Thursday, February 11, 2016

#WalangForever sa pag-ibig pero sa art yata meron

I remember reading somewhere about a Pinoy sending a question to a world-renowned scientist. And of all the things he had to ask, he asked this: Is there a “forever”? From what I remember, the scientist took it as a question about time. Is time infinite? But of course we all know what the guy was asking. What he was asking clearly was: “May forever nga ba?” The question should’ve been: “Does everlasting love exists?”

I was reminded of this today because yesterday my friend and I were discussing Dan Villegas’ #Walang Forever. To be honest at first I thought the movie and I weren’t a good match. In fact, I had no intention of seeing it and only saw it because I had a free ticket. Libre eh. I mean aren’t we already ODing on the concept of romantic love? Is this mass hysteria on romance due to the fact that our lives have become unbelievably unbearable? These were the thoughts that I had as I sat inside the cinema while watching the two leads “meet cute” at the University of the Philippines. In fact I so hated what I was seeing that I just stared at the Exit sign thinking how much interesting it was to look at instead watching what was transpiring onscreen.

However, I soon realized that the filmmaker, Dan Villegas, and the writer, Paul Sta. Ana (who crafted a very entertaining screenplay) were up to something new. The lead character Mia is a writer who cannibalizes her own romantic experiences for her film projects. And it is her works, which obsessively charts her history with her lover Ethan that ultimately serves as a catalyst for much of the film’s narrative. In one instance, it reminded Ethan of how much they were in love when they first became a couple. It reminded him of the things that they went through in order to be together, and towards the end the self-referential movies served as some sort of a time capsule for their son who was about to grow up with a deceased father. I soon realized that --- yes --- the title indeed perfectly fits the love story. Wala nga naman talagang forever. Walang forever for the simple and obvious fact that we are mortals and when we die we take our love affairs with us to the grave. Sabi nga sa isang kanta mula sa musical na Rent:  “I think they meant it/ When they said you can’t buy love/ Now I know you can rent it/ But at least you are mine love (now?).” ‘Di ba ang ganda? The idea being we are just living on borrowed time but while we are still here we can always take shelter in each other’s warmth and love.

But it’s not only that. I think no matter how strong the love between two individuals, the love between them will eventually wane or will become deeper or will become something else. Because we, as human beings, evolve as we grow old and to expect to love someone with the same intensity as the first time we first felt the emotion is simply impossible and to assume otherwise is ridiculous, don’t you think?

In human existence and human experience, nothing is forever. What is immortal, on the other hand, is our art. That’s where we achieve immortality. Art lives on. May forever sa art. Tulad sa kuwento nila Ethan at Mia. Their love story was eventually immortalized onscreen. It will live on forever (or at least as long as the reels are stored in a film archive). Totoo ngang sa love stories lang ang may forever dahil ang classic love stories, as long as they are being told over and over again, will live on. And when I finally got that, that’s when I started falling in love with #WalangForever. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Si Simone de Beauvoir at ang Ex Machina

Simone de Beauvoir once argued that there is a big difference between being a female and being a woman. One is born a female and is defined as a female because of one’s sex. Being a woman, on the other hand, is an evolution and much of what we think of what a woman should be depends on the pervading culture on which the female is born into. Beauvoir further argues that the woman of today is pretty much defined by a patriarchal society. The men have defined women as feminine as opposed to being masculine. Men have inculcated to the society at large that women are of a weaker sex. The effect of this is that for the longest time, women are subjugated by the men, which is considered the “stronger sex.”

I was reminded of this when I finally saw Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, about a billionaire who creates an artificial intelligence in the form of a woman. The creator, Nathan, lives alone in what seems like paradise (Eden perhaps?) with his inventions. He invites one of his employees, Caleb, to spend a week with him in his hideaway cum laboratory. The real reason for this invitation is for Caleb to do a Turing test on Nathan’s newest creation, Ava (Eve?). The test of course becomes a jumping off point for what it means to be human and what it means to be a robot. At some point, Caleb argues that one cannot completely test an AI based on what it has been programmed to do --- like an AI who knows how to play chess. In order to fully test its capabilities, a human should test an AI’s intelligence outside its preconceived, pre-programmed reality. In many respects, it is like de Beauvoir’s observation about women being born with preconceived qualities and tasks. The society, she said, need to break away from the chains of this patriarchal invention.

Ultimately of course Ava proves to be more complicated than what Caleb and Nathan initially considered her to be. The fact that Ex Machina never concerns itself with the tired arguments of man versus machine and turns its story about gender and freedom is, I think, the movie’s greatest strength. 

