Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Long before Bejeweled and Fruit Ninja became an app; prior to players uploading their highest scores from Temple Run; preceding the holiday season, when everyone thought Angry Birds accessories were great gift suggestions, home arcade games were already a staple of Nintendo. Like the kids of today, an entire generation got hooked with their 42-in-1s. These cartridges are where these games were bundled.

The gameplay is simple. Computer graphics are made of software sprites. Animation is rudimentary. Though the objectives are repetitive, the difficulty increases with each game bosses defeated. We don't pay attention to high scores yet, but we try our best to reach the farthest levels.

The five video games I pick, though vintage by today's standards had shaped my gaming preference. They may not be the best, not even the most popular. But they did get me hooked, turned me into a video game addict, and opened my eyes to more interesting video games I would play much later in life. 

Raid on Bungeling Bay
Brøderbund, 1985

Raid on Bungeling Bay lets you control a helicopter that launches from an aircraft carrier. The helicopter shoots pea-sized bullets and carries nine bombs, which you have to drop on factories scattered across the island-world. To complete a level, a player needs to destroy all the factories. He should also avoid getting shot by the enemy. A word of caution: the longer it takes to bomb these factories, the more defenses the enemy constructs. Soon you may find your aircraft carrier being bombarded by jet planes, which you have to chase and shoot with your feeble projectiles.

Trivia: Raid on Bungeling Bay was the first game developed by Will Wright. He is the creator of the Sims, which is my current, time-consuming and expensive video game addiction.

Konami, 1985

For a long time this question bothered me: Am I controlling a spacecraft or a bee - that has been turned into a robot? But the confusion didn't matter. The clean, cartoon-like graphics had already got me hooked.

TwinBee is a vertical-scrolling shooting game. You fire at the clouds and a bell tumbles out. Shooting these bells result in a change in color. A different color corresponds to a power-up. This is how you upgrade your weapons.

The game is different from other "jet themed" shooting games as you get to deal with silly-looking enemies. There are the collision-loving flying turnips and eggplants with propellers. There are also pine cones on the ground that shoot projectiles. There is a big boss too, which you have to defeat to complete a level. So challenging the game was (enemy projectiles were everywhere, I swear) that I was only able to reach level 3.

TwinBee can be played by two-players simultaneously.

Front Line
Taito, 1984

Well, the turtleshell-wearing protagonist walks stupid. He wields a funny gun with a crooked barrel. He shoots bullets that look more like a dash. There is no background music, which makes you go ho-hum, and the sprites are terrible. So trashy Front Line is that spending just five seconds alone is enough to send you picking another game such as Battle City.

But as far as I know, Front Line is one of the few NES games that lets you mount a tank, which you can use to run over enemy soldiers. In those days, controlling a machine with your player inside was unheard of -  You can also hurl grenades and occupy rival bases to reach the next level.

Looking back, I don't understand how I get to like this game. Maybe it was so unbelievably ugly, that after telling myself over and over, that this game is not as bad as everyone thinks, (this game is addictive... I say this game is addictive!) I eventually found it good.

Nintendo, 1984

You are given a lousy motorbike that it is prone to overheating. There is a race track with ramps of different heights and angles. And there is a time-limit when you race alone or with CPU-controlled bikes. The objective is to beat your record.

That is how the game is supposed to work.

But what makes Excitebike truly game-worthy is the design mode. Not only did the feature allow you to create your own race track, the design mode had put creativity and imagination into the game. (try adding the largest ramps next to one another, let your bike climb over it and see what happens) I had so much fun making my own racetrack that I have completely forgotten the race:

"I say let's postpone the championship, let me put up the most wicked racetrack first!"

City Connection
Jaleco, 1985

City Connection is one of those racing games I played a few times. But it left an impression so deep, I would remember the video game long after it was shelved by its creators.

The gameplay is quite simple. A player drives a Honda City across floating bars representing roads. Each road segment turns white as you pass over them. However, police cars are everywhere and a collision with them sends your car into sure oblivion. Together with cats and spikes, they form the obstacles of each level.

Police cars can be bumped off the screen. To do this, you must hit the police car with an oil can. These cans can be collected while you cover the bar sections. Cats and spikes are immune to these weapons.

