I miss him who dances like water.

After nine beautiful years, Jair and I broke up.


I still remember our very first date: we were going to meet at a bookstore in Greenbelt, then head for lunch at Cafe Bola. I saw him from across the room, and he was browsing magazines. I remember telling myself, “Wow. I hit the jackpot.”

Jair has always been the most beautiful man in my life. His skin is bright, and his smile, always awkward. His eyes, at turns, are fierce and sad — not unlike the eyes of an injured animal. He moves with the grace of light; he dances like water.

Jair is a huge fan of Halloween. Every year, he would devote days to build his costume and props just so we could walk around parties and have people ask to take pictures with him. His eyes would light up from his evening of celebrity; I enjoyed how beautifully he smiled when children would point at him and ask to hold him. His genuine kindness always shone through his very dark eyes.

On the night I was diagnosed with cancer, Jair lay beside me on my hospital bed and held my face. As we cried in fear for the long battle ahead of us, he told me, “Lalaban tayo, ha. Stay strong.” Throughout my surgeries and chemo, Jair stayed to make sure that I was strong enough to fight. He would make sure I ate right, that I took all my meds, that I kept all my appointments with my doctors. We fought that goddamned cancer together, and we won.

Toward the tail end of the cancer treatments, we moved to Singapore. Together, we both made a life for ourselves: we found jobs, built a home, and travelled. We would watch movies from the first row of the cinema, go to the wet market on Saturday mornings, and take naps on Sunday afternoons.

In his own way, Jair loved me as intensely as I did him. Every single day, he would ask me, “OK ka lang ba?” No matter how exhausted he was from work, he would head to the kitchen and cook our dinners. Sometimes, he would bring flowers to make our home more beautiful. When I am sad, he would send me YouTube videos of cute babies falling on their heads. He would change the sheets in our bed, watch videos of my drag performances, and pack my lunches for work. (I hated his cooking, but I always said that with an embarrassed joy that someone I love so intensely prepared my meals.)

When he moved back to Manila when his visa ran out, we would spend our nights being on Skype (sometimes not even talking) just to be there with each other. Whether beside me or online, I always enjoyed watching him sleep; he is most beautiful when he is in the peace of his sleep.

I still do not understand how we ended up where we are right now. We had problems, but I am not sure how they managed to break us up. I really don’t get why we broke up and how we are no longer together; what we had may not have been perfect, but it was as beautiful as we could ever will it to be. We loved each other; I still do.

Jair has always been my center, the one constant in my life. It has nearly been a month since we broke up, and I am spiralling in a thousand directions. I really want us to be back together. I miss him so much, I miss out life together. I miss the promise of our future together.

I miss Jair painfully.


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I would love to hate Piers Morgan, but I can’t completely.

Last year, Piers Morgan interviewed Janet Mock to talk about her book on her path to womanhood. In the interview, Morgan mistakenly said Mock, a trans woman, was born a boy, and lived as a man until she was 18 (when she had gender confirmation surgery).

The entire interview remained very pleasant, and Mock did not jump at any opportunities to point out Morgan’s errors. According to Morgan’s account that Mock never disputed, their interaction during and after the interview was very cordial. There was no mention of any offense taken.

Five days later, Mock tweeted that she was disappointed by the interview, and that Morgan sensationalized her story. She spoke openly (and quite condescendingly) at how she thinks that Morgan needed to get it the fuck together.

Within 24 hours, Morgan invited Mock back to his show in what I felt was a continued tone of sexism and transphobia (albeit an unwitting one). In the second interview, Morgan declares his intention that he wants to understand why he was vilified online after what he felt was a very supportive interview with Mock. He points out that Mock said absolutely nothing about any glaring errors in Morgan articulating Mock’s experience. She kept quiet after the interview, stayed that way for five days, then took to Twitter to express her disappointment. When Morgan confronted Mock on why she said nothing, she said that she was scared.

Both Morgan and Mock have since moved on from this episode.

