Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ang Laro ng Buhay ni Juan

Recently, I have had the opportunity to view gay-themed indie movies and it all started with getting an invite from Lex Bonife for Little Boy, Big Boy. Since then, I have watched both Pipo and Bayaw (which I will both review in the next weeks).

Just this week, I was able to attend a special screening of the latest
film from Jay Altarejos, Ang Laro ng Buhay ni Juan, at Mogwai Cafe in Cubao. It is not a usual venue for premieres and screenings but the ambiance of the screening room was very intimate. For an indie film, it allows the filmmakers to have a closer interaction with their audience.

Not being picky, I was a bit confused with Juan traveling from his rented room to where he was working as a performer. He stopped over in Manila to buy a can of biscuits. Normally, these biscuits are purchased on the bus station itself prior to boarding the bus especially since it is a bit cumbersome to carry around the city. I did found the song that accompanied Juan while contemplated by the bridge in Manila truly appropriate. Lex Bonife is credited for that song.

The story had revolved around Juan who had decided to return to Masbate after struggling in Manila for three years only to have ended up as a masseur / sex performer for lack of an easy way to earn money. It shows how the lead character interacts with his neighbors and partner as he says his goodbyes. Then leads to his trip to what is supposedly his last day of work as a performer in a private gay club.

For me, it was not a struggle of deciding whether to push through with returning home to his province or not. It was acceptance of his decision and pushing through with it. You know he is struggling however his life in Manila brought him a lot of friends including a partner. His decision is rooted on the family he left behind. Ironically in the end, the situation he allowed himself to be in takes the decision out of his hands. A reflection of life, sometimes we plan too much only to have the decision made by others or by circumstances.

Jay Altajeros definitely is not your run of the mill director. He uses long one-camera shots that is difficult to orchestrate and works well with the narrative. He does not rest on his laurels and experiments on how to bring their story to the screen. Considering financial limitations, he makes sure that each of his films feel like it's something new, not a rehash of his previous films.

Angeli Bayani (
2008 Cinemanila’s Asian Best Actress), for me stole the show with her performance. Unforgettable is the scene when the rice she bought using the money she borrowed from Juan spilled onto the wet sidewalk. For me, it depicts the Filipino's resilience. Down to our last resources, we will use them to the last drop. It also superimposed how pushed to the wall her character was which leads to her her fateful decision at the end of the movie.

Nico Antonio, of the singing group VOIZboys, is the partner of the lead character. He struggled with letting Juan go and pursuading him to stay. I am unfamiliar with his acting credentials, but he does the character justice for what limited time he is given on screen.

The lead character, Juan, is played by indie veteran, Ray-An Dulay. He made an impact on his first film, Bathhouse, and has a Altarejos movie under his belt, Kambyo. Onscreen he appears a bit lanky but in person, he makes an impression on you that he is Juan. It did not create that illusion on film. Then again, maybe I am prejudiced on what I look for in a guy. BUT. He, however, does a good turn as Juan.
I got to meet a lot of the people who lent their talents to the completion of this movie including Ace Ricafort and Tony Lapeña who were daring in their roles as the Tupada Boys. May-I Fabros and Fabillar, who had short roles in the film, were truly accomodating and truly friendly.

Take the time and add this film to be one of the films you are watching this week. Ang Laro ng Buhay ni Juan will be shown in selected Robinsons cinemas starting, tomorrow, October 21.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Life on Hold

It has been a while since I was able to blog.

A lot has happened since I last made an entry which I blame as the reason why I failed to update this blog of mine. My relationship ended and now, my house is flooded. Life has its ups and downs but sometimes it just feels like when you are down, it kicks you in the groin just to make you felt worse than you already do.

I thought that my relationship has been set on stone. We were 5 years. We seemed to have weathered a lot of problems and it seemed to be smooth sailing.

I thought that the area that I lived in was safe. In the 3 years that I lived there, I was far from any calamity or crime. It seemed to be a suitable haven from the pressures at work, a place I can retreat to so I can recharge and relax.

