Sacred Space

This week had my social media newsfeed teeming with posts of love and togetherness. I don’t mind. I like seeing happy couples, especially those who have been together for many years because Lord knows relationships take a huge amount of patience for it to work. I myself have contributed to the mushy posts when I uploaded a photo of the breakfast my husband made for me on Valentine’s Day (just like last year, he forgot that we don’t celebrate it) and when I uploaded a photo of us having lunch together (though truthfully, it was more of a I-need-to-get-out-and-get-sunshine-because-this-weather-is-screwing-up-my-head kind of date than anything else). Anyway, I am not anti-relationship or anti-love for that matter. Are you kidding me? I actually believe that love is the only thing that satisfies the philosophical transcendentals Being in that it is true, good, and beautiful. Love is my religion and as Cher puts it, it is the groove in which we move.

That’s why it’s important that we go beyond romantic affiliations when we think of love. I like that Valentine’s Day gives me a chance to pig out on chocolates but I don’t like how commercialism has made it all about couples. If you grew up in the Christian faith, chances are you grew up thinking God is Love. Am not here to affirm or negate that, but I see the parallelism. If God is an omniscient, omnipresent Being then that is also how I perceive love. It is all-encompassing and understanding. It’s not limited to romantic relationships as we know great love can exist between family, friends, or even acquaintances who share the same wounds. It is not confined within the four mirrored walls of jungle-themed motels. It is neither self-serving nor is it self-annihilating. Love is space.

Sacred space. I believe in love as existing from a sacred space that can flow from within or in between relationships (romantic, filial, or platonic). It’s a tragedy that the line from that Tom Cruise movie has often been quoted without analyzing its negative repercussion on our psyche. “You complete me.” Really? Really?! So up until that moment you met that person, you have been walking around with a gaping hole oozing with God knows what? Have we really been conditioned to think that life is not worth living until other people decide to spend time with you? Mind you, this erroneous perspective is not exclusive to couples. We are also guilty of giving way too much of ourselves for our friends, not understanding that a give-and-take relationship does not mean you give and they take.

It all comes back to honoring your sacred space. Take the time to find out what makes you feel loved and try giving it back to yourself. (Geez, I can already imagine the masturbation jokes that will probably come out of that sentence… Whatever makes you happy, though.) Honor the space that exists between you and your partner. (My husband and I have long agreed that we aren’t each other’s soulmates or best friend and we are soooo okay with that). Honor the space between you and the members of your community/workplace/Tinder network. From that space, let love grow. Come to terms with your own understanding of it vis-a-vis relationships and just marvel at its presence. Celebrate it not only through an overpriced dinner every February 14th but through small, yet still significant ways, daily.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” – Kahlil Gibran

Roy G. Beef

I’ve always liked the color purple. Eventhough I rooted for Pink5 when I was younger, deep in my heart I adored purple. I realized it when Ma bought a Hansel and Gretel coloring book for me and my cousin and I used blue and violet to color Gretel. Nevermind that she looked like a domestically-abused Smurf, she looked smashing in my eyes.

My fascination with the hue developed into an obsession when I decided to use it to color Hansel, their hen-pecked father, the witch, the gingerbread house, and yes, even the rainbow. My cousin told me the rainbow should be in different colors and I looked at Ma to double-check. Scoffing at my cousin’s reproach, she told me it can be in any color I liked. So on I went with my mania. By the end of the week, the pages of the book looked like it had been dipped in grape-flavored Kool-Aid. Though Ma gently reminded me that purple-colored skin was a little over the top for kids who had no evidence of being beaten up by the witch, she said nothing about my rainbow. Two years later, I was seated in kindergarten class and was self-assuredly raising my hand as the teacher asked for the colors of the rainbow.

Purple,” I proudly answered when she called on me. Making a face, she informed me that I gave the wrong answer. Puzzled, I slumped back in my seat. A myriad of colors, yet purple is not to be found in a rainbow? I heard my classmates shouting out a common answer yet I couldn’t quite make out what it was.

Roy G. Beef! Roy G. Beef!” my gap-toothed seatmate said.

Exactly!” Ms. Rieza nodded in agreement.

I thought there was a crazy conspiracy going on. Who or what in the world was Roy G. Beef? Did he discover the rainbow? Was it the kind of beef used in making Japanese dishes? I was too upset to pay any more attention to the lessons and it was only in first grade that I found out my classmate who had problems with his diction actually meant ROYGBIV.

Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet. Violet and purple are the same? Almost. Not quite. Still feeling a little miffed about being misinformed, I vowed never to trust my mother again.

Ah, the arrogance of a bratty kid. Later on, in high school, while confessing how many things I wanted to study in college did I finally see the rainbow connection.

It’s up to you, Pam. You can decide whichever path you want to take” eerily sounded the same as “Color it any way you want.” Her radical way of thinking did not die during childbirth and survived midlife crisis and flourished even more as I started formulating what I wanted to be. She may not have taught me the acronyms for the colors of the rainbow but she did teach me to trust my own judgment and not to conform to other people’s perception of what ought to be. “Know the rules so you’d know how to bend them,” she’d always say. Of course, she did (and continues to suffer) the consequences whenever my version of what’s right clashes with hers, but hey, you gotta take the good with the bad.

