July 13, 2006

Ulan Story No. 2: Teen's Stormy Angst

I just got home from my judging chore. It's still raining and the wind blowing much harder, a storm just passing; how appropriate to continue with my ulan story number 2.

Ulan Story No. 2: Teen's Stormy Angst

It’s been said that High School will always be considered as the best and most memorable in anyone’s life. I couldn’t agree more. This story happened on my 4th year high school; the last year of my life spent in a minor seminary; yup, I spent a good 4 years of my life in the confine of a seminary.

The year was 1983; the year made memorable because of the political storm that started with the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. Beneath the serene front of the seminary, another form of storm was brewing amongst its restless teen inhabitants; and for me and the rest of my batch mates, (the 4th year graduating class) the year would forever be embedded in our memory as the year the biggest storm in our young lives happened.

The age of puberty is the most interesting part of growing up, for it shapes and molds one’s future. It’s the stage of restlessness, exploration and vulnerability. It was very unfortunate that as we started that school year, we lost 3 of our beloved mentors: Father Rector, Father Prefect of Discipline and Father Confessor who were all given different assignments. It was very unfortunate as well, that they were replaced by two odd priests: Fr. Jack(ass) and Fr. Clementine (may he rest in peace). Fr. Jackass is relatively new; he was just ordained priest the previous year and naturally has no experience at all dealing with a bunch of rowdy kids. Fr. Clementine on the other hand is an old priest, somehow the years have already made him tired, restless and indifferent. Together, they really spell disaster as formators to a bunch of kids who are in the very delicate stage of adolescence.

Everything was still the usual routine as the schoolyear started as expected in a seminary: prayer and study. What happens in between prayer and study especially to a bunch of adolescent boys is a great deal important as well; and having an inexperienced and indifferent formators to handle all of these would really spell disaster for everyone. And everything, I would say really did get out of hand. Every imaginable thing that one would think cannot happen in a minor seminary did happen during those times. It was during that time that I started smoking, including weed/pot; It was there that I got my first taste of wine and alcohol: gin, rum, and what have you to make one really drunk; I have learned to scale wall, escape in town in order to have fun, watch movie, go on dates or simply just gallivant; It was there that I got to be conscious, tolerant and even had my first-hand experience of m2m sexual activities, though in my case never really consummated; We have done so many outrageous, shocking pranks to everyone including our formators; There were so many other things that parents would surely cringe knowing or dare not think that their kids are capable or are actually doing especially in a seminary.

1983 was also marred by one of the biggest typhoons that ever hit the country and the seminary was not spared. And so a day after the storm has passed, and as rain continues to pour, students were sent home. A handful of us volunteered to stay, supposedly to help clean up all the mess; and we really did a very good job cleaning the whole place. I can’t forget that night: it was a cold, wet Saturday night, with only candles for our light, as electric power was still out. It was way past our usual 9:30PM bedtime-light’s out when we decided to start a drinking session. One by one we sneaked into one of the large communal bathroom where we have rolled down a banig in the far end corner of the room. We started drinking a mix of rum and coke conveniently mixed in a big plastic jug, one glass filled half-full doing the rounds for us to drink. Supply of more bottles of rum and gin were stashed under the sink; Cigarettes were conveniently stashed underneath the banig and anyone who wishes to smoke has to stand and blow the smoke thru the open window. We must have been there for less than 30 minutes, as the jug was still halfway full and I was just having my first cigarette when suddenly Fr. Jackass came rushing in; everyone froze, I held my breath as he stopped in front of me and pointing his finger just inches away from my face he shouted “you!!! Of all the people here, akala ko matino ka!” he then proceeded to the center of banig and grabbed the plastic jug; lifted it to his nose and sniffed to smell and in a fit of rage shouted “punyeta” as he threw the jug to the wall with such force that it cracked into several pieces. I can’t recall anymore what other invectives he must have hurled. He left suddenly just as he came and we all just stood there in stunned silence.

