Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year Summed In One Prayer



New Year's Eve. 

I was slouched in the sofa after coming from the annual long walk along C6 in Taguig, when the Favorite Aunt asked me to lead the Media Noche prayers. I have been asked to welcome the occasion with an invocation. But given the very advanced notice this time, I was able to put my thoughts into words, and come up with a rehearsed petition that is befitting for a blog entry.

"Our Father, we gather here tonight to celebrate the coming year as one family. We are here to thank you for the bountiful providence, as well as for looking after our loved ones and keeping them safe. We are deeply grateful that despite the highs and lows of our days, you never fail to lift us from our sullenness. And for all the times we have hurt another, we ask for forgiveness, and ways to make amends.

We offer our prayers for those who are not with us tonight, namely [insert the name of the sister here, who spent the New Year with the in-laws] and her family. May you keep them safe and away from harm, our prayers also go..."

For some strange reasons, the phone I was holding went sleep mode, and the text I was reading disappeared. I tried scrolling down the app where I put the draft, but the touch screen refused to follow. There was the awkward pause, while everyone around the table was waiting for me to conclude. Even the Favorite Aunt tried to continue the invocation, yet being unused to spontaneous thoughts, I was forced to follow through by scrolling down the text until I come across the part I was supposed to supplicate.

"... to those who look after us. May you also bless their loved ones. Lastly, we offer our prayers for the uncertainties that lie ahead, that you may guide us and give us strength when hope seems to falter. Please bless us, our father, as you have been, in Jesus name, we serve your will. Amen."

No side comments came after the prayer, as everyone was eager to begin the post-midnight feast. All I heard the next day was a commendation from my mother, who actually liked the prayer. I told her that I panicked when my train of thought was disrupted.

In hindsight, though it was embarrassing to lose your poise during a solemn moment, the delivery actually sums up how my life has been in the past year: On another note app on my phone was an outline of the things I sought to accomplish. There were pleasant surprises that were not part of the draft, and disappointments too, when notions of order suddenly crumbled just when you thought things were going according to plan. In the end, I had to live through the setback; of that mistake of relying in the strength of another, and carry on with the task I had to finish with little fanfare, or praise from those who were my life's quiet observers.

To this day, sticking to what I was set to do, despite the circumstances, remain my biggest accomplishment. 

Happy New Year.
  




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NSA (Finale)



Previously: NSA (Second Part)


It was past 2 in the morning, and the biting cold had forced me to swivel the chair and reach my blanket so I could wrap it around my naked skin. I work, only in my jerseys, and despite having to set up my mobile office in unfamiliar grounds, the old habit remains even when the wall air conditioner blew frigid air into the room. 

Behind me was he, laid motionless in bed. Snoozing in a semi-fetal position, he has been reduced to a hunk of log, splayed under the sheets after imposing dominance over me. Occasionally, I would leave my workstation to fix the blanket so it covers his body. I would then plant a kiss to which he would respond with a faint smile.  On the nights I stayed over, he would ram the gates twice or thrice before bedtime, and yet, even with a lube-coated hole foreseeing another assault, I remain steadfast in my resolve to block his access into the more delicate corners of my being. Lust is lust, I guess, and perhaps, after the repeated deed never intensified the feelings, he had understood that it maybe nothing more than just a temporal need to be owned.

--

I have never truly grasped the concept, even when subconsciously, I already lead myself into such tryst in the past. How come two souls would become intimate, and leave their hearts unguarded when, after the cum has been wiped clean, they return to their hardened selves - and the time spent spooned in bed, while sharing the most sheathed of secrets would fade into obscurity, like their moment together is nothing more than just a story-in-passing?   

And Jake the Dog is no exception. Over the course of our after-sex pillow talks, I have learned that we have too many straight friends in common. It was he who revealed that a classmate whom I have not spoken in years gave birth to twins. In return, I told him that one of his colleagues, whom he almost got into a fistfight was my mentor in the university. In the realm of our mutual passions, he found it astounding to have met someone who used to play Star Control 3 as a kid. When I went over his place the second time, I showed him how Civilization 5 looks different from its incarnations. He bought a copy of the strategy game the next day and spent countless sleepless nights playing it as the Egyptians.

However, despite the recognized bonds, there remains a void that yearns to be filled. I feel it in his refusal to speak my name, or his recollections of past encounters, which, for some reasons never bothered me. I may have removed my Grindr and Wechat apps, and yet, I too was open to meeting guys who might show me a different perspective. This is not to mention the constant reminder, that I too recently, gave my heart to someone only to see it get broken.

I have never moved on.

It is unfortunate that despite our displays of affection, our respect for each others' space, and in my case, that undeniable need to perpetuate his story, our time has ended. Given our forked paths, and his re-entry into the limelight in the coming weeks, no longer do I see a fourth invitation.

Not even a Viber message from where it all began.

And so it ends here, with this final log. Written for the very purpose of honoring a memory, Jake the Dog himself may not have been aware. He said last Christmas that I was too kind, when I suddenly made my presence felt with a parting gift. I was tempted to shoot back and say that rarely do someone opens his door to me, and that meant everything. I just hope that after all that was said and done, and after leaving so many material memories behind, I may stand out as one of his most unforgettable encounters,






Because in my realms, I already made him an immortal.


-end-



Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Gift Of Giving







  

The cylinder piggy bank stood undisturbed in a corner for almost a year. I have this disaster scene in my head where money-dispensing machines fail and people kill each other in queues just to get hold of cash. Nobody knows the piggy bank's real purpose is for emergencies, and its existence would have remained unknown, had I not learned that it can no longer accept spare change.

My first reaction was to buy another so I can fill it with coins. The original need is still in place, and given the children and the aging matriarch at home who would be in danger should my disaster porn happen in real life, I would be eternally grateful for the foresight caused by my disturbing thoughts.

