Friday, December 21, 2012

what sucks?

Why did I ever allow myself to go back in Planet Romeo with a skeleton inside my closet?

I’m back in that freaking arena of gay men looking for whatever sorts of desires they want. It never fails to impress in me that that site looks like a catalogue of briefs with snapshots of torsos.

I know I’ll be going in for a deep turmoil inside me because I may forge quite a good conversations with interesting people in there when at the back of my head, my skeleton is actually poking its finger at me.

Yes. I decided not to disclose my status in my profile because I’m not all too prepared for the backlash of stigma.

I’ve just been there for a week and there were few too good interesting people who aren’t as dickhead as they look like.

There’s this one guy whom I even actually almost “liked”—screw this, I like him—because we were in every sort of aspect compatible: height, weight, lifestyle, philosophy, career direction, and what-have-yous. For some reason, he just deleted his profile so that was it. It was a blessing in disguise that he extinguished himself from that online buffet of flesh because if things had gone more serious, I don’t know how I would take it into myself come that day that I sit before him, dating while a non-existent skeleton is poking my head’s crown.

And then there’s this college student who really can stir a great exchange of dialogue. We are still talking up until these days and only God knows how things will go. I know though that I have to keep my emotions and hormones in check. I just can’t like him that much.

Then, even if I didn’t disclose on my profile that I am a pusit, I actually had the guts to reveal my status to a fellow positive Romeo.

I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. But it’s true that I felt a bit alone for the past few months that I decided to push my luck again in PR.

I told this to a friend. The first thing she said, “Positive din ba silang lahat doon?” Obviously, Ms. Friend is clueless.

It’s an innocent question but it stabbed me to death. Her question seemed to place on my shoulder the responsibility that I have to be a part of arresting the rising HIV figure. I took her lead and now I’m wondering if I still must continue my presence there.

I wonder in the first place why I’m lonely? I’m not usually like that. I’m fine being myself but I think there really is some truth between isolation versus intimacy. Erik Erikson is right. And fuck him.

That’s the hard part of relating with someone who isn’t a fellow PLHIV. Guilt will eat you alive by the time emotions are invested and things are getting a bit sugary.

It sucks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

midnight musing

Yesterday, in the middle of the night, my Muse suddenly descended from her throne and visited me at the most painful hour of the day. I should have gone to sleep but the words were like tap flowing freely from my head out to my ear.

I suppose Proust is right. The body is easy to perish when the thought arrives so hold a pen and rein over the words that may soon wither.

So, at 1.30 in the morning, when the sands of Sleep Master should have carried me off to Dreamland, I was still wide awake and religiously tapping the keys of my phone so that my fingers would catch up with my thoughts.

I saved the note as "Love letter." Self-explanatory.

In this day and age, I still long to write someone a love letter. I want to pour my heartfelt and ardent effort of knitting words to profess my love for someone, things that I want to tell him but couldn't lest our cheeks burn in bashfulness like charcoals thrown and smoldering in the fire. With only a pen in my hand and a paper to immortalize my testimony of blinded lovestruck adoration--devoid of any audience that may ricochet me back to my quarter of deplorable self-esteem--I am talking to no one but at the same time to him. Let my love letter be my lark at day, singing solo a hymn of love without ever fearing my lover's conscious eyes.

Pardon the saccharine tone. Garcia Marquez is my latest influence as of late. But true enough, nothing sane comes immediately before and after two o'clock in the morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

join me to vigan

This is an invitation to anyone who may read this, following a friend’s egging for me to travel with a complete stranger.

A friend of mine went to Davao City and ended up with a Belgian who is of Chinese descent. She had a good time with this guy that they went further and watched a PBA game here in Manila before the European went back to his continent. Nothing sexual happened. Just pure fun, adventure, travel and possibly long-distance friendship.

She met the guy via, which she explained as a hodgepodge of downshifters who travel the world in search of breaking out from the monotony of urban environment.

I was amused and fascinated by the prospect of such possibility—that two unknown persons can share a same penchant of living without knowing beforehand who they are and without the fear of being caught into an irreversible trouble.

Well, it’s because has safety nets and provisions. She asked me to join and travel at least spots in the country that I haven’t been to.

