Drunk conversations

"You should meet him. I swear you'll like him," she said while on the verge of crying, mourning a recent love affair lost in the inevitable pit fall of long distance relationship.

"I do not do blind dates," I repeated, for the seventh time. It was a slow ill-starred night, no tense, no rebellion, probably because it was not even seven in the evening. Our company had settled with early drinks recently, always eager to find empty comforts in our beds and the uneasiness of the coming work and school weeks.

"They always end up to be some horrible one night affair for the less adventurous. 95% of the time, I will tell myself that the other person, completely devoid of information about me, relying on sweet talks from you or whoever has set us together for a lame dinner too expensive for a student, is too good for me. I will always think he's too good for me because he probably is. And as for the other guys, I will feel pity because I will never be into them as they are, I presume from their attempt to converse film by immediately mouthing Citizen Kane, into me. Either way, I always end up feeling bad and depressed because it makes me realize I can't get the love I want," I continued.

She's on another bottle of alcohol. The slow tedium of the night was being filled with the sentimental songs playing in the bar. Not the best drug for the malaise of the heart.

"Maybe you should look for the love that you need, not the one you want," she said before taking a long, deep take on her cigarette. "We are not getting any younger, optimistic."

"That't bullshit. You know more than to settle for a yearning so shallow," I rebuked.

She just shrugged her shoulders. Maybe all the heartbreaks, so tender yet inevitable, was consuming her body, her existence. Or maybe it was just the alcohol.

"I'm not becoming some incurable romantic, but you should hear me out. The problem, I think, is that we settle for the love that is convenient, something that does not wake you up longing in the middle of the night, but rather, I don't know, just when you are taking a piss or folding your sheets, you're just 'Oh, this love is enough, I'll take' but you know deep inside it is not the demand that would preoccupy your days and nights with burning friction. If you capsulize love into just receiving, the needing, you are not doing yourself or the other person a favor," said the alcohol, which made me go in a law student rant marathon.

The place was getting crowded, under the pretence of false cheerfulness from the yellow lights and random cut-outs and memorabilia on the cluttered white wall. Our phones ringing from detached pieces of our lives, unaware of our agonies. The night sky outside stingily black from the lack of stars and the dirty pollution.

"We are supposed look for love that would make our hearts leap just by the thought of the other person on the other side of the room, probably just shaving his week-long stubble, which is not even at all, not a tad romantic, not because you need some stranger to leave unwanted hair on your bathroom tile but because that is the intimacy that you have always wanted. You gush over the fact that you are not just close, but ductile. Something, someone that makes you ravenous, so hungry you cannot even remember what it feels like to be void, all those years of being on the edge gone," I made my final case. This is not my spotlight.

"You want or you do not want at all," she muttered under her breathe while she drowsily grabbed her bag and motioned for me to do the same. If only I weren't so tired and full of feathers from the vodka, I would have insisted we drink our bodies to Pompeii. The night time is worst now.


The neighbourhood's glee, or whatever remains from all the years' exhaustion, is taming down in somber. It is getting late. I am on my second bottle of wine and will probably be up for more. The heads of the house, though groggy from the day's work and the alcohol that flowed as early as six this evening, are watching a sermon on the television, rather lackadaisical.

I do not get the festivities in my veins, cold and blue and battered from all the years of expecting and never having, rather getting the undesirable, the throw-ups. There must be a few things drunkenness can remedy, but like the merriment of the holiday season, all the past gulps had made its present effect spiritless. Even the presents seem lackluster, transfiguring into a query of budget and sucking up to some higher up.

So while the rest of the world is opening their presents, I cannot help but contemplate on things given I so long wanted to disregard, take back from its trashed gift wrappers and ribbon and seal again, never to be pondered at.

One. I need no pressure more than what I bear now. I have walked this life in constant fear of shamelessly disappointing, crumbling down to the anchors on my feet, boulders on my shoulder and thorns in my head. Yes, it is the last year of law school; the prospect of wearing sablay, then a glint from afar, seems restlessly nearer. "Your younger cousins look up to you," you always say but you never wondered, or if you did you never cared, how I always have to look for some platform to stand on.

Two. Spare me the pity. I do not need those uneven, enigmatic looks from you. I fell into this pit of unrequited, disgusting appetite for you. And the hell, I was left all bruised in the rut. So stop.

