Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Command Bridge

caught glimpse of the stars.
distant lights 
briefly leaving a faint smile on my face.

before turning my gaze to look back 
and watch the planet.


Friday, March 30, 2012

The Egalitarian

I wish all our churches and catholic leaders think like this. 

Last weekend, I visited a church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I used to hear Mass the last time I taught there. I saw these words on the Sunday missal: "No matter what your present status in the Catholic Church; No matter what your current … marital situation; No matter what your personal history, age, background, race, etc.; No matter what your own self-image; You are invited, welcomed, accepted, loved and respected here at St. Peter Parish.”

Passage taken from Raul C. Pangalangan's opinion page

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Uninformed

A few minutes ago, a credit investigator from China Bank dropped by the office. He explained that he will conduct a background check. An ex-colleague applied for a car loan. Instructors were already given days before by the said employee and a spiel has been made. If I'm not mistaken, the ex-colleague didn't speak to me directly. Being the only officer who meets with the director to discuss company policies, I should have been informed of these things.

But I decided to play along since word has managed to reach my ears. I told the credit investigator that he could talk to me since I'm the one running the shift. But before he could start his interview, I excused myself and left the floor. Outside, I called the ex-colleague to tell him that the bank officer has arrived. I asked him instructions just to make sure I know what to say. 

"Tell him, I'm the supervisor."

"Say I've been with the company for 8 years."

"And I earn 56 thousand a month." 

While he was saying these things, I can't help but shake my head and feel sorry for myself. I felt duped because I could never lie about my job - much more, my salary. I was kind of disappointed because after all these years of being with the company, I've learned that some officers - who have been given leadership and management training in the past could resort to something like this.

"Alam ito ni Nenita ha?" Nenita is our admin manager.  

"Uu, alam niya yan." 

I started walking back to the office, and was a little disturbed with what I have to say. I might have some leverage as an officer, but I'd be putting the company at risk, should the former colleague run away from his obligations. Besides, does the director know about this? 

Does he have the owner's approval?

So I did what an officer - a caretaker - should do, and for the first time, became more open to the boss about the little whispers happening behind his back. I called his number and he dropped it as a habit. (since my phone is not subsidized) The moment I opened the door and meet the credit investigator, the land line was already ringing.

It was the director.

"Sandali lang ha? Let me answer the phone first." I told the credit investigator. I went to the director's quarters and closed the door.

"Sir, someone from the bank is here."

"Bakit daw?"

"Car loan for Mr. Almendras." This is not the former colleague's real name, of course.

I told the boss the situation, including the exact figures the ex-employee told me to say. It didn't take long for me to realize that he was unaware of this transaction, and that, had someone from the office managed to speak to the officer, the loan would be approved with the company backing up an officer who is not connected with it anymore.

"Tell the credit investigator to return tomorrow." The director instructed. "You are not authorized to speak for the company."

"And I'd tell Nenita that this is not allowed." I felt my chest ease.

"Thank you for letting me know." He said before ending his call.

I left the room assured of my next move. In front of the team, I told the bank officer that I am not authorized to speak

"Balik ka na lang tomorrow."

"Hindi po ba puwedeng kahit kaunting information na lang. For approval na po kasi today itong loan eh."

"I'm really sorry but I've been given strict instructions eh."

"Kahit malaman ko lang po yung tenure nitong si Mr. Almendras."

"Ask that question to the HR." I smiled.

"Okay sir, could I just ask for your name na lang."

"Sure, its Mugen." I gave my real name.

"And you are..."

"I'm the supervisor."


In a text message:

"Ok naman ang CI? Sinabi mo matagal na ako employee jan?"

"He was asked to return to speak with Ms. Nenita. Instruction from the boss. =)"

"Pero okay naman, hindi naman negative?"

"Hindi naman. =)"

"Sige thanks. Sana makalusot."

I didn't text back.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dear Ego

Feature mo naman si @Tanginaconfused dude. Hehe. Kung okay lang. :)

Anu sabihin ko? :)

Kaw... Sabihin mo mahal mo na siya... Hehehe. 


Exposure lang. Kaya mo na yan. Never associate it with me ha?

Are you confused with your sexuality? What made you create that twitter account?

Bucket? Masama? Hehehe?

You are asking me to write about your other Twitter account. I need details. 

Kasi madami Tangina accounts. TanginaMars, TanginaBro, Shutanginabeks... Inggitero lang ako.

Once, J. Neil Garcia told our writing class that he doesn't blog; that he doesn't keep an online journal and he has no plans of joining other writers who have moved to cyberspace to gain more readers. For him, blogging is like starting at your navel. It's a useless and excessive exercise in self-contemplation. 

His loud musings were brushed off. I am a blogger after all. But I cautioned myself not to let my online journal (and its growing popularity) go to my head. I did my best to keep a low profile, and revealed my presence only to fellow bloggers.

Because I don't want to be seen as desperate.

I would always remember the story about a group of bloggers who used their influence to gain some perks - like a free meal in a restaurant. They were despised. They gave the whole blogger community a very bad rep. And there was also this blogger who peddled his webpage in events. "Leave a comment ha?" He would say. As if a single post can make a reader follow your blog. I'm sure, those who did leave a comment wanted the traffic to spill over their portals.

