Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The President and His Sister


Philippine President Noynoy Aquino and his celebrity sister Kris were having brunch one Sunday. Noynoy has been worried about implementing changes he is aware will hurt some sectors of society, members of an electorate that helped put him in power with an overwhelming majority.

"There are reforms that must be implemented but I have been delaying them Kris," Noynoy said, munching on Libby's corned beef, one of his favorite dishes. "We need to increase fares on the commuter trains, remove rice subsidies. But if I do this, it would hurt my popularity."

"Ahhh. But it is precisely now that you should do these things while your popularity is at its highest," Kris replied.

"What do you mean?"

Noynoy poured himself a glass of orange juice and looked at Kris expectantly.

"You still don't get it, brother dear, do you? You will never be as popular or as loved as you are today. Popularity is the best political currency and you should use it while you still can."

"You really think so?"

"The adoration of the masses is fleeting. Everybody wants something and the reality is, you will never be able to satisfy each of their demands."

"How do you know all these things Kris? You seem to know a lot, for someone who isn't a politician."

"Show business is not so different from politics," she replied. "To remain popular, you must understand human nature. After all, when you were elected, didn't you simply take a role?"

"The role of the president. Yes," Noynoy said. "It's just that you want to do so much but the government's resources are limited."

"That is the difficult part, Noy. To decide who will benefit. And that is where politics and show business part ways."

"I have a dream, Kris. A stronger, wealthier nation. Do you think it is possible?" Noynoy said in a quiet voice.

"Noy, everything is possible," Kris replied. "But there is always a price to pay. In order to build your dream, you may have to alienate some of your supporters. But that is the mark of a true statesman. To do what must be done."

Noynoy fell silent. He thought of the millions of Filipinos who depended on him to make their lives better, to give them food, jobs, education.

"Hay Kris. It can get lonely at the top."

"Oh Noy. It always is, it always is."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Monster in Us


Former police inspector Rolando Mendoza held 25 bus passengers hostage in Manila on Aug. 23, 2010 to protest his dismissal from service on extortion charges.

Eight tourists from Hong Kong died; the deadliest attack on visitors in the Philippines. Mendoza died in the assault.

The next day, the whole world roared with anger and pointed a finger at his dead body crying "Monster! Monster!"

Human history is filled with stories of men and women who have done horrible things. Adolf Hitler killed six million Jews and Joseph Stalin's reign of terror in the U.S.S.R. led to the deaths of approximately 20 million people.

And then there are those like Mendoza, ordinary citizens whose sudden acts of violence flood our TV screens and hold us captive. We are shocked by the brutality that we see, and we howl and scream in anger.

"But we love our bit of terror," blogger Kevin Musgrove once said.
Those delightful moments of terror that give us our adrenalin rush safe from accompanying danger. We like our demons dressed up in the costumes of pantomime, our villains bedecked in hi-vis personae. We can hiss and boo with childish delight because it is safe to do so. We are the magpies chafing a passing cat: we know the danger and we know we are outside its reach.

We like to think human civilization has advanced dramatically in the past thousands of years, that we are no longer barbaric, that we have become civilized as shown by the comfort of our homes, the beauty of our parks, the order in our streets.

But as Friedrich Nietzsche once said, all civilizations remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations. That while societies may progress, human beings don't; and our capacity for cruelty and violence remains infinite.

That while we sleep peacefully at night, we are acutely aware that the monster that is Mendoza lives in each of us, quietly bidding his time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You, Secret


"So, see you next week maybe?" James said as he put on his jeans.

"Yeah sure."

I lit a cigarette and watched as the smoke wafted out the window. It was early evening and it has started to drizzle.

"Do you want to stay over? You can leave early tomorrow," I told James, pointing at the rain.

"I can't. It's alright; it should be easy to get a cab."

James and I have been seeing each other on and off for more than four years now. He knows my body, every nook and corner of it, better than some of my lovers. When we have sex, I sometimes feel I'm a violin and his tongue is the bow, smooth and slow, at times quick, rough, insistent.

Sometimes we see each other once a week, sometimes once in a year. There is an unspoken rule; our lovers always come first, you second.

Still, our relationship has outlived every single one that I had with my boyfriends. Sometimes I wonder what we have and how long it will last.

"Do you have other buddies?" I asked him once.


"Why not?"

"I don't know Kane. I guess at some point in time, you'll tire of random encounters too."

"I like what we have," he explained. "You know, someone to talk to, someone to fuck with."

Human beings, no matter what we think, are creatures of habit after all. There is a certain comfort in the regularity, of having someone, anyone.

James and I met at a party hosted by a common friend. He was too charming; I couldn’t resist.

"I've always liked boys with dimples," James said, offering me a drink.

"Ohhh. Hahaha. It's just a dimple," I replied.