But a new belief is emerging. Something that is full of compassion: an act rather than self-preservation, it leaves everything to chance in exchange for fulfillment in performing deeds that benefit the greater whole. 

After all, nothing good comes out from worrying.






And so I picked a recipient that would find the coins most useful: The organization that sends the first teams when disaster strikes in the country. I already lent my strength and time with them to repack relief goods when a powerful storm hit Tacloban. I saw them work to provide aid. 

They resoundingly delivered.

It was a two-hour walk from home to their office in Intramuros. Mind not the method of the piggy bank delivery. I had spare time, and thought, the stroll would be a good way to work out. I arrived, barely unannounced. Even the guard was baffled with my presence. After being escorted in the receiving office, a volunteer opened the cylinder repository. The coins were carefully separated and then counted. The spare change accumulated was worth more than two thousand pesos.

More than an act of kindness, I find the deed a civic obligation. A responsibility, each and everyone in the community should be made aware of. And because it was done a day before Christmas, an obvious intention to mark the occasion, my wish is for this new habit to take root and become a tradition. In a time of prosperity, and relative harmony at home, may this be an offering, an expression of gratitude for that providence that keeps on giving.

Sharing the gift of lovingkindness from my family to yours. Merry Christmas! 
  



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NSA (Second Part)




"Ikaw yan?!?"

I browsed his Instagram before looking at him again.

He grinned.

"I know your name, but I can't recall your face." I seldom watch the shows where he sometimes deliver his stories.

And like those before me, I was stunned beyond words. Clearly this guy is someone I can't match, no matter how I prop my Social Media network. Even the gaming host whom he had never met knew him by name. At that moment, I just want to sink into my chair and disappear. Jake the Dog is too much for me.

But then, who am I kidding? I was trained to be like him, had I pursued what I learned in the university. We are of equal minds no matter how I drifted away from the profession.

And I do write stories still.

"So anong reaction ng ibang ka-meet up mo kapag nalaman na ikaw pala siya?"

"OA." He mimicked their gestures in an exaggerated manner. We both chuckled.

From there, I did my best to lift my image. I stuck with what I know about his work, and what I do in real life. There was complete honesty on my part, as people like him hound the truth. In return, he told me many things about his profession and the TV personalities he worked with: That a much despised anchor actually is smarter than the one who switched networks; of how politics nearly tore an institution apart. Much as I would like to spill the rest of the details of his revelation, every word he said was off the record.

Not even his name can be revealed.

Eventually, we both lost interest in the trivia game after spotting some contestants checking Google in secret. Jake the Dog and I were becoming absorbed in our little bubble that it no longer mattered if we were losing or winning the quiz.

We paid our bill and transferred to a watering hole across the gym. Over bottles of beer, the getting-to-know part became more personal. Engaging. I had to tell him of the breakup, of how I thought of the guys on Grindr, of how much I am enjoying the night in ways I didn't expect when the two of us competed in the trivia quiz game.

He too, felt the same.

Time flies when two people are having a good time. And just like that, it was nearing midnight. I don't know how tipsy he was, but should we part ways, I can still carry on and have a few more bottles with friends.

Yet, the events of the night was already set. Planned without words before the meet-up took place, I knew where this will all ends, if I manage to make a good impression upon my date. 

"Thank you for the evening," I told Jake the Dog.

"It was fun." He said back.

There was silence, followed by sly smiles. Someone's waiting for the other to make a move.

All that is needed is the invitation.

"Uhm, would you like to chill at my place?" I smiled.

"Oo ba." 

The details of the night will forever be untold. What I can tell is that I went home the next day at past 10 in the morning.


-tobecontinued-



Friday, December 19, 2014

NSA (First Part)



Previously: The Wheel Winds Again


He found me on Grindr because of the name I used in that gay dating application. I was Finn, and he was Jake the Dog. For those who watch shows on Cartoon Network, the unmistakable association creates a connection. Conversations flowed as we have one thing to bind us - our hook-up names - and on the third day of the Scorpion Week, just when I was wrapping up my three-day room cleaning, I decided to remove my account after accepting his dinner invitation.

"As a courtesy," I told him.

"You're going too fast," he warned.

Jake the Dog and I agreed to meet at a gourmet restaurant that serves artisan Cronuts. He was a bulky guy in his early thirties. He had a tribal-inspired tattoo on his forearm, uses a mix of English and Tagalog to speak his mind, and wore signature clothes that made mine look like they were bought from a thrift shop. Impressions alone suggest that his hypermasculine metrosexual vibe is out of my league, but it's still too early to judge how this hangout would end. 

There is still time to make an impression.  

It turns out, the first few minutes was devoid of pretensions. We were evenly matched - in the head - and because we belong to the same generation. I have barely warmed up my seat when the restaurant owner asked us to move upstairs and join their trivia game. Looking for ways to impress my date, I urged him to accept the challenge despite my limited knowledge of the quiz topics.

We squeezed the small talks between the gaming rounds. Flesh outs of the half truths we told each other during our morning online banters: that he works in the advertising industry; that he attended his Freshman year at the very halls of my university; and that, he is into intense sports like surfing and kickboxing. I was just at the tip of the iceberg, of knowing him in-depth when my date confessed his love of photography. When he shared his Instagram to show his pictures; of his out-of-town trips and foodie adventures, I was not prepared for the big revelation: 

That the guy in front of me was a TV personality. 


-tobecontinued-


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Maximo Oliveros








When my younger nephew's nanny decided to leave one day, the house was thrown in disarray as we cannot run as a .holding with just a single maid.

There was no time to assess the situation, and within days, a new maid was dispatched from Iloilo care of my sister's mother-in-law.

