Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It’s The Season For Change

Variety is the spice of life, and the seasoning of The McVie Show continues.

  • The McVie Show, Season 3.
  • Subic Mamaraz

    This weekend we’ll be going to Subic to cheer our friend Marisse. She’s competing in the Slimmers World Bikini Bodies 2005. Insiders say she has a chance, so we’re there to provide pala. Plus I was the one who picked out the music she’ll use for the one-minute freestyle posing portion of the contest. I suggested Lady Marmalade (Thunderpuss remix). The song is familiar to all but since it is relatively old, the chances of the other contestants choosing it are slim. What’s more she’s using the remixed version, which makes the chances even, pardon the pun, slimmer. I’m dying to see how the choice of song will go down on the crowd. Familiarity with the song can add excitement and affinity to the one dancing. Plus because it’s unlikely anyone else will be using it, it’ll help make her stand out.

    I’m also excited to stay overnight in Subic. I have very fond memories of the place. Back when I decided to leave the rat race and be a theater artist, I joined many productions with my college theater company and we went on several tours in Subic. That’s why I’m still very familiar with the place. Of course, the last time I was there I found out there were more restaurants now open—including the all-important Yellow Cab. Now I can have my fix of roasted garlic and shrimp pizza while we’re there. Before our food choices were limited to Meat-Plus, Fishcado and Wimpy Burger. Now there’s also Dencio’s, Pancake House, and a whole lot more.

    In one memorable tour, we stayed overnight at a beach. Some of us wanted to skinny-dip, but unfortunately our host was with us. Since we wanted to be invited again and again, we decided to put on a clean, wholesome image… until he took a nap. Off came our trunks and bathing suits.

    Another time, we were invited to go to a bar outside the base after our last performance. We were invited by the local college kids who acted as ushers during the performances. The bar turned out to be a huge place that alternated live bands with karaoke singing and disco-dancing. Eh mga taga-teatro kami, noh? So when it was the karaoke portion, the singers in our group monopolized the microphone. But the crowd didn’t mind, because we had good singers—they even cheered when one of our gay actors sang a girl’s song, complete with falsetto. When they played dance music, we monopolized the dance floor by “performing” for the crowd. And when a local band started singing, we weren’t contented to just stay on the floor dancing; one of us climbed onstage and sang along with the band. Later on they allowed him to sing lead in a rap tune! (The guy is now a bass player in a local band.)

    It was also during those tours that members coupled and uncoupled in the space of a weekend. Just recently I learned that in one of our tours, a straight couple (guy and girl) shared a room with a gay couple—and on separate beds they had sex that night. Well, at least they claim there was no crisscrossing of beds. So they say.

    This weekend I’ll be with some of them, although they’ve all graduated and are now busy trying to earn a living. They’re all a little older, maybe a little wiser. I doubt we’ll be as wild as we were years ago; besides, the more adventurous ones won’t be with us. But who knows, we might just try to get some naughty fun this weekend.

    Monday, April 11, 2005


    I was going to go to Baguio alone this past weekend (wala, trip lang—as in, trip literally) when I told Jong about it. He asked that I postpone my Baguio trip and go instead to Joe in LB. We also invited Phillip to come along. But Jong had a change of heart—how about a Binondo food trip? Phillip opted not to join though.

    The last time I went around Binondo was—drum-roll—twenty years ago. Gasp! Okay, strictly speaking the last time I was there was last year with Nelz, but we just went to have dimsum at this particular restaurant whose name I now forget. We never got around to roam the streets because [1] it was already night, and [2] Nelz only wanted to eat at that particular hole-in-the-wall. But going around Binondo, as in roaming, well, the last time was in 1985 when my first year Filipino class went on a field trip together with our college professor. He wanted us kids to experience eating at the estero and visiting the shops. Today that particular college professor is bed-ridden because of a stroke many years ago, but Binondo is still standing.

