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September noon nang una ko siyang makilala. Ding ang pangalan niya, waiter siya sa isang chi-chi restaurant sa Greenbelt. Noong naglakas loob ako na hingin ang number niya, nginitian niya lang ako, akala ko hindi niya ibibigay.

* * *

Naka-ilang text din kami sa isa’t isa nung gabing iyon. Hindi marami. Siguro mga dalawa o tatlong sagutan lang. Nahiya naman ako, naisip ko, pihado naka-prepaid lang si Ding. At dahil Smart ang phone niya, at ako Globe, kahit naka-unli siya, di sakop ng free text yung mga messages niya sa akin.

Wala naman akong plano maging ATM, o Pasa Load expert kaya di ko na rin tinext-text ang waiter. Naisip ko, tama na naibigay niya sa akin ang number niya. Kumbaga, the fun is in the chase. Eh sa nagpahuli agad, kaya game over na.

* * *

Tatlong buwan ang lumipas. Napabisita ako muli sa restaurant nila Ding. Lunch time noon, tanghaling tapat. Siya ulit ang assigned waiter sa table namin. Ngitian lang kami, pero alam kong naalala niya ako.

“Kamusta ka Ding?” bati ko.

“Okay naman sir,” sagot niya, sabay ngiti, yung tila ba may ibig sabihin.

Nag-order kami ng mga kasama ko, kumain, at di nagtagal, umalis. Eat and run baga. Hindi na ako naglandi kay Ding. Alam ko namang walang patutunguhan. At hello, tanghaling tapat. Bawal lumandi kapag may araw pa, conservative ako.

Mga kalahating oras ang lumipas pagkaalis sa resto, nagda-drive na ako pauwi mula sa Greenbelt. Tumunog ang cellphone ko. May nag-text.

Si Ding.

“Sir, break po namin 2 to 6 pm.”

Aba. Nagdalawang isip ako. Babalik ba ako sa Greenbelt? Susunduin ko ba siya? Saan ko siya dadalhin? Apat na oras din yun… Hmmm…


Nakilala ko siya sa Greenbelt. Dinner party at ako ang host. Siya naman ang waiter, sa isa sa mga chi-chi restos doon.

Magaling siya sa ginagawa niya. Maayos, may taglay na tikas, ngiting tila ba may ibig sabihin, ngunit higit sa lahat, chinito siya. Alam ninyo naman na, weakness ko talaga ang chinito.

Pagkatapos ng dinner, sumimple ako. “Matagal ka na dito?”

“Sir, 2 weeks pa lang ho.”

“Ah talaga? San ka dati?”

“Sa probinsiya ho. First time ko hong mag-waiter dito sa Manila.”

Nice. “Ilan taon ka na ba?”

“Eighteen po.”

Puwede na. Legal na.

“Pahingi naman ng number mo. Puwede ba?”

Napangiti lang siya.

Nang palabas na ako ng restaurant nila, dumaan siya sa may pintong lalabasan ko. May iniabot, maliit na papel, nakasulat ang hinihingi ko.


At doon nagsimula ang lahat.


“Asan ka? Sex tayo…”

That was an SMS I woke up to this morning. I thought, too bad I was asleep when it came in. Naka-iskor sana.

I texted back, knowing fully well that I was 12 hours late for the invite.

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Mario Boytoy I was talking to a guy tonight, a friend of a friend, and just through 2 cigarette sticks he related his lifestory. A sob story. Mario never knew his parents, who died before he could even be conscious of having them; he grew up in Mindanao, in his sister’s care, under whom carino brutal took a slightly different flavor — she accounted all his growing up expenses every chance she got, and for a while that drove Mario to always do well in his studies. “Balang araw,” he thought, “magiging malaking tao rin ako, babayaran ko lahat ng ginastos niya sa akin.” The psychology worked for a while, earning Mario top honors when he graduated Salutatorian from grade school. The same psychology backlashed though, and before Mario could earn his high school diploma, his motivation flipped and he ran away from his sister’s care.

