Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bi Beauties

A friend of mine invited me to perform with him on his birthday show/celebration, he is a PR and marketing manager for a local bathhouse who enjoys performing in drag during their events. I didn't mind doing it, I enjoy performing in drag myself, though this time I wasn't going to be one. I had to lip-sync the male part of this duet number popularized by Sarah Geronimo and Christian Bautista "Please be Careful With My Heart". I thought it was gonna be an easy job, except that I wasn't ready for the things I had to see backstage.

The show began a few seconds after the dancers got into their standby position, a couple of number passed and I patiently waited for my cue... when boom! This dark, sleazy and chubby stripper bolted out from the curtains after his performance, his huge dick flashing. He was in pain as he tried to untie the rubber band which clogged and prevented his erection from dying down. He blurted out "Ang sakit kapag matagal ka nag-intay bago ka isalang..." which meant it is painful if you waited too long before you performed. He got the rubber band off and his dick quickly deflated as he gently massaged and drained the blood back to his body . It was a bizarre scene, though everybody else didn't seem to feel the same way. This old drag back-up-dancer, dressed in what can be described as a tattered version of Beyonce's Single Ladies costume, continued talking about their show schedules as she touched up her face with make up while trying to balance a squat position, her huge ass facing towards me. To her right was another back-up-dancer trying to fix her wig after puffing up on her cigarette, her teeth showcased the dark stains which more or less describe how old she was. I was taken aback and found myself enjoying in a weird sense as I continued to observe. Later on I found out that they've been doing shows for 10 years. The thought saddened me, in my mind I questioned how many more years will they be able to do it. I tried to comfort myself into thinking that at least it is a way of living for them.

And so it was my cue, I went out on stage with a slightly different perspective on things... as I move on with this "activism" which I am into nowadays, I've become more sensitive about different LGBTI states. That experience backstage brought me to a different kind of understanding, and it stimulated me to ask more questions about the general welfare of our community. It was an example of how hard it is for others. I questioned what other opportunities they might have in order to make a living for themselves, and it dawned into me that there aren't a lot...

In another occasion, I was invited to become a judge to this pageant entitled Bi Suarez Beauties. The hosts explained that it was a pageant for bisexual discreet gay guys who can transform into beauty pageant forms as girls. It is a pretty complicated definition but I was intrigued as I tried to prove the assumption that a whole misconception about a gender label is actually being shared by many. 22 candidates strutted their asses off in the national costume, swimsuit and evening gown competition. Some were pretty and some weren't. Most of them struggled as they tried to make sense in the interview portion. Being grammatically challenged is very common to pageants in the country and for the most part, sad to say, it is somewhat integral to pageants already. Infact, it sometimes generates enormous attention, as has been the case of Janina San Miguel from Binibining Pilipinas. So it didn't bother me much. What gotten my attention was this... as the pageant went on, some candidates didn't make it to the proceeding rounds, so they got out from the backstage to watch the rest of the show. They were dressed in men's clothing but their hair and make up were intact. They didn't bother taking them out, and they walked around as if it wasn't unusual to look that way. I looked around and tried to gain any confidant from the weird feeling that I felt with what I was seeing, but I didn't find any, it seemed all too normal to the rest for them to specifically take notice. Their heads were of girls but their bodies and their clothing were of men, some even sported basketball shorts. It was like seeing a couple of Medusas walking around. But it shortly became a Eureka moment! That imagery was what I wanted to understand, it was the definition I was looking for. In front of my eyes were Bi Beauties. I understood it, that is how they call it, and I thought- "How was I supposed to argue with that?" It is not anymore a question of what bisexuality means in terms of gender preference, it was how they used the term for something which they thought was an embodiment of the imagery they projected, and it existed, and it is being shared by a whole bunch. Bisexual Beauties...

I can't help but connect this to my latest cause  fighting the stigma of HIV and AIDS- education and dissemination of information. I am now wondering how education and information will disseminate and per-mutate having the kind of understanding I got from the pageant experience. What kind of terms will come up and get used or mixed up in other ways? What kind of understanding will seep into the general consciousness with regards to the necessary information needed to gain positive reactions? Will stigma alleviate? I might be reading too much and it might be wrong to base it on this kind of analogy... (sigh)

Monday, February 15, 2010

I AM NOT!!!

