Mar 23, 2008

Holy Week and Puerto Gaylera


Photo of White Beach looking towards the eastern end.

White Beach photo from Wikipedia.

"if puerto galera sinks during holy week, ubos ang kalahati ng gay population in the philippines..."liner

"kalahati lang kaya?"ebe

Those two comments above on Migs' Puerto Galera post made me laugh out loud. Of course it's an exaggeration, but the fact that a significant portion of the PLU population in Metro Manila and the Southern Tagalog region converge to Puerto Galera, specifically White Beach, during Holy Week is one of those things you expect year in, year out. Like Christmas, your birthday, and President Arroyo's scandals. It's so expected, even straight people know it (so they go to Boracay instead). It's as if Malate was transported magically to the island of Mindoro. And no, I didn't go to Galera. I've been there a few times but I have never went during the Holy Week; my religious convictions get the better of me. Hehehe.

Why Holy Week? I have no idea and I don't know when this gay Visita Iglesia started. I guess it's because Holy Week is the only guaranteed long weekend during summer. Also, due to the quirky nature of setting the date of Easter Sunday, there's always a full moon during Holy Week and I guess it's appealing to cruise around at night when it's dark, but not too dark that you can't see whether the guy you're kissing is cute or not. Hehehe.

Anyway, I know it's a bit late but shown below is a map depicting the usual gay places in hot pink push pins for your reference. (Hey, the weekend after Holy Week is also a popular go-to-the-beach week, since some people like to avoid the mass of people during Holy Week that could rival the population density of Bangladesh. Plus there's the upcoming Araw ng Kagitingan long weekend so it's not as if the map is entirely useless.) I've pointed on the map the three places you should know about: Jurassic Park, Rockwell, and Zanzi Bar. Click on the push pins to know where they are.

View Larger Map

Jurassic Park is really just a bit of forest very near the eastern end of the beach. It's the bit of dense foliage a few tens of meters from the big boulder and the cave, and its where miraculous things happen, especially at night. At least a few years ago. I hear that the local barangay have put up a barbed-wire fence to close of the area, but I don't think it prevented gay guys from entering the forest.

On the opposite end of the beach is Rockwell. This is just a rocky area leading to Aninuan Beach. I hear that the cruisiest time is during late afternoon. (I guess it's too dangerous to navigate the area at night?) Take note that many people also go here to do some artsy photo sessions via sexy poses. :-)

Finally, on a more wholesome level, there's Zanzi Bar, I think the only bar that proudly flies the rainbow flag. Zanzi Bar is actually just a kiosk and this is the perennial party place of Government (that gay dance club in Makati) during the Holy Week. See Henry Lim's (he's one of the owners of Government) announcement for 2008.

Tips: While gays are tolerated very much in Puerto Galera, any "public indecency" is not welcome, not even at night when everything is mostly dark. Local barangay officials are known to patrol the bar areas at night to prevent "scandals" and motorboats with powerful spotlights often glide past the beaches scanning for "unwholesome activities." You'd better best stick to kissing and necking (which you can easily cover up) if you do find some nice guys on the eastern half of White Beach at night and do the more carnal pleasures in a private room. (Sadly, there's no motel in the area, as far as I know.)

Here are some nice gay blog posts from years past about Puerto Galera: " Puerto Galera’s White Beach - Gay Capital of the Philippines?!" and " A Puerto Galera Adventure". Have you been to Puerto Galera this past week? Got any stories of your own to tell? :-)

Update (2010): Reader taurus top has posted some updated tips regarding White Beach, Puerto Galera. You would definitely find them useful.

Mar 17, 2008

Closeted vs. discreet vs. out


Coming out of the closet.

One minor irritation I have is people conflating being discreet with being in the closet. While these two are related terms, they are not synonymous. Being in the closet pertains to whether other people know your sexual orientation, meaning whether you (or others) have disclosed that you aren't straight. Being out is the opposite of being in the closet. The key idea here is other people's knowledge of your orientation. Also, you can be in the closet with some people (like your family) or out to others (like your best friend). "Coming out" is the act of voluntarily disclosing to others of your homosexuality/bisexuality while "outing" is the disclosure by others of your sexuality against your will. (Outing is a whole different ethical issue altogether, and maybe fit for another blog post in the future.)

