Warning:

This blog contains opinions, experiences, thoughts and observations of the author from his day to day living.
It is subject to comments, criticisms and corrections, and all will be dealt with constructively and do leave your comments I would love to hear from you.
There is no intention to offend, discriminate nor degrade anybody or anything for that matter, only shared feelings, emotions and angsts at the moment.
Welcome to my world.







Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Week and Off To Riyadh

A few more days, less than a week to be exact, and I'll be going back to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am asking myself if I am ready to face another year of doing the same routine once again. Am I? Well, yes, I will be doing the same for that's what I was hired to do at the same time that's work.

I am still feeling blessed that I have work, though God knows how much I am still hoping for something better, compensation wise, as things are not that cheap anymore.
A month stay in the Philippines has shown me that life is getting tougher day by day. I am still amazed as how people from the middle class down below the poverty line survive everyday.

I used to complain how much basic necessities cost everytime I went to the market, take note, wet market and not a supermarket for the prices there are too dreadful for me, anyway, as I was saying, I stopped my rantings as that's how things in the country nowadays.

Elections are coming and I don't really bother, forgive me for saying, but I don't really care. I am not a politics fan, just thinking about the country's present situation already made me brush off all these election bruhahas, and I know whoever sits in there inside the Philippine-version of the White House by the Pasig River will suffer the same fate as with the others. I'd rather stay away from politics than see all the negativities. I am sorry but I cannot see any positive thing in the Philippine government, well, that's me or until they bring the prize of a kilo of the ever so famous "galunggong" (mackerel scad) down to a very affordable prize as promised years and years ago by the late (may she rest in peace) president Corazon Aquino, which never did went down, maybe that's when I'll have my interest back.

Oh well, so a few days from now and I will see Riyadh, my second home and with me will be the hope that I can give a better life to my family, no, a more better life, God-willing. Actually, I am expecting something that was promised, and this, if ever will materialize would be a blessing, but if not, it's time to plan and use the opportunity to let another opportunity come.

God is good, He knows what we need, oh Lord, forgive me for wanting more, as you said yourself all we need to do is ask, I am not asking much but only to give me and my family something better. Amen

Friday, March 26, 2010

Singapore, How Can I Forget?


I haven't seen my sister for like a year and my birthday was coming so she told me if I wanted a sidetrip in Singapore where she was living for the past almost 7 years.
And how can I refuse such an offer? Me, who loves to travel would not say no to that!
So she send the ticket and before I knew it, I was already flying to Singapore for a week long tour.

I was first greeted by the humidity of the country, it was hot and humid and rainy like the Philippines. It was an easy flight and saw my sister as soon as I exited and we get to hug and kiss for we miss each other much. I arrived at 11 in the evening and she has work so we went directly to her place of work in an area called Boat Quay (Boat-Key)along a river with an array of bars and restaurants.

I get to walk for a while to wait for her to get off managing one of the bars there, until I arrived to a place called Clarke Quay (Clarke-Key) a place by the river too but on the other side where you'll find more clubs and bars full of people both Asian and Westerners. Truly people who were staying in Singapore loved to unwind everynight and there were a lot of places to go once the sun sets.

I spend most of my tour alone, and I get to know more of a place by walking around and feeling myself get lost at times. I get to discover new and exciting places along the way. But my sister asked for a leave for two days and we did have two fun-filled-bonding-moments days that we so much look forward to. She took me to Sentosa Island, wherein located were the country's famous amusement parks and of course the Underwaterworld where I saw a wide variety of sea animals including some amazing experience of touching live sharks, rays and a starfish!

We went to the beach there and found out from a signboard that Sentosa Island is the Southernmost part of Asia as shown in a map, cause next to it is already Australia. Imagine the feeling of just being there at that moment in time? Isn't it overwhelming to know that not too many people would know that. I just can't help smiling and thanking my sister about the whole thing.