Then again, I modified mine, and now asking a fellow PLHIV to join me.

This summer, probably on May or early June, I’ve been meaning to go up north in Vigan or see the Banaue Rice Terraces or in Camarines Sur in Caramoan—but most probably in Vigan or Rice Terraces.

I want to go out with a fellow “pusit” who’s about my age (I’m 24 by the way) or a little older. I’m looking for a wide-eyed traveller, who’s more fond of walking around the city in the search of discovering gems of knowledge, not just the ordinary beach-goer. (Hence, Vigan or Banaue as they are UNESCO cultural heritage sites.)

I also want, nay require, someone who also haven’t been to Vigan so as to make the journey more extemporaneous and unrehearsed. Let’s be foreigners in our own country. If we’re saturated with Vigan and won’t mind to go to Bangui, we should. You know, we only live once and we can just wing it.

Also a book lover. If you have a list of your favorite books or authors, you may want to discuss it with me along the way. A little segue of discussion on these writers aboard the plane or bus would mean a lot to me.

If you are a book lover and a gym-goer, much better. It’d be to my delight to share and receive few tips on bulking up. I’ve already hit my ideal weight but I’m far from my desired weight.

To evade from prying questions about the meds that I will take, it’s safer to go along with a fellow PLHIV. At least in that way, if the trip is good for three to four days, we can always remind each other of drinking our meds on time. Just last week while I was in Boracay, I had to sneak behind my friends’ back to drink my meds. Plus, being in Boracay, you cannot not go clubbing. Efavirenz and alcohol make for a bad pair as one worsens each other’s tipsy effect. So there, at least a fellow pusit would know what I am drinking without having to ask what it would be.

Let’s bring the discussion to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. On the practical and mundane side of life, I won’t discount the possibility of sexual tension. Sexual tension may escalate during the night and if ever we can’t rein our libidos, at least I won’t be afraid of infecting someone. But really, I will try my best not to have a sexual encounter while we’re away. I’ve been sex-free since March 2011 and I like to keep it that way.

(Last week, while in Boracay, while unpacking our things inside the hotel shortly after we checked in, my girl friend—the Davao traveller who happened to know my condition—showed me her two pieces of condoms like a well-kept heirloom stashed inside her bag of toiletries. “Either one of us might get laid while we’re in here. It’s better to be safe,” she said, while giving me permission to get one in case I see the need arising. Haha!)

These are optional but highly appreciated: if you wear eyeglasses. Eyeglasses not sunglasses. I like men who look like ravishing librarians. Please don’t be over than 28 years old. Sometimes, I have a hard time relating with older gay guys. If you also come from Manila (or anywhere in the metro) so that in case this journey would blossom into a lifelong friendship, we can still see each other after the trip. And yeah, I like guys who have this arcane view of the universe, someone who can engage me in an intellectual masturbation. The sort of Celine (Julia Delpy) and Jessie (Ethan Hawke) kind of dialogue? Why, you already know those names without having to Google them? Great! We can be a lot kind of that and just go on a journey like what they had in both "Before" titles.

And please, don’t be a douchebag. Don’t ask if I’ll be shouldering every bit of you expense because I’m not. Let’s be adult and financially and pecuniary capable won’t we? We don’t want to spoil our journey, right?

Well, if you want to go with me, you can hit me at We can start our chitchat and planning there.

And, yes, I have to stress, this is just a prospect. I may drop this if there are pressing reasons that may call for its abortion.

While we’re young and capable, let’s live life and dare more stuff. We can’t do this if we’re already old and burdened with responsibilities. I want to do this anytime next year. Join me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

corneal summoning

Blurred by the vision of you when you
Entered into the picture along the crowded hall
Long have I awaited for clarity for the
Distant orbs that float in the thin air

Every now and then when you speak
Voice bellowing from among your title
Each time I grasp a clear view of my insanity

Nothing was there under the blinding light
Except those crystals that you wish to see
Cast down your beam against my eyes and
Illuminate that which I cannot discover

All is well in truth, pokes, and jargons
My vision clear and piercing through
Despite the glaring light and the mirage of you

A poem about the ophthalmologist who had my eyes checked for HIV baseline record. Writing muse comes in different forms. Take very good notice.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

honest mistake

I was nearly defeated yesterday.

