of the nation rising up to the occasion and becomes something it seldom is.

Sa maghapon namin sa warehouse,nakagawa kami ng 150 sacks of relief goods. 150 bags of relief goods lang ang lumabas sa warehouse na ‘yon that day. At nandoon pa rin sa loob ang mga imported relief goods, safe, sound and packed as the day they arrived.

Nakisakay kami palabas sa isang DSWD delivery van. Gusto sana kaming ihatid ng driver hanggang Makati pero wala raw siyang sobrang gasolina. Ibinaba na lang niya kami sa gitna ng EDSA. Millions of dollars in donations, walang extrang pang-gasolina.

Susulpot din siguro ang laman ng mga mahiwagang kahon at mapapasakamay din ng mga tao…sa ARAW NG ELEKSYON. O mabibili na nila ang mga imported goods na ‘yon sa mga puwesto sa Quiapo at Divisoria.

The Bayanihan tradition which I saw with my own eyes will live on. I felt it long after I've gone through the experience. Looking at how successful Sagip Kapamilya and its clones were, perhaps this spontaneous act of citizen participation will prosper so long as those in power never understands the value of a nation searching for a true leader.

A government despised by the people is bound to fall. Everyone knows how it failed miserably when Ondoy struck and drowned an unsuspecting city. They were the last to respond - the media beating them in all accounts. It was the Kapamilya and Kapuso networks who saw everything when the government was turning a blind eye to the situation.

It was the media who assured a fearful nation.

No wonder, when these two networks called for action, the people came in droves. They served without question and took part in the massive relief operations a government of this country would never achieve despite its widespread machinery.

It's the people who lost faith in the government. It came as no surprise why nobody wanted to volunteer in DSWD. (unless the department wanted to keep the goods for themselves) The police, the government workers and the military were all donning their civilian clothes to provide assistance to private groups running their own individual relief operations. "The institution we worked for doesn't care a bit, so why stay and do nothing?"

This was perhaps the feeling they had in mind.

Had I been Secretary Cabral. I will accept the truth that I'm working for a government serving its own interest. Instead of letting the relief goods decay in warehouses, I would announce to the whole nation that I'd be sending everything to Red Cross, to churches and to private groups who were more efficient in courting volunteers.

For Cabral to tell a weary country that they cannot distribute goods for lack of volunteers was the most insensitive and deceptive explanation she could ever find. She, as the secretary is just incompetent and there is no way she can deny that.

Blognotes from:

Blog ni Ella
The Misadventures of Mel-Beckham

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unguarded Moments

Sa inuman ng mga Encanto noon ay may tinatawag kaming unguarded moments. Yun ang basehan ng grupo kung katanggap-tanggap ba ang bagong kasapi o hindi. Noon kasi ay masyadong paranoid ang ilan sa amin. Kumulot lang ng kaunti ang iyong daliri at maaring maging subject yun for expulsion. Hindi daw kasi sila comfortable makisama sa effem. Pero nakaraan na ang panahong iyon. Kahit ang nag-imbento ng term na si Tagay ay marunong na mag gay-speak ngayon. At gaya ng maraming grupo, unti-unting nagbabago ang tingin namin sa mga tao. At ang mga unguarded moments, naging biru-biruan at pang-aasar na lang kapag medyo sumasablay sa kilos ang ka-tropa naming lasing.


Nagmomonitor ako ng chat logs sa aking computer. Ipod ko ang nakasalang sa speaker at biglang tinugtog ang mga kanta ni Whitney Houston. Dead giveaway sa mga bading kung hindi sila day-off ngayon. Swerte ko. Subalit nang biglang bumirit ang diva ng chorus ay bigla akong napakanta.

And I...
am not afraid to...

"Shit!" Napabulong ako sa sarili. Bakit ba ako nadala ng bugso ng damdamin gayong puro Alternative naman ang nasa play list ko sa tuwing nag-eemo.

Ito marahil ang nais sabihin ng aking sarili. Sa dinadalang mabigat ng puso ko ngayon, nais lamang ipagpilitan nito isigaw ang lyrics ng kanta:

I'm wiser now
Im not the foolish girl you used to know
So long ago
I'm stronger now
I've learned from my mistakes which way to go
And I should know

It's time for me to do it on my own

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eye On The Tiger (Episode Nine)

Joleeeee!!! Meron akong bagong tropa sa gym. Si karagözler. Papakilala kita pag nagkasabay sabay tayo dun!

Hindi ibig sabihin na natorpe si miyaw-miyaw kay O-Bar chick na nireto ko noong isang linggo ay basta basta na lang akong susuko sa paghahanap ng ipapa-date para sa aking kaibigan. Kani-kanina lang ay may nakilala akong babae sa gym. Pangalan niya ay Aisa at gaya namin ay PExer rin ang dalaga. Sabi ni chick (habang ito ay nagsqua-squats sa aking tabi) ay madalas daw siyang pagkamalang lalaki ng mga boys sa aming thread. Naisip ko bigla, kung mabebenta ko ang dalaga bilang isang binata kay miyaw-miyaw, chances are, titingnan niya itong ka-tropa. Kapag naging mag-tropa sila nang hindi alam ni miyaw-miyaw na babae pala ang binabarkada niya, maaring in the future kapag nalaman niyang babae pala ang tri-nopa niya ay baka magkadevelopan ang dalawa.

Sounds like a good love story. Lol.

Sana single si karagözler. Ito muna ang aking magiging pastime hangga't hindi ko pa alam ang hinaharap ng aking buhay pag-ibig.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Proposal

"Hi Galen. How do I put it.. um I really need to be with someone tonight. Puwede ka ba tonight? Pasensya if it's carnal na talaga. If it's ok lang naman with you..."

If the stars speak of the fates of men, mine would be many choices to get laid as the days march into the coming of the new month. One was a near miss some Saturdays ago. The invitation was offered, but I declined at the last minute. It was a no-frills sex, a booty call of epic proportions. I backed off for I had one thing in mind: I was saving myself for someone better, I sense would come along. Another was offered last weekend. It was me who sought his invitation for the utol was out, and the Scorpions may reappear as the night gives in to twilight. The party stayed over and slept. We chose not to cross the line. The last invitation came this evening. It was from someone I didn't expect. His choice of words uncertain: his aggression made me upset.