I don’t know how we managed to get through the rest of the night, but we did sleep and woke up with the sun shining despite the rain. We must have spent the early part of the morning speculating on who could have possibly squealed on us; how we were found; we even shared a good laugh as one of us mimicked Fr. Jackass’ rage that night. It was mid-morning when we all sheepishly piled into his office and said our apology. He was still in rage, but much more in control of himself. He just dismissed us outright as he has not decided on what to do with us. We went out of the seminary grounds after that and spent almost the whole day wandering in the town’s park by the lake. We were all downhearted and afraid of what might become of us. We returned that afternoon just as the rest of the seminarians were also returning from their home-vacation; the story rapidly spread in a hush tone.

Fr. Jackass did not confront the issue head on as we had expected him. But it was a downward spiral of events after that; he played and caught us in our own game: one by one he was able to catch and punish the smokers, the escapees, and other truants. His biggest catch was when he got wind of the hazing we were conducting as part of the fraternity we have put up; all 24 of us, member of the senior class were actually part of the fraternity. He found a reason to kick us out. Putting up a fraternity or any secret or illegal association/organization is considered one of the mortal sins against the community; anyone involved will surely get the boot as it is considered a betrayal of the community that we belong to and serve.

And so one fateful day in September six members of our class were called into the Rector’s office together with their parents; speculations abound as they never went out of the room the whole morning, until about noon time when the rest of the class was called into the office one by one. As we enter the office and stand before a panel we never knew was there, the Fr. Rector would ask the leader of our group whether we stay in the office or go back to our classroom. We never knew what was going on but apparently it was decided that all those involve in the fraternity are to be kicked out, to be placed in respective town's catholic school. And so as we were called into the office we were told to either stay in there or go back to our classroom; it was only then that we were told of what was to happen.

We cried our hearts out ironically those who were kicked out were the ones left consoling those that are to be left behind; and those of us left behind somehow felt more the bitterness and betrayal for we felt we were denied our chance to prove our worth and loyalty to the group. But that afternoon as we spent our last hours together, everything was settled; we understood what they had to do just as they understood that we are with them all throughout and that we are one solid batch as we have promised ourselves, no matter what. They left that same afternoon; more tears were shed, not just by our batch but by the whole community including our lay teachers who were left clueless and helpless of the whole event.

And so it happened: our class of 24 was cut into half, 12 of us remained and finish our schooling in the confine of the seminary; the other half of the class were scattered into various catholic schools of the diocese, wherever that seminarian resides. Did the event change those left behind to kowtow? Not really, we still continued our mischief, albeit more carefully this time. We never lost touch; we regularly see each other every chance we had. We got reunited as one batch on our graduation day; that was one concession we got, that we will all march and graduate in the seminary grounds as one class.


July 12, 2006

Ulan Story No. 1: Age of Innocence

It’s raining very hard outside, and here I am at work wishing I’m someplace else. Oh well, at least the rain just gave me an idea to write about my unforgettable ulan (rain) stories; I have narrowed them down to three most unforgettable ulan stories:

Ulan Story No. 1: Age of Innocence

It’s really a very harmless story that happened when I was in grade school; it really stuck in my mind for it served to remind me of the good times I had in grade school; when somehow, I still have that child’s sense of wonder and innocence.

I was enrolled in one of the 2 public schools in our town; a really small town with population of under 15,000 (that was during the mid-70’s). I remember I started late in my 4th grade class for reason that I didn’t want to attend the class I was initially assigned. I must have already missed about 2 or 3 days of school when I joined this new class; I was traumatized with my previous year’s stay in the honor section as I really felt I was too bobo for that class, so I was really adamant to be transferred (my mother was a teacher in that school so it was not really that impossible.) Anyway, I felt relieved when on the first day that I joined my 4th grade class everyone were so friendly, especially my new seatmate, Eugene.

I’ve heard stories about him; he was one of the cutest in our batch (come to think of it, even at that young age I already know how to appreciate cute guys, just as I appreciate pretty girls); he was named lover boy, a moniker he earned when he was caught smooching with one of the pretty girls of the batch (yup, even at that young age); but I would say compared to the other supposedly cute members of the batch he was fairly down to earth with no trace of air in the head. And so we begun a beautiful friendship sealed by one experience in the rain.

School during those times was considered an extension of one’s home. As such, we took pride and all share a sense of ownership to our classroom. We clean and polish the floors, our desks; cabinets etc; do the decoration and really take care of all the upkeeps of the room and its surrounding. We all have our assignments and we dutifully followed them.

