Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for January 2013

Celebrate Australia 2013

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 21 January 2013




Arts, music, cuisine and wine will spice up the celebration of Australia’s National Day in Manila this week.

“There’s a lot going on between our two countries. The Australian Embassy in the Philippines is the 8th biggest embassy of Australia has anywhere. This is a substantial relationship between the Philippines and Australia and we can celebrate that at a time like this, our National Day (Jan. 26), the Australia Day. And use it to celebrate and to promote what Australia has to offer in terms of music, art, and food of course,” said Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell.

The Zephyr Quarteta renowned contemporary Australian string ensemble, will be holding a series of performances. They made a name in the music industry, most notably in the classical arena, with their continuing commitment in developing and promoting contemporary classical music.

Zephyr Quartet will be performing their ‘Cult Classics’ set, which includes rock and pop hits arranged especially for strings; Madonna, Metallica, Queen, Sigur Ros, Neil Young and many others.

They will be touring Manila this January with a number of high profile events and venues, including the Salon de Ning, The Peninsula Manila on January 24 and Greenbelt Park 3 with special collaboration of Filipino band, Razorback on January 25.

Another highlight of the festival is the mounting of the art exhibit entitled: UnBound: An Australian Philippine Experience from January 23 to  February 20.

Yuchengco Museum in partnership with the Australian Embassy gathered artists to explore how culture moves beyond cartographic or physical boundaries and showcase how ideas and histories are carried and rewritten. The exhibit will also attempt to capture the movement and freedom of Australian and Filipino artists coming and going, and the cultural exchanges between the two countries.


The artists are Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan, who was born in the Philippines and lives in Brisbane; Maria Cruz, born in the Philippines and lives in Sydney & Berlin; David Griggs, born in Melbourne and lives in Quezon City; Diokno Pasilan, born in the Philippines and lives in Melbourne; Juni Salvador, born in the Philippines and  lives in Sydney; Tony Twigg, born in Brisbane and shuttles between  Sydney  and Manila.

The six artists will present 37 artworks varying from painting, sculpture and video.

The Peninsula Manila, on the other hand, will feature Australia’s exquisite cuisine, a product of its diverse culture enriched by immigration.

“This is our second year to host “Celebrate Australia” and in cooperation with the Australian Embassy, we are going to have a series of events in our hotel, starting from gourmet tasting in our restaurants Escolta and Old Manila. Australia’s multi-awarded  chef Greg Doyle will be serving his famous menu, “Sonia Vodusek Vecchio, general manager of The Peninsula Manila said.


Doyle  will be joined by other famous Australian chefs  Steven Kelly, Nic Waring and Adam Mathis.

“It would be really quite fascinating event; there will be kangaroo, crocodile, camel and many others. There will be lots of tastes we can experience which are unusual,” Vecchio added.

Samuel Linder, Chef de Cuisine – Old Manila, The Peninsula Manila said he has seen Doyle’s  recipes and “it looks really good what he’s set to prepare for us. It’s a modern and simple style where the flavor and freshness of the food will remain intact.”.

There will also be a kitchen party where guests will be able to cook with the chefs and drink Australian wine while preparing the dishes.

Australia is the number one beef exporter and the fourth wine exporter in the world. In the Philippines there are 150 labels of Australian wine available in the market.

“Celebrate Australia 2013” is a perfect chance for everyone not just for food lovers, to find out the substance of Australia’s marketing slogan –“There’s nothing like Australia.”

Celebrate Australia 2013 is also to celebrate the links between Australia and the Philippines, the ambassador said.

“ One of the great things about being an Australian ambassador in the Philippines, is the warm relationship we have between us, it shows how broad the range of interests. We have an impressive Australian community here in the Philippines and that is something to rejoice at,”  Tweddell enthused.



(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)



The need to confront discrimination

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Outrage Magazine | 17 December 2012



In a research conducted by Iwag Dabaw Inc. in Davao City, there have been several accounted cases where gays have been physically abused – thrown with stones and doused with water as they walked along the streets, being slapped in the face by family members, and verbally abused in public places by being called mean names like bayot, panget, bakla, bayot di madawat sa langit, punyeta, buti pa di pinanganak, and many more.

The group tabulated the summary of human rights violations committed against gays in Davao, out the 97 respondents, 76 (or 78% of total) have been abused. The nature of abused ranged from physical to economic to sexual to verbal. And an abused gay normally experiences more than one form of abuse.











