Feb 28, 2010

Who has seen Rent?


The recent local theatrical production that is. Unfortunately, I haven’t. I was vaguely aware late last year that there will be a staging of Rent at the RCBC Plaza this year, but by the time I was seriously thinking of seeing it, all the tickets were practically sold out! Today is the last day of the production.

It’s not really a complete loss for me since I managed to catch the limited screening of the film adaptation (featuring most of the original Broadway production cast) back in 2006. But seeing the original play version would’ve been nice since there are differences between the stage and the film versions.

For me, Rent was my #1 best movie of 2006. It’s quite refreshing to hear a story that has themes on homosexuality and HIV/AIDS that were not added to the story for sensational value. In fact, that there are homosexual characters in the plot was dealt as if it was a matter-of-fact. Remember that the play premiered back in 1994 so this was quite significant. It also dismisses the notion that AIDS is a gay disease since two of the homosexual characters in Rent suffer from HIV.

So have you seen Rent, either on stage or on screen? What do you think of it?

I’ll leave you now with these two short but beautiful songs from the movie, “Will I” and “Life Support.” Both songs occur during sessions of an AIDS support group in which some of the characters attend. These two songs are pretty low-key compared to the musical-level productions of the other songs (complete with dancing), but they are among the most poignant.

P.S. Trivia: the first guy singing in “Will I” (the second video above) is Aaron Lohr. He played Dean Portman in the second and third films of The Mighty Ducks series. You might remember him as the very hunky half of the Bash Brothers and he did a mouth-watering strip dance in D3. Who would’ve thought that he could sing very well? :-)

Feb 20, 2010

Discreet Manila is apparently Epitome’s unofficial website


I was browsing the G4M Tagalog forums at PlanetRomeo and was pleasantly surprised to find messages like the one below with my blog mentioned:

Among the four major bathhouses in Metro Manila, Epitome is the only one without its own website. Their online presence is restricted to promotion messages on gay social networking forums. Now, the managers think that my Epitome blog posts are good enough to serve as unofficial webpages. Hehe. (Note: taurus top, one of the Epitome people occasionally comments on this blog.)

So, to those people who stumbled onto my blog from PlanetRomeo, welcome! Hope you stick around! :-)

Feb 18, 2010

Who doesn't love gay kisses?


I love kissing. I actually don’t mind too much if I don’t have sex with a guy I like as long as I can kiss him for minutes at a time. I also love seeing two sexy guys kiss each other, especially if they do it so passionately. I can also just get off by simply watching YouTube videos of gay guys kissing and not have to rely on hardcore porn. Hehe.

I guess guys who are into sensually kissing other guys is one reliable indicator that those guys aren’t straight. Sure, I can believe that straight men can have sexual encounters with other men and just blame it on lust, but if he can kiss another guy with very little sexual overtones (like just after the deed) and really enjoy it (none of that John Mayer–Perez Hilton stuff) then I cannot believe that he is still straight. Can you?

Feb 16, 2010

Parisukat: a new film by Jonison Fontanos

1 comment.

I’ve been receiving these PR emails from the marketing operations of Parisukat, a new film by Jonison Fontanos. Since the screening supposedly will start today, February 17, at the usual gay indie cinemas, I thought I’d give my book-cover impression of the film.

But first, here’s the PR synopsis...

A “whodunnit” crime of passion involving 6 male characters: a young man, a gay lover, a hustler, a discreet bisexual, a houseboy, and a transvestite. No one knows that their lives are interconnected by a past murder case until fate brought them together in an old Spanish boarding house to unfold the mysterious crime in full circle.

...the characters...

  • Marcus: 18 y.o., the runaway young man who got himself enmeshed in an unresolved murder case.
  • Xander: 25-30 y.o., the transvestite boarder whose ex-lover turns out to be Marcus friend.
  • Jaime: 30 y.o., the lonely bisexual landlord of an old Spanish boarding house.
  • Hubert: 20 y.o., Xander’s ex-lover and Marcus’ friend who hustles for gay sex to earn his keep.
  • German: 25-30 y.o., the victim whose mysterious death will keep us guessing as to who is the real perpetrator of the crime.
  • Toto: 18-25 y.o., the houseboy who seems blind to the events that unfold inside the boarding house

...and trailer.

Although Parisukat is supposed to be showing today as a gay Valentine’s offering by Ignatius Films, I don’t see any movie schedules online mentioning this film. Anyway, the film stars Toffee Calma and Chris CaƱizares among other bit players and you can check out the Facebook page or the actual PR pieces (including a sensational piece about how Toffee Calma was supposedly almost killed while shooting a violent scene).

I’m actually hesitant to see this movie. I absolutely hated Jonison Fontanos’ first film Hugot so you can see why I’m not excited by this film. On the other hand, this film seems to have a better story and likely much, much more coherent than the train wreck that Hugot was. So maybe, I just might go and see this film but only if there were few other good movies screening (like Invictus).

