Manila Gay Guy
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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.”