After nearly four and a half hours of waiting and calming down my nerves, I was finally called to step inside the consultation room where my new doctor would conduct her follow-up. Pleasantries were exchanged and a few niceties, she then proceeded to ask me, “Would you like to know your CD4 count?”

Of course, who wouldn’t want to know? Would I subject to a round of extraction that inevitably led to an obvious hematoma just to pass off my number?

I nodded silently. So she looked at my CD4 baseline written on the paper stacked in my medical folder and then pulled down afterwards the result paper folded neatly in thirds.

“Ok,” she said as a matter of factly, as if she wanted me to tell something really important and also wanted to ask what have I been up to for the longest time that I haven’t been around.

“Are you stressed? What’s your work?”

So I told her my job in one word and she was quite impressed as her lips drew a thin line from side to side. It was a fleeting smile though because the figure in the paper seemed more important.

“Ingatan mo ang sarili mo ha. Bumaba ang CD4 mo.”

Then she showed me the bottom part of the paper and encircled the number. As soon as I come round after the number glared at my face for a good ten seconds, I slipped into listlessness as I was plastered on my seat. I tried hard to listen to the doctor while she tells me what I should do and ask me more about my work. This while I wrestle the rumbling of my own demons victorious.

All I can hear as she try to speak and write were prophylaxis, another CD4 count on July, and Cotri. The rest were distant murmurs as I stare blankly at the wall asking whoever Supreme Being is hearing me if there was something wrong with me, or the meds, or the whole treatment. “And I thought ARV works wonder?” I asked myself.

I was about to give up when I finally picked up my jaded optimism and entertained an ounce of doubt. As the doctor scribbles her way onto the paper, I was looking at the medical result rotated 90 degrees from me that I was reading in reverse.

I noticed a blunder: “20/M.” It was the age. I’m not 20. Underneath that, the birthday: “**/**/90” I wasn’t born on that month. Neither was I born in 90s. Those two errors, the age and the birthdate, were enough.

“Doc, result ko po ba ‘yan kasi mali po yung age and birthdate?”

At first she was up on defense and said yes, that was mine. But when I insisted that she move her arms a bit so that we could see if the patient code on the paper her arms was covering really matched with my code, there goes the brouhaha.

Fastforward. It wasn’t my result. She was apologizing for the honest mistake committed and went outside to ask the nurse where my result is. She left. In those few minutes that I was alone in the room, my hope was renewed. It was a time I savored because after all I wouldn’t be in that situation if I did not side with my disbelief. She came back with my result and everything turned upside down.

“Buti na lang napansin mo. Ayan, tumaas count mo. Pasensya na talaga.”

I wouldn’t go finger pointing. It's no use to berate her or at the very least sneer a snide remark because knowing the real result, a favourable result that is, was enough vindication. There’s no point staging a scene. Doctors do make mistake. Though they should be least of the people and professionals making one, they’re not insulated from it.

Initially too, I should have seen my MD at lunchtime but even before noon, the nurse already informed me to come back again at three in the afternoon because she was busy with immunization.

“Babalik na lang daw siya ng three. Hindi na siya magla-lunch. Pupunta na siya dito kaagad.”

It’s really useless to act up and prove to them how traumatic it was to me to be informed that my count tremendously dropped, that as if the whole medication routine has gone awry despite the personal effort of religiously drinking the pills, rescuing myself all year round, and prayers lifted. There’s no point to blow off my head because the mere thought that she hasn’t eaten yet just to assist the patients was enough to trigger my soft side.

I left PGH at sundown, while revisiting what happened inside that room: Doctors and nurses aren’t infallible as well. They commit mistakes. They shouldn't but they do. They get stressed out and wade through a deep ocean of human angst just to get their work done.

And, they skip lunch too.

Taft Avenue was cooler at dusk. I headed home after I finally downed my book and my playlist of fifteen songs looped to around five or six times while I was waiting. As I wolf down a burger before riding home, I remembered the doctor and nurse. They might still be there. In the hospital. While I fill my tummy. They're still there. Working. Curing. Saving lives. On an overtime.

