Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Driving slow on Sunday morning, and I never want to leave

I've been very busy these days, what with events and catching up with tasks that I haven't been able to blog about what happened to me recently. There was Fashion Week, my trips to Boracay, Puerto Galera and China, and what I did these past two weekends. This post will be dedicated to those two weekends.

Last Sunday, I went to PETA in Quezon City to watch Caredivas with one of my good friends, Nikko Panti. The musical is about five crossdressers in Israel who work as caregivers by day and showgirls by night. The show was brilliant. It was funny, thanks largely to Vincent de Jesus, who wrote the lyrics and music and starred as Shai, the comedic leader of the group. If you want to know the true genius of de Jesus, he also wrote the music of Zsazsa Zaturnnah and received many accolades for his works, including a Palanca, two Gawad Urian awards, a Luna Award, a Gawad Tanglaw Award, among many others.

The musical hits close to home because many Filipinos work as caregivers abroad. Basically, the musical tackles the hardships OFWs face abroad, from bitchy bosses and not being able to take care of their families at home to fear of deportation. What makes this piece special is the fact that they're crossdressers, which add discrimination (in Israel and the Philippines) to the demons they face each day. Add the fact that they're struggling performers who try to make a niche in a Tel Aviv stricken by the intafada, or the Palestinian occupation of Israel. All in all, the musical was a poignant piece and I found myself on the verge of tears during key scenes.

Despite the drama, the play is just as comedic. It's hilarious and unforgiving and it adds a flirty touch to the serious undertone of the musical. Each character had their funny moments which were priceless. There was Buddy Caramat as Jonee, the grumpiest diva of the bunch and his sarcastic remarks; Jason Barcial as Thalia, with his naïve (read dumb blonde) one-liners; Melvin Lee as Chelsea, the optimist and the mother of the group; and Jerald Napoles as Kayla, whose laugh factor stems from the fact that he's a straight guy with huge... muscles. There is of course, de Jesus, whose biting wit is a clear reflection of a gay Filipino's sense of humor.

I highly recommend this to everyone. It's witty and you don't need to be an OFW or be gay to appreciate the story (most of the people in the audience were gay). You just need to have a sense of humor and a heart that is easily moved. Unfortunately, according to Nikko, this is the last run of the play. I was lucky enough to have caught one of its last productions and I loved it.

Me with Vincent de Jesus and Jason Barcial.

With Jerald Napoles, the lone straight guy of the Caredivas. I was so used to him playing Kayla that I freaked out a little when he talked to me in a deep voice and put his muscular arm on my chest for a picture. My large smile is a result of fear mixed with uncontained joy from the show's glory.

If Caredivas runs again, you should definitely check it out. You never know, it might pull off a Cher and decide to do a comeback.

This Sunday, I was out with the staff of The Perpetualite for our summer outing. We were supposed to go to Nikko's Pampanga house but since many couldn't afford the proposed budget, we decided to go swimming at Park Place in Imus, Cavite. It's kind of like a clubhouse for the village and it has a pool, several courts and nipa huts you can rent for the day. 

Nikko and I were at Fashion Week the night before for Design Fusion and Ford Supermodels' Supermodel of the World Philippines and arrived home late so I didn't wake up in time for Cavite. It was already an hour and a half from the call time when I woke up to see Nikko and Jan (my literary editor) standing in my doorway, ready to pick me up. I only had time to brush my teeth and stuff everything I need in a duffel bag.

We frolicked around the pool (we didn't really swim) and played the most stressful game of Uno. Stressful because the game took too long and the punishment for losers was to eat the terrible candies I brought back from Shanghai, China. This is what happens when gay guys get together to play a stressful game. Terms (like Gutom Ford and Tagalia Vodianova) and expletives are invented. In the end, we gave it up to go swimming.

