31 December, 2009

TEN THINGS IN MY GAY MIND: end of year special

I obviously have not done this in a while; ergo I found it fitting that as the year draws to a close, that the Barefoot Baklesa posts one before the new year...

10. The Travesty that comes with Suffrage or should we call it SuffERage is upon us once again. The claws are out and the fangs are bared, as the monsters that are every Politician and Political Wannabe with enough spending power hath made their presence felt.

From the screeching of Regine Velasquez singing a worn out slogan ["Hindi Ka Nag-iisa"] that was better left in the 80s; to Erap Estrada's gloom and doom television ad signalling his return and the bad things that come with him; to Villar's sing-along videos that teaches us that former fish vendors must marry rich women with two episodes of Maala-ala Mo Kaya to support it; and special mention goes to Eddie Villanueva which summarizes to "Eddie Ako ang Nahihibang" [Dude, nobody made you president last time. Get a clue] "Eddie Ako and Walang Originality [What's with wearing color yellow? The last I checked, the Aquinos have worn that as a political color since the 80s... You don't know who you're messing with. Don't you know that Kris Aquino can throw you into media purgatory?]; all these are but signs that the dark cloud of National Elections are hovering over the islands.

And my latest pet peeve, I saw a tarpaulin ad of some local councilman that goes like this: "NINOY BIG BROTHER DOUBLE UP" -complete with the house and logo of the popular reality television show. Can anyone spell COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT? If the elect politicians themselves have/display a blatant disregard for basic laws, then we should think twice about what else he has no regard for.

Oh heaven help us... For I think we have not seen the last of Mar Roxas' constipated acting.

9. I'm thinking of recommending to have someone submitted for psychiatric evaluation or better yet, admitted to a psychiatric institution... will blog about this more soon... I think the United States Immigration Bureau takes the mental health of their people coming into their country seriously. Hahahahahaha!!!

8. Truly, someone like Efren Penaflorida deserves the honor of a CNN Hero and CNN Hero of the Year. There's much to be said about Filipino creativity and ingenuity with what he was able to come up with and continue to do. Hats off to you, brother!

However, this is my take on this: During one of my Sociology classes at the Ateneo long ago, our professor once said that, "We must never use education as the ready answer to society's problems." It seems easy to say, "Get them educated and they'll know better" but education doesn't really do much if the system and socio-dynamic to which they exist is not conducive to any kind of solution to the problem. Damned if you do, damned if you don't...

It's not easy what you do, Efren... I'm praying that you have enough strength to go on.

7. There is much to be appreciated with crisp starched sheets... I have to admit, that at this day and age, it is quite a luxury to have your sheets and pillowcases starched the old fashioned way and not the starch spray that comes in a can; but it just feels so good to sleep in starched bed linens.

That's one for the Barefoot Baklesa's Luxury List

6. To anyone who has seen him before, Jarrett Moreland is just the hottest!!! I reckon in this case, a picture's worth a thousand words, so I'll give you three...

5. "We put up a theatre company at the most difficult time, and here we are, three years later. Still surviving, still able to sell seats and shows, still able to do what we set out to do on day one."

-quoting Michael Williams, Artistic Director for Theater Down South

Here's one for gratitude [first to the Divine Maker]; for Theater Down South's third year in the theater scene. We'd like to thank our family, friends, sponsors, little supporters, and dare I say it -FANS- who bought tickets to our shows, applauded our performances, and asked us "What's next?"


click here Theater Down South to learn more about us...

4. Believe it or not, ubiquitous as it is with Christmas Ham, I actually missed Christmas Fruitcake. I just could not stop munching on it! And the ones we got were homemade; which made it all the more addicting!!!

3. I can say that the last quarter of this year was the time in my life that I used up enough glitter to last a craft hobbyist three lifetimes... Crazy-cut, Regular, Fine, Glass Dust, Opaque, Translucent -name it, I have used kilograms of it. I'm sure somewhere out there, Martha Stewart is very proud of me...

2. To my dearest Kenneth, you already know this, but its worth saying it over and over: "Sometimes, people who argue over the stupidest things are those that care about each other the most."

You know how I feel about you, ergo like you said, there's no need to be cheesy about it. Hehehehehe....

1. Whoever it is that invented the "hot-melt glue gun" should receive the recognition he/she deserves for making all our crafting lives easier.


...thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

30 December, 2009

On the Sixth Day of Christmas: Looking Back at the Chris_MESS

Before anything else, allow me to greet you a Happy Christmas and wish you the warmest this most joyous of holidays.

If the infrequency of my Blog Posts are any indication of the current state of schedule juggling I had to deal with, then permit me to do and Uncle Scar and go, "You have no idea..."

Week after week since the middle of October, deadline after deadline seemed to have just replaced the previous one that I seem to have faced the Holiday Rush-slash-Crunch quite unprepared. Those who know me personally, can attest to the fact that Christmas is such a big deal for me... And by big deal, I mean "Put-on-your-Martha-Stewart-apron-and-Better-Homes-&-Gardens-rubber-gloves". I have exhausted every Christmas issue of every home magazine I could find to plan the theme and treatments for the coming Christmas. It's usually after I take down my Halloween stuff that I start working on sections of the house in the weeks that would lead to December 1st.

However this year, such was not the case. It was already December 8th when I had the chance to start on some parts of the house and not until the 17th that we had some cohesive Christmas look -left to be finished. Case in point, twas by December 24th around 7:00pm that I was able to hang the last wreath at the cathedral window at our stairway. Oh yeah, that's really cutting it close. Consider then, the fact that I had just come from setting-up three venues the night before for the three mall shows we had come Christmas Day.

Yup, you read it right...three mall shows on Christmas Day...and two of those three malls had two performances each.We literally were tasked to bring joy and cheer then.

On the days leading to that, you could hear people in the company going, "Good luck sa atin, Kapatid!" or "Double-Dead Rehearsals today." or "Life? What Life?"

Sidebar: As I type away, I noticed how I can't seem to get into my blogging pace or call it groove...

But the point is, we survived. And I am thankful for the people that were with us during those days when we just had to push to get things done.

You gotta love what you're doing to be able to do the impossible.

So there, enjoy the rest of the Holidays!

...thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

16 November, 2009

the barefoot baklesa returns from his blog posting hiatus

It's not as if I am done being all over the place these days... But since my last post here was almost a month or so ago, I reckon a photo of Nicholas Hoult ought to break this blogging drought on my end. If you look closely, Nicholas is that lovable boy in that Hugh Grant movie called "About A Boy" -apparently not a boy anymore but a man in every sense of the word.

thus spake The Barefoot Baklesa

07 October, 2009

it may seem broken to you, but for me, it's perfect... [stopping a brittle heart from breaking]

"It isn't easy here without you
why did you leave me?
What am I supposed to do
without you?

What if the world were a little more perfect
would you stop crying?
would you take the lead?
and what if the world were a little more perfect
would you open your eyes?"

I don't know if this matters at this time, if these are just words to you, if all of that was for nothing...

at this point, I'm a little numb.... things seem so unreal... fighting for you isn't.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

another gay role for Mario Maurer?

I don't know if they warned him about being typecast in gay roles, but if that's what sells for Mario Maurer, then the Barefoot Baklesa has no complaints about it...

click here for Bangkok of the Mind's article.

I miss having news about Mario Maurer *sigh*

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

06 October, 2009

God Help the Outcasts...

"I ask for nothing, I can get by
But I know so many less lucky than I
Please help my people, the poor and downtrod
I thought we all were the children of God
God help the outcasts, children of God..."

I've been thinking about this song a lot lately...

I was watching the early evening news when I saw this feature about a teenage boy who came back to school after having experienced the flooding that came with typhoon Ondoy - he had nothing on him but the clothes he had saved to wear that day- his school bag and things were washed away with the flood waters as well as two sets of his school uniforms [the only ones he had]...

My heart just could not take it... there are more stories after the storm; some worth more tears than that already shed.