And there are bloggers who are so full of themselves, they include the entire link of their webpage when leaving a comment in some random online journal. I know one blogger who did this. He even nominated himself in the Philippine Blog Awards and won.

I don't say that self-promotion is wrong. Even I am guilty of leaving my footprints when wishing to draw attention. But I do so with such subtlety and sincerity that I feast on the entry before leaving a comment. You will never hear me say, "Oi, read naman my new blog entry." or throw some random or inappropriate comment so it could be traced back to me. When I can't spare some thoughts, I read quietly. I would rather be found and appreciated because of my words' own merit.

Humans are social animals, and those who wish to communicate would go to great lengths just to convey a message. Whether it's a blog, or a twitter account such as the one I "exposed," surely there must be deeper reasons as to why it deserves the spotlight. Some reveal a truth, while others, comfort a sagging spirit. But to appease one's ego, or serve as a masquerade for something that is unreal, (you tell me, you represent the confused?!?) then something must be awfully wrong. And the sad part is, our brief, nonsense conversation is a stark reminder of how lonely it is to be profound.

I did what you ask. Here is your free publicity. But just to let you know, hollowness won't get you anywhere. It never does. And if you think that joining the bandwagon would give you fame. Think again.

The ones who lead the world stand out from the crowd.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Lazy Writer

From a high of 26 blog entries published every month, the number of written works has been cut in half. There are five entries still needing closure, and a dozen more left unfinished in my drafts page.

There are many reasons as to why there seems to be a steady diminishing of words. But I will leave to the observant reader to figure what these reasons are. I have become, a lazy writer, after all. 

There are times I ponder the essence of writing. When thoughts can be distilled in 140 characters, why bother inflating it with 500 words, waste three hours carefully crafting your prose and spend days re-reading your journal, making sure you have written something relevant for those who still bother to read. More than just a dreamy pursuit, I ask, what do I still get from blogging?

I will leave this post hanging as I still need to do some soul-searching for answers. All I'm saying is that I'm struggling - hoping - that my voice would never disappear like the other prolific bloggers before me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trance Vs House

It's been a while since U-Radio went on air and its absence leaves me dry without my electronic music fix. Gone are the happy days when I would travel from one place to another with dance music playing on my phone's radio. Furion's stolen and I can't even play my club tunes at Eclipse anymore. And since my dancing days are over, the current chart-toppers and club anthems have become unfamiliar to me. 

It would have been easy to simply list down my current trance and house tracks, so I may lay claim to the sound that once shaped my nightlife. But to do so would not give justice to a blog entry telling about my deepest passions. Instead, let me share what I know about the genre and why it keeps me hooked even when the body craves the music no longer.

Dirty South feat Rudy - Let It Go (Axwell Remix)

House plays much slower than trance, resulting in a more danceable sound. Its important elements are the heavy bass, sample recordings taken from other music genres, (such as pop) and the repetitive kick-drum effect usually generated by a drum machine. 

Shogun feat Emma Lock - Run To My Rescue 

Soothing female vocals, ambient, airy background noise and fast tempo are the essentials of trance. Since I don't find the music danceable, it serves as my relaxing sound, (I'd fall asleep while Trance plays on my music player) or audio companion when lifting weights at the gym.

Morgan Paige feat Jan Burton - I've Had Friends (Jan Elan Extended Remix)

Electronica is such a versatile genre that a single track can spawn a dozen remixes. Some of these remixes end up being spun in the dance floor, or become part of compilation. After so many audio layers and vocal tweaks, some remixes turn out better-sounding that the original.

ATB - Ecstasy 

Trance is seldom played in dance clubs and bars around Manila. Instead, they are being performed by the international DJ's themselves in big events such as those set up by Big Fish Manila. What we usually hear - in gay clubs - are house remixes of songs played on mainstream radio.

Offer Nissim feat Maya - I'm In Love

House and trance keep me upbeat in moments of sullenness. It keeps my mind wandering every time I go on a journey. With a sprinkle of imagination, a vocal trance can take you to a cold, vespertine place. While a house track, in all its seductiveness, can make you feel sexy even when the mirror shows a lie. 

The five video clips above are some of my favorites.  

Listen and feel uplifted.  


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Lottery Winner

The first thing I will do, should I win the lottery is to shut my mouth and never tell anyone about it. Not even my mom.

The prize money goes directly to my bank accounts. For security purposes. I have never been comfortable carrying cash, not even a thousand pesos. 

The millions would be then spread out to other banks. Maybe I'll open a savings account in BPI and China Bank just to make sure my eggs don't stay in a couple of baskets. I'd probably infuse money to my Sun Life Investment Fund. Hopefully, the interest it earns would be enough to cover the monthly bills and groceries at home.

If possible, I'd like to open a bank account for Baby Lenin and Baby Diego - without their parents' knowledge. The money would go for their education, so that one day, if ever the millions of pesos finally disappear, at least someone thought of my nephews' future.

