Sunday, April 12, 2009

Puerto Galera

Greetings from Puerto Galera!

What a way to spend the Holy Week! It is my last day here. I can't wait to go home. Who said that we go on vacations to rest? It has been exhausting. I don't think I am refreshed. I am dreading the long trip home. Do I regret coming here? Not in the least.

It has been years since I was in Puerto Galera. I was with my parents and sisters then - a family outing. I did had a chance to explore the place but I was not free to stay away from the family too much.

This year I was invited by some PLU friends and I don't regret saying yes. It wouldn't have been a truly fun experience without them here. I guess happy memories lack meaning if not made with people to share it with.

Luckily for us, this was planned ahead and we were able to reserve our room prior to getting to Mindoro. I am definitely sure that the fact that the room was air conditioned provided me great comfort. Being in the beach reminded me how I hate heat. I thank God for allowing air conditioners to be invented.

It is my last day here and as I recall our activities these past days, they seem to be a blur. a blur of alcoholic drinks, parties, men. It was like, since Malate was closed for Holy Week, the gay men all moved to Puerto Galera temporarily. Like Malate, my friends seem to know a lot of people here - an ex, an SEB, a clanmate, a FUBU, a classmate, a neighbor, a schoolmate, an officemate, a friend - like everyone was here, but of course they were not. One would also think that in this corner of the Philippines Holy week was put on hold. The island seemed to be having one big party and everyone was invited. Everyone seemed to be in a flirtatious mood - some staring, some striking conversation, some groping. Holy Week in Puerto Galera is one vacation every gay man should have at least once in their lives. It's not one that I would crave for EVERY year but experience it at least once, then you will have your fill.

You may ask, what do you do in the mean time while you are waiting for the night parties? Many sleep through the hangover or the exhausting if they only return to their accommodations by 5am. Me, I find it best to tour around White Beach and enjoy the beauty of the island. One nice destination is the Aninuan Falls.

Holy Week is the peak season of Puerto Galera's peak season so expect to spend a bit more not just for your room but especially for food and drinks. Make sure you are prepared wallet-wise. Definitely, this is not one vacation you can do on a limited budget. If you want to go to Puerto Galera, you need not do so during the Holy Week. It is a place you can enjoy during the summer or anytime during the year (except when there's rain or storm because I would not like to be enroute between the Batangas Pier and Puerto Galera drenched and battling big waves). By the way, if you are expecting White Beach to really have white sand then you would be disappointed. Maybe it should be called Dirty White Beach or Mocha Beach.

Why not plan a Puerto Galera weekend soon? Bring a friend or two. Bring your partner. Bring your family. I am sure you will find the people warm and the place fun.

How was your Holy Week?

Happy Easter every one!

Friday, April 10, 2009

M2M 4: EXXXXTREME - The ULTIMATE Guide to Sensational Sex (Review)

When I was at Astrovision, I was in the mood to purchase some videos and one of them was one that was recently released by Videoflick Productions. The name of the DVD was M2M 4: EXXXXTREME - The ULTIMATE Guide to Sensational Sex and it was the latest from a series of direct-to-video M2M films.

Since the release of M2M Masahe, the Pinoy gay man's video collection have never been the same. It was among the videos that started a slew of videos sold directly in video stores without having the need to have a showing through cinemas. Obviously, these producers have found it financially beneficial to continue spewing new ones every few months or so. M2M 4: EXXXXTREME - The ULTIMATE Guide to Sensational Sex comes to the video market as a pseudo instructional video for male-to-male love making.

The video starts the lesson by telling us to "awaken the senses." It walks the viewer through the five senses, setting up the sexy actors in the scenario where the use of a particular sense enhances the encounter. The narrator summarizes by the end of the film that "the art of complete and ultimate love making is based on how well you can satisfy your and your partner's sexual needs and hidden desires." The video, however, does not teach kama sutra. It's urges us to use our sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch and smell to spice up our sexual relationships.