I spearheaded a campaign for the LGBTI community called "I AM NOT IMMORAL..." Aside from getting the support of Niccolo Cosme, a renowned photographer, Team Pilipinas, an LGBTI NGO, and Francis Martin Beltran Baraan, a philanthropist who sponsored the campaign, we got 58 LGBTI and non-LGBTI individuals from different sectors to participate, including Melo Esguerra, a highly awarded broadcast journalist, Risa Hontiveros, a congresswoman vying for a senatorial slot in the 2010 Elections, and John Lapuz, a comedian and TV and Movie personality, among others. The photo and video project began on the same day as the Pride March, December 5, 2009. It was a protest action to the "immorality" statement which the Philippine Commission on Elections said about Ang Ladlad, an LGBTI political party.

An exhibit followed last January 30, 2010 and it was attended by LGBTI's from different groups and NGO's.
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4574304&id=627108744#!/album.php?aid=2046696&id=1525427943

Here are the links to the videos and photos which were exhibited.
Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/IamNotIMMORAL



PHOTOS:
http://thelighthousestudio.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/169/
http://www.pbase.com/headshotclinic/iani
To date, the campaign was featured by different local and international publications and websites including Manila Bulletin, Malaya newspaper, Inquirer, Philippines Star, Spot.ph, a Belgian website(luclebelge.skynetblogs.be), a Canadian website (lycto.gomen.com), wiqaa.com and the Interntional Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) among others. Here are some of the links:

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/241644/niccolo-cosme-s-artistic-protest

http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/entertainment/entertainment/view/20100208-252065/Gay-protest-video-I-Am-Not-Immoral

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html

http://www.wiqaable.com/2010/02/youtube-i-am-not-immoral.html

http://luclebelge.skynetblogs.be/post/7630549/campagne-video-lgbt-philippine-i-am-not-immor

http://lycto.gomen.org/magazine.php

After 2 weeks from being uploaded unto its youtube channel, the I AM NOT IMMORAL videos are now reaching its 2 thousand mark of number of views and has been featured in two different LGBTI forums, the UPLB LGBTI forum and the UP Kalipunan ng Mag aaral ng Sosyolohiya (KMS) forum titled: COMING OUT AND GETTING IN: UNCLOTHING WHAT IS BEHIND AND BEYOND CLOSET DOORS.

A very inspiring response from a decorated Gay Police from New York took it to a different level when he posted his own I AM NOT IMMORAL video.

Of course not all were so pleased at what this campaign had done. Ever since I started it I already encountered unfavorable reactions, and at times it was very surprising and a bit discouraging specially when it came from fellow LGBTI "activists". Now, a few questions are raised with regards to how progressive the campaign is, pointing out that it might have less of a potential to call for action amongst individuals.

It does bother me, though I know that I can only do so much... I still would say the campaign did so well for a very fragmented community. The question as to how to gather everyone and be more effective in bringing out a message remains a question and a challenge. What should we do with a community that is faced with multi-levels of issues? Is there really a unifying factor that can bring everyone together into one solid body? Which causes are more important and relevant?

It occurred to me that there is the Anti-discriminatory Bill, maybe we should all focus unto that...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm like a bird...

video

It took me an hour and a half to get to where I work near the airport. From Munoz QC, my route took one jeepney ride, the LRT, then a shuttle which I had to look for near Mc Donalds Taft Avenue station. It was a rough ride compared to what I was used to the past year. With the jeepney ride itself, I could already smell the difference from the places it passed through - the markets, the shanties, the overly crowded streets flocked by employees of sorts looping their way through the vendors that have set up their stools and fixtures over inadequate pedestrian lanes... But I made it, and I didn't get hurt or anything, nor was I too uncomfortable to complain. I think I had more of the observant behavior while travelling. I couldn't help but notice the structural, statistical and societal difference of the environment compared to the very comfy 3 minute, non-polutted, not overpopulated, skyway-taxi-ride I used to take.

It dawned into me that I actually have transferred, moved, migrated, or settled in to a new place in QC. Well we can actually call it "moved back" since I lived there on and off the past few years. But it is only now that the disparity has become clear to me - the difference in terms of physical, emotional, and psychological environment. It seems like there's a direct inversion...

Last night Georgie cooked a sumptuous dinner, a simple rice and pork/chicken adobo combo. "Ang Sarap"! It was her welcome dinner for us. Immediately we felt the change in emotional state as we ate after transferring our stuff from the move out truck into the apartment. It was gracious though very simple. It was happy...

