Monday, December 19, 2011

The Tyranny of the Good


I was a very young boy when I started reading books. One of the first genres I fell in love with was fantasy and I devoured the Dragonlance novels with gusto.

Who could forget Caramon's big heart and undying loyalty to his brother? Or Raistlin's constant torment between good and evil? Or Tasslehoff's endearing charm, despite his thieving ways.

These books may talk about dragons and mages, of kenders and dwarves, but the characters in them face the same daunting tasks we are given, the struggle to be good. It may seem strange but the truth is, the world they portray is much like our world, filled with the same wars, the same sorrows, the same joys.

Filipina actress Valerie Concepcion tweeted last Sunday night that she performed at a party for the Presidential Security Group where President Benigno Aquino had laughed at her jokes and enjoyed her show.

It was a normal tweet perhaps for anyone who enjoyed meeting the president, but the party happened when a tropical storm hit the country and killed more than 600 people.

The message unleashed a flood of righteous indignation. People posted angry messages on their Twitter and Facebook accounts condemning her and the president for being insensitive, for having fun at a time when the nation was in mourning.

In the Dragonlance novels, there once was a Kingpriest who ruled at a time when the powers of good were flourishing in the world.

He fought evil and sought to end wars in the world. But as time passed, the Kingpriest begun to persecute not only evil, but even those who did not think exactly like him. He had begun to assume that he knew what was good for the world, and those who opposed him were evil. He had become arrogant, and in time, called upon the wrath of the gods.

I suppose there is always a danger when we start to expect that people should think and feel the same way we do. Especially when we believe that how we feel and the things we fight for are for the good. It can make us cross the line from righteous to self-righteous. When we begin to think that our way is the only way.

Under the guise of good intentions, personal liberties can be questioned; the right to not feel bad, the right to have fun, the right to feel happy.

C.S. Lewis, Christian apologist  and staunch defender of the Catholic faith, was one of those who constantly warned against dystopian futures that arises from utopian visions. In his book God in the Dock, he said

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." 

I told Rudeboy that I found it interesting how people reacted. I am always curious about people, why we do the things we do, why we are the way we are.

"It echoes the late Christopher Hitchen's contempt about the comfort these 'hysterical bunch of pearl-clutching virgins and their righteous indignation' find in conformity," Rudeboy said. "Not to sound callous, but the world does not stop spinning for any tragedies, no matter how small or great. Christmas this year will still be celebrated with cheer, shallow or genuine, dead drowned bodies or none."

I understand that people are angry. They feel helpless, and worried and upset and as is often the case, we often lash out against those who seem to not care.

But as we have seen in the past,  people will learn to move on from tragedies. Lives will continue. The holidays will come. People will still hold parties to celebrate, friends and families will give presents and cook a feast, even as thousands of others lie hungry, homeless and mourning their dead.

That hard fact may make some of us uncomfortable, squirm, or seethe at the seeming callousness and indifference but perhaps, that's just the way it is. Each of us can and will respond to tragedies in different ways. To help or not to help. To care or not to care. how much to care. To give or not to give. How much to give.

These questions pose delicate and complex issues about morality and examine our responsibility to help those who are in need. But I'm afraid there are no easy answers. Each of us must find his or her own way in the dark.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Blame It on Me


The Games We Play (I)
Beauty and the Feast

It begun in August. Gino had just broken up, and was lonely for friends. He barely kept in touch with people during the time he had a relationship and as a result, most of his friends abandoned him. We had known each other for a couple of years, he would call me once in a while to catch up but we were never really particularly close.

"Sama ka, my friends and I are going out," I invited him once. The party was fun and when it was time to go home, I offered to let him sleep at my place.We chatted late into the night and I listened as he spoke of his jealous boyfriend who would never let him out of his sight, who gave him everything else but took away his freedom.

He had an excited quiet way about him, as if he had a secret which he longed to tell. He asked me why I don't have a boyfriend and I gave him my usual excuse. There's nobody to love, I said. Besides, isn't it more fun to be single? I gaily answered.

When we slept, he hugged me and ... I let him. It was not that I meant to - I don't want to give that impression. It was just that he was so kind and available. And when we cuddled in bed, he was so warm and despite my clouded eyes, I knew how to accept a gift.

We started hanging out every weekend. We would go to the gym, eat out, shop, travel, meet guys, go clubbing. He would accompany me on my errands, my chores. He was my de facto "date" during company events, birthday parties.

My friends started noticing we spent a lot of time together and people would often ask if we were dating.

"Tell me, K, who is Gino to you?" E asked me once. I thought carefully before answering.

"He is like a fake boyfriend."

"OMG!!! Ppppuurrrrfeeeeeeeeeeeeccctttttt! I'm so proud of you, I'm actually crying right now."

I laughed. "Gaga ka talaga. But in a way, he is. He takes care of me, I take care of him, we spend time together, but without all the commitment drama. We can have fun with other guys."