The house breathed a sigh of relief.

But the new maid is no ordinary housekeeper. She's a he, and puts on makeup, and wears skimpy short pants that attract attention. Had it not for the fact that he was my brother-in-law's distant relative, he would never set foot inside the house.

And there was reason to be weary sharing spaces with the effeminate man.

--

We have two young boys in the family, and mean stereotypes tell that men wearing ladies' accessories "corrupt" young children. They are not to be trusted with valuables and information too as they are masters of deception. The latter statement came from my mom's beautician, a female hairstylist, who has probably a lot of gay friends of her own.

These doubts were brushed aside when I reminded the Left-leaning members of the family of their socialist agenda. 

How can we achieve labor equality if we can't even give this man a chance.

"Malay natin," I said. "Okay naman siya."

"Who knows" I told myself. "He might lead the way for me to finally leave the confines of my closet."

He was generally met with ambivalence in the first weeks after his arrival. Arielle, as we call him, can cook well, (his vegetable dishes are divine) and ever since he took charge of the laundry, never did my clothes leave a foul smell again.

But the nonchalant attitude didn't last long. The head maid, who calls him "bakla" eventually lost patience. His refusal to finish household chores earned him the ire of my sister. I would describe him as someone who needs to be winded, like a machine, to do his job. For when he does nothing, and receives no tasks, he was out of the house, in the company of other men who are tambays in the neighborhood. 

Twice, I spotted him talking to them and this too I shared with urgency with the matriarch during one of our late night conversations.

The small offenses piled up until it became clear that he is bound to be replaced. My sister, his direct employer dislikes him. The matriarch worries about the kids getting confused of his gender. Soon, instructions were sent to my relatives' helpers to look for a new nanny, a female, who can actually be relied on to look after the kids.

--

The search ends weeks later, and a new maid was found. It was the Favorite Aunt who arranged for her travel. I woke up one afternoon to find her in the kitchen. And I knew, with one glance, that someone has to go.

Just when he had finally stopped talking to the tambays who did nothing but ask favors.

We could have looked for a replacement job for him. A relative who lives a street away has a beauty parlor. There might be a job opening for a new stylist. I could have asked friends too on Facebook and Twitter if they needed a helper. While both ideas were plausible, they didn't convince the women of the house to set forth and initiate the search. They simply wanted him back in the province for reasons of safety. 

Given Arielle's curiosity of urban folks and his mediocre work habits, we cannot guarantee he would be treated well by other employers. 

He simply has to do it on his own.

And so he left a day before my birthday, a week after he helped my mom de-clutter the Master's bedroom, and after receiving a simple "Thank you card" from me. Had he been someone else, someone who would tirelessly work day and night to put the house in order; someone, who would not court trouble by associating with people we naturally distrust; and had he won the Alpha females' favor by becoming one himself, like I did, to prove I am no pushover, he would have stayed, and his wages will directly come from me.

After all, it has been my fantasy to have a flamboyant guy dressed in French maid costume serve my needs. That, of course, belongs to my future.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Only What Is Needed








There is no limit to the spending as Christmas Day approaches. There are still a lot of people in the list - colleagues, neighbors, and helpers, the kindred who needs to be remembered. The shopping rush gets trickier as the Raketship demands attention.

Tradition stays, time has to bend.

It was one of those pleasant discoveries of last year: The Japan Home Center warehouse outlet. Who needs 168 at the bosom of Divisoria, when you can find gift items at P88 pesos at the fringes of Timog Avenue. As the materialist lust takes over, cultural leanings follow. This year, the deep pockets offer nearly limitless choices. Only the habit of diversifying held me from completing the list.

Now you ask, what to find at this thrift store: home items of great variety, fancy dining implements the Japanese use everyday, stateside beauty products - generic in packaging, yet classy by pedestrian standards, and so on. These and other goodies, one can give away without breaking the wallet. Without guilt, I bought them all at a price a quarter of what I spent at the Toy Kingdom sale last week.

But there is the setback. A trick I learned long after the acquisition was secured.

As the local government ordinance mandates stores to replace plastic with paper bags, I was caught unprepared when the bought items were returned. A spending oversight left me with two gigantic recycled pulp bags without handles. The loot had to be carried in such a manner that would limit my movement. And because I left the store at the middle of the rush hour, no cab driver would dare travel the streets of Manila and return sane after enduring the gridlock.

Had I known, never would I resort to hoarding.

I was able to get home through means that no longer matter in this story. What is essential is the lesson: of the fact why the Japanese are always seen carrying paper bags in anime and not with our Polyethylene pouches.

"Acquire what is only needed." The voice of reason comforts. "Or suffer the consequences of greed, like what your unready arms have to bear now."



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Anti-Gay




From Carlos Celdran's Facebook Page


I look at the picture and see two bullies. 

One invokes the name of the Almighty for righteous indignation, the other calls on the power of humor for sublime retribution. Without context, it is not easy to sift through the message: to side with who is right and who is wrong. For reasons only God knows, they converge at the same event every year. Two opposing creeds marching side by side, for a right to voice out their beliefs.

Thirteen years had passed since the day I embraced my sexual preference. It was a slow and agonizing path toward recognition. While I no longer have gay issues to speak of, a part of me stays in the closet. No one at home really talks about me bringing in my exes and flings. 

No one bothered to ask it straight. 

Hence, I stayed away from the advocates and their Pride Marches, out of fear of being identified. 

Confronted.   

To be forced by the family to make the unrehearsed confession.

But it doesn't mean my sentience is asleep. Every year, since the first Pride Marches were organized, I was invited to join the parade. I could have showed up, and blog about the event. Or even participate as an observer, and really find out the heart of the advocacy. While acceptance among straight and gay people of every hue remain a pipe dream, I have never doubted the capabilities of my tribe.