Guys like me are no stranger to such proposals. Sex is sex and some guys I know would never decline an invitation. But I guess he underestimated my sense of control: That I seldom strike someone I consider a friend. Once, twice, thrice it happened and the price I paid was the total disconnection of fraternal bonds. Blame it on me, whose act of copulation I see as an insurgency. The line that divides attachment and hostility is drawn, always at the rib section of the bed.

So why did this last invitation made me upset? Maybe because he caught me not in the mood for it - NO. Maybe because I was never interested even before - PERHAPS. But I guess the real reason lies behind the choice I made when it was me who invited someone to stay over at my place...

I will cut my thoughts here, for things are still too early to tell.

Besides, if and ever I want to get laid. There are many places to choose and these realms will emancipate me from the pressures of searching it closer to my world.

Unless one speaks through his emotions - which I doubt - for emotions precede any act of lust.

Had it been my ball, I will go inside a bath house and strut my stuff for everyone to see. I would choose someone who equally complements my looks and appeal. It will not be me performing the opening salvo and instead let the other's hand do the talking. I will maintain control over the situation, my heart tucked under my sleeve, my lust demanding to hit hard and strike deep.

There's only one chance to leave an impression.

If not the bath house, the chat room would do well. I will post an advertisement. Tell everyone my location. Reveal my stats, my half-naked photos (which I heard, are being used by someone there) and seal the deal with a manly, direct and assertive way of telling someone how horny I am.

"Tangina pare sobrang libog ko na, chupain mo ako pagdating ko jan ha."

"Masarap ka ba i-fuck. Halikan tayo habang tinitira kita ha?"

"6.5 etits ko, anong gagawin mo sa kanya pag nakita mo ito?"

Guys like me never beat around the bush, nor tell openly to a bed mate how lonely we are. Sex is sex and gaining some hard lessons from the last bed battle I fought, affection, attachment and even the sharing of minds never happen if and when things begin by the stroking of one's stiff cock.

A preemptive declaration of lust is always a direct act of war.


His big arms, sweet as lullabies
humming soft melodies putting me to sleep.
Wrapped around my chest, it felt being shielded
from anything that would strike us as we rest.

The one I invited over knew where to draw the line
As we both feared everything will be forgotten
when the sun rises the following day.
Our decision not to shoot missiles against each other's fort
gave us time to explore the prospects

of a permanent peace.

And reinforces my claims that the meet up was a "diplomatic" mission.

Strange how the sleepover ended. It did change my perception of how...

affection begins.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Guro (Second Part)

Pasado alas-siyete na ng gabi ngunit hindi pa rin nagpapakita ang presidente. Ang mga estudyante sa aking tabi ay dismayado na. Hindi nila alam kung ano oras matatapos ng make-up class si Maam. Palibhasa'y under strict orders ako na dumiretso sa pangulo, wala akong magawa kung hindi ang mag-intay at maki-usisa sa kanilang ginagawa.

Katahimikan. Ang mga bata ay nagkuwe-kuwentuhan lamang.

Makaraan ang ilang minuto, katahimikan pa rin. Kaibahan lang ngayon ay may ideya na ang ilang estudyante na ako ang tatayo bilang kanilang guro. Tinanong ko kasi ang dalawa sa kanila kung nasaan ang kanilang pangulo at anong oras ito darating habang nakahilera kami sa gilid ng corridor.

"Excuse me, matagal pa ba si Maam?" Hirit sa akin ng isang babaeng estudyante na bumasag sa aking katahimikan. Mataray ang bagsak ng kanyang pananalita at sa aking unang tingin ay hindi nalalayong brat ito sa kanilang pamamahay.

"Nasaan ba ang presidente niyo at para makapagsimula na tayo?"

"Wala pa siya eh. Kausap kasi yung prof namin sa Psychology. Kanina pa kami dito, magtuturo ba si maam o uuwi na lang kami?" Habang walang tigil ang kanyang pagdedemand ay unti-unting nagpintig ang aking mga tenga. Pakielam ko ba kung matagal dumating ang kanilang presidente. Sumusunod lang naman ako sa instruction mula sa kanilang propesora.

Sa kabilang banda ay naiintindihan ko rin ang kanyang pagiging restless. Naging mag-aaral rin ako at ramdam ko ang inis sa tuwing kami ay pinag-iintay ng aming guro. Huling araw na ng semester at ang lahat ay excited na magbakasyon. Maari naman kaming magsimula kahit lingid sa kaalaman ng kanilang lider ang aking ginagawa. Dahil doon ay dali dali akong nagpunta sa klase ng aking ina upang humingi ng kanyang permiso.

Magsisimula kami ng report kahit wala roon ang kanilang presidente.


"My name is Galen," bungad ko sa harapan ng klase. "I was asked by your professor to facilitate the report your classmates will be presenting tonight." Ayos na ayos. Feeling trainer ang benta ko sa mga estudyante. Tamang tama ito lalo pa't nararamdaman kong gusto rin ipasa ni Mami Athena sa akin ang kanyang trainer duties sa opisina. Ang kaso mo, sumablay ako sa pagbigkas ng "p" at "f" at na-interchange ko ang mga letra sa aking pagsasalita. Bunga ng pagkapahiya ay nagrevert muli ako sa wikang Tagalog upang iparating ang mga tagubilin bago magsimula ang reporting.

"Huwag niyong titingnan na hindi porke't wala akong alam tungkol sa subject na inyong dinidiscuss ay magta-tangahan ako sa pagbibigay ng grade." Banta ko sa kanila. "Magrereport kayo gaya ng pagrereport na ginagawa niyo kapag si Maam ang inyong nasa harapan."

"At ang lahat ay inaasahan kong makikinig."