2 days before, Kenji also cooked dinner for us, it was his farewell treat, and the "Sinigang" was phenomenal... Kenji was teary eyed when we left. I didn't wanna leave him there... it was as if saying goodbye to an old emotional structure called "condo unit". Very isolated, very restricted that the walls seem to dictate restraint on possible emotional connections- that's how I would describe my room there in Cityland Condominiums. I would go home, get inside my room, close my door and it literally isolates me from Zander and Juan, my housemates there. It Isolates me from Kenji and Karlo all the more since they live 2 floors below. It isolates me from Elbert who is 3 floors down. It isolates me farther away from Alex who lives just in the neighboring building beside ours. All the people I've mentioned here are my dear friends who I identify with as family, and I guess that at this point in our relationships, it is important to be able to connect.

While traveling earlier, it occurred to me that I moved back into a very simple apartment far away in QC where the aura is vibrant as the doors are always open and the air is kind of free; a set up where anyone could practically smell anyone's fart so to speak... and I left a comfortable place that seemed to have secured me in the silence of my own room.
'
I guess in another perspective, both will have their own pros and cons, its probably situational and very dependent on where you are as a person in terms of your needs, in terms of your financial capacity, in terms of all the factors that you have to consider... I am learning and discerning a lot, I never really used to think and plan carefully where I live. I fly back and forth like a bird... I guess I never really identified with one particular place/house since my biological family left. It could be seasonal, it could be the way it is...I could only guess... But I'm now moving on into an old place I used to live in, and tomorrow is another day :)...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

If you wanna view paradise, simply look around and view it...`

A few moments ago I caught myself singing - "If you wanna view Paradise simply look around and view it...". I caught myself happy, I am happy...I am surprised. Surprised not because I am a sad person in general, but probably because I saw myself handle a supposedly difficult situation in a very good way. I am emotionally stable despite how big a deal the problem presented itself. Let me lay it down for you...
I joined a pageant called Mr. Gay World Philippines. I joined because I wanted to make a difference. As cliche as it may sound, I really did searched within my soul for it. I asked myself if it was inline with what I wanted to do in life. As a gay individual, I thought, I have been presenting myself as, probably, a forerunner of exhibitions, juggling roles as a drag queen during events,

a hiphop dancer persona in the dance floor, or once, as Mr. Club Government title holder. Thus, I may probably have built a handful of audience, who, I assume, I probably can and probably have influenced... though I'm thinking, I'm probably just talking about my friends to the very least, or, not even hehehe... but one thing is for sure, I've been quite a fixture in the Manila Gay scene. And this is why I thought I could probably take it to the next level, and maybe do something relevant...

"It will put me in a position wherein I can encourage others who are like us to be more comfortable about themselves and feel proud of who they are..." that's what I told the organizers when I was asked why I wanted to joined. I took it very seriously.


There's something about the cosmic world that if you are very focused on something, everything starts aligning into it. All that I needed in the pageant was provided for without much effort - a formal wear by JunJun Escario; my own make up artist Jet; extra trunks by ZON; shoes by Ernest; intelligent friends for the Q and A practice; teeth whitening gel from Georgie; and etc. Not to sound condescending, but it was quite easy. Even during the pageant night I was very calm, very in control. It was as if I was just watching myself perform, everything perfectly planned and executed. The words flew out of my mouth in the manner that it was suppose to as I answered the final question.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lune_VSeuqA
video

It was quite odd actually, I remember asking myself why am I not as nervous as I'm suppose to. I somehow had an inkling that something was wrong, though everything was going so right. And so it happened... I did not get the title, a lot of questioning followed, from the host himself Boy Abunda, the judges who approached me right after, and the director of the pageant who suggested to review the results. It led me to question it myself... to make the story short, I was unsuccessful in trying to get an answer I could trust. In the process I became jaded about the pageant...and sad to say that I may have done trouble not only to myself but also to the pageant organizers.

http://delfindjmontano.blogspot.com/2009/10/winner-denied.html

With all that has been said, I had to find a stop. I had to identify where I could put myself at ease and settle for something that will render me peace. I did become bitter, I did become hateful, I did become ungrateful... I can gladly admit. I just allowed myself, and I could honestly say I enjoyed it. But I didn't enjoy it that much for me to get stuck. I somehow knew there's a higher stage in the process of healing. So I stepped up the ladder fast! That's why I'm surprised, because I don't heal fast, I didn't used to. I guess its a coming of age, and I like it.