The race car doesn't have a break. The only way you can go back and drive over missed segments is to make it do a 180-degree turn. It can also jump from road bar to another.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It was raining yesterday
while it was scorching hot the other day.
The weather bureau said it was the hottest
on record this year.
Daybreaks are chilly
Had to turn off the fan and cover myself with a blanket.
And when I woke up a while ago,
the sun was up. And it hints of another polarity again.
So it is no surprise that a lot of people at work got sick
And I too had a near miss.
It's the weather, I say
too bad, nobody notices it yet.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peace In Our Time

Disclaimer: A reply to Shane's letter to Manila Gay Guy.

A year before my homosexual urges were recognized, a group of curious and closeted men banded together on MIRC. At a time when there was no real concept of "straight-acting gay men," they drew the line between the effeminates and masculines. The common belief then was that the effeminates turn discreets into fairies, and the only way to stop such conversions is to keep the loud types from joining the brotherhood. 

And so their recruitment process required intense screening. Any hint of feminine behavior; any chance of compromising the complex masquerades these closeted men apply and your application is revoked.

I was 20 years old at that time and still a newcomer. Though I was already exposed to the different hues of the "rainbow" because of the grand eyeball, I haven't met a group I can totally relate. Then all of a sudden, I met one of the founders of the brotherhood. Since we speak the same language and share common interests, he asked me to join.

The interview was easy. Turned out, I was more butch than some of the founding members. I was into alternative music, I was a jeans-and-shirt guy and, most of all, my barkada were all guys-who-speak-basketball-and-sexy-chicks-all-the-time. I didn't have to modulate my voice, or pretend to be someone else. I was straight-acting who likes boys.

I became a member, together with a dozen of other applicants who passed the screening. We were elated of course, because our entry to the brotherhood was our vindication. But what we didn't know was that a rift had already begun. A faction broke off from the brotherhood. They said the brotherhood was a purist and that, their ideals will never work in the long run. The brotherhood simply dismissed them as losers.

Thus, the effem-masculine divide grew into a full-scale discrimination. And there were many fronts. Every online forum, every dating and chat site has someone claiming he's discreet, straight-acting-bisexual-tripper who looks down on loud and effeminate guys. The forsaken ones were forced into embracing the "bisexual" label. So harsh was the discrimination that there was a time when those who called themselves bi's were immediately identified as fairies.

"Real bisexuals never have labels. They just trip." I once quipped.

The local gay scene was still in its infancy. The gays ahead of us had no idea that men who act straight could actually get attracted to someone who act the same. Queer as Folk made us realize some of our deepest flaws and longings, and while the "war" rages on, with each new generation of newbies claiming superiority over the effeminates, some of the straight-acting ones - the guys who actually started the divide were turning 180 degrees. They too had recognized the truth. 

The effeminates and masculines could co-exist.

Of course, there are grey areas, which no expert can resolve. One is preference. Straight-acting and discreet men will always feel comfortable going-out, sleeping around and dating their kind. It's a force of attraction; the same reason why some men have this fondness for twinks, others for big daddies, and for someone in my pack, has a certain liking for girly types. 

Second is that there are gay men who will prefer hiding in the closet. Some families and co-workers are not as accepting as others. Some gays (mostly the ones from my generation) still bear the "parlorista" stigma; this impression that people look down on men who likes men. No amount of convincing would encourage them to come out. It is best to leave them in peace. 

Third is that love blooms between fairies and butches. A loud co-worker is in fact, in a relationship with a guy. Someone who drops labels and takes things as they are. They celebrated their seventh anniversary last year. His gang of fairies would even claim that their market is far bigger than ours. Unfortunately, the love they enjoy - most to them, that is - involve monetary trade-offs.

But there will always be exceptions. 

More than a decade had passed since the "bitter divide" started, and the ones who pushed it first had somehow outgrew their purist tendencies. The last time I've checked, they were in the process of making peace with themselves. Even those who used to express strong dislike for effeminates eventually befriended them. I personally know some, and their transformation still amazes me. 

And for this reason, I believe the war has ended. I've seen straight-acting men getting along with effeminates, and effeminates having relationships with masculines. If there's any indication of how far we've come, the social media are our best bets. Just look at the DPs of some guys there. During my time, showing one's identity hint at being out and proud. Now it has become a practice for young ones to show their face pic when expressing their fondness for someone.