He found himself in the busy, chilly streets of Baguio. “Alam mo yung Slumdog? Ganun. Taong kalye ako, madungis, pagala-gala. Pero hindi ako ni minsan namalimos.” At 15, he survived by finding odd jobs anywhere he could. One day, a knight in shining armor came. He introduced Mario to a friend who operated a restobar. There, he became a waiter, then assistant cook, then cook, and at one point, because the resto owner once heard him sing while cooking, became the restobar’s singer-entertainer. This was the time he started to gain confidence about his abilities. Great things were happening to him. But at the background, something was nagging at him. The knight in shining armor has, from day one, been his abode partner, and from then grew more possessive each day that passed. “Hanggang sa nasakal ako. Maayos na ako dun, pero di ko nakayanan ang paghihigpit nya.” He escaped his knight’s grip and once again tried his luck elsewhere. This time, in Manila.

In the country’s capital, he stayed with relatives. He was welcomed and treated well by his city relatives, but only because he brought home money. “May ipon ako nun, galing Baguio. Pero nararamdaman ko, unti-unting nagiging dependent mga kapamilya ko sa akin.” He was happy helping, but it didn’t take long for him to realize it was only because he brought home food to eat, not just for himself but for everyone in the house.

“Sa mga pinagdaanan ko sa buhay, tumatak sa isip ko, lahat ng bagay may kapalit. Yung ate ko, pinalaki niya ako, pero gusto niya bayaran ko lahat ng nagastos niya sa akin. Yung tumulong sa akin sa Baguio, lahat ng tulong niya may kapalit. Kinse pa lang ako, ginagamit na niya katawan ko. Kahit mga kapamilya ko, pinatira nila ako sa bahay nila, pero meron ding kapalit.”

Mario continued on telling his story, up to how he has become a boytoy of sorts to the rich, famous, and fabulous, Manila’s gay glitterati. He was almost apologetic when he told me he earns up to 12k a day, just “accompanying” his clients. “Malayo na ang narating ko. Dati ang dungis-dungis ko. Ngayon, kita mo, Migs — ang kinis at amputi ko na di ba? Atsaka marunong na rin akong mag-ayos at magbihis.” He was smiling a naughty smile while he was saying this, and that was when I felt Mario actually had charisma, not just looks. “Kapag umuuwi nga ako ng probinsiya, pakiramdam ko, artista ako. Yung mga kapitbahay ko dati, nagpapakuha sila ng litrato sa akin. Basta maputi, basta taga-Maynila, para sa kanila, importante. Ang hindi nila alam, yung totoong trabaho ko dito. Mga ignorante.”

I sat there, in deep thought, almost hypnotized. His second cigarette was finished, and with the dancing smoke that tapered out of the spent butt, my mind meandered too, pondering on those powerful words, “lahat ng bagay may kapalit.”

… because we had a common religious background, I told him about my feelings on the disparity between the religious beliefs we both held deeply, and my being gay. I said, “Joseph, I still believe in most of what our Catholic faith stands for, but I also believe my being gay is not a sin.” In this sense, I told him, I’m very broken. To which he replied, “Migs, I’m very broken, too.”

[Read the first part if you haven’t done so.]

not-spill-the-beansJoseph was broken too. Gets ko naman agad what he meant by that. He told me stories how — even during the times he was still living in the seminary of sorts — he was hounded by his natural sexual urges. He told me stories about how he relieved those sexual tensions, most of the time, leading him to what we then called “self-abuse,” otherwise known as masturbation.

“Nakakahiya, Migs…”

He’s always been a shy guy. Pero that time that he was opening up, when he was spilling the beans on his “bad boy” behaviors of yonder past, I saw through the shyness. I knew I was speaking with someone strong. Ironic that he was talking about his weaknesses when I saw his strength. Sa puntong iyon sandali kong nalimutan na guwapo siya, na katakam-takam siya — basta’t ang alam ko, kahanga-hanga ang taong nasa harapan ko.

“Hey Migs, after dinner, do you have anything to do?”