    First stop was the makki and siomai at this hole-in-the-wall resto. Then we went to Ramon Lee’s Freid Chicken House for some tender, juicy, tasty chicken. That’s the same resto where they shot the Piolo/Vilma rendezvous scene in Dekada ‘70. Then we had fresh lumpia in another hole-in-the-wall, before having coffee in Lord Stowe’s (we obviously had no more room for their sumptuous egg tarts).

    And for the first time, I saw the renovated Avenida. They’ve converted it into a walkway/park underneath the LRT train. What a great idea! One can admire the old movie houses and buildings along the street without worrying about vehicular traffic. I was tempted to take pictures but the fear of pickpockets and snatchers kept my camera inside my bag.

    We also ended up in SM Manila (by car, not by foot) where I had a foot scrub for the first time. At first it felt weird having a stranger hold my stinky feet up close. I thought I’d be tickled when she started scrubbing my feet harshly. But I soon found out that I can withstand tickling of the feet like I can endure dental pain. All I have to do is accept the sensation then focus on something else: mind over feeling, so to speak.

    Aside from eating, window-shopping and walking around, I was also able to buy the VCDs of two gay movies, Lan Yu and Rice Rhapsody. The former is a Chinese movie which I was able to watch when it was featured in the last year’s Pink Film Festival. The latter is a movie set in Singapore about a mother with two gay sons who’s doing her best to prevent her youngest son from turning gay too. I haven’t watched that movie yet, though.

    What I did watch immediately upon returning home was the DVD of the Korean soap opera Oh Pil-seung, Boon Sun-young! It’s the “kimchinovella” I was talking about a few episodes ago. Now I’m able to watch all the episodes and fill in the blanks. What’s infuriating about the DVD version is that they edited out the closing credits. But that’s where they show certain important back stories not tackled in the main body of the episodes. I’m thinking that’s what one gets when one buys pirated DVDs (okay, okay, this is one of the few times when I’m willing to buy a non-original—I mean, what are the chances of finding the DVD of a Korean TV series that’s never aired on Philippine television being sold locally, eh?) Oh well, win some, lose some.

    So for the next week I’ll be watching at least an episode a night of Oh Pil-seung, Boon Sun-young! Mental note to myself: must go back to Binondo. Food trip na, movie trip pa! Panalo. Thank you Jong, for being an excellent guide as well as a funny one. Bell-curve ka e-vur! Ahahahahahaha! Yan ang tatalo sa intonation ala-Nora Aunor.

    Next trip: Baguio.

    Star Match

    McVie, the best Zodiac Match for your personality is Sagittarius

    Sagittarius, the Archer (November 23 to December 21): This intellectual and independent partner is just your type. Initially, a Sagittarius may catch your eye with their knack for witty conversation and flirtation. But as you get to know them better, you're even more likely to be drawn to your Sagittarian's adventurousness and unhesitating willingness to take the risks necessary to keep life fun and free. People born under this sign are typically both enjoyable to be around and interesting to talk with. Be aware that Sagittarians do have a tendency to become restless at times. However, this sense of adventure will help keep things exciting in your relationship. In the bedroom, you'll likely find that the Archer is sexually creative and will keep you happily engaged. This is simply a natural extension of the Sagittarian nature. Overall, they want to get the most out of life and are always on the lookout for exciting new adventures.

    I took the Tickle Zodiac Match test and this was the result. I’ve read many different books on astrology through the years and this is the first time that Sagittarius came out to be the number one match for me. Surprise, surprise indeed! Goes to show you just how unpredictable astrology can be. (For the record, my last straight “crush” was a Sagittarius. But he is straight, so there. I think he cured me of my falling-for-straights self-destructiveness.)

    Kooky Cookie

    Thanks to Xander for the email last Friday. I’ve taken the liberty of editing the article to shorten it.

    Cookie Monster Advocating Eating Healthy
    By CHELSEA J. CARTER, AP National Writer

    NEW YORK – Something must be wrong in the land of Muppets. First PBS announced that "Sesame Street" would kick off its 36th season this week with a multiyear story arc about healthy habits. Then I learned of changes that turned my "Sesame Street" world upside-down.