It was just a month from the start of class when Eugene and I got to be responsible for the class’ drinking water supply. Typical of youngster’s resourcefulness, we found a place to get our water without so much the hassle of queuing with the rest of the school. It was just outside the school premises, through the back; the only hitch was that it was a bit tricky getting there; we have to carefully tread a grassy, steep incline that drops to a small creek, then jump from one boulder to another in order to cross and then climb a less steep but bushy incline into the other side where there's a big water faucet located just a short distance from the town’s main water tank. And so that morning that we were to fetch water we decided to still use that track despite knowing that it would be pretty slippery as it has been continuously drizzling. Lugging 2-3 water jugs each in our arms we carefully negotiated the slippery steep descent into the creek. As we were doing so we were happily singing “leron-leron sinta” with lyrics altered to reflect what were doing; fetching water. To make the long story short, midway to our trek I slipped, landed on my butt and skidded down stopping only as I hit a big boulder; this happened just as we were on the part of the song that says “pagdating sa dulo nabali ang sanga…” It was really painful; scary for I almost hit my head in the boulder; and much more, embarrassing for I have a big wet, soiled spot in my short; but we both had a good laugh and even continued singing loudly this time as he helped me clean up all the soil in my short. That has been our secret, I never asked him not to tell; but nevertheless he never did tell anyone. It has become our private joke and we really became close and inseparable after that. I will always remember how we would usually walk all the way home from school side by side with our arms in each other’s shoulders, whistling or singing whatever tune we would fancy.

I would say that, that was the only time that I really enjoyed going to school, I felt so at ease with no worries; I felt no pressure to excel academically. We really had fun; he was my very first best friend, enjoying, sharing: We shared food and even had this odd habit of putting garlic-spiced vinegar to our rice porridge. We shared secrets, crushes and dreams; we would always sneak out during noon time looking for an open radio to listen to the day’s episode of the adventure of Zimatar (a popular radio program during the 70’s); we were together when we sneaked and ogled at the legs, panties and boobs of some movie starlet swimming in the town’s only swimming pool during breaks of their movie shoot; we attended our first supposedly children’s birthday party, but picture this: children’s party with no balloons, clowns and party hats; we actually dressed like adults; pants and long-sleeved shirt with us boys in our pomade-combed hair; sipping a mildly gin-spiked juice; having truth or dare for parlor game with kiss as the constant dare; dancing the then popular el-bimbo and sweet dancing with our pretty crushes and classmates. I even had my first kiss with him; as I mentioned he had a moniker of being a lover boy as he was once caught smooching with a girl, and silly me I innocently asked him how was it like, how did he do it and all that innocent curiosity stuff and so he showed me and gave me my first kiss, just a quick peck in the lips actually, but it was so sweet. Mind you, those were done without any form of malice; but rather all part of child’s exploration and curiosity. We did so many other stuffs together.

Unfortunately, I lost him after that school year. They are relatively well off; they own one of the bigger houses in town, his parents were traders of rice and their family own tracts of land, but threat to their lives forced them to leave town; I never really got to know the details; they left as soon as the school year ended and I never heard from him since. We promised to keep in touch, but that was '70s; what resources are available to a 10-year old kid back then to really keep that promise? But I will always remember my grade school years for the fun that I had shared with him, my best friend during that time.

Next: Ulan Story No. 2: Teen’s stormy Angst


July 08, 2006

Home is?!

The newspaper headline story this morning talks about the capture of rebel soldiers in a house somewhere in a village where I live. Hey, the house in the accompanying photo looks familiar; I’ve been there, I know the owner of that house. Wow! It hits me I live in a neighborhood where I don’t really know much what is happening. It was like the time just a couple of months ago when my nephew had to point out to me one of the teen contestants in a reality TV show as the kid next door who sometimes took afternoon nap in my bed whenever they use the TV in my room for their video games.

Home is said to be the place where one lives; to me it has become nothing more but just a place to sleep and occasionally have meals. In fact I’ve never really known any of our neighbors for the almost 10 years that I’ve been living there; heck I don’t even know the rest of the village aside from the street where the house I’m supposed to be living in is located.