After dinner, he asked me if I had something pa. Sabi ko, no, we have the whole night to catch up. Ngumiti siya, at sabay, “halika, inom tayo. Mas masarap ang usapan pag may alcohol, he-he-he!” We transferred to this wine place called Cav, also in the Serendra area. He chose the wine, and said “it’s my treat ha, Migs.” I have to admit this silly feeling inside me, and while it’s a diversion let me talk about this briefly while we’re at it.

I’ve always been the informal leader in all relationships I had — in family, friends, barkada, and romantic relationships. People I deal with always expected that I’m always a step ahead, and thus the leader, the decision-maker. Even in the littlest of things. Like, in a barkada, whether to go out on a Friday night or not, or where to go. In the family, whether to have the family property rented out, or not. In a relationship, whether we have dinner in this place or that, whether we go for this party or that, whether we have sex tonight or another time. People almost always have this expectation of me, and I don’t blame them for that, because I think that is the aura I perhaps bring forth. But you know what? Sometimes I just wish someone else leads me. I just wish that for once, I get to be with this person who I can just be a follower to. Nakakapagod din kasi to play the same role over and over. That evening with Joseph, while he’s the same shy guy I’ve known back in our college years, he made me feel like he was the one in control. It was absolutely refreshing.

“I went to the US a couple of years after I finished my med studies in UST. There, I had a blast. Grabe.”

It was not just in New York, he told me. He went around the US, scouting for a residency post, and sometimes assigned to do some work in one state then another. In each of those places he went to, he had himself boinking a girl or two. In short, he was sleeping around. Umaararo ang lolo mo. This is his source of guilt all this time, even that night when he was spilling the beans. He’s been sleeping with girls. Pati ako medyo nagulantang. This guy who was so timid, di makabasag pinggan, is an absolute sex machine.

“Migs, I’m broken, like you.”

There is wisdom in this very simple statement. Joseph and I are both broken. First, we share the same beliefs and have not really junked the moral teachings of the Church. Second, we both transgress the call of the Church for purity. More specifically, that of restraining one’s sexual powers until it can be used for procreating under the blessings of the Sacrament of Marriage. In my case, since I can never be married to a man, all my sexual activities are deemed immoral, sinful. For Joseph, since he is not yet married, every time he boinks around, is also considered a mortal sin. We’re broken in exactly the same way. The only difference is that he boinks girls, I boink guys.

“Migs, there’s more…”

We wrapped up our evening after finishing off the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon at Cav. When he excused himself to go to the john, and I was left alone for a while, I realized that evening was such a milestone. It was about the conversation, the raw honesty, the revelations, the feelings of guilt and brokeness, the insecurity laid bare. Also, I wouldn’t forget Joseph’s embarassed smiles, his eyes, sometimes piercing, sometimes scared and wobbly looking down, and the intimate touches here and there — on the hands, shoulders, knees, and thighs — which I always remind myself are just automatic expressions of brotherly love.

When we went out of Cav, he asked to walk me to my car. And you should know that that small gesture meant so much to me. Oo, kinilig na naman ako at naihi ng 3 drops. I will not read through it too much, though, but let me just say it’s as refreshing as fresh dalandan juice on a parched summer day. While walking, we agreed to see each other again, in November, in the US na. “Alam kong busy ka ngayon Migs,” he said, referring to barely 2 weeks left before I leave Manila and relocate to the US. He ends with this intriguing statement: “I have not really spilled all the beans. Bisitahin mo na lang ako sa New York before the year ends. You can stay in my apartment.”

The evening ended with another abrazos.

An abrazos that left me wondering, wishing, dreaming, about how we will be in New York in November.

* * *

The next day, I emailed him with a simple thank you note. I received a response the next day:

Hey Migs,

I had a great time with you too – your presence, our conversation, the dinner, the revelations over wine.

I’m glad you haven’t changed. You’re doing good in taking care of your loved ones and those people at work and in your social circle. Thanks for allowing me not to spill all the beans that night, haha. Ingat.


* * *

Yesterday, I was still thinking of Joseph, that wonderful evening, and — I can’t help it — the beans yet to be spilled. Then I receive this text message from him:

“Before you go, let’s do wine part 2. You ok we do it in my condo?”

embracjTila ba nagmula sa kawalan ng kalawakan, biglang may nag-text sa akin.

