Monday, March 28, 2011

Meet the Cast

Who are these people you write about in your stories Kane? someone asked me once, pointing out that several characters regularly appear in my stories. They are my friends, I replied.

The best friends one can possibly have. These are the people who I allow into the most intimate corner of my life, who I allow myself to love unconditionally. I decided it would be helpful to give people an idea of who they are and the roles we play in each others' lives.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the boys and a girl of the the Upper East Side.

Arlan is the quintessential it-boy whose smile can melt every lady's or in this case, every gay gentleman's heart.

Vackie is the boy who had the one thing we all wanted: a long-term relationship. But when everything crumbles, you are forced to rebuild and in rebuilding redefine yourself. From relationship boy to party boy, only time will tell how far the changes will go.

Fran, la querida, prefers foreigners with exquisite tastes in food and sex. Currently dating a 6'2" tall British guy with blue eyes and blond hair and brown pubes.

Edward, almost always the quiet one, prefers older gentlemen. But he's had a few encounters that taught him that older does not necessarily mean nicer.

Carlo. Single far longer than we all have been, this rebel isn't searching for love. But that doesn't mean he can't have fun and play the game.

BFFs who are sometimes enemies and often rivals for the attentions of men, these boys and a girl live colorful exciting lives full of intrigue and drama. Love them, hate them, one thing is for certain: it never gets boring around them.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gossip Girl: Good Will Hunting


Rise and shine, Upper East Siders. Are you ready for the latest piece of gossip? I hear Kane has his eye for a pretty dark haired it-boy. But it looks like this boy is giving him the ditch.

I didn't like Will immediately. There were no electric sparks, no swooning under the stars, no tingling of the skin. Will and I had bumped into each other on several occasions and yes, he is good looking but he belongs to another group of it-boys and in our world, we tend to be polite and feign disinterest in each other.

As is often the case, we share common friends, common ex-dates, and the likes. But when I got to know him more, I realized he was charming, intelligent, witty: one of those rare guys you can actually date.

"I just saw Black Swan. It's quite intense," I told him once.

"It is. It's a really great film," he replied

"So are you more of the white or black swan," I asked him playfully.

"Hahaha. Hmmmmmm... I'd have to say both. But I'd like to focus more on the white," he said, laughing.

"Well… so far, all I've seen is the black swan, the seducer of men," I teased him.

Over time, I learned he studied at the De La Salle University, has a degree from the Asian Institute of Management, and works for his family's business. But I noticed that he was getting to be more and more distant.

"Honey, nakakainis. (I hate it). He would sometimes reply to my text five hours later! Five!!! Argh!!!," I said to Vackie.

"Ay hindi happy. (That's not good.) Dapat you should be telling me you were fucking five hours later," V said laughing.

"I know! I mean, WTF! Nakakainis! (It sucks!)"

"Isn't it ironic that of all the men in your life, the one you actually like is the one who may not like you back?"

"I know. Hay. Ang guapo kasi niya. (He's sooo good looking.) And he fits the profile of guys we like; someone well-bred, well-mannered, well-educated, well-read. Sigh. Quel dommage."

One day, I decided to ask Will about what was bothering me.

"Hey Will, I noticed you haven't been responsive to my texts. Is everything okay? Uhmm, do you have a boyfriend?"

"Hey Kane, I am still single. I'm sorry I'm just very busy right now. I am applying for a new job kasi plus I have school. Good night :)"

I thought carefully of what to say to him next.

"It's alright, Will. I guess things are hectic for you these days. I was hoping to get to know you better. Perhaps… another day. =) Good luck on the job hunt. I hope you do well."

"You okay, honey? So I guess this is it huh," V said after I told him what happened.
I turned my head and looked at him.

"Of course not," I replied. "I'm surprised the thought even crossed your mind. Don't you know by now that I always have a plan B?"

"OOohhh. Do I smell a scheme?" V said, the beginnings of a smile playing on his lips. "Do I get to play a part?"

"Not this time. This one requires the skills of Arlan."

The next day…
"Honey, I need your help with a scheme," I told A.

"Ohhh. What kind? Is this for a takedown?"

"Relax. This one is much simpler. All I need you to do is to get Will very drunk the next time we see him at the club."

"Ah Hahahaha. Gusto ko yan. (I like that.)"

"You know the drill. One drunk girl equals one easy girl."

A wise man once said, "It's better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles." But some warriors just can't give up the fight. And so they push the boundaries and break the rules just to win the war.

Be careful K. Everyone knows even the best laid plans can fall apart in the Upper East Side. And when it does, things can get ... dirty.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Open Spaces: Drag Me to the Queen


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is time for another guest writer.