What has become of me? Here I am, at work even on a Saturday. Oh well, it's a fact I really don’t have any day-off coz I’m on-call anytime of the day, 24/7. Work has become my home so to speak; it's a way of life. People sometimes tell me to get a life, but this is my life. It may be difficult, tiring and consuming but still this is the life I choose and I’m living it. There might be some trade-off for this kind of life but that is a fact of life I have to accept. As I said, I’m happy doing what I’m doing otherwise I wouldn’t be living what I’m doing.

... or am I just trying to convince my self? I hope not.

July 07, 2006

Musing II: Fallacy: Being Gay is a Choice

Whoever said homosexuality is a choice must be out of his mind, for how can anyone ever choose a life that is different, a life full of uncertainties, a life that is lonely at times because of all the suffering and pain one has to endure because of the connotation of the label.

It is certainly not a choice; it is the very essence of a man.

Why people persist on seeing this as a choice is no mystery; for it serves to satisfy and protect the righteousness of ethics and conduct; the law of morals and logic dictates that no one has the right to put in question the essence of a person; but it is just, proper and right to measure one’s choices within the justice of common morals and standards.

I say it is not a choice I made; my being gay is the essence of my being and as such I don’t have to explain my existence; I have the right to demand respect for my being, just as I respect everyone else’s existence.

July 06, 2006

my friendly date...

This is just to put to rest the pestering request for account of my friendly date with my Friend. We were supposed to see Superman at I-max, unfortunately and fortunately there were no more tickets available for the day’s screening. And so we just spent the next one and a half hour or so waiting for our number to be called as we queued for our advance ticket booking. We had dinner afterwards and just walked around the mall the rest of the night. So that was how the supposedly friendly date went.

We talked mostly to catch up on things we have left off since the last time we saw each other. We did not talk about “us” or whatever happened to us. There was no mention or question whether either of us is seeing someone new; I just presumed he’s not seeing anyone and as everyone knows I’m not either. Was there any awkward moments? Probably on the initial part: I had mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement as I was driving to our usual meeting place. I picked him up at the usual spot and as he walked towards the car, I just stared at him walk as I realized how much I have missed him; I really got so nervous that as he settle down in the car I can’t really bear myself to look him in the eye. But as we drove on, and as minutes and hours passed everything settled down and I became more at ease. I can’t speak for him but I can sense he was nervous as hell too. He’s okay; he looks happy and contented; he looked good actually; he’s basically the same Friend as I have known him.

It was not a painful experience as some may have imagined it to be. All throughout, and I don’t want to be called a hypocrite and so i'm saying this: yes, I really wished I could have hold and kissed him again; but it's not to be. It’s not like I’m foolishly holding on, but I was and am surely glad we have remained friends. Do I still love him? There’s really no need to ask; as I said my love goes beyond relationship. Am I prepared to see him with someone else? Painfully difficult it may be, but yes; I’ll say it again as I have said this to my best friend, my love wishes him all the happiness in whomever and whatever form he may find it.

July 05, 2006

Musing: Of love & Relationships

!? Love goes beyond relationship...
but can relationship go beyond breakup?!

I say...
Love and relationships are entirely two different things; and here’s my not so very simplistic take on this...
Although love cannot be truly defined in just one dimension, one important aspect I always believe love should be is that, it's a commitment to accept a person wholly, complete with faults, warts and all.
Relationship on the other hand is a promise of commitment that can be sealed in a paper of marriage or contract but oftentimes can only be sealed by a very arbitrary point of mutual trust and understanding.
In a way taking this simplistic view, one can surmise that love encompasses to go beyond relationship; and ironic as it may seem, the arbitrariness of trust and understanding can take a relationship even the distance of a breakup.

What say you?!

July 04, 2006

a simon cowell-wannabe?!? nahhh...

I got invited to be one of the judges in a research paper presentation of residents-in training of my alma mater. I was not actually invited; I was recommended by a friend to do my part for alma mater as he did a year ago. I was hesitant to accept as I certainly do not have any claim of expertise in doing research work much more any mastery in evaluating or grading research papers; my only experience in this area was the requisite research papers I have churned out as part of my residency and fellowship-training back then. Oh well, my excitement gets the better part of me; the anticipation to see my old school certainly overshadowed my fear of lack of competence that I innocently agreed.