May this entry able to shed light to the age-old subject, while sharing a glimpse of history the way we lived it. Looking back, I think, the divide was necessary for us to learn. So we can start working together - effeminates and masculines in solving the more pressing concerns of the entire community. And while there would always be men who will exhaust all efforts to avoid effeminate association, as time would reveal, one must embrace the changes as he grows older. In the end, the straight-acting adopts a little, or at least follows to some degree, the ways of the effeminate.

Never in our history have we been so open; so accepting of the other as we are now. I don't know how old the letter sender is, but coming from the front lines, I still believe that it is far easier to make friends and find dates today than when our online lives began ten years ago.

* Asked some friends on Twitter if the phrase "no effems please" still rings on Planet Romeo and Grindr. (I have none) The consensus is yes. Apparently, people still brush aside one another even when they go to the same party places (O-Bar, Palawan) listen to the same music (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna) and watch the same TV shows (America's Next Top Model, Glee). Fox, of the Encantos even say that those who discriminate are effems themselves.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trident Paths

If I would just pay attention to what the cosmos is telling lately. Maybe, just maybe, my place in the order of things might appear a little clearer.

Initially I was thinking of asking you to come aboard as one of our staff but I realized that you are already part of the family I couldn't really waive your membership even if I wanted to because of issues with other members...


At present, I have a full-time job at a call center. I maybe a supervisor and trainer, but my heart - as I am beginning to realize is into nurturing young men and women to become valuable and productive members of the society. Something within tells that I should impart whatever knowledge I gained as a student of life. 


Hi Agent-In-Training, Consider this an appraisal of your performance on your new account: 
*Let me remind you that as agents, we can never be bored. It's because we provide entertainment. While the word "bored" can be used for roleplay, the situation here is different. Why not turn the conversation around by keeping the user entertained? Suggested replies: "Lets stay here big boy and keep me company. Hate being alone. What are u doing?" or "Let me think about it. If u tell me how romantic u are, i might consider. :P" 
Your other replies are good. Some are merely filler. But since this is your first evaluation, let me commend you that in general, you are doing great. Keep it up!

Or maybe not.

All I'm saying is that the road ahead disappears and I don't know if I should keep walking.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Grand Eyeball (Last Part)

Previously on Souljacker

I was looking to my left, and then to my right but they were nowhere to be found. Instead, the red rounded tables were occupied by ladies in groups of three or more. There were some guys, standing, but they didn't fit the picture I had in mind. First, their numbers were far fewer than what Spiker had told me, and they seem to be strangers to one another. Their gestures also hint that they go to Malate like every other week.

"Where you at?" I asked Spiker. The place was getting stuffy so I had to make a call inside the common toilet.

"We're upstairs. Saan ka na?"

"I'm coming."

I went up the steep spiral stairs and found them in a corner, close to the makeshift stage. It was indeed a large group of about seven men and three ladies. The girls were all lesbians. One of them was Travis McGee. With her long wavy hair, slender body and big boobs, she's a far cry from the butches we see everyday. Anyone could mistake her for a punk chick when she gets spotted inside a Cayote Bar.

As for the boys, I'm afraid I raised the bar too high. I was expecting to meet shy, straight-acting men. After all, they were bisexuals - at least that's what Spiker and the guys from my thread said. I sense a hint of softness but I'm still cool with them. It's like never leaving the meeting with my party-mates. I introduced myself using the name Joms and for a few precious minutes, I mingled with the Pexers.

Between dancing - to the tune of Joyrise and drinking a couple of bottles of San Mig Light, I made it a point to remember those who attended the eyeball. 

Spiker for one, was a lean guy with black-rimmed glasses. Though he claimed to be in the closet, he had the makings of a queer. My assumptions proved correct. A few years later, I saw him in Malate dressed as a pink nun. He was giving away free condoms during the Black Party.