What did I like about the video? I am sorry to say that the only the segments that featured Kristofer King and Joseff Young makes the whole film worth watching. They sizzled on the screen on every scene they were in. During their vignette regarding the senses of smell, touch and taste, you can sense a chemistry between the actors that translates to the screen, a tension that leave the viewers wanting more. You know they weren't actually doing it but somehow they made it so hot that it was believable. It was the first time I was exposed to the two actors and I have not seen any of their previous films (Kristofer King was featured in Showboyz, Serbis, and Ang Babae sa Breakwater while Joseff Young had roles in M2M2 - The Art of Strip Tease and Sensual Dancing, and Showboyz ) but it made me look forward to check out their previous projects.

On the other hand, those segments that featured John Miller (supposedly part of Provoq but I don't remember him from the video Men of Provoq) and Cedric Javier (Pinoy Kama Sutra, Co Ed Scandal and Viva Hot Men - I don't remember him from the video as well) lacked heat. Their vignettes that focused on the sense of sight, hearing and touch seemed mere fillers so we can await the next segments where Kristofer King and Joseff Young were the focus. The way the two actors were going about in their segments mechanically and as a viewer, I felt detached from what they were doing on the screen. The final scene, where Paolo Rivero joins in the action and the 5 actors simulate a five-some, seem disjointed - like it did not really belong in the film. The message that the video wanted to impart seemed lost to what they set up as the climax, plus the actors seem to be just there on screen waiting for the film to end.

For me, the video was worth it primarily because of Kristofer King and Joseff Young. If the reason for buying it is actor Paolo Rivero then you are better off sticking to Daybreak or M2M3:Versus. In this video he is merely a narrator. He does show up at the start and the forgettable end of the film but his appearance here doesn't help the video any. I admire the concept of the filmmaker, which is trying to recapture what made M2M Masahe work - a pseudo-instructional video that capitalizes on gay men's libido. Unfortunately, the first film remains the best work so far in the M2M series. Kudos to those that made this video and the rest of the M2M series. It goes to show that they made this with a concept in mind and a script in hand rather than put together a string of unrelated shots that focuses on tickling the gay man's libido. The M2M series treats gay men more than just as sexual beings but mental beings as well.

Much like most Filipino DVDs, this doesn't really have anything that would make it worth the money to buy. Though it does have a few special features, they really do not lend to the viewing pleasure of the film. Maybe one that guides us on how they made the video from conceptualization, storyboard, auditioning for the parts, filming, and including post-production. The photo gallery here is so limited that there were more interesting shots that they used for the video's publicity. Their "the making of feature" is merely the same shots in the movie using a camera that shoots the same scene but includes the camera man and the boom mike set to a different music. So, there basically is no big reason to opt for a DVD when a VCD would suffice.

M2M 4: EXXXXTREME - The ULTIMATE Guide to Sensational Sex may not be a real manual on how to get and do sex that would blow you and your partner's mind but it would surely open one to the idea of maximizing the utilization of all the senses in making sex to a heightened level. Then again, if you would like to see simulated sex by local actors, then this is also the video for you..

Thursday, April 9, 2009

UnkoverdBoyz (Review)

I recently visited Astrovision and checked out what new videos are out and see if there were anything interesting to purchase. One of the videos I bought was UnkoverdBoyz. It is a direct-to-video QUEERiosity Video Project, distributed by Paragon Home Video.

UnkoverdBoyz was never shown in any cinema, not even at the U.P. Film Institute, considering that what they have allowed to screen there have been referred to as "gay porno" by writer Mario Bautista. The film was sold direct to retail, with little or no publicity or advertisement, hoping to get good word-of-mouth based on the feedback from their first video project, Koverboyz.

The video offers no pretense that this is a reflection of the social quagmire that is pulling innocents to offer themselves for their family's survival nor do they legitimize the sex scenes as a means to dig deeper into the emotional struggles of the protagonists when they really are an exploitation of the actors' nubile bodies. It does not call itself an indie movie. It is a mere collection of vignettes of men in unguarded moments doing what most of us do when we are horny and alone (*wink, wink*).