Imagine now my horror upon receiving the 7 research papers I have to read and grade. It’s not that I don’t have the patience to read and evaluate them; but scanning through them all, I shiver at the thought that I would have to pass comments and make judgment to a bunch of papers that I don’t think can really pass the grade. The tricky part I think is not choosing the best but choosing which is the least worst among the lot. And the difficulty and somewhat irony of it all is that I, who has no real competence to speak of have to make that judgment, oh well at least I’m just one of the three. But still, it’s going to be one big dilemma on how I would have to do it. Now, I really have to go back and read on my biostatistics and some other research paper-writing books and manuals so that I can at least give a semblance of competence to my comments and judgment.

I’m no Simon Cowell-wannabe; even before Simon Cowell came, friends have already known me for my acerbic commentaries, mincing no words that they actually look for me for a dose of reality check as I usually give fearless and unclouded view of things at hand.
Oh well, let’s see if I can hack it and still get invited after this.

July 03, 2006

thought from last night....

The heart of a gay man has been jaded so many times that when confronted with the purity of love, that heart would surely balk at the very idea of it ever happening; terrified of knowing, understanding and accepting the possibilities of it ever happening; and in the process actually perpetuates the cycle of fear and hurt...

July 01, 2006

"Carry Ko yan"

I had my usual Friday afternoon tête-à-tête with a friend at the cafeteria. The usual chit chats segue into my not so new highlighted golden brown hair. In fact I had to point it out for him to notice the first time he saw me with that new look. Again, he complimented me for looking good in it and we both had a good laugh as I recounted to him how all of a sudden I had no compunction having it done, including the comedic situation of having it actually done. I was ribbing him that perhaps he might want to have his hair dyed as well and during the course he blurted out “hindi ko carry yan” which he immediately corrected as soon as it came out of his mouth, but too late whatever is said is done and cannot be undone. Obviously a slip of the tongue. But nah! I did not pounce on him. I nonchalantly ignored it as a non-issue in deference to his obviously discomfort’s use of the word. Innocent words it may seem, but the words became just so obvious because he immediately corrected himself, a self-censure to disguise what may seem to be an obvious knowledge and use of the gay lingo, at least as I assumed it to be. Was it really a part of gay lingo that he had to immediately correct himself for that? Oh well, for those people in the know it’s a blip-blip, a ching, a bell ringing, a red-flag up that can be easily picked up by a well honed and synced gaydar. But how sharp is my gaydar anyway? It probably needs a lot of sharpening and a lot of tuning coz it obviously is so slow in picking up signal, or is it?

I have known him for close to 10 years already. We go back to our residency-training as batch mates. There were 12 of us in our batch, a pretty close-knit group and through the years we’ve sort of became close as one by one we lost our barkadas to married-family life until there were just 4 of us remaining single. We used to go out a lot sharing the same passion for movies. We even had moviethon on days we don’t want to miss good movies. I must admit I had a huge crush on him way back then, probably fed by voyeuristic opportunity of seeing his yummy ass as he get dressed in the morning during our duty days. I even did something crazy just so I can continue seeing him, but that's another story hahaha...) Somehow that crush fizzled out somewhere I just don’t know when it happened. I now consider him as a good friend, one of the closest friend I have at this profession.

Every now and then my gaydar would pick up something; I just can’t rely if they’re actually tuned and in sync right. So here are some of the ching my gaydar has picked up from him:

1. He’s still single at this age. I have not actually known him pursued any girl on his own. I know he has dated a couple of girls that were actually set up by well-meaning friends. Nothing really came out of it as he has the same lame excuse every time: busy with work that schedule won’t match, not up to standard, etc.

2. A self-confessed Barbara Streisand fan. Oh well, one of the cliché that if you dig Barbara Streisand you must be gay. Or in the local scene - Regine Velasquez. (I don’t know why)

3. He is knowledgeable or at least has seen and/or interested to watch gay-themed and not so obviously gay-themed movies and has actually enjoyed those kind of films.

4. His knowledge or at least occasional slip of the tongue use of gay lingo.

5. He has a “friend” and “business partner” for about 3 years now. In quotation mark because I sense they're more than just “friend” and “business partner.”

Well, those are the things that my rusty gaydar picks up. I just don’t know if it's picking up right. And until I see more proof in the pudding all I can say is “carry ko yan.”