When life makes changes for you sometimes you are never prepared but one should always be prepared for the worse. One should always have something ready to catch him when the unexpected comes.

When these trials come, it may freeze you to inaction or it may fuel your drive. When I broke up with my partner, it made me a zombie. Each day passes and goes but all I do seem just to fill up time - in order not to think about him or our relationship. I was stagnating and it did not matter to me. When the flood struck my home, it forced me into action. Partly out of necessity, but mostly it pushed me and gave me a direction.

I haven't spoken to my ex ever since the break up. I did not know how I really felt - if I would welcome him back or if I had closed the door one last time. My life was on hold and there was no clear path to where I would be heading.

The flood brought to the surface what allowed to settle under water - other people in my life. I was needed by others and I needed others. The desire to be creative and to express myself surfaced. Hence, the return to my blog.

When my relationship ended, a part of me died. It took a flood for me to reclaim my life and feel alive again. Thank you Ondoy. Thank you people who man the dams and do not give proper notice that they would be releasing water.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You Know You're Getting Older When...

You know you're getting older when you use more facial wash and less shampoo because you're hairline is receding

You know you're getting older when people think your date is your son.

You know you're getting older when the places you recommend having dinner in have long been transferred or demolished.

You know you're getting older when you need to wear glasses to be able to read (unlike before when you wear glasses just to loook cool)

You know you're getting older when prospective dates like you because you are a father figure

You know you're getting older when establishments are asking if you have a senior citizen card to get a discount

You know you're getting older when the doctor gives you a list of food you are not supposed to eat, and it is longer than those that you can eat

You know you're getting older when people are now getting you as "ninong" of their wedding, unlike before when people are asking you to be "ninong" of their children

You know you're getting older when people refer to you as obese, when before they call it "baby fat"

You know you're getting older when your partner thinks you're impotent just because you could not get it up immediately

You know you're getting older when you relate to more than one startement on this list :D

Friday, July 31, 2009

Little Boy, Big Boy

I usually get the chance to watch indie films on video. I had an opportunity for an invite for the premiere of the new film by the creative team that brought Ang Lihim ni Antonio and Ang Lalake sa Parola to the public. This invite was courtesy of Lex Bonife himself through his blog. Thank you Lex for this unique experience!

The movie is Little Boy, Big Boy. It revolves around the character, Raymund (played by Paolo Rivero), as he deals with his nephew, Zack (played by Renz Valerio) and a new partner, Tim (played by Douglas Robinson). In their pursuit for happiness, each individual finds each other and in the short time together, gains appreciation of what they have. It is a simple thoughtful film that despite it being gay-centered, each viewer may take from it something to think about - be it about family, love, acceptance or respect.

The production itself has improved especially the sound. In many scenes, it helped bring the emotion being presented but there were a few scenes where it was too loud that it overpowers the visuals. The orgy scene was a little too long and parts were unnecessary to the story. The plot was straightforward and allows the audience to relate with the use of Facebook as part of how they deliver the story. The actors were effective in their roles as they brought to life the characters they portray. Rivero is not new to acting and he performs well, allowing the audience to feel what his character is feeling and carrying the movie through the ups and downs of being a gay man. Valerio, does a good job particularly towards the end of the movie but at the start, it only felt like he was merely playing along with the scenes. A revelation is Robinson who showed a variety of emotions throughout the film and is able to relay it to the audience. Truthfully, it is the first time I have heard and seen him on film or TV. I may have been able to watch him then, but he makes an impact here in this movie. Using his natural accent allowed his acting to be more realistic.

Was it a simple story? Yes, but the simplicity is what made it make an impact because we were not sidetracked by unnecessary backstory or twists. For me the story was simple but solid. Were they able to impart a message? Yes. Even the little conversations about being out or accepting what we cannot change give the bigger picture color. Is it worth watching? Definitely. Production-wise, one would feel that every one in the production had their heart into their work. FYI. It is presented in High Definition. Beat that.

