Jan 30, 2010

Would you vote for Ang Ladlad?


The latest on the COMELEC-Ang Ladlad controversy is that Ang Ladlad fully went through the constitutionally-mandated processes. They filed an appeal to the COMELEC en banc, which was denied (but hooray for the body’s first division!), and so they brought the issue to the Supreme Court. As of this moment, the high court hasn’t ruled yet on whether Ang Ladlad deserves Party List accreditation, but they forced the COMELEC to provisionally put Ang Ladlad on the ballot while the justices haven’t decided yet. (The bishops of the CBCP have decried this SC decision—some with really laughable reasons. Their reaction probably deserves another post.)

While it’s not clear that the SC will rule in favor of Danton Remoto’s organization, it’s clear that their order to the COMELEC proves that they do find some merit in the appeal. So, I’m optimistic that Ang Ladlad will get the nod. Now the question is, assuming that Ang Ladlad gets its place on the ballot, would you vote for them this coming election?

I would. I was intending to vote for them in 2007 but they got disqualified so I won’t hesitate to vote for them in 2010 if ever. If they get disqualified, I won’t vote for any other Party List as a form of protest. How about you?

If you won’t vote for Ang Ladlad, I guess it will fall among any of the following reasons:

  1. You can’t vote in the first place.
  2. You don’t support gay rights and/or explicit representation for the gay sector.
  3. You support gay rights/representation but you want to vote for some other Party List more.
  4. You support gay rights/representation but you don’t like Ang Ladlad or Danton Remoto.
  5. You support gay rights/representation but you are afraid of putting that on public record (i.e., the ballot).

I think these are all valid reasons except for the last. I can imagine that some guys have that apprehension. It’s true that the ballot is a government document and that the ballot number is tied to your name, but we do have ballot secrecy laws intended to establish voter independence. So I think the risk that your family members, friends, or colleagues would know that you voted for Ang Ladlad is negligible.

Jan 27, 2010

What’s inside Queeriosity Palace?


To continue my series of posts on Queeriosity Palace, let me now show you how this bathhouse is laid out on the inside.

Queeriosity Palace has two floors and the entrance coming in from F.B. Harrison Street is on the first floor. It’s the door located at the bottom of the floor plan above. Immediately inside is the registration area, and to the right is the bag and shoes deposit area. Further on is the safety deposit area then a toiletries area (where people can freshen up before leaving) and then the locker room.

From the locker area, you can then go on to the bar, the jacuzzi, the steam room, the lounge and the shower area. The lounge, which is surrounded by glass panels so that it’s visible from outside, used to be a closed-off area where a gym was planned to be put up by the original owner, but the new owners decided to turn this into a lounge where they put up occasional shows.

The shower area is certainly not for modest people since there are no dividers here—just two back-to-back rows of shower heads. If you want just a bit of privacy, the back row is a bit better but if you’re the exhibitionist, the front row is for you since it’s visible from the lounge.

To get to the second floor, there are two stairs available: the one beside the bar, and the one between the jacuzzi and the safety deposit box. I assume the latter stairs is for the people who opt to get one of the private rooms upstairs. I have never been inside any of the private rooms but I think each one has its own private CR. Also, one of the rooms is reserved for those who avail of the massage services provided by a couple of masseurs from Hilom.

If you didn’t opt to get one of the private rooms, there are 19 smaller rooms on the second floor and each one has a raised bed with a leather-covered mattress, and each one has its own light and exhaust fan that can individually be turned on. The second floor also has three shower cubicles (for the really modest though these cubicles don’t have any doors) and two toilets (of course with doors) at the far end. Towards the entrance side, there is an Internet cafe with three PCs and a TV room showing blue films.

I have to warn you that the second floor area where the public rooms are is a bit dark and is illuminated only by red floor lights. Most of the other areas have enough lighting. One nice touch in the bathhouse is that the floor of the bar and jacuzzi area is covered with small white pebbles giving the place a sort of tropical or spa-like feel (kinda). And if you’re wondering, the jacuzzi is cold.

So there. I know how it feels like feeling lost in a place (and it decreases your confidence levels) and so I hope that this post will help first-timers navigate the place. You’ll spend more cruising and less time getting lost. Hehehe. :-)

Jan 18, 2010

The C’est so Paris gay rugby ad

1 comment.

Speaking of rugby, I’d like to share this 2007 ad campaign (example layout above) commissioned by the tourist agency of Paris that aimed to attract British people to go to France, which hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The idea was to show that aside from Paris being the City of Love, Parisians also have a sense of humor. :-) You can do a Google image search for "paris gay rugby ad" to look for a larger version.

Humorous or not, I totally dig this advertisement! Aside from the obvious “French” kisses, there’s plenty of things going on with the other players, like all the groping at crotches and butts. Hehehehe. Too bad that ads like this are unlikely to be made for the Philippine market anytime soon.