This song is also a prayer for those who survived the storm... I ask that you play it in the hopes that it sends good energy across the karmic/dharmaic highway...

...thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

30 September, 2009

here's praise for the Pinoy Bayanihan Spirit

BAYANIHAN is probably one of the most ubiquitous concepts of the Filipino Values system. If you're not familiar with it, the closest equivalent to the English language is collective community spirit.

The image most associated with Bayanihan is of a bahay kubo [nipa hut] borne on the shoulders of men to be moved to its new location... the image of an entire village helping out one of their neighbors in this most arduous task is one of those things that are taught by Social Studies teachers when they discuss certain Filipino Values or Traits once you hit first grade. [If it's not a crude first grade textbook drawing, I think there was a painting of it with a mother and child peering out the hut's window as they are being moved -with much artistic license, I remember...]

As the aftermath of the last tropical storm that hit the archipelago still looms over us, my praises go to the Filipino people as we all come together and help each other out through this most difficult time. Relief operations, donations, pledges, volunteers, are all but testaments to the Bayanihan Spirit. We as a people are resilient.

Some find solace in the fact that they are not alone in this, some find themselves with a stronger resolve to get through, some -though their faith may have been tested- still hang on to it... Hope doesn't run out easily for us.

But on the other hand, there's a lesson to be learned here. I hate to sound a bit preachy here but as a society, we seem to be very good at reacting to crisis but not in the calculated preparedness or the planned avoidance of it. I have seen my share of urban planning experts claim they had the solution to this years ago on paper, or experts uttering consequences to climate change, or government officials in their capacity or lack thereof reasoning to a broken people about their failure to respond to their needs... a waste of words, as I see it.

So I won't waste more, and will do what I can, and pray...

photo courtesy of heinzkieh [just click on the link]

...thus spake The Barefoot Baklesa

02 September, 2009

Thoughts of You...

"Once upon a time, I wanted to know what love was. Love is there if you want it to be. You just have to see that it's wrapped in beauty and hidden away between the seconds of your life. If you don't stop for a minute, you just might miss it."

~quoted from the movie CASHBACK

I think in the current state of things, I'm beginning to think that I keep doubting things too much, that I seem to not live in the moment, that I have certain fears about where this takes me...

But don't get me wrong, I'm in a very happy place -I have not been in a place remotely near there in like five years- thus the jaded and cynical shell of Barefoot Baklesa isn't one to shake off so easily.

There's really no such thing as a normal state of anything when it comes to love or loving -we are all weaklings and the wisest of us would not know better. Maybe that's why Shakespeare went as far as saying that "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid's eyes painted blind." [A Midsumer Night's Dream]

Frailty, flaws, and futile-fruitless-fits of infatuation all seem funny to some but as we know, some people spend an enormous amount of energy just to be normal and be above these.

Here's me, trying to shake off this undesirable shell of fear and doubt.

Bawal na talaga ang aning-aning...Hahahaha!!!

[oh yeah, the video above is for emphasis...]

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

19 August, 2009

tell me not in mournful numbers...

I shall speak this is the vernacular, Perhaps it will come across the way it should...

May mga tao talagang kung magsalita o magparinig eh akala mo sila ang iniwan mo sa gitna ng kawalan, ano? Minsan nga naman, kung wala ka nang silbi ay itatapon ka na lang gaya ng gamit na napagsawaan... Mahirap marinig yung mga salitang, "Parang wala tayong pinagsamahan ah," pero minsan nga naman magagawa mong masambit katagang ito...

there's a point about people's worth i wish to hammer on here, but it's so not worth it at this point... this is me, smug, knowing I made the right choice.

thus spake, the Barefoot Baklesa

17 August, 2009

Impressions of a Bishounen Boy: Ryu Daigo

From his photographs alone, this young man’s charm and unique multi-racial looks affords him the adjective best defined by the Japanese word ‘Bishounen’ which literally translates as ‘Pretty Boy’. For any of you who aren’t privy to that aesthetic nuance, there is this cultural penchant albeit curious amusement the Japanese in general have for guys with soft yet appealing features which oftentimes borders on the androgynously attractive [ just look at their male Japanimation or Anime characters and you’ll get what I’m saying ] . It is indescribable at times, yet guys like Ryu Daigo, do turn heads and make some take a second look.

Currently a boy of 19 [and I do mean ‘boy‘ in the impression he gave off], standing 5 foot eight inches, and just about a hundred and forty pounds, Ryu is what we can consider a ’Japinoy’ - a child of that successful multi-racial mix of the Japonois-Filipino persuasion which affords him that look that appealed to me, the first I saw him.

Ryu Daigo’s popularity, by observation, is at its best on the internet. There’s this Korean pop-culture phenomenon called “uljjang” which by etymology takes from the Korean words “pretty” + “picture” = “internet popularity” -this was actually the way Boy Meets Boy and Jenny/Juno star Kim Hye-Sung catapulted himself to fame; the pretty pictures he uploaded of himself gained him popularity and the rest is KPop history. -I’m going stop there, I’m shifting into Pop Culture Analyst mode again… Hahahaha!

But Ryu Daigo’s showbiz path began way before he even knew how to type on a keyboard and upload photos. As he tells me, “My mom told me my first job was endorsing a milk product when I was a baby.” I reckon from a young age, it came naturally to him; for most of his young life has been oriented towards the biz.

It was around early this year when I first chanced upon some photos of him online. But it was not until recently that I began learning about the boy by getting to know him on the social/beta networking sites. Funny thing to mention, and Ryu regales, “There are seven Friendster accounts of me, and I added them all! Hehehehe!” -So if any of you guys have him in your network, be sure you have the real one, okay… Also, after reading his profile online, I noticed that he was once cast as a regular in one of the shows I did for network television, but in the rush of things at the time I never bothered with the talents anyway.

When I asked him what was the weirdest showbiz job he has ever done, he answers, “When I was a regular talent on a show called Kamandag, I was fully covered in make-up that I did not recognize myself.” And he adds, “Weird in the sense that this gay guy who was a wardrobe attendant dressing me up, would try to have his way with me and he couldn’t.” By that, I took it, that Ryu has a good head on his shoulders and he had a sense of humor about the ways of the biz.

So I dared to ask him, “As you are, do you ever get proposed indecently in any way?” To which he answers, “I make sure I tell them I’m not interested.” Then further adds that he often goes, “You are getting on my YM Nerves! Hehehehe…” I never asked him if that works all the time, but I’m going to ask the boy permission to use the second statement if someone is starting to get on my YM nerves. Moving on…

I guess in that pool of many showbiz aspirants, Ryu has gone the way of doing stints that most young people who want to be noticed in the industry have done while waiting for that big break, so to speak. At that, Ryu actually had to forego full-time college for a while and took that path that had him earning from his stints in television and modeling. He knew the value of earning your own way and what it does to the developing maturity of a person.

Of all the online portfolios I have seen of up-and-coming or practicing models of recent vintage, Ryu’s portfolio is what one considers quite versatile. He tries to experiment by himself and/or collaborates with other creative people exploring the many possibilities he can take his visage and form to.

It was when I came upon the artist and photographer Bubum Melgar’s site that I began noticing him with amusement and admiration -Okay, I admit, I’m a fan! Go and hang me! Hahahahaha! My compliments to Mr. Melgar and his creativity for with that, I think, Ryu’s portfolio is never to be the same.

And after confirming from Ryu himself, he nearly got on Mr. Melgar’s nerves for being a little bit of a “pasaway”. Ryu recalls having said something to this effect, “That’s what happens when the model is like a mannequin and statuesque, the photographer just clicks away” -I can only envision Mr. Melgar raise an eyebrow, that eyebrow traveling as far as C.M. Recto Avenue, and having someone pick it up form there and return it -laughing out loud… That’s why I mean by Ryu still being much a boy.