 Plus, the movie had Oscar Isaac dancing! Why not, indeed! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Poached eggs and the meaning of life

Understanding myself, or at least the attempts of it, seems to be, at the moment, my most serious preoccupation. Constantly, I attempt to find out who I really am and why I do what I do. This is in the hopes that once I find out how I tick I will unravel the real essence of my being, the real reason for existing. No wait, I don’t believe that we have a significant reason for being. I just know or believe that we have to find a reason, or a purpose, in order exist peacefully in this seemingly insignificant world. So constantly I look inside. It is a purely inward journey with the outside world barging in every now and then. Trying to find out how I work, however, is proving to be quite a difficult task. It’s like Mario Brothers all over again. I’m trying to jump from one castle to another, slaying dragons and eating mushrooms, climbing flag poles and crawling through green sewages only to be told at the end of the journey that the princess is in another castle. The princess, of course, is myself and I need to save her because, well, we only have three lives to live and I have already wasted my first two.

And this, my friend, is my cue to laugh. Haha. Punyeta, what have I been smoking?

It’s three in the afternoon on a Wednesday. I am alone with no intentions of doing anything. I just learned how to poach an egg and I just discovered who Hamilton Morris is. Poached eggs. Artisanal shit. Cooking. Vice. What in hipster hell is this.

No, seriously what have I been smoking? 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A gay man of a certain generation

Like what I was telling a friend last night, I am now a gay man of a certain generation. I grew up in the pre-Internet, pre-Grindr/ PR, pre-Pornhub/Redtube age. It was the ‘90s and the gay rights movement was at the cusp of going mainstream. But still, finding gay porn then much less representation in the media was like searching for water in an arid desert. At that time, seeing two men cuddle on MTV or in any movie for that matter (which may seem corny today) would send my heart fluttering. It didn’t matter if the gay characters were just relegated to the fringes. What mattered, to me at least, was that they were there. I would go around bookstores and video rentals (oh god yes, we used to rent out movies instead of downloading them) sniffing for gay content. I was also a hoarder of magazines from Details to Rolling Stones to the occasional Vogue (though I wasn’t much of a fan) and whenever there was a gay celebrity talking about his or her experience I would read and re-read the article. When I learned that Michael Stipe was bisexual I became an instant REM fan. And apart from REM (and Pearl Jam, Natalie Merchant, E-Heads, etc), one of the cassette tapes (cassette tape!) that I always had in my backpack was the soundtrack of Boys on the Side. I was obsessed with Indigo Girls’ Power of Two. I would listen to the lyrics over and over again and was utterly convinced that, yes, life can indeed be multiplied by the power of two. A life can grow simply by “loving well.” I would listen to the song and fantasize being in a truck (truck talaga!) with Mike Stipe on our way to someplace happy. After forgetting about the song for years I listened to it again this week. I couldn’t believe the nostalgia! It was like looking at my 16 year old self still yearning for, well, not so much as sex but for romantic love! I’m turning 38 this year and I had gone through the full mile --- the hook-ups, the orgies (yes, orgies), the tempestuous relationships and the PnPs --- and looking back at my young self was such an odd sensation. I couldn’t believe that I felt deprived of the most basic human right, which is to simply love. I also couldn’t believe how naive I was. Boy, was I naive! Now, I am ambivalent about anything romantic and I am more than okay to sail through the rest of my life with just my dogs (but this is just me because ending up gay and alone in old age shouldn’t be considered a norm and that this belief shouldn’t be included in the gay narrative anymore). I liked reliving the sensation of having that yearning again, that need to be with someone but I also know now how stupid it was to throw oneself in a relationship armed with nothing but passion and romanticism. But though I no longer believe in romantic love per se (read: Walang forever. Haha.) I would still like to embark on a project (which I hope to do this year) that is all about gay love. I certainly hope I would have the energy and the time and money to pursue it. After all, though we are seeing more and more representation in the media, much has yet to be done. Anyhoo, now if you excuse me I’ll just sit back and listen to the Indigo Girls again and daydream about Mike Stipe and I going on a romantic camping trip.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ang relationships parang robot unicorn attack

if this isn't the very definition of a difficult relationship then I don't know what is. haha. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Da Horror... Da Horror!

If there is a holiday that I actually like celebrating its Halloween. Things always get interesting on Halloween night though sometimes not in a good way. Maybe I should organize a party with a theme “Multo ng Kahapon” and everybody can come in wearing hideous old fads that they secretly love (like shoulder pads and short shorts in my case). I already have a band picked. How about Me First and the Gimme Gimmes all night?