What did I like about the video? I enjoyed the first scene with Topher Baretto and the innuendo about playing with his "fish." The third scene featuring a guy named Echo was also interesting. The fifth vignette, which was the only one with dialogue was not as effective with
Topher doing a little acting (the key word is little). If not for the actor's innate sexiness, the action in this portion felt awkward. In the back of my mind, I wanted to push the person with Topher and take over, telling him, "Move over, I can do a better job than you." This is the same person with the line, "Sige sa iyo na lang yan, tutal iluluha ko lang yan e" (It's all yours, anyway I will be able to refill it with my tears.) What the? Where did that come from? Anyway, I digress - and so did the film. It inserted a little drama that was just a distraction. I was also pleasantly entertained by the seventh scene that I believe was titled "Ayaw mo ba? Sayang naman" (Don't you want it? That's too bad.) where a gay guy was idolizing a sexy model's picture. His fantasy comes alive and they share a moment in the back room. For me, the highlight of the entire video is the final scene - with Andro Morgan giving a show on the webcam. This is reminiscent of what he did in Koverboyz. It was hot then; it still works the second time around.
As much as I enjoyed most scenes, there were some that failed to spark my interest. (Note that this is just my opinion. Another person may not agree with my observations.) The second scene, with Paolo Moreno reading a gay magazine and doing the deed, lacked heat for lack of a better term. One can tell that he was just going through the motions from the start that he pulled down his pants to his supposed climax. His face wasn't one who was reaching the peak of his libido - it was like he was in an epilectic attack with his face twitching. Another one that did not work for me was the fourth vignette with a guy introduced as "jolog guy" supposedly waiting for an SEB. He didn't seem comfortable such that his acting did not come out as natural. It seems he was just doing what he was told and his expressions were bland. The least interesting portion of the video was the sixth scene where the object of the gay man's fantasy was doing the deed at the same time as he albeit with a wall separating them. This scenario worked on the Koverboyz video but not here. The gay guy looked like he was constipated when he reached his climax while the guy with a mosquito net on his face disturbed me rather than excite me. There was no spark, no sexual tension.

All in all, it was ok. Unlike Koverboyz, as a whole, it felt disjointed. It was trying to recapture what worked for the first film but was not really able to. The segway from one segment to another was still ok but the thought bubbles of the men seemed overdone at this point especially on the part where the guy was waiting for his SEB. Topher's scene where he was looking for water broke the momentum of the whole video especially with the unnecessary quips from the gay men he asked water from. That seem to be out of place with the whole concept of the video. Most of the men seem to be those that did not make the cut from the previous film but Topher and Andro makes up for it. Chris Pablo, who is not only writer, director but also cinematographer, did a satisfactory job. He knows his audience and is able to capitalize on this, using these projects as a means to hone his skills in cinematography. He definitely found his niche in Philippine indie gay films. I, myself, hope he gets to do more films.

If you are into videos that aim to titillate then this one is for you. This will not burden you with a convoluted plot line. It's just here for your pleasure. It does not distract you with frills since it is straightforward with what it offers you - eye and libido candy.

You need not get the DVD though, as there really are no special features. The VCD will do if you are cost conscious.

Monday, April 6, 2009

John Matthews Salon

It was another Saturday. I wanted to get a massage especially since I have been so stressed at work and all. And I was not in any mood for a so-so massage. I have tried other spas, both legitimate and those that have masseurs that offer extra. One that I have been coming back to is the John Matthews Salon located near the corner of New York Street and E. Rodriguez in Cubao.

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It is accessible from Cubao and lies within what I term as the Cubao gay men's triangle of sin (which I will discuss on a later post). John Matthews Salon, as the name implies, is basically a salon. Get your hair done, get a manicure or pedicure, puff up your face with make up kind of salon. A few such salons have integrated spa services to allow consumers a sort of one-stop shop for beauty services but they usually have it as a secondary service. Most spas focus on their services and rarely diversify to other offerings. It is rare that one could find a place that would focus on both services (salon and spa) and be good at both.