Castlegrands on the other hand, was a short guy. His tendency to be touchy-feely got him into trouble with the other guys. At least that's what I've been told. Meanwhile, I totally snubbed another guest. A portly kid whose PEx handle goes by the name Ice Dragon. Maybe our chemistry didn't match, or siguro dahil I stole the attention of his eye-candy that night - Archerblaze. He was the chinito dude who sat in a corner, and whose gaze was fixed outside the window. He was fair-skinned, sporting a buzz-cut and when you look at him in the dark, he has this manly appeal that commands admiration. When I got to talk to him, it turned out he was nursing a heartache. A boy-crush of his fell in love with someone else.

In those days, it was easy to strike a conversation - without fear that such talk would lead elsewhere. I guess part of the self-discovery was to ask questions such as "How did you find out you like boys?" or "How do you cope with your double-life?" etc. Those stuff you begin to brush off as you get comfortable sporting a pink halo. Kids these days have no qualms uploading their faces on social media, while proudly proclaiming their fondness for boys. But for us a generation ago, revealing one's preference - even when everyone knows you're a screaming F and still deny it - is a very serious offense.

I cannot remember what I said to Archerblaze - except that I stuck with him the whole time. Maybe he was the first to know that I had a girlfriend, and that I was trying to fit in, but had no plans of pushing the limits of my curiosity. He did reciprocate my openness by sharing things about himself - others in the group would die to find out. So deep was my attachment that I still thought of him even when I should be paying attention to matters concerning my political party.

And we did meet - without anyone knowing - the next day.

The grand eye-ball was the first of the many meet-ups Pinoyexchange would see eventually. It would set the precedent for many other gatherings as the LBGT community spreads out and rifts between members tore the threads apart. 

The gatherings would only be short-lived as most of the bisexuals would eventually out themselves. They would join Pexman and Jack_mcph in discussing relevant gay issues in the first SNAGG thread. The lesbians disappeared, for some reasons and I joined another group, one that is more attuned to my nature - the Alien Nation. Less than a year after the first meet-up, the original attendees would move on - most - I would never see, or talk again. 

As I look back and remember how it all began, the first grand eye ball shaped the way I behave in groups. While I did choose to get along with the masculines, my first confidants were actually the soft-spoken and effeminate ones. I didn't know if I raised eyebrows when I put a wall around me and Archerblaze, but I did learn to hold back my attachment - after realizing that karir and friendship hardly mix. I stopped seeing group meet-ups as venues to find potential dates. (but I did break this rule once in a while, with varying results) And even though none of those who showed up became life-long hang out buddies, the grand eyeball laid the foundation to the friendships I would keep for life.

February, 2002

February, 2012 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Grand Eyeball (First Part)

It was a night I will never forget... 

Just like what I've said to Spiker when I left - Every minute of the EB was worth it. Sana nakapagtagal pa ako para nakapag-bonding pa ako sa kanila. Pero it was time to leave then. 

Ten kaming nandun, I followed them to Malate. At first, nawala pa ako pero. They were great. Lots of Dancing - Hard Dancin' talking and everything. For the first time, I am home. I am not alone. 

I asked Spiker and Archerblaze of what will happen today. I am already awake and I have accepted myself as who I am and who will I be. They said everything will be fine, and yes everything was fine at the moment. 

February 17, 2002 
Bi-Pexers Unite Thread, Pinoyexchange

At past 10pm, the security guards ordered everyone to leave the campus. Most of the students had left, except for our group, who were still preparing for the council elections. 

The leaders have agreed to move the venue to one of our member's residence. There were still many tasks to finish and a night of consultation and planning is not enough.

But instead of joining the ranks, I asked the chairman if I could be excused. I cannot remember my exact alibi but it was along the lines of a "class project" and an "errand" at home. Since I was the secretary-general, my presence was necessary. I gave my word to return. The chairman gave his blessings and without telling the rest, I left the pavilion to ride a jeep in Dapitan.

My destination was Malate.

The trip took less than 30 minutes. It was a Saturday night and all roads lead to gimik places. The bars and clubs lining Nakpil were packed with merry-makers. Like them, I was nursing a hang-over from that week's Valentines.

I was told to join the Pexers when I learned of the eye-ball that evening. "We're already there" the organizer said when asked if the meet up pushed through. Being new to the gay side of Malate, it took sometime for me to find Orosa. When I caught glimpse of the meeting place, I waited across the street, thinking if its better to retreat.

There is no turning back once I got introduced.