The balatos will come in the form of wage hike for all the helpers; a "loaned" money for my dad's sister; and doubling the "family emergency fund," which I believe is entrusted to the Favorite Aunt. I'm not sure how to tell her that I've won the lottery, so maybe, I would simply return the money she once asked me to put in my bank account.

As for the "loaned" money, it's up to my dad's sister if she wants to return it. What matters is that she could start her own small business and liberate herself from her abusive son. The entrepreneurial instinct has always been there. Even my mom recognizes it. So maybe what's needed is the money for a venture to grow.

The wage hike might be a tricky subject: How can the helpers receive the money without my mom knowing about it. Would a stern warning work? Or better yet, a premium medical coverage that last until their retirement would be a fitting balato? 

Let's see.

The truth is, should I become a lottery winner, the hardest part would be how to spend the money without people knowing your sudden change in fortune. It means taking great pains not to replace the more-than-a-decade-old car or acquire that town house overlooking the city. I will have to suppress the urges to buy back our publishing house, the security agency, and even becoming a co-owner of Eclipse. I will have to hold on to my old way of life and pretend I didn't have millions.

So that the wealth won't go to my head and unleash the beast in me.

Maybe an occasional dine out or an out-of-town trip with my loved ones might convey my eagerness to share the blessings. Or renovating the house, without asking the matriarch for a single centavo might let me off the hook. At this point, the only worth my millions have (since I've never really dreamed of winning the lottery, except now) is to make sure my loved ones' way of life stay comfortable and worry-free long after I'm gone.

But really, suppose I won the lottery and have already got the money. Would I remember this entry, or suffer the same fate like this man telling his tragedy in this story?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Megamall

I was at the SM Megamall the other day to get something. JC plans to replace his plastic hangers with wooden ones. Since my partner's demanding job eats up even his free time, I thought of buying the hangers myself and giving it to him.

It took me less than an hour to find the hangers and buy them. It did help that I got my leads online. Stepping out of the Julia Vargas overpass, I went straight to the department store and headed to the basement. The attendants were a helpful bunch. Not only did they lead me to where the items were, they were quite convincing in telling me that the ten-piece pack was a sound bargain. I bought the cedar hangers with stainless metal hooks and left the store without checking the other items on display.

A lifetime ago, my mall habits were quite different. A trip to Megamall was a day-long event. Sometimes, the excursion lasted well into the night. I don't splurge there. I didn't even develop the habit of retail therapy. I went to the mall like a kid going on a field trip. With dreamy eyes and empty pockets, what I brought home were pleasant memories and fresh ideas from the shops I checked out. 

My journey often begins at the Music One-Powerbooks store. There, I would spend hours sampling audio CDs and enriching myself with songs from distant shores. When I got tired of listening to jazz, trance and world music, books became my soulful companion. I didn't read novels or tomes. Instead, I basked in local poetry and tried to sing the lines penned by De Ungria, Suarez, and even De Vera. These poets were my inspiration in crafting my first real words. 

After Music One, I made it a point to stop in front of Bio Research and see the pets behind the glass window. I was drawn to the cuteness, particularly of the cats that are for sale. Sometimes I go inside and get lost watching the schools of ornamental fish making circles in their aquariums. The bright colors, the graceful fins, and even their leisurely swim had this calming effect. There is something about their movement that leaves me spellbound.

From Papelmelroti to Comic Quest to Oxygen. Swift might be the change of scenery, but each boutique carried a part of who I used to be. I loved how Papier-mâché felt on my skin, and how it made my room look more organic. Comic Quest was my anime fix. Strange as it may sound, but the store once had in its shelves graphic novels which awakened my dormant homosexuality. As for Oxygen, it breathed life into my ego. How I found their line appealing is already lost to memory. But it became my fashion of choice as I tried to fit in and look cool during my years in the university.  

The mall stroll would go on, crossing the opposite ends, covering every floor and every space, until I got used to the linear layout, my feet ceased hurting. I didn't have this same feeling when I found myself in other malls - except maybe in Glorietta, which at that time appealed to my pretentiousness. I never truly understood why I kept returning, and doing the same pilgrimage over and over at Megamall, But as I wind down my journey - in front of the art galleries and antique shops on the 4th level,

I felt sheer joy. It is as if I've accomplished something without buying anything at all.

Many years later, this memory would resurface as I exit the supermarket on my way to Edsa. The concrete parking lot in front of Megamall is no more, and in its place are backhoe machines digging the foundation of the mall's newest wing. We had to make a detour, close to the fringes of the mall. Meanwhile, across the perimeter wall, kangaroo cranes race toward the sky as a pair of ritzy towers rise from what used to be Shangri-La's old parking space. With the noise coming from the belly of the construction, the ugly and seemingly out-of-place parking building in front of Mega Building A, and suffocating dust floating around me, I cannot help but lament the days when a self-exile at Megamall used to be exciting.

"So much for a skyline."

I continued walking, dazed and confused, like all others before me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Lego House

I'm out of touch, I'm out of love
I'll pick you up when you're feeling down
And out of all these things I've done
I think I love you better now.