Three. Cut the crap on your personal issues. I know I have always been the go-to guy in our group when personal drama strikes. But I can only bear much, especially if you were the last person to be seen as the blessed fuckin virgin innocent mary in your life. Stop the everyday text message, facebook chats and constant bickering. I told you before I wanted to slap you, but you took that as something metaphorical, an attempt on my part to create an illusion of hardness so you could be tough. No, I really want to take a hit on your face, so reality can take one after.

Four. No, I am not half-done for being single. Rub the presence of your significant other, bath in the glory of waking up every morning with an early morning text message from him, create the illusion of being complete when with him, but please, do not attempt to generalize the world as wanting, abominably desperate for another human to consummate his existence. I am cozy and gratified in this aloneness and you should respect that.

Five. I do not need this negativity. But I live in this gift I have fed my own for the past few years now. The trouble was, I had been this man all along, I simply hadn't though about it. But an escape plan would be nice in the future.

I take it back. The wine has taken its toll. I am now alone in my room. The silence is depressing me. I'll just probably shut my eyes so the world will drop dead.

PS. I really don't know what I want for Christmas. A complete early version of Proust's In Search of Lost Time has been in my mind lately. Also, I may be drunk so pardon this piece of shit entry.


It’s not even about sex. I don’t care about the sex. The forced thrusts, the musk of inert heavy male flesh; at some point it gets weary. What’s important is to wake up with someone. To spoon with that person. That’s what matters, the spoon. You wake up not with the cold draft of the deadly early morning air but the steaming twitch of drying cold. A warm belly, the one who loves you breathing against your shoulder, perversely and obstinately endearing.That’s it, the spoon.


I have an ambivalent attitude about my childhood. There are memories that leave a hint of smile while some glimpse I view with remorse.

There used to be a storage house in our backyard; the roof I used to climb so I can be be left in  peace, find solitude in the midst of screaming children getting charged from the momentary freedom from school. I would spend the afternoon in the comfort of the cold steel roof underneath; the lush leaves of the mango tree served as a screen from the heat of the summer sun, with a tattered copy of Les Miserables from a neighbor's garbage pile. I have always associated those hot summer noons as a marked fragment of my childhood, salient and earnest. It was how I wanted my childhood to be remembered.

To say that I yearn for my childhood is an overstatement; to say I detest it is a hyperbole. I have an equal share of nostalgia of playing patintero with only the full moon as the guide; going to the nearest creek with friends who knew how to swim just so I could paddle my feet against the cool of the rushing water; playing fantasy power ranger/ghost fighter with wooden sticks and kitchenwares as weapons; making excuses not to go to church just so I wouldn't miss the Sunday morning cartoon shows; creating lousy bubbles from crushed gumamela flowers; getting chased by a pack of dogs.

I am often struck with how much memories of those younger days I can still remember. I recall getting my first copy of the unabridged Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale book, where the little mermaid did not get the man of her dreams, rather dissolved into air and how ostracized I felt when my playmates won't trust my early take on literary criticism.

But then, children's literature is always taken with a pack of sugar. Some things become bitter as one grows up. I realized, the games played weren't always fascinating since my lousy eye-hand coordination made the team lose, much to despair and annoyance of Salome who has captured the enemy's base for the tenth time; the creek wasn't always pleasant to those who could not swim; make believe worlds were often crushed by wounded knees, betrayals, and friends turned enemies for life; cartoon shows were filled with lives I cannot live because our parents would get angry if we didn't get to read the assigned pages in the encyclopedia for the day; the neighbors shouting, cursing for picking the best gumamela in her garden.

The last time I went home, I walked over to the vacant lot we used to go and play. There were still a lot of kids there, sons and daughters of those who I have probably played house with. I found myself suddenly jealous of the time when things were as simple as running in the fields, catching dragonflies, and the slow and deep breathes in between. There was no hope, and there was no regret. There were just me and the little world we played in. I was once one of those kids. And someday, one of those kids will probably be in the same shoe I am now, miserable, too critical of even my own happiness.

But for now they have the disheveled playground, the rusty meat loaf can for tumbang preso, the wind brushing through the gaps between their fingers, the sloppy necklace made from santan flowers. Those are enough. Because the curse of being a grown-up is not actually about losing the carefree days of the past but finding out that some things you thought you knew was so completely different from what you had always believed in.

