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