On the other hand, being discreet is all about your behavior. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, being discreet is "marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior; [being] circumspect." So discretion is all about your behavior while being closeted is all about other people's knowledge of your orientation. That's a very fine distinction. Being discreet has nothing to do with whether you are in the closet or out. (Additionally, your discreet behavior is also different, though related, from your mannerisms, which is what being masculine or effeminate is all about.)

There are many people out there who mistake discretion with being in the closet. Of course, if you want to maintain your closeted state, you certainly need to be discreet, but it doesn't necessarily mean that if you're not being discreet then you're already out or if you're out, then you aren't discreet anymore. I am out to several friends, but does that mean I can't be discreet in my activities anymore? Also, I've been to gay places in Malate, but does that mean I'm no longer in the closet or indiscreet?

There are many levels to being closeted and it is merely a function of how many people know about you. Being publicly out means that practically everyone knows that you are gay. Likewise, there are also many shades to being discreet. You can be the ultra-paranoid discreet guy who only goes on one-on-one EBs and will never show your pictures online, saying instead "just meet me na lang." Or you can be the relaxed discreet guy who refrains from holding hands with another guy in public but still goes to gay saunas and clubs.

How much you are out and how discreet you are is entirely up to you. You choose which people you want to come out to and you also choose how much to be discreet in public. So it's a mistake to ask in chat for EBs saying "discreet only" or "discreet here for same" and then later rejecting a guy because he doesn't fit your standards of discretion.

Update: “Discreetness is not a black-and-white thing”

Photo from the Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center at Flickr.

Mar 15, 2008

Discreetionary: booking



booking [BOOK·ing] noun 1. in cruising, an agreement made with another guy for sexual activities in the near future. 2. the guy with which the aforementioned agreement is made. example: "Sorry, hindi ako makakasama mamaya sa gimik natin kasi may booking na ako." etymology: from the English booking, a contract or engagement.

I guess many PLU guys already know this term, but I'm willing to bet that there are some out there who are still clueless. Anyway, "booking" is one of those terms that need no further explaining as long as it's uttered in the proper context by friends, like in a bar or a club ("May booking ka na?"). As far as I can tell, this is a distinctly Pinoy term and is probably the equivalent of "trick" in the United States.

Got any Discreetionary terms? Send them my way at discreetmanila at

Mar 10, 2008

Finding your way inside Epitome


Epitome logo. One problem I'm sure many of you guys had when going inside a new place is finding your way around. I had that problem when I went inside Epitome and I had quite a dilemma finding how to get to the bathhouse proper. It's a bit embarrassing to have someone tour you around since it'd be quite obvious to the other patrons that you are new and you'd likely be targeted as "fresh meat." I'm an admitted self-effacing person, so I don't want the attention.

Fortunately for you guys wanting to try out Epitome, I've done the hard part of drawing for you a floor plan of Epitome. May you find the way to your heart's desire as a result. :-)

Anyway, Epitome actually occupies the third floor of the building next to the street and the two-storey "house" behind that building in the heart of the city block. I mentioned before that the entrance of Epitome leads directly to a second-floor landing. From there, you open the door to your left and climb another set of stairs where the registration counter is located. Beyond the counter is the hallway containing the safety deposit boxes where you have to deposit all your valuables and this leads to the U-shaped lounge where the Raging Kittens stage their productions. You can actually just stay and relax here if you don't want to venture further.

From the lounge, you go to the other end of the "U" where there's a door leading to a fire-escape-like walkway. This leads down to the bathhouse proper and entering it leads you to the locker room. To go explore more of the bathhouse, you need to strip down and wear your supplied towel. Also on the second floor is the video room where M2M films are often shown (or sometimes episodes of Queer as Folk) and there are also cubicles with leather-covered mattresses where you can have private sessions (or just sleep away).

Going down to the ground floor leads directly into the dark maze and from here you can either go to the gym area and the open air garden with a bar, or you can go to the steam room, sauna, toilet, shower, and jacuzzi.