Into The Realm Of The Super Rich And Fabulous

My mom and I went to a party the other day. It was a simple merienda, arranged by the host's children to celebrate her 60th birthday. The get-together took place at Via Mare in Rockwell. It was a pleasant occasion filled with fun and laughter.

After I had emptied my plate, (note the contents of my tummy: palabok with lots of pork rind bits, half a plate of bibingka, a pan-de-sal with butter filling and a piece of sweet palitaw) a stroll was in order. First, I went inside the mall. And when I stopped outside Datablitz, I couldn't leave without buying the latest Sims 3 expansion pack. So much for my goal of credit card elimination. I'm sure that by the end of summer, bills are still piling up.

But this entry is not about my pricey pursuits.

On my second round of strolling, I decided to avoid the boutiques and instead follow a route that would take me to the posh apartments next to the Powerplant Mall. There is a street called Residential Drive, and this private road would lead me to the very glass-and-stone lobbies where members of the high society enter to reach their abodes.

The last time I explored this part of Rockwell was two years ago. I was with David Rockens. We were trying to find an exit to J.P. Rizal when a security officer stopped us from walking further. Apparently, our oily faces, large back packs and crumpled shirts-and-jeans revealed so much about our social standing. We tried to explain that we're simply passing through. But the officer said it was a dead end. We were forced to turn around and walk inside the mall instead.

This time, I was ready. I took Baabaa's fashion advice very seriously (after he commented how shabby my get-up was the last time we went out) and wore walking shorts with a cream shade. A rich ninong gave me a dark-colored Zara shirt last Christmas and this collared shirt became my upper garment. The dress combination worked so well, I heard my mom saying, "Ang gwapo naman ng anak ko." when she picked me up for the party.

So I crossed the street and turned in a corner going to Hidalgo Place. There is a guardhouse at the middle of the road manned by two officers. A roving guard stood sentry next to the pavement. I was able to slip unnoticed by looking at my phone, and typing a tweet as I walk pass the guards. Since it takes ages before the phone sends an update, I would already be out of sight before my barriotic ways get noticed. 

I kept walking, only to pause and look at the passing Audis or BMWs before the sedans disappear from my view. Sometimes, I would come across a resident walking in the opposite direction - their appearance leaving me with a puzzled look on my face, as I kept wondering how such ordinary-looking souls get to live in posh places like Rockwell.

The successful intrusion brought me past Rizal, Hidalgo and Luna towers. These addresses, named in honor of the country's greatest artists must have brought prestige to its homeowners. But for pedestrians like me, these landmarks serve as a good reminder of how the privileged demand only the finest; that the world really favors only a select few.

While I was out there, craning my head up to marvel at the stunning architecture and pretending that I belong to the upper class, I asked myself how it feels to live just over the wall. I wondered how awful it must be to wake up in one of the hovels along Gabaldon Street and be greeted by these steel and glass edifices, while in your own rut, the order of the day would always be to look for ways to earn money and survive. Meanwhile, those in Rockwell live in absolute luxury, they see the dwellers below more of an eyesore than an object of humble contrast. These thoughts pulled me back to my place, where daybreaks spell uncertainty and sleeps are meant to escape from life's monotony.

I was able to cover the entire length of Residential Drive, and learned that the road was no dead end after all. The guard who stopped us years back simply didn't want us around. When I returned to Via Mare, everyone was singing Happy Birthday. The blushing celebrant, (and host) a proud mother of three kids just had the grandest celebration of her life - a party I've always dreamed of throwing for my mother.

It was her kids who pooled their resources for such life milestone celebration to come true. Later that afternoon, I've learned from the host herself that one of the children, a guy who apparently gave the biggest share, is of the same age as me.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Alien Nation

February 28 2002

A unique and special community was born today with the noble mission of providing an open and healthy forum where men with distinct sexual preferences for both genders are able to share their views and thoughts on this very tricky and controversial subject of bisexuality. We more than congregate and unite, we take this subject elevations higher by dealing with it squarely, honestly and competently. A distinguished group (naks naman!) of students, young professionals and plain sympathizers have come together to introduce this thread in the hope bisexuals can truly have a voice, and a collective personality distinctively from the other gay, lesbians groups that have mushroomed all over the internet. We have no pretensions of being straight-natured  (hell no!), nor do we feel superior above our less discreet brothers in the gay community. We're just a bunch of crazy, hyper, free-spirited guys who happen to be double-crossed by mother nature! The thread hopes to listen to as many voices as possible from fellow PLUs and we wont discriminate on your status in life, nor ask for your school origins and other non-necessities, invaluable to our discussions. The rest of the straight-world are encouraged to jump in and join our animated and sometimes deep discussions of issues relevant to bisexuals and the very discreet gay men. We aspire to be an exciting and intellectually stimulating group for the witty and the not so smart pexing audience for them to better appreciate us loonies for the fascinating lives we did not even choose to live.