I had the biggest lunch that day. I ate four servings of rice. On the way home, some of us stopped by a Padi's Point in Bacoor for drinks. I haven't been to a Padi's Point in over seven years but the branch we went to was great. It was well-ventilated and the staff were accomodating (and cute). Two show bands were there and it was funny because I didn't know show bands these days have accompanying choreography. It was hilarious.

Postscript: Puerto Galera (April 23-25, 2011)

As you know, I immensely enjoyed my trip to Boracay. I was never a fan of the beach but after seeing the clear waters and the white sands of Boracay Island, I was in love. So in love that I put a picture of a gorgeous beach as my laptop wallpaper and kept staring at my tan (which eventually peeled, gross). I wanted to go back to the beach, any beach, that I was delighted when my mom announced we were going to Puerto Galera for the weekend. Take note that this happened just a week after Boracay. I was thrilled. Imagine going to two summer destinations in one month!

I like Boracay better but Galera has its charms. The beach was also beautiful and inspiring. However, most of the people were locals and the food was more affordable. I knew that it was gay paradise but I didn't expect the deluge of gay boys. I think more than half of the Galera crowd were gay. My sister and I tried to figure out the science behind it but eventually forgot about it because we discovered a new sport - kayaking.

We stayed in a private resort which made our stay fun. I enjoyed the company and even met some great people. It was a perfect way to unwind and enjoy the weekend before my trip to China.

Postscript: Accomodations

We stayed at Aninuan Resort, an exclusive resort with its own beach strip in Sunset Beach, next to White Beach. It was a welcome break from the crowded Boracay scene and I had as much fun even without so many people. It had a wonderful view of the sea and I got to really relax.

Tables for meals. In the background are the rooms for rent. The resort is cozy because it's private and everybody knows each other.

A view of the sea from the lounge chairs and "egg" chairs. I'm not sure what you call them but they look like the Caribbean version of those egg chairs on Mars Attacks!

The resort has a lot of palm trees so it wasn't that hot. We spent a lot of time just lounging around ordering drinks and snacks.

The private strip of beach. I'm not sure if it's owned by Aninuan because there are other people but it's still peaceful and secluded.

It isn't called Sunset Beach for nothing!

The rooms were modest but I've never been particular with accommodations. As long as the bathroom's beautiful and the place is safe, I'm fine with that. My only issue was the blackout that happened one night that lasted until morning. It was terrible. The picture is of a view from our balcony.

Like Boracay, the sands were white but the water wasn't as clear. But it was a lovely shade of blue and I spent a lot of time just staring at it.

The shore was rocky, a stark contrast to the almost-bare Boracay, where I only found dried corals (I even found two shaped like a penis and I gave one to Don Jaucian). Some of the stones were beautiful and I took them home to put in a vase. I changed my mind when I dipped into the sea - there were a lot more rocks and I hurt myself a couple of times.

I highly recommend Aninuan Resort if you want an escape from the crazy Puerto Galera scene or life in general. The place is cozy and homey and everyone is accomodating. I even got to meet the owner, Lexy Neiderer and one of her sons, Tino. The food can be expensive but it's because most of her clients are foreigners so her prices are dollar-based. If you want cheap eats, you can go to White Beach, a tricycle ride away. But nothing beats the peaceful environment and the gorgeous beachview of Aninuan Resort.

You may contact Lexy Neiderer at this website.

Postscript: Activities

Because of the seclusion, there wasn't much room for activities. Water activities were limited to kayaking but there was a recreation room with board games, some books, and a billiard and foosball table.

My brother, sister and I spent most of our stay exploring the beach, walking along the shore and admiring the sea. We would look at stones and keep the nice ones and dip in the sea.

My brother, that wonderful jack-of-all-trades discovered a new sport - stone skipping. Sophie (sister) was good at it so Yuji (brother) decided to learn the ancient art. He managed to learn but I failed majestically. I spent the time taking pictures while they skipped stones.