Well, despite our lack of funds, we found a lot of ways to enjoy ourselves. We don't really need the amusement rides nor watch every show there was in Sentosa, but just being there with her, talking, laughing and taking pictures with her is more than enough for me. We both watched the sun set in Sentosa Island and dreaming and planning of a better future for our family.

One fun memory would be the night my sister and her Singaporean husband took me to dinner at China Town. We went to this restaurant by a busy street and ordered the famous Steamboat! A Steamboat is a dish wherein you cook your own combination of meat, seafoods and vegetables on big aluminum bowl of chicken broth with Chinese herbs and spices. It seemed like a very nice dinner until I get so stuffed eating prawns, crabs, beef and chicken, including vegetables that we have concocted all the while. We ate as if there's no more tomorrow and we went home feeling bloated.

Walking along the Orchard Road the next day was exhausting but fun, my eyes feasted on the wide variety of shops and international boutiques the line both side of a wide road. A full boulevard of shops that dazzles and entices anybody who might pass by. Brands like Armani to Zara abound, not to mention the local brands they have. I walked for I don't know how long, but I didn't really noticed as I was busy looking and gawking around. At the end of the day a trip to a sauna at a palce called Heater Room and immersing myself in a hot jacuzzi and a steam bath relieved all the tiredness away.

There was also a visit to a gay club there to in a place called Tantric along Neil Road near Tanjum Pagar, this is a red light district here in Singapore. It was a cozy place though a bit crowded with Europeans, Americans, Indians and Asians. I never thought that gay men there could really intermingle with each other despite their color. It was a great place. I came to know of the place when I met a lovely guy of Indian descent a day before and over a refreshing desert of iced fruits and "sago" his treat, told me the places to "see." We hanged out for a while and talked about a lot of things about Singapore and about each other which I find very, very nice.

There was a time also when my sister's father-in-law cooked lunch of sumptuos dish of prawns and their famous black pepper crab! I ate a lot and it was so heavenly!

The visit to the Chinatown was amazing with lots to see and buy at a very reasonable price, Chinese paintings, trinkets, decorations, all sorts of fancy things that mesmerized and excites. I bought some jade chinese horoscope symbols and a stamp with my Chinese name on it which I so like to have. A trip to Bugis was also a delight, it is a place sort of like a flea market, full of all sorts of things from imitation bags , watches and sunglasses, to a wide variety of clothing and other what have yous at a very reasonable price. Too bad though, my tour really does not include shopping! Oh, well, maybe next time.

My sister and I also went to the Singapore National Museum and just in time for the last exhibit of Egyptian antinquities. We joined the free tour and get to know a little bit about Egypt's history and saw mummies and artifacts from time immemorial. I thought this might be a prelude to my planned trip to Egypt also this year. Maybe.
Then we see exhibits of Singapore culture, history and arts. Another fun filled day.

While touring around, I got to meet a very nice man. A scientist and a poet combined. He was very nice and we get to hang out for a while. What's weird was that we seemed to know each other so well and felt really at home with each other, the feeling was as he called it, sublime and I, surreal. We promised to keep in touch and maybe see each other again.


All in all, it was a short trip but very exciting, my adventurous spirit was satisfied though I wished there was more time cause I missed seeing the zoo and the Night Safari and a few other places. Not to mention cross over Malaysia. But I'll be back and I am sure of that.

Singapore, don't ever leave without a picture together with another famous landmark, the Merlion along the sea!

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you simply, without complexities or pride;
I love you in this way because I know no other way of loving.

But this, where I does not exist, nor you,
so intimate that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes close that I close.

-Pablo Naruda

I Carry Your Heart With Me

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart ) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Date With Fate

I never denied that I am sexually adventurous, nor denied having too careless most of the time. But all came to a halt when a call made me think deep about my "wild side" and HIV. That I am actually playing a Russian roullete with my life.