Speaking of Halloween, my Halloween last year was extremely horrible. I was invited to go to three parties and on top of that I was supposed to get high with a tolerable guy at midnight. Exciting right?The plan was go to his place, get sufficiently high, go through all three events half-conscious and then end the night with a good fuck. The problem was our bruha of a boss didn’t give our salary that week and I ended up not only cancelling all three lakads but I was also too broke to take a cab home. I only had an MRT card with me and the problem was I always get these nasty panic attacks whenever I am inside its crowded coaches. But I had no choice that afternoon and when the train arrived at the Ortigas station it was already teeming with passengers. I spent the station between Ortigas and Santolan looking at the sky and watching the traffic below, trying my best not to freak out. Panic attacks are terrible. Someone once described it as like dying. Mine always feels like my head is going to explode. When the train got to Santolan Station, I got off to let some people out and when the door was about to close a man quickly ran inside and took my place. I was left seething at the platform as the train left without me. I ended up spending that night at home drinking Red Horse and arguing on my phone with the guy I was supposed to be with. He was accusing me of blowing him off for another guy and I kept resisting myself from telling him to “Shut the fuck up I don’t have the sanity to deal with your abandonment issues!” Fast forward to Monday, our bruha of a boss finally gave our salary but decided to fold up the magazine. At that point I knew it was time to hibernate and terminate my 2014 even if it was still November. Although thinking of it now, I think our bruha of a boss probably did me a favor. If I did get high that night and went through my plan I would have embarrassed myself from QC to Ortigas. 

By the way, a few Halloweens ago I went to Malate with an office mate who brought along his uncouth Bedan barkada. After spending time in baduy bars I took them to Penguin. While inside the john I heard the two of them talking about how “gay” the place was. Kaloka. Halloweens. Sometimes fun, mostly horrible but I still kind of like it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One way or another we are all being held hostage


For some strange reason I seem to be obsessed with the recent hostage-taking in Manila. If the US has teens going to schools with guns, we have this: Desperate men doing desperate means. In both instances (and I maybe painting the scenario rather broadly) the perpetuators exact violence on the victims because of certain personal grievances. Unlike however in the US when, most of the time, the parents are baffled at their children’s violent actions, our perpetuators almost always seek communication with the family at the last minute --- with the mother mostly as if to say “’Nay, I did this only for the sake of the family.” I don’t know if this is because the socially marginalized has always had an underdog mentality or to them sacrifice and violence are wholly justified when contexualized within the needs of a dying family. I don’t know also if this is a result of a poor mental care system (which is non-existent) and I’ve always thought that we are a nation perpetually struggling with one trauma or another. I, myself, don’t know if I am sane enough. But I do know the gnawing desperation one feels when one is absolutely penniless and doesn’t know where the next meal will come from. Reeling from hunger, anger (!), desperation and depression no wonder then that a seemingly innocent pen knife becomes, in one man’s mad eye, a perfect escape from oblivion. Kapit sa patalim kung baga.

Meanwhile, Philippine Tatler puts on its glossy cover “Madam” Imee Marcos resplendent in red couture. “Fab at 60,” the magazine’s headline seems to scream. On the other hand, the obnoxiously immature Pnoy, her family’s arch-nemesis, insists that the devolving quality of life in this city is a sign of progress. Apparently, they all get to live forever while everybody around them dies in the pits of hell.


Poe. Duterte (?). Binay. Ay caramba, this is what we are expecting in the forthcoming elections? No wonder, Aldub provides us with more optimism than any of the presidential candidates. Better to hope that there is something “real” in what is essentially reel than expect even a bit of honesty from someone who is promising something that we know is unreal.


Let me close this blog post with some quotes from Bino Realuyo’s poem The Leaning Tenement of Taytay from his book The Gods We Worship Live Next Door. It’s a brilliant poem about the disintegrating Taytay tenement and how in many ways it is a trap more than the fulfilment of a promise by the disposed Philippine President Joseph Estrada.

“Yes this is no Leaning Tower, no Seventh Wonder of the World,
A wonder for your yes maybe, or for your noses.
How can you not smell the approach of wind,
Its spiral push downward, into you? What you cannot see

Is the architecture of the missing: the water in faucets
And pipes, the light to bring fireflies to nights, the smiles.”

Ang ganda lang ng “architecture of the missing” no? Anyway, towards the end he says:

“We don’t think of it or him: he who listened, half-built. Half-tried.
The trying keeps our voices muted, so he doesn’t know he’s our hero
Somewhat. No one has ever taken us there, even halfway --- trying is hard
If it means lending a hand to those who have tried a lifetime of tries.”

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quezon city, Philippines

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