But we all discovered a new sport - kayaking. It was great exercise for the arms and it was a lot of fun rowing to the deep ends of the beach. We even dared to kayak to White Beach and just grab a few drinks but decided not to because we had to pass by a rocky part of the sea and it was windy.

On the second day, I decided to row alone. It was a lot easier than rowing in pairs because you're in full control. But it's scary because you're lighter and it's easier to tip over. I have a morbid fear of the deep parts of the sea so it wasn't comforting to see vague shapes moving under the water. But kayaking was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

One night, we got to meet Max, a 15 year old Dutch boy who offered to play poker with us. He's seven years younger than I am but taller than me, and his voice is deeper. He's kind of cute and we still exchange messages on Facebook. From what I know, he is about to enter college in Amsterdam. We also got to play with Tino, the resort owner's son, a fast-talking, half-German banker from Switzerland. He was really jolly and invited me and Sophie for drinks with his friends but we had to turn him down because Sophie was tired. Yuji, a 12 year old beginner managed to beat all of us, even Tino, the expert.

That boy. He's going to make us rich.

Postscript: White Beach

A Galera visit wouldn't be complete without a trip to White Beach, one of the famous spots in the municipality of Oriental Mindoro. I knew that there was going to be a lot of gay guys there but I didn't expect the deluge of glitter and rainbows when I arrived there.

Notice the IQ poster with the colors of the rainbow? It promotes a sort of bathhouse in Pasay City. This poster alone shows the accepting atmosphere of White Beach. My sister and I tried to debate the science behind why so many gay guys go here during the summer. We also debated the meaning of this curiously-named bar.

A sample of Galera's gay scene. There was even a hostel where all the guests seemed to be gay. I swear, the place is so fabulous (note the lisp) that at one point, I heard one stall playing Madonna's Sorry while another played Vogue. For a second there, I thought I found heaven.

Unlike its more upscale counterpart (Boracay), Puerto Galera offers tons of cheap eats. The beach strip is lined with bars, restaurants and stalls that sell everything from buko juice to articles of clothing. I didn't really like the stuff they sold, which were typical tiangge finds. I did buy anklets for me and my siblings, which we still wear now. If men in Boracay peddle water activities, here they peddle pearls, accessories and darts. I think the stuff they sell are authentic because they have IDs issued by the DTI (assuming these are authentic).

While the shopping was disappointing, the food was incredible. We ate at a joint called Crazy Gurl. Don't ask.

The beach was okay. The sands weren't white but it had a lovely consistency.

I might stay in White Beach the next time I go to Puerto Galera. I love the serenity of Aninuan Resort but sometimes it's nice to be at the heart of the action. Plus it's nice to go to Galera because everything is cheap from the lodging to food. I even saw a spot where you can rent a tent for P300 a night. However, if I push through with visiting the beach again, I'm going with my friends. It doesn't seem to be a family oriented place.

Nota bene: I'm going here when I'm single.

Postscript: Buri

On our last day, we went to Buri Resort, another exclusive joint that's far from the hotspots of Puerto Galera. It's so secluded that it has its own island (I think) and you have to ride a yacht to access it. We had drinks with the owner, who is one of our companion's friends.

The gates to one of the most beautiful resorts I've seen. Ever.

The resort even has a dock that offers a majestic view of the sea. Perfect for soul-searching, which my sister and I did while standing and admiring the view.

The resort's pool area. Doesn't it look inviting?

One of the villas for rent. What I love about the place is that it's covered with trees. Would you believe that the owner employs only two gardeners to maintain the entire resort?

The staircase leads to more villas. We were asked to look around but my sister and I talked about pressing matters so we only got to see the outside.

Us with the owner of the resort. She's second from left. She's a quiet and sophisticated woman who's a little shy. But her resort is just breathtaking.

Buri Spa and Resort is perfect if you want to really unwind and escape from everything. It's so secluded that you're almost cut off from everyone else and it gives you an opportunity to reflect or spend time with a special someone. It's perfect for writers who need an extra touch of inspiration without the hassle of real life.