“Hi Migs. This is Joseph D. I just got back from the US. How are you?”

Biglang bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko. It’s been years. Antagal ko ng hindi nakikita si Joseph. Dati kong college buddy si Joseph. Straight pa kuno ako nun. Sobrang ka-close ko nito. Pareho kaming taga-College of Science sa UP, Bio siya, Physics ako. Noon pa man, kahit nilalabanan ko ang feelings ko, alam kong may pagtingin na ako sa kanya. Pero dahil nga pinipigil ko ang pagiging bading noon, at tigas-tigasan, tatag-tatagan ako, walang nakaalam na kahit isang kaluluwa na gusto ko siya.

“I just came from the States, umuwi ako to work on my visa. I’ll be doing my residency in New York starting July.”

Pagkatapos kasi niyang mag-Bio sa UP, napadpad siya sa isang pamantasan sa Espana, at doon siya nagpakadalubhasa bilang doktor. UST Med. Mula noon naging bihira ang aming pag-uusap. Hanggang isang araw, wala na kaming koneksyon. HIndi kasi siya mahilig mag-Friendster, o kahit anupamang passive on-line connection. Siya na rin ang nagsabi, mas gusto niya ang person-to-person friendship, yun bang kaunti lang pero naaalagaan ng husto.

“Private akong tao, Migs. Kaya wala akong Friendster o Facebook. Marami akong nakikilala in person na di ko naman gustong maging kaibigan. Gusto ko konti lang kayo.”

Nag-dinner kami last week, just to catch up on things. Sa Serendra. Nauna ako sa dinner place, and while I tried to look as cool as can be, alam kong medyo nerbyos ako. Crush ko talaga itong si Joseph noon pa man. Guwapo si Joseph, mestizohin, at matangkad — pero higit sa lahat, napakabait na tao niya. Nung dumating siya, tumayo ako at sinalubong ko siya. With a big smile curled on my face, I extended my hand for a firm handshake — buddy-to-buddy, it’s been such a long time! Pero hindi niya sinalubong ang kamay ko. Ilang hakbang pa at nakayakap na siya sa akin. Abrazos. Noon ko lang naalala, ganun nga pala ang batian namin noon. Abrazos, a brotherly embrace, halaw sa impluwensiyang espanyol.

“Migs, ikaw lang ang sasabihan ko nito…”

Joseph is indeed a private person. Siya na mismo ang nagsabi, namimili siya ng pinagkukuwentuhan ng mga sinasaloob niya. Napangiti ako nung sinabi niya, “alam mo Migs, mula pa noong college tayo, I knew we had a connection, different from the others.” And from there he told me the story of how he got to the point where he is right now. He had a crisis, a vocational crisis. We were part of a religious organization back then, and after college, after I decided to leave the organization, he continued on. He was such a role model there that I thought he will be ordained as a priest soon after his medical studies. Pero I was wrong. From the grapevine I heard that he left the organization some 3 years back. And suddenly disappeared. No one knew what happened to him. But during that dinner meeting, he told me everything. Almost everything.

“Ikaw naman, Migs, tell me, are you happy?”

That’s a private joke. “Are you happy,” is a question we ask each other as a joke. Ganyan ka-profound ang jokes namin, we refer to how satisfied our deepest longing for peace within ourselves, and the unity of life we ought to live. Pero yun nga, we use it as a joke. Pero this time, tinotoo ko. I told him the story about my coming out. About my being gay. And how comfortable I am with who I’ve turned out to be. All the time during my revelations, he was just quiet, and nodding. I sensed that he was telling me, everything’s okay with him. Then he verbalized it. “Migs, nothing will change because of this.” And while I half-expected him to say that, it was very reassuring to hear it from him. And because we had a common religious background, I told him about my feelings on the disparity between the religious beliefs we both held deeply, and my being gay. I said, “Joseph, I still believe in most of what our Catholic faith stands for, but I also believe my being gay is not a sin.” In this sense, I told him, I’m very broken. To which he replied,

“Migs, I’m very broken, too.”

(to be continued)