Update: The screening today was cancelled at all cinemas due to “unavoidable circumstances.” I wonder if the MTRCB was the cause.

Feb 14, 2010

On Valentine’s


So, what are your plans for today, Valentine’s Day? Me, I’ll just stay at home since I have no one to spend it with. And it has been that way for years now. Being single has its ups and downs. On one hand, when you’re single, you are free to go out and socialize, go wherever without having to ask anyone’s permission, and to go to bathhouses, clubs and bars without feeling guilty. On the other hand, having someone there to shower your affection on, someone to talk to about your problems—or to console when he has problems—and someone to spend the night with are also wonderful. Such thoughts of being single or committed naturally arise whenever this day of hearts comes.

However, it’s a good thing that I’m not quite sentimental with dates on a calendar. I don’t get depressed when my birthday is coming up (because I’m getting older), or excited to receive presents come Christmas Day, or lonely when I’m not with someone on Valentine’s. I don’t even feel the need to celebrate the tongue-in-cheek holiday today called Single’s Awareness Day (or SAD) to justify my singlehood.

Anyway, I’ve always thought about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated by discreet (and maybe even paranoid) gay couples. I imagine that such couples would avoid having dates on Valentine’s for the simple reason that they don’t want other people to think that they are an item (not to mention the hassle of reserving seats in a restaurant, or getting movie tickets, or booking a motel :-), or the traffic). Let’s face it, if you see two guys having dinner at a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s Day, you’d automatically think that these two are a couple or are dating. This is not two people in a business meeting, or two best friends doing bromantic dinner. This is a couple on a date!

Some straight men celebrate Valentine’s with their significant second other on either February 13 or 15 (and motels reportedly have better business on those two dates than on Valentine’s itself). I think that closeted gay couples would also avoid those two dates for the same reason.

I guess the point I’m saying is that Valentine’s Day is really not a holiday for discreet PLU couples. Unless, you celebrate it at home, which is quite corny. Until such time that gay relationships are accepted in mainstream society, I guess there will be no equivalent to Valentine’s, the way it is traditionally celebrated, for most PLU couples. Well, gay guys in a relationship do not actually need to celebrate Valentine’s but if they want to celebrate it like straight people do, then they just have to be creative.

Feb 11, 2010

Discreet Manila is now two years old!


After more than 130 posts, an almost equal number of followers, and more than 350 feed subscribers, Discreet Manila turns two today! Yay! Thank you very much for reading and supporting this blog. I really appreciate all the comments, the emails, and for you just being there, viewing this blog. :-)

So, what’s in store for the third year of Discreet Manila? Well, just more posts. Hehe. I am definitely not the type of person that can cook up nice gimmicks for my readers but I can definitely assure you that I will continue to dish out smart and interesting articles for your reading consumption. But if you have any ideas, I’m all ears! Just leave a comment or send me an email at discreetmanila at gmail dot com.

Here’s to another year of Discreet Manila!

Feb 9, 2010

Discreetionary: aquarium


aquarium [a·KWEH·ree·yum] noun 1. a designated room in a gay massage parlor where the masseurs stay, and where the room has a window through which a client views and selects his masseur.

Before coming to Hilom, I’ve only seen a massage parlor aquarium in the movie Masahista (featuring the cute Coco Martin). Heck, that movie was actually my first glimpse of how such gay “spas” operate. I can’t remember anymore where I first encountered the term aquarium but it’s definitely an apt word. The idea of choosing a masseur in a massage parlor is like selecting the fishes you want to eat from a tank in a fresh seafood restaurant. Hehe.

One notable feature of aquariums is that the viewing window is typically one-way: the client can see the masseurs but the boys can’t see the client. I guess this is to preserve the privacy of the client as much as possible. In the movie Heavenly Touch, the viewing window is not realistic simply because the window is two-way. In the particular case of Hilom, their window is actually the aquarium’s glass door.

I guess this aquarium business is one of the minor reasons why I didn’t really enjoy my stay at Hilom. I’m a torpe kind of guy and the idea of me doing the first move (i.e., selecting the guy) is one thing I’m not comfortable in doing, compared to guys simply hitting on me. :-P

Feb 7, 2010

The link between HIV/AIDS and the Internet


There was plenty of news last year regarding the alarming rise of newly confirmed cases of HIV infection among MSM or men who have sex with men (whether these men are straight, bisexual, or gay). Most people familiar with the situation seem to think that this is due to increased testing among affected populations and not necessarily because there where many people who were actually infected last year. Take note that it takes around 3-6 months after a person gets infected before the level of HIV antibodies become detectable and that it may take an average of 10 years before symptoms show. So this recent rise in detected cases does not necessarily correspond to a dramatic recent increase in infections as well. But still, the official tally of documented HIV cases (which is currently around 4,400) is most certainly underrepresented.