There. I hope that through this blog post, you won't get lost in your first visit to Epitome. Just one tip: don't print out this post and bring it with you for reference. Hehehe.

Mar 9, 2008

Don't wear Axe

AJ over at Bakla Ako, May Reklamo has been giving out some practical fashion tips. If there's one practical fashion tip I can give gay guys, it has to be: don't wear Axe. Just look at what would happen to you!

What gay guy would want to be mobbed by hordes of beautiful, sexy ladies? Ewww! :-)

Then again, who knows? You might get the reaction in this YouTube video, which is a funny spoof of this real Axe commercial.

Mar 6, 2008

The look


One useful skill that any PLU guy should acquire is the look (aside from gaydar, of course, hehehe). I'm sure most of you know what I mean even though I haven't explained what it is yet, but for those you still clueless, the look is that repeated eye-to-eye contact you make with another guy in a public place to signify your interest in each other without being obvious about it to other people. This maneuver (heh) is often done in the mall, in the gym, on the streets, and even in gay-friendly places like clubs and saunas.

Doing the look is something that's quite hard to describe in writing and it's actually not something that somebody else teaches you—you learn it on your own. But for the sake of discussion, doing the look requires that you have eye-to-eye contact with the other guy and lock it for more than two seconds or so. (Nope, you don't need a stopwatch for this.) If the other guy is straight or is not interested, then the eye contact will be broken immediately. But, if the glance lingers, then the other guy is likely interested. It is only when this lingering eye contact repeats for a few more times that you can be sure that something beautiful might happen: you could gain a new friend or, maybe, a good romp in bed. Hehehe. :-)

In my experience, the look happens most often when you and the other guy approach each other (in the mall, on the street, or wherever). The first glance happens sometime right before you pass each other. When both you and the other guy are interested, turning back to look around happens a few moments after. Catching each other looking back is almost a sure sign of interest and at this point, you both may stop and pretend to be doing something (like pretending to text, hehehe) and also to steal more glances. A small smile is often given while looking to unambiguously show attraction. Whether anything further happens from this point on depends on your or the other guy's torpe-level. Hopefully, one of you is not shy enough to approach the other.

It goes without saying that if you're not interested in the other guy, don't look back! Any second or third glance might be misinterpreted as interest instead of curiosity and if the other guy is aggressive, you might be hard-pressed to evade him. This is especially true if you're in an enclosed place that you're not likely to get out of anytime soon. Like the gym.

Anyway, I got to exercise this skill last week as I was going home from work. I spotted this nice cute guy in a yellow shirt and we furtively looked at each other. Several more stolen glances later, we find ourselves exchanging numbers. It turns out that we both live in the same city and I'm likely to invite him out for coffee or dinner one of these days. :-)

So, do you have any experiences employing the look lately?

The model doing the look above is hunkalicious Mark Onir.

Mar 4, 2008

Welcome, MGG habitués!


Well, there's one word I learned today: habitué, "one who frequents a particular place." Thanks to Migs for this new word and for featuring Discreet Manila in his blog, Manila Gay Guy. His words describing my blog as "high-potential," "well-designed" and "well-written" has certainly put on me some pressure to make something good of this blog. Hehehe. :-)

So, welcome, MGG denizens, and I hope you stick around coz I do have a lot of things to talk about. As it says there in the sidebar, Discreet Manila will talk about "gay-oriented venues, blue film reviews, tips and stories in discreet cruising, and discussion about various issues facing the discreet gay person." I have already put up several posts on this blog and I hope that they will give you a taste of what to expect in my future posts. I'd also like to take this time to encourage you to subscribe to my feed so that you'll get notified of the latest posts in Discreet Manila.

To finish this post, I'd like to repeat what Migs would often say: World Peace!

Mar 3, 2008

"Nag-iisa, Wala Ka Na"


Last week, I got to see Daybreak, that gay-themed indie movie starring angelic-faced Coco Martin and Paolo Rivero. No, I won't make a movie review/reaction right now, but instead I'll let you watch the music video of the main song used in the movie "Nag-iisa, Wala Ka Na" by Noel Cabangon. Absolutely beautiful song!

