Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A month has passed since I last saw my gay friends in Guadalupe, so it was a pleasant surprise that despite the hectic schedule of Joni (whose directorial debut was being screened in the landmark Isetann Recto), he agreed to have me visit him and his partner Edwin. I teased him that because of his independent movie’s extended run, an online breaking news should read, “Hugot smashes film records, eclipses Batman sequel,” to which he reacted with a boisterous laughter because in fact, his movie fared better than The Dark Knight owing to Isetann’s many gay patrons and resident gigolos.
Disembarking where the seductive billboard of Joem Bascon was earning all sorts of tantalized ogles, I was stunned when big drops of rain started to pelt my skin. My natural impulse was to scamper, but reaching Joni’s place entailed climbing the dingy footbridge, passing by the broad-chested siopao boy, and running against the human flow coming from the evening mass. Arriving at the Mones compound dripping more like a water-sprung Sadako than a convincing Judy Ann Santos, I bemoaned the price of daring to get wet if only to be hailed most beautiful.
Then, the redeeming value: a call interrupted the reunited gays’ chikahan, and it was an invitation to a birthday party. Direk’s. The prospect of seeing Direk again made my heart perform a jumping jack. Who he is (was?) in my life deserves a separate discussion altogether, so let me go on instead with the details of the celebration.
While still in the cab, Joni, Jobben, Michael and I had to humor ourselves in order to while away the travel time replete with intermittent downpour, street hawkers of all (as in all!) sorts and unwitting male sex objects. Direk’s house is located in the fringe of the metropolis, so coming from the center of civilization, we had a grand time recalling Pinoy films that were long buried under the oppressive heap of oblivion. I mentioned that Kokak had been recently cited by critic Butch Francisco as among the most maligned Pinoy films along with Huwag Mong Buhayin ang Bangkay and Nights of Serafina. Someone recited the filmography of Tina Paner, including Tamis ng Unang Halik and Pepay Pamaypay, in which Tina’s character can elongate her neck ala Loch Ness monster. Michael contributed the transmogrified allusion to the 1989 coup de etat, Tora-Tora! Bang-Bang! However, everyone was overthrown when Joni made a sign language of what seemed like manual crushing of an ice block and uttered the rhetorical question of the Sheryl Cruz-starrer Paano na sa Mundo ni Janet?
The labyrinthine passages of Direk’s borderline village finally ended and I found myself in his place the second time around. Only a few of Direk’s friends were there; we missed Sir Bing Lao by a hairbreadth because he and his companion left ten minutes before. Someone other than Direk acted as host and offered the new arrivals with pizza, fried chicken and pancit, which Direk prepared himself. It looked like that someone was Direk’s partner and judging from his dusky, Atom Araullo-deadringing features, I knew that the contest is so over. While I quietly munched on my garden variety, the partner was demonstrating to Joni how Miss USA slipped again in the recent Miss Universe staging. Since I don’t want to sound like a smartass to the partner, I kept to myself my analysis that the fall was symbolic of the crumbling of the bully superpower. Only when the topic had shifted to Miss Mexico’s answer about women’s balanced lives as ultimate fulfillment did I comment that the reply cost her the crown. Direk said that feminists won’t agree with the also-ran’s answer, which I corroborated by claiming that women’s ultimate fulfillment is mastery over men.
Joni’s lamentation over failing to meet Sir Bing yet again shifted the topic to Serbis, which Direk’s graduate professor wrote. I was teased for having appeared in the movie, earning Joni’s remark that my acting was “pang-Cannes” (Pangga’s “international extra” comment pales compared) so I grew purple in the face. Direk said something to the effect that he read about Serbis in my blog, which flushed me all the more because whoa, he actually visits my blogsite! That made my night.
So they drank while I acted as the resident GRO, we ate (pizza, that is) and sang merrily because it would take another year before Direk would celebrate his birthday again. Direk was seated next to me and, while other friends surrounded us, it’s as if Manuel Arguilla’s isolated world in “Midsummer” was recreated right there and there. Everything would have turned out fine, with Direk sitting beside me and the lovely night seemed long and still, except for the anti-climactic vomiting of Direk’s cat. It threw up, most noticeably, the pancit that’s Direk’s culinary pride. The noodle shreds stank, what with other disgusting things that the feline regurgitated, but it was a relief there were no rodent tails. It became the signal of our group’s departure.
In the highway, another bravura performance jolted us from drowsiness: a small cat lost its basic faculties by crossing the road amidst speeding vehicles. We tried to shoo it back into the sidestreet, which its instinct thankfully picked up. Joni was quick to formulate a philosophical question for the rest of the group to ponder: which cat was the better actress, Direk’s drunken cat or the daredevil cat? My friends fell exhausted once inside the cab, the dawn sky still showed no signs of letting up, but within its ribcage, my heart seemed to bask under the golden sunshine.