My favorite line: "Thank you for making me stay in your house." Why? I am going through something difficult, which I can relate to what transpired in the film sans the character of the nephew. The night before the screening, I had a similar scene happening in my own house. My favorite scene: The shot at Timezone where the camera zooms out to include the typical family playing at the back. Why? For me it delivers the message that what constitutes a family is no longer just the typical father, mother and children and that it may include the set up of the characters in the film. I apologize for being nitpicky but I also have a favorite boo-boo: When Zack is dropped off, Raymund had to send away an SEB who was scheduled to arrive that night. He closes the door upon shooing the SEB. After he lies to his sister who it was at the door, the camera pans back to the living room showing a very open door.

Regrettably, I was not able to mingle with Lex or Jay or his partner Mark or with any other blogger who was present. I recognized the blogger of the The Crazy Life of TL. Having no picture of myself here helps keep anonymity for the moment especially since I am not really out. My inate shyness lends to a laid back dispostion. I went to the screening alone. Didn't know anyone except of course those I know by face. There was a meet and greet prior to the actual screening and not much posters were available. I wasn't able to get one. Once the screening was on it's way, the long wait paid off.

August 5 is the start of the regular run of Little boy, Big Boy in Robonson's Movieworld Galleria, Malate and Metro East. Mark it in your calendars. If you enjoyed the previous collaborations of screenwriter Lex Bonife and director Jay Altarejos, then this movie won't disappoint you. It stars Paolo Rivero (Live Show, Daybreak, M2M 3: Versus, Bayaw), Douglas Robinson (Bridal Shower, So... Happy Together) and child actor, Renz Valerio (My Bestfriend's Girlfriend).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Relationships (The Other Man)

In a recent post by one of my blogmates, he talked about being the other man - meaning being the third party to a relationship. Though in that post he does not really become involved in a relationship, he did have sexual encounters with a commited individual.

Usual story, boy meets boy. Boy likes boy. Boy has sex with boy. Boy finds out other boy is already commited. Not something new to many. Not even heterosexuals. (In their case, kindly replace one of the "boy"s with girl.)

Why bother with committment then, if we are all going to fall under the trap? For now, I will focus on being the person we call the third wheel.

For us gay men, I am sure at one time or another we have been attracted to, have fallen in love with, or have had sex with committed men - whether commited to a woman or another man. We've heard people say "How come all the good men are taken?" Are they? If they really are good men, then why do they cheat? If you know they are married or committed, why hook up with them?

To allow ourselves to get in that position where we knowingly hook up with peopel who are in relationships themselves shows we have issues. We probably are desperate for affection that whoever comes, we take the opportunity. We may have a phobia with commitment that a hook up will do. We could have a thing for objects we shouldn't have or objects we want that others have. For others, it just fell into their laps and they are just enjoying the situation.

I, myself, fell into that trap. I didn't know he was married. We met and things progressed to the point where we were sharing the same bed. He was married with children. Like my fellow blogger, I was into the thinking I was merely having fun. He didn't promise anything. He was interested in me. I guess I was flattered that someone was pursuing me, nevermind if he was married. In the long run I felt guilty, since we were meeting on the second floor of their business. It came to a point that I was offering my place to stay every time he had problems with his wife. Our situation neccesitates that I don't text him unless he texts first or else the wife may know of our situation. We meet either after hours or when he has a valid excuse to be out of the house. In the end, he went abroad and we lost touch. Thinking about it now, most likely the reason why my other partners were lying cheaters because of what I did back then. I am tasting the same medicine I was giving out then.

Face it. We lose our minds when we are in love, and even in lust. Common sense and our good values are thrown out the window. We live for the moment. We don't see or we refuse to see how it effects others or how would we feel if we were the person our partner is currently commited to. I am not saying that I won't make the same mistake again. I guess with age, or with restrospect, I realize things I could have handled better. Hopefully in the future, I would have a level head when faced with a similar situation.