What separates me from others who were still in the closet is that I was already comfortable being in the company of gay people. The college teems with folks who act more effeminate than some of the girls there. Besides, the political party was run by students from different walks of life. To close our doors to the pink community, some, even elected representatives of their class meant an end to our aspirations. It would be a slap on our party's face since half of the core group were actually gay.

But to be out in the open, like where I found myself in necessitates mind-conditioning. Given my place in the social hierarchy, one slip and my reputation would be forever tarnished. (or so I think) Yet, the need to connect was so strong that I was willing to risk everything - even my heterosexual relationship. In a few months I will be leaving the university. If I intend to start over and embrace what I had recognized a month before, might as well show up to those who first accepted me.

"Come join us, we're inside." The text message read. My heart pounded. What if someone from the group turned out to be an acquaintance?

Bahala na.

The watering hole at the corner of Nakpil and Orosa had a rainbow flag hoisted above the entrance. Ladida was its name and I've learned it was the ladies from the Girl to Girl thread who suggested the place.

Taking a very deep breath before sneaking past a forties lady who appears to be the proprietor, I made my way inside the dark-lit hall - to say hello to my future, and to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, finally a changed man.

- tobecontinued -  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


All you need is a red cartolina, a pair of scissors and a black "pentel" pen. When funds are low and there are friendly seatmates nearby, you can always borrow their stuff. After all, it's their idea in the first place. You are just following the trend. Tell them, you will return the supplies later, and maybe, with a wink and a smile, the sweet damsels will be persuaded.

Cut a small portion from the cartolina. Make sure it is a recognizable square, or at least, an oblique rectangle. With clumsy small hands such as mine, a Mongol pencil might be required. The little piece of paper must still be folded in half.

Now here's the tricky part: using the Mongol pencil as a tracer, draw the half side of that symbol we use for love; That muscle beneath our chest that for some reason has become the icon for attachment. Cut the pattern as carefully as possible, and maybe with a few tries, you're almost done with your craft.

The recess bell rings and classes would resume at any moment. Some lazy brats thought of buying flowers from the vendors who suddenly showed up at your school's front gate. Like mushrooms clumped together on a stump, they are there only for one purpose: to offer a tempting bait to throw away your attempts at being artsy.

You can give up a bunch of junk foods for a single stalk of rose. But with baon smaller than today's jeepney fare, I had no choice but to finish my project by putting the right words complementing the occasion.

"Happy Valentines Teacher..."

I may have forgotten the story of St. Valentines, or the faces of those who actually got my little heart-cards. But the thought of giving them away - to people who are dear to me had become the idea of the holiday itself. Save for that one moment in college - when I wrote a cheesy poem about how loser it is to be single on the day of love, it never troubled me to remain couple-less when everyone hurries to find a mate.

The heart-shaped cards were never meant for lovers. They were given to people who has a special place in my heart. And for me, this is what the Hearts Day is all about.

Happy Valentines, everyone.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Unspoken

We used to think the blog was an extension of our closet. You know, that sprawling fortress the size of a world, where nobody knows the life we nurture within. We tell our stories like nobody listens, or at least, having strangers as audience. Our dreams, heartaches, our erotic moments, the stuff that make us gay. The blog serves as our little pink diary because there are things we cannot simply tell the people around us. Besides, this is the celebration of our identity. It's no wonder you come across a blog detailing the author's sexcapades. Others celebrate the bonds they made with kindred souls, if not with their partners. Others have started their own advocacy, and another blog tells how discrete (straight-acting men) should operate in public. We are many voices speaking in prose. We write in blogs, owing to the necessity that we cannot express in spoken words, We write to leave a mark, so that others may be inspired; to contribute to the collective consciousness that is the Filipino Gay. And in the process of unraveling, we get to know ourselves better. We carefully cross over the digital realm and reach out to people who used to know us because of our words. Then finally, when we're reassured enough that we could face the world - comfortably and without an inch of doubt behind our sexuality, we leave the confines of the blog and parade ourselves, proud of reaching our destination.

Meanwhile, in another part of blog-space, a guy puts up a blog. Guided by those before him, another journey takes place as he begins to tell his story. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From The Other Side

We were in a classroom.