She’s adding the 53rd hue to her own rainbow today. Happy Birthday, Ma. You rock.

As Sir Cadz Puts It… NAYARI KA!

He was the strong, silent type. He sat behind me during Theology class. He was an irreg, just like me, but he preferred to blend in. I, on the other hand, had a hand that kept shooting up whenever there was recitation. He rarely smiled. His longish, disheveled hair, offbeat clothes, and almost permanent scowl gave me the impression that he’d rather be left alone.

It was during one of those dull moments in class when I finally got the chance to talk to him. We finished discussion early and the only topic of debate was who’d get to photocopy the review materials. I turned around and asked him the second-most frequently asked query to schoolmates you barely know, “Anong course mo?” (“Anong name mo” would be the top question.) He answered “Accountancy.” I automatically gave him my follow-up question for Accountancy majors, “Buhay ka pa?“. He smiled and said he was barely making it through. He disclosed that he was a transferee from CEU (nag ober da bakod kumbaga), and he really wanted to study Library Science. My eyes lit up at that. It isn’t everyday that you get to meet people whose true calling is in books. He found it refreshing that I did not roll my eyes when I found out he wanted to get lost in the dusty world of the Dewey Decimal System. Obviously, he liked literature. We swapped favorite titles and I discovered that we actually had a lot in common. We were both Nick Joaquin fans. From there, our conversation moved on to movies (he also liked Y Tu Mama Tambien, YES!) and musicales. I was obsessed with Phantom of the Opera, he adored Rent. We both agreed that Chicago was smashing. Unabashedly, he told me that he found me a very interesting person and I basked in the compliment eagerly. Our classroom relationship improved after that. His scowl would break into a smile whenever I’d wave at him or crack a joke. I did not talk to him frequently, though. I did not want him to think I was coming on to him. He was so careful with his words and I did not want him to get culture shock as I can swear like a drunken sailor. And frankly, I was getting rather confused. I was in a relationship with someone but I was starting to think that I like him. I’ve never felt that at ease with anyone after only five minutes of chit-chat. I found myself admiring his fine manners and his way of texting me in impeccable Filipino without sounding like he was trying to be Balagtas. His aloofness was a challenge. Dare I say it? It was a turn-on, even. I invited him to try out for the school paper and he agreed only if he’d get to write articles and hang out with me all the time. I liked the idea. I looked forward to finding out more about him.The next logical step was to exchange Friendster accounts, we did. Now, my Friendster profile resembles a promotional poster of Laffline Comedy Bar with Paolo Alvarez and I doing every lewd, scandalous, (insert any derogatory adjective here) known to man s0 I was a little wary giving out my e-mail address to people for fear that they might clamor for a membership in my already-full “PAMELA THE SHE-MAN” fans club. Yet I was not the least bit hesitant giving it to him. He declared that he was excited to get to know me more and this prodded me to approve his request immediately. Frankly, I wanted him to know me better too. It was on a Saturday night, September 22nd to be exact, that we were able to undress each other… Figuratively. (What are you thinking you naughty dog you!) We were sending text messages back and forth and he finally commented on my pictures. He found them hilarious but he didn’t think he’d get any satisfaction from teasing me since it seemed as if I enjoyed posing for every humiliating picture taken. I told him this was true and since my cadet training days, I’d outdo my gay co-officers on who gets to look like a drag queen. Then came the message that I wasn’t expecting… “Oo nga eh, patok na patok yung mga pix mo especially yung pa-FHM. Gwapo ba tong bektas (bading in gay lingo) na to? Matagal-tagal na rn kasing tigang ang buhay pag-ibig ko.” I nearly dropped my cell. OMG! He was referring to Paolo, and based on his message, he’s well… ahh… you know…. But i didn’t want to jump into conclusions so I quickly sent him a reply, “Huh? Bakit? Bading ka ba???” 

Major DUH! Not only was he gay, but he was also waaaayyyyy out of the closet! He was flattered that (from here onwards, every italicized word is used to indicate terms which he used) he still wasn’t “effem” eventhough amoy na amoy na malansa ang dugo niya. When I told him that I was actually contemplating if I liked him, he answered that he also felt the same and thought that ako na ang babaeng magpapabago sa kanya pero grabedad BLASPHEMY yun at kukulog at kikidlat kapag natuloy yun. It was on this evening that I realized I should have listened closely to the hints that would’ve clued me in on his identity. Lover of books? His library was teeming with gay lit from David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day to the Ladlad Anthologies! He has Ladlad 1 and Ladlad 2 by the way! Likes Y Tu Mama Tambien? He was crushing on Gael Garcia Bernal the same way that I was! Muy caliente naman ang hombre! Adores indie films? Mas marami nga namang man-to-man scenes ang Sundance Film Festival entries kaysa Academy Award-winning movies! I should’ve figured out his sexual orientation by the time he told me he knew all the songs of Rent! How did that slip past my gaydar which I’ve always prided myself upon until that fateful night. Then again, how was I to know that the deep, menacing scowl he always sported was an attempt at Angelina Jolie’s pout?! How was I to know that his longish hair was not a sign of rebellion but a sign of wanting to be the next Pantene girl?! How was I to know that he and I had EVERYTHING in common including preference in men?! AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! ANDREW SALUT! ANDREA KA PALANG BRUHA KA!!!!