Since our thread is new and our thread title, a little intimidating, we would like the rest of the PEX community to see us for what we really are - just regular guys who happen to swing both ways, testing their sexual vulnerabilities and wackiness. We make no bone to stress here that our preference for the same sex is more geared towards men who exhibit insignificant or no traces of femininity. But we do not wish to impose our preferences to the sympathizers and friends of this thread. Sexual preference is a personal and absolute choice. There are instances that a bisexual would fall for the pa-girl type and that would be fine. What we do detest are individuals who claim to be bisexual but speak, talk and think like he's auditioning for Rent and other gay hoopla. We are far more comfortable dealing with guys who are still very much in touch with their masculinity and we know better. There are no definitive rules nor bounderies that would stereotype a bisexual guy, but we refuse to fall under the subjective scrutiny of the gay and straight community for refusing to acknowledge our existence and preference as a single cohesive group. We refuse to be under the blanket authority of people who barely know what it feels to be bisexual. Their insistence that we fall under their very noses, and make us mascots for their less lofty objectives and propaganda is undeserving. Our thread is not meant to compete with similar threads on the subject, we dare to be more transparent and candid about the whole issue, for only a mountain lion knows the terrain and the correctness of its prey. We encourage our bi-pexers to speak openly about their individual experiences in school or in their working environment and how they cope with the challenges facing their not so happy situation. We also believe that bisexuality is not a choice but a hard reality that one has to deal with and we would like to help those troubled or closeted bi's who we believe far outnumbers their gay counterparts.

Since the thread is new it might be subjected to intense scrutiny and criticism, we appeal for your patience and understanding. Like any other thread, we also have the usual set of guidelines to follow but we would definitely encourage our pexers to practice self-censorship and responsibility, inflammatory remarks should be checked, as well as sexually-explicit advances should be refrained. You guys can do the nasty elsewhere but not on the thread itself. Comprende?

Its not always fun and games in the lives of the typical bisexual, we deal a whole gamut of problems and obstacles that would make the life of a heterosexual seem like a breeze. (pare yung walang chalk huh?!!) So we decided a framework of posting gadgets for the boys to tinker on, learn and have fun with the thread. And hopefully the others too may join us in our times of sanity and oddities. Nope this thread is not a vehicle that leads to never-never land. Our dreams and fantasies are too intense to waste on shedding tears, visiting karaoke bars and adopting Madonna...them too we like but there is so much more to life than being gay and stopping there would be a big blunder....huge! We will sail this one with grace, a bag of chips and a handy map for everyone to share and understand.

Posting Gadgets or Points of Interests:

Regular Guy Stuff 

- Celebrate your manhood, pat yourself in the back, tell us 
things you love doing on your leisure and how totally clueless 
people are as to your aah...other inclination?

- Drop that Regine act, we also go crazy over Greenday, 
Parokya ni Edgar, SideA, Slim Shady, Barbie's Cradle, U2, 
Hooty and the Blowfish, and other greats...

- Exchange pleasantries on just about any topic as how 
bisexuals see it....politics, sports, movies, business, the hottest 
vacation spots, network gaming, cars, gadgets, the you know 

- We are not a depressing lot, so feel free to post jokes, share 
websites relevant to the thread and maybe a few stupid info's 
to get us distracted.

- We also wish our pexers to share their experiences inside the 
closet, your laughters and tears and how you overcome the 
little inconveniences while inside that enclosure.

Not a Dating Service 

- Please refrain from asking for people's asl's and stats info, this 
is not some dumb chatroom, pms may serve this purpose 
unless your Brad Pitt!

- You are encouraged to posts general facts about yourself and 
feel free to tell us your story!

Graffitty Corner 

- Loose talk, sweet exchanges, friendly remarks to other pexers 
are encouraged just dont indulge on it too much hehehe,we 
are not guys from Hallmark.

- thread announcements from the bratpack(higher ups), 
suggestions, and reminders

In God We Trust 

- A most sensitive topic of discussion, tell us how is it like to be a 
Christian and being gay or bisexual and how you guys 
reconcile this so-called sexual deviation with your religious 

Girls, girls, girls 

- Some guys like them voluptuous, some prefer the conservative
frame while unanimously we just cant simply get rid of them
from our equation. Tell us what you feel about them girls
and how they sometimes prevent us from turning pink. 

- Straights, bisexual girls and lesbians> please feel free to use
the powder room, the men's bedroom is just right beside

Looking Ahead  

- As a community we hope to look after each other and be like
like brothers in the true sense, there certainly would be 
impediments to this like raging hormones and intrigues but we
hope to provide this kind of environment just the same.

- Iba na talaga may pinagsamahan and we'll drink to that and by
giving sound and practical advice and support, we hope to
make a difference in people's lives.

- EBs are fun practices but we hope to minimize such events to 
prevent people from being alienated from the thread.

- Health concerns for gays and bisexuals are a major issue in
this lifestyle and we hope to provide people the necessary
knowledge to protect us from those aahh, pesky diseases.

Finally, we want to thank everyone for their support and patience. We like to call this our friendly base in the net and we owe the PEX community a gratitude for providing us this humble shelter. Again our deepest thanks and happy pexing to all....