I am not one to put much airs in fixing myself up. I don't have lotions or creams. I rarely put anything on my hair to sculpt it. I usually trim my own nails. Mind you. I do get facials once in a while, but that's it. Getting a massage, now that's something else all together. I have tried out a lot of different places and have rarely found satisfaction with their services. Most legitimate massage places have small women stretching you, kneading your skin, trying to provide the right pressure but to no avail. Massage parlors, whether it is one where you select a masseur or masseuse from behind a (supposedly) one-way mirror, seldom are venues to experience a relaxing massage as these are venues that facilitate "extra services." In other words, it is not often to find one that satisfy your needs. Sorry, I am looking for one that offers hard massage, bordering on deep tissue massages so a light hand is not what I would look for in a therapist.

That is where the John Matthews Salon comes in. They do have female therapists but their male therapists are worth coming back for. There have been times where I have been lulled to sleep by their massages.

When I do have the time, which was last Saturday for me, I go out of my way and visit them. There have been times that they could not accommodate me because their masseurs are already booked for the night so calling in for a reservation or coming on afternoons would be better. They also have a combination of spa services that may provide for a more relaxing, satisfying time. These offerings include detoxifying, foot spas, hair and scalp treatments, facial masks and body scrubs.

The offering I availed was one that had a body scrub, a hair and scalp treatment and, of course, a body massage. It was worth it. Time-wise, it was two and a half hours well spent on pampering yourself. In terms of cost, I felt it wasn't a waste. For others who would like to try it, there are other treatment combinations that you could avail, depending on what you need.

I got there around 9:30pm. Their spa services are available until 1pm.
There was only one available cubicle left when got in. And luckily enough as well, my usual masseur was the only one available. If he was not available, I was comfortable with trying out the others. I then proceeded to the locker area where I was to get my towel, slippers and shorts/robe, leaving my valuables, clothes and shoes inside the locker. I had a shower. The therapist led me towards a chair where he applied some concoction on my hair and scalp. He fastened some sort of towelette to make sure it does not drip and covered it up by a shower cap. We walked to our assigned cubicle to begin the body scrub. Similar to the massage, he start from the back of my legs then up to my back before scrubbing the back of my arms. Turning me over, he kept scrubbing up my legs to the groin area before the chest and arms. Covering me up and resting for around 10 minutes, I was then asked to return to the shower and make sure that I had removed all of the coarse material that helped rid of my body's dead skin cells. After I am all dried up, the masseur led me back to the massage table and with his magical hands explored my entire body. Using a firm hand and a strong pressure, he made an effort to sooth my swollen muscles. After doing some stretching, I was allowed to rest awhile. It was time for me to go.

I felt both relaxed and invigorated as I left their premises. It also seemed i was so clean and smooth because of the body scrub. That was time well spent. Quality time for myself. Quality pampering from John Matthews Salon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Boyet Fajardo Scandal (Opinion)

You have probably seen the news reports, on TV and on youtube. You most likely read about it in the newspapers and on blogs. If you were not familiar about a certain Boyet Fajardo or if you are Boyet Fajardo and is delusional that he was famous, then NOW both you and Mr. Fajardo know that he is not just famous but infamous. If you need a refresher, below is what had transpired:

My blog today is really a reaction to a topic in one of the yahoogroups I belong to. It started when a contribution of one of the members were censored and the author was disappointed with what happened. The article was a harsh reaction to what Boyet Fajardo did while shopping in Duty Free. Below is my reaction (slightly edited since I am publishing it as my opinion rather than as a reaction to the author's original message because both the author and the moderator may not be appreciative that I posted their discussion on my blog) and just to give you a disclaimer - this is just my opinion. I know it seems to veer away from how my previous blog entries have been but I believe it is about time to talk about something less superficial.

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Let me set up the scenario. The moderator had changed the title of the article from "Bakla Wag Tularan" to "Designer Rants at Duty Free, Union Urges to Boycott his Products." The contents of the article were deleted and was was only retained was the video. The writer reacted because he felt slighted and hurt because the moderator was not allowing him to air his opinion and thereby disassociates himself from the group as a whole. Another member of the group reacted stating that we should not be picking on Mr. Fajardo just because he is homosexual. Now, that is where I came in with my opinion.