There's a lot of things I am hopeful for despite what happened. That I was able to spread the message of diversity, that I was able to set a standard in the pageant itself, that the pageant also learned their part, and so on. But for now I know I have learned a lot, I know I have given a lot, I know I have done well, and for that, I am happy...
I am once again amazed at how beautiful life is...so many experiences to make, and this one is a very good one...

If you wanna view paradise, simply look around and view it...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Existential Shit...


It felt solemn that I was alone. As the universe flew around me I was reminded that I am alone, that's how it began and that's how it ends. I am stricken yet not overwhelmed with this idea, I am alone...

It is not a sad realization, it is a validation. My dependence to everything seems to have melted away into all the emotions I have explored. My need to feel and be felt have been expressed in all the forms I thought physically imaginable. I have been what I have become, in many forms, with all the intricacies I could have embellished.

I sit still remembering all the anger and pain and how they burst out of me in all the possible ways I knew. I sit still remembering all the happiness, joy and ecstasy and how they pleased and gratified me. I sit still feeling satisfied and comforted by my state of being...alone.

How lucky I am! Because the universe worked with me, with all my atrocities, with all my hunger for pleasure and pain. How lucky I am that it all happened at a time when they were all suppose to happen. How lucky I am that in the explosion of all these things put together, I am still here alone... existing.

How lucky I am to be alone and yet feel the most overpowering feeling overpowering me, overpowering my understanding, overpowering my inability to express it in words, overpowering my limitation to call it in the most simple term... LOVE. How lucky I am to be born of it and to be able to boastfully identify myself with it. How lucky I am to claim it, yet it is not mine. How lucky I am to love.

I am love...

And I am alone...

We all are...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Debt




I never really quite understood the world crisis that's going on, I only have a "not so clear" idea of why its happening and why it's happened. I mean how can the whole world go poor on its own. Poor against who? Who's rich now? How can the whole world have a debt on it's own? To whom is it indebted with? The World Bank? How can the world be indebted on it's own bank? I find it really absurd. To examine this is really a very painstaking idea on its own. I mean the visuals we see all over the news of the stock market - the graphs of the rising unemployment, names of companies that have closed, the recent countries that have succumb to recession - though hyped up, these are all very confusing for me. Not that it isn't confusing before, well probably not if you're a businessman. But I could truly say that in a way the stock market has taken center stage amongst the outstanding shows we watch everyday. It's like a TV series, with its own story and treatment. The people of the world - the protagonist, the world economy - the antagonist. It has a beginning, as we began evolving and as we learned business and economy, not to mention capitalism, which I think is the culprit. It has a middle, which we now are facing. And and an end? It probably should have, and that is what we are all waiting for I guess? It's all so strange for me, but at the same time, might be the greatest story yet I have ever encountered in my life.

But there is a kind of saving grace that I feel while trying to understand this whole chaos. And that is that I feel a bit secure knowing that it's happened, I'll explain to you why. I have debts on my own, so it makes me feel a bit better to know that I am not alone. In fact, the world is on my side. I and the rest of the world are equals. Of course thats a silly idea. But that's how I truly feel. It makes me really wonder if the mechanism of how the world got indebted might be similar to how I personally got indebted. Can I truly compare and simplify the world problem as being similar to mine? Because I somehow have a good idea about how I got indebted, I somehow know the psychological or even emotional foundations of why I never learned to handle money, property or possession very well. I somehow understand the reasoning behind the way I value material things. It's pretty presumptuous, but I stand by it. I can actually pin point specific experiences in my life that exhibited corruption, or where I got corrupted, or even where I was being corrupt. Still pretty presumptuous but I still stand by it. I don't think that I need a shrink or a hypnotist to bring me back to those experiences. I know them by heart and somehow I bring them with me all the time, specially at times when I truly indulge myself on things, when I'm unable to discipline and limit my want, or wants.

No, don't start with me with the self help stuff, if thats on your mind. Been trying to, I'm telling you. I can truly say that I'm trying, I am. The good news is that as I have been trying, I have slowly realized how hard and how complicated it really is. How intertwined it is with whole person that I am.

Oh how the world works!

Funny how I say that because it brings me back to the very topic I was trying to understand - the world crisis. How do we recover? How do we go about it? Where do we go to when everywhere will become poor as have been widely expressed? Can we truly transcend debt?