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Hi Migs,

I’m writing this letter because I’m confused about the mixed messages I’m getting. I completely adore your efforts to help gays (like us) overcome the HIV issues. It seems you have obligated yourself to this personal crusade and for that – you have my respect.

However, on top of the HIV awareness and all – should our people (gays) do more than that? Looking from my perspective who lived my years from a province, we have tolerated much of our sexual urges and such, the real root cause of this disease we’re trying to battle. Your confessions and to the rest of the contributors have openly proved that statement. I’ve been with the same guy for 6 years and I’m hoping you can educate me why do we continue to exploit these urges? I mean, look at your blog… Most of the pictures are coming from guys with only 1 garment…

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Both Oliver and I were lying in bed. The room was dim, and we were talking in careful tones, as if even the four walls surrounding us shouldn’t hear the secrets being shared. Three months prior that evening, Oliver and John decided to split up. I came to the rescue by calling, it was the most I could do. That time, I didn’t yet know the gravity of what happened, I didn’t yet know the special bond between the couple, not just the fact that they have been together for 2 years, but the reality that they share a disease, incurable and unspeakable.

Oliver was lying on his back, eyes fixed at a spot on the ceiling. I was on my side, lying on the same bed, looking at him as he spelled out the sad reality of his situation– that it is the end of the line for him, that nothing bright can be expected after his story with John, that no one would understand. I challenged him. He resisted.

“No,” he said, “you don’t know me fully, Migs.”

What is there to know? I told him I liked him. He wouldn’t hear any of it. After a long pause, he drops the clearest of clues.

“I have something – it’s a deal breaker.”

I responded, a knee-jerk answer. “It’s okay, Oliver. That’s okay.”

“No, Migs, it’s not, you don’t understand.”

“Maybe I do.”

“You don’t, you don’t know.”

“I like you, Oliver. My only issue is if you still want to get back with John. If yes, I’ll back off.”

“He is my safest choice.”

“Not necessarily. There are ways.”

“You don’t know my situation, Migs. You don’t know.”

“Maybe I already know.”

A long pause.

“You’re a smart guy, Migs.”

“And you are fine, Oliver. It’s okay. There are ways, safe ways.”

“I don’t know.”

The room was dim, and words were spoken in hushed tones, careful, so as not to utter the raw, pulsating truth. That perhaps, HIV’s scourge is not the physical death it eventually causes — but the ultimate demise of the spirit, a belief that ravages the soul with the venomous thought that once you have it, you are stripped of the right to love, and more painful still, of the right to be loved.

Isang araw, dumating ang housemate ko sa bahay habang nakatambay ako sa dining area. May bitbit na bagong boylet, na nang lumaon, aking napag-alaman ay 23 years old. Pogi at straight-acting si boylet, na tatawagin nating CJ.

May katawan si CJ, di kataasan, pero matikas. Lalake kumilos at magsalita. Tahimik noong una, pero nang makausap ko siya habang naghahapunan, unti-unti na rin kaming nagkapalagayan ng loob. Naramdaman ko na mabait si CJ, at parang uhaw sa kausap na may sensibilidad. “Kuwento ka pa, Kuya,” ang lagi niyang inuulit. Alam niyang sa tagal ko na bilang isang well-adjusted na bading, marami akong maishe-share sa kanya. So ako naman, bilang isang mabuting housemate sa kanyang iniirog, kuwento naman.

Hanggang sa tuluyan na ngang nag-enjoy si CJ. Nag-ayang uminom. Naglabas ng inuming nakalalasing si housemate. Toma kung toma.

Nainggit ako nang bahagya dahil sa harapan ko, habang nag-iinuman kami, nagho-holding hands sina housemate at CJ. Ang cute nila. Parehong butch at straight-acting, pero ang sweet sa isa’t isa. Ang saya. Mas nanaig ang pagkagiliw ko sa kanilang dalawa. Bumabangka ako ng kuwento habang taimtim na nakikinig, at pagkaminsa’y nagtatanong si CJ. As usual, si housemate, listener lang at di masyadong sumasabat.