I am content with the social arrangement. Liberal thought is already catching up. 

Now back to the subject, I see photos of them -  the wretched ones - every year. The Caucasian pastor and his little brown-skinned puppets stood by the curb, raising their paper boards screaming with hate and outrage over the perceived immoralities of those they wish to repent. 

And the sinful heathens poke fun at their presence.

I do not know what exactly takes place when these two people converge: the advocates and their antagonists, and if in their tensest moments, does one see the other as a fellow human and not the enemy of whatever deity they side with?

Do those with the loudest voices, give space for the minority to air their side?

But if history were to be the judge, the advocacy will cease to exist without the other's presence. The reason these Pride events take place is to remind everyone about LBGT's rights. In the absence of those who have long desired their complete disappearance, what reason there is to wear pink and parade the streets of Manila, like the rest of humanity still cares?



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Badinggerzie Generation




The gene runs in the family, my mother tells me. There is a distant lesbian relative. Another one is gay. Both from the father side. While I always adhere to nurturing as reasons for deviation, the causes no longer matter. Time has caught up, society now tolerates preference.

My own journey was hard-fought, for there were no masculine gays during my awakening. All the out guys were flamboyant. Screaming fags, whose presence amuses the straights. I can take the credit for joining the revolution. For I was among the first of the anonymous who crawled out of the closet, and into the Internet I recognize the person I would become.

Ten years into the future and the kids of today are a little more open. Even the hypermasculine ones now show their faces; in their various stages of undress without the judgement bore by the men before them. And in this time and age, while real acceptance remains a distant dream, I am certain that tomorrow will be more gay, open, and the stigma, which my 4-year old nephew from the cousin's side will be short-lived.

"Ang kaso, hetong bunso eh lalambot-lambot." My aunt said the last time we talked.

"Lalambot lambot?"

"Alam mo na.." She then bent her arm backwards to show the gesture.

"Nabugbog nga ng tatay niya nung isang linggo." She continued. "Inapakan pa nga sa likod."

"Bakit daw?" I shook my head.

"Sabihin daw ba na babae siya. Hindi ko alam kung saan niya nalaman yun."

"Pero sobrang lambing na bata. Matulungin pa."

"Sabi niya sa akin, mag-aaral daw siya ng mabuti para di na kami mahirap."







Remembering the conversation one afternoon, while shopping for gifts for the brethren's children, I thought of giving the Grover shirt this Christmas as a succinct recognition of his gender choice.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Grateful Days




It is the time of the year, when guiltless shopping becomes the conscious pursuit; when unplanned phone calls to friends add to the monthly phone bill; and when the credit cards find their best use, because it is more wounding to pay in cash for the acquisitions you will part ways before the holidays end.

And it is the season of reminiscing too; of the times when a kid, now a fully-grown man, used to linger under a Christmas tree, his happy thoughts glued to the presents, some with gift tags bearing his name. The soft tiny lights blink with perfect timing, leaving the boy suspended in that dream-like gaze he would recall with pained longing.

Therefore, with unconditional fidelity to memory, in spite of how time had changed everything; and as an expression of gratitude for the kindred, who always matter, we embrace tradition as it has always been: with child-like thoughts and with a heart unburdened with troubles. And in the days of plenty, when the side jobs provide more than what is required to live in bounty, may this year's grateful days touch more hearts, 







And share the gift of giving to many.




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Another One For The Road



And when at long last, we emerge from this rut,
I tell you, We'd be in a far better place.
That is something I'd always smile about.






Gumball and Darwin
The Amazing World of Gumball



The Wheel Winds Again




You think, “This is life, this is just how it is and how it’ll always be.” But you are living through something. And while, logically, you must know that there was a time before now, when things were different, and that there will be a time after now, and things will change, it’s so hard to remember right now: 

Everything will change. 







It merely took a day to spin out of control.

I saw it coming.

All these formless angst and anguish must take shape, and like an imaginary ball of lust, it bounced off over portals that masquerade as "dating sites."

So I was back in Wechat and Grindr, and by design, I also took a leave of absence at the raketship to make time for that ritualistic room overhaul, which I did only once this year. One week, to be exact. Seven unspoken days when I let the rage go unchecked and indulge what the groin has been desiring all this time.

At first, it was easy to get off, if you catch my drift. A dash of libidous words there, coupled with exchanges of photos in various states of undress here, and the horny self is satiated.

But it was never satisfied.

I had so much idle time that week, that i made double the rounds I do in a day. Soon I began engaging in video calls - with boys 10 years my junior. I would make them stroke their weenie or finger their hole, and at one time, I did some money shots to the delight of the 20 year old kid on the other side of the line.

On Grindr, I inflated my ego. I let myself get drunk on the complements I recieved from posting full frontal photos. A couple of times, the teasing almost lead to an encounter in a motel. And like I always do in situations like these, I find ways to retreat for reasons of self preservation.

Until the pent-up repression exploded into a real, mindless assault.

The first act happened one early morning. The Wechat guy sent an invitation to chat, which I accepted almost immediately. There were no pleasantries. Not even a request for a face photo. Five minutes after our introductions, I was already heading towards his place - a mere walking distance from my house.

It was a random encounter: a quickie that didn't end up in fucking (unlike the previous sextings where I usually tell the boys I'd stuff my schlong into their wet holes.) His was hung and amazingly stiff. I had a hard time letting it all slide down my throat. After the deed was over, I asked if he was a top. Without thinking it over, a nod confirmed my suspicion.

It was a one-time encounter, for I had removed the Wechat app after returning home. On Grindr, I have been talking to a chap who found me hours after installing the app. What began as wholesome conversations lead to dinner and drink invitations. And when one who enjoyed the other guy's company has a place of his own, getting invited to stay overnight is not far off the itenerary.