Nagsimulang mag-discuss ang unang reporter. Ang kanyang topic ay tungkol sa Religion. Sa blackboard na nasa aming harapan ay may nakapaskil na kartolina. Doon ay nakalista ang limang major religions ng mundo. Katabi nito ay dalawang Manila Paper na malabo ang nakasulat. Hindi ko sigurado, ngunit maaring ito ang topic ng susunod na reporter. Hanep rin naman ang presentation ng mga bata. Basta may cartolina at manila paper na ang ginamit na panulat ay itim na Pentel Pen ay visual aids na. Sa unibersidad na aking pinanggalingan ay bagsak ang iyong marka kapag ganito ang presentation mo sa klase. Dapat ay naka Microsoft Power Point ito at naka-upload sa computer kung saan connected ang projector. Kailangan rin na may summary ng report na pina-xerox mo para sa klase. Ganun kamahal mag-present ng report sa amin. Sabagay, sa halagang limangdaang piso kada semester, understandable kung bakit ganito kapayak ang paraan ng kanilang reporting.

Patuloy ang discussion ng first reporter habang ako naman ay piniling tumayo malapit sa pintuan. Sa totoo ay ayaw kong ma-involve sa klase at bilang proxy ng kanilang guro, balak ko lang naman magbigay ng grado depende sa feel ko sa bawat nagrereport. Pinagmasdan ko ang klase. May mga ilan na nagpreprepare ng visual aids para sa susunod na report. Samantalang ang iba naman ay pawang nakatingin sa pisara ngunit kita mo sa kanilang mga mata na nakatulala ito sa kawalan. Ilan rin ang mga lantarang nambabastos. May mga maingay na nagkuwe-kuwentuhan, may nagtetext sa cellphone at may isa o dalawa na nakaplug ang earphones sa tenga at nakikinig ng kanta mula sa kanilang mp3 player. Noong kami ay mga estudyante pa, tanging texting lang at kuwentuhan ang alam naming gawin kapag ayaw namin makinig sa discussion. Mukhang nagbago na ng teknolohiya ang panahon. Subalit kapansin-pansin rin na may mga lumang ugaling dala-dala pa rin ng makabagong henerasyon.


Nakakaantok ang reporting sa totoo lang. Kaya't madalas ay mas gusto ko na ang guro ang nagdidiscuss, lalo na't masigla ito't puro patawa sa kanyang klase. Halatang hindi handa at pawang binasa lang mula sa photocopy ang reporter ng Religion. Paminsan minsan ay napapaudlot ito't kinakain ang kanyang mga sinasabi. Pati ako ay walang naintindihan. Gaya nga ng nabanggit ay hindi mahalaga sa akin kung may natutunan ang bawat tigapakinig. Tutal, lahat ng aral sa loob ng klase ay balewala kung ito'y ihahambing sa turo ng buhay sa labas ng classroom. Subalit sa isang banda, Araling Panlipunan ang subject ng aking ina. Kung ang Algebra at Literature ay mapapakinabangan lang ng ilan, ang subject kung saan nagrereport ang mga bata ay dadalhin nila hanggang sa pagtanda.

Wala man akong academic background tungkol dito ngunit bilang isang nakakatanda at tasado na ng panahon, alam kong ang bawat labas ng salita na magmumula sa aking bibig ay hinugot ko sa karanasan.

It's time to take the lead whether I like it or not. Besides, it's good to leave a good and lasting impression to these students than fade without being given a chance to show what I've got.

Bago natapos ang unang reporter at bigyan ito ng grade, bumato ako ng isang nosebleed na tanong para sa mga Freshmen.

"So do you think society could exist without religion?" Napanganga ang ilan sa mga estudyante.

"Ummmm..." Mukhang pinagpawisan ng malapot ang reporter sa aking harapan.

"I think society could exist without religion, but I think it would be a very disorderly one."

"Magaling." Bulong ko sa sarili. Hindi na ako nag-follow up question at baka himatayin lang ang aking kausap.

"Makakaupo ka na."

Tumayo ang sumunod na reporter na bakas pa rin ang ngiti sa aking mukha.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guro (First Part)

Sinasabi ng marami na dumadaloy daw sa dugo ng aming angkan ang pagiging guro. Bukod sa aking nanay, lima sa kanyang mga kapatid ang nasa training o kaya naman ay kapareho niyang educator sa isang unibersidad. Isang pinsan ang kasalukuyang may part-time sa Ateneo samantalang ang utol ko naman ay rumaraket sa pamamagitan ng pagtuturo ng NSTP sa La Salle. Kung titingnan mo ang pattern, hindi nalalayo na pati ako ay dapat sumunod sa trabaho ng pamilya.

Sa kasamaang palad ay magaling lamang ako sa one-on-one sessions. Ilang beses ko na ito napatunayan sa trabaho nang minsang gawin akong side-by-side trainer ng ahente. Subukan nila akong pagsalitain sa harap ng maraming tao at tiyak na magstu-stutter ang pananalita ko.

Ganoon na ako simula pa noong college. Mabilis masira ang train-of-thought ko kapag nagsasalita kaya't madalas ay pa-cute lang ako tuwing may reporting sa klase (lalo na kung ang prof ay bading) o kaya naman ay nagbabasa ng report habang pinagmamasdan maghikab ang guro sa likuran ng room.

Hindi na bago na sa tuwing prelims at finals ay papakiusapan ako ng aking ina na magbantay ng kanyang klase. Bukod kasi sa hirap itong maglakad, ang kanyang kabaitan ay inaabuso ng kanyang mga estudyante. Nagkokopyahan daw ang mga ito kahit sa kanyang harapan. Kaya naman kapag ako ang kanyang bantay, kulang na lang ay maihi sa upuan ang mga nag-eexam. Kulang na lang kasi ay manigaw ako sa tuwing nakakahuli ng student na nakikipag-usap sa kanyang katabi.


Mag-aalas siyete na ng gabi nang matapos ang aking pagbabantay. Labing dalawang oras na akong gising; isang bote ng Cobra, isang sachet ng Oatmeal, tatlong pirasong fried siomai at apat na pirasong itlog ng pugo lang ang laman ng aking sikmura buong araw; at ang pagod at pananakit ng kaliwang kamay ay unti-unti nang sumisira ng aking mood. Palabas na ako ng campus noon at pauwi ng bahay nang biglang nagpahabol ng text message ang aking ina.

"Anak nkalis knb? Bka pwde k blik sandali kung d2 kp skul. Kung wala n txt klng pra mlaman ko."