Dumating sa puntong medyo may tama na si CJ. Kuwento na rin siya ng kuwento. Napansin ko ang cellphone niya. Nagandahan ako sa casing, kulay dilaw. “Ang ganda naman ng cellphone mo, ang cool ng kulay,” sabay kuha sa kanya. Napansin ko ang litrato bilang wallpaper sa cellphone niya. Si CJ at isang babae.

“Sino ito?” tanong ko.

Girlfriend ko,” mabilis niyang sagot.

Girlfriend?”

“Oo, girlfriend. Pang cover.”

Natameme ako. Itinuloy niya ang sagot niya.

“Ganyan talaga, dapat may girlfriend. Para di ako mabuko.”

Di pa rin ako nakapagsalita.

Nalungkot ako ng husto, pakiramdam ko sinuntok ako sa dibdib ng dalawang beses.

“Na-sad naman ako,” sabi ko, sabay paalam. “Akyat na ako, may isusulat lang ako.”

“Huy, baka naman i-blog mo ako ha!” habol ni CJ.

“Oo, ibo-blog nga kita,” sagot ko, ayaw ko kasing magsinungaling.

“Sige, basta palitan mo lang pangalan ko.”

Natawa ako, pero tawang di nakaibsan ng naramdaman kong lungkot.

Naisip ko yung girlfriend. 19 years old lang. Hindi niya alam na ang boyfriend niya, may ibang lalake.

Bakla ako, oo, at naniniwala akong isa akong mabuting tao. Ayaw na ayaw kong manloko, at nalulungkot ako pag nakakakita ako ng mga taong nanloloko, o niloloko. Alam ko na takot lang si CJ. Pero nakakalungkot pa rin. Sana, ma-realize ni CJ na hindi niya kailangang gumamit ng cover. Na hindi niya kailangan manakit para maiwasang masaktan.

[Read/listen to the postscript podcast here.]

Hello Migs.

First off, let me say that I had long been contemplating on writing to you but I always catch myself foregoing the decision for one reason or another. But your latest entry about young gay guys “dropping like flies” (if I presumed correctly – due to HIV-related complications) had pushed me to finally write this letter to you and I truly appreciate the concern you have shown about the growing HIV situation in the country by promoting safe sex, taking the test, and posting the names of clinics where HIV tests are done for free. I am a HIV-positive mature gay guy living and working in one of the cities in Metro Manila. I learned about my status late March last year after I took a rapid HIV test in a government clinic in the metro, along with my male partner of more than 2 years now, who is 10 years my junior. I received confirmation of my status almost two weeks after that initial test. My partner tested negative and still is. We are a classic example of a sero-discordant couple. I am thankful he came out negative when we both took the rapid test, considering that when I learned about my HIV status, we were already more than a year into our relationship and had engaged in unprotected sex during the early months of our affair. My partner has stuck it out with me despite knowing about my status. He didn’t ask me as to whom did I get it and how. Right at that moment after he was told by the nurse-counselor about my status, he just held my hand tightly and comforted me. On our way out of the clinic, he hugged me tight even as he put a brave front. We both decided to proceed to church where both of us poured out our emotions. As I write this, I am teary-eyed as I recall the events on that fateful day last year.

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Hi, Migs.

I’ve been a frequent visitor of your site since i discovered it 2 years ago. Great site, Great work. Keep it up.

I’m writing to share with you a problem I’m having with my boss. Officially, I’m the boss’s assistant. But for the past year, I’ve been performing her duties. She has long since stopped discharging her duties and has passed the buck on to me. It’s a challenging job. Mainly because the boss has virtually no vision, no plans for the company. Since she became a “Christian,” she has adopted the stance that “God will provide for us and the company.” She has stopped marketing our services and has focused more on her “quest for God.”

Understand please that I have nothing against her religious beliefs. However, I strongly disagree with her philosophy of leaving the company all in the hands of God. I am Protestant by conviction and I grew up believing that God rewards honest and sincere labor.

And then she went overboard two weeks ago. She sat me down and told me that she has been thinking about what she wanted to discuss with me that day. She began with a narration of how since she started reading and studying the Bible, she has become “blessed” with more money; this despite the fact that she has stopped working. She then went for the jugular. She said I should change my lifestyle if I wanted the company to be blessed.