I received a phone call from a friend while having my vacation. After the usual hi and hello, we decided to have a date and of the unusual kind. To date this was the most "unusual" date I ever had. Instead of the usual dinner or a movie, our date were to be ... you'll never guess, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

I've always wanted to do it, but like most people, fear prohibits me from going, not to mention shame. That at my age, I should be responsible and careful enough when it comes to my sexual encounters. But this time, I am cool, I am ok, although in my heart of hearts, I am afraid. But I need to go, and I need to do it.

You know of angels? People who were there at the right place at the right moment? Well, this guy was at the right time when he made that call.

Encouraging me and telling me the significance of the visit to the place, it made me realized that I must. So a date was set and I waited for the day.

The day came and we met at Tayuman, had a small lunch at Jollibee of chicken barbeque meal and an iced mango for dessert, after a short catching up about our lives, we head to the San Lazaro Hospital. Braving the noonday sun, some perspiration and a sticky feeling, we eventually arrived in this old building, with some dilapilated walls, smell of old rooms mixed with alcohol, actually, the smell of sickness which was a little nauseating really. My friend tried to continue the conversation, maybe to settle my nerves as I am a little nervous, it was my first time. He had been there twice a year for the past 2 or 3 years so he knows the procedure.

Going to the second floor of the first building with big banners and posters about World AIDS Day, bulletin boards with all sorts of announcements and reminders on health risks and safety, we were greeted by this petite nurse who asked for our reason for coming. My friend told her that I would like to get tested looked at me and smiled, as if I am something to fancy. She told me to sign a logbook, not before my friend told me that I had the privilege to not put my real name so I wrote Carlo Magno instead. I noticed there were two guys infront of me sitting on a long chair, one was smiling and the other is eyeing me as if I am already something to add to the statistic, of course both were gay. She had me filled up also this form for my information and answer some personal questions like, "have you been tested before?" "when was the last time you had sex?" "have you had any STD" and choices of "a. Heterosexual with multiple partners; b. Homosexual with multiple partners" "Gay, Bi, Straight" I felt like taking a medical board exam!

After a few minutes, she herded me inside a room where there sits a nurse which is also the counselor, by a table in a corner with some HIV and AIDS pamphlets, visual aids and materials on it, who were beaming at me. A middle aged guy sat on another table a few feet away, who looked up and also smiled at me and returned to filing some papers. I thought maybe smiling really was their SOP to make people coming there for tests feel at ease. She introduced herself, very friendly, all smiles, lowered her voice a bit and asked me if it is ok if she could ask me some questions and I gamely said of course. She told me that there will be a pre-counseling first before the test, and if I would like to have the test first instead, so while waiting she'd do the pre-counseling, duh? But anyway, she gave me a slip to take to the ground floor to room 106, so my friend and I went and chanced upon three chubby, laughing and eating nurses, as if they're in a restaurant and not in a hospital. I hesitantly come into the room cause I felt awkward and thought maybe they're on a break but the nurse in a civilian clothing, yes she is a nurse, I think cause she had a nameplate, asked me to come in and handed her the slip. I was told sit on a chair with an arm rest set up for taking blood samples, cleaned her hands just by rubbing them on her pants and together, which shocked me a bit, and prepared to draw blood. She tied a piece of rubber just above my elbow on my pecs and tried to find a vein on my left arm. Half of the syringe were full when she stopped drawing blood a few minutes later. We returned to the second floor to the counselor and resumed our conversation. She asked all sorts of questions, but before that she told me that she'll now include the post-counselling, I never got irritated with a word as much as I started to get to with the word "counselling" that moment!

Anyway, my family background was asked, so are my sexual history and all the while she was friendly enough to listen and to comment every now and then. She also explained all sorts of information about HIV and AIDS , which most I already know, but she explained further by telling me about the grace period from the last sexual encounter prior to test, and the aftermath if found positive. The Philippine Health Department provided free medical treatment including medicine, as long as the patient is willing enough to cooperate and to religiously follow a healthy lifestyle and regular check ups and visit to the designated health center, for a lifetime.