Karma. I am sure you have, at one point in your life, have been backstabbed or cheated on. You know how it feels when your partner strays. You know the feeling is so great you would want to feel it again and again. Not! My rule for myself is if I don't want it to happen to me, then I should not do it to others. I believe I just rephrased the golden rule - Do not do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you. I know it is better said than done. We are too used to thinking of what gives us pleasure, what satisfies us but rarely do we consider consequences. We may fall at one time or another, but what makes the journey worth it is learning from mistakes and avoid doing them again. If we keep falling for the same mistakes then it only means we are not learning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Family Issues (Acceptance)

Ambivelence. Everyone seems to think you are gay but never addresses it. When you reach a certain age and they have not seen you settle down or have a girlfriend, people assume that you are homosexual. In my case, you know they are thinking it because of a careless word thrown into conversation but no one sits you down and asks. That's my family.

On the other hand, fellow gays seem to relish the idea of outing others. Is it necessary? One doesn't have to be out to be gay. Once you are out, then what? Does it uplift one's life or the people who knows? Would outing Piolo improve how he acts or sings? Would knowing whether he is gay or not make an impact on your life?

I guess my family feels it is a phase and I will get over it. I had a partner for some years and my mother, who had come from abroad was going to be staying with me for an extended period of time. She finally met my partner and she was quite civil at the start. After a few days, she confronted him and afterwards, me. She told him to break up with me, telling him that it will give me the opportunity to fix my life. When it was my turn, she asked me if I could live without him. For me, of course my answer would be yes. I can live without him. And that was it. Did she ask me if I loved him? Did she ask if he loved me?

With that confrontation out of the way, I allowed her to have some semlance of control of my life being that she was living with me temporarily and that obviously she had an issue with me being with him. How would you have reacted if you were faced with the same situation?

Finding acceptance in society is a struggle by itself but finding acceptance in one's family is harder. How I envy those who are out and out gay and yet their family loves them just the same way. I am repressed though I have accepted myself but deep down, I am yearning to feel that regardless of my life choices my family is there supporting me.

To those who clamor for people to out themselves, what does it gain me to go in public declare to everyone that I am gay? Others say it frees you; that it relieves you of baggages. I say it does free you to a point but not totally. I say we all have baggages, and problems are a fact of life. The day we stop having problems is the day we die.

Being gay, for me, is a choice. I don't believe we are born into it. It is a personal choice. It is a choice that we make for ourselves. Not our family. Not the people around us. Not society itself. And yes, it is a need for us to be accepted. That's a fact. But the most important person who needs to accept you're gay is yourself. All else is secondary, if not tertiary.

I know my mother would most likely remain adamant with not accepting the life I choose to live. She has been disappointed and would remain disappointed with me having relationships with other men. I apologize for that. I have hurt her and have not met her expectations. I have not fulfilled her dream for me to have a wife and have a family of my own. It is her dream, her hopes that were crushed. Is it up to me to fulfill her dreams? Is it up to me to live a life she believes I should live?

Why do gays congregate? We long for people who understand the way we feel, who are undergoing similar struggles, who we can be as ourselves. We long for people who accept us as we are.

At the end of the day, we live with our decisions. Regardless if you have parents who accept you, or if people demand you to out yourself, or if you have friends you don't think will understand, the most important thing is you accept yourself. Love yourself and live with your decision.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Comfort Room Cruising

Cruising is a common activity by most of us bis/gays. We have the act of hooking up in the most opportune places - dressing rooms, shower rooms, parks, theaters - an art. We have our own way of gauging if the other guy is interested, our way of looking to signify our desire, our way of striking up a conversation. Some are way blatant, others are more discreet. There are no guartees that each will work the same way every time but we have established our own habits.

The cruisiest place for us is usually the comfort room. Straight guys fear being in the nearby urinal thinking gay guys live to take a peek (or more) at their genitals. Gay men thrive on having the opportunity to gauge their fellow men.

I remember a few cruisiest comfort rooms in my day - not that my day is over, mind you. To name a few - Greenbelt, Metropolis, SM North Edsa, Megamall, Shangri La Edsa. Thinking about it, any mall probably.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, my first experience really was in a theater but it happened in the theater's comfort room. Someone followed me and while peeing he made the moves. Being naive and he being older, I let him lead the way.

