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Of God and Blow Jobs

I bumped into screenwriter Ramon Bayron (Abakada, Ina) and he was ecstatic to share his thoughts on our film “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (Antonio’s Secret). He liked the existentialism of the material and all. I was surprised that Mr. Bayron liked the film despite him being very religious. And he caught me by surprise by asking a very thought-provoking question.

“Why would God be concerned with men sucking each other’s penises when there are millions of other life-threatening and earth-shaking problems in this world?”

And I paused to think about it. What’s with ejaculation that God (as supposedly represented by the church) should make a big deal about? First, it thought about it in a particular context. If such an act would create destruction of a particular family, causing pain for the wife and her children, I think God should definitely look into it. But if two responsible and educated adult men help each other into ejaculation, what does God have to do about it?

It was such an interesting perspective to probe on. But unfortunately, I can’t force myself to continue with it. I don’t believe in the Judeo-Christian God. And I have known for a fact that historically, we humans are fond of ascribing and imposing our own attributes and values to the god that we create for ourselves. Hence, such an idiosyncracy from a supposedly “god being” isn’t really a surprise.

But if you are a believer, just like my friend, it would really be interesting to think about it. “What’s really with responsible men sucking each other’s cocks that would make God (Judeo-Christian) so angry that he will condemn you to hell for all eternity?”

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Brainy Surprises

 

The human brain is one of the most fascinating things in the universe. And this is held true by the book “Phantoms of the Brain” by neurologist V.S. Ramachandran. In this brilliant account of different cases on neurology, Ramachandran gives us a peek into the inner workings of the human mind — how we deceive ourselves, how we perceive our world, why we laugh, why we are depressed, why we could unconsciously be in denial of many unnacceptable things in our body and in our life and why we believe God.

Many of the featured cases here are bizarre. His experiments are simple. But his deductions about brain function would just jump through you and will make you look at life yourself in a different way.

It’s a witty and insightful book about many things we never knew about ourselves. And this is just one of those books that I would always remember for the rest of my life.

Antonio’s Secret in New York

Our film Antonio’s Secret (directed by Joselito Altarejos) will have its international premiere in Rochester, New York on October 13, 2008. Here’s a statement from one of the reviewers at the Image Out Festival.

 

“Join us for the International Premiere of a controversial film that proves once again that not all gay films from the Philippines are about hustlers and macho dancers. Antonio’s Secret tackles the taboo topic of incest and its tragic consequences.”

“Antonio’s Secret takes a raw and honest look at the not-so-secret, and sometimes downright depraved, sex life of teenage boys. Director Joselito Altarejos adds a layer of depth by telling a rich story of a confused young man, growing up with few available positive role models, who makes crucial choices and is forced to face their tragic consequences. Using a, sometimes wobbly, handheld camera without employing much of a musical soundtrack, except for the occasional tunes from the acoustic guitar of a neighborhood musician, Altarejos pulls his audiences in and makes it a highly voyeuristic and intimate affair.

 

Our ImageOut There! Series brings you the type of film that rarely gets made in politically correct Hollywood, and is definitely not coming to your neighborhood multiplex anytime soon. Antonio’s Secret confronts the taboo topic of incest head on while giving an authentic portrait of middle-class life in Manila, far from the squalor of urban squatters typical of Filipino films with international distribution. Be warned that this film contains nudity, sensitive mature themes, and one graphic scene of violence.

 

With the advent of digital filmmaking, Philippine Cinema is enjoying a boost from young and edgy filmmakers. ImageOut is proud to provide a forum for these undiscovered gems.

 

~ Michael Gamilla (Imageout, Rochester Lesbian and Gay Film Festival)

 

Your Penis Shall Reveal the Truth

Whoever said that those straight men who are prejudiced against gay men are themselves secretly harboring gay feelings? They are technically correct as supported by a scientific study.

 

This interesting study about gay bashers was quickly mentioned in the book that I am currently reading “Phantoms of the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind”, a brilliant book on experiments on neurology by V.S. Ramachandran.

 

In this study, the “straight gay bashers” and the “straight men who didn’t have problems with gay men” were asked to watch a “Man to Man” Pornography. And the result? The gay bashers significantly have bigger erections than the straight men who are not prejudiced.

 

If you’re curious how erections were measured, they used a device called penile plethysmograph, which measures changes in the circumference of the penis.

 

I’m thinking, what could this study actually imply?

 

First, since penile erection could both be a conscious or unconscious effort, it is possible that the formation of prejudice against gay men could simply be an unconscious effort — meaning even before the “gay feelings” among “gay bashers” could be acknowledged, these “gay feelings” could have been repressed at an unconscious level therefore, their prejudice isn’t something that they have created with full awareness.