She also told me of her sentiment that she'd hoped for more funding from rich countries for more stable medical facilities and supplies, not that it's running out, but for future patients, as the costs of personal treatment is way too much for an average Filipino. What if the funds run out, she said, what would happen? I just agreed with her and made me think of what could I do, but that's another story.

All the while while asnwering her and listening to my story, my mind is wondering about the result. It took 30 minutes before someone came and handed her another slip which was the result. But that 30 minutes felt like an eternity, and I could feel my heart beating fast when I saw the slip. She read and then told me I should rethink about my misadventures. She showed me the slip and it read "NON-REACTIVE" which she translated, NEGATIVE. I held my chest and breathe out air as if coming from the deepest part of my lungs! Thank God.

She said that I should always remember to be safe, that not because a person looks healthy does not mean he might not have it, everyone is at risk, so I should always protect myself. I said my million thank yous' and bid her goodbye, after reminding me to return the next day to get my certificate.

I went home smiling too, and I had my own reason at that, one, an answered prayer, and two, I was given a new lease in life, the nurse was right, I should be more responsible than ever before for I am at risk, and will always be at risk.

Now I have a baseline to start with, I would be very, very vigilant and careful the next time my adventures and misadventures come knocking at my door.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Missing Saudi Arabia

It's been a week since I arrived from Saudi Arabia, hmmm.

In all honesty, I am missing Saudi Arabia, and pondering about it, I am wondering why.

Is it the freedom I have in there?
The culture I get to understand?
The people I get to know?
The friends I made?
The weather, the food, the scene?
The work?
My speaking Arabic?
The life, the humdrums of the street where I live?
The apartment and the ghosts we live with?
My adventures and misbehaviors?

I am not sure really, maybe anyone of these, or all of the above.

I've always been an independent person, trying to find my way in life. So I guess it's more of the freedom that I miss much about this arid country.

I guess, it's my second home, well, until I find another place to call home besides the Philippines.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Youth

" Youth is nothing but an instant in time, when we don't know what the fuck we're doing but we believe ever so earnestly in the importance of doing it." - Javitz, from The Men From The Boys

Home Sweet Home

"There's a place called home, I can almost see, with a red front door and a roaring fire, and a Christmas tree..."

Coming home is always such an exciting event. You get to see your loved ones once again. Their smiling faces, their laughters, their antics and the never ending talks you will have.

A month won't suffice and soon you'll be leaving again. But making the most of it is what matters really. Since I arrived almost a week ago, I hardly went out. I just bum around, sleep, eat, play with my nephews and nieces, sometimes amuse myself just watching them, grown up and all.

Watch my Mama, wrinkled and old, but seeing her alive and active again cause I am here, makes my heart sigh. Every cigarette she puffed I know shortens her life span, but it makes her happy. I would like to see her happy, nonetheless.

I told myself I'd be the big brother and scold my two brothers about their misbehaviors but I can't seem to do it. Watching them now, as grown up men, fully capable of making decisions in their lives, I dismissed the idea, and just be there listening to their stories and what's going on in their simple yet complicated lives, is enough for me.

My youngest sister, and her small family, still hoping that someday, she'd have a better life, not that the current one is not, you know, she's still young, married young, still full of hopes and dreams. If only I have a magic wand, I'd grant her every wish.

Feeling my family all around me, such love, such devotion, such abundance of life overwhelms. We all have come a long way, we all have endured the tests of time, and I know my family will still endure life altogether.

I had my birthday, I have no other guest except for my family, I planned to, hope my dear, dear friends forgive me, but I suddenly felt like celelbrating it with just my family. I didn't say I enjoyed it 100% for there are things you can only talk about with friends, but I had a wonderful time.

Families come and go. We each have our own lives to live, our own paths to pursue, but in our heart of hearts, no matter where we are, there's always that special place called home. The old adage, there's no place like home, always matters. It's where we always belong. Home.

"Just a place called home, full of love and family, and I am there at the door, watching you come home to me..."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Of Answers

Question: Will I be successful if I __________________________?
Answer: You'll be happy you did.

Fabulous!