You can accuse him of being a little vain and he knows he’s guilty of it. “My day is not complete when I don’t even get a compliment about the way I look. It feels weird if I don’t get at least one,” he admits candidly. Well, that is forgivable… they say we are at our most good looking from the age of 17 to 27. I do hope Ryu’s not the type that has a pocket mirror being a Narcissus about his reflection or takes a photo of himself on his camera phone checking out how he looks by the quarter hour like some people I know… Hahahahaha! I actually forgot to ask him his vanity quirks; maybe next time.

One of the questions that popped-up in our exchange was how does he deal with being a mixed race kid and if there were any difficulties about it. To which he replies, “Its funny since Filipino's always make fun of it... Well, its okay with me because it makes me different than the others. I love being unique.” That says much about the ‘Pinoy-Mestizo-Complex’ that not unless they are of a mixed Caucasian-Pinoy variety, it’s okay to make fun of the other multi-racials. And it’s really being mean, the playground variety kind of mean. Good thing Ryu is comfortable in his own skin.

At this point in his life, aside from his interest in fashion in general, he is quite engrossed in learning the ways of a photographer. As much as he loves being in front of the camera and getting to play with his looks like the next Zoolander in the room, Ryu says, “I like taking pictures, its my dream to be a photographer and not a model;” with a laugh at that. Well, it looks like he’s enjoying being in front of the camera for now.

Having said that, Ryu impressed me a little more by saying “Having a school degree is still a priority. I can’t model all the time.” -I’m sure it seems a clichéd and ubiquitous answer we’ve heard from some before, but I sensed a bite of reality realized too young there; and it made me think about the many showbiz dreams that sputtered and went into obscurity for some. As I write this, Ryu is back in school full-time, taking up Hotel and Restaurant Administration at the Cavite campus of the Lyceum of the Philippines. Modeling and the biz takes a second priority for now, to which I’m sure he’s going to be a better off person as the pretty boy grows into the man that’s going to be/have more than just a pretty face.

thus spake The Barefoot Baklesa

photos courtesy of Mitoy Sta.Ana, Ryu Daigo, and Bubum Melgar

07 August, 2009

Walang Modong Salanggapa: Carlo J. Caparas for National Artist [the farce, the insult to my intelligence, and the travesty]

Again, the tomatoes and the knife are for emphasis...

This was posted as my response to GIBBS CADIZ's latest post on the Necrological Service for the National Artists Awards last Friday, the 7th of August...

First of All, i prithee, PEACE... such silence is deserved of this mournful day.

I would have wanted to say this in my own blog, however for the time being, i reckon this would be the appropriate place to share it.

I am fortunate enough in my lifetime to have learned from two National Artists: first, as a student of Salvador "Badong" Bernal when I was still in theatre school, and under the supervision of the late Leonor Orosa Goquingco -one of the first National Artist Grantees.

I admit, I am one of those people who put National Artists on a pedestal, primarily because even at their age, Badong Bernal can still turn BIC Ballpoint pen crystal casings into chandeliers and bed canopies in one quick set change; and in her late years, Leonor Orosa-Goquingco showed us one last time why she is the original Filipina Creative 'Dancing Queen'

That is why I am passionate about this, because I know what it took to be granted the honor of the Order of the National Artists of this nation. I think we owe it to them and those others that came before, to not take this sitting down.

A beloved friend of mine and former mentor said something so fitting: "Dios mio! Mahal ko ang aking sining at alam ko kung kailan ako magpapaka-gutom rito at kung kailan ko kailangan ibenta ang aking sarili. Marahil ang pinaka-pangit na sa ating mga obra pa man ang iyong piliin ay hindi pa rin ito maihahambing o mapapantayan ng isang likha ni Carlo J Caparas. Isa itong kalapastanganan sa nasabing parangal."

I will get some flak for being an elitist -well, i have gotten some from the "tinga" and dregs of the wannabes and pretenders out there who have been found wanting after their futile attempts at being controversial at my expense- but thou canst begrudge me if that is where I and most of my colleagues are coming from. We do few things but we do them well, that is the initial definition of artistic integrity in my book.

How can they thus, for shame, look over the likes of a Mars Ravelo, a Larry Alcala, a Dolphy for that matter, or even one of the deserved in that list for the likes of one whose contribution to art and popular art is really fit only to wrap 'tinapa' from the local palenque?

How can you have a National Artist for Film and Visual Arts if he never drew those things in the first place? Where is the visual artist in that? and let us not get started on film being another category from cinema... Sin verguenza!!!

And Carlo J. Caparas actually displays no humility about it at all with his reactions... this only goes to show that being "deserved" is far from what I can describe him at present. I can hurl expletives his way, but i reckon he won't comprehend them. Thus amended, I quote Rolando Tinio's translation of one from Shakespeare he might just get: "WALANG MODONG SALANGGAPA!"

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

"Let us take charge of the world before it's gone as we know it."

05 August, 2009

on this blog soon: The Barefoot Baklesa's Impressions

Soon, I shall be posting casual conversations with people I find to be of interest in this tapestry of people in my online and real life... People leave certain impressions of themselves at every encounter; and it's not just the first one, really. With me, it goes beyond that. [But of course there are those Neanderthals that at the first instance you know they'll evolve into the Ostrogoths or the Visigoths of later barbaric times! Hahahahhaha!!!]

I'll try to portray these people as I see them, as what i think of what they think, as what they mean more/less than what they say... You'd be surprised how differently some things come out.

One can never know a person entirely, but there's a lot to be learned with what they want you to know about them and what that is they care to share...

As the first in this series, I shall be featuring model and talent
RYU DAIGO -who was nice enough to allow me to feature him as the first in this series-

Here's hoping you guys enjoy this one...

photo courtesy of Bubum Melgar, just click on the link, guys...

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

04 August, 2009

The Barefoot Baklesa's tribute to Tita Cory [a memory of my youth]

The past few days, this archipelago has been grieving the loss of a remarkable woman of faith, a mother not just to her children but to a nation, and perhaps the greatest Filipina that ever graced these emerald isles: President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, the Mother of Philippine Democracy.

With all the online tributes that are pouring in via the internet, up to the minute news coverage, and the many mentions of her in blogs and networking sites, I have but a simple story to share.

It was around 6:30 in the morning in February of 1999 when I was standing by the entrance of the Rizal Study Foyer fronting Xavier Hall at the Ateneo de Manila, waiting for a delivery of flowers to be used at a conference of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines [CEAP] that would begin around 8:00am that day.

There I was, a wide-eyed Freshman, who was just happy to hang on to my scholarship in a premier Jesuit university by filling in the hours of service required of us. The only thing I knew that day was that I was supposed to decorate the venue and help out with the conference proper. This was the first time someone had entrusted me with designing public venue in the campus, perhaps the very first of my career as a set designer.

But like many things that Ate Ces of the Student Affairs office planned at the last minute, we were understaffed… And I found myself at the Front of House receiving guests, then later at the tech booth helping manage the cues of the program, and even in trouble for not knowing how to operate the switchboard that controlled the lights of the Rizal Mini Theater. It was one insane experience.

During an intermission, Ate Ces pulls me out of the booth and asked me to accompany her at the foyer entrance. She asked me to help welcome the guest speaker who had just entered campus. And as we waited outside, a car pulls in at the driveway fronting the foyer, and stepping out of it was former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. There were only four of us who welcomed her: Rene Salvador San Andres [Associate Dean for Student Affairs], Some nun from the Order of -Pera- I meant Preachers, Ate Ces, and me.

And there I was wondering, “Why only this? Where’s the proper ceremony afforded a former head of state? Why am I here?” I suddenly found myself bowing as do the Japanese, which was really funny, now that I look back at it. And Ate Ces goes, “Help her while she’s waiting before her speech. I‘m going to get her bouquet of flowers. I left it inside the office.”

As I led her to where she was to wait, she sensed my nerves on overdrive and uttered, “Huwag na kayong mag-abala.” [roughly “Don’t make a fuss over it.”] with that gentle tone we all know so well. And my good manners getting ahead of me, I asked, “Madam, How do I address you?”