The Businessman Aunt stood as the proctor while my mom was one of the students. In this surreal arrangement, I too played a part. I was also in that classroom sitting as one of those who will take the test. The Businessman Aunt handed me the test paper. She said to pass it after every row receives their copies. The Businessman Aunt moved on to another row, and just behind her, I spotted my grandfather sitting in a corner.

He was smiling. The kind of smile that tells he's missing everyone. And you know that he's happy - wherever he is.

"Tatay, pasensya na, hindi kita nadadalaw." He just nodded.  

I told him things I could not remember. It was a brief talk that had now dissipated after an entire day of wakefulness. I didn't figure the reason behind his unexpected visit until I told my mom about it. His gesture, I would love to share with the Businessman Aunt when we see each other.

Before the examinations began, he stood up, hugged my mom and then walked towards the front of the classroom. He then hugged the Businessman Aunt before leaving the room. Both daughters were never aware of their father's presence, not even his embrace. I then woke up and the dream lingered long enough for me to remember the details.

Nine years ago, the landline rang at five in the morning. According to the caller, Lolo snored his last snore and then he stopped breathing. Before dropping the phone, she told me. 

"Huwag mong isipin yung sinabi mo sa akin."

Two weeks before that morning, I told the same caller my dream. It was daybreak, she called the house to tell me that Lolo was rushed to the hospital. He didn't make it.

Several weeks before that dream, I prayed that if its time for him to go, I would appreciate a sign. I was hesitating to write his "autobiography" for I have this feeling that his time is near. Heaven was gracious to grant me a swift answer.

Lolo was rushed to the hospital that morning. But he passed away before he got medical attention. He was declared dead-on-arrival. He is the same grandfather who appeared in my dream this morning - assuring my mom and the Businessman Aunt - who are both facing upheavals in their home-fronts that he is still watching.

Friday, February 10, 2012


A museum official said that a group of five to six men stormed into the building twice, deliberately targeted the Buddhist relics and ruins of monasteries exhibited in the pre- Islamic collection, destroying most items 'beyond repair'.

According to a source, a coral stone head of Lord Buddha, an 11th century piece recovered from Thoddoo in Alifu Atoll, was smashed up by the attackers, one of the most significant pieces at the museum inside Sultan’s Park.

Other pieces vandalised include the Bohomala sculptures, monkey statues and a broken statue piece of the Hindu water god, Makara, while the two five-faced statues discovered from Male’ were also damaged – the only remaining archaeological evidence proving the existence of a Buddhist era in the Maldives.

AFP reported Nasheed as saying that the vandals included Islamist hardliners who had attacked the museum because they believed some of the statues inside were 'idolatrous'.

Organized Religion, are you to blame? Are you humanity's bane masquerading as our salvation. Do our souls receive blessing from doing your will? Do we bask in sunshine with your thoughts in our heads? 

How many wars did we fight for you? How many deceptions did we commit under your influence? How many times did we violate the laws of nature, inspired that what we're doing is for the common good? How many acts of brutality did we perform in your name?

Please enlighten me, for I am a believer, still. I believe in the wisdom of the universe; of a higher power that guides us all. I believe in a creator, the angels and the holy mother. I embrace karma, reincarnation, even the single law Jesus bid us to follow before he was crucified.

I believe in the goodness of man, or at least, what is inherent in him. I frown on hatred, no matter how tempting to let it rule over my heart. I have deep respect for the spirits of nature; of the traditions of the old; of the religions guiding our daily lives.

There is no reason to get jealous. No need to convert a neighbor to our faith, unless his heart sought a new path. Self-righteousness has no place in the mind of the peace-loving. Everyone has a right to express his belief, as long as it doesn't violate another. 

So please tell me, why? Are you to blame, or the uninstructed many who lead you. Will someone ask for my head after raising these questions? 

Will I get excommunicated or receive a fatwa?

Let me end this with a confession. I hardly enjoy attending masses or gatherings invoking my beliefs. In times I did, I stay away from people - and that stranger in the pulpit who speaks for my Creator. I am weary of his homily. Few listen anyway. Instead, I put myself in a corner, maybe near a tree or better yet, in the company of candles. I dwell in silence. Then I speak to my Father like what Jesus said. Because the truth is, I don't find salvation from robed persons, reprinted books. Even human inventions.

You find it inside your heart.