For the first time in two years, it was me who walked away from someone's lair.

The next day.

I would like to believe I'd be forgotten. That our tryst was a romanticized one night stand that you just shake off after taking a cold shower. But it didn't. Perhaps, realizing that both of us may have too many things in common, an invitation was forthcoming, and I got screwed once again during the middle of the week.

There were times that night, I'd take breaks from work-from-home job so I can steal a kiss and wrap my blanket around his upper body. He would show a faint smile before returning to slumber. Perhaps, an appreciation to a person he may never see again. In such idyllic setting, I was made to believe that it was possible to start over: that I would not have to use my own blanket when I take a nap beside him at daybreak. And I was convinced too of the possibility that maybe, if we hold on to each other a little longer, I might give feelings another shot, disproving that long held notion that it takes a long time before I get past the mourning.

But who am I kidding, really?

I did sleep beside him that morning, under his sheets with my arms embracing his hypermasculine frame, and in my dreams, I sincerely wished to return at that lavender spot, where I longed for the assuring hands of another and not this steely gloves I wear now.

For when I wake up, and that angst and anguish fill again the void once occupied by love, never will my care and devotion transcend into a full and unconditional union with the other.

The Fourth relationship attempt has failed. And like in the past two cycles I have been through, the mind dictates what I should have embraced all along.

That I am better off alone. 




You are alive in a memory. 

You, are once upon a time. 

The Illusion Of Things Never Changing

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Hour Of The Wolf




Mendiola Bridge, 3 AM


"What was I thinking?" I shook my head, as I hurried past the J. P. Laurel gate going to Malacanan. 

It was past 2 in the morning, and I was at the middle of my shift. For some reasons, the 2 packs of Nissin Yakisoba I gorged that evening still felt heavy on my tummy. My boxers seem to have grown too small for my thighs, and hours before daylight, the need to burn that excess calories assaulted my self esteem. I would need to get out, not to head to the gym, but to walk and clear my head.

The earliest of the Mendiola joggers have yet to get up and prepare, but I was already there on their grounds, trying to find my way to the other side of the palace complex in San Miguel. The street outside the Presidential office was eerily empty, the huge trees, which awed me during the day, have become menacingly terrifying during the Witching Hour. The cold November air didn't help calm the senses. Only Trance music, that supplied upbeat sounds kept my pace. I was halfway through my stroll when peripheral visions of fire hydrants being mistaken for Duendes nearly got me racing towards the nearest lamp post.

I would have to find another route returning home. The heart could no longer take the distortions.

So I turned back at Casal street where the trucks and occasional bikes from Ayala zipped inches away from the sidewalk. There, I risked getting mugged, and hit, or come across some vagrant in need to vent his frustrations on everything. Save for Ndoto my smartphone, I didn't bring money during the tryst. The ATM could provide much needed relief, but then, how can I be so certain they were not planted with devices that would draw off my cash?

I dashed past Mendiola and then Bustillos. The heart was still racing, but the mind was eager to get home. The streets were no longer empty, but the post-midnight strangers were enough reason to raise my guard. As to why go through all this trouble for clarity, the answer remains elusive. What is certain was the resolve to take a cold shower upon my arrival, and carry on the job tasks needed to be done before I could cocoon in my bed and embrace sleep.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unpretty





He would say that I seemed to have added a few pounds every time we meet.

"Dati may collarbone ka pa, ngayon wala na." He said with disdain, one time, when I joined him at his gym to work out.

As if not satisfied with his observations, he would then provide a laundry list of ideas to counter my weight gain.

"Kumain ka kasi 4x a day. Huwag kasi isang bagsakan." He said in jest. I would then listen, only to brush it off afterwards.

"Huwag ka mag alala, papayat din ako!"

After all, despite my busy work schedule, never did I stop going to Eclipse. I even included jogging between my work-out days just because the home-based job removes so much physical activity.

He, meanwhile, religiously goes to the gym three times a week. He doesn't eat rice at night, and takes a few bites of bread and fruits in the morning. His discipline was unparalleled, and so was his demands - which he conveyed through the subtle comments about my built. I used to not pay attention to these snide remarks believing they were thoughtless musings. But as his repeated comments dent my self esteem, a memory drawn from a time when I was obese re-emerges, forcing some old wounds to open.

"Ang taba taba mo na." He would then try to lift my legs to put himself in between.

"Hihiwalayan kita pag lumaki ka pa." The boyfriend would later say it was a joke, but the neglect I felt was achingly real. 

Years later, he would see me turn into the muscular guy he desired me to be. But by then, I was already preoccupied searching for validation from other men. In Guys4Men and elsewhere, they abound and I indulged in their attention, and in all the betrayals I did, there remains the scar of his words.

I have never forgotten his threat.

Fast forward into the present, and the comments I have been receiving as of late somehow made its way into the question of his sudden coldness. I try to remain steadfast, believing everything was just a phase. For I have bounced back to my ideal weight so often that my clothes never needed size replacement.

So was his promise that our second relationship has yet to see its best days. 

It is only after the words stopped being repeated, and the guy, whose vanity issues didn't sit well with my expanding girth suddenly announced the breakup - through email - did i realize that maybe,

All that mattered to him was having a boyfriend with a chiseled body. Not someone who will accept him even if he turns out to be the biggest mass gainer in our relationship.

And as for me two weeks after the breakup:






I will have the last laugh.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Kelly Heights (First Part)



On these great plains,
there are visions of the clouds
turning red at partings,
where the earth sighs
away from the warring skies.


The Last War Party, Ruel De Vera
The Most Careful Of Stars


Previously, Melancholy Heights


Back when I used to be a prominent member of a local student council party in UST, the seniors among us would party the night away after the day-long meet and greet at the college lobby, and end up spending the early mornings in some quiet and relaxing place in the city. 