In the latest chapter to this ongoing saga, the past week or two has seen a blitz of news articles and news segments on TV about the supposed link between the Internet and this alarming rise in newly-documented HIV cases. For instance, this article on INQUIRER.net has Dr. Eric Tayag of the DOH National Epidemiology Center saying that there is a link between Internet usage and HIV/AIDS.

The Department of Health (DOH) has said Internet social networking sites have provided a venue for young people to find partners in risky sex that usually leads to cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the country.

This recent media blitz, while serving to highlight the need to address the problem, also leads to a lot of scaremongering and possibly unintended discrimination. These news reports have so incensed PinoyPoz, that he wrote a barrage of blog posts decrying the misleading reporting. (Go check out those posts, they’re quite educational.)

I said in my very first post that there are three things I consider pivotal in the modern history of gay and bisexual men. Two of these three are the emergence of HIV/AIDS and the rise of the Internet. I have never discussed about the link between these two things before in this blog and now we have mainstream media reporting on and discussing that very link.

Let’s face it: the Internet as a medium has revolutionized how we communicate with other people. Cyberspace has been a boon for lots of closeted PLUs in that it helped them realize that they are not alone, and that they can relate and talk to other like-minded people while remaining relatively anonymous and still in the closet. But in the same way, the Internet facilitates cruising, hooking up, and looking for casual sex, whether it be through IRC, social networking sites like PlanetRomeo, or blogs and online forums. In this day and age, it’s a rare gay person that hasn’t had sex which has not in any way been facilitated by the Internet.

I’m somehow a bit disturbed that my blog, Discreet Manila, might even be contributing to this link between Internet use and the spread of HIV/AIDS. I mean, here I am on the Internet dishing out tips on cruising and providing comprehensive guides on bathhouses in the Metro, right? Then again, I have written several posts related to HIV and AIDS and it’s not really my fault if the reader decides to have unsafe sex. Remember, even if I write about topics that can get you laid, your health is still your personal responsibility. It’s also not the Internet’s fault. The Internet is just a medium and it is still the people who use it who are responsible for their own well-being.

That said, I think that it’s still my responsibility, as a writer of a blog with quite a bit of readership, to promote safe sex and to help educate readers about STDs and HIV/AIDS. So expect me to pepper this blog with articles on said topics.

In closing, I guess it’s not enough to encourage PLUs to contribute to World Peace. It’s hard to promote camaraderie and goodwill when we are all dying before our time because of a wasting sickness, right? So I say to all my readers, Stay Safe! :-)

Feb 1, 2010

Groping on the MRT


I don’t usually take the MRT or LRT so I haven’t really seen for myself all of the interesting things that may happen in packed trains. Especially if the guy squished in beside you is hot. For pervy straight dudes, overflowing trains are a delight since they can discreetly grope pretty ladies and get away with it—if they do it right. In Japan, where there are train staff whose job is to pack people in tight like sardines, groping is a problem for ladies resulting in plenty of sekuhara (sexual harrasment) arrests. But the call of train groping is so high that there is (or was) a Train Cafe, where men can pay 5,000 yen to board a simulated train ride and grope the ladies all they want! In the Philippines, this problem has resulted into the ladies-only coaches. (Why can’t we have men-only coaches? Hehehe.)

Though I’m not normally a train commuter, I will admit that I have had a couple of gay-related experiences on the MRT-3. The first time happened quite a long time ago. I got in at Taft Station and stood at the back of a coach leaning by the wall separating the operator booth. As the stations pass, the train eventually got filled in. I noticed this stout guy standing just in front of me and a bit to the side and with his back to me. He looked like he was in his late 30s and he positioned his hand awkwardly such that his palm was in front of my groin. Whenever the train accelerated, he would purposefully push himself towards me and try to grope me. I was not turned on at all (since he wasn’t my type) and so I moved the backpack I carried in front of me to give myself reprieve from his clutching hands.

The second time happened several years ago. The situation was almost exactly the same as the first. I still didn’t find the guy making his moves on me attractive, but instead of avoiding the groping, I let him be. I got a hard-on as he was subtly stroking me through my jeans. I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t avoid the groping, but I guess the combination of doing something naughty yet still discreet in a public place, plus the thought that I was still in control of the situation, made me figure that it was quite harmless. The stroking actually felt really good. Unfortunately for him, I had no intention of letting things progress further than that and immediately left when my station came up.

Have I done any groping myself? Nope. I’m too torpe to do anything like that, though I have done the pressed skin-on-skin contact in the hope that there would be some pressing back in return. Unfortunately, I didn’t get lucky. :-P

How about you, got any naughty train stories to share?