This song was played twice in the movie: first in the dancing scene (which is followed by a pivotal scene finally showing the movie plot's conflict) and second at the end credits.

Mar 2, 2008

Discreetionary: PLU



PLU [PEE·el·you] noun 1. a non-straight male. adjective 2. not straight. example: "This will be a venue for the musings and a-musings of [a] PLU operating for the past two decades in the homo-ambivalent corporate world." —Corporate Closet. etymology: from the acronym of People Like Us, a gay rights group based in Singapore.

Welcome to Discreetionary! Obviously, it's a discreet dictionary and I envision it to be a series of posts that will introduce or define slang words and phrases used by gay and bisexual guys in Manila. The idea for this is blatantly ripped off from the Queerisms category of the QueerClick gay blog (warning: QueerClick is definitely not safe for work!), but targeted for our local world. And no, this won't be a gay lingo dictionary so we'll be leaving the "chorvas," the "eklavus," the "chakas" elsewhere, especially if they're not often used by discreet guys like us. :-)

Going back to our term, you might find it interesting to know that the the use of the term PLU seems to be a purely Southeast Asian phenomenon. As mentioned above, it came from the name of People Like Us, a prominent Singaporean LGBT rights group, twice declined recognition in the largely conservative nation-state. The term is popular in its hometown Singapore, as well as Malaysia and the Philippines, and possibly also in Indonesia and Thailand. Note that when using the term, you ignore its original expanded meaning; otherwise, you'd get ungrammatical expressions. For example, "Is he PLU?" should not be expanded to the hilariously sounding "Is he people like us?"

I can't remember when I first learned of this term but I think it was in 2002, I think, but I now personally find it an extremely useful and versatile term and could be the SEA equivalent of UK's "queer," don't you think?

Mar 1, 2008

Going to Epitome


Epitome logo. Continuing my coverage of Epitome (which was started here), I'll give those of you who are brave enough some pointers on how to reach this "bathhouse in the heart of Malate."

First off, you should probably know that Epitome's address is 1922 Leon Guinto St., Malate, Manila. But, just like any city address, the 1922 number is quite useless and you're better off using a map or looking for landmarks. Discreet Manila to the rescue! (Heh.) Kindly hover your eyes below and see the nifty map I made based on Google Maps. As you can see, Leon Guinto is the next road parallel to Taft Avenue and Epitome is located very near the intersection with Remedios. If you're familiar with the prominent gay district of Orosa-Nakpil, Epitome is only about 600-700 meters away, which makes it quite walkable (comparable to walking the whole length of Megamall back and forth, though not air-conditioned). The perennial landmark marking Epitome's nearest intersection is a Mini Stop branch, although the last time I was there, the convenience store seemed to be under renovation.

Epitome's entrance is just a simple doorway immediately leading to a stairway ascending to the second floor. You know you've found the door when you see the Epitome logo as a sign on top of the doorway. You'll also know that you've found the right place (and know that the club is still open) when you spot their security guard wearing a polo barong outside by the door.

If you're commuting via bus or jeepney, the best place to get off is at Remedios if you're traveling on any route that goes along Taft Avenue. If your route is along Quirino Avenue, then get off at Leon Guinto St. There are also numerous jeepneys that have Leon Guinto itself as a route; I think it's the Baclaran-Sta. Ana route. Finally, if you're taking the LRT, the nearest station is Quirino Avenue Station.

Bringing your own car? I've done this a few times and I've found parking along Leon Guinto St. quite safe. You can opt to park very near the entrance (the manong guard is quite willing to direct your parking) or you can park across or somewhere down the street. There are no pesky "parking attendants" here and there's very little risk of carnapping since Leon Guinto St. is a relatively busy jeepney route (but not too busy that you'd be embarrassed to be seen by jeepney passengers in that area). Oh, unlike other side streets in the area, Leon Guinto is two-way, so you should have no problem making U-turns in case you missed the place.

Yep, I'm still not done with Epitome so stay tuned for future posts.