While I do not dispute that Morgan sorely needed direction and information, I am confused as to why Mock missed the opportunities to help Morgan see his error. Mock calls herself an activist on trans rights, so I am unsure why she kept quiet in the face of her identity being misgendered.

Yes, Morgan might have benefitted from reading Mock’s book prior to the interview (it seems that he hadn’t), and his writers might have been good to brief him on talking points before the show. (For crying out loud, material on this is flooding the internet.) There is that massive responsibility on Morgan’s side if he claims that he is a staunch supporter of equality. However, Morgan clearly did not do his homework, and it puzzles me that Mock did not do her job, either.

Far be it for me to dictate how a trans woman should react about this (and I recognize that it is my privilege as a cisgender man that allows me to think this), but I feel that Morgan does make a salient point about how surprising it is that Mock pretended that nothing was wrong in the face of available opportunities for education. I was watching the interview, and I felt uncomfortable at all the misgendering that was taking place. I was surprised myself that Mock did not address these issues then. For a person who calls herself an activist, Mock certainly did not make use of the moments of education that Morgan patently needed.

That being said, I cannot even begin to imagine how Mock must have really felt during the interview. She may have genuinely been scared, and this might have affected her ability to think clearly. Mock is a trans woman of color, and the power dynamics between her and Morgan are complex. Also, the compounded microaggressions that built up until the interview might have influenced her decision not to say anything. This is not something that Mock addressed or articulated in the interview (something that I feel Morgan may have a role in), so I am still unclear as to what happened.

That being said, I am not sure that Morgan took away as much as he should from the experience.

This is actually sadder:

Also to be read as cis people discussing trans experience.
(Pretty much what I am doing now, too, yes. I am mansplaining. The irony is not lost on me.)


ETA: After the second interview, Mock apparently talks about her feelings during the first interview with Morgan. (I guess my guess was right.)


Key take-away: Every opportunity to learn from each other is good. It will be uncomfortable (especially if the matter is unfamiliar to another person), but an interaction in a positive direction of learning will be helpful. Our co-existence need not be adversarial.

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Death makes angels of us all.

Last Friday, my grandmother died.


The last time that I saw Lola Norma was thirteen years ago: it was a humid Sunday afternoon, and flies were buzzing over a small bird that died in the empty lot beside her house.

“Kumusta ang schooling mo? (How is school?)” she asked.

“Mabuti naman po, Lola (It’s fine, Nan.),” I said as I sipped the lukewarm Coke whose fizz had already gone.

She wanted to say more, but she probably noticed how I swirled my Coke, clearly hoping for the night to announce the end of that visit.



I remember her slightly differently, but, yes, she was pretty.

Lola was a very pretty woman; in her youth, she was one of the loveliest ladies in her town. Her skin was dark, and her eyes lit up with the intoxicating fear of an injured animal. She would tell us that young men would hover around her, trying to catch her glance. One day, a hormone-enraged teen dared to touched Lola’s bare hand. Mores as they were in her day, Lola was forced to marry the young boy, and he later became my grandfather.

Lola went on to raise six children. They were very poor, and she sold vegetables at the market to put food on their table. She barely made any money at the end of the day to feed half of her children; they all had to suck their guts because they had to make do with what the little that they made.

When her children grew older, money came a bit easier for Lola. When her children would visit her, one of them would secretly hand her a tiny wad of cash as a gift. Suddenly, there would be a spring in Lola’s step as she scurried to cook her new favorite child’s requested dish. (The scurrying is a lot more comical because she was normally unable to lift one foot; it was blackened and weighed down by severe rheumatism.)

Because of this shifting favoritism to whoever gave her the most money, she earned from her children the monicker Normang Pula — Red Norma. (Red is the color of the fifty-peso bills she was so delighted to receive, and it was also a jab at how the sweetness of her smile could be likened to the freshness of nice fish in the market — pulang pula ang hasang.) The pure delight in her coy smile whenever she got these gratuities from her family is priceless.