Handa na akong mangdedma ng text message. Kung alam ko lang ay may itatanong ito na maari naman niyang itanong kapag nagkita kami sa bahay. Sa isang banda, may nag-uudyok sa aking bumalik. Ramdam ng aking sarili ang kanyang matinding pangangailangan. Kaya't kahit nasa ground floor na ako't isang tawid na lang ng kalsada ay nasa walkway na ako palabas ng campus, muli akong umakyat sa sixth floor upang puntahan ang aking iniwanan.

"Ay buti nandito ka pa, puwede ka ba ulit mapakiusapan?" Bungad ng maestra.

"Ano yun."

"May reporting pa kasi yung make-up class ko dito eh nakalimutan ko na may klase pala ako ngayong oras na ito." Aninag sa kanyang mga mata ang pagkamaligalig. Patapos na kasi ang semester at ang mga bata ay kating-kati na ma-enjoy ang kanilang sembreak.

"Gusto mong ako ang maghandle ng isang class mo?" Ang pagvo-volunteer ko sa kanya.

"Oo sana, magrereporting lang naman sila. Ikaw na ang mag-grade."

Hayun naman pala eh, na-promote na ako sa pagiging tagabantay ng kanyang klase at tiga-input ng grades sa kanilang online database. Ngayon ay puwede na akong mag-grade ng final requirement ng estudyante.

Sa kabila ng bugbog na katawan at nagbabadyang pag-init ng ulo, alam kong wala akong magagawa. Gets ko na kung bakit nagpro-proctor pa lang ako sa una niyang klase ay hesitant na akong umalis at hindi sabayan ang aking nanay pag-uwi sa bahay.

Ito pala ang dahilan.

"Salamat anak ha. Papuntahin mo dito yung president nila bago mo introduce sarili mo sa class."


Bitbit ang pagkalaki-laking bag na puno ng orders na inutang sa Avon, lumakad ako palabas ng kanyang classroom upang hanapin ang aking mga estudyante.



Friday, October 16, 2009

The Greening Of Manila

The sun rises behind the pristine Sierra Madre mountains where newly-planted saplings of Narra and Agoho had replaced the once sprawling subdivisions that were used to be part of Antipolo. In twenty years, a lush rainforest will cover large tracks of this hillside, becoming another watershed that is beginning to encircle the fringes of Metro Manila.

In a matter of minutes, countless solar panels cleaving on millions of rooftops around the city will leave a glint of sunlight reflected back to the sky. By this time, Meralco have lost billions of pesos, trying to consolidate its dwindling power base of households still dependent on the electricity it supply. Many families have emancipated themselves by turning to solar energy to power their homes.

Garbage, which used to be a problem of our time, will be a thing of the past. After the last president, who was an out-gay, had made into law the mandatory recycling and segregation bill proposed by the Senate, many poor families have actually benefited from collecting refuse like plastics and glass bottles to sell them to refurbishing plants that turn these garbage into solar panels. As a result, these panels were so affordable, one can install an entire set in their rooftop at less than the price of the current generation of semi-organic laptop computers.

Going out of the house, one will be greeted not by flies or cockroaches but by genetically altered indigo butterflies that eat larvae and rotting trash in order to live. They glide above algae rich canals that were once reeking with dirt and filth. Clean water from car exhaust vents flow into these canals. The steep oil prices of 2010 had forced many car industries to embrace hydrogen engines overnight. As a result, even motorbikes run on water and electricity thanks to this revolution.

At night, fireflies glow in dark spaces that separate one house from the next. If one would pay close attention, all homes are lit by energy saving lamps that were freely distributed by the candidates during the last elections Plants have invaded even the tiniest of cracks, where crickets have found an ideal nesting ground for their brood. The chorus of chirps serenade a sleeping city that had turned into an urban jungle in the last thirty years.

Still, Green Politics dictate the direction of World Affairs. No one will ever forget how Prime Minister John Howard of Australia lost to Kevin Rudd after he stubbornly refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol in those early days of the Green Revolution. The state of Florida still remembers how it lost half of its land and population during the Hurricane season of 2020. Even the new Pope, John Paul IV had declared polluting the environment one of the mortal sins for the new century.

Photo Credits:
A Repost

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Totoy Batak Chronicles Three: Palaban

Coach Blakedaddy said that I should take a three-day rest for my sprained wrist to recover. My left hand could barely carry a 25-pound iron plate without twitching from the pain. My grip suffers and if not for some tricky finger positioning to transfer the pressure to other parts of my hand, the workout would end in failure.

This has been my condition for the past three weeks. I tried to ignore the discomfort but the stinging sensation would not allow me to gain momentum needed for lift. I could not tell coach my hesitation. Not only am I gaining mass after being assigned to different shifts, my appetite gets more difficult to manage the longer I stay awake because of job demands.

The situation presented a dilemma. I had to push myself do extra work outs to counter the unrestrained food intake. I could not stop doing Bench Presses, Front Squats and Deadlifts because they are the core exercises that will keep me in shape. Take away the program out of my routine and I am left with nothing to spend my free time with.

Returning to the gym after being told to take a break, I turned my back against moderation and did my program the way it was written on my folder. Coach Blake was there. He was busy showing the Cardio Machines, Iron Plates and Kettle Bells to a bunch of yuppies interested to sign up with the gym.

Meanwhile, I twitched - when my left hand had to slide heavy iron plates into the barbell pole end;

And groaned - when I had to raise my legs while a 130 lbs Olympic Bar rests on my biceps.


Willpower drives people to change, and had I not found mine many years ago, I would remain this pot-bellied, plus-sized fatso who feared to muse his own fate. I remember him well. When in doubt about my goal, I would still read the struggles that he wrote. He had come along way - vowing - never to return to his past state no matter what life throws at him. It was a long journey and the destination remains unseen. And when his attempt at perfection gets challenged by the new order of things, only one thought echoes in his head:

And no matter how many times it would take before I may become successful in taming my own frame. I would never stop nor surrender. For I'm beginning to get tired hiding behind my own shadow. And I'm getting weary thinking about if I would last a decade with the abuses I'm giving to my deteriorating body. Lastly, I'm beginning to get tired of ogling at some buff bodies when I can develop mine. I guess, it's time to claim my own place.

