Jul 27, 2009

Discreetionary: parokyano



parokyano [pa·ro·KYA·nò] noun 1. A person who frequents gay establishments, especially bathhouses and gay saunas. etymology: from the Tagalog parokyano, which comes from the Spanish parroquiano, which means parishioner (of a parish) or a patron or customer of an establishment.

This term has a negative connotation and is used to refer to those guys who frequent bathhouses, especially those that go there every week or even more frequently. The connotation seems to say that a parokyano is a sex-maniac. I don’t get why frequenting bathhouses is such a bad thing. If you’re single, having safe casual sex in moderate amounts is not an unhealthy thing. And getting laid in the bathhouse is a very low-risk affair and there’s no problem of second-guessing if a guy is straight or not and wondering where to do it unlike when cruising in public. And unlike chatting and cruising online, you have no problem anymore with fake pictures. I guess being a parokyano will only be a problem if one is addicted to it.

Because of this negative connotation, I’ve observed one thing. One question that I’ve encountered a lot from people I meet in the bathhouse is “how many times have you been here?” The usual answer is two, three, or a few times. People don’t like to say it’s their first time (so that they won’t appear naïve), and they certainly don’t like to admit that they’ve been to the bathhouse many times. Well, I’m admitting that I’m a parokyano and by that, I’m saying that I patronize bathhouses (I usually go about once a month). I don’t see anything wrong with that, do you?

Got any Discreetionary terms of your own? Send them my way at discreetmanila at gmail.com.

Jul 25, 2009

DJ Big Kid is pretty hawt!


I was checking out Bed’s website this week and I saw this poster for an event last Saturday (July 18), featuring DJ Big Kid of Singapore. The poster showed a hunky gym-buffed Asian guy and I was quite intrigued and checked him out. He has a Facebook profile and the pictures of him are quite drool-worthy. He may not be as good-looking or his body as defined as some other guys but he definitely passes my standards. :-)

Too bad I wasn’t able to go to Bed last Saturday so that I could go come and see him up close, but fortunately, DJ Big Kid has posted an album containing pictures of his gig in Bed at his Facebook account. (I’m a bit surprised to see that his main web page is on Facebook, instead of the usual MySpace for music artists—there are a couple of unrelated DJ Big Kids on MySpace.)

Now, I’m not so sure if he’s gay or not but he definitely supports the gay community, playing in various gay circuit parties in Singapore and elsewhere and participating in various gay initiatives in Singapore. According to this Fridae interview (Fridae is the most popular gay website in Singapore), DJ Big Kid, whose real name is Johnson Ong, graduated from law school (wow!), worked in the PR industry, and is now a DJ. Fridae’s last question was, “Who would your dream date be if you were straight for a day?” implying that DJ Big Kid is gay. Then again, Fridae always asks that question of their interviewees, even the straight ones, if I remember correctly. Nevertheless, I still think he’s pretty hot, don’t you agree?

If you want to see more of him, check out this interview of him on YouTube, that is, if you can stand the heavy Singaporean accent. :-) More photos of him are shown below: the top two are a couple of his Facebook profile pics, while the bottom two are from his Bed gig. (He apparently likes to DJ topless.)

Jul 23, 2009

Dose is very uncomfortable to watch


Lots of people managed to see Senedy Que’s “personal film” Dose (12) late last year during its first theatrical screening, like McVie, Tony, and The Bakla Reviewer. (Migs blogged about it last year but he didn’t get to see it.) I unfortunately was not able to catch it then. So when The Bakla Reviewer, Tony, and Migs spread the word that Dose would be having another run, I grabbed the chance to see this controversial film at Robinsons Galleria early this month.

The film tells the story of a gardener named Danny (played by Yul Servo) and Edy, a 12-year-old kid (played by Fritz Arvhie Chavez) who tends to display effeminate qualities. Because of his gay tendencies, Edy was “exiled” from his family in the province to live with his aunt in the city who employs Danny. Because of their lonely situation, Edy and Danny, whom Edy calls Yaku (“kuya” backwards), quickly became friends. Unfortunately, this friendly relationship crossed certain lines. Emilio Garcia portrays the older Edy who grew up to become a filmmaker and was seeking closure from his bond with Yaku.

I found that the movie is not really disturbing, but it is extremely uncomfortable to watch. Pedophilia is such a taboo subject in many cultures, including the Philippines, that having a film that seemingly glorifies it would send moralists into conniptions. To be fair, I wouldn’t say that the relationship portrayed was really pedophilic since Danny seemed to be straight in all respects and only gave in to Edy’s advances. The bond between the two might be said to be more pederastic rather than pedophilic since Danny acted as a surrogate big brother and father to Edy. Moreover, if you were to view the film itself objectively (ignoring the “love knows no age” publicity angle and all the superlatives in one of the trailers), I didn’t think it gave any moral judgment at all on whether the bond between Edy and Danny was right or wrong—the viewer is the one left to decide for himself.