The socializing, among my party mates holds many memories, for it was during these after-school "overnight meetings" did I first taste the Manila club scene. That, of course, is another story. This entry is about my love affair with Cloud 9 in Antipolo, and how I discovered the place thanks to my political associates.

I was lucky to be part of that group, who decided to hold a meeting on a Saturday for some organizational planning. It was the summer before I turned Senior, and the meeting ended late at night. The cool kids of the Arts and Letters, with their wheels and club gears had no plans of going home. There's always the choice to go to Timog, at Phenomena to dance. 

But that's an option not everyone in the group accepts.   

When another orgmate with a car arrived, the group composed of around 15 girls and boys made their way into the waiting vehicles. There were four cars in the convoy and despite the protests of others, the group made their way to Timog for some night of merrymaking at the dance floor. 

"I was at the back seat of the second car. Yung driver namin na freshman eh naisipan makipagkarerahan dun sa kasama niya sa unahan. It was on a sidestreet along the Scout area, ang kipot nung kalsada pero nasa 60kph yata yung patakbo ng mga kasama ko. Parang ewan lang. We come out from one main street intersection to another, until dun sa isang kanto, biglang lumusot yung unang car saktong may BMW na paparating. 'As in inches lang ang pagitan', sabi nung Freshman driver nung unang car. Pati yung mga kampanteng pasahero sa loob eh biglang nawala ang antok."

The club was packed and the gatekeepers refused to let new guests in. The still unoccupied Ozone disco, whose infernal remains rest just a few steps away reminded the owners of Phenomena of its tragedy. Since there were no Starbucks along Timog back in 2001, our elders thought of returning to the place where they used to wait for sunrise, high up in the mountains; where the vista of a waking city graces the pilgrims from the plains.







People who have been there, and who have seen the city from such heights call the spot, "The Overlooking." 

-tobecontinued-



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Life Gives A Reason To Fuck



Previously:

Something That Is Real




"Pre"

"San ka?"

It was a Viber message from an unknown number.

"Office Why?"

"Kala ko naman nasa inyo ka."

He was referring to the street where we both live. The truth was, my colleagues and I were wrapping our meeting in the office. We will take our work home.

"Haha bakit?"

"Lam mo na."

I get it.

"Long time ah!" 

I replied, grinning.

"Hahahaha"

"Ngaun lang d naging busy."

"Bukas pa uwi mo?"

"Yup."

"Ay sayang."

"Awtz."

Ending the conversation there, I was certain not to make a move for any encounter to happen.



Barely a week after the break-up and there they are, making a nasty comeback. It's like life's taunting my resolve, and saying it straight to my face that I am meant to be a slut. The guy was one of those random encounters; the last among the nameless faces I met on Planet Romeo for a "quick fun." Had he not mentioned the street of my residence during our correspondence, I would not recall our history. 

He was out of my life long before summer has begun. 

I recall our time, and how we did it at the bathroom of his dormitory. He would make contact before midnight, sneak me into the compound and into the toilet area, and there, while pretending to take a dump, he would suck my dick as he pleasured himself. He had a weenie, by the way. Unimpressive, given my high standard. It was one of the reasons I never asked for his name. But more importantly, after the deed was over, he would tell me to leave the dorm after he exits the scene. No talks. Not even goodbyes.

Like he never slobbered my face in the heat of our quickie. 



Despite these cycles, he would re-emerge from time to time, asking if I am game for some "alam mo na," moments. For a manly guy who says he has a "girlfriend," his invitation is a source of astonishment. Why look for me when he has other choices in our neighborhood? Why keep asking, if I keep declining? I felt my crotch when I arrived home that night, and choosing between a cold, and recycled encounter, and a lock-down inside my hollow quarters, I resigned to the thought that some job-related tasks await - besides getting cock-sucked and wet-kissed by a stranger who I will never recognize, and never see, as part of my life.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Back To Zero





Dear Mugen from 2009,

My apologies for getting in touch, now, just when you have probably thought I have figured things out. I may no longer share your need for affirmation. But you and I cannot escape our fate. Years into the future, I would still lose my battles. I would be crushed from within; hurt in ways you may have easily deflected. The difference now is that I refused to see the writings on the wall. Unlike with you and Phanks, you engineered the dissolution. 

You mounted a rebellion.

I am writing to you to find solace. No. I am seeking resolution. You were a tough kid, with a mind set for tomorrow. Five years after publishing this entry and you will get acquainted with a Mugen who is set to settle down. Time is running out. I no longer have the strength to play around and explore like you did in many, horrible ways the future me would find it difficult to confess. 

I remember, you had a goal before: To be able to pull out the shard lodged within your heart in a matter of days. Did you achieve your target? Did you ever run away and never look back? Tell me how because I need insights.

My mind tells me to flee, yet my feet remain stuck, until perhaps, I find out the depth of his lies.

Allow me to end this log as spontaneous as it came when I screen shot that entry you had many summers ago. Of course, I knew what happened next, how it took you another year before you let someone breach those walls. 

And to be honest, this is what I am terrified of.

Knowing how we've cradled that solitude long enough to find joys in being alone.

There are reasons to believe that I may never seek this road called love again.

I will tell you what happened in time. For now, let me mourn our loss.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lead Us Astray




A fake news portal wrote, "let there be darkness for six days."

And the world believed. 

It took just mere three paragraphs of sloppy storytelling for the space agency to release a statement refuting the "news." 

But the world merely shrugged off the truth. 

Seven days had already passed and the article is still being shared on social media. After all, it was a subject matter that catches everyone's fancy, besides political and celebrity scandals. Humanity's fascination with the absurd - and the people who believe them will never run out.