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I don't think he is being picked on because he is homosexual. He is being picked on because of the way he handled himself. Supposedly he is famous (Supposedly because I ONLY heard of him when this incident happened.) NO PERSON, gay or otherwise, should treat others the way he treated those working in Duty Free. No one gave him that right and no one should. The way he handled the situation was and is despicable. Even the most famous individual doesn't have the right or priviledge to do the same to his or her fellow man. If that is the way he treats people he meets then he should not be allowed out of his house. He should not be allowed to interact with anyone.

The public's first impression matters when they recall certain events. We do the same on our own conversations. ("Yung kulot," "Si mataba," "Yung kamukha ni Zoraida," "Si Amoy Old Spice," "Yung naka pink na micromini," "Si blondie") We tend to focus on that characteristic that made the lasting impression whether good or bad. But most of the time, bad. Since this person was not famous (well, only in his twisted mind), what everyone first notices is that he was gay. Bakla. Gender insensitivity? I don't think so. It doesn't mean anything derogatory by itself.

The article (daw) gave a negative feedback on homosexuality as a whole. I don't think so. It was Mr. Boyet Fajardo who reflects a negative association to Filipino homosexuality as a whole. The more you are recognized (even if it is just your impression of yourself), the more you should be a better example, a better image for all other gay men especially in the Philippines. Why? We have been struggling acceptance, tolerance in our society. What he did, how he acted in public is a step back for the rest of us. What we should be doing instead is not flip-flopping whether the article had nice, flowery words to say so that homosexuals will not be looked upon with contempt because of a crass individual let loose in the Duty Free shop, but instead, we should be united in condemning how a human being, regardless of sexual preference, treats his fellow man. We can show the nation / the world that we are not making excuses for him by showing we do not tolerate his actions. I, for one, do not find it offensive how the title was phrased. Negative content, we wouldn't really know if it was really negative because it was censored. It is objective. One would think it is while another, it does not. Censoring deprives the reader how to think for themselves. Now, if there was an established agreement what can and cannot be used in an article submitted in the website that is a different story. Maybe that needs to be established and agreed upon.

There are ways to get the reader's attention to what you have to say or what you want your readers to feel. I believe the writer wanted to incite the anger, the disbelief to his readers. He wanted them to be riled up to make an action. To stand up and say this should not be tolerated. This is not how a person should be treating his fellow man. Probably he used the words he used not just to catch attention to read the article but to motivate them into action. It was mentioned that the reason it was "edited" was he wanted to lighten the post and not show anger and hostility. I believe that by doing so shows tolerance of unacceptable behaviour. We want society to respect us but we treat this incident lightly. Instead of telling society that Mr. Fajardo does not represent the rest of the Filipino gays and that we treat others as an equal and as a human being, we show society that we should just let it pass and the issue will just die down in time. If we want others to respect us as gay people in society, we should show them that we are respectable and that, we, like the rest of society, know how to treat others the way they should and we condemn those that abuse.

If I was the one censored I believe I would react the same as the writer. If, as an editor, you have issues with what I wrote and would suggest a different approach, it should be done prior to posting the article in its edited form. My humble opinion is the editor should have conferred with the writer and they should get into an agreement prior to publishing the article. From what I understood is that the title was totally changed and the rest of the article taken out, so the only thing that remains of the article is a video. That is not editing. In fact none of what the writer remained.

I would commend the moderator though since he was able to apologize to the writer. I salute you for your humility. I feel that you are sincere and concerned with the group and with gay rights.

To the writer, if you are still reading the comments, stand your ground. Don't act like a child and leave just because of an incident. Talk. Find a common ground. How can you affect change if you leave? The moderator did not do what he did out of spite or vendetta. Talking it out, you may have found a compromise.

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In the end, the article was taken down. All that is left is a discussion of what transpired.

If you subscribe to our yahoogroup, please note that I made slight edit that has no impact on the message of the article.