As for what my count is now, I’m not keen in sharing. But it was a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

how gym saved my life

I never saw myself inside the gym. Ever since I came across the reality that most men, or gay men perhaps, are beefing it up inside these watering holes, I thought I'd rather be a deviant on my own and just be comfortable with my skin.

But that changed after my condition presented a new light.

Few weeks after I got off my bout with Nevirapine rash, I thought of trying to put on some poundage. I've always been a slim guy, weighing pathetically at 98 pounds. A few good home work added four to the scales. But still, if I'd consider my BMI, I'm still underweight.

I can't really express the impulse that took over me that night, but for reason too incomprehensible for me, I just walked to a nearby local gym, held on to my guts, and the rest was history.

Spare me the common knowledge. Yes, I do know and have heard of backdoor rendezvous happening inside gyms (or because of the gym) but I know where to put my place. I prefer to maintain urban solitude than to yap with other gay/straight men while heaving and ho-ing with weights at the bench press.

Of course, this one post will and cannot downplay the reality that some go there to ogle over other gym-goers, savor the visual feast, and far worse, prey on unwitting figures. It's a reality every gay man knows. It's an open secret. Some go to the gym because it's a bid to notice and be noticed. That's the prevailing milieu across the gay culture.

I still find it a bit awkward when I go to the gym and find too many men hitting it up with steels. Men everywhere. They, the trace of humidity due to their manly sweat, and their somewhat misplaced bravado. Probably because my main setting is "snob." I find it tad uncomfortable when a walking testosterone walks up on me and try to dig up a chat be it in a gym or somewhere else. So I didn't go during the usual peak hours. I prefer when the gym is a total abandonment and no one’s there. I reworked my circadian rhythm. Now being a morning lark, I get up early and do my routine in the morning on weekdays. No one goes there during those hours. And with no one around, I feel much more at ease.

I took the effort of going to the gym to regain a sense of self. I don't know, but, ever since this condition bit me, it seemed like I lost a sense of well-being. It appeared to me that I was careless about my health, considering the one too many complications that you get with HIV.

I couldn't be too brooding for the longest time. I have to be productive. I have to exert effort to turn my life around. And so I went to the gym. Stuck with the routine. Slept right. Ate right. Jugged glasses of protein. I don't smoke, drink, or do drugs. Those are off the list at the get go. The most that I can do is to gain weight. Working out taught me to be disciplined. To be persevering. And to push myself when I think I can't do it. Put simply, gym saved my life.

Not every gym goer wishes to sculpt his physique to have a rough sweltering oral sex (at the very least) in the showers. Not everyone does it for vanity's sake. Vanity will be there, yes, that's given. But that's not everyone's priority.

Half a year into this routine, I gained 26 pounds now. I sit somewhere between 123 and 126. Not bad for a six-month change of perspective.

Whenever I peer at myself in the mirror now and accidentally see old pictures of mine while cleaning my files, I couldn't help but grin. I see improvement, and it feels really nice.

I'll be continuing this routine for only God knows when but as long as there's a room for improvement I can go on despite the muscle soreness.

I guess to a PLHIV like me, going to the gym has a deeper sense. I do not simply want to look good. It's my way of picking up my shattered sense of health and trying to make best with this virus that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

la luz

By then I'd realize that I am operating under a tremendous influence of unnamed demons. Demons complicated. Demons incomprehensible. Demons rebellious. Demons unfeeling. As one claws underway and one rises above scathing my soul, the feeling of redemption surfaces: A tinge of light still casts itself over me. Too complicated it reduces definitions to the simplest. Too incomprehensible it leaves the essential. Too rebellious it impresses the indelible. Too unfeeling it cements the right groove.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

amy's cruelty

Fair Amy of the terraced house,
Assist me to discover
Why you who would not hurt a mouse
Can torture so your lover.

You give your coffee to the cat,
You stroke the dog for coming,
And all your face grows kinder at
The little brown bee’s humming.

But when he haunts your door … the town
Marks coming and marks going …
You seem to have stitched your eyelids down
To that long piece of sewing!

You never give a look, not you,
Nor drop him a “Good morning,”
To keep his long day warm and blue,
So fretted by your scorning.