We remember, with much solemnity, how it all began.


One day after sounding the alarm. I was able to control my appetite, and learned that I had shed a pound when I weighted myself before working out earlier. The sprained wrist would still pose some discomfort but I know better what to do in case I couldn't use my left hand anymore.


Indeed. Victory comes with determination - even when struggles have to be won, one battle at a time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Failed State

The things I have to look after now that I don't even have a hold of when my rest and work days are.

Excessive sleepiness

Unchecked big appetite

Day-long bout with laziness

Sensual overdose.

Addiction to isolation

Save for the gym and the blogging, I don't know how to enjoy what remains of my free time anymore.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Alas-nuwebe pa lang ng umaga ay tatakas na ako ng bahay. Sa gulang na anim na taon ay laman na ako ng aming lugar. Sa tapat, kung saan mayroong malaking lumang bahay ay may apat na mga bata. Tatlo ay nakababatang kong pinsan samantalang ang huli ay isang babae na halos kasing-edad ko lang. Masukal ang kanilang bakuran. Doon ay matatagpuan ang sari-saring mga puno kagaya ng Bayabas at Karumay. Mayroon din silang Guyabano pati na rin Dama De Noche. Ang kanilang hardin ay puno ng iba't ibang bulaklak. May Yellow Bell at pati na rin makukulay na Santan. Madalas ay naglalaro kami ng luto-lutuan. Mamimitas kami ng mga dahon at bulaklak sabay papakuluan ito sa pamamagitan ng siga na aking ginawa. Minsan ay nanghuhuli ako ng maliit na gagamba o kaya naman ay manunungkit ng bulate sa tabing kanal. Kapag nakatingin naman ang kanilang mga magulang ay nagpapagulong na lang kami ng kotse-kotsehan sa palaruan. Sa tuwing bumubuhos ang malakas na ulan at pagkatapos ay magbabaha, handa na ang aking talampakan na lumusong sa maburak na tubig. Mapalo man kami sa puwet ng matatanda, ang mahalaga ay nakapagpalayag kami ng bangkang papel sa baha.

Ito ay ilan lamang sa mga paborito naming gawain noong ako ay bata pa. Sa panahong wala pang Internet, cellphone, cable TV at kung ano-anong gadget na makikita ngayon, lansangan ang tunay naming naging kaibigan. Hindi ko alam kung sino ang nakaisip magtabi, o sadya marahil nasanay na ang mga naglalaba ngunit sa pagdaan ng taon, nanatiling nakatago sa aking damitan ang sandong lagi kong suot noong ako ay babad pa sa daan.

Matapos ang matagal na panahon, nilabas ko ang sando upang itabi sa damit pangbuhat sa gym.

Ganito pala kabilis ang dalawampung taon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Primetime Blues

Prices of vegetables soar to an all-time high: public urged not to go panic buying. Conditions in evacuation centers getting worse: poor sanitation causes children's death. Billions worth of agri products lost: starvation imminent. Hilltop city on the brink of a breakdown: fuel, food supplies desperately needed. Cemetery washed away by the swift currents: Lady asks heavens, "why didn't Peping spare the departed?"

Gloomier times ahead: nation braces for recession.

Apologies for being a negastar again. I can't help but feel gloomy after watching the evening news earlier. I was not aware that the trail of destruction left by the two storms had reached pandemonium levels. I didn't know the misery felt there will have an adverse effect in the suffering endured by everyone here.

And they say the same thing: mud and water destroyed their homes; Floods swallowed everything in sight; A dam was opened and water cascaded down to an unsuspecting lowland. There was no time to save one's belongings.

In days like this, I feel sorry for the children. I am sad because they do not deserve this tragedy. They weren't there to stop the greed from happening. They weren't around to complain how some privileged few cut down our rain forests. And they weren't there to decide where to put their parents' homes and not block the waterways that are clogged today.

By now we know, nature has its way of striking back. Now that we have been mortally wounded by its fury,

I wonder if we would finally learn this time around.

If one billion tree-hugging hippie souls are what's left of humanity,
would the planet be a better place to live?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

One Night In Malate: Tripper

Thirty minutes after Tannis left the scene


"Are you gay?"

Tanong ng isang babaeng dumaan sa aking harapan. Nakatambay ako noon sa tapat ng DJ booth at may pinopormahang binatang natritripan ko nung gabing iyon.

"Yes I am. Why did you ask?" Ang walang kagatol-gatol na sagot ko sa kanya. Kung ibang bading ang nilapitan niya upang birahan ng mahiwagang tanong, tiyak na nataasan na siya ng kilay at nakembutan pa ng wala sa oras. Ganun kataray ang mga kafatid nating desperadong makahanap ng booking minsan.

"Wala lang. O sige, I have to look after my bestfriend pa. See yah!" Hindi pa ako nakakasagot ay bigla na lamang ito nilamon ng karimlan. Jampack kasi ang dance floor, mausok at patay sindi ang mga ilaw sa kisame.

Hindi ko na sana papatulan ang banat ng chick. Tutal ay hindi naman siya, o ang mga katulad niya ang sadya ko sa lugar na iyon. Hindi ko rin naman pinangarap maikama ng babae ever. Subalit dahil na-interpret ko ang kanyang tanong bilang isang complement, nawala bigla ang aking kalasingan at para akong tangang nakangiti at nakatingin sa kawalan na para bang sinabihan ng nakakalibog ng aking pinakamimithing maikama.

It's getting late. Yun ang madaling sumagi sa isip ko. Isa pa, mukhang hindi ako makaka-score dahil walang balak makipagtrip ang aking pinopormahan. Given no other option but to entertain the impossible, nilayasan ko si prospect at hinawi ang mga nagkalat na tite upang hanapin si babae na unang naka-spot sa akin.

Natagpuan ko siya sa ibabaw ng ledge. Nagsasayaw kasama si bestfriend na babae.

Kaagad niya akong napansin at inayang sumayaw sa kanyang tabi. After mounting the ledge, muli niya akong tinanong kung gay ba ako. Sabi ko oo. Nang muli niyang binalik ang tanong sa akin at sinabing bakit hindi ako naghahanap ng lalaking kasayaw, isa lang ang sinagot ko.