"Can I see you again?"

"Uhmm. I have a boyfriend James."

"Do you... now."

I have a boyfriend, I kept reminding myself. But James' presence made me giddy, light

"So, what do you do?" I asked him.

"I'm a man of many talents," he said teasingly.

"Ahh. But can you do the hardest thing of all?" I said, pulling him closer to me. I was getting drunk, and the alcohol made me reckless.

"What is that?"

His fingers were playing with my hand. I knew he wanted me and the knowledge made me braver than I really was. I looked him in the eye.

"Keep a secret."

He held my gaze.

"Ahhhh. Yes. I can do that."

We kissed.

"Can I add you in my Facebook?" James asked me before he left.

"Uhm. Why?"

"So we can be friends."

"We are friends, James. Just not that kind of friends."

"Why not?"

"Don't you remember? I thought you understood.You're my secret."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sex Etiquette: The Fuck Buddy

Charlotte: Excuse me. Fuck buddy? What is a fuck buddy?
Samantha: Oh, come on.
Carrie: A fuck buddy is a guy you probably dated once or twice, but it didn't really go anywhere. But the sex was so great, you sort of keep him on call.
Samantha: He's like dial-a-dick.
---Sex and the City, Season 2

As people seasoned in one-night stands know, casual sex with strangers rarely ends in good, clean, sporting fun. Oftentimes, it is messy and complicated.

Those who desire regularity, comfort and the guarantee of sexual satisfaction with one person without the romance part has found the perfect solution: the fuck buddy.

Fuck buddies have been around for as long as people have been fucking their buddies. But modern lovers recognize there is a new breed of booty call out there: less complicated, much friendlier. Ladies and gentlemen, behold appointment fucking.

This set-up can last months, or years at a time, but some rules must be met. Having a fuck buddy requires separating sex from all emotions attached to it; not just love, but also jealousy, possessiveness and neediness.

It is necessary to be attracted to each other, that is all that is required. There is no need to have anything else in common.

Both parties must be single or in open relationships.

An ex one is friends with makes an ideal fuck buddy. An ex who has broken your heart is not recommended, though a maximum of three break-up sex may help provide closure. Anything more is a pathetic attempt to rekindle a relationship.

An ex whose heart you broke is off limits until he or she gets over you.

How Often:
Do not make an appointment more than once a week. He or she is not your boyfriend or girlfriend.

If you have been the initiator more than three times without reciprocation, assume your buddy has moved on.

If you wish to move on, simply stop calling or answering the calls.

Conduct During an Appointment:
It is acceptable to be tipsy, but never drunk. Better go home instead and pass out while attempting to masturbate, rather than vomit on your buddy.

Never leave personal items behind.

Everyone gets at least one orgasm.

It is good manners to let the sun down between appointments with different buddies. If you have scheduled two appointments one after the other on the same day, it is required to shower before the second appointment.

A booty call is not "nothing". It is simply something else. No matter how casual the set-up, it is polite to remember your fuck buddy is still a lady or a gentleman, not just a machine.

If you are unable to play well with others, then you are strongly advised to invest in a good sex toy and stop wrecking havoc on the playing field.

All Good Things Come to an End
And so it is with fuck buddies: their endings and beginnings are often arbitrary. It is what makes them work. It is why they need rules. It is what keeps them from breaking your heart.

It is a nice place to visit, but you would do well not to love there.

"One day, you're fucking. The next, he or she is gone."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Draw Death

British writer Christopher Isherwood, whose The Berlin Stories was turned into the film Cabaret, first met his lifetime partner Don Bachardy when Don was, in his own words "probably, 16."

They marked Valentine’s Day 1953 as the start of their relationship. Don was 18, Chris was 48.

In 1963, they broke up. From his despair, Chris wrote A Single Man which depicted a day in the life of George, a middle-aged, gay Englishman in Southern California whose younger lover died in a car crash.

George, who must hide his homosexuality from society as well as his anguish at the death of his lover.

It was a brave and shocking book in 1964, and Edmund White later called it "one of the first and best novels of the modern Gay Liberation movement."

Chris and Don survived their break-up. Chris continued to write and Don became a celebrity portrait painter whose subjects include Tennessee Williams to Anais Nin. They were together for 33 years.

When Chris became terminally ill with prostate cancer, they both decided to create a visual portrait of his dying. Over a period of six months before Chris' death in 1986, Don charted the final facial gestures of his lover's illness and death with loving cruelty in a series of line drawings.

“Chris was in a lot of pain towards the end," Don said in an interview earlier this year. "But he had sat for me so often over the years, and I knew this was something we could still do together.”

The last of the series was completed when Chris was already dead. Don remained alone with the body, sketching his lover's final farewell.