That said, the movie is an excellent piece of filmmaking. The story and plot is well-executed and thought-provoking while the acting is superb. Yul Servo fit his role to a tee (now I can see why he often gets nominated for Best Actor/Supporting Actor and winning some of them). Fritz Chavez provides a nice opposite to Yul Servo and he holds his own beautifully. Emilio Garcia, while being relegated to just the first few and the last several scenes, manages to bring his own charisma to the table. Irma Adlawan, who plays Edy’s aunt, was also a real delight to watch. In addition, I agree with many others that it’s refreshing to see a gay-themed film that has little poverty and all the other clich├ęs of the Filipino gay indie genre. I also liked how I was led twice to believe something in the movie but they turned out to be little plot twists.

There were some things I didn’t like, however. For one, were the cum shots really necessary? The movie excelled in subtlety so these little “treats” seemed like a sell-out. Ditto with the extended down-and-up footage of Yul Servo’s body. Also, the movie left me some unanswered questions like why was Danny gone abruptly?

I guess comparisons will inevitably be made between this film and two other coming-of age movies: Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Ang Lihim ni Antonio. Those two earlier flicks are gems in their own right, but Dose manages to dig even deeper into the genre and forge new paths, though it had to take a controversial angle to do that.

Much has been said about how Senedy Que says Dose is a “personal film.” Given that the older Edy was a filmmaker, I guess the film is likely semi-autobiographical though how much literary license was taken is a matter of speculation.

Kai and CC both managed to watch Dose during the second screening as well and these two have taken opposite stands. Kai likes the execution but finds the “message” repugnant while CC is mostly all praises. Me, I think it is a film worth watching in the theaters even if you might squirm in your seat while seeing it.

One last thing, I have never seen any of those whimsical campy old films like Temptation Island, so it was a real delight to see clips from those films interspersed within Dose. Now I’m quite curious to see them. :-)

Jul 18, 2009

How things work in Epitome


Epitome logo. From past posts here in Discreet Manila, you should already know where Epitome is (and how to get there), how the bathhouse is laid out (so you won’t get lost or look lost), and what are its themed nights. So now I’ll explain how things work in Epitome and what norms, procedures and things that you can expect there so that you won’t go around looking clueless (and therefore prey to others).

Epitome’s entrance, manned by a friendly security guard, is just a doorway leading straight to a stairway. On the second floor landing is a bulletin board where you can check out the posted promos and events. To the left is a door which leads to yet another stairway on top of which is the registration booth, which is usually manned by a hunky guy.

If this is your first time to go to Epitome or you are renewing your membership, the attendant will give you a registration form that you need to fill up and you need to provide him with an ID. I think you can get away with providing minimal information in the form, but the name you write must match the one on the ID. The attendant may also have you sign the back of a membership card that he will provide you (or later before you leave). You also need to pay the membership fee which I think is P280. The membership fee also serves as your entrance fee for that night.

If you are already a member, then you only need to provide the attendant with your membership card and an ID and you need to pay the entrance fee, which varies with the time you arrive (the earlier, the cheaper) and the day of the week (weekends are more expensive). The average price you will shell out is around P200.

After everything is in order, the registration attendant will give you a padlock and a pair of keys. If you brought a bag, the attendant will also claim it for deposit there. In addition, depending also on the time, you may be given a drink stub that you can redeem for a free drink. The attendant will then ring a bell (of sorts) where you will be ushered into the left door. Inside, a waiting attendant will get all your valuables and deposit them in one of the safety deposit boxes using one of the keys given to you (the box’s number matches your padlock’s). You have to leave everything valuable: cellphone, wallet, keys, wristwatch, etc. The attendant will then frisk you to check that you have left nothing else.

From there you can proceed to the lounge area. During Fridays and Saturdays, there is usually a show on the lounge’s stage, usually a gay comedy show with karaoke singing—basically your typical bar program that you can see elsewhere. You can opt to stay and watch the show (and sing if you want) and drink at the bar there, or proceed to the bathhouse proper.

The bathhouse proper’s entrance can be found from the back of the lounge going outside the back and down a steep set of stairs. After entering the door, you will find yourself in the locker room where a waiting attendant will give you a towel and a pair of slippers. He may also ask you your padlock number and point you to the matching locker where you will deposit your clothes. You have to change into the towel and slippers before you can proceed to the other areas. The keys are attached to a wrist band which you can then wear while inside the bathhouse proper.