This is our bane as a species.

Thus, it would not come as a surprise if some people really did stock up on supplies. Meanwhile, the pious had probably repented and gave away their belongings like the last time - when some televangelist said the Rapture will take place on a specific date. Woe to those who looked forward to the end times. The world didn't turn into cinders and the deceivers went on peddling their lies.

What is even stranger, however, is that no matter how many times these "news articles" and "forwarded texts" lead us astray, we keep on embracing anything and everything that would put a break to our mundane and monotonous lives. 

To the point of doubting the information gatekeepers, whose names they always put on the line.




"I think it's a hoax but I'm still distressed." A friend said to me on Twitter.

"Tell me the source and I can tell you if it's true." I said, assuring him of my strong connections with the gatekeepers.

The friend then sent the news link.

"Just by looking at the word "hospitol" and I knew it was absolutely fake." I told him. He promised never to share the link to his followers.

For all intents and purposes, the case is closed between us and our audience.

But in some isolated corners of the social web, where mindless panic edges over scholarly discernment, one click of the mouse button: a retweet, a share, and the world will come tumbling down, forcing authorities to release statements debunking the terrifying things written on the article.




  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Minsan Lang Ikaw Bata







One day, I walked inside the Toy Kingdom for reasons no longer I can recall. It might have been one of those random visits, whose pretext was to buy a toy for my nephews. I did buy something at the store - a die cast jeep from Hotwheels - which I bought for the kids. But i kept the toy in my room for so long, that i was inching towards owning the die cast myself.

Toy cars.

I had plenty when i was a little boy. I used to simulate traffic jams on the floor complete with cardboard boxes in place of buildings. I had so many die cast toy cars and so many of them got lost and broken. I have managed to save a few. They now make up the cache of trinkets and mementos that occupy the upper shelves of my dresser.

To this day, they remain hidden from our little boys. The thought of turning them over still terrifies to no end.

Returning to the die cast toy jeep i have subconsciously possessed, the act, which slowly manifest every time i find some painted metal object with wheels lying around the house reawaken the kid within. Maybe it was the collector in me who springs into action, it might even be the hoarder taking over.

As far as i know - and it happened to me many times over -  when a die cast toy car gets into the shelves, it's time to invoke the conscience and remind myself.

"Minsan lang ikaw bata."

---

"Bigyan mo din ako ng ganyan sa birthday ko ha?" Lenin pointed at the miniature Chrysler jeep inside the loot bag. Its contents are among the first presents I would give away this Christmas.

"O sige next time." I was supposed to say. The toy was actually meant for his younger brother, who like him, has fascination with die cast vehicles.

"Wait"

"Kunin mo na yung toy." He then slid his hand to claim, that object he's been eyeing since last month.

"Happy Birthday..." I said, as he walked away to show his mom his on-the-spot present. 


Written for the Round Table Challenge


Sunday, November 2, 2014

One More Time



How many one liners have you erased before you were satisfied with this draft?

Ten?

Twelve?

We have lost count.

And how many times have you thought of returning, only to fall back at the last minute? 

Since the 27th. Two months, after you have gone away.

Truth is, we have nothing here to look at, but derelicts of a forgotten age. A time, when we glorified our achievements with unsung artistry, even when our pockets stayed deep and empty. And yes, we still long for those days, when we squeezed work between lives; when we celebrated long walks with soulful musings; when we were, clandestine writers of events, vowing never to breathe a word that such space - this realm - exists.

Then, silence begins to engulf our thoughts for there was nothing really to pen anymore.

Because we would rather keep the stories to ourselves than waste hours crafting the perfect narratives for this self-indulgent exercise.

Besides, other mediums of expression abound. 200 characters, and we're done sharing stories.

But we are, creatures of habit and we have long accepted that writing is a lifelong, personal pursuit. And it leaves a strange scar in the chest knowing we have given up our craft for monetary gains; that we had so many unfinished stories left abandoned in life and in texts that will see no end.

For we hardly distinguished one from the other.

And so, we return to this blog to reclaim the lives we had lost; to tell the unsaid events of the last two months; and pen the endings of some tales we have already weaved in memory. There maybe no certainties in our presence this time. But at least, we made attempts at reconnecting.

This is Mugen, writing back, and these are my stories.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Found



Previously on: Outpost





It has been more than half a century since we began searching the heavens for intelligence, and we continue still. The truth is, they will never be found. Not because they don't want to, but because of our beastly nature.

I have always said that they - the visitors - are watching. The conspiracy theorist in me asserts that they have been here since our beginnings. But given our penchant for domination, of alienating the different among us, maybe, they found wisdom in leaving us in peace.

We are not ready for the universe.

"We could find alien life." Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute was quoted in a recent interview. "But politicians don't have the will."

So long as we - as a species - continue to destroy the planet, and as long as we cast extraterrestrials as invaders and manipulators of humanity in movies, the cosmos will remain silent, indifferent, and uncaring

- perhaps until the end of our time.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Lost Cause




Previously on: Postcripts To A Fiesta


Throngs of people from different walks of life would answer the call, and transform the Luneta Park into a sea of humanity. There, an assembly of social advocates converges, turning their muted rage into a storm of mass demonstrations. The political class did tremble, and within a year, several personalities would suffer the indignities of the national witch hunt.

Their fortunes permanently altered because of the gross acts they were said to be part of.

I was there last year and saw with my own eyes the fiesta that was the Million People March. It was a majestic cause, and I had no doubt my voice was being heard. The snowball effect of that peaceful uprising would spawn a swarm of revelations exposing the rottenness that is the Pork Barrel scandal. To this day, charges are being filed against the perpetrators. 

Never in the history of the nation did we put on trial so many of the untouchables of the land.