She shook her head—“The mouse and bee
For crumb or flower will linger:
The dog is happy at my knee,
The cat purrs at my finger.

“But he … to him, the least thing given
Means great things at a distance;
He wants my world, my sun, my heaven,
Soul, body, whole existence.

“They say love gives as well as takes;
But I’m a simple maiden,—
My mother’s first smile when she wakes
I still have smiled and prayed in.

“I only know my mother’s love
Which gives all and asks nothing;
And this new loving sets the groove
Too much the way of loathing.

“Unless he gives me all in change,
I forfeit all things by him:
The risk is terrible and strange—
I tremble, doubt, … deny him.

“He’s sweetest friend or hardest foe,
Best angel or worst devil;
I either hate or … love him so,
I can’t be merely civil!

“You trust a woman who puts forth
Her blossoms thick as summer’s?
You think she dreams what love is worth,
Who casts it to new-comers?

“Such love’s a cowslip-ball to fling,
A moment’s pretty pastime;
I give … all me, if anything,
The first time and the last time.

“Dear neighbor of the trellised house,
A man should murmur never,
Though treated worse than dog and mouse,
Till doated on for ever!”

-- Amy's Cruelty, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, March 4, 2012

a fact is a fact

You know how people sometimes count their blessings? Or how others try to cheer you up when a problem suddenly sneaks up on you? I mean, listen to yourself or to them. They'll start off by giving a litany of condescending remarks against other people and will try to berate them just to make you feel OK.

At least ikaw may bubong ka pa sa ulo mo, yung iba wala. At least ikaw nakakakain ka pa yung iba diyan kahig-tuka. Marami ka pang kailangang ipagpasalamat. Or something to that line.

That is true. Let's not take away the wealth that we still have in our hands. Simply put, we are still blessed.

Months into discovering my condition, I used to take on with that attitude. I tried to count my blessingswhich the famous Christmas song advisescompare myself, re-adjust my life view, get on with the brighter side of life and give myself a tap at the back. Yeah, I still have the comforts of technology, a roof above my head, and meals three times a day compared with many downtrodden, besmirched Filipinos who live below poverty line.

All that until this:

"I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have."  The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Despite others clawing their way through life and I, well yes, am still blessed, "that doesn’t really change the fact that" I have HIV.


Pardon for leaving you in such a gloomy note, I just have to take this monster out of my system before retiring for the night.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

suicide by hitmen

Colombian priests hired hit men to kill themselves

Two priests in Colombia hired hit men to kill themselves after discovering they had contracted aids, a court has heard.

Reverend Rafael Reatiga asked his parishioners to pray for him and gave the choirmaster a list of songs for his funeral shortly before he was found shot to death together with another Roman Catholic priest, a Colombian prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Authorities initially suspected robbery when Reatiga’s body was found along with that of Rev Richard Piffano, 37, in a car in southern Bogota on Jan. 27, 2011.

But on Tuesday prosecutor Ana Patricia Larrota said investigators had determined that it was suicide by hit men in the year-old case: the two priests having hired gunmen to kill themselves after Rev Reatiga discovered he had aids.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

gil puyat

Suave is your curly hair pushed back
The glasses in your eyes glistening
The jaws that define your virility
The ticklish coarseness
Of your three-day-old stubble
The pearl of sweat trickling
Patiently down your neck
Dotting your forehead
As the midday heat scorch upon
The ruckus of the workforce

Suave is your soft side-glance
Your faint

Thursday, January 5, 2012

run up to 2012

From Thought Catalog. My own thoughts interspersed.

Before you status update, Tweet, (Tumblr) or Instagram, pause and say to yourself, “is it entirely necessary that I share this morsel of thought with my entire social network?”and if the answer is not, “yes, I absolutely must,” then step away from the Internet. I don't have Twitter or Instagram, and will never have one in light years to come. My problem with this 140-worded (Is it 140? See I'm not sure.) platform is it decimates your entire thought process to one-liners, which could be the needed germs for a long post. Add to that, the closest of my friends do not have Twitter and we thrive on—still—emails. Tumblr has already made me succumbed to microblogging, which is not altogether vile, but there is a need, on a personal level, to shake that off. Instagram? Never mind.