You may contact Buri here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Philippine Fashion Week: The Holiday Collection 2011 (Part Une)

Last night, I was at SMX with Nikko Panti for Philippine Fashion Week. We got tickets for Menswear and Arnold Galang/Chris Diaz/Gerry Katigbak from Stylebible at the last minute.

Menswear had 12 designers and I liked Bang Pineda, Drei Soriano and Ulysses King. Pineda used a lot of interesting circles in his designs, especially on his jackets and dress shirts. Soriano mainly used blacks, greys and leather and it looked really badass. I liked how S&M his collection looked and I might pick up some stuff from his collection. The 12 designers mostly used blacks but King broke the monotony by preparing pieces in vibrant and refreshing shades of oranges and blues.

For the next show, I really liked Arnold Galang’s collection. I think his peg was Tibet or Thailand and his pieces were a tasteful combination of reds, greens, and oranges. The fabrics looked really soft, flowy and elegant. I didn’t really feel Diaz’s collection because it looked too Single Ladies, complete with leotards and that metallic glove that Beyonce seemed to obsess over a time. Katigbak used a lot of beautiful lace.

The best part of the night was seeing Chat Almarvez, Charo Ronquillo and Ria Bolivar in one show. I almost had an orgasm.

Because we got the tickets at the last minute, I didn’t have enough time to put together an outfit. Uniqlo shirt, custom-made blazer, Lee jeans, French shoes, nonprescription glasses from the tiangge. Not very fasyown, I must admit but hey, I was under duress.

My socks are also from Uniqlo. I’m so into the brand that even the underwear I wore was from Uniqlo.

I have invites for L’Oreal tonight but I can’t make it because I have a dinner. But I’ll be there this Friday for Luxewear and Oxygen, and Ford Model’s Supermodel of the World Philippines and Design Fusion this Saturday. See you guys there!

Nota bene: I need to get a better camera.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Hello! My name is Koji and I’ll be staying in Shanghai, China. Goodbye, everybody!”

So I’m finally flying to China today. I’ve been preparing since I got back from Puerto Galera, reading as much as I can about Shanghai from its food, culture, customs, and thoughts on sexuality, which I got from a book I bought the minute I stepped into Manila from Galera. I swear, I still had sand on my sandals when I went to Alabang. I even brushed up on my Shanghainese, their version of Mandarin. I only know a few key phrases like how to say my name, where I’m staying, complaining about something being too expensive, and I’m gay (ngu tongxinglian).

I’m scared because only a few people speak English but I’m excited because Shanghai has been touted as the Paris of the East. To top it off, I’ll be staying in Nanjing Lu, the heart of the action.

Shanghai is very different from Beijing because the former is a mix of old and new, which can be seen in its architecture, people, places, and food. It’s a lot more sophisticated and urbane without losing its touch of China. It still has itsshikumen (a unique architectural design seen in Shanghai since the 1800s) and the site of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party.

I’ve prepared an extensive itinerary which include local shopping, dining, and cultural visits. I included a few commercial shopping, but I limited it to designer labels (I didn’t go out of the country to buy affordable clothing, we have enough of them here, xiaxia). Some of the things I’ll be scouting for are Mao memorabilia, jade, ivory, tea, and of course, the Chinese editions of VogueElle, and GQ. I’ve yet to see if those nasty rumors about eating babies are true.

I only brought a few clothes: three shirts, two dress shirts and two jackets. I’m only going to bring the pants and shoes I’ll be wearing to the airport. My peg for the entire week is communist chic with two green jackets I found at an ukay.

So wish me luck! This is the first country I’ll go to where most locals don’t speak English (I’ve been to Japan but I spoke Japanese fluently then). I won’t be bringing my laptop so I’ll be MIA yet again. Have a great week, everyone!

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