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Dear Migs,

I will admit I haven’t been a reader of your blog for a long time. Although I will confess to searching for Filipino hotties (JAKE CUENCA – YUMMY) and clicking through to your blog. I’m not going to be a sycophant and tell you how amazing you are or how your blog changed my life. What I will say though is that your blog has given me insight into something I’ve been trying to figure out for a while.

Before I begin I might give you some background. Where I’m coming from needs some context. My name is Genesis and I’m an almost twenty-two year old Filipino boy living in Australia. I was born in Dinalupihan, Bataan but migrated to Australia at only six months old along with my parents. I’ve been socialised in a Western environment but often come home to an Eastern (Filipino) cultural upbringing. This is where my dilemma lies. I realised I was gay at a very young age. Maybe at about seven years old. And that’s when the difficulty came. Being the only son and growing up in a very religious family, I had no confidante. I felt I was on my own. I began to disassociate myself with Filipino cultural notions that deemed me a failure and often clung to Western notions that told me I was perfectly okay and there was nothing wrong with me. This is how I grew up.

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Hi Migs,

I actually just wanted to solicit some advice from you. Just call me John, I’m in my early 20’s. I happen to meet this guy online. Lets just call him Sam. I know you might think that this is another love story dilemma, but it’s actually not naman.

I guess you could tell that I really like Sam. Well maybe not in a romantic way yet, but I know you see the picture. Well, Sam is quite a successful man. I secretly researched about him and found out who he was. He’s very well-known in his field and quite successful, too. You see, he’s like the guy with the perfect everything. Oh boy he’s so fine, nice, classy and all. The problem is that I am one heck of an insecure wart. You know, whenever I talk to him, nanliliit ako. Don’t get me wrong, he doesnt belittle me or anything. It’s just me and my thinking that I will never be good enough. I studied in a good school naman and I have a decent job (working as an IT admin) but I just feel so insecure. I know people would say that my problem is so elementary, but it gets to me already. I like Sam. I like him very much. But you know, Im afraid I won’t live up to his standards. I’m not as successful as he is because Im just starting.

How do I deal with my insecurities, Migs?

John

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Dear Migs,

I’m Owen, 22yo, 5’11, new grad, and more or less a straight guy. I wonder if you can help me, I just need to get something off my chest and just share my story. I’m sure it’s not really new, it’s just.. I’m really really genuinely confused right now.

Like I said, I’m straight, have always been active in athletics like baseball, basketball, etc. I have only dated girls and probably want to keep it that way. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot, and to cut my long story short, I think I may be falling for my best friend Jake *not his real name*. Like me he’s also active in athletics (varsity track siya nung high school pa kame), kinda good looking I guess, good family and works out almost everyday. When I was 17, I got drunk at a party and I just broke up with my first gf of two years then; suddenly, I just found myself opening up to him and next thing you know, nasa “third base” na kame.

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Greetings, Sir Migs!

My (false) name is Luke, 18 y/o, and currently in college. The main reason why I wrote to you is that I’m given my present situation, I think I need a gay peer (or buddy, or friend, or call it whatever).

One important thing you should know about me is that I’m deep in the closet. All of the people I know see me as someone indifferent to matters of social relationships, and hence the toughened exterior impervious to suspicions of homosexuality. No one thinks (or so it seems) that I’m holding something back. I’m the master of disguise. The sad part is, the show’s wearing me off.

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Hi Migs!

I have been following your blog for two years now. I’d like to share you my story here. Unfortunately, your site is blocked here sa Saudi, siguro ang category ng site mo that you placed is “GAY”, kaya the authorities here banned your site. Anyway this is an actual experience I had very, very recently. And I do hope that other gay men like me will learn from this narration.

PS. Thanks to my iPhone, I downloaded a proxy server app, and whoalla, I could surf your site!

Juan Antonio

* * *

Saudi is a gay man’s paradise. But…

The sound coming from the siren of the ambulance is again signalling another patient is coming. Nothing new of course, except that it is the time when the hospital ER should have been silent and the doctors and nurses should have been chit chatting. That night — while still on-duty and busy discussing with the newly-assigned ER students a case of hypoglycemic Saudi male patient, changed the way I enjoy my existence here in Saudi Arabia. That is the existence of a discreet gay man out on the paradise of men too willing to break the rigid Saudi rules in exchange of some intimate moments.

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