Lola’s body lies at wake in her home in Manila, and I am told that the funerary rites will be carried out tomorrow. Her six children and several hundred of us grandchildren survive her.

I saw a picture of her white coffin bathing in warm lights; I am told that she looks very peaceful. (I imagine that it was the way she had envisioned her wake would be — white, bright, and clean. From where she sits, I am sure she is very pleased.)


Image taken from my cousin’s page.

I will not be there tomorrow, so let me say my prayer now:

May you find your comfort in a place where there are no flies, no hunger, and no want; may your smile be eternally as sweet as when you received gifts from your beloved children. May eternal peace be unto your soul, Lola.

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Rainy days.

This afternoon, I was at my therapist’s for the last time this year. Her office was colder than usual, and I was wringing my hands to keep my fingers warm.

“How are you feeling today?” she said.

“It has been raining non-stop since this morning,” I told her. “I used to like the rain.”


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Crazy times.

So much has happened since I last posted anything here; I owe this blog a thousand entries. I can report so many good things that have happened, and maybe I will. If it is worth anything, I am glad to report that things have been going quite well.

Dandelion lady

I moved to a new apartment, I changed jobs, I now have a regular drag show, and I have a new living arrangement with my partner. Yes, there have been tons of major changes recently, and I am so glad I did not unravel as I usually would. Amazing, ne c’est pas?

I missed blogging. I miss being able to talk about myself endlessly without the restriction on the number of characters, and without being embarrassed about it. I like that, when I read blogs from years ago, I feel embarrassed about my posts. It just shows how gritty the entries were, and how tiny the gap between text and heart is.

It has been a lovely weekend for me, very restful. (I missed this kind of weekends when I spent practically all hours in bed.) I think this is what I needed after all: a good break. My mind is now evaluating what I can do to give more meaning to my big picture.

I gained A LOT of weight. I wonder if I will ever shed this off? It definitely does not look good. Let’s hope I crave enough for yoga that I will make time for it. I did it for a long while, and I just need to keep at it again.

Two days from now, I will officially be on my third month in my new job. That should mean that my post will become regular in the company, and it will be time to reevaluate my goals. I took a ton of notes when I was setting goals for my first 90 days at the new job; I hope I met all of them.

Nothing keeps me going like the feeling that I am succeeding.

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Good night.

It has been a long day. It was beautiful, and it’s time to sleep.


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A word to young drag queens.

I was asked by colleagues in drag to come to the first learning session for this year’s Drag Academy. Since last year’s crowned queen will be out of the country on Sunday, the first runner-up (aka moi) was asked to represent the crown in her absence.

One year ago, I was in the high-heeled shoes of the queens whom I will be meeting this Sunday. I was a nobody in the local drag scene, and I barely knew how to cover my eyebrows for drag. All I had were guts, a lot of drunkard friends, and an invincible determination to excel in drag.

Now, I take pride in being the drag queen who launched a thousand drinks. I have been invited to do a couple of shows, and I am happy to have performed with my idolized drag queens from Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Scotland, and the UK. I have come farther in a year than I thought I could in my lifetime, and Drag Academy 2012 played a pivotal role in that.

Nobody likes unsolicited advice, but drag queens never were a bunch to play by the rules. Here come my tips to draglings who are trying their luck in a possibly life-changing opportunity to perform in drag for an audience that appreciates our craft.

1. Respect the audience.

Drag is a fun hobby, and it is a delight to do in leisure. When performing for an audience, though, an added element comes into play: a responsibility to the audience.

The audience is present, eager to be delighted, and (presumably) intelligent. Because of these, a drag queen has a responsibility to respect the audience just for taking valuable time out of their lives to look in her direction. A drag queen has the responsibility to arrest that attention, and hold it captive for the next couple of minutes.

One must be any of the following:

      • stunningly beautiful,
      • visually arresting,
      • disarmingly engaging, and/or
      • memorably entertaining.