Jan 17, 2010

The brave story of Gareth Thomas


I really don’t follow sports news all that much so it’s only now that I’ve learned of the story of how professional Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas came out as gay to the public last December. While he came out to his teammates and wife (!) back in 2006 and they were supportive, he decided to come out to the international public to serve as inspiration to gay and bisexual men everywhere.

His story is a really big deal. While he’s not the first rugby player to come out as gay, he is the first international rugby player and a top-level player to do so. Being a playing gay sportsman in an ultra-macho and very violent game like rugby (Gareth has missing front teeth to show for it) and being one of the most-capped rugby players in the world, Gareth and his tale helps to shatter the stereotype that gay men are sissies. But more importantly, his sad experience living as a closeted gay man shows that society really needs to be more accepting and supportive of LGBT people. Gareth knew that he was gay since he was 16 or 17 but kept it hidden in order to be successful at rugby and even married his teenage sweetheart in the hope that it will help him repress his sexuality. He ended up cheating on his wife by secretly meeting other men and the guilt and the pressure had him contemplating suicide several times.

I heartily suggest that you read his coming-out news article. It’s a really good read and hopefully will help those of us in the future who decide to come out of the closet.

Jan 16, 2010

Pinoy PLU Signal: Fast Food Counter Staff


I don’t know if it’s just me, but have you noticed that most of the male crew that man the cash registers and take customers’ orders in fast food joints seem to be gay? The hetero males, on the other hand, are the ones cooking and busing the tables.

I wonder if this is because the effeminate gay guys can be quite amiable and so they are better suited to doing customer service and interacting with patrons. There may be other possible reasons but that’s the only one I can think of. What do you think?

Jan 6, 2010

Before the Internet: Ayala Triangle


I’m always interested to hear how things were like for the hidden PLU community before the advent of widespread Internet. For sure, finding like-minded guys was a helluva lot harder then than it is in this day and age. Now we have plenty of online venues such as social networking sites, Internet relay chat (or IRC), and even blogs like Discreet Manila to provide us with tons of connections and information. Well, I’ve seen a documentary last year which showed how the gay community was in the United States in the 1970s, but I also want to see how things went here in the Philippines.

Before the Internet, I imagine that discreet cruising skills like the look or even silly ones like the leaving-your-card trick are one’s best assets for meeting other guys. From there, you get to build your set of gay PLU friends and you are then able to obtain news, and information on cruising spots and gay-friendly places from your network.

Anyway, thanks to this really enlightening (and old) blog post by the Corporate Closet, I had learned that one (surprising!) cruising spot back in the 1980s was Ayala Triangle in Makati. Who knew? Back then it was called Ugarte Field and that’s where you could meet upscale yuppies for quick sex or even just companionship. I guess it’s inevitable that gay guys would flock to dark parks in the same we gravitate to comfort rooms.

So, for the older guys out there, got any nostalgic stories to share, like CC? :-)

Jan 3, 2010

2009 MSM Sex Survey results have been published


Finally! The organizers of the 2009 MSM Sex Survey that I blogged about back in March and posted a short update on in May have released the results. They initially said it would take about 60 days to release it but it took them 7 months! Well, I guess they had to really comb through the survey responses because they said just after the survey closed that they got more than 15,000 respondents for the survey but the final results only covered 7,993 people. That’s almost half the respondents that have been trimmed down! (Were there really that many bogus or unacceptable entries?)

You can view the results on their website and you can download a PDF copy there if you want. Fridae.com, the main organizer, has posted highlights of the results in their news section. Shown below is an example data point from the results and below that are their conclusions from the survey.

  • Not all MSM and TG are at equal risk for HIV infection. Men who abstain from sex, do not have anal sex, or use a condom consistently with all their sex partners when they have anal sex are at little to no risk of being infected with HIV.
  • Those most at immediate risk are the 21% of men who have unprotected sex with casual partners (1664 of 7993) and 3% with commercial partners (253 of 7993).
  • Unprotected anal sex amongst men in regular relationships is high (2455 of 3556 in a current relationship do not use condoms consistently). This is a cause for concern when either or both partners is also having unprotected anal sex with casual partners (816 of 3556). This puts not only themselves, but also their regular partners at risk.
  • Recent HIV testing (within the last 12 months) was also low, and almost a quarter of those surveyed had never been tested. A significant number who have never been tested, or tested recently continue to have unprotected anal sex with casual partners (684 of 7993).
  • The level of HIV acceptance in the community is relatively high, but despite this, the degree of HIV disclosure remains low.

While the results are interesting in itself, I wish they provided a breakdown of the results per country. Based on their demographics results, there were 252 non-rejected respondents from the Philippines. This is quite low but some data is better than none at all. Per-country breakdown is much more useful than aggregated data since prevention and mitigation of HIV and AIDS should be tailored to each country due to differing cultural norms, political systems, and infection rate. While the Philippines is still considered as a low-HIV-incidence country, recent alarming data from the Department of Health suggests that this might not be the case in a few years.

So what did you think of the results? Did you find anything particularly interesting?