She answers, “Tita na lang.” which felt so endearing when I heard it. And with that I was just smiling the rest of the afternoon. I never could remember her speech about the value of a good Catholic education in the new millennium. Just those three words that have been very Pinoy and very Tita Cory.

Right now, a nation grieves with a little regret. Because no matter how much we love her, there are some things in this nation that haven’t changed , and some in worse shape that it was before. I think we do not grieve for her as much as we do for ourselves.

a little late but still sharing...

In the rush of the last week, I almost forgot about the feast day of Saint Mary of Bethany last July 29th which is also the feast day of her siblings Martha and Lazarus… To those of you who know me quite well, we have an image of Saint Mary of Bethany under our care, amongst other ones… It was around 5:00pm that day when I realized that the feast day was almost over.

Thank goodness I was able to relay the instructions for her feast day the Sunday before. It’s tough when the image is a half an archipelago away at our ancestral home in San Jose, Antique. [Maybe I should have a smaller one commissioned for our residence here…Then again, with the other ones residing in our home, I don’t think there’s still room. Hahahahahaha!!!]

To Saint Mary of Bethany, may the grace God has bestowed us through our devotion to you be shared with those who remain loving and loyal to the de los Reyes Family.

All things done, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

14 July, 2009

maybe all that's left... is just to live

I’d like to quote this one; although I can’t recall who said it:

“I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look forward to. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re part of something. If you find that moment, it lasts forever.”

Kenneth made me realize something today -more like just merely moments ago.

I never thought that at my age, I could be “put in my place” by someone far more younger I. Those of you who know me personally, know how jaded and doubtful I can get about a lot of things. Sometimes my doubts get the better of me. I used to call it being cautious but Kenneth thinks it’s nothing but “damaging” on my part.

Have I become such a slave to my own caution that I worry about what other people will see, hear, think, or speak of? Worry about how it would seem and look like? Worry about failure and end up never having tried at all?

Lately I have been ranting about missed opportunities, some failed attempt at something, and the many might-have-beens; much to Kenneth’s irritation.

Kenneth hates hearing about what happened in the past or what that past did to a person. He believes that once you get up, you leave it all behind you. The absurd thing is, I actually knew that all along [ referring to something Lolo Juan Orendain said about “What is disgraceful is to be left to the dust after you fall” ] and it took someone six years younger than me to ram it full force in my already muddled head.

The swirling mist in my mind cleared up a while ago…

And that phone call, which lasted 22 minutes and 46 seconds, is that moment that would last me forever. [ cheesy, i know...but who friggin cares at this point! hahahaha!!! ]

I have enough now, to live in the moment…

Thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

13 July, 2009

BBB: Bad Bakla Behavior

I came up with this title just because I want to describe what it is that I hate about what SOME gay people do that are oftentimes inconsiderate of the most basic of certain social expectations... And you'd be surprised who have been guilty of these BBBs!

More on these soon...

05 July, 2009

Good Riddance to You!!!

I never knew that I could put this quote into context until a few days ago...

"There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore, and who always will. So don't worry about people from your past... There's a reason why they didn't make it to your future."

There are people, no matter how hard you try, who will never realize your worth in their lives... They think of you as a piece of clothing they can wear when it's convenient for them; but for the most part, you occupy the clothes hanger for all the moth ball knows when... This was how I described my friendship with what I now consider a former friend... Oh trust me, this is much worse than that bi-polar suicidal female I had posted not long ago.

I can't seem to find any other way to euphemize this certain individual's description other than these words: CALLOUS, OBLIVIOUS, and EMOTIONALLY CRIPPLED.

[Yes, my pretty boy, I will behave after this post... mwah!!!]

So, the best advice I can give all the doormats out there is to know when they are not worth the time, the loyalty, the effort, and the emotional baggage they leave behind.

Just tell them, "Have a nice life... I don't think there's room in there for me anymore [subtext: GOOD RIDDANCE!!!]"

[okay, i promise to be really good now...]

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

01 July, 2009

Have You Ever Loved [As-Tu Déjà Aimé] and some thoughts in my head [and heart]...

The Barefoot Baklesa has been a little distracted lately... Well, more like he hasn't been himself ~his cynical and jaded self~ in the midst of all this... and technically lost for words at this point, you see. [I can hear someone going, "That's a first!"]

In your lifetime, you meet people who are like rivers that take you as they flow, and you are suddenly immersed in everything they are... and come out of that brief encounter not quite the same. And when you think it was but for a moment, they would carve a path for their raging waters to flow your way and take you once more; never wanting you to take a step into the muddy banks...

Am I smitten?
I could be... [maybe Kenneth can answer this one]
Yet I am cautious... [much to Kenneth's impatience]
But slowly, these past few days, I have begun to leave all that I must by some riverbank I wish not to return to nor remember; ready to brave the rapids and see where it takes me. [see where Kenneth takes me]

This particular song, As-tu déjà aimé from the film Les Chansons D'Amour best defines what I'm going through right now...

As-tu déjà aimé
Pour la beauté du geste?
As-tu déjà croqué
La pomme à pleine dent?
Pour la saveur du fruit
Sa douceur et son zeste
T'es tu perdu souvent?

"Have you ever loved
For the sheer sake of it?
Have you ever taken a bite of the apple
For the sheer taste of the fruit?
Its sweetness and its zest
Have you often lost your way?"

...thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

29 June, 2009

The Barefoot Baklesa's Intermittent Internet Connection Woes

Due to the rather intermittent signal and connection my Smart Bro Internet service has been experiencing over ten or so days now, I have been quite inactive here lately... My thanks to the Smart Bro technical team handling my complaint for personally calling and updating me with my connection concerns. Kudos to your brand of technical support.

But fear not, my wit that is quick to quip shall grace my postings soon...

For the time being, this is a little something I want to share, i just feel so energized when I see something like this for the first time...

20 June, 2009

the things you can't change...

I shall keep this brief...

This has been quite a week for me. I'm having the mid-year blues, which in my youth is the time when I usually just get horribly sick and miss school, and is now replaced with days when I feel like I'm picking up pieces of myself and just trying to get through the day.

I went to Quiapo Church to attend Friday Mass. On my way home, I chanced upon a young lady who was selling aquarium fishes. I was so taken by a purple-ish blue fighting fish that I immediately bought it [a steal at 35 pesos, i tell you].

On the way home, I was thinking about what a friend once said, "When you can keep something alive, then it shows how much you can take care of who has been destined for you." ~I took that with a degree of distance, really... But was indeed thinking of it.

I went home, found this beautiful crystal orb container and moved Yuri [my new fish's name] to his new home. I made sure i followed all the precautions from my memory of taking care of fish and placed him in my room.

I was happy to wake up to its beautiful form moving about the glass container. When I left to visit a friend, I made sure I fed Yuri for the day. But when I got home a while ago, I found Yuri's dead and lifeless coil... And i'm just ~for the lack of a better term~ sad...

I can barely keep a fighting fish alive, what does that say?

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

18 June, 2009

How Do You Say GAY? [Pride Month Musings 2009 Part Two]

Good Manners is best defined by making people around you comfortable with who and what you are. Making an effort to at least show that you are capable of practicing certain social graces and civilities says much about a person. Now, some of you may think that’s already encroaching on free expression, laissez faire, and whatever it is that you feel entitled to as an individual against the drones of etiquette and norm, hindi masamang ipamukha sa kanila na ikaw ay Bading Na May Urbanidad.

I understand that this may raise a few eyebrows, but I have always believed that Manners Matter. For the most part, the social abrasion that Gay people experience is brought about their disregard for the social environment they are currently at. There’s always a time and place for everything. And what some of our brothers under the rainbow flag fail to realize is that this world will never be fair to all of us. There will always be a bigot at the other table, sniggering ill-mannered Neanderthals whispering at a corner, Visigoths heckling at you on your choice of wardrobe, and an establishment run by Ostrogoths that won’t let you in. But I am not here to lecture you on that. There are things that I myself think are beyond me.