From then on, it’s pretty much up to you. I suggest you go and explore. Try to familiarize yourself with the floor plans I provided so that you won’t get lost. In addition, you can also get your drinks at the bar on the ground floor. When ordering your drink, you can give your drink stub if you have one. Additional drinks will be charged to your number which the bartender will ask every time you order a drink. The payment will be conducted at the registration booth when you leave. (Surprisingly, the bartender rarely checks your keys to confirm the locker number. So theoretically, you can charge your drinks to somebody else.) You can also order food if you want; just ask the bartender.

Once you’ve had your fill of, uh, men and want to leave, just change back to your clothes at the locker room then give the attendant your towel and slippers. You can also freshen up using the provided toiletries at the dresser there. Then, retrace your steps back to the safety deposit boxes where the attendant will get your stuff and hand it back to you. From there, you go to the registration booth (via a different hallway) where you give the registration attendant your padlock and keys. You then have to pay for any additional drinks you ordered. The attendant will then give you your ID and your membership card, and your bag if you brought one. Finally, you can leave the premises and come back another day.

Shown above is a photo of the back of the membership card, which is just a piece of cardboard. There’s a bar code, an ID number, and a space for your signature. The front of the card just depicts Epitome’s logo. They used to have the card laminated but now no longer.

Trivia: Epitome's official name is Epitome Cafe and Fitness Center and the corporation behind it is named Hedoniste Inc. How do I know the corporation? I’ve seen the business permit posted at the registration booth. :-) I’ve also learned that Epitome is registered in the City of Manila as a restaurant, would you believe?

Jul 15, 2009

Discreetness is not a black-and-white thing


I’ve written over a year ago about the subtle differences between being closeted/out and being discreet/indiscreet (and also a bit about being masculine/effeminate). These are all interrelated but distinct concepts. To recap, being closeted/out is really all about whether other people know whether you are straight or not, while being discreet/indiscreet is all about how you act and behave to prevent other people from knowing about your sexual orientation.

For this post, I’ll expand on the statement I wrote then that there are “many shades to being discreet.” This means that there is no strict line between being a discreet PLU one minute and suddenly no longer being one. Discreetness is not a black-and-white thing.

I guess at the most discreet level are those uber-paranoid guys that like to control every aspect of other people knowing about their hidden life. These are the guys that prefer one-on-one encounters brokered over the Internet but never posting nor sharing their pictures online. These guys will definitely never go to gay clubs, bathhouses, and other similar venues. They may also refrain from having sex in motels (lest the staff know about them), would shy away from casual encounters in malls and in the gym (since they would prefer to know if the other guy is as discreet as them without the guy knowing how they look like), and would never be seen with another guy in public if there’s a chance that other people might mistake them as being on a date.

Unfortunately, these guys are the least likely to get action and their paranoid behavior make them really irritating to deal with. So unless a guy like that is someone with a lot to lose (like a celebrity or maybe even a tsinoy dude with an intensely traditional family) he will likely relax some aspects of his behavior if he really want to explore what it really means to be PLU.

On the other end of the spectrum are those guys that don’t care what other people think. And because they don’t care, discreetness is a non-issue. (But it doesn't mean they turn effeminate—remember that masculinity vs. effeminacy is a different concept.) When asked, they won’t deny that they’re gay or bi. And in public, they may hold their partner’s hand or even display affection.

Between these two extremes is a lot of gray area, and that gray area does not even have clearly defined levels. Gay guy A may chose to be less discreet in one aspect or in one situation but be very discreet in another while PLU B would have it the other way around. Is one more discreet than the other? When PLUs say that they want to meet a discreet guy, they are actually saying that the other person must be as discreet as them or more so in all the aspects or situations where they are being discreet.

A case in point: in gay social networking sites, like the old Guys4Men, there are some guys who don’t post pictures of themselves because they say they are “discreet.” By claiming that, they then automatically imply that all the other guys that have visible pictures are not discreet anymore. I don’t think that that is the case, right?

Anyway, discretion is not a bad thing, but I take exception when people use their standards of discretion as a form of unreasonable discrimination. It’s understandable if you only prefer guys who have similar levels of discreetness as you do but it’s not right to judge other people for having different standards of discretion from you.

