Monday, September 27, 2010

Take Me Far, Bring Me Home


Many years ago, I stood in front of Claude Monet's painting of the Rouen Cathedral at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. I was admiring his genius and wondered at how a painter is able to create an artwork that is distinctly his.

Do all artists have a signature? A certain way of looking at the world, a certain philosophy that differentiates a person from all the rest.

Lately, these questions have been in my mind as I try to understand myself as a writer and as I seek to venture into new worlds. Do I, as a writer, have a signature?

What is it? Is it a certain way with words, a certain lyricism? Is it what I write about? Or is it how I write about it? Is it even possible to identify a signature? Perhaps it is like a shadow that lives in your mind; you are dimly aware of it but once you train a spotlight on it, it vanishes.

People use different entry points to write. Sometimes, I write because of an emotion and I use that as a starting point for a journey. Oftentimes, these stories end up raw, powerful, sharp.

But when my mind is clear and calm, I begin the journey by thinking of a memory. I think of Mindanao and I remember growing up in my hometown Cotabato, where four dialects are spoken simultaneously. I remember our tiny house and quiet, deserted streets at night.

I think of a red headband and I remember falling in love with a stranger. I think of the Grand Canyon and I remember feeling small, in awe of nature and time.

I once said I write because memory is fleeting, and so I try to capture the past and the present. Things one cannot hold on to.

Although at times, it may seem I write to forget too. To leave the past behind in search of a future.

But now, I want to write about a fantasy, other lives that I haven't lived / have yet to live / waiting to be lived. Perhaps... will never live.

I want to experiment more with writing styles, perspectives, tones, subjects and characters in my stories. I want to create characters people can fall in love with; men who pay for sex, women who feel they are never beautiful enough. I want to write about lust, and anger, and jealousy.

I want to write about hate. I want to write about all the things we all try to bury deep down in ourselves, the emotions we pretend we never feel. The versions of ourselves we deny exist.

But not everyone likes change.

"It is a risk, Kane," Drew said. "Especially when you've built up an image. You may lose readers. For example, when I read your Bulitas entry, the first thing that came to my mind was 'OMG. What will they think of Kane?'."

"I mean, when others cruise in comfort rooms, parang wow, exciting. But when it's the Kane, parang, ay, he also does that pala?"

"What happened to standards? Some will understand that people are complex and appreciate that kind of adventure. But others, I think, they prefer to see their celebrities as stars - all shiny and glossy."

"What do I want?" I asked.

"Ahhh. I think you want interesting readers," Drew replied.

Smart boy, this one.

"You want people who can see the layers."

Then he suddenly quoted something Rudeboy told me once.

You, for instance, can easily come across as a flighty pretty boy whose interests do not seem to go beyond his chichi friends, the drama of his lovelife, or the importance of eyeshadow.

But it is the depth beneath that glossy surface that continually interests me.

"But not everyone can," Drew warned.

I thought about what he said.

When I first started writing, I wrote for myself like most people do. That is the most basic, most fundamental form of writing: self-expression.

As I grew and became more mature as a writer, I begun to learn to speak to an audience and my goals changed. Aside from self-expression, I wanted to connect to people, make them think, frighten them, shock them, create an emotion, a feeling, instill a thought.

I wanted to steal their hearts. Take them to places far, bring them home.

I learned to plan stories, to space out entries. I started three projects including Open Spaces, Spit Roast, and Sex Etiquette. I wanted to be the kind of writer who is unafraid to try out different things, to be brave.

Some of you may wonder why I do not respond to comments on my stories. I feel that each work should be able to stand on its own, without the writer explaining it. But that's just me.

I do love hearing your thoughts and in the spirit of bravery, I want you to be more honest in your criticisms. Tell me if you hated it, which parts and why? Were the characters poorly constructed? Was it the use of a certain language, a certain metaphor? Was it cliché?

I don't think we can grow as writers if all we see are good reviews. Bad reviews are important too; they remind us we are not gods.