"Because you invited me to dance with you."

At doon nagsimula ang aming gabi. Nalaman ko na ang pangalan niya ay Jan* at isa siyang Wedding Planner. Ang bestfriend na kanyang kabuntot nang una kaming magkita ay ikakasal na pala sa December. Tinaguriang Bachelorette party iyon ng kanyang kasama at upang hindi masyadong mag-alala si soon-to-be groom na kasalukuyang may stag party nang gabing yun, dinala ni Wedding Planner ang soon-to-be bride sa isang lugar na puro bading. Lasing na si bestfriend at nagwawala sa ledge, ang tatlo nilang kasamang effeminate ay nagsipaghanap na rin ng kanya-kanyang kalandian. Dahil ako ang nag-iisang odd-one out sa grupo, wala akong nagawa kundi sayawan si Jan.

"Hey I want you to meet [name of gay friend]. Wanna dance with him?" Ngumiti lang ako kay Jan. Sa totoo lang eh naasar ako dahil sa halip na ipasa niya ako sa aking matritripan eh pinapasa niya ako sa mga lalaking hindi ko lalandiin magkaubusan man ng bading sa mundo.

"Why don't you dance with him?"

"Nahihiya ako eh..." Pero ang ibig kong sabihin talaga eh "Yoko, baka ibalibag ko lang yan." Harsh pero yun talaga ang totoo.

Dumaan ang oras ng hindi ko namamalayan. Marami kaming napagkuwentuhan ni Jan tungkol sa kanyang trabaho at pati na rin sa kanyang apparent closeness sa mga lalaking nagkikilos babae. Ilang beses pa niyang tinanong kung totoo nga ang aking sinasabi. Sa huli ay pinaliwanag ko na lang sa kanya ang kaibahan ng pakikipagsayaw ko sa bading sa pakikipagsayaw sa babae. (Kung saan hinayaan kong gumapang ang kanyang kamay mula sa aking dibdib hanggang sa tiyan)

Nakadikit ako kay Jan at dahil dito ay naging extension ako ng kanyang entourage. Kapag hindi siya ang aking kausap ay dinadaldal ko ang mga diwata niyang kaibigan. Minsan naman ay sinusuyod namin ang dance floor sa tuwing nawawala si bestfriend at kung saan-saan nagpapatangay sa agos ng kabadingan.

Masaya ang kanilang grupo. Nakakaaliw si Jan sa dahilang hindi niya alam umamoy ng bading sa straight na lalaki. Sa kabila ng aking pagkukunwari sa lahat ng nasa paligid namin, ni minsan ay hindi ako nakaramdam ng pressure habang ang isang kasayaw na babae. Tamang chill lang. Marahil ay dahil disabled ang friend or foe mechanism ko.

Marahil ay hindi ko siya masikmurang taluhin.

"Uy crush ko yung naka-cap. Gay ba siya?" Bulong nito sa akin habang nag-iispot ako na puwedeng landiin.

Isang sulyap ay amoy ko na ang kanyang tinuturo. Hindi pa man ito nakakalapit sa amin ay binalaan ko na si Jan. "Bading siya. Asa ka pa."


Hindi na bago sa akin ang makatanso ng babae lalo na't naliligaw ako sa isang straight na bar. Naging saksi ang ilang Engkanto nang minsang napasabak ako't nakipagdikitang sayaw sa isang babae. Malagkit ang kanyang mga galaw at ilang beses rin nalamog ang aking katawan nang ito'y kanyang pangigilan. Minsan na rin akong nakipaglaplapan sa isang babae sa loob ng Che'lu nang bulungan ko itong sexy at "cool." Second nature ko na kasi ang maging gentleman at dahil magaling ako pagdating sa bolahan, minsan ay mas madali pa sa akin ang mag-trip bilang straight kesa lumandi sa kapwa ko barako.

Intoxicated with alcohol and possessing no care in the world, I teased Jan by lifting my body-hugging white shirt to her thrill and amazement. I really don't know what thoughts ran inside her head but the reception was encouraging. She tried to lift my shift higher, exposing my chest and nipples but I pulled it down, to gather guts for a showdown I was planning to do with her later.

Another bottle, another house track and all hell broke lose. The dj played my anthem and despite the vow to never dance again naked, just for someone who made me feel most welcome inside the indifferent gay bar, I revealed the fruits of my work-out and let her enjoy what I had to offer.

I took off my shirt and tucked it inside my pants.

"Shit sana naging straight ka na lang."

She said as I grinded my hips against hers. The crowd was stunned, of course, and their reception certainly was atrocious. Jan was game as I had expected. She took off my belt, tried to pull down my loose pants as my hand held it tight, afraid that she might succeed in peeling off my remaining body cover. At the back of my head however, I was looking forward to something shocking. Had she read my thoughts, I wouldn't mind if she leashed me using my belt for everyone to see.

"Tangina, buti walang nakakakilala sa akin dito." I mumbled.
The gogoboys asked us to dance on the ledge. Gaining composure, I put my belt back to my pants and instead of her doing things to me, I wrapped my arms around her waist.

"Isipin mo na lang, lesbian lang ako." I said.

"Tell me who you really want to dance with and I can easily hook him with you." She pleaded, as one of the Gogoboys tried to steal the spotlight by grinding his crotch against my ass.

"But I am already dancing with you."

"Why me? You're gay right? I want to make you happy." Jan said.

"Can't I dance with a girl and make you feel like a woman even if I'm not straight?" My answer convinced her. She smiled, wrapped her hands around my hips and leaned her head against my moist chest.

I didn't tell Jan that I was eyeing someone when she was busy expanding her contacts with others earlier. But I found out that the guy - who looked like a construction worker - had someone else to pair with. The guy he flirted was as feminine as my chick, only that mine was a real one - a slim, mestiza hottie by all accounts, while his pretended to be one.

For the first time in recent memory, I went to a gay-friendly place only to stick with someone not of my kind. I didn't even have to hide under the cloak of bisexuality, like her earlier crush who revealed his true colors eventually. I guess it comes with nature - me being someone of tripping between worlds.