After I've done reading the introduction, (and catching my breath because of the post's sheer length) a little self-assessment and I knew, I belong. While I did find the folks at La Dida fun and super friendly, once they start talking about musicals, art films and beauty pageants, I won't certainly relate. At that time, I have more things in common with lesbians, than with straight-acting gays who are pretty much comfortable with themselves.

So I did leave a message, and announced my intention to join. A Pexer named Masquerade welcomed me into the group. It was because of him that my ties with Rocco, Kirsh and Garppy got stronger. He was our surrogate father, our trusted confidant, and the guy we wanted to be when we grow up. 

And he is not even the founder.

Like in all organizations, rifts appear when ideologies are re-interpreted. Yes, we are masculine and we talked guy stuff on the thread. But along the way, we realized that we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of the community any longer.

Sooner or later, we will have to show our true colors.

The rift lead to the creation of another group, whose members believe that one can be fabulous and koboy at the same time. Our friendship endures to this very day even when we hardly see each other. 

We have forgotten Alien Nation and its founder, and when the past is brought on the table, we spoke of the topic only in passing. There are much more memories to cherish, and lives to talk about.  

I would have completely forgotten my beginnings as well, until some stroke of luck (or fate) lead me to the person who started it all. And our unexpected bumping at a mall lead me to believe that there's so much catching up and explaining to do.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Half Brother

Taliwas sa alam ng marami, hindi lang isa ang kapatid ko kung hindi dalawa. I have a half-brother; a sibling four years my junior. He was already featured in one of my entries. At that time he was asked by my mom to check her test papers. He bought a male companion to help him. Ang buong akala ko nga ay partner niya ang kanyang kasama. The speculation was a product of a naughty imagination pala.

So I have a half brother. One time in my father's life, he did the unimaginable and had a tryst with the maid. He said he did it to get back at my mom's family. They looked down on him kasi. Nobody bought his excuse. Mom was furious. In the end, the maid was forced to leave the house. 

Sa probinsiya isinilang ang aking kapatid.

Decades later, fortunes have changed. Dad became a newspaper publisher and he started earning a lot. To make up for his estranged son, he asked him to move in with us. Hindi man siya nag-stay sa bahay pero kasama naman niya lagi ang aking tatay.

I remember the time we first met. It was at my dad's office in Intramuros. I don't recall if mom was aware of the reunion, but it had to happen. Lumalaki na kami and rivalries might erupt should we remain distant brothers. It was an awkward moment, I tell you. We shook hands, but we hardly spoke to each other. If we did, it was mere small talk. Kunwari, we're thrilled to see each other.

But it was merely for press release.

The truth is, there was a feeling of ambivalence. His presence didn't matter, I'm not mad at him either. He stayed at my dad's new office in Tayuman the whole time I was in college. Doon siya tumira and people saw him as the underdog. They asked, why my dad did not enroll him in a good school. Why I was given a desktop computer when he got nothing. He was always compared to me. Ako daw ang privileged at siya ang api. The mistress tried to be close, pero when she felt that my dad saw my half brother more of a trouble, she eventually distanced herself.

My half-brother and I grew even more remote. Those who secretly despised me in my dad's company sided with him. The underground support made him think that his influence is growing. And he said things behind my back. Words that would put us in direct conflict had he said it up front. Mabuti na lang, he wasn't given a role in the newspaper business. Tita Heart, who is my dad's sister also sided with me. Nakakalungkot lang kasi, nagback-fire sa utol ko ang hamon na binato niya sa akin.

For better or for worse, dad's fortunes disappeared. After the authorities raided our printing office, we had to move to a smaller headquarters. The transfer became a burden to my father, kasi, he didn't know where to put my half-brother. He was thinking of sending him back to the province. Pero kung ginawa niya yun, a son of his would hate him for life.

I didn't see it that way before, pero acting on impulse, (or nature, whatever you want to call it) I offered my mom's ancestral house instead. Ang kapal ko lang. To think no one among my aunts knew what I was about to do. I told everyone it was a temporary set-up. Kahit ako, yun rin ang paniwala ko. But fate has other plans, and the blueprint would be rolled out a year after he was sent to his new home.

So many things happened. Dad passed away just days before Valentines Day. His business ventures closed down. And for a time, my half-brother's family wanted a share of our inheritance. When they knew he left nothing, kasabay nilang inabandon pati ang kadugo nila.

Ang kapatid ko.

If there was one selfless act I did; one that would ripple long after I made it without thinking of the future, it was to let my utol stay with us. He may not have been close to me or my sister. But as a family, we did our best to make sure he will never be left behind. Aside from having a place, which I think will be his home as long as he lives, the caretakers of the ancestral house vowed to look after him. Kumbaga, they did become his family.

My mom worked hard to secure him a spot in the state university where she taught. My half-brother was able to get a degree - and for a time - find work which he did enjoy. So attached he was to the family who adopted him, that when he returned to the province to work in the local government, he went back after six months. Ang sabi niya, mas nakakaramdam daw siya ng pagkalinga sa amin.