No bridegroom

Last year, I cried, definitely bawled, when I watched a youtube clip titled "It could happen to you." More than a year later, now a full-length documentary, I may just have wept like I never did before.

The internet can probably give a better summary of Bridegroom than I can. You'll probably see its accolades and some critic reviews over the web. But scrap the things you will read online. Go watch the youtube video. Then, watch the documentary. Show it to your mom, to your partner, to your friends. Because there are stories meant to be told. This is one of them.

Small things

People always say it will go like this: you stay up until the wee hours of the night, hurting; you will probably wake up at three in the morning with the sudden urge to just scream into your pillow; or grab a tub of ice cream, wait for the pizza to be delivered and start the first few minutes of Before Sunset only to realize you have memorized the film by heart.

But sometimes, it's somewhere between nine or ten in a Sunday morning and you're standing by the sink waiting for the boiling water to make your tea to ease last night's hang-over;  the neighbor's children starting to play outside; and the smell of dusty metropolitan sunlight and the earl grey tea makes you think of him, and the sudden realization that you could be preparing hot water for two, while he is waiting in your bed, in your old shirt; and that makes you like him more so much you don't know what to do with the cup in your hands.

That which haunts us

Every year, my father would end our visit to our late grandfather's tomb in a certain tradition. A few minutes before we leave, when the rest are packing empty plastic containers and discarded cola bottles, he would go to the back of his father's tomb, light a candle, and, from our point of view, talk to the dead. And it has always bothered me. If indeed  it was a one-way conversation, what could my father be saying to his own father; what untold stories could he be carrying for two decades now?

My father is not a very vocal person. It is very seldom that you see him show emotion, very rare to see him talk about his personal circumstances. If any, he is good at showing disappointment. He is a very stiff man, known in his school as an authoritative figure. I cannot remember a conversation with my father where we were even barely open and vulnerable. Aside from law school questions, recent political issues, and how-to's of eating healthy and staying out of trouble, I barely carry a fatherly conversation with him.

But I guess what bothers, or probably fascinates, me the most is the chance that, in all these years, my father has been confiding with someone who has already crossed the other side; speaking of words that he never had the chance to say when lolo was still alive; or telling tales of his personal demons which came after lolo's death he can never tell a single living soul. While I will probably never hear the other end of the conversation, there is a certain sadness, or fear, that I might end up like him. In thirty years, I don't want to come out, introduce a better half, tell stories I should've told when possible, to a piece of cement with a name engraved on it. I don't just want to seek peace with the dead; but to be in the same thread as every breathing, aching, hoping humans.

It has always reminded me of the last scene of Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love. Whispering secrets in a hole in some sacred temple in Cambodia, covering the same thing in mud, and forever sealing those words, hoping that by finally getting those words out of the system. all the sadness and aches will subside, trapped in the holes forever. Only the walls of the temple know the secret, of the longing that comes with it, the horror that comes with longing. Long after the person has died, after the secrets are no longer of importance, the mud which held the secret will continue to cling in those small pockets of air trapped, as if holding on to prevent the gloomy forebodings from winding its way back.

Sometime I wonder if he got the act from my grandfather. Did lolo do the same act of seeking peace with the dead? Are there so many lives we hide from our loved ones that we, when the other end is dead, seek peace by bursting with all the words that we should've said when we had the chance? Are we so deprived of meaningful connection with the living that we need the illusion of another side to unburden our chests of whatever weights it carry?  Do I have to do the same when the time comes? Is it some kind of family tradition to hide things? Or is it human nature to not act when needed, not speak when necessary, and pretend the world is breathable despite our chests tightening from all the emotions held from within? 
My father always reminded us not to be afraid of ghosts and ghouls. But he never mentioned that it is those unspoken words and unreleased tensions that will haunt us until the end that we should be afraid of.

Infinite booklist: best gay-themed novels

Here's one thing you have to know about finding a gay-themed novel in the Philippines: you have more luck finding a manual on how to make meth ala Breaking Bad.

I have previously talked about frustrations growing up to be a bookworm without a fictional character I could fully relate to, that is, as Martin Sheen in Masters of Sex said, deviant. I can still remember the day I asked my mother to buy me Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited; or the day I carefully paid for Orosa-Nakpil Malate so no one could see. Now I have around 50 books in the bookshelf.