These drawings make me feel sentimental. They speak of pain and dying, but there is tenderness in each line. Perhaps it is in our deaths where we fully reveal ourselves and in these sketches, we see the portrait of a man the artist loved to his dying day.

Til' death do us part.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trick or Treat

For you, Rudeboy, for the boy you once were.
For me, for the man I will become.

Many years ago, Mr. Big gave me some of his old books before he left for Canada. I was browsing through one of them and chanced upon one of my favorite stories written by William J. Mann titled "Tricks of the Trade".

Here is an excerpt.

"What's your name?" the boy is asking.

"Jeff," I tell him. "Yours?"


We shake hands. Our eyes hold. And so, another one.

Loving strangers is a heady mix of romance and reality, the sordid and the sublime. I have returned this summer for that mist of sweat across a boy's bronzed back, for the magic that happens when the two of us marry eyes across a dance floor and become forever young.

"Can I still get away with it?" I asked Javitz before I left tonight.

He laughed. "Maybe for another year."

Once Javitz and I were lovers, when my skin was soft and unmarked like the boy Eduardo's. My face then was not the one that stares back at me now from my mirror…

My current lover Lloyd tells me I'm being absurd, that at thirty-two I still have many years left. But I see his own surreptitious look in the mirror, notice the tweezers he's left behind on the sink surrounded by a scattering of bristly gray hairs.

Once, we were the boys of the moment, angry young men marching through the streets in black leather jackets covered with crack-and-peel slogans: "Act Up! Fight Back! Get Used to It!"

Javitz and his generation had smiled indulgently at us.

"Ah, youth," they had sighed.

But how quickly our energy dissipated, how quickly boys are replaced.

"And then what?" I asked Javitz, replying to his comment, trying to mask the honestly of the question.

"I'll see you at Spiritus," was all he said.

That he will still join me there takes courage. Spiritus Pizza is the late-night joint where men gather after the bars have closed, hoping for one last chance to evade the damnation of an empty guesthouse bed. It is not a place for the weak of heart.

Javitz is not weak. He is a tall, striking man, with long, black hair and intense dark eyes. Once, we were lovers, I thought he was the handsomest man in the world, but now we are not lovers anymore, and I no longer think that.

We talk little about why I broke up with him; but it's there, every time Lloyd peels off his shirt in front of us to lie in the sun, his skin still tight, his stomach flat.

It's there every time I get dressed to go out tricking, and the boys I bring home become younger and younger.

Javitz is well known in Provincetown and back home in Boston, too. "A leading activist," one newspaper account called him, "an icon of the gay community."

But it's his loss of muscle tone that makes him stand out from the crowd at Spiritus now, the predictable result of years of antivirals: shapeless calves, spindly arms.

And not long ago he witnessed what happened to one man - nearly fifty years, near bald - who dared assume he could still come out and play.

"Did you smile at me?" this man had asked me, standing on the steps of the pizza joint.

"Sure," I offered.

"Are you trying to pick me up?" he asked.

I was taken aback. "No," I told him.

"No," he echoed, darkening. "Of course not." He visibly slumped, shoulders sagging, like a tire slashed.

Growing old is not for sissies, Bette Davies once said. But sissies do get older. All of us sissies here tonight, with the hot juice of youth pulsing through our veins.

Some of us are already well on our way. But what does it matter, Javitz said. Get old or get AIDS: the result is the same.

At the first wrinkle, or the first purple blotch on your leg, and you are exiled. We rarely question the banishment, dismissing any who try.

"How old are you?" Eduardo asks, as if it were the next logical question in our conversation.

"How old do you think?"

"Twenty-eight?" Last year, it probably would've been twenty-sex, but it's good enough; it's what I want to hear.

"Around there," I lie. "And you?"

"Twenty-two," Eduardo responds.

Who has ever been twenty-two? I ask myself. Not me. not ever. If I ever was, I don't remember. Yet every summer, a new crop is twenty-two, standing at the cusp of the dance floor as if they were the first ones ever here.

"Do you want to dance?" Eduardo asks suddenly, as if it were an original idea that had just struck him.

My line: "Sure."

And so we dance, the prelude to the sex I know will come, predicting the choreography in my bedroom just a short time from now: back and forth, round and round, up and down.

Eduardo smiles. He knows he can go no further. He's in over his head.

Was from the start.

I first read this story six years ago. I was 24 then, young, and naïve; not unlike Eduardo. Once, my friends and I too, were the boys of the moment. But how quickly boys are replaced.

As I grew older, I learned the tricks of the trade, the rules of the game. And mastered it. How to make them like me. What to say, when to say it, and how to say it. When to tell the truth, and when to hide it.

Until they fall. In over their heads. Were from the start.

But until when?