There are times I wish I earned bigger, or my clout in the office world much larger. For my half-brother is no ordinary kid. Dala na rin ng hardships at neglect when he was younger, his lungs aren't as strong as ours. Just last month, he was rushed to the hospital after spewing blood. Nagtrabaho kasi siya sa Internet cafe, at dahil laging babad sa aircon, hayun, nagcollapse ulit ang baga niya.

He got lucky this time because confinement wasn't necessary. Nagkataon rin na mom got extra money from Mr. Ant.

Lives went on, with him barely out of my thoughts.

Until last night, when I checked my Facebook just before leaving the office.

A phone call was then made.

"Hello Ma, birthday pala ni Red today!?!"


"Nagluto ba tayo ng pansit para sa kanya?"

"Binigyan ko na lang ng 100. Pambili ng gamot." Reading between the lines, mom is short of cash.

"Bili natin ng cake!"

"Gabi na saka wala dito si Joppy." Joppy is our househelp. He stays with us even when he doesn't get paid.

"Ganun ba?"

"Bakit hindi mo na lang kaya bigyan ng pera?"

"Mas kailangan niya yun." She added.

The last line hit hard. Kunsabagay, aanhin mo ang cake, kung wala ka naman pambili ng life-saving medicines mo.

And so I withdrew some cash before heading to the ancestral house. It was past 10 in the evening and was way past my new bedtime. Pagdating doon, tulog na ang mga tao. Not even our caretaker showed up to guide me towards the room where my half-brother is confined.

It was another boarder who showed me the way.

"Red... andiyan ka ba?" After few minutes, the door opened. It was my half brother covering his face with a towel.

"Happy Birthday..." I tried to smile, pero feeling ko, parang ang latoy-latoy ng greeting ko. After that, I handed him a crisp bill. The same amount of money I usually spend when I'm out on a Saturday night.

"Uy huwag na..."

"Tanggapin mo na. Makakatulong rin sa iyo yan." Dahan-dahan niyang kinuha ang pera. Marahil naisip rin niya, malayo ang mararating nun.

I didn't stay long or spoke with him at length. It was getting late and I'm already tired. When I was assured that he was feeling better. That his coughing had become less frequent, I left our ancestral house with thoughts of dad in my head. 


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Radio Stations

One. I have given up on clubbing for a more sober life. Gone are the Saturday nights when I let myself get carried away and see my hips, arms and body fling to House music. The ledge-mounting, shirtless Mugen is a stuff of legends and I doubt if those who see me now would believe I carry such reputation when I was a bit younger. 

But it doesn't mean the sound has already left my eardrums. I still collect Ministry of Sounds essentials for my work-out (until Furion got snatched, a story that deserves another entry) and turn Eclipse into my private dance club. 

I also tune in to U-Radio 107.9 for my daily dose of Electronica. The station has been my road companion since leaving the dance floor some years ago. It keeps me up, alert, and tireless. It connects me to the people who really appreciate the music, not because they can dance to it, but because the songs carry a memory of their younger, more hedonist selves.  

Unfortunately, U Radio has gone off the air for the nth time, and it's frustrating to know when it will return again.  

Two. Every weekend afternoon, Jam 88.3 has a radio show called "A Different Sunday." The show has no DJs. It plays non-stop music. And though it retains its Alternative and Adult Top 40 music format, the show has a unique and refreshing twist to its songs. 

The playlist is undeniably alternative. You get to hear tracks from Radiohead to The Pixies, only that the songs are sometimes covered by another artists. The re-imagined performances are very rare (Fake Plastic Trees sung by a choir, Where Is My Mind by a folk singer) and stripped down to its bare essentials (Acoustic Guitar). 

The songs blend well with the pervading mood, that one can't help but put his life down, recline in a couch, and just wile the afternoon away listening to song, after song, after song. The next thing you know, Monday is just several hours away. 

If only Jam 88.3 plays these songs at late nights as well. I'm sure a lot of sleepless, wounded souls would find respite from their troubled lives.  

Three. True to its slogan, Radio High 105.9 is not for everyone. The radio station appeals to "non-conformist" listeners who are passionate for the "finer things in life." The station plays music from Jazz to Lounge genres. The other night, I learned that they play New Wave and Bossa Nova as well. Basically, the songs you WILL never hear on Love Radio, MTV and Yes FM are found here. 

Radio High is just a new station, with - I guess - a tiny audience. I'd like to picture its regular listeners as the high society, old rich folks who yearn for the better days. Those who spend the nights in piano bars and cocktail lounges sipping Martinis while swapping scandal stories, or pouring out one's sorrow by simply getting drowned in music and alcohol. 

Musicians, eccentrics and struggling artists searching for inspiration (or something to listen to, while on the road) will find this station to their liking. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Babysitter

Ten in the morning and I was still up. 

It is as if karma had decided to pay a visit. And as punishment for being super grumpy the night before, I was only given less than five hours of sleep.

But karma wasn't done yet. Before it left, the cosmic thought toyed with my biggest fear when my laptop's firewall suddenly got disabled. The system error slowed my operating system to a standstill.

And I woke up with a machine unable to shut down.

JC was able to convince me to go back to sleep. But just when I was about to cross over to dreamland, a power failure left me awake, and reeling from the mid-morning heat. 