A drag queen must deliver any or all of the above to reciprocate the time carved out by the audience to be in the drag queen’s presence.

2. Preparation is key.

Drag may be a fun hobby, but one must remember that it is also a job for many people. The moment a portion of the stage is allotted to a drag queen, another drag queen has been displaced. (That other drag queen could be relying on income from performances, and one may just have usurped that potential income from her.) If only for this consideration, one must justify one’s occupancy of stage space by rendering a memorable performance.

How does one come up with a memorable performance? Through preparation. A drag performance may look effortless, but it must take hours of preparation beforehand for it to be memorable.

A drag queen friend (who has been working professionally for longer than half of my life) advised that one must set aside at least five minutes a day to plan for a drag performance. I say that this is absolutely necessary; one must think about the performance, analyze the feasibility of execution, and anticipate the audience response. Only then will a well-executed performance be possible.

More importantly, set aside time to prepare one’s props, costumes, and accessories. A haphazard pastiche of an ensemble can be recognized from a mile away. As I said, the audience is intelligent, and cheap tricks to cover up unmethodical preparation will never work.

Always remember: rehearsal is key. I usually perform my entire number (on stage, if possible) in full costume prior to a live performance. (Sometimes, I even get my face made up just to make sure it survives the sweat.) This ensures that all challenges and possibilities are accounted for as much as possible.

3. Heed advice.

Lots of queens will give an enormous load of helpful advice, especially when one is (perceived to be) young, naive, and clueless. One must listen to them no matter how familiar the advice seems. There are always gems to be found, and these can eventually end up as rhinestones in one’s crown as a drag queen.

I noticed from last year that the culture in Singapore is tough love: feedback is often perceived as negative criticism, so many people will say what went wrong instead of what one did right. One must be aware of this, as I have learned to understand that many Singaporeans mean well even when they say seemingly hurtful things. It may seem hurtful, but it is nothing but a cultural trait to love by highlighting opportunities to improve.

4. Call on friends; they will come and support.

I remember calling on all my friends to watch and support me when I have shows. I always remind them: I go to your weddings, baptisms, baby showers, bridal showers, stag parties, etc. As a gay man, I will (probably) never have any of those; all I have right now are my shows. I hope that you pay me the enthusiasm that I delightfully give in important milestones in your life.

During last year’s competition, I did pretty well in the challenges. There were some weeks, though, when I was hanging by a thread. During those times, my friends drowned themselves in alcohol to propel me back on top. Although their livers turned green all those weeks, they devotedly emptied Play’s bars just to support me.

The value of audience votes is not to be trifled with. Ask friends to come and drink in your name, and you (as well as Play) will be thankful for it.

5. Love drag. Respect drag. Enjoy drag.

I owe my personal satisfaction with my drag from my unwavering love for the craft. While hearing people say how delighted they are with my presence/performances, I rely on my personal drive to excel in drag to drive me to continue doing drag. I encounter A LOT of negativity working with many people, but I love drag too much to let that negativity make me turn my back on this life-saving art.

Remember that drag is a job for many people. One may be doing drag just for fun, but others do it to put food in their plates and to pay their rent. Do the craft justice by doing it right, if only for the people who break their backs to support their families doing drag. Give drag the dignity it provides people who live off this art.

At the end of the day, a successful drag queen is someone who genuinely enjoys doing drag. I was told many, many times that the audience can feel my smile when I am onstage. I think that I radiate an incomparable positivity when I am in drag precisely because I enjoy so much doing it. People recognize that, and they appreciate it. In return, they repay me with applause, recognition, and more opportunities to perform.

As I would always say, take advice from drag queen with a grain of salt and a lot of glitter. Listen to everyone, but never forget who you are. Read this blog post, but take what you may; you know your contoured face better than anyone else.

Drag is a very young art form, and we are blessed to be living in a generation that celebrates it more openly. Feel blessed, and thrive in this feeling. There are many, many things to learn, but we will all get to where we want to be. We will all, eventually, find our own spotlight.

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