And it is because we are not gods that we write, to create a vessel for our life stories. And once we are older, perhaps we can look back and see how beautiful it all was, even the sad, painful parts of it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

King of Arabia

"I hold your Eastern promise close to my heart
Welcoming you to my Harem."
---Sarah Brightman, "Harem"

I was never the kind of girl who wanted a boyfriend.

When I was younger, I was a fan of the HBO TV series Sex and the City and of all the women in the show, the character I couldn't understand the most was Charlotte. Charlotte was all about finding a man, getting married, having a child. She hated being single, while I loved it and all the freedom it gave me.

I wanted to explore the world, meet people without having to worry about someone else. I wasn't prepared for a relationship, for something so… permanent.

But at some point in your life, you become that kind of girl pala. You become… ready. (Yes, Rudeboy, you do.) For commitment, for partnership, for unconditional love.

I had that with M and I missed the kind of togetherness we shared.

After we broke up, my libido went down dramatically and my desire for intimacy skyrocketed. My first instinct was to replicate what we had, or at least the beautiful parts of it. I was looking for love to save me.

I wasn't flirting, dating, or having sex.

But the desert winds are shifting…

I have accepted my fate; that romance is just not yet around the corner for now. But then, who says you can't have fun while waiting?

One day, I woke up and felt different… lighter, perkier. That sweet lass yearning for a relationship disappeared and in its place stood a sex-hungry, boy-crazy, fuck-me-I'm-famous gal.

Yes, people, it's official. The fun girl is backkkkkkkkk!

And her first order is: Build a harem.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a harem. The sultans of Arabia had it right; diversity is the key to a happy and fulfilled single life.

Now, I'm talking about selection here. A group of tried, carefully selected and chosen men ready to serve at your pleasure.

And I want you all to meet Chris, my first recruit. Chris ended a two-year monogamous relationship more than a month ago and he has been celibate since then.

The poor kid was practically starving for a cock, and since I'm such a generous cunt, I let him have it. And in return, he took me on several trips to "O"-town.

He was very... persuasive. He made the cut for a reason; one very long slightly curving to the right reason.

Profile: Cute boy-next-door you want to fuck in your garden while mom and dad (and sister) are sleeping upstairs.

Company: Easy-going, low-maintenance guy. A bit dull, but hey, what can you expect from these kids?

Performance in and out of bed: Pretty fucking spectacular. Don't you just love a man who can take it as much as he gives it? What these kids lack in skill, they make up for in stamina and endurance. They can go on and on… and on and on… and did I mention, on and on?

Since then I have met several more candidates from the usual pool of sources: parties, clubs, art exhibits, the gym, Grindr, and let us not forget the friendliest planet in the world PlanetRomeo, and that hook-up site masquerading as a social network Facebook.

It looks like there is no rest for the wicked.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tawagin mo Akong Boy Bulitas


Nakita ko siya na nag-aantay sa elevator ng lumabas ako ng opisina. Nagkatinginan kami. Dumerecho ako sa restroom at umihi ng napansin kong merong tumabi sa akin.

Naghuhugas ako ng kamay ng nakita kong siya pala yun. May edad na siya, hindi ka-guapuhan, payat, mas maliit sa akin. Nakatingin siya ng biglang pinakita niya sa akin ang kanyang titi na ang tigas-tigas na.

Nabigla ako. Pero mas nagulat ako ng napansin kong merong parang bukol sa isang parte ng kanyang titi. Tinawag niya ako at hindi ko napigilang lumapit dahil sa aking pagtataka kung ano yung bagay na iyon.

Sa normal na panahon, hinding-hindi ko siya papansinin. Pero sabi nga nila, timing is everything. Hindi lang pala sa pag-ibig, pati rin sa libog. Nakaka excite ang sitwasyon na hindi mo inakala, at mas nakaka excite ang isang bagay na noon mo lang nakita.

Hindi ko namalayan na hawak-hawak ko na pala siya.

"Ano ito?" ang tanong ko.