We didn't stop there.

Somewhere along the way, even the reformers would be accused of corruption. Opponents say, they too had engineered a way to get into the national coffers. There's the Development Acceleration Program and the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting. There too was a clamor to unseat the President after the Supreme Court deems some of the executive's budget intervention in violation of the constitution. Division among the social advocates would turn friends into adversaries, and those, who have always been critical of the government would launch a hail of attacks that would muddle the original cause. 

And they would converge again at the Luneta a year later. This time, with a twisted narrative and resolutions beyond reasons.







No longer a believer of the cause, I refrained from lending my voice - and presence. The organizers - mainly the loud left, no longer stick to the real issue, which is the end of the PDAF. This time, they proclaim the administration's downfall. It was an assembly of the bitter critics - those whose desire is the replacement of reformers.

The images shared on social media speak of truth and the turn out at the grandstand was but a shadow of its former appeal. No longer having the clear vision to push forth the advocacy, the leaders of the first convergence had lost their credibility. Scoffed at and being reduced as radicals, the peaceful assembly last Heroes Day was a lost cause.

The public wish to have no part of it. 

Not anymore. 






Monday, August 25, 2014

Invested




For months now, I have already thought the future of L'Heure Bleue. What point there is to blogging when I can always dilute my thoughts into 140 characters, and post it on a microblog. These days, when I can no longer afford the time for reflection and that habit of repetitive reading of a recent post to perform some thought refinement, the instant gratification offered by Twitter has become a workable replacement.

The need for aesthetics is gone, the wordsmith in me is dead.

But ten years is a long time to simply abandon this project and leave this space. I have been consistently writing - with or without an audience to read my life for ages. To break that time-honored bond, and simply walk away without breathing a word about my disappearance, is a slap to the blogger I once was. Should my absence become more evident, I can say with certainty that the future can never be written in these pages.

So even when I have to do other things, like blurb writing, laying in bed to sleep, or even simulating a life on Sims 3, I chose to reconnect with this portal and try once more to enjoy having that leisurely stroll inside my head. 

For when inaction becomes my direction once more, never will I go back to blogging. 

This journal keeping will end with silence as my witness.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Nowhere There




Credit



It is 3 in the morning and I was about to go home. I wasn't feeling well today, and so is my mom, whose red, veiny eyes show symptoms of sore eyes. She was told not to go to work after spending the whole night watching over a nephew who was ill. She insisted, despite our protestations. 

The result was her catching the virus.

I wanted to go home so I can look after her. Rest doesn't come since there are still blurbs for raketship to write. A last minute call held me from leaving the workplace. I was told, by the maid, that my recovering nephew and her mother occupy my room. 

There's no place for me at home.

It was a solution I brought up with my sister before leaving the house this evening. Told her our mother needs to rest, and so I'd be offering my quarters for her and Baby Diego while Lenin sleeps beside his father. It was a sketchy plan, which my mom already thumbed down. 

I never thought my sibling would actually embrace the idea.

With my mom now resting, and the nephews separated, so as to avoid the contagion, there's a sense of relief knowing isolation has been achieved. And yet at the same time, knowing i'd have to give up my sanctum every time outbreaks like this happen, I might have to acknowledge that sooner or later, I would have to move out and look for a place of my own.

That, or i'd regard my workstation as my new home from now on.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hell On Earth



When I get to read the news these days, particularly reports trickling in from the Middle East and Africa, I cannot help but wonder, could the very idea of hell exist not in the afterlife but here on Earth? 


Syria


"It reportedly shows Sharrouf's seven-year-old, Sydney-raised son dressed like any other young boy in blue checked trousers, a blue shirt and baseball cap, struggling to hold up the severed head of a slain Syrian soldier by his hair.

It was captioned with the words 'That's my boy'."




Shocking photo: Child of ISIS fighter holds decapitated head


Gaza


In the aftermath of that war, Hasan Zeyada, a psychologist with the GCMHP, told the Guardian: "The majority of children suffer many psychological and social consequences. Insecurity and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness are overwhelming. We observed children becoming more anxious – sleep disturbances, nightmares, night terror, regressive behaviour such as clinging to parents, bed wetting, becoming more restless and hyperactive, refusal to sleep alone, all the time wanting to be with their parents, overwhelmed by fears and worries. 

Some start to be more aggressive."





Gaza's children: 'Israel is creating a new generation of enemies'


Liberia


"Nema Red, a resident of Clara Town, said the two men who lay dead in the street for days had shown symptoms of Ebola such as bleeding and vomiting.

'They started seeking help from the community to take them to the hospital, but community members ran for their lives ... they both gave up and dropped dead on the ground in the streets.'





Ebola outbreak: Bodies 'dumped in the street’ as Liberia faces panic over virus


Iraq


"They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers. The world hasn't seen an evil like this for a generation. There's actually a park in Mosul that they've actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick," Arabo told CNN's Jonathan Mann last week.

"And they have them in the park. This is crimes against humanity. The whole world should come together. This is much broader than a community or faith. This is crimes against humanity and they are doing the most horrendous, the most heartbreaking things you can think of," he explained.






ISIS 'Systematically Beheading Children' in Iraq; They Are 'Killing Every Christian They See,' Says Chaldean Leader


There is much suffering. So many innocent lives forcefully taken away all in the name of fear - and distorted faith. What is most terrifying, are not the pictures, and not the ghastly stories that fill the landing pages of our online newspapers. Distilling the essence of all these violence, one can't help but think that maybe, humanity is wired this way - that we are meant to be destructive and destitute creatures.  

Looking at the pictures and knowing too well the carnage will go on, there is no way but to embrace the truth, that given the so many problems facing the world today, the rest no longer care whatever happens on the other side of the globe.