"He's the perfect boylet K. I'm so happy for you."

"So, did I get an A?"

"A+!!! Sheeeetttt. I love it. But I'm worried about you."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"K, you're the marrying type. (Yes, for now, you're a slut.) And you have the tendency to fall for him, I know you."

I shook my head, to tell him I disagree. I can't possibly fall for someone like Gino. He was just so not my type. He was merely a companion, a friend whose company I enjoy.

"Whatever he does for you, suklian mo. But don't go over the top. Because if you go over the top, it means, you want something else," E explained. "To maintain a fake boyfriend relationship and friends in the future, everything must be equal. If you go on other dates, you let him know, and always ask 'Do u want to meet after? Or how was your day?'"

"Wow, you are such an expert."

"You have the tendency to go over the top, K so the equal-equal part is important for you to remember," E admonished. "Cuddling is ok, but do not over do. And always remember, it's a fake relationship."

His words rang in my head.

Tall, dark, and decisively handsome, it was easy for Gino to attract people. He would sometimes lament that people think he's just a sex machine. As I listened to him rant, I thought to myself, he's probably the only guy complaining about his good looks.

It's not so bad right, to have people want you, desire you? On the outside, it may seem he's a confident young man, but as I got to know him better, I realize Gino was but a kid.

He delights in theme parks and dragged me once to take a ride. He easily gets scared of ghosts and scary stories. He likes to cuddle by putting his head on your chest. It was strange; that inside his hulking frame hides a sweet boy.

And he is sweet. He would surprise me by bringing me a sandwich and fried chicken, some slices of cheese at times. He would cut the food we were eating into smaller pieces so it would be easier for me to eat them, he would take care of me when I'm drunk, to make sure my things won't get lost.

Gino introduced me to Anton once, a tall handsome guy he was dating. From the look in Anton's eyes, I could tell two things: he knew he was handsome, and that like so many other gay men in the club, he was hopelessly in love with my friend.

Seeing my friend Gino's awkward grin, I knew something else: that Gino would never love him back.

Something changed as the months passed. As E correctly predicted, I begun to get attached to Gino. It was not that I meant to - I don't want to give that impression. It was just that he was so kind and available.

I shouldn't care too much, I reminded myself. It was only a matter of time, wasn't it? One of us will find someone else, a real boyfriend. It was a race and the stake was high.

One night, we were dining at our favorite restaurant. I was picking at the grilled chicken and steamed fish, I was morose. I saw his eyes shift over to me and I realized he wasn't as cold to my moods as I thought. Some song started to play in the background, an old song called "Lovefool".

"Love me, love me ... say that you love me,
Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me."

I swallowed and said, "I think we need to stop …"

But all of a sudden he was telling a story, a funny anecdote about his aunt who he met in Davao. It was hilarious, and our laughter washed over my faltering words, over my doubt. He was louder than doubt, eyes grinning, his laughing face half hidden in the candlelight.

The moment passed. And all I could think of was my surprise. That he could tell a joke so well. That he could be so charming, so engaging.

Who expects these things in friends, in quiet lovers. He was looking at me, laughing at his story. I saw how beautiful he was. And it seemed to me that he was saying "Let it be for now."

For we both know it would end so soon, and whom else did we have? Those random guys in the clubs, or in Grindr? I knew how that would be.

A prolonged, thrilling seduction. Some weeks of passion. Then ... nothing. How could I do better than this? This funny story, this lonely boy, who was the only one in the world who could make me laugh.

How could I let this go, for a winter dream?

Weeks later, Gino and I bumped into Anton again in a club. After a polite exchange of talk, I made my way to the bar to get a drink. I looked over to where Gino was and saw he was being accosted by a couple of guys. He was thoroughly enjoying himself, basking in the attention. He smiled and waved at me, and I nodded back.

I turned around and caught Anton watching me with a faint smile on his lips. It seemed to be mocking me. Stupid boy, he'll never love you either.

I looked back at Gino and suddenly, I saw all too well how it would be from here. Gino would one day leave me, just like he left the others. And a leaving without the need for explanation, for a goodbye. For we really don't owe each other anything. We are friends, not lovers, something I'd almost forgotten. My heart was pounding.

How did it happen, I wondered? What safer arrangement was there and how did it go wrong? Did love creep in, tiny like a seed, only to grow larger and blossom with each shared meal, every night spent together? And the mystery of it all, why it would grow on one, and not on the other. Suddenly, I realize there was only one thing left to do.

I had to leave him first.

Blame it on me
I forgot the rules of the dance
We tip and we toe
We swirl and we turn
And then we dance with someone new
Always, there's someone new.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Gossip Girl: It-Girl Happened One Night


Bonsoir, Upper East Siders. Did you enjoy Thanksgiving as much as I did? I know one person who didn't.

After three weekends out of Manila, I was dying to see my friends to catch up and party.