And when man realizes that the answer can never be found in a single religion and appreciates this truth, it is the time he understands what spirituality is.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reality Check

But what if some brilliant twerp decides to put up a website, a travel blog smeared and spoiled with facts telling about how ugly the destination is. Would it catch the world's attention? Would readers and vacation planners have informed choices when they get to know the lies behind a historic landmark, a proud people, an exotic country parading itself as the best in the world? Would it be more amazing to learn the faults of a culture; the twisted belief of a society; a history without the revisions; the reality that even the most charming places get its allure only in tourist brochures?

Of course, the profound arrangement is done befitting a portal like Lonely Planet. It is just that nobody sugarcoats the places of interests with delicious descriptions and dreamy images: You tell the other side of the story - or experience - as repulsive or traumatic as it gets, not because you want to drive away the tourists.

It is just that you want the pilgrims and sojourners to see the destinations - and embrace them - even with their imperfections.

Tallinn, Estonia

Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Game Will Ruin Your Life (MugenEdition)

The moment I enter my room at night, it's hard to leave my quarters. And the reason for the hermitic disappearance is this:

Marie Antoine (the little girl) and Deidre (her dad)

I have always wondered how it feels to have so many different lives. Like it is possible to jump from one consciousness to another. But with Sims 3, the game lets me indulge in this fantasy. I have been an old granny who leads a criminal syndicate in town; A cat-lady who is a well-known writer. A hunk-daddy whose been thrown out of the house by his two-timing wife; a rebellious teen who moved in with the hunk-daddy after his sexy mom died in the cemetery; an eccentric fashion guru who fondly calls his boyish daughter "Antoine;" and finally, a black cat named after a leading character in the anime series Darker than Black.  

looking out the window while little Orion is making poopoo

In this surreal world, not only do I design homes and watering holes, I let loose my hidden twisted self. The characters I play, while best left alone to lead conventional lives, get tangled in complications because of my doing. I could create a sim (and endow the character with charismatic and nurturing trait) then let her butcher the entire town with a single Cow Plant. I could force all my sims to make babies. Who cares if the town runs out of land to build homes. 

Given more time to play each life, I would come up with more sinister plots and unexpected upheavals. Those telenovelas on prime-time television are no match for my stories. And with fantasy elements such as imaginary friends, unicorns that appear at night (that you can ride a-la Rainbow Brite) and playable robots to enrich your game play, there are days when I really wonder, will this addiction end. 

Goodwin (my main sim) standing on the edge of a cliff

I've been a fan of The Sims since its first release more than a decade ago. Owing to its near-infinite playability, it's the first game I bought at Datablitz. It's also the only desktop computer game, aside from Civilization that I religiously followed to its latest successor.   

Some people may not see the essence of this life simulation, much less, appreciate the tedious and repetitive tasks of seeing your Sims enjoy meaningful (and miserable) lives. But if you're someone afflicted with God Complex syndrome, or just appreciate the grandeur of creation and its sometimes unforeseeable turns, you will find Sims 3 to your liking.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Talent Portion: Singing

I seldom decline invitations when asked to appear in KTV parties. "Okay lang." I often say. "Basta may beer, sasama ako." Consider it a gesture of pakikisama, as organizers love to crowdsource friends. These days, I join the gatherings to cheer my partner as he sings his favorite RnB songs.

I am his number one fan after all. 

Despite my seasonal presence in videoke bars, my voice is not really meant for singing. I tend to invent new notes in place of the original ones. I sing off-key and know only few lyrics. I tend to end up a wallflower as I refuse to hold the microphone, unless I am drunk or the song on the menu belongs to the alternative genre. To compensate, I ask to be someone's second voice to break the silence.

I do enjoy, yes. But at the back of my head, I wanted more.

This aversion to the microphone was a sharp contrast to my earlier fondness for singing. I joined the choir in high school and sang as a soprano. In elementary, I had minus-ones at home. You name it, I'd sing it. It doesn't matter if I am out of tune or hum the lyrics. In those days, people simply want you to sing and they appreciate your effort.

But as you grow older, expectations change.