My other memories of hook ups in the rest room include one who became a steady partner. We wouldn't be classified as partners in the real sense but we meet, we do the deed nut remain unattached. He entered the seminary and that was the end of it. When we hooked up at the mall's CR, we had transferred to the roof a nearby parking facility. It was the middle of the day, no one was parked on that level, however, if someone was checked in at a nearby hotel, all they had to do was look out and see a couple making out.

Inside the comfort room, you can get touched and even have someone perform fellatio to. There were even instances that actual sex occurred. Of course, all this happens behind the back of the roving guards and maintenance people. I guess that adds to the excitement - the thrill of being caught, the immediacy of the situation, the itch that needs to be scratched right away.

Have you had encounters in the rest room? I think for me the time has passed when I get a kick out of these tyrsts. Not that my libido has ebbed through the years, I guess now the fear of being caught gets the best of me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Theater Cruising

Have you visited a moviehouse not to check out the movie being shown but to pick up or be picked up? Have you had encounters in a dingy cinema which features movies out of current circulation?

I would admit, my very first encounter has been in a moviehouse in Quiapo. I was a late bloomer. I was strictly guarded by my parents and I would just be travelling from the house to the school and vice versa. It would not be until I got to college that I got to explore. I have heard of the old moviehouses in Quiapo and after a long period of mere curiousity, I got to experience it myself.

Back then, there were a lot of these moviehouses near Quiapo Church that show "bomba" films. Two were along Quezon Avenue at the same side as the church while another two were on the other side of the street. Three were nearer Isetan, along Recto while there were another two along Rizal Avenue. Many of these have already been closed or demolished but back then in the 80's, you can take your pick.

For the uninitiated, what would expect if you do take the excursion. Guys will normally be in the foyer area or near the comfort rooms. When you enter the cinema proper, it would normally be very dark, with hardly any track lighting so you really have to grope your way when finding a seat. The best seats for me is near the electric fans. The place can get hot and unless you have a spare shirt with you, you can get drenched with sweat.

If encounters in movie houses is not your peice of cake, various motels are located nearby but there is not assurance that they are any less dingy than the moviehouse you came from. Back when I was young and naive, I let others lead the way and take me where they wanted me to be but now older, and maybe wiser, I would rather be in a comfortable place. I have heard some modus operani that people get cornered by their hook ups because the owner of the motel conspire with the conmen.

It is a gamble when meeting people in these kind of places so always be careful. You don't have anything to hold against them - no picture, no identification. It might be safer to chat and start with a date then progress from there. However, if anonymity and the possibility of danger is what brings you thrill, then these encounters will probably give you a boost.

Though there are still moviehouses like those, even in Cubao, many have opted to cruise in more upscale cinemas like SM North Edsa or Megamall where staying in the backrow now would probably yield a hook up.

If you plan for an adventure, take care of your belongings. If possible, don't bring a watch or a cellphone. Don't bring a large amount of money and always be mindful where you drop your clothes because the floors can get sticky. Be happy but safe guys.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ManJam / Downelink / Tagged

Friendster and Facebook are the most common social networking websites people use worldwide. Even during the reign of Guys4Men (G4M), other such websites were available that allow PLUs to meet and connect with others of the same sexual orientation.

Some websites are used as a means to share pictures - Facepic, Pic-Link, Picturetrail; while others serve a similar, if not an exact function as G4M - that of acting as a personal ad to get acquaintances, friends, lovers, and/or partners. At one point it was so confusing maintaining a lot of accounts that does the same thing. From those that I have used, three websites still remain on my list - ManJam, Downelink and Tagged.

Manjam is nearly similar to G4M where you can post one's pictures and provide information including appearance and likes and dislikes. A search function is available to filter out what you desire. One can advertise services, businesses and properties in their website, similar to what PlanetRomeo now has. It has the usual messaging and chat but is limited when one is not a paying member of the site. A friends and favorites list can be set up and one can choose now to share it to people who will be viewing your page.