However, I do have a few things that could help you out when some people turn a little abrasive about your sexuality.

These days, being Gay seems to be more controversial than it has been when I was around eighteen. At the time, my friend Ara Fernando said, “Walanghiya kayong mga bakla! Konti na lang nga ang mga lalaki sa mundo, inaagaw niyo pa!” [ Shame on you, gays! There are so few guys in the world and we have to compete with you! ] The context to which that was said at the time was more a commentary on how the Gays are on the prowl for unsuspecting straight men.

Sidebar: Pining over the straight man you can’t have is soooo 1990s! Hahahahahaha!!!

In a span of ten years, the definition of gay has become more technical than the usual clichés we ourselves have placed on each other. Now we’re dealing with terms such as Gay, Bi-sexual, Queen, Queer, Transgender, Bi-curious, Effems, Straight-Acting, Fag-Stags, Metro, Downe Guys, and whatever category seems convenient for the oddly placed in the population. There’s always room for more, some say… and that does add to the heterosexual population’s confusion.

But primarily, in certain situations, some of us -even one who can be a bit flamboyant- can still seem ambiguous or enigmatic to the naïve. My point being, some Gay people do give off that impression of mystery about them or maybe some people just cant keep their noses off other people’s business. Especially if you’re discreet about yourself.

So, what does one do when one is confronted about one’s sexuality?

In the Filipino social dynamic, these are the usual questions you are asked:

“Bakla ka ba?” [ “Are you Gay?” ]
“Are you one of them?” [ “Ganoon ka rin ba?” ]
“Berde ba ang dugo mo?” [ “Is the blood in your veins green?” *this is actually quite unique in Filipino Gayspeak that refers to Gays having green blood* intended with humor]
“Sister?” [ that pretty much sums it up…]

The initial reaction to this questioning actually varies for it depends on the tone of the question. Some people just ask without consideration while some exert quite an effort not to offend you. But even the most cautious efforts can not put aside one’s initial reaction which is nothing short of “offended”. [this applies to most of us]

Now, the next time you do find yourself in this situation, here are a few answers that might be helpful.

How to say you’re Gay in the most educated fashion:
“I have other inclinations.”

How to say you’re Bi-sexual or Bi-curious:
“I am persuaded rather differently.”

How to say it doesn’t really matter if they learn about your Sexuality:
“Well, truth is so prosaic.”

How to suggest that it’s not their place to ask:
“Does it change anything if I answer your question?”

How to change the topic:
“I’m sure you have other things to be more concerned about.”

And if these don’t work, there’s always some good old fashioned gay quip you can pull out of the hat that will answer their question and take them aback a bit:
“Yes, unfortunately, I need to bring home a good looking guy to introduce to my parents as the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Do you know someone?”
-or any variation thereof said in an acerbic formulation.

Because there’s always a limit as to how far you can stretch your Pink Patience.
And if that doesn’t work, then I’ll be the first one to encourage you to take the Rainbow Gloves off.

…thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

15 June, 2009

First Time Gay Bar Blues [Part Two of Three]

WARNING: If you are uncomfortable with reading or discussing gay-oriented activities, do please navigate away from this page. However, if you are, then read on.

I guess my observant eyes had been noticed by this dancer wearing a sarong when he was on stage earlier that he began approaching our direction, and the three of us were on edge as he took his steps. There he was getting nearer, for a split second I caught myself exchanging looks with Belle; and after that, I was frozen…

There was this feeling that the entire room had focused at my direction, and as he took his first step at the edge of our box, I just did not know what came over me!

Both my hands leapt from my lap, upwards they both went and my fingers went unbent. As I gestured to suggest “NO” to the dancer wearing the sarong. I could barely make out the surprise on his face in the soft light that permeated the room. I guess it’s not the first time his ego was shaken a bit by one such as I. Not that what he had to show was insufficient, his thing was just not my thing. [had you going there for a while, didn't I?]

I was able to breathe a sigh of relief as Alex and Manang Pinky were laughing a bit at what had just transpired. I have never gulped up a glass of beer that fast in my life! Looking back at it, that was one thing I’d regale with laughter in the years to come.

I noticed that there were a fair number of female customers in that place. A few of them were seated near the stage. And the arrival of two Korean ladies in their 20s drew my attention. After they were seated at the box left of the stage, the manager assigned to them had taken out about ten guys from the room at the far end of the establishment, they then lined up at their box and were shown-off to these two ladies. It was quite dark where they were and the waiters had to light their faces with these blue LED flashlights that for me was an uncomfortable sight. But to these guys, I reckon it has become common practice for the more “demure” clientele [“demure” my gay a**]. Moments later, I did not get what all the squealing was coming from their direction, but it would be safe to say, they walls have come down.

As our first hour and a half went by, I just sat there taking it all in -my skills in observation at full, my eyes just went around looking at every nuance. There was one costumer sitting alone at a table by the left side of the stage, he was just sitting there almost not moving, except for his hand reaching for the drink, he would have passed off for a statue. Alex was his usual self sitting there, his silence meant that he was enjoying himself tremendously. I have known Alex for quite some time now, and he can be very vocal when he is not pleased where he is seated. Manang Pinky, on the other hand, has become chatty with Belle who was nice enough to oblige her answers. Later would I realize why…

When I got back from what looked like one of my dozens of trips to the restroom, Manang Pinky goes, “So, don’t you want one of those guys to sit with us here?”

First allow me to explain: In places like these, you have the option to have one of the guys sit with you -to entertain you- so to speak. It’s kind of like those “Host Clubs” you see in Japanese series/movies, where the guy sits with you during your stay, they pour your drinks, carry a conversation, or in plainest terms: provide company. Well, for the Filipinos reading this, I am sure you are familiar with the concept of a G.R.O. [Guest Relations Officer], the practice of which is common in girlie bars. Thus the colloquial term “tini-table” or “ti-nable” which means “to have one sit on your table”.

Going back to that moment, I responded with shrugged shoulders, squinting my right eye with my left eyebrow raised, and forcing twisted thin lips towards my right cheek which meant that I did not care much for it. Alex responded by turning his head and rolling his eyes towards my direction. We could have easily left some time later, but admittedly, we were enjoying ourselves. The expression on my face, for the most part, was of curious amusement.

Then Manang Pinky goes, “Come on, you guys! We’re already here. We might as well experience everything this place has to offer! It’s my last night, tomorrow I fly back to New York!”

I could not figure out what came out of me first, if it was a cough or a sudden laugh. But with that, as they say, I went as the Romans do and responded, “Okay, might as well.” Any hypocrite for that matter would make the excuse that he did not know if it was the alcohol consumed or the pressure that made him agree. I, for one, had the insatiable thirst for the human experience.

We sought the advice of Belle, who knew how this thing went about, and asked if we could have some guys come over. It was really up to us who we wanted to come sit with us according to Belle but he/she was hesitant as to the particular company we wanted. She even commented that she fears that we may have certain sophisticated requirements. And I was like, “I’m already here; I think I left my sophistication back at the hotel in Makati.” Hahahahaha!!! Also, I had told Belle that if possible, find someone who can carry a conversation and not just nod all the time. Unfortunately, Belle was still apprehensive on who to send to us.

So Manang Pinky, Alex, and I huddled over at our box and agreed on one thing, we wanted to have Kim at our table. To recap, Kim was that guy in the fitted yellow shirt that caught our attention while he was dancing, and was the current prince of these guys as I had learned, so this seems promising. As per the other guy, we had no idea and asked Belle to pick for us. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we were having two guys over.

For the expanse of those obviously tense minutes, all we could do was just exchange smiles with each other as we waited for Belle to bring them over.