Tang-ina, ang sabi ko sa sarili ko. Ito pala ang bulitas, kakaiba. Tuloy-tuloy kong pinaglalaruan ang kanyang bulitas habang ang isang mata ko ay nakabantay sa pintuan, kinakabahan at natatakot na baka may dumating.

Ang bulitas ay gawa sa plastik na materyal, tinunaw at minoldeng pabilog na parang maliliit na sago at isiningit sa balat sa ilalaim ng ari sa paraang pag-oopera. Inilalagay sapagkat nakakapagbigay ng matinding sensasyon sa babae (o lalaki) pag nagkakan...oops, nagtatalik pala. Pag may bulitas ka, kahit hindi ka na gumamit ng "ribbed condom" OK na.

"Nag-blo blowjob ka?" bigla niya akong tinanong. Pinipigilan niyang umungol.

Mabilis akong nag-isip. Always, sometimes, o never?

"Hindi", ang sagot ko.

Delikadong mahuli, ang sabi ko sa sarili ko. Mawalan pa ako ng trabaho. Pinipilit niya ako. Ayoko.

Pero hanggang sa pag-uwi ko at sa pagtulog, isa lang ang nasa aking isip: Ano kaya ang pakiramdam ng bulitas sa bibig?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Joie de Vivre


"Sir, I'm sorry there are no available seats yet," the maître d’ of the restaurant told me upon arriving.

"Oh. I have a reservation," I said, feeling the hunger pangs in my tummy.

"Sir, is it okay if you wait for 10 to 15 minutes?" she said.

"What do you mean wait?" I replied, my voice dropping dangerously low. "I called and you guys said I have a table ready."

"Sir, I apologize for the problem," she said. The maître d’ could see I was getting upset.

I was tired, sleepy, and my patience was dangerously thin. I had been flying to two different cities in the past two days and since I'm no longer a spring chicken, fatigue was taking its toll on me. That, plus two margaritas, a mojito, and three hours of sleep last night.

"Would it be okay for you to wait? We have tables outside and we will give you a complimentary drink."

I don't need your free drink, I wanted to say, but I forced myself to calm down. I was in Davao for work and I wanted to try Claude's Le Café de Ville, which they say is one of the best restaurants in the city.

I decided to let the incident pass and enjoy the night. I sat at a table outside and ordered a glass of kir. I read a few pages of Javier Marías' book When I Was Mortal while waiting. I was in the middle of a story about a mother auditioning for her first porn movie when I was called to transfer inside. It was only then that I noticed the charm of the place.

Claude has been offering delicious French cuisine to Davaoeños for 15 years. The place was tiny, and it was reminiscent of those small Parisian cafés with wooden interiors and soft lighting. It was owned by a Frenchman who migrated to Davao and he wanted to build a place the reminded him of home.

I ordered a Niçoise salad, frog legs sautéed in olive oil and garlic, and their spécialité, roasted quail stuffed with baked caramelized apples and foie gras. I chose a bottle of rosé d'Anjou from the Loire region in France to go with the food.

The food was exquisite, each one a delight. I loved the quail dish the most, the sweetness of the apples balanced the richness of the foie gras which made for quite a wonderful mix. The wine was light, crisp, and fruity.

As I sat quietly eating in silence, I realized sometimes, there is no better place and time than the here and the now.

That I liked being alone in a tiny French restaurant in a strange city on a rainy night. That good food and good wine are some of the best things in this world. That I feel blessed to be able to enjoy this particular moment.

Derf once told me he was surprised by how much I get addicted to a song.

"I'm a passionate guy," I explained.

"Passionate? Hahahaha."

Derf is a très sérieux person. He likes to quietly brood in a corner, and you would more likely see a frown on his face rather than a smile. You have too many rules, I told him once, you're too rigid, too uptight.

"I get intense with things, D. Parang nilulunod ko ang sarili ko sa kanila (It's like I drown myself in them); whether it's a beautiful film, or a poem, or food, or sex," I said. And love, I thought to myself.