Jul 12, 2009

Pinoy PLU Signal: Apathetic to Basketball


Basketball is so freaking popular in the Philippines that practically every barangay has its own basketball court and every village its own summer liga (league). And one thing I’ve noticed is that almost every PLU friend I know is not into basketball outside of UAAP/NCAA and NBA. If any gay guy is interested at all, then it would likely be because of the hunky cagers, especially those that have crossed over into showbiz or modeling like Ram Sagad, Bruce Quebral, Chris Tiu, Simon Atkins, JC Tiuseco, Derick Hubalde, and Marx Topacio.

I have no idea why gay people, in general, are not into basketball as much as straight guys. I don’t think it’s because gay guys are not into sports. One reason I can think is that basketball is a contact sport (unlike, say, volleyball or badminton) and because of that, established basketball teams will likely shun gay players who are out especially in this still-homophobic country like ours. Also, I think that closeted potential players would likely find the physical contact in the game too much for comfort. Of course I’m just speculating here and I would certainly appreciate any ideas.

I’ll just leave you with this funny local Sunkist commercial (that you already ought to have seen) about a closeted MVP cager unmasked by a iced tea drink / truth serum. It also helps that the MVP’s two teammates here are very yummy. :-)

Jul 2, 2009

200 subscribers!


While the actual count does change day by day (sometimes going up or going down), I think that it’s safe to say that Discreet Manila has crossed the threshold of 200 subscribers according to Google Feedburner, which handles this blog’s subscription feed. Yay! I’d like to give a big shoutout to all of my readers: thank you very much for supporting this site! :-)

If I remember correctly, it was back in January that Discreet Manila got a hundred readers, a little less than a month before this site’s first anniversary. That means that the first 100 came in the first 11 months while the next 100 joined in just 5 months. Wow! I’m really overwhelmed by the vote of confidence, guys! Thank you very much!

So, how long do you think before Discreet Manila gets 300 readers? I hope it happens before the end of the year. :-)

Jul 1, 2009



Has someone ever tried picking you up while you were standing on a sidewalk minding yourself? Well, I had that experience and the first time happened back in 2004.

It was nighttime. I was waiting then along Julia Vargas Avenue besides Megamall, waiting for my ride to fetch me. There was this one guy I noticed scoping me out. I did not think much of him because, although I sensed that he wasn’t straight, he was an ordinary-looking middle-aged guy. He disappeared after a while.

After a few more minutes, I saw him crossing back the street to my side. By then, we two were the only ones standing near the intersection. He was looking at me and I was looking at the road waiting for my ride.

He approached me and asked, “Pwede magtanong?” (Classic.) “Alam mo ba kung saan ang CoffeeLine?” (Pick-up tip #1: invent an obscure-sounding shop nobody knows so you can talk with the target person longer.)

“Sorry, di ko alam ’yon,” was my disinterested reply. I tried my best to put on my most snobby demeanor that my friends usually complain about.

“’Di ba sa may Shaw lang iyon?” he pressed.

(Eh, alam mo pala eh, ba’t ’di mo hanapin?) “Wala talaga akong alam na CoffeeLine.”

Unperturbed, he paused for a while before asking, “Anong pangalan mo?” I thought he’d never ask.


He offered his hand and introduced himself, “My name’s Eric.” Man, I don’t know if I’d admire him for being brave or pissed at him for being thick-faced. If I were in his shoes, I’d mutter a quick “sorry” and be on my way.

But since I’m not that rude a person to refuse an introduction, I shook his hand. “Vince,” came my reply.

Then comes the kicker. “Nagpapabayad ka ba?” Man! I knew I was expecting it but actually hearing it was quite a different experience. I don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted.

“Ha?! Hindi.”

With a disappointed look, he utters “sorry” then crossed back the street hailing a taxi on the other side.

But the story didn’t end there. While still waiting for my ride, another guy was scoping me out as well. He is younger but still an ordinary-looking guy. Sigh. Why can’t the semi-cute guys be the ones who approach? Probably because most of them are playing hard-to-get.

Like the first one, this second guy finally gathered enough guts to approach and ask, “Pwedeng matanong kung anong oras na?” (Pick-up tip #2: If all else fails, ask for the time.)

He asked it because I was fiddling with my cellphone. Unfortunately for him, I was tinkering with it because it was having problems. I honestly couldn’t tell what time it was so I sincerely replied, “’Di ko alam eh.” Sounds mean, I know.

Unlike the first guy, he took the hint and went away.

Up till now, I still don’t know why two guys approached me that night. I didn’t think that Julia Vargas was a popular cruising/pick-up spot nor was I dressed like a call boy. I usually have a snobby look about me so the experience was totally unexpected. I laugh at it now and now I’m just curious if you guys have ever had similar experiences as well. :-)