So without further bullshit, here's a list of my favorite gay-themed books, so far.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
“Did I want him to act? Or would I prefer a lifetime of longing provided we both kept this little Ping-Pong game going: not knowing, not-not-knowing, not-not-not-knowing? Just be quiet, say nothing, and if you can't say "yes," don't say "no," say "later." Is this why people say "maybe" when they mean "yes," but hope you'll think it's "no" when all they really mean is, Please, just ask me once more, and once more after that?” 

Maurice by E.M. Forster
"They slept seperate at first, as if proximity harassed them, but towards morning a movement began, and they woke deep in each other's arms."

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
“The pursuit of love seemed to need the cultivation of indifference.”

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

We the Animals by Justin Torres
“We hit and we kept on hitting; we were allowed to be what we were, frightened and vengeful — little animals, clawing at what we needed.”

I have a love-hate relationship with YA novels. There are moments when I could read straight; there are times I could not bear its angst and abrupt cheesiness.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
“For a few minutes I wished that Dante and I lived in the universe of boys instead of the universe of almost-men.”

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
“I think some love you can stand to let go of because it's ultimately for the best, but other types you have to stick with until the day you die even when it's hard.You have to think about that before you run away from wherever you are. And then when you know, you either stay or you go and pray thatyou're making the right decision.”

Hero by Perry Moore
“I caught myself thinking about falling in love with someone who I hoped was out there right now thinking about the possibility of me, but I quickly banished the notion. It was that kind of thinking that landed me in this situation to begin with. Hope can ruin you.”

Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
“It's still not perfect, and maybe perfection isn't all it's cut out to be anyway. But it's good. It's really good. They say you can't always get what you want. But sometimes you can, and you do, even when you don't deserve it.”

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
“I often feel like I want to think something but I can't find the language that coincides with the thoughts, so it remains felt, not thought. Sometimes I feel like I'm thinking in Swedish without knowing Swedish.”

There are also a lot of novels, though not entirely gay-focused, that have a strong gay presence, through characters or plot. For example, Colm Toibin novels always have a gay character but the focus is never on the homosexuality.

Cloud Atlas
The Slap
The Mysteries of Pittsburg
The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay
The Perks of being a Wallflower


I know I still have a lot to read. Most classics (Giovanni's Room, A Single Man, Dancers in the Dark etc) are hard to find and when ordering online, I tend to go for more contemporary novels. And it doesn't help that I don't read electronic books. The smell of a book, whether newly opened or from a long storage, is still the best aroma in this world.

I will be updating this entry once in a while or whenever I stumble upon a book worthy of the world's attention. And if you are from the Philippines, a book club wouldn't hurt, right?:)


If we were in high school right now, I would be justified to call this school boy crush. Alas, we are in law school, of different circumstances, more serious playing field. But it doesn't change the fact that you will be that guy out of reach, always in my hindsight, perfect for "too good for me" drama, just like a typical teenage angst.

To say that I barely remember high school is a lie. On reunions, my high school classmates would rely on me, to acts as if I am Dumbledore's pensieve, to bring something that happened a decade ago. I remember the teachers, the fist fight, the awkward pimples brought by raging teenage hormones, the prom, the late afternoon sunsets as we waited for our sundo, the jeje language that used to be in. But I do not have a story John Hughes will be proud to make.

I got by with just a crush. I was the most sexually confused then. Being attracted to the same sex in a rural town with no other past time but to talk about their neighbor's affairs, no. The internet, in its small network then, was my only safe ground. The fact that I was the high school valedictorian didn't help. Batchmates would probably remember me or bringing too mane books in school. Everybody expected a lot from me, but not on the romance side of life.

And so I was used to secret glances, misreading smiles and compliments, and hell, straight guy crushes. I never learned how to initiate things, unless you started talking about a movie, or a book, or the latest song from a favorite band's new album. I either talk a lot, or not talk at all, no in-betweens. I will always be the nerd high school kid who didn't get his game on. I swear, I would be a good lab rat for some psychologist trying to study the impact of high school awkwardness to adolescence capability to flirt.

Next week will be the last meeting in the only class we share this semester. As to whether we will still have a subject to share on our last semester in law school, the probabilities are low. So if you happen to read this, to which I doubt (but hope), maybe we could go beyond the occasional greetings in the lobby or hopeless encounters courtesy of common friends. A coffee, or two. I would even agree to a post-episode analysis of America's Next Top Model.

But god knows, I am in my usual teenage high school phase when you are near.