The truth emerged just after I got circumcised. My voice had gone deep - too deep - and the notes, I sang with a child's voice didn't sound pleasing anymore. I left the choir when I didn't make the cut in one of our school's competition. "Sumakay na lang daw kami sa Ferris Wheel at magliwaliw," (the competition was held in Star City) the assistant choirmaster suggested. And when the Favorite Aunt remarked "Bagay kang third voice" after a talent showdown with my cousins, I decided to let go of the microphone for good.

It took years before I was able to recover, and if not for a drinking buddy who had gone to pee and left his slot open, I wouldn't figure that all I'm lacking is the confidence to sing.

Slowly, the voice returned. Shy, repressed, and sometimes even finicky especially in the company of seasoned performers. I only get to sing niche songs, and most of the time I prefer to be the back up. If there was one harsh critic who made me believe that my vocal chords were redeemable. It was my sister. I was purging my emotions one night that I found myself singing to Bamboo's "Masaya." Halfway before the end of the track, she interrupted me by asking, "Kuya, ikaw ba yung kumakanta?"

I had no choice but to admit it.

"May boses ka pala..." I smiled. Good thing, utol was in the other room, or she might have taken back her complement.

From then on, I only sing when someone had already punched on the playlist my favorite track, or when I'm too drunk to think about other people's reaction. However, with limited choices, and vocally-blessed KTV friends, still it feels awkward to take my place.

Meanwhile, the opposite can be said when a clubber used to find me in a prolonged state of euphoria on the dance floor...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mind Exercise

"Hello Mugs. How are you?"

"Okay naman.... Heto... Having my Brain Salad Days..."

"Brain Salad Days?!?"

"Yeah, alam mo yun. You've drawn out your plans. But it turns out, your thoughts are too scattered to focus on a specific goal"

"Like what?"

"Like putting my energies to writing that Travel Guide for Bentusi."

"Uh huh."

"Or at least, writing an entry for Baby Diego."

"To welcome his arrival, like what you did with Baby Lenin"


"Then why not try writing a few sentences, and maybe you could start from there."

"And then get lost halfway before the end. It happens all the time kaya!"


"Yeah. Sisihin mo pa ang Twitter."

"And what about Twitter?"


"Pansin ko nga. Mas tutok ka pa dun kesa sa trabaho eh."

"No wonder, you know a lot about the impeachment trial even when it sometimes bores you to death."

"And the lives of other people too."  

"Let me guess, you often suffer from info overload."

"More like my creative juices get drowned before I could speak my mind."


"Like write now. I'm talking to you, but I don't know where this little introspection would lead?"

"Then I say, let's go with the flow."

"Like what I did in the past? Nung adik-adik ako sa blogging?"

"Yes. I think you're writing has become too structured. You pay more attention to the lyric and form rather than with your raw emotions."

"Guilty ako diyan! I have so much to write, as in. But the stream of consciousness ends just when I'm about to put it in a medium."

"I think you're not the only one who suffers from this affliction."

"Sana nga. If only ideas are easy to express."

"They are. Ang taas lang kasi ng standards mo. Haha."

"Like that one writer who lets his entry sleep for weeks, so when it comes out its in its perfect form?"

"Yeah, kahit two paragraphs lang yung entry niya. That's what you call, 'condesada."  Haha."

"O siya. I feel much better. Thanks a bunch."

"You should thank yourself bro. At least, while speaking to me, you deliberately closed your Twitter. Diba walang distraction?"


"And you're not second guessing if you should finish this or not."

"Yup, but I will have to edit this first. You know, I love refining my creations!"

"I dare not!" 

"And why not?"

"Just for you to get acquainted with your raw side. I know tumatanda ka na. These days, you're better at hiding your soft spots rather than ummm. confronting them."

"Promise me Mugs, just this once, leave your writing the way it is."

"I promise... crossing one's fingers."

"If you find this entry too personal. You can disable the comments section."

"Okay. I feel awkward sa totoo lang." 

"Feel good about yourself. When was the last time you really talked to me?"

"I can't remember."

"I know your world has a lot of distractions. But please, never neglect this blog. It's been one year since you started recognizing the looming wordlessness and you're still here."

"Sabi ko nga."

"That's all. Go on. Publish this entry. Let me assure you pare, you will like your next creation."

"Sana nga. Have to go. Thank man!"

"Walang anuman. Follow my dare. I'm excited to know what will you write next."