"Hey! I miss you. I'm back. Are you going out this weekend?" I said to E. "Sige na. (Come on.) I'll be out of town again next weekend."

"Nasa Icon kami bukas. Birthday kasi of a friend (We'll be in Icon tomorrow. It's a friend's birthday)," E replied.


"Try naming humabol? (We'll try to catch up?)," E offered.

"Fine. Fine. Just so you remember, honey, I am not a stopover along the way. I'm a destination!" I said and we both giggled.

"Are you bringing your boyfriend?" I asked. E and his lover have an open relationship that allowed them to explore certain possibilities.

"Yep, I'll be with Arcee."

"See yah."

E and his boyfriend Arcee arrived a little past three in the morning. E was a little drunk then, everyone was, and we were all having a great time.

Arcee and I danced together. He had always been quiet; a rather shy and timid young man who would be content to sit at a corner and watch the party. 

I found him attractive the first time I met him and we would flirt playfully with each other. But tonight he seemed different. I wasn't sure if it was the white shirt that showed off his lean body and made him more masculine or the alcohol that made him more aggressive, but I could feel something was in the air.

My hand was around his waist and our crotches were bumping into each other. We were flirting, being coy with each other while the whole world was watching. I was having fun but I wanted to make the night more interesting.

"Ang saya tonight no?" I said. "Do you wana make it more exciting?"

He nodded.

"I dare you to ask your boyfriend if you can make out with one of his best friends."

Spotlight on little A. Now put to the test by one Queen Bee. Will Arcee take the bait and go from Brady to Britney? Or will his goody-two-shoes mindset turn into the night's biggest buzz kill?

Arcee looked at me, smiled, and left without a word. When he came back, he whispered "Done", and we locked lips. His mouth was forceful, insistent. The kiss left me breathless, giddy. I looked at him and saw him in a new light.

That night, Arcee kissed me, Gino, Chris, and several other cute guys in the club. We were all stunned as he flitted from men to men with a grace that belied his beauty.

Dawn was breaking. Pople were starting to leave as the party ended. I approached Arcee.

"Hey, do you wanna go home with us?" I asked.

"Actually, I am going home," he replied. "With my boyfriend." He nodded to the direction of E who was busy flirting with another guy. Ooohhh, a flat out rejection.

He was about to go, but he suddenly turned back.

"Maybe next time?" he said with a crooked grin.

I smiled back. "Done … and done."

Spotted: An it-girl being born. Word is Arcee killed the spotlight out of everyone and stole it for himself. It was a debut the likes of which hasn't been seen since the time of … well, Kane, himself.

Looks like our girls have to watch their backs. But don't worry K, the brightest stars burn out the fastest. Or at least, that's what I've heard.

Waiting for a star to fall.



Friday, November 25, 2011

A Wedding and a Funeral

I. Here Comes The Bride

My sister was getting married. Shobe, as I fondly call her, was marrying Junie, her boyfriend of nine years. Armed with a Barong Tagalong and accompanied with seven of my closest friends, I flew to Davao to attend the wedding. I had been preparing myself for this.

"OMG!! Bakit ang dami ninyo? (Why are there so many of you?)" my sister Honeylet asked me.

"Bakit? (Why?) I need my own entourage. Akala mo ikaw lang?" I replied.

"Hahaha. Gaga ka talaga. Baka matalo niyo pa ang entourage ko!" she said laughing.

"Humanda ka! (Be ready!)" I said.

A month ago, Carlo, Fran and I observed a wedding in the island of Boracay.

"How strange no," I said. "How weddings make you sentimental. Every time I witness two people getting married, it makes me want to get married as well. It makes you feel you're ready. All of a sudden, you become the relationship girl."

They both nodded, agreeing. We were all lost in our respective reveries while sipping mojitos at the hotel's bar.

"But then, when you're in the club and some cute guys are flirting with you, you suddenly think 'parang hindi pa ako ready' (or, maybe not)," I said and we burst out laughing.

"Exactly!" Carlo said. "That's my ultimate test. If I can give up all the fun of flirting for one guy."

"Oh God. It's just soooooo hardddd honey," I said and we laughed. We all know what I meant

She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, that was the first thought in my head when I saw her. Her face shone with a light that revealed the happiness she was feeling.

"Oh my God. Is that a Vera Wang?" my friends asked me when they saw her wedding gown.

"Yep. Love?" I replied. "But then again: what do you expect? She's that kind of girl. She deserves the best." 

The gown was my present for her. She chose it and I wanted her to have the wedding of her dreams.

The ceremony took place in a garden overlooking the sea. The sun was setting and the dying light cast a golden glow on everyone. Their vows were simple but true. My sister started with "I believe in the life we have..." I cried, of course.

I was asked to say something during the dinner.  "And now, we would hear the bride's brother speak," the host said.