Downelink is the friendster for gay men and women. It contains options for blogs, bulletins, videos, pictures, messages and chat. Like G4M, it has forums that allows for various discussions on entertainment, arts, sports, health, travel and business. Similar to what yahoo and friendster, even PlanetRomeo, it provides the option to join groups where one can search for others who may have common interests. Unlike most gay social networking websites, this does not center on finding the next lay.

Tagged is one of the more famous sites to meet and hook up. Unlike Manjam and Downelink, Tagged is not exclusively for gay men and women. Similar to friendster, an individual can personalize their profile with music, backgrounds and other widgets. Recently, they have added features that maximize on the networking aspect of the site, infusing games that have been well accepted in Facebook and MySpace.

Whatever website you use, it is with the maximization of the tools for you to get the results you want. The tool only works if you use it properly. The tool is just a tool. If you are looking for a serious relationship, these websites are only a means to be introduced to people of the same interests; it is still up to you make the relationship work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Part of why I was out of commission was I was on a week-long vacation in Boracay. It had been planned well in advance and despite the weather not cooperating the previous weeks, we had to push through. We had reservations for our accomodations, had our vacation leaves filed and had booked our flight so all we needed to do was pack our bags and go to the airport.

The trip from Manila to Boracay was uneventful except for the 3 hour delay of our flight to Aklan. We arrived via the last trip of the ferry from Caticlan to Boracay so it was already dark and we were all hungry. I admit it was my first time in Boracay so I have no memories to compare it to how it was before and how it was now. It is similar to Puerto Galera in some ways and different in others. The beach itself is as highly commercialized but Boracay takes it a notch higher.

Even during the weekdays, the island seem to be on a weekend mood. The weekends felt like being in Malate except you're by the beach. If you thought that one week is too long a stay, I beg to disagree. There are a lot of things to enjoy and activities to do. No night is the same. It's fun, fun, fun from dawn to the next dawn.
Again, spending your vacation with friends would definitely make the entire trip fantastic. But if your looking for some peace and quiet or are taking a romantic vacation, make sure to get a hotel farther from the beach so you are forced to stay indoors or near the vicinity of the hotel. With more people in your entourage, it would be easier to get discounts. Was it worth it? To a degree yes. If you are on a budget, Boracay may not be the place for you because besides the accomodations, airfare is another consideration. To save on costs, plan a vacation during their off peak (usually May to December) and if you are getting a hotel room, get one with complimentary breakfasts. Food along the beach are not too pricey but if you can cook your own food, may save you on costs. If having a hard time to decide what to eat, there are several Eat-All-You-Can's that allows you to have more food choices.

If you are a camera whore, Boracay is a great place to build up your portfolio. The sun and the beach go well together here, bringing out the best lighting and angles. It might be best to go to Boracay around December since at this time green moss covers most of the shores. If you want to go to a moss-free location, take a boat ride to a nearby island. If moss is your thing, then Boracay is the place for you. Towards the end of our stay, it was raining hard but Boracay being Boracay, it was no hindrance for parties.

The beach in Boracay is a very long stretch of resorts and bars, allowing for a lot of choices. Whether you stay on Station 1, have dinner in Station 3 and party hard in Station 2, everything is accessible. Just bring an umbrella. The sand feels good under your feet though so walking along the shore can be pleasant. Building your own sand castle can be one leisurely afternoon activity that you can enjoy with friends while waiting for the nightlife. Besides getting a tan, you can get your hair braided and your skin tattooed, so that whenb you get back to the city you have some proof that you just came from a vacation.

Cruising in Boracay? Fortunately it exists. A lot of gay guys were still vacationing. You can meet fascinating people in the bars or even just sitting by the beach. Amazingly, I found out I am still attractive to straight women. Having your own room is a plus. The beach itself was a little lit to have any sort of private time together. Compared to Puerto Galera in Holy Week, this was a subdued weekend.

It was a fun adventure. I would recommend taking a trip to Boracay at least once in your life. Remember though that it is you who makes the trip memorable not the places you visit.

Have a great day everyone.