    My beloved blue, furry monster — who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" — is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song — "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.

    "Sacrilege!" I cried. "That's akin to Oscar the Grouch being nice and clean." (Co-workers gave me strange looks. But I didn't care.)

    Being a journalist, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I investigated why "Sesame Street" gave Cookie Monster a health makeover.

    I searched the Sesame Street Web site for news on Cookie Monster and up popped a press release about the show's "Healthy Habits for Life" emphasis. Buried near the bottom was a one-sentence mention about Cookie Monster eating fewer cookies.

    But what did that mean? Scarfing one plateful instead of two? I picked up the telephone. "What's going on with Cookie Monster?" I asked the Sesame Street press office. "Why are you doing this?"

    They sent me to Dr. Rosemarie T. Truglio, the show's vice president of research and education. She said the show changes every year, focusing not just on teaching numbers and letters but also emotional and physical health. With the rise in childhood obesity, Truglio said "Sesame Street" is concentrating on the need to teach children about healthy foods and physical activity.

    This season, each episode opens with a "health tip" about nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest. Truglio said "Sesame Street" also will introduce new characters, such as talking eggplants and carrots, and offer parodies, such as "American Fruit Stand." Even guest stars will address healthy activities, such as Alicia Keys talking and singing about the importance of physical activity.

    Cookie Monster was not available for comment. (I'm hoping he hasn't gone too Hollywood.)

    "We are not putting him on a diet," said his spokesman, Truglio. "And we would never take the position of no sugar. We're teaching him moderation." The furry one also plans to try different kinds of cookies (read: healthier cookies) rather than his just staple, chocolate chip.

    But will he still scarf his food? Yes, plus the occasional object, Truglio said.

    But isn't that unhealthy? Her reply: He's still Cookie Monster.

    Cookie Monster appears to be happy with the new "sometimes food" song, because at the end he warbles: "Is sometimes now?"

    "Yes," he's told.

    So there it is. Cookie Monster still gobbles cookies, he's just a healthier version of his old self. His eyes are still googly, his fur is still scruffy and he's still messy.

    Even "Sesame Street" recognizes that we all need guilty pleasures.

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Dare You Go There?

    Who among you in the audience is old enough to remember this song?

    *play music*

    A place / where nobody dared to go…!

    *stop music*

    Yes folks, that was ONJ with ELO singing the title track from a movie made in the early 80s. ONJ? That’s Olivia Newton-John. ELO? That’s Electric Light Orchestra. The movie and the title track? Xanadu.


    For me, that song has such happy memories attached to it. It was the number one song in my personal music charts for quite a long time back in high school. It featured two of my favorite acts then (nowadays I’ve outgrown Olivia but I still like ELO). There was even a Xanadu dance contest in one of the noontime shows (either Eat Bulaga or Student Canteen). The movie really sucked, but I liked the opening credits: to the tune of ELO’s “I’m Alive,” the seven(?) muses in Greek mythology scattered all over Earth in a (then) dazzling display of movie special effects—a long, comet-like stardust tail trailing behind each Muse.

    And who can forget the climactic, bombastic ending of the song? Xanadooo-hoooo-hooooooooooooooooo! It doesn’t sound as if ONJ’s pipes were augmented electronically in the studio, so that makes her ascending ending even more impressive. What a grandiose, pompous flourish in the end! In the dance contest, the competitors had no choice but to end their dance with a lift. I mean, what else can one do, right? The song mandated the lifting in the end.

    I bought the cassette back then, but it eventually disappeared like most old cassette tapes do. For the longest time I couldn’t find the soundtrack anywhere. When CDs came out I thought maybe one day I’ll be able to find a copy. For years I kept my eyes peeled for it every time I visited the record store, but to no avail. It was only 3 years ago that I found a copy of the soundtrack on CD—and it wasn’t even brand new. No matter. I grabbed it immediately before it disappeared again. (I remember there were two other copies on-shelf, but I didn’t want to take a chance.)