Moments later, I could make out Belle coming towards us from the right end of the room. He/she was followed by the two guys we had called for. As they approached our box, I was not particularly aware of what everyone else was doing. Talk about tunnel vision! Belle introduced the two gentlemen. Kim was there wearing the yellow shirt that had “Back to School” printed across the chest, the same attire he was wearing when he performed earlier, except for a piece of soft black fabric about less than a yard and was about the length of his leg that he wore like a towel tied his waist but still showed off one of his legs. Kim was as we had expected him to be.

The other guy, was one we had not noticed before, and he went by the name Warren. He was wearing a black tank top and had on of those black fabrics on his waist as that of the other guy. At a glance, there was nothing really striking about how he looked and his body was not really that statuesque but more like a lean swimmer’s build; but he had one of those faces that grows on you. He was not like Kim who immediately catches your eye. Warren has what one defines as “appeal”.

Manang Pinky was seated on a separate chair from the couch in the box, so only Alex and I had to make room for the two guys who were joining us. I moved a bit towards the right giving room for them to sit in the middle. Kim sat beside Alex and Warren sat to my left, we had sandwiched the boys, between us.

After the obligatory handshakes, It was a literally awkward for me. Manang Pinky and Alex had engaged Kim into conversation but I had no idea how to start it with Warren. When I had opened my mouth the first thing I had asked him was his age. He was pretty honest about it when he responded that he was already 26, and I was not far older than he was. I had encountered models before that would declare their “published” age which is usually a few years younger off than what they really are. After that, the ubiquitous questions like how long has he been working there, and how he came to be there followed. I had learned that he had been there for a year already and came to be there through a friend who had invited him to check it out.

There was no nonsense with his answers. When it comes to conversations, I pride myself with two things, the first of which is I am able to tell if you’re dancing around me, and the second, being able to pry open certain people by the way I ask and manipulate the conversation. I could easily work for espionage and intelligence, I tell you.

I noticed that Warren was very cautious with his answers, not in concealing the truth, but more like saying it in a polite way that took the effort of a man with enough good manners to take him anywhere. And that’s plus points for me. We talked about other stuff, mostly answering my curiosity about the way things were at the bar, and about the dynamics of the guys that worked there.

Oh yes, we called an order for their drinks, and light beer was their choice. When it arrived, there was the obligatory clinking of drinks which they initiated, and they would help pour yours into the glass; Some of the things I would easily expect. All through this, the dancing continued. I noticed that the two ladies on the couch located at the front row right of the stage were getting wilder and more wasted. Aside from the two guys accompanying them, they were interacting with the guys performing on stage to my chagrin.

Then the bluish tinted strobes went flashing again…

As the next daring guy gyrated on stage, I asked Warren, if he ever danced that way -going all the way, I mean. Warren admits that he really is not a dancer, and his erotic dancing skills leave much to be desired which is probably why I never noticed that he was actually dancing with Kim‘s group earlier. And he said something that stuck with my impression of him.

There was a little pride in Warren’s tone when he said that he really did not have to get naked on stage, that he has proven to the management that he has his regulars that have been loyal costumers during his year there and that he was earning just enough with the way he was working there.
Apparently, when they keep a patron company at a table, they already have a fine by the hour, and they earn commission from all the bottles and glasses of drinks consumed during that time. The way I take it, with the way this guy is, no wonder why he has staying power. He has tact and honesty rolled into the accommodating package.

Every now and then, I’d try to exchange a few words with Alex and Manang Pinky who had Kim for company but the conversation with Warren was interesting enough for me not to poke into that dynamic.

UP NEXT: Behind the lights, the gyrations, and the sensual music, stories worthy of another blog post.

For now, thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

11 June, 2009

Chained in the Closet [Pride Month Musings 2009 Part One]

A lot of people have asked me before how my family was able to accept my homosexuality, and my answer was simple:

“I really don’t know. They don’t talk to me about it. The unspoken rule was it’s not that big of a deal as long as I don’t bring home any form of shame. I was able to be who and what I am as long as I keep up appearances.”

Now, some of you may think that’s already something that merits an after-school drama special but it wasn’t that difficult for me to do so. I was raised with the sensibility to keep up appearances. It was in high school when I heard this from my mother: “What is disgraceful is to be left to the dust after you fall” -my interpretation of it was don’t get yourself disgraced in the first place and I have lived by it since then.

On the other hand, and not as a judgment on anyone who is, I think my family is rather thankful of the kind of gay guy I turned out to be. Trust me, in the context of old Visayan families, their impression of what a gay guy is turns out to be the effete flamboyant stereotype of the cross-dressing persuasion.

I think I have behaved rather impeccably in their eyes that they seem to have just lived with the fact that I was not like anyone else in the family. Just to be clear, I’m talking about the de los Reyes side of my blood since I was raised by my mother’s side. However, I do know that my Torres side is literally dotted with gay uncles and cousins that when I was younger, my mother would say, “Alam mo naman, may herencia ang mga Torres ng kabaklaan.” [roughly translated in the intent: Apparently, the Torreses have a family history of homosexuality] -I think that was my mother’s way of trying to figure out which side of the line I stood. Hahahahaha!!!

I have heard of but one rather unsettling incident regarding a first cousin of mine who asked my cousin Pinky this: “Pinky, is Niki really gay?”

To which Manang Pinky answered, “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

I thought that particular cousin knew me well enough having seen me grow and being this close all this time to ask me personally. We were technically adults at the time and I thought she had the maturity to at least ask me in person. Manang Pinky was a bit on the defensive because we were both raised by single mothers who have done well against the odds, and for the lack of a sister, I have her.

My Manang Pinky and I share a particular affection for someone who I consider to be “held back by chains from inside the closet”

In the past few days that I have gotten to know this person, I could definitely say that my heart goes out to him, and that I could only imagine how hard it must be for him to live in a family that is in denial about who and what he is or simply refuses to accept another image of their son, other than the image they have held aloft of him as a straight man.

Let’s call him BOY A… I shant be naming him for I respect his choices under the circumstances.

I have met BOY A when I was around 11 years old, Manang Pinky took us out to watch a Disney movie as she was babysitting him and his elder brother. It was not until 2007 that I would see him. And I tell you, that was a little disastrous because I felt he was a little guarded and abrasive during the dinner. But knowing what I know now, my first impression of him was not who he was at all.

Fast forward to last Saturday when I met him again, while we were waiting for Manang Pinky, we had a bit of a chat. And that’s when I saw his chains…

Take this image into your head: Imagine coming out of the closet far enough to have crossed the threshold outside the door but discovering there is a chain coming from the inside that held you back at your attempt to walk away from it.

That’s what BOY A has to live with.

I really found his discretion and control admirable. For you see, he comes from a Born Again Christian family [and I have seen what fundamentalist families are capable of to outed gay sons], and his brother is in denial about what he is but finds ways to vent his frustrations on him -as I have observed- by treating him as an inferior and showing his irritation at every chance he gets. I do hope I am wrong about his brother, but it is what I saw.

BOY A tells me he just recently moved out of his parents’ house to live on his own. I thought it was for work purposes but seeing how technically close his parents’ home was to where he worked, I knew it was his way of saying “give me room to breathe”.

And he goes, “You know naman, I have never come out to Tita Pinky officially.”
My response was, “Why? You shouldn’t be afraid to do so. She’s the most open-minded person I know. She’s not going to judge you for it. Look at me.”
And then, BOY A makes me realize something with what he said after this, “My older brother is in denial. He knows; he just refuses to accept it. That’s why I like your family, you guys have a very high EQ [equated to Emotional Intelligence], being gay doesn’t seem like an issue to them.

I think he was talking about his observations of our family when he went on vacation and stayed at our ancestral house some years ago -and I wasn‘t even there when they went to visit. Now I realize how lucky I was because I never had to officially come out to my family. I just came to be, and as any family that loves you would, they just dealt with it.