I don't know for certain if it would get elsewhere - had she raised the level of companionship and asked for something more intimate. I would back down, knowing my strong attachment to anything that is related to being anal. If there is one thing I have proven, I learned that sexuality can be fluid. The question lies whether you can effortlessly slip in a straight guy's shoes and play his game or run for cover and hide inside your own vaulted world

"Hey Jan, can I get your number?"

"Sure." I handed my phone for her to save her digits.

"Huwag mo akong kakalimutan ha? First time sa akin ito."

"Oo ba. Ikaw pa."

"I have to go." Frowning, she begged me to stay a little longer. I showed her my mother's text message telling me to go home.

"Sige na nga."

"Thank you for the company." If only I could tell her how our encounter restored the strains of bisexuality remaining in me.

Kissing her forehead, I let go of my arms to bid farewell to those who kept us company. The best friend sat in one corner, wasted and sleepy. A parlorista waved from the ledge and the entourage, despite their hesitation responded to my fist bumping with them.

I walked out of the dance floor catching glances from those who probably witnessed my twisted letdown. Shaking their perception of things and proving to everyone how sexuality could be distorted, I ask myself whether I am merely performing a magic trick,

or there is a strong possibility that I swing both ways and just deny it?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One Night In Malate: Tannis Reloaded

Another Moment In Paradise (First Part)


Malate is a place where dreams are made and where fairy tales not end with happy endings. It is a place of refuge for those who mend a broken heart or a shattered soul by lathering their throats with beer and partying the night away with club music until the sound numbs away weary ears and the dancing drains energy from exhausted feet. Malate is a home for those who wishes to forget and for those trying to escape the agony of living a suspended existence. Yet, despite the sorrowful stories that come out of that place, Malate is still full of promises. Amidst the teeming mass of lonely gay people swerving their hips aimlessly at the center of the dance floor, there are moments when fate intervenes and connects two people who share a common longing.

And perhaps even a common dream.

That promise is what keeps people like me returning over and over to Malate. Even if there are no assurances of a happy ending after the night is over, the thought of a stranger making you feel complete is what makes the whole endeavor worth doing.

I went out last night after a week's absence in the club scene. The choices are tough for I already exhausted myself in the gym and the feeling of weariness is enough reason to go home. However, the lingering thought of an ex-boyfriend suddenly knocking at my door and asking the maid if he could sleep over crept like some terminal fear driving me to the smoke-filled hall of Che'lu. Running away instead of confronting a hanging issue proved more feasible for someone as broken as me.

Nothing has changed in Che'lu when I entered the bar. The same beautiful people lined its narrow corridor leading to the dance floor. The same effeminate twinks danced on the ledge with their smooth and lean naked bodies and with a plastered smile fit for glossy magazines. The same old house tracks were being played by the DJ. I could say that the scene was getting boring and for several occasions I contemplated whether my age of rage was finally over. You see, serenity dawned to me after the separation and the frustration I expressed through dancing wasn't there anymore.

I was expecting a boring night, which I planned to cut short by 2 in the morning. However, it seems like someone had other plans for me last night. As I moved my body slightly to make it appear that I was dancing, I noticed a tall guy beside me. He looked Caucasian judging from his surfer haircut and strong jawbone alone. He was rugged-looking and danced like he owned half of the dance floor. Tipsy, he would move from one side of the floor to another. He would brush my right arm for support when he crosses in front of me. I never took the subtle skin to skin contact as a move to get my attention. However, when our bodies rubbed more frequently, I got what he hinted all along:

He wanted to dance with me.

I granted his invitation with much hesitation. At the back of my head, I knew I could never match his moves and I had an idea where it would lead to - bed. Had the dancing happened when I was still taken, it would have been easy to draw the line that separates emotion from lust. Now that I'm single, things are different. I could do whatever I want.

At the price only my heart would pay.

What made me change my mind was his near-perfect smile. He was far cuter than I initially assumed and his pearly whites blew away all traces of grumpiness that I felt the whole day. His bawdy dancing revealed a very intoxicated state and whenever I held his arms firmly, (every time he was about to fall) I felt his need for companion. The night has been hard on him.

"Lasing ka na ah, nakailang bote ka na ba?" I asked.

He just smiled and raised his hand to show his four fingers.

Our dance continued without uttering a single word. Like the other dance partners I had before, there is comfort in silence. It's like no matter how the music pounds our ears, the unspoken connection is what makes our bond secure. The bodily movements were never really important. It is the presence of the other that matters.

"This is the first time I've been here," he finally confessed while Janet Jackson's Feedback blared on the stereo.

"Talaga? What brought you to this place?"

"I just broke up with my ex." He said.

"Three weeks ago." His face turned gloomy.

"Lemme guess, you broke up last October 1?"

He never uttered a single word. Instead, he leaned his head on my shoulders. Something tells me that our encounter was a serendipity. Who would have thought that I would meet someone who broke up at the same time I quit my five-year relationship. This was indeed something and our revelations lead us closer to each other.

The music played on while intimacy began to settle in. He was a very aggressive make-out partner. He would gently bite my neck, nibble my ears and still won't give me a chance to return the deed. When he would touch my lips, he would grab my neck then passionately run his lips into mine. No wonder, I fought back with much passion when I got the chance that he would later say.

"Tangina men, ang galing mo humalik."

Much as I would like to stay and look after him (and his bag which he left somewhere near the ledge) time was against us. I already spent my gimmick pass last Friday and what kept me out last night was a "work" excuse at home.

"I thought you're gonna bring me home." He said frowning. Gotcha! My hunch was right all along, this affair would end up in bed if I don't hold back my defenses.

"But I have work at 4 am."

"Ganun? Sige na nga samahan mo lang ako magyosi sa labas. Sabay na tayo umuwi."

I agreed to extend my stay so I'd get to know more the only dance partner I had for the night. It was never my habit to switch partners like others do on the floor. Instead, when I find someone worth keeping, I'd stick to that person as long as he wants my company.

We went to a nearby stand since he had one stick left. The whole time we were together, I never looked at his face. The reason was simple, I find him too attractive that I felt that my presence wasn't worthy. Besides, the "market insecurities" I raised a few weeks ago was something I still needed to address. I know he was drunk and he blabbered things that probably he never meant to say. However, when he told me these words,

"Ngayon ko lang narealize ang cute mo pala."