"Yeah I know Kane. That's why you're quite endearing."

"Is there any other way to live?" I asked. "I must admit I can be quite the hedonist. The desire to cram into a single lifetime all the pleasures in the world, knowing it is not possible because we are mortal. Finite. But still, I try."

"That is why when I work, I really work. When I party, I really party. When I drink, I really drink. And when I have sex, well… let us not go there," I said and laughed.

"I want to enjoy my life too," Derf said quietly.

"You can D," I told him and smiled. "The world is our oyster, a great man once said. It's never too late. So what will it be?"

"Well, I guess oysters here we come," Derf said laughing, and for the first time since we became friends, I thought I saw a glimpse of joy in his face.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gossip Girl: The Blogger Edition Episode 1

DISCLAIMER: These are purely gossips and some things may be not factual. Let us not take things too seriously.

Mondays in the Upper East Side are simply fun. The New Yorker in one hand and Gossip Girl in the other giving you the latest on what's up and who went down in this side of town.

Break-ups are always messy. There's breaking up, break-up sex, trying to win you back, trying-to-win-you-back sex, making up, make-up sex. Until someone discovers there are other players in the playing field. Then it becomes messier.

Spotted: Pipo learning that just because you got out of the game doesn't mean there isn't someone waiting on the bench to take your place.

"Thank you for cheating on me again."

Now if looks could kill, we wouldn't want to be in his ex-boyfriend Ex-Jason's shoes.

Sometimes the lessons come a little too late. For some, they may never come at all.

Like our dear friend, the Pilgrim. They say he found the light of dawn, but opted to stay in the darkness. And in the darkness, only our memories remain to keep us company.

"I lied when I asked you to forget. For in saying that, I hoped I will."

When faced with an uncertain future, the questions we truly hate to ask are the ones we we fear we already know the answer to.

And what's this? Word is this boy from the city finally snagged a boyfriend. We hear this relationship has barely begun but already the secrets are piling up.

The darkest secrets are always the ones that hit closest to home. And Upper Eastsiders, we all know where home is. Why here, of course.

Where will it end this time N? 

You know who's watching. XOXO

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gossip Girl: Trouble in The East


Hey Upper East Siders!

Summer is definitely done and I'm starved for a dish. Were you sunning in Crete or sinning in Croatia? My inbox is overflowing so let's get to the good stuff, shall we?

Looks like there's a cold war going on between our favorite girl and his BFFs. We heard K got into a lot of trouble during his smashing birthday ball. But, what's a party without a scandal? And most importantly, where are your friends when you need them K?

Hey Fran, how are you?
I know I have been distant and I wanted to explain. You deserve to know why, at least.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about my life recently. Do you remember when we had an issue after our Holy Week trip? You told me then that you felt bad because you wanted to be there for me when I needed you, like I always try to be there for you.
I remember that.
As you know, I had problems after my birthday. I was so stressed and I wanted to tell you about it but I was too exhausted so I asked V to talk to you.
He later told me you had spoken, you told him you understand, but you were just too stressed with work and couldn't talk to me.
I was very disappointed, but for a while, I tried to understand you. But I realize our friendship couldn't go on like this.
Don't worry, we are friends... just not that kind of friends. I hope you understand where I'm coming from.

Hi hun,

That incident after your birthday was a terrible time for you and I am only sorry that I was not there to listen, to hold your hand, to do anything.

As always, you try to understand where people are coming from and I can only thank you for it. It is not without effort, I know, but that is how you are and I love you for it.

My stress level, my worries, they have not changed. But that is not why I am writing to you today.

There are three things I want to tell you.

I want to thank you for the friendship you have shown me in the past years. You are a great friend and I do not think this will change.

I want to say that I am sorry that I was not the kind of friend you wanted me to be. There has always been disappointment in you and I am angry with myself that I cause you pain in whatever shape or form.

Finally, I want to tell you that I love you very much. I am not sure if I can ever be the kind of friend that you want or need, but I want you to know that you are that kind of friend to me. Will you still let me try then? I do not know what to do, but I want to try. Will you let me try?

All my love,

Some friendships may fade with the season, others are all year round.

They say all it takes is some space and time to clear our heads and open our hearts. And write a new ending to an old story. But then, there are those who got burned by the heat. They just want to forget and start over.

So when will this war end? Will it ever end? Or... is it the end? What's the verdict, K?

And oh, we heard you've been sick lately K. Perhaps your troubles are causing your yin and yang to be unbalanced. Or maybe... it was those four lines of white powder you snorted recently. Once you pop, you just can't stop, eh?

And what's this? Sleeping with a married man, G? Tsk tsk tsk … Oh no, who knew that underneath that sugar and spice is someone capable of lies.

Careful of the company you keep, K. What was it that my momma used to tell me… that birds of the same feather flock together?
Now, has someone spotted E? He's been MIA but word is he's about to make a comeback... with a prince in tow.  But can this prince keep this princess from running away? We heard this little pig went oink recently.

If I were him, I'd be worried. In a city that never sleeps a lot can happen in one night. Like tonight.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Pigs, That's What We Are


"You wrote letters that you never sent
I made promises I’ll always deny
Now we’ll never know what the other meant."
---Norah Jones, "Young Blood"

It was a cold, rainy night. Manila was drenched and the streets had quieted down as midnight approached.
I was listening to old Pinoy bands that were popular in the 90s; Introvoys and Neocolors. The music brought back memories, as they usually do on nights like these. The smell of a dormitory, the silence of a Sunday, old faces.

Suddenly, a window opened in my Yahoo messenger. I didn't recognize the sender.


"Hey, who is this?" I replied.

His name was Jay. We had chatted before apparently  though I don't remember when. Jay lived near the area. We traded photos and then he asked me if I wanted to hook-up.

"But bro, I want to set things clear from the start," Jay told me.


"I have a boyfriend. This is just a one-time fun. I don't want any trouble."

"Ahhhhhh. So you have a boyfriend."

Ever since my ex cheated on me, I made a promise to myself that I will not sleep with anyone who is in a monogamous relationship.

"Why is that?" Rudeboy asked me.

"I guess I know how it feels like to be the other guy. And how painful it is."

"Ahhhh. We all have been there, I think."

We were quiet for awhile. If I allow myself to, I can still remember the shock of that knowledge, to discover that your lover cheated on you.

"So, what did you decide?" Rudeboy asked.

"Well… it was a cold, rainy night," I said.

Timing, really, is everything. If he had messaged me on another night, if he didn't live so close, if the night wasn't so cold it made me yearn for a human touch.

"Hayy Rudie, I guess boys will be boys."

"Well, as I always say, all men are pigs."

"Hahaha. And gay men?"

"They're worse. They're swine."

"And married gay men?"

"The worst. Hogs, every one of them."

Jay was quiet, tense. His excitement was palpable, like a little boy who knows this is forbidden.

Does he feel guilty, I wonder? Does he think of his lover when we kiss? Perhaps it was because it was illicit that made the sex so good. His hands and mouth were hungry, forceful. We all crave the forbidden fruit.

"How long have you been together?" I asked him afterwards. We were both spent.

"34 months. You won't understand Kane," he said, trying to explain himself. "It doesn't mean that I don't love him, that I am not happy with him. I am... but we're men."

All men are pigs.

Can there be love without truthfulness? Sometimes I wonder if what we had, no matter how fleeting and meaningless, was more real than his love for his boyfriend. Where does love end and betrayal begin?

"Do you think he does this too?" I asked Jay.

"I don't know. I don't really think about it. And I don't do this often, just… once in a while."

He stood up, and prepared to go.

"So, I guess, see you whenever," I said and smiled.

"Yeah. I'll text you."

But we both know that wasn't true.

DISCLAIMER: Although some things were borne out of the writer's imagination, certain events did transpire and any resemblance to actual events, people, places can exist.