I was able to meet his parents as we were invited for dinner last Sunday. What I pride myself with is my ability to draw out what a person’s biases and figure out where they stand by the very manipulation of the topics of conversation we had over dinner. And from there, I deduced that this was one family that believes in the straight-and-narrow path. I remember later, when were trying to salvage what was left of our Sunday night, that BOY A’s brother suddenly turns irate and tells him, “Don’t wear that here. Go change your shirt.” -it was his way of saying, “What are you wearing? You look like a fag.”- I just stood there, the better part of my manners stopped me from even verbalizing something as simple as, “Why? What’s wrong with the shirt?”

Let me also share why Manang Pinky was very concerned about BOY A. She knows how hard it is for him sometimes and has voiced her concerns that she has seen this happen to most young gay men who leave their homes to get some space. Sometimes they run away or avoid their families entirely; and look to fill the lack of affection and acceptance elsewhere. And in certain cases, they zoom like a rocket never wanting to come back and they crash down or back to much tragic effect. She wanted BOY A to open up to her, for him to have someone who is till family that understands. I can’t judge BOY A for being apprehensive, we all must take our time.

Well, just putting it out there, I’m happy for BOY A, he’s currently in a relationship and it looks like he has a partner that nurtures him. On that one, he’s luckier than me. [Anyone out there? *hint* *hint*]

This being the first of my Pride Month Musings, I’m asking you guys -whether ye be gay or straight- to be a little more tolerant, more understanding, to really know your gay friend, gay brother, gay cousin, or gay student and be there for them if you think they have no one. That’s what being human is in my book; throwing indifference out the window.

And to BOY A -you’re probably going to read this- so let me just say, we are also here for you.

Next on the Barefoot Baklesa‘s Pride Month Musings: How Do You Say GAY?

…thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

10 June, 2009

First Time: Gay Bar Blues Part One

WARNING: If you are uncomfortable with reading or discussing gay-oriented activities, do please navigate away from this page. However, if you are, then read on.

Getting off from our ride, the sky seemed quite intent on pouring its contents upon the city that earlier was blanketed by such a humid spell that the heat almost seemed unbearable. I decided to stay in the hotel room for the most part of that humid day as my skin and its disposition could not take the sun and whatever it brings with it. So, the last thing I expected after the rain suddenly poured come ten in the evening was for us to actually consider braving the weather to make our way to this Gay Bar along Roxas Boulevard in the Baclaran area.

But before we proceed, let me lay out the premise. In my quarter life, I have not yet seen the insides of a clichéd Pinoy Gay Bar. Defining the cliché, a bar where go-go boys would gyrate in sensual motion to the entertainment of the male and female patrons that frequent these bars. However, I have seen my fair share of movies with plot lines about these places and the stories of the men who work there -Trust me, the plot seems the same in all their incarnations [that‘s just me being critical about it].

Okay, so there we were: Me, my cousin Pinky, and Alex [an old friend whom I have not seen in years that we accidentally bumped into at Starbuck’s in Greenbelt 3] at the threshold of what would turn out to be quite an interesting night.

Sidebar: Actually, My Manang Pinky, wanting to be a bit adventurous, wanted to see what the inside of a clichéd Pinoy gay bar looked like and what went on in there. She was quite surprised to learn that her cousin, The Barefoot Baklesa, had not yet let his feet within any distance of such places. My Manang’s excitement was just out of curiosity, for she had seen the bars at Chelsea in New York with her gay friends and had gone out with some of her friends on their bridal showers in male strip clubs that cater to female audiences. She could have easily poked fun at what kind of a prude I was but insisted thus,
“Come on, Niki! This is my last night on vacation here, let’s be adventurous naman!” -this was because the rain could have easily dampened our evening and may as well force us to return to our hotel.

I didn’t know what I was going through at the time, part of me could feel the dessert we ate at Bizu earlier stir in my stomach, the back of my head felt as if it was a glob of jelly wiggling away, and my feet seemed intent on making me lose my balance. And as a theater performer, I never felt anything like this even if I was playing to a house with a thousand people in the audience.

We went inside, there was a sort of front desk that required you to deposit your digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras, as it is policy, according to them. We were greeted by Belle, the manager assigned to us. I take it, the manager is your hostess for the night. I was a little thankful that Belle was assigned to us. Of all the managers I saw there, he/she seemed quite the behaved homosexual in his/her feminine element.

And past the second door, we went inside a dark rectangular venue with a stage located on the center of the left side as you enter. At the far end of the place was this room with a glass wall where the guys sit or in this particular situation, nap on bleachers in full display. We were led to an elevated box facing the stage. I reckon sitting on that box was a little awkward at first but I found it better and offering a bit of privacy for our trio.

Speaking of trios, there were three guys currently performing on the elevated stage. I noticed that from where we were seated, there was a pillar right smack-dab in front of the middle of the stage that obscured a small part of the stage. The illumination for the place was provided by the lights that kept blinking at a pace that enhanced the dancers as they moved on stage. This I can say much for the dancing I saw when I got there; the boys seem to be just going through the motions in that particular number I saw, with their eyes looking at what the other was doing peripherally. That number was pretty much over by the time our drinks got to the table.

Then another set of guys came on stage to do another routine, there was nothing remarkable from that number in my end as my eyes rolled around the venue after they adjusted to the dark. Observing the lay of the land, so to speak, I noticed that there were cushioned couches in two rows facing the stage while other smaller boxes were located along the walls along the stage. I was thankful to be in a box, for to be seated on the couch meant that people would be walking past you on the round. I did that myself as I looked for the restroom which was located left of that place with the glass wall they called a showroom.

I have seen my fair share of horrendous restrooms, theirs was not particularly bad, but leaves much to be desired. Due to space concerns, and I guess adding to the experience, the male restrooms are commonly shared with the guys/dancers there.

Back at our box, the stage performance finally took our attention. I really didn’t get what they were called as the DJ that was introducing them was not enunciating well. Three guys came on stage, and one particular guy caught our attention. He was wearing a yellow fitted shirt that said “Back To School” across the chest and black hot pants with red graphic prints and the brand name Armani emblazoned on the waistband. He wasn’t particularly muscular nor did his face strike me as drop dead gorgeous. But he had that appeal that draws your attention. I noticed that all these guys wore boots; and they were not just regular boots. The detailing on them -Argh! I have got to stop analyzing everything! Hahahaha!!! But seriously, those boots made the guys look tall.

I have learned that this particular guy’s name was Kim [I’m not really sure if that’s an alias or the real thing]. He’s currently the reigning Prince of these guys and enjoys quite a following. But coming from a theatrical background, I knew that it was all about the packaging… the right costume, the right hair, the warm toned lights, and yeah we need to mention the boots. I had been quite chatty with Belle as the evening went about. I began to ask questions about the place, what went on, and who was on stage. Since it was a Monday, it was a pretty slow night. They have this thing called big nights on Fridays when they put out their best in terms of entertainment.

As this went on, I noticed that the lights -I could not particularly say if it was a strobe since the tint of it was blue- went flashing differently. It was to signal that a dancer would be “showing off his goods”. Standing on his mark, the lights came up on a dancer wearing a pair of white swim trunks that left nothing to the imagination. He was not too muscular but buffed enough, his hair was cropped neatly, he had that bad boy yet boyish look going for him even with the blinged-up stud earrings he was wearing. Later on, the music gets cut midway and the dancer runs off to what looks like a dressing room and you could make out that he was removing his swim trunks. The next time he comes out, another music track was playing and he had on an orange sarong. His dancing became, how do we put it, a little more intense and his gyrations suggest the nudity that was to come a few bars after. He "lets it out", and I must say, the boy was pretty gifted. His thing, in full glory, held everyone’s attention…

Later on, he gets off the stage to approach one of the guests seated on the couch directly in front of him. He bends a little so he could hear what the guest was to whisper in his ear. He whispers back and he then positions the sarong to cover the guest a certain way for a fair amount of time. My Manang Pinky was displaying a particular amusement at the sight and regaled her experiences after visiting a certain club back in the states.