 

Two gay men like me, should learn to understand the straight who overtly hate us just because we are gay. We need to create a friendly and caring atmosphere with them so eventually, they could learn to accept their highly probable hidden “gay feelings”.

 

Don’t you just love the idea? The straight men who hate us gay men, are essentially gay men themselves. They just need a little support, understanding and a lot of love.

“Sorry, I Can’t Work on This”

 

Whoever said that one of the signs of a successful career is when one begins to turn down good projects?

I remember when I was 20, then a restless student from the University of the Philippines, I was very studious, getting good grades and all, but my biggest priority was to build a career in the entertainment industry. So, whatever project that was offered to me, whether television, theater or a corporate event, I would never turn it down and do all these workat the expense of my sleep, my studies or even my sanity.

Fast forward, eight years after with several failures and financial losses under my belt, I find myself turning down many, many projects and opportunities.

For the past two days, I just turned down two projects. Things I would have loved to do had I been much younger. I just said no to a new film with my director Joselito Altarejos, just because my mind is in a “vacation mode” right now. And I don’t feel writing a sex film, if there is nothing new that I can contribute in the discourses on sex.

And I just said sorry for not being able to work on a new project with a wealthy and good looking male model who asked me to help him promote his new website service with a series of events and press releases. This project would have been really fun as well.

Let me set the records straight. I am not successful and I am very far from being one.

I am just older, much older than my previous workaholic self. My time for yoga and writing blog posts is just too precious for me. Unless if you dazzle me with exorbitant talent fee, which I know would never happen.

And because I am much older, I know that my life no longer depends on “more money” and “bigger career”. There is more to life than what has preoccupied my mind wayback my restless days.

And for my being older, I can always call on wisdom to always say “Sorry, I can’t work on this”

 

Your Private Yoga Class in Ortigas

Chi, The Spa at Edsa Shangri-la is now offering a personalized yoga class for everyone. So whether your goal is to have a relaxing session of stretching or a dynamic and muscle toning experience or simply to breathe away the stress of the day, there’s a yoga class for your specific needs right at the heart of the most luxurious hotel in Ortigas (Philippines).

 

This elegant spa offers of one of the most beautiful yoga studios in Metro Manila — serene, quiet and it even has a small library for its clients to have a deeper understanding of the yoga lifestyle.

 

 

This private session may also be availed by two individuals — perfect for couples or friends who would like to enhance their relationship through a fun and interactive partner yoga class. In this kind of session, clients perform their yoga poses together with their partners building trust and connection in this process.

 

 

Classes are conducted by a Yoga Alliance USA registered instructor. Each session costs Php1500 (good for two individuals; additional Php500 for a third participant). You may call Edsa Shangri-la at (632) 6338888 to request for a schedule anyday of the week.

My First Year Teaching Yoga

It has been a year since I attended my Yoga Teacher Training. And looking back, my life has dramatically changed.
First, I now teach seven days a week. I grow with my students and they inspire me to have a deeper yoga practice.
Teaching 15 classes a week, have made me let go of several television and film projects. But It is a decision I would never regret.Because teaching yoga does not require me to go on late nights with killer script deadlines, kiss ass with entertainment executives and deal with tantrums from “wannabe stars”.
Teaching yoga simply requires to be myself – adventurous, appreciative and nurturing. It does not require me to wear nice fitting signature pants,expensive watches and other fashion statements shouting “look at me, I’m a creative person”. Everyday, I simply wear my most comfortable shorts andsneakers geared to face the harsh urban Manila.
And because I can simply leave my fashoin in my closet, I can now afford not to drive my car. With the onset of exorbitant gasoline prices, I’m just glad that most of the studios I teach in has a direct access to a train station. Now, I can pay for the food that I crave for without thinking of my gasoline and parking expenses for the next day.
For the most part of the week, I only teach in the evenings. For this reason, I have gained enough free time to write about things closest to my heart: yoga, my queer advocacies and the philosophies that I stand for. I have written scripts for films which have earned praises from critics and have grown three blogswith hundreds of readers a day. And for the first time in my life, I am publicly recognized as a writer.
Aside from the great wonders of a lifestyle change as a yoga teacher, my practice has deepened. I am now entering the realm of backbends, something for me was impossible for the past three years of my yoga practice. My meditation has become deep enough for me to have an overmhelming appreciation of my life and the world around me. Having attended the Asian Yoga Conference in Hongkong has taught me that there’s a huge world of yoga outside of Manila. And there’s a limitless direction into how I want to grow my practice.
Let me end this note with my most important lesson so far — I have learned that our lives are anchored on our mind and our body. The lifestyle of yoga leads us to a better body and a better mind. Hence, as I grow in yoga as a teacher and as a practitioner, I live a better life and so do my students.