William is 55 years old. Once in a while, we would have dinner and drinks and he would regale me with tales of his escapades when he was younger. His voice becomes excited and his eyes take on a faraway look; bathed in the warmth of his memories.

He was beautiful, once. Men courted him, desired him, and he had a lot of fun. Decades of it, to be exact. His lovers probably thought he was the handsomest man in the world. They probably don't think that anymore.

Youth is too fleeting, age is not always kind. Not everyone ends up with someone.

When once, you can have sex anytime you wanted, now you have to pay for it.

"Basta, i enjoy mo ang pagkabata," he would always tell me. "Pagtumanda ka na, ATM machine na ang tingin sa iyo ng mga lalaki."

His words echoed in my head like an omen.

Growing old is not for sissies, Bette Davies once said. But sissies do get older.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Fickle-Minded Cow


"Hey, there's a new blogger in town. Si Fickle …" McVie was telling us, trying to remember the complete name.

"Ah. Yeah, si Fickle-Minded Cow!" Red butted in.

"Mali! Ano ba kayo! Si Fickle Cattle!" Carrie said.

Everybody laughed.

"Well, he had us at fickle," I smiled, shaking my head.

When I got home, I was surprised to receive an email from Fickle Cattle. He said he had seen me before [Note to self: You really are overexposed, Kane], commented on some of my stories and asked if I could help promote his blog to my readers.

I was taken aback because I didn't think I had enough "clout" to advertise anything. Besides, McVie already wrote about Fickle's blog and I am certain his readership by now had skyrocketed.

I remember I too was once a new blogger. Nobody knew me, nobody read me. It didn't matter then as I wrote solely for myself.

As the months passed by and I see readers give their comments on my stories, I discovered there is also a certain pleasure in having a dialogue. A comment can give new insight, a new understanding, a new way of looking at things.

I enjoy reading each and every single word people leave at my space. I try to see where they were coming from, and where they want to take me.

The world is a big place. The world is a small space. Every year, there will a new crop of writers, bursting with stories waiting to be told. Fickle writes about lost loves, poetry, music, about memories and dreams. Perhaps, in some of his stories we will recognizes ourselves, who we were or who we want to be.

I hope we will all welcome him warmly. =) As others did to us, once.

Welcome home, Fickle.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Paris, France


How are you feeling? I asked.

Max sighed. Overwhelmed.


With a breathless awe in his voice, Max said, I just can't believe I'm in Paris, France.

I shook my head. You don't say Paris, France, Max. That's an address on an envelope. It's like saying you live in New York, New York.

But it's so amazing.

I smiled at him. No. You're the one who's amazing.

Based on a story by Philip Gefter titled Elizabeth New Jersey.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Where Time Stands Still

A year ago, I was a different man.

I was in love and I discovered that what the poets and writers spoke of is true: there is nothing that compares to love. Those were the happiest days of my life.

There were moments when I wanted to freeze time, so that nothing would change anymore, so that our love would last forever.

In his book Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman conjures theoretical realms of time. In one of his worlds, there is a place where time stands still.

People journey there to freeze moments of their lives. There you will see parents laughing and smiling with their children, lovers locked in a passionate kiss. They sacrifice the future for the present.

Perhaps it is because we know things never stay the same. Children won't be children forever. They grow up, and sometimes they become rebellious and angry and spiteful. And parents wonder at night, where did my little boy go?

Lovers become unfaithful; we all know how love can be fleeting. Who can blame them for wanting to hold on to these precious moments of their lives? When everything is exactly where it is supposed to be.
"And at the place where time stands still, one sees lovers kissing in the shadows of buildings, in a frozen embrace that will never let go.

The loved one will never take his arms from where they are now, will never give back the bracelet of memories, will never journey far from his lover… will never fall in love with someone else, will never lose the passion of this instant in time."
It is very tempting. Who wouldn't want his happiness to last an eternity? Even if it comes at the cost of stopping time.

But some would say, "It is noble to live life, and without time, there is no life."

But then again, what use is life if it ends in sorrow?

I once visited the Grand Canyon with my family. It was winter and as I stood there freezing at the edge of the cliff looking at the intricate walls of the canyon, I thought to myself how strange that people travel so far to feel so small.

Billions of years have passed, and billions of people have lived and died and we are but just one more human life in this world. And all our hopes, dreams and sorrows have been repeated again and again throughout history. After all, what is one man's joy but a speck in time.

And a thousand years from now, no one will remember us. The ordinary lives we have lived. But perhaps it doesn't matter. Like those rocks that stood before me, perhaps our stories will live on.

One day in the future, some other boy will fall in love. Perhaps that boy will be me.

"Love is all a matter of timing. It's no good meeting the right person too soon or too late. If I'd live in another time or place... my story might have had a very different ending."
---2046 (2004)