    Nowadays the song is in my iTunes. So now whenever I want to go to “a place where nobody dared to go,” it’s just a click away.


    Pinakbet: A mixture of vegetables that include:
    bittermelon, eggplant, and squash

    Which Filipino Food Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    And to think I don’t really like pinakbet. I’m not really fond of ampalaya; I eat it on rare occasions, pag tinopak ako. And I don’t like the taste of squash. If I had to eat pinakbet, I’ll just get the string beans and eggplant.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    Schizo Ears

    My god, what they said is true. Thanks to downloading, the iPod and other MP3 players, and most especially the “shuffle” function, I am experiencing a change in my listening preference.

    I grew up with long-playing albums or LPs—you know, the vinyl ones. I grew up listening to and loving The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Electric Light Orchestra’s Time and k.d. lang’s Ingenue. I appreciated the idea of one song effortlessly segueing to the next, and I loved the idea that at the end of the album the listener gets a sense of a musical journey.

    But that changed beginning with the Now That’s What I Call Music! album compilation. That was followed by the proliferation of music sharing and downloading on the net. Then iPod came out with a shuffle function.

    Now people can listen to one single to the next without any rhyme or reason connecting the songs. Right now as I’m typing this, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” blares from my speakers. Before that was Madonna’s “Material Girl” and even before that, Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart”. Okay, because I hand-picked each and every uploaded song on my iTunes, I love each and every one of them. But there’s a different, schizoidic feeling listening to them in that order. It’s a different joy, a different rush.

    (In a rare occasion, the next song played was another Mac tune, “Think About Me”. Hey, it happens, you know?)

    Of course the concept album isn’t exactly all dead and buried. Green Day’s American Idiot and Brian Wilson’s Smile! are recent examples of concept albums. But when I listened to the latter I had to force myself to push through song after song and resist the temptation to skip or skim through the album. It was a lot harder now than before to go through the whole thing. My ears seem to have a shorter attention span now.

    Then again, there are surprising and unexpected segues that one only discovers when in shuffle mode. For instance, just now I never thought that Run-D.M.C. vs Jason Nevins’ “It’s Like That” can segue effortlessly to The B-52s’ “Summer Of Love” before downshifting to Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”. (Hmmm, this is the third Mac song. My iTunes must be having a big Mac attack.)

    I don’t know how long the novelty of listening in shuffle mode will last, but for now I’m enjoying it. Shuffle away!

    Papa Rap Papa

    Understandably there’s media frenzy over the Pope these days. Starting from the Pope death-watch (morbid but undeniably fascinating) to the growing wake of mourners, the media coverage will escalate into what’s shaping up to be the biggest world-wide event of the year so far: his funeral. And the ending will happen in a cloud of white smoke, when his successor is chosen. World-wide blockbuster ito!

    Because of all of these, the Papacy and the Church has been on my mind lately. Despite the Pope being the closest thing to God on earth, he is still a man. And like all men, he was shaped by his past. This Pope grew up under totalitarianism. No wonder then that one of his greatest triumphs is to polarize Poles to go against the communist rule. He also is said to have supported our Catholic Church in defying the Marcoses, leading to the first People Power movement in 1986. He championed the right of the oppressed to be free.

    Unfortunately the “oppressed” and “marginalized” did not include homosexuals. (Not surprisingly, many of the gays I know have mixed feelings these days—they feel like crying for someone who angered them on his stand against gays.) Despite the presence of gays in the clergy, it is highly doubtful that a gay-friendly cardinal will one day ascend to be the direct descendant of Saint Peter. I think it may be several lifetimes until we see the Catholic Church softening its stand against homosexuals. After all, it took centuries for the notion of the Earth as the center of the universe to be replaced and for the Church to formally admit that they treated Galileo rather shabbily.