I guess my observant eyes had been noticed by this dancer wearing a sarong when he was on stage earlier that he began approaching our direction, and the three of us were on edge as he took his steps. There he was getting nearer, for a split second I caught myself exchanging looks with Belle; and after that, I was frozen…

There was this feeling that the entire room had focused at my direction, and as he took his first step at the edge of our box, I just did not know what came over me!


For now, thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

03 June, 2009

blog vanity: the barefoot baklesa's website counter

I finally figured it out... Apparently, my blog's website counter actually resets when it hits 10,000!!! At first I thought it was some random freakish malfunction when it happened last year [my counter returning to zero, I mean]. And no more than a few minutes ago, did I realize that it happened again after being sure that when I signed in last night, I was lucky enough to see it at 9,999 hits. So, imagine my surprise when I found out a while ago that it was back to 113 hits.

This may sound a little too self-indulgent, but I do keep track of the hits on my blog to see if what I post here actually gets read or if the site gets visited.

If you guys could spare it for me, would you mind recommending a website counter, preferably one that has a pink font/numerical symbol and a black/grey backdrop?

thus spake The Barefoot Baklesa

the barefoot baklesa meets Gilda Cordero-Fernando

Today was one of those days that started out as something that would not seem to go the way I would want it to. First, i woke up a little later than I had intended, was still a little feverish, ran out of oatmeal, and had no milk for my wheatbix either...

There were still a few errands to run, and I had to meet my friend Owee for a project we were doing together. Unfortunately, the snail's pace traffic flow of the South Luzon Expressway was not of any help either.

Well, as it turns out, Owee was supposed to meet one of Filipino Literature's most influential figures: Gilda Cordero-Fernando. A well-known publisher and author responsible for books like: Turn of the Century, The Body Book, The Soul Book, Cuaresma, and others that currently escape my memory. In short, Gilda Cordero-Fernando's books have influenced my identity as a Filipino design artist.

Truth be told, we were just there to negotiate for her involvement in a photography book. What started out as an afternoon with buco pandan and coffee transitioned into dinner and dessert! Negotiating took less than half an hour at my count, and the three hours beyond that, indescribable.

Conversation, Ideas, Theories, Sentiments on Filipino Culture and Identity, and Laughter all seem in place, in her home, which is in itself a testament to Philippine Art. Not even her heirloom ivory crucifix encased within a glass dome could distract me.

It felt as if this woman whom I held in high esteem, since the first time I have read her books, was like a kindred soul found in this sea of absurdities and farces that artists like me experience in the humdrum of the daily grind; lost in a murky sea lacking any inspiration with certain dreams put on hold.

I do hope I'm making sense here... I'm just clearly, in plain terms, starstruck!

She's such a cool Lola!

By the evening's end, she had one of her attendants take out copies of The Body Book and signed it herself, presenting them as gifts to two young artists who felt so energized with those three -call it- magical hours.

When we got into the car, I went, "Whaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!"
Trust me, I seem to have run out of words at that time. Here we are, five hours later, thinking this blog does not feel sufficient to describe the experience.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa

27 May, 2009

A Frozen Flower [the barefoot baklesa review]

Is love reduced to nothing more than just really settling for what is there before you as would princes and princesses in a fairy tale? Are we as human beings foolishly conditioned to love what is before us in fear of receiving no other love? Or are we mere slaves to our passions that it clouds our very reason, much to our own demise?

These were but the first few questions left for me to ponder after having seen ‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower]; a Korean period drama that director Yoo Ha describes as “a love story between men”. No, this isn’t about two Korean cowboys “eating pudding” as the South Park character of Cartmann put it when describing gay movies -I've read from The Man of the Rose that ‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower] is Korea’s answer to Brokeback Mountain but since I don’t really find the gay cowboy movie remotely entertaining, let’s leave it at that.

‘Ssanghwajeom’ [A Frozen Flower] borrows its title from a song taken from the Goryeo Period of Korean history which poeticized the sexual relationships between men and women. Set during that same era, it tells of a late dynasty Goryeo King [Joo Jin-Moo] who has to contend with the virtual imperial rule of the Yuan Dynasty of China over his kingdom. With his sovereignty under threat for having produced no male heir, the king turns to his chief royal bodyguard, Hong Lim [played by the ever handsome Jo In-sung], to impregnate the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo].

The sexual entanglement ensues to much chaotic result; for the King himself has his own affair with Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] and would trust no one but him to impregnate the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo], who is nothing more than a trophy wife he has no attachment nor attraction to.

At first, Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] is hesitant to touch the Queen. She herself, after experiencing years of unaffection and being neglected by the King would soon find herself liberated and enslaved after the veil of sexual intercourse for duty and country is lifted and sex for carnal passion bares its visage, as well as Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] who has not known any other love but the King’s.

On closer inspection, Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] may have entered into an affair with the King as a result of his consequences of servitude and loyalty. Becoming the King’s lover and chief bodyguard after being reared by the King himself while still a teenage Prince, and him an adolescent boy-in-training, seems more or less the victim of circumstance here.

Guilt is brushed aside for unbridled passion as the Queen [Song Ji-Hyo] and Hong Lim [Jo In-Sung] continue their secret trysts much to the unraveling of the King’s [Joo Jin-Moo] jealousy. Finding it a bit too much, the film is replete with such explicit sexual scenes between the two that it would not be long until the secret lovers are caught enflagrante delicto by the King himself and a tragic and violent end of Shakespearean proportions comes upon the characters. [Trust me when I say heads will roll, for that will be an understatement when you see one type of ‘head‘ that will roll]

Give or take the complex dynamic of Hong Lim’s [Jo In-Sung] love for both of them, he chooses to turn his head towards the King that perished by his hand meeting his eyes as he took his dying breath with the King’s sword pierced in his heart. The last thing he would see in this world would be the dead frozen eyes of his King.

Was this in any form, his statement of remorse, for having hurt the man who showed him the first kind of love he had ever known? That if he had stood by the King’s love, however one-sided and consequential it was, they would not meet this bloody end? Did he realize, after all this, who he truly loved?

Even I am confused…

But stirring the mist in my crazy head let me just muddle out a few ideas… Hong Lim’s [Jo In-sung] rampage seems to me nothing more than a lover’s quarrel gone wrong. Such a bloody and violent display to show the King that all of it was of the King’s doing and that if he had not pushed him too far, they would not be caught in all this -call it- drama. Then of course, like some of those in pretentious denial about themselves, one could argue that the chief bodyguard is ‘bisexual’ and the King would just have to live with sharing him with the queen.

In the spirit of symbolism expected of Asiatic movies, the filmmakers seem to have chosen a vision or longing of true happiness in a painting made by the King himself. It is of a dream of his about him and his chief bodyguard off on a hunt -the promise of which filled his heart with joy. This very painting was ripped apart by Hong Lim’s sword in his violent rage when he went after the King. And by some cinematic choice, after their tragic deaths, this image of the happy hunt is presented to us: the King and Hong Lim riding on horseback with bows on hand ready to strike. The smile on their faces display no care of the world that had bound them once before -something that strikes me as a last minute predictable attempt at the promise of being reincarnated with the one you love or too much heaven in the head.

I can say this much for the other elements of the film: the production values were quite excellent. The production design was very detailed yet fairly streamlined, the musical score kept at the appropriate pace, and the editing is as expected considering some action scenes. Except for the rather lengthy displays of sex scenes, it was a movie that stimulates the senses without doing it too much.

Well, I can’t really say if I’m impressed with Jo In-Sung’s acting on this one. Much as I love the guy, the performance seemed mechanical and studied. While Joo Jin-Moo as the King displayed such gentle nuances that displayed his hidden sexuality above the royal refinement. And Song Ji-Hyo’s Queen is the acting centerpiece of the film worthy of praise.

As I type the last few sentences of this review, A Frozen Flower seems to be leaving more questions than it can answer. Some people can take the plainly obvious unraveling while some can dig deeper into it. Either way, it is one not to be missed.

thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa