Thursday, June 22, 2017

Boys' Love

      So, there I was, inside a passenger jeepney, and sitting on my  right were two teenage boys who were still in their high school uniforms. They were talking animatedly, sometimes laughing loudly over a stale joke. Nothing wrong with it, except that they held hands while they talked.  Why in heaven’s name would they hold hands? I studied them for a while, they didn’t look gay at first glance, just two typical teenagers happy with each other’s company. Meanwhile, seated in front of us was a woman who would occasionally smile and throw knowing glances at the two boys.

      When I gazed at the two teenagers again, one of them was now softly caressing the cheek of the other, okay, he's probably wiping some dirt off his companion's face. But they were staring at each other as if they were newly discovering the bliss, the heavenly feeling and magnificence of young true love. For a moment there, I was afraid that that they would suddenly sing Lionel Richie's “Endless Love.”

      When I was in high school, which was eons ago, I can only remember one gay classmate (which means I didn't have many gay classmates back then), who, so as to avoid being bullied by some of our straight classmates and get in their good graces, would lend them Tagalog erotic stories in a booklet form which pages were always yellowish and sticky. The booklet would be passed around and read inside the classrooms; sometimes, some of my classmates—so they could peruse it more intently in the hope of gaining more wisdom—would bring it home, making the pages stickier the next day.

      These days, I think, in some classrooms, the gay students now outnumber the straight male students. Not that I have something against gay people, it’s just that they used to perplex the little mind I have—why do they allow themselves to be gay? The opposite sex is far more enjoyable to cuddle with, far more glorious to fall in love with, far more— but it's not like they were given a choice. And who am I to question other people’s feelings or sexual inclination or what makes them happy? Everyone deserves respect with regards to what they are or what they feel, and as long as they're not hurting anyone or not transgressing any law, no one should judge them there. And not even the pope is judging them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Drugs, Gambling, Love And Other Quicksands In Our Midst


       Everyone has his or her addiction, it could be harmless and fleeting or thoroughly harmful,  it could be drugs, or food, or sex, or alcohol, or work or nicotine, or  caffeine, or gambling. Or love. Yes, you could be addicted to love, they say, and one of the symptoms of this addiction is your mind gets messed up when the precious object of your affection is just a few feet away and that you could almost smell and touch her, that you tend to lose track of everything happening around you and you lose concentration on what you’re presently doing every time it happens. It’s quite unhealthy, but not really dangerous and easy to cure—you just have to softly lunge at her and cuddle with her, of course, just make sure that you’re allowed to do that. You’re not allowed to do that? Tch, that’s when it becomes quite difficult; withdrawal symptoms would be real harsh. The earlier you start your rehabilitation, the better. And get the best doctor, please.

       Addiction to drugs and gambling, now, these are considered dangerous addictions.  These two types of addiction not only destroy the addicts but also the people around them, most especially their family and loved ones. We already know how these addictions could turn somebody into a desperate human being and a violent criminal. You’ve seen and read the countless headlines: Drug Addict Rapes A month-Old Baby; Drug-Crazed Man Kills Own Mother; Drug Addict Skydives From The Top Of A 50-Storey Building Without A Parachute, Dies. Drug Addict Castrates Himself (Arghh!) And a lot of people don’t react nicely to drug addicts—the least that would happen to you is be a social pariah.
      You’re clean and someone’s offering you to try drugs, that you only have to try it once so you can experience it, that trying it once is harmless and won’t get you addicted? Decline! Then shun that someone! Most drug addicts started like that, “just this one joint, just one tablet, just one gram, just to see what the fuss is all about…” and the next thing they knew, they’re hooked.

       How about the gambling addicts? What’s in store for them? Now, you only need to read the news about the man, a former employee of Department of Finance, who just a few days ago, attacked the Resorts World Manila with an Armalite and burned  casino tables, inadvertently causing the death of more than 30 casino employees and guests. Why Resorts World Manila? He was a  high roller there. He tried to steal chips (after he failed to enter the room where the oodles of cash were) but he was cornered. He then locked himself inside a room and  burned and shot himself to death. Ghastly and tragic, yes.

        A quiet man and an ideal son, his parents told the media, the suspect’s life went downhill when he became addicted to high stakes gambling. Gambling can be fun, yup, but it has, when you’re vulnerable, this habit of staying with you for a long time—it’s sort of clingy, like your ex—until it becomes an addiction and a mental disorder, where you don’t care anymore what happens to you and your family’s finances as long as you get your fix and where trying to stop already causes anxiety, mood swings and depression. Gambling, like drugs,  is a quicksand. It will try to get hold of you once you step on it. Its ability to drag you down into madness and oblivion will depend on whether you’re strong-minded, or weak.  


Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Life We Really Want Is One With A President Who Is Not A Nincompoop ( And One With Roger Waters' New Album)

She was always here in my heart
Always the love of my life
We were strangers, oceans apart
But when I laid eyes on her, a part of me died…
                                                “Oceans Apart”

       Roger Waters’ new album, Is This The Life We Really Want? is now out it in the market—and it doesn’t disappoint as almost all the songs are brilliant and angry and caustic and haunting and heartbreaking (and Pink Floyd-ish that will easily fit in The Wall) and yes, political as expected, with one song talking about a nincompoop who became a president). And my favorite among them is the “The Most Beautiful Girl.” Utterly poignant and haunting (Roger’s voice is emotive throughout), “The Most Beautiful Girl” is about a woman who was tragically killed ( I read somewhere that it’s about an innocent girl who was hit and killed by a bomb dropped somewhere in Syria) and the indifference of those who have caused her death. This is a stunning, emotional song, believe me. 

       My other fave tracks are: “Wait For Her,” “Part Of Me Died” (and its sort of intro, “Oceans Apart”) “The Last Refugee,” “Déjà vu,” and the title track.

 "Hold on", she said
"You're breaking my heart"
It's weird how the steel rails
Disappear into the dark
They clung to the ivory tower on her braids
They were never afraid of falling
But the bomb hit the spot where the numbers all stop
And the last thing they heard was her calling...
Home, I'm coming home...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Life We Really Want Is One With A New Roger Waters Album

        Yay! (100x) Roger Waters (former frontman of Pink Floyd, bar none the greatest rock band in the universe) is releasing a new album this June entitled Is This The Life We Really Want?, which is touted to be highly political. US President Donald Trump, they say, is the main target. His last album, the stunningly astounding Amused To Death, was released 25 years ago—darn, his fans waited so long. But basing on the three songs (the very Pink Floyd-ish “Smell The Roses,” the haunting ballads “Déjà vu,” and “The Last Refugee,” ) that had been uploaded in YouTube, it seems that it’s  worth the wait.

Lie with me now
Under lemon tree skies
Show me the shy, slow smile you keep hidden by warm brown eyes
Catch the sweet hover of lips just barely apart
And wonder at love's sweet ache
And the wild beat of my heart
Oh, rhapsody tearing me apart...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grace Kelly and A Voice That Will Remind You Of Freddie Mercury

       I heard a Mika song ("Grace Kelly") this morning and I was reminded that he wrote some ear candy pop gems, and I also remembered that he caught my attention then when I read that he sounded like Freddie Mercury. I love Freddie's voice, who doesn't? And yes, Mika does indeed sound like Freddie (listen to "Grace Kelly," where he seems to mimic the great Queen's frontman's voice and Freddie's even mentioned in the lyrics.)
      Here's "I See You," my favorite Mika song, and definitely one of his best.

       I'm sitting across from you
       And dreaming of the things I'd do
       I don't speak, you don't know me at all
       For fear of what you might do
       I say nothing but stare at you
       And I'm dreaming
       I'm trippin' over you

      Truth be told, my problems solved
      You mean the world to me...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

BTS, K-pop And the Gift of the South Koreans

      Yesterday, we were at the Mall of Asia when our vehicle was slowed down by the traffic and we stopped in front of a throng of people (mostly giddy-looking teenage girls and there’s more than a hundred of them) who suddenly screamed happily at the top of their lungs. We thought a celebrity was about to come out from a bus nearby, but it turned out that they were screaming at the giant screen in front of MOA Arena where a promotional video of a group was being shown. People screaming at a video clip? That’s something, I thought. I didn’t know if people then did that at the Beatles. 

      The group, it turned out, was BTS, a boy band from South Korea, which had a show that day at the MOA Arena. That’s the first time I heard about the group. (Okay, I am quite clueless when it comes to K-pop). I turned to my companions inside the vehicle, which included a nineteen year old girl, a fourteen year old boy and a twelve year old girl, all pop culture enthusiasts,  and asked them if they knew BTS. They weren’t aware of the group. What did BTS mean? Behind The Scene? Big Time Syndicate? Blue Turtle Soup? Blue Thong’s Sexy? They didn’t know either. They weren’t fans of Korean music (why would you be attracted to songs you don’t understand? they argued) but they loved their TV shows (thank God for subtitles). They mentioned Goblin, Legend of The Blue Sea, and Love In The Moonlight. I remembered trying to watch one Korean TV drama last year, Descendants of the Sun, at the behest of someone who swore that it was great—but I gave up after watching two episodes, thinking that I probably must transform first into a sixteen year old girl to enjoy it.

      I’m not planning to watch another Korean TV drama again and you have to tie me tightly first to a chair before you could persuade me to listen to a Korean song but I will wholeheartedly agree that when it comes to entertainment, the South Koreans are thoroughly gifted. Some of my favorite movies are Korean : Oldboy (2003), The Chaser (2008), Mother (2009), Save The Green Planet (2003), I Saw The Devil (2010) and The Man From Nowhere (2010). These are all great pieces of cinema. What’s “trust me” in Korean?

      So we went inside the mall, we ate, bought something and I thought about the people watching the BTS concert, who were, most likely, happily singing along to the words they could hardly pronounce, to the words they had to Google before they could understand.

      "Sarang haeyo," answered my 19-year old companion when our 12-year old companion asked her if she knew some Korean words.