That was my cue. I stood up, and walked to the center of the room. I was nervous. I had little time to prepare and only made notes in my head. I looked around and saw the happy faces of the bride and the groom, their friends and families. Oh how everybody glowed.

"For those who don't know who I am, I'm Honeylet's brother," I said, introducing myself. "I used to say she is my favorite sister in the whole wide world. She always answers by saying I really didn't have a choice."

The audience laughed. I saw my sister smile. It was our favorite joke.

"During the past year, I've seen my sister got so stressed planning for the wedding. It was really a roller coaster ride. And I wondered why people made such a fuss about weddings. And I realized it's because they want their weddings to be perfect.

I paused. "Because they want their marriages to be perfect."

"I used to have a friend," I continued. "Her husband left her after they've been married for almost 20 years. And she told me, 'Marriages can be so fragile pala talaga no?'"

"Relationships are fragile," I said.

Relationships are fragile. I've learned that myself. I thought of all the lovers I had and the promises we never kept. I thought of all the failed romances in the world and the odds that two people will love each other forever.

I brought back my focus to the wedding. "Sometimes, I can't help but be worried after seeing many couple divorce or end up unhappy. I mean ... she's my only sister."

"But then I realize I really don't have anything to worry. Because we have the best relationship heroes one can possibly have in this world," I said and stopped.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to give a toast to my Mom and Dad who I've seen have loved each other more and more as they grew older. They've taught us how to love our partners, how to care and nurture each other, how to be patient and understanding."

My parents were stunned. I knew they didn't expect that. But I wanted to give them credit for what they have achieved in their 30 years of marriage. Without knowing it, they have inspired me and made me wish I can have a love like that.

"They are my relationship heroes," I said. "And I'd like to think that a love like theirs can happen all the time."

"Shobe, Junie, masaya ako para sa inyo (I am happy for you both)," I continued. "It's a beautiful day and I am excited for the life you will have. Mahal ko kayo (I love you both) and I will always be here for you."

Hours later, my friends and my sister's friends have finally depleted the open bar of its entire contents. Everyone was laughing and smiling, and dancing and taking lots of photos.

The night was ending and I was tired but happy. I looked around and I saw how everyone was having such a great time. I went to the bar to scavenge for any last bit of alcohol and I saw my ex boyfriend Marvlitz there. He was my first boyfriend and we were together when I was still sharing a room with my sister during my college days.

"Kamusta? Having fun?" I asked him.

"Oo naman,. I'm really glad I came," he said. I drank the wine in my glass and finished it. We were both watching the crowd.

I turned to Marvlitz and hugged him.

"You know what, Marv, we may not have made it as lovers but I'm glad we we made it as really good friends," I said. He smiled and hugged me back.

"And I couldn't have had a better first boyfriend," I said. "I'm glad you're here to send our little girl off."

"Grabe no, kinasal na talaga si Honeylet samantalang dati tinuturuan ko lang siya sa mga assignments niya. (Can't believe Honeylet's really married. It wasn't so long ago I was just helping her with her homework.)"

"I know ... She's all grown up now, isn't she?" I said.

"She is. And you ... when are you going to get married?" Marv asked.

"Sigh ... I'll probably be an old maid," I replied and gave him a small smile.

"Well ... you'll always have me," he said and squeezed my shoulders.

They say weddings are one of a person's happiest moment. From what I have seen, I tend to think it's true. Whether it's a simple ceremony or a lavish one, at the end it's just two people promising to love each other forever.

"To have and to hold 
from this day forward, 
for better or worse, 
for richer or poorer, 
in sickness and in health, 
to love and to cherish, 
till death do us part"

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Road to Perdition


Gossip Girl: The Games We Play (III)
Beauty and the Feast

One fine morning in the Upper East Side, Vackie woke up to the sound of his best friend having an orgasm.

"My God! Winalang hiya ninyo ako! Di ninyo man lang ako ginalang. Natutulog akong walang kamalay malay, eh yun pala may sine sex na kayo ni Gino sa tabi ko! (How could you and Gino have sex with a guy beside me while I was sleeping? You have shamed me!)" V exclaimed.

"Hahaha. I'm sorry honey," I said. "You know how it is. Sometimes you just get carried away."

"Hahaha. Teka (Hold on), did you cum on the guy's face?"

"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? Hahaha. I refuse to answer on the ground that the answer may incriminate me."

"You dirty girl. I saw you! I love. Porn star ka na. Hahaha. I'm going to tell Arlan!" V squealed.

"Nooooooooooooooooo," I said, and we both laughed hysterically.

"Hmmmm. Parang meron kang hindi kinukwento. (You're not telling me something)," was the first thing Arlan said when we met.

"Ha? What?"

"I heard … ibang level na raw ang pagka pokpok mo! (you've become the new girl of the town!)" A said with an I-know-what-you-did look on his face.

"Ha? (What?) Who told you that?" I asked.

"Oh honey, stop pretending. It's all over Gossip Girl. So … is it true? That the lady is now a tramp?"

"Tsk tsk … Ano ka ba. (What's with you?) You should never listen to gossip," I said. "Besides, between the two of us, I'm not the original group fun girl here. Bina bawasan ko lang naman ang lamang mo. (I'm just trying to catch up)."

"My God, ibang level ka naaaaaaaaaaaa," A said laughing. "Where's the girl I used to know?

Indeed, where is she, I asked myself. I used to think I was built differently, that I'm the kind of guy who prefers quiet dinners over sexual trysts. But lately, the dinners have become far and few in between while the sex ... well, don't let me get started.
Am I having a midlife crisis at a young, tender age of ... (gasp) ... 31? Why am I rebelling against the things I used to believe in? Maybe I just got too tired of trying to be the good guy, the nice guy when it seems the world wants to fuck you. So you fuck back.

Perhaps the pressure to find love in the modern world was too much, so I caved in and decided to just have lots of sex with really, really, really uber hot guys. Come to think of it, the trade off doesn't sound so bad.
I thought I have gone too far, but I realized you can actually go further.
Gino and I met Jason near his place. It was just going to be a casual meeting. After a few minutes, he invited us to go up to his place to hang out. Oooohhh, hang out. I knew what that meant.
He shared a small apartment with a friend. He introduced us and we made small talk about his work in a cruise ship, about the Halloween parties they went to, about Bigfish and drugs and boys and sex. I stood up and walked around the room because his shoes caught my fancy when suddenly in my peripheral hearing I heard one of them say

"So ano, apat tayo, game? (So the four of us?)"

What the hell. I was stunned. There I was, caught in between two guys negotiating sex where I was supposed to be part of. I suddenly realized I wasn't prepared for a foursome. I told Gino I had to meet a friend, so we told the guys we'll set another date.

"What the fuck? What happened?" Gino asked me inside the car. "Andoon na tayo ah at game na sila. Anong nangyari sa iyo? (Everything was set. What happened?)"

"Honey, I was so not ready," I told Vackie after I narrated what happened. "The first thing that came to my mind was: Paano ang blocking? Ang choreography? Kanino nakatutok ang camera? (What's the blocking? The choreography? Who gets the maximum camera exposure?)"

"Hahahahaa. Yan kasi. Bata pa lang child star ka na. Laking Hollywood ka kasi," V said. "Nasanay na may script, may direction. Di mo ako tularan. Laking Broadway. Magaling sa improvisation. Noong sabi ng mga ka sex ko na may gusto pang pumunta, sabi ko go lang. Walang issue."

("Hahahahaa. That's the thing. You were just a kid when you became a star. You got used to Hollywood," V said. "You got used to a script, direction. You should emulate me. I grew up in Broadway. I'm used to improvising. When the guys I was having sex with said another guy was coming, I said go ahead.")

"You're such a game girl. I love," I replied, laughing. "But God honey, these kids these days. I mean, they're like 23, 24 and I'm a fucking dinosaur compared to them. But they didn't even blink. They're just more aggressive, more experimental, more adventurous. Nakakaloka. (It's outrageous.)"

"I guess it's really a new generation," V agreed.

"You know, I've decided the next time I'm faced with a similar situation I'm going to go for it," I said. "I mean, Yes is the word right? Maybe it's time for me to take on more difficult and challenging roles. You think I'll make it?"

"Honey, you're a natural born star. I'm sure next year, you'll be the grand slam winner for best breakthrough actress in the adult film category!!!!"

"Gaga! Let us not get our hopes too high. I may not even like it."

"Or ... you may."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Gossip Girl: The Games We Play (V)


Previously on Gossip Girl:
Gossip Girl: The Games We Play (IV)
Pigs, That's What We Are

True love and betrayal. Revenge and more revenge. A heroine with an impossible goal. If only Mozart had lived on the Upper East Side.

"Hey honey kamusta? What are your plans for the weekend?" Vackie asked.

"I'm meeting Grindr Boy lang. Then maybe after, we can go out," I said.

"Ohhhh. I thought things were over between the two of you since he has ... you know ... a boyfriend."

"Honey, shouldn't you know by now? Just because he has a boyfriend doesn't mean the game is over. It only means the game just got more interesting. It's over only when I say it is."

"Hahahaha. I should have known. So ... are you going to have sex?"

"Arrrgghhh ... do I really need to answer truthfully? You're going to judge meeeeee."

"Honey, we don't judge. We're the non-judging Breakfast Club," V said. "I mean, I've seen you with vomit on your clothes, make out with random strangers in clubs, give a blowjob in a public restroom ..."

"Okay fineeee. Stop it. You didn't have to be so ... specific," I said laughing.

"I'm your best friend and anything you've done is something I probably did too," V said. "None of us are saints. So ... are you going to fuck?"

Grindr Boy and I haven't communicated since he confessed that he was actually in a relationship. But one night, he suddenly texted.

"Asan ka? (Where are you?)" he said.

"I'm home. Kamusta? (How are you?) What's up?"

"Wala naman. Kita sana tayo (Nothing much. Thought maybe we could meet)," he replied, with a smiling face. Oooohhh, where is this headed, I wondered.

"Ahhh. Next time? I'm exhausted and about to sleep. Ipapaalam mo ba kay boyfriend? (When are you free? Are you going to tell your boyfriend?)"

"Yep, oo naman. Ipapaalam. (Yep, I will tell him.)"

"Ano sasabihin mo? (What are you going to say?) How do we know each other? =) Through Grindr?" I teased him.

"Uhmmmm... Wag na nga lang magpapaalam. (I think I'll just not tell him.) Hahaha."

"Bad boy ... tsk tsk. Mag se sex ba tayo? (Are we going to have sex?)"

"Hahaha. Derecho talaga. (Straight to the point huh.)"

"Huy hindi ah, (Hey, that's not true,)" I protested. "If I wanted to, I could have had my way before. You know that. Besides, I figured you owe me. If I had known you had a boyfriend, we should have just skipped dinner and went straight to fuck."

"Hahaha. Uhmm ... sige. Ako na lang pupunta diyan. (I'll just go to your place.)"

The problem with hiding your sins is that they always come back. Just when you think some have atoned for past transgressions, a once-pure Prince can't help but commit a new one.

Grindr Boy and I set a date for this Friday night. He's sneaking out after his boyfriend leaves for work. Albert and I also have made tentative plans to see each other, also this week.

"Wow. All these dates with married men. So ... what happened to your vow to not hook up with guys who have boyfriends?" V asked me.

"Sigh. I know ... I know," I said. "See? I knew you were going to judge."

I was quiet for awhile. I thought about the things you promised yourself you wouldn't do, and how somehow you find yourself breaking them. Maybe you've changed, or the game changes you.

It all starts out innocenly, at first. Then someone starts to break the rules and play unfairly. So you decide to keep up. You find youself crossing boundaries to step into someone else's shoes. You tell yourself ... it's okay, it's just a game right? Or ... is it?

Maybe it is. Until you screw someone. Or you find yourself screwed. Sometimes you wish it would stop. All of it. The sportsmanship, the jockeying for positions. But that's the thing: it's in our nature to play the game. To seek to influence others to gain our desires. But we do have a choice in how we play: do we play fairly or do we cheat and lie through the game?

"Well, their boyfriends cheated on them," I told Vackie.

"And so by cheating with you, they get even and everything's okay?"

"I don't know," I said. "Oh God honey, come Judgment Day I can already see the list of charges against me. Accomplice to the crime of adultery!!!"

"Correction ... adulteries!!!" V said laughing.

Maybe Vackie was right. Maybe two wrongs don't make one right. But some things are just too good to resist. The spirit is willing but the flesh is just ... oh so weak.

Mistakes. We all make them. They usually start with the best of intentions. Like keeping a secret to protect a friend. Or lying to help someone.

Sometimes we don't even know what mistakes we've made to get us where we are. Or we figure it out just in time to make it right again. But every mistake happens for a reason. To teach you a lesson you would otherwise never learn. And hopefully, you never make that mistake again.

Lucky for me, that never happens.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Gossip Girl: The Games We Play (IV)


The Games We Play (II)
The Way We Were

On the Upper East Side, the possibilities are endless. Dom or Krug. Winston or Cartier. Tory or Stella. John or Grindr Boy.

Eventually even the people with everything have to choose. But sometimes, you learn that the choice has already been made for you.

Dating, it seems, has never been this fun. There's always a new boy to add to the list; some new guy you met at a party or through a friend. Sometimes you feel you just might have it all.

Grindr Boy and I made plans to meet that night. I was excited to see him again and I planned my day so we can have the evening together. I checked the calendar and made sure I scheduled my appointments with other guys on other days so there would be no conflict.

A few minutes before we were supposed to meet, I texted him to ask where he was. He didn't reply. After a few more minutes, I called him but he didn't pick up. I was getting worried and puzzled. I called him several times more but it looked like I was getting stood up.

Oh well, I told myself. Just when you thought things were going well. Grindr Boy was nice enough but he had been acting strange. He would at times not respond to my calls and messages but I always attributed it to his busy schedule.

A few days later, Grindr Boy suddenly texted.

"I'm now officially taken :(," he said.

I was stunned. Officially taken? What does that mean? Was he unofficially taken before and it now became official?

Every now and then, I would ask Grindr Boy about the other guys he's dating and he always said he wasn't seeing anyone. And I believed him. My thoughts were still in a disarray so I composed myself before I sent my response.

"Wow, this is a surprise. I guess this is it," I said. "Masaya ako para sa iyo. (I am happy for you.) I mean, I know how wonderful it is to find love."

"Kane, I'm sorry if I lied," Grindr Boy said. "He's my boyfriend for three years now. I met you during the time we were having problems."

Woooohhh. The hell. I couldn't believe it. I had been duped all along. This sweet boy with the sweetest smile turned out to be a lying, scheming bastard.

Uh oh. Spotted: K learning that two can play this game. It looks like our star player …  just got played. Outwitted by a boy almost a decade younger than he is, tsk tsk. Talk about a coup de grace, ladies.

"I just got scared you might get mad and won't talk to me again. Masaya kasi ako (I'm happy) when we're together," Grindr Boy continued. "I hope we can still be friends."
I heaved a deep sigh. Of course I understand him. I suppose I should have known better.

"I accept your apology. I understand how complicated relationships can be," I said. "I guess it explains a lot of things. Three years is something, you know. You should be proud."

The next day …
"Were you really surprised?" Gino asked me, disbelievingly. "Couldn't you see the signs that he was hiding something?"

I shook my head. "You know what, maybe I trust people too easily. I guess I always expect people to be honest. Are we not ba?"

"Eh siyempre Kane. I mean, ikaw ba, do you always tell your boys everything?"

"Well, not everything I suppose. But I do tell them that I'm seeing other guys. That way, expectations are clear. And I've always done that. I don't want people feeling like I led them on."

Gino and I were both quiet for awhile. He knew I did like Grindr Boy.

"Well, there's still John," Gino pointed out.

"Oh, I stopped seeing him already. I guess it just wasn't working."

"Meron ka pa naman ibang boys. (Well, you still have other boys)," he said.

"Yeah, but they're really just for fun," I replied. "I actually thought Grindr Boy and I could have something more, you know."

"So much for the one huh," Gino said.

"Or the other one. Sigh. Sometimes, people can really be so disappointing. They say they're one thing but end up to be something else."

They say you reap what you sow. Instead of too many choices, you suddenly have none. Lonely Boy finally learns the truth, only to realize it's a little too late. That perhaps, the time for love has once again come and gone.

It was a Sunday night and I was trying to rest after a tiring weekend. My phone suddenly beeped. "Kamusta? (How are you?)" Albert asked.

I called him up. "Hey! What are you doing? Listen ... remember the date you promised."
But that's the thing with players.

"I was wondering when you're free to meet," I said.

They can never resist the game.

"Let me know if you can get away from your boyfriend."

And on the Upper East Side, only one thing is certain: let a new game begin.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beauty and the Feast

Humans have always been, and I think, will always be obsessed with physical beauty. No matter how many New Age philosophies extol the virtue of inner beauty, of strong character and steadfast values, the beautiful always lords over the rest of us when it comes to a very basic human need.


One day, Gino and I were talking about the Grindr application and how groundbreaking it is in the way it allows people to connect.

"Why don't you try it?" I told him.

"Tingin mo ba may magkakagusto sa akin? (You think they'd like me?)" he asked.

"Well, there's only one way to find out."

Gino and I chose a photo and created his profile.

The response was overwhelming. Within minutes, a flood of messages poured in and he received more than a hundred texts in less than twelve hours. Half of them within the first four hours.

"OMG! Grabe, nakakaloka!" I said to my friends. "You guys should have seen it. Nagkandarapa ang mga bading!!! It was like there was a feast and everyone wanted a piece of him."

"Eh oo naman (But of course)," Arlan said. "Yung look talaga niya yan ang bebenta talaga. (He has the look that will really sell.) He's tall and very manly. He looks like the college basketball player you always wanted to fuck but never got to."

I nodded. Gino does have that look. He's very masculine, dark skinned, lean with abs. How could gay guys resist?

"I was surprised. You know we get messages from Grindr. But, not that many. And all those guys who ignored me before… wow, they were really after him," I said. "I guess hot guys really trump cute huh."

"Well, he's got the sex appeal," Carlo said. "I mean, most people who use Grindr are looking for a hook-up. It's a different case when you're in a club or at a party, where you see the guy in person, see how he carries himself, how he dresses up, how he speaks. It all adds up to his desirability."

We were all quiet.

"Talagang dinefend ang cute no? (I had to defend cute huh?)" Carlo said, and he started to laugh.

"Tama! Hahahaha. Napaka passionate nga ng pagdefend mo eh (Uh, we noticed. Hahahaha. And you were so passionate!)," I exclaimed. "But you gotta admit, he is such a perfect addition to our group. It's like we've got something for everyone."

My friends and I were laughing but I knew implicitly that even though no one said it, we were starting to realize that Gino may be more attractive than any of us.

I think in general, my friends and I consider ourselves fairly equal in the looks department. We tend to fall into the category of the boy-next-door type; hence the usual compliments we get are cute, nice, charming, pretty boy.

But never yummy, sexy, or hot.

Days later, I was telling a friend about Gino when she suddenly said …

"So, nainggit ka ba? (So, did you get envious?)"

I was about to say no, of course not. But I realized that something had been bothering me about the whole experiment. The truth is; I am envious. A little perhaps.

Don't get me wrong. I am not insecure, nor unhappy about who I am and how I look. I am fairly contented. But I do wonder at times: how does it feels like to be hot?

I guess I'll never know.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Way We Were


Note: Please play the video at the end before reading the story.

The moment Albert stepped inside the club, people stopped and stared. Guys paused midway their conversations, their whirling, dancing, drinking and crotch grabbing to steal casual glances at him. And then slowly look at me.

Why, you might ask. Because I was leading him by the hand which was, I suppose, a not so subtle way of saying "Back off ladies, the boy is mine." Except ... he wasn't really mine.

It was Albert's first time in the club. Which meant he was a fresh face.

"Don't you just love fresh meat?" I said.

"I know," Arlan replied. "They're just so … "

"Fresh?" I said, and we both laughed.

Albert and I dated a few years ago. We haven't seen each other in a while but we kept in touch through the years. He and his boyfriend had a huge fight and that was why he was out tonight.

"Actually Kane, andoon kasi boyfriend ko. Inaway niya ako para makalabas siya (my boyfriend's there. We had a fight just so he could go out)," Albert told me. He was hesitating to join us.

"Come on. You don't have to worry. Hindi naman kita pababayaan. (I'll take care of you)."

After a while, the inevitable happened. They saw each other and froze. When Albert introduced us, I could see the boyfriend was taken aback that Albert was out, and more importantly, that his boyfriend was out with us.

"I bet your boyfriend was shocked to see you earlier," I said. We were at home with my friends who decided to continue the party, and Albert opted to join us.

"Yeah. Akala niya siya lang ang marunong (He thought only he could play the game)," he replied.

I plopped down beside him on the bed. Tell me about him, I commanded.

Albert and his boyfriend have been together for about a year. He had recently found out his lover was cheating on him.

"Did you confront him?" I asked.


"What did he say?"

"He said 'Ganito na talaga ako (This is how I am). Tanggapin mo na lang'."

I listened intently to Albert's stories. His voice was hushed, sad; can't stay, can't leave. Stuck. Fuck, he says. Why? He asks. Why am I not enough?

"Ikaw, kamusta ka (how are you)?" Albert asked.  "It seems like you're still the boy I first met," he said, giving me a crooked smile.

I shook my head. "Nahhh … I've gotten old Albert. I'm no longer the same boy."

"Do you still remember when we first met?" he suddenly asked.

Four years ago …

I was at a party hosted by a friend on a penthouse overlooking the glitzy city of Makati. I was out on the terrace, holding a glass of Merlot, admiring the skyline when I turned and bumped into a stranger. I spilled my drink and some of its contents were now causing stains on the guy's jeans

"Oh fuck. I'm sorry, pasensya," I said, embarrassed at my clumsiness.

"It's okay," he said. I looked up and saw that, the stranger was well, cute.

He had an accent which marked him as someone not from Manila. It was adorable. We found out we both actually hailed from the same province; that he had arrived in the city only recently. He and his friends were about to leave when he suddenly whispered text me, and surreptitiously gave me his number.

Present …

"I still remember ...  diba diyan tayo nag sex (wasn't that where we fucked)?" Albert said and suddenly, one by one pointed out certain spots in the room.

"Oh my God! Gago ka. You remember?" I said, astounded.

"Nakakainis ka nga eh," I said. "You didn't even suck me then."

"Hayaan mo na," he said. "Alam mo naman, bago pa lang ako noon and marami pang issues. (You know I was just new then in the scene and still had a lot of issues.)"

"But if you want … you can fuck me now," Albert added.

"Whaaaaat? Tang-ina mo. Gago ka. (You fucking piece of shit.) You wouldn't even put my dick in your mouth before and now you let guys fuck you. Nakakainis ka!"

I pretended to be miffed. "Come on, don't be upset na," he said. "Let's set a date so you can fuck me."

"You never got to keep your promise. You told me I'd be the first," I told him. Once, in the middle of our cuddling, he promised me I would be his first. But not all promises are kept.

"I know Kane. Some things just happen."

After a while, he bid me goodbye. I walked him out the door.

"Uy, salamat ha. (Hey, thanks a lot.) It was really good to see you again," he said.

I took his hand and squeezed it.

"You know … I really did like you," I slowly said, and smiled wistfully. He looked at me and nodded.

"I really did like you too," Albert answered in a quiet voice. "Perhaps, if we had met at a different time … "

So there we were. The years have passed but our pasts continue to haunt us. We were young, eager lads; now one's an unhappy husband, the other a gallivanting man around town. It seems the love we were looking for had somehow eluded us and all that we have right now is this tender thing; a memory of who we used to be ... and perhaps it is enough.

I hugged him tightly. "Goodbye, Albert," I whispered. He turned to leave. I stared at his back until his image slowly faded away.