I was checking out my friend Doni's new blog when I noticed the description he used for himself.

The rants and raves of a drag queen from Manila

I was shocked. I knew D had a penchant for dressing up in women's clothes, for putting on layers and layers of make-up, for performing and uploading his videos in the Internet, but I never thought he considered himself as a drag queen.

I have always thought it was a katuwaan, something for fun, but not as an identity label. I have friends who are transexuals and cross dressers; who dress up, behave and act like women but D was different. He dresses as a man on most days, working at an office in Singapore.

I realized maybe there are many kinds of drag queens and I was curious. What does it mean to be a drag queen? How does it feel like? Does it feel like being a woman? Why does he like it? I encouraged D to write about it and  here is his tale.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Drag queens are fascinating, with their larger than life personas and their ability to cross gender boundaries. They are beautiful mesmerizing creatures who remind us that the world can be something other than what it is; happier perhaps.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Only in the Philippines

"Who are you voting for this coming election?" I asked Felix in my very broken Spanish. Felix doesn't speak any English and I was trying to communicate with him using what little of his language I know.

"I'm voting for Fujimori for president," Felix replied. "The current leader only thinks of the businessmen, and not the poor people like us. Life is getting harder."

Felix owns the quaint guesthouse we stayed at in the village of Llachon at the Capachica peninsula in southwestern Peru. His house, built by him and his sons, stands at the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Titicaca.

A handful of tiny communities are nestled between the rocky mountains bordering the lake. These villages are rarely visited by tourists and the only accommodation available is home stay.

Felix's choice left me baffled. Apparently, these kinds of things do not only happen in the Philippines.

Only in the Philippines is a common expression we hear people use to describe the state of affairs in my country; how awful the traffic is, how bad the roads are, how crazy the politics is.

When former president Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in a popular revolution in 2001 and later on jailed for corruption, came close to winning last year's elections after placing second, I shook my head, bewildered and said "Only in the Philippines".

Apparently not.

Keiko Fujimori, one of the top three contenders for the April elections in Peru, is the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori who fled to Japan in 2000 after his chief military aide was caught on camera bribing officials.

He was arrested during a visit to Chile in 2005 and was extradited to his homeland where he was jailed for human rights violation during his 10-year rule from 1990 to 2000. Keiko has said she may pardon her father if she gets elected.

I used to think modern societies learn from the past, but it seems history teaches us otherwise. The choice of a leader shows the level of political maturity of a nation's population and what is becoming apparent to me is that education plays a crucial role in this.

That, I think, is the curse of poor countries like the Philippines and Peru where education suffers.

But things are changing, no matter how slow. Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino is prioritizing education. He is building 17,000 classrooms and hiring 15,000 teachers this year to improve education and increase jobs in a nation where the World Bank estimates one out of every four people live on less than $1.25 a day.

And across the ocean, 18.7 million Peruvians will go to the polls next month and elect a new president. Each one of them hoping that their next leader will be able to lead their nation out of poverty. People like Felix who at 52, goes out fishing every night and returns at dawn to help provide for his 14 grandchildren. Some of them don't go to school.

And so, I hope ... with them. Buena suerte, mi amigo. I hope you make the right choice.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Gossip Girl: Summer, Kind of Wonderful


Hey Upper East Siders! With the warm breeze in the air, it looks like winter is officially over and things are heating up.

Some would say summer is their busiest season. Will you be partying in Ibiza or tanning in Saint-Tropez? Nothing beats a summer abroad and word is Kane is planning a getaway.

Spotted: K heading East. To the fabled land of India in search of the love monument Taj Mahal. Too bad for Lonely Boy, he's going to be ... all alone.

"So… you're really going alone to India next month huh?" V said.
"Yes honey. Eat Pray Love part two," I replied.

"Well, don't forget. It's Eat Pray Love, not Eat Love!"

"Hahaha. Gaga ka talaga. But isn't it fun that I'll be learning about Hinduism and the Kama Sutra all at the same time. Talk about enriching your body and your soul."

"OMG honey. Holy and sinful at the same time. I love it," V said. "But … all those contortions. Can your body still take it? You're not exactly a young feathered thing anymore."

"Hahaha. I know!!! I'll have to manage."

"Oh boy. Mahuhulasan ang mga lalaki mo pag-uwi mo. (Your men in Manila will definitely be in for a surprise when you get back.) You're not the same girl … same girl ..." V said, singing the lines.

"Hahaha. Gaga ka. (Fucker.) But I'm actually excited to have an entire summer with nothing to do but figure things out."