    I know I may never see the day when gays are embraced and accepted by the Church the way Christ embraced and accepted Magdalene, a woman engaged in the oldest profession in the world. So I remain part of the Church—but in the fringes.


    What if a gay cardinal was elected to be Pope? Either he’ll be closeted or worse, he’ll be of the “love the sinner, condemn the sin” variety. The former has the potential to turn against his fellow “sisters of the cloth” and be very anti-gay (self-hate is just so ugly, isn’t it?) The latter I cannot abide; I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin.

    I prefer to have a straight Pope who is nevertheless very comfortable and accepting of homosexuals. Maybe he is someone who grew up being comfortable around gays, someone who doesn’t think of them as “different” folks. For then he will truly be an example for the straight community to follow. Wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?

    Siya talaga ang kauna-unahang tunay na Papa!

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    Unlucky Guy

    Kawawa naman si Nora Aunor. The Superstar was arrested at a US airport for possession of illegal drugs (shabu, I think). Pero namatay ang Papa, kaya natabunan ang news story about La Aunor. And the Dept. of Foreign Affairs only sprang into action after they got a call from President Arroyo, who is considered close to her showbiz doppelganger.

    Pero habang hindi pa nalilibing at napapalitan ang Santo Papa, ang Pope pa rin ang headliner for the next few days. Kaya sorry ka na lang, Ate Guy. Kulang na ang box office clout mo para i-upstage si John Paul II.

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    Papa And Mama

    [1] Papa

    Goodbye, Pope John Paul II, time to rest in peace. You’ve certainly earned it.

    I must admit that for several months leading to his death, I was a little peeved at him. Here he was suffering from a debilitating disease, reducing him to shuffling and shaking uncontrollably in public, and yet he refused to retire and yield to a successor. Why doesn’t he just let go of his office? I wondered several times. Is it pride that makes him hang on even though he cannot muster more than a grunt in his last Easter appearance?

    Only when he died did I remember that the Papacy isn’t a beauty contest. It’s not just for a year only; it’s a lifelong responsibility. And you don’t have a first runner up who can take over in case the current Miss Universe cannot fulfill her duties. The good Pope did his best to carry on his duties to the very end.

    Yeah, I don’t agree with him in all things. But the way he lived his life… well, I respect and admire him for that.

    [2] Mama

    Tomorrow morning my mom and my aunt are flying off to Bohol. My aunt had her cataracts removed while she was here; now that she can see better, she wants to go back home. My mom decided to accompany her sister there for two weeks.

    One the one hand I’m glad she’ll be out of the house. For one thing, I find it easier to bring friends over while she’s away. I don’t know why, but I have this need to “hide” my friends from my mom so that she can’t get a lock on the kind of people they are. Mind you, not all my friends are gay although most of them are in theater, so they can be quite uh, unrestrained, even the girls. But that’s not really it; the few times I had friends over, they never really embarrassed my in front of my parents. Maybe I just have this weird need to keep my different “worlds” apart from one another.

    But on the other hand I’ll be very happy when the two weeks are over and Mommy’s back home. Hers is a comforting presence I’d miss when she’s away. I can’t help but worry when she’s too far for me to come to her aid.

    Then again, I can always use the next two weeks as practice for when she eventually joins my dad.

    Oh gosh, the last time I talked about my dad eventually leaving us permanently, he ended up dead in less than a year. Hey, You up there! Walang ganyanan naman, okey?

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Major Decision

    Last night I ended the almost month-long suspense for him. I said “yes” to his proposal.

    Yes folks, I’m giving couple-hood another chance. After years of “shopping around,” checking out possible boyfriends, I’ve finally settled on one. Choosing was not easy. I had so many concerns, so many “what-ifs” circling my head. Actually some of them still do, but I chose to take the plunge despite the doubts. No pain, no gain, right? And to think he had to break off with his boyfriend so that we two can be a couple. Wow.

    This time, no need to wish us luck—we won’t need it.