It was as if my stock market rallied to an all time high, financial analysts would claim that I am out of recession.

We walked towards Nakpil to hail him a cab. We talked about little things that we find interesting. His affirmation brought back my confidence that I started speaking to him in equal terms. He might be three years older, but I certainly know that we might have something in common other than our prowess in bed.

"Hey can I ask you a question?"

"What is it?" He replied while putting on his aviator sunglasses.

"What music do you listen to?"

"Hmmm... Alternative and Slow Rock. Ikaw?"


"Yeah why?" He asked back.

"Listen to this."

I took out my iPod and let him listen to a track that only few guys knew. It's an Our Lady Peace song that I really love. A long time ago, I was so infatuated with that track that I swore, I'd give myself up to anyone who knows its lyrics. Its because I've learned from my failed relationships how similarity in interests strengthen the bond between two people.

He listened to the song for a few minutes.

"OMG, we really have something in common. Isayaw natin ito men"

At the corner of Nakpil and Orosa streets, he hugged me tight despite the throngs of people around us. They're all gay alright, but at that moment, I felt that I've finally met the man I've been searching.

The plan to go home at 2 am was aborted. I decided to stay with him for another drink and to dance at Chelu like our lifetime only last for one night.

One year later,
O-Bar, Malate

"Mukhang lasing ka na ah!" I followed him outside the club after hounding him from a distance in the dance floor. He was standing at the middle of the road, waiting for someone to come out of the door.

"Honga eh. May work pa ako later ng 8."

"Si hubby ba?" I cannot help but pry into his love affair.

"Nasa loob pa siya eh, kasama yung mga tropa namin."

Contrary to my earlier claims of being a fast mover, there were close encounters which I have never forgotten despite the march of time. Guys come and go leaving no footprints to follow, but my short affair with Tannis remains laced with so much speculation, it keeps me wondering about the things that could have been had I accepted his offer for us to be together.

Looking back, I was very attracted to him. Our after-party conversation outside Silya made a lasting impression, I thought he would take the place of my ex. As I get to know him deeper, I learned his imperfections and it slowly soured my affection. I found his life too unexciting, (he works in a boutique store, loves clothes and dreams of living a loud, almost-flamboyant lifestyle) too old fashioned, (he hates the internet for one, he also feels awkward having sex naked) and shared many similarities with my ex-boyfriend that I had to let Centurion see his Friendster account so he could give me a sound advice about an imminent commitment.

Contrary to claims that I never date, Tannis and I went out once. I accompanied him to dinner and then headed to his place to watch DVDs and drink beer. It was a near miss. He wanted me to stay over but I declined. With the intention of leaving, he asked me if he could call me "hon" before I set myself to return home. Panic stricken, I told him to slow down and reconsider our status. Coldness settled in after expressing my decision.

Hindi ko alam, nagmamadali pala siya.

Kasi may kaagaw na akong iba.


Tannis is a very understanding person. I saw it with my own eyes how he tried to remain cool despite being left alone, while guys surrounded his plumpy, effeminate boyfriend. If I read his movements well, the hubby enjoys flirting. Twice, he eyed me while prancing to a progressive house track spinned by the dj. I also caught him checking out utol Lukayo the last time we saw them in Bed. I could list down all the bad observations I had with Tannis' boyfriend. I could even cast him in a bad light. But no matter what I tell, the fact remains. It was I who left Tannis broken and it was him who came and fixed him again.

"Samahan muna kita habang wala pa siya, ayos lang ba?"

"Okay lang." His desire to go home was so strong, his restleness showed when he declined my invitation for us to sit in a table. Inside the club, I imagined his partner wading across the packed dance floor, trading glances with strangers, and engaging everyone - friend or acquaintance alike to a pointless small talk. It was like they never knew each other.

It was like both of them were single and I, found his boyfriend suspended between two worlds just like he was when I first found him lost in paradise.

At that moment, I felt Tannis' loneliness the same way I felt mine. Now that we're alone - together - in the same fleeting corner where we first met, I cannot help but think of the what-ifs, had I given him a chance before: He would be introduced to my allegiances and for the first time, the Alliance, Encantos, the Odders and the rest of my groupies would see me not alone, but with someone else. He would get to know my mother, sleep in my room anytime he wishes to, and perhaps even becoming a regular guest when utol decides to stay elsewhere. There are so many scenes running inside my head - while comparing myself to the one he's waiting outside - I've almost forgotten that I will always remain a footnote in his life.

"Bili lang akong yosi, gusto mo?"

"Sige bili mo rin ako. Thanks"

We spoke about his relationship and how things are going. He's with a doctor. Someone a year older than me. They live together - just like he always wanted. They're going strong, apparently, having celebrated their ninth month last September. I never told him things about me and the downfalls I had after him. What he knew is that I am still single and that, I am not looking despite his urging for me to find someone else.

At one point of our conversation, he leaned his head against my shoulders - the same way I leaned mine when he found me drunk and wasted inside the same club on New Years Eve last year. I thought we will have a part two, but I was so attached to someone, who strangely decided to ditch me that night. Raising my arm, I pressed his head against my back. I would like us to rekindle our lost bond but before I was able to do so, he took my arm away and shifted his attention to his pocket.

"Teka tumatawag lover ko." Overhearing their conversation, Tannis was telling his partner his exact location.

It didn't take long for him to take matters with his own hands. After dropping the call, he decided to go back and pick the boyfriend personally.

"Paano, balik na ako."

"Sige, hanggang sa muli dude." The coldness of my voice tried to re-assert the distance we must keep.

"It was nice seeing you again."

The gap, suddenly bridged by a tight hug affirmed that Tannis has already moved on. There is no need to bring back the past, nor remember the beginnings we had. Sad that these thoughts only emerge now that I've realized what I had lost. But I must let go, and be grateful. I am, at least forgiven for the things that I've done. Wrapping my arms around his shoulders, I wish we could stay in that spot a little longer. But the hubby is waiting and I don't want him to catch his boyfriend embracing someone he will never be.

Following him inside the club, I stood at a distance, watching, as Tannis and his boyfriend are reunited once again.