"It's useless." I said, when power was restored. Having giving up a real chance for a quick nap, I went downstairs to smoke, and drink Lipton Iced Tea. While I was out in the driveway, my phone rang. I wasn't able to answer it. But somehow I knew the reason why.

"Anak iniwan sakin tong mga apo ko o?" My mom told me when I thought of dropping by her bedroom. I've learned that my sister went to school to work. Her husband too was out of the house. The young couple left Baby Lenin and Baby Diego (his 2-week old brother) under my mom's care. Both babies were in her bed with Baby Lenin lying on his back and smiling at me.

The sight of two babies and a helpless lola set off my parental instincts. I suddenly knew what to do.

"Akin ka muna ha?" I picked up the toddler just when his yaya was about to get him.

The household knows that my room is off-limits to everyone. Mom has her perks, and she gets to stay only when the maid is changing her bed sheet. But that morning, my room was Baby Lenin's new playground. With him in my arms, I carried my nephew to my bed. It didn't matter if the sheets were crumpled and the pillows were everywhere. The moment I dropped my nephew, he knew he was in a nicer place. At least in my quarters there was no clutter. He also didn't have to compete for attention.

I was already zeroing on his every move.

Baby Lenin wasn't feeling well. A few days before, he had a slight fever. When he was with me, he sneezed and coughed. The kid had runny nose, and his eyes were moist. 

I was on the verge of calling my boss to tell him that I'll be absent. If my sister doesn't care, and my mom unable to move because of the smaller baby, I'd bring my nephew to the pediatrician myself. 

But to do so would be stepping over his parents' diskarte. I'm not in the position to act as his guardian.

Even when I'm fully prepared to buy all his medicines.

So what I did was to turn on the television and have my nephew watch cartoons instead. Tom and Jerry was on Cartoon Network. As always, the duo were chasing one another - with the poor grey cat always at the mercy of the brown mice. For some reasons, Baby Lenin found it amusing to see a cat slamming on walls, getting kicked in the butt and the mouse being left outside the house during a snowstorm.

Talk about cartoon violence.

Normally, I would switch the channel to a child-friendly network. One that doesn't feature a cat being bullied by cockroaches, or a kid changing into different aliens. But all I wanted that morning was to be spared. Baby Lenin could be a little stubborn sometimes. 

Soon after, he did show some signs of restlessness.

Before he started picking more things inside my room, I decided to carry him back to the master's bedroom. Though my fuse can overcome a toddler's tantrum, I felt that my corner doesn't offer a lot of distractions. I was also thinking that bringing my nephew back to his lola would shorten my babysitting duties. His yaya would come anyway and I will be off the hook.

But to bring him there proved to be a miscalculation. The kid was already awake. No matter how I try to lull him, he wouldn't sleep. He insisted to be set free. 

Putting a toddler and an infant in one bed is like courting trouble as well. I was told the last time, the kuya was annoyed of his younger brother so much that he slapped him on the face. Apparently, the first-born hated how he suddenly found himself competing for attention. To avoid repeating the same mistake, I carried the kuya again - much to his protest - and left my mom's room. We didn't return to my bed. Instead, we went downstairs to where his crib was.

"Sabihin mo kay Amy Lee painumin na ng gatas." I heard my mom saying. "Nagugutom na yan."

Baby Lenin knows how to say "didi" when he wants to eat. Immediately after I placed him inside his crib, the yaya rushed to prepare his soya milk. For all the times I've seen my nephew, I didn't know he likes it when someone lifts his bottle. I wasn't aware too that he tells you (with head gestures) when he doesn't want to drink anymore.

How time flies. The last time I really took notice, Baby Lenin was still struggling to stand up.

I was only able to babysit my nephew for less than an hour, before his yaya took over. I was willing to spend a little more time, (after getting used to the baby) but she insisted that my lunch is ready. The bonding I had, though brief and almost fleeting was enough to open my eyes to the finer things I've been missing lately. 

These past few months, I've been coming home too late and too exhausted to even say "hi" to my nephew. I only get to see him at dawn, after the nightly pillow talk with my partner. It is during those early hours of the morning when my mom gets up for her toilet rituals. I would then be asked to look after her apo. Baby Lenin would roll around, would try to get up to move to a more comfortable spot, or would curl beside me when I wrap my arms around his plump waist. But he is always sleeping and he doesn't know it was me all along. For him, I guess, I'm just the distant uncle he gets to know less and less as he grows older.

I'd like to think that I've been given a chance that morning - to catch up, reinforce the ties, and make him known that I'm still around. That I would always be the tito who would - in the fullness of time - extend my hand and make sure he, and his younger brother will live a life far better than what me and my sister had.

"Ampunin na lang kita?" I said to Baby Lenin while he was in my room. My nephew just smiled, definitely unsure of what my words meant.

I may have said some things and did some things I may not spare some thought everyday. I may have had looked after my nephew in the past, without fully realizing its significance. But for a moment, while saying hello to our bundle of joy, and seeing him smiling and knowing I was there,  

March, 2012
Circa 1982

It almost felt like, babysitting me.