"What for?" V said. "All the drama, that's who you are. Just like I'm someone who's not going to stop searching for love just because I lost it. Which is why I'm going directly into the belly of the beast."



"OMG honeyyyyyyyyyyyy. Mag ga Galera ka? (You're going to Galera?) Without me??????????????"

"Well, I'm a big girl and I'll be fine. Who knows? Maybe Prince Charming will be there among the beasts."

"Who knows?" I said and smiled wistfully.

"Although I doubt it. Everyone's looking for a spark but that won't even do for me. Gusto ko talagang masasabi kong (I want to be able to say) 'Baby… you're a firework'."

We were both laughing and then we were quiet for awhile.

"Well, I hope we both find what we're looking for," I told V, smiling softly at him.

Buddha once said "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to the truth; not going all the way, and not starting."
So we set out for far away places and try to find ourselves. Or... try to lose ourselves. Exploring pleasures we've never tried before.
The problems start when we refuse to allow change to happen and cling to old habits. Because if we hold on to the past too tight, the future may never come.


Monday, March 07, 2011

The Million Dollar Question (II)


To top or to bottom, that is the question.

"Are you top or bottom?" is a common question gay men ask their partners before or during sex. The label refers to gay men's sexual role preference when it comes to the act of anal intercourse and it is the single most important label you will carry for the rest of your life.

Oh stop cringing people. Sex is amoral, objective, and whether we're talking about a penis inside a vagina or inside an anus, it's human behavior all the same.

I find it very interesting how people label themselves and what these labels concerning sexual roles mean in forming one's identity.

People who derive more pleasure (or perhaps suffer less anxiety or discomfort) from acting as the insertive partner are referred to colloquially as “tops,” whereas those who have a clear preference for serving as the receptive partner are commonly known as “bottoms.”

In a 2003 issue of The Journal of Sex Research, a team of scientists led by Trevor Hart at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta who studied a group of 205 gay male participants found that:

(1) Self-labels are meaningfully correlated with actual sexual behaviors. That is to say, based on self-reports of their recent sexual histories, those who identify as tops are indeed more likely to act as the insertive partner, bottoms are more likely be the receptive partner, and versatiles occupy an intermediate status in sex behavior.

(2) Compared to bottoms, tops are more frequently engaged in (or at least they acknowledge being attracted to) other insertive sexual behaviors. For example, tops also tend to be the more frequent insertive partner during oral intercourse. In fact, this finding of the generalizability of top/bottom self-labels to other types of sexual practices was also uncovered in a correlational study by David Moskowitz, Gerulf Reiger and Michael Roloff. In a 2008 issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, these scientists reported that tops were more likely to be the insertive partner in everything from sex-toy play to verbal abuse to urination play.

(3) Tops were more likely than both bottoms and versatiles to reject a gay self-identity and to have had sex with a woman in the past three months. They also manifested higher internalized homophobia — essentially the degree of self-loathing linked to their homosexual desires.

There are men who have sex with men but define themselves as heterosexual. They may reject being the receptive partner in sex as they perceive that role to be gay.

(4) Versatiles seem to enjoy better psychological health. Hart and his coauthors speculate that this may be due to their greater sexual sensation seeking, lower erotophobia (fear of sex), and greater comfort with a variety of roles and activities.

In a separate study by Nick Yee, a research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, he found that bottoms prefer older, taller, heavier, hairy men while tops preferred younger, shorter, lighter, smooth men.

Age, height, weight and hairiness are indicators of masculinity and his research suggests that tops seek out sexual partners with less masculine features, while bottoms seek out sexual partners with more masculine features.

Bottoms were also more likely to prefer rough sex, suggesting men who prefer receptive anal intercourse like to be overpowered.

Being top, bottom or versatile can have drastic implications on behavior in sex and even in relationships.

For example, in an article by Moskowitz, Reiger and Roloff, the authors note that prospective gay male couples might want to weigh this issue of sex role preferences seriously before committing to a long term relationship.

From a sexual point of view, there are obvious logistical problems of two tops or two bottoms being in a monogamous relationship. But since these sexual role preferences tend to reflect other behavioral traits (such as tops being more aggressive and assertive than bottoms), “such relationships also might be more likely to encounter conflict quicker than relationships between complementary self-labels.”

Being gay can be tricky. There are plenty of anecdotes of people hooking up and ending up getting frustrated. Some of my friends prefer to be frank and ask the million dollar question right away.

And as for me, a very wise friend of mine once said, "To be successful in the gay world, you must be like Burger King.

Have it your way, sir."

I listened to him and tried it. You know what, he was right.