Economic (theft victim)















Total (in person)

59 (61%)

18 (19%)

25 (26%)

64 (66%)


It is alarming to know that verbal abuse against LGBTs got the most number either from their family, police or military, their intimate relationship or in public places.

For most people, they think calling an LGBT individual “bakla” or “bading” when they see them walking along the streets is just plain fun and normal, but it’s not.

And for the family members who shout and malign their LGBT family members, they consider it as a form of disciplinary action.

Those cited situations have a long term effect to LGBTs – their self confidence go down, their ability to see things correctly will change, and others.

Iwag Dabaw Inc. also reported the case of a gay man who was forced by a member of Civilian Armed Force Government Unit (CAFGU) to have anal sex at gunpoint.

There were also reported sexual abuses perpetuated by the men and boys on the streets. They happen in the presence of other people who oftentimes ignore them or just laugh at them.

What most people don’t know is that there is a big difference between cruising for a sexual encounter along the streets, which most LGBTs are stereotyped of, to being forced to engage in any sexual act.

There have been also documented cases of forced disappearances of LGBTs in the Mindanao. Most of the accounted cases were never found and some surfaced but they were already dead.

For the LGBTs in Davao, reporting these incidents to the authorities has never been an option for them, since some of the cases involved the police and the military; and based on experience, the usual response they would get was either a laugh or a “pabayaan niyo na ‘yun baka nagbibiro lang.”

Hence, they seek help through their friends, whom they prefer than their family, since their gay friends understand the situation they’re in.

In a previous Outrage Magazine article, these suspected LGBT hate-related cases were noted:

  • A gay was suffocated using a plastic bag, strangled with an iron wire and was poked in the eye with an ice pick.
  • A body of a dead gay was left in a cemetery and dogs fed on it.
  • A transgender’s body was left in the middle of a bridge; her head smashed and her internal organs splattered everywhere.
  • A body of a gay was found in a condominium, burned; while his hands and feet were tied using nylon cords.
  • A gay was wrapped all over using a packaging tape and was shot several times.
  • The most number of stab wounds found on a slain victim’s body was 79 and he was gay.
  • A lesbian in Davao was shot in the face as she made her way out of a grocery store.

A quip worth highlighting: “We’re not making up these stories. It was like a scene straight from the video game Mortal Combat”.

There is still no law that can protect LGBTs against such situations.

The indifference the government is showing the members of LGBTs, especially when it comes to “petty” bullies to cases that involves forced disappearances and crimes, especially murder, should and must be taken care of by other arms of the government.

There should be proper access to law for a fair investigation and trial for LGBTs who experienced discriminatory abuses –  physical, economic, verbal or sexual, vagrancy cases from the members of the police and military, and murder cases.

Who are we supposed to blame for this continuous growth of discrimination and homophobia? Is it the lack of proper education and awareness of heterosexuals? The misrepresentation and derogatory roles the media portray? Or is it because the government doesn’t show any interest at all?


(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)


The edge of patience

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Outrage Magazine | 22 January 2013



It all started with a ‘Hello’, a handshake, and a smile, yes, with a beautiful smile.

The introduction was brief, but the conversation that followed was longer than any other first conversations he had with people that he just met.

It was one of those successful first meet-ups, wherein both of them jived together and both were interested in each other’s stories. The only thing missing that time was wine, then it could have been the perfect first meet-up.

But then again, the first meeting was not a date nor was it a random meet-up; he was there for an errand.

He didn’t want to step beyond the limitations, what with The Artist as his client. He didn’t want to make a move that time, he didn’t want to leave a bad impression.

After their meeting ended, he left The Artist’s office; he gave him a handshake, warm ‘Thank You’s’ were exchanged with memorable smiles.

It was only after he left the showroom when he realized that he likes The Artist.

When he likes someone, he shows it through his actions.

He didn’t want to make a move because he was afraid and unsure of how The Artist would react.

But he eventually decided to start showing gestures.

He was always very enthusiastic to reply to The Artist’s messages and he always made himself available every time The Artist invited him to meet.

He was very optimistic that something good would come out of all this.

Their smart conversations continued and lasted for a very long time. It seemed like a cue for him to continue showing his gestures. He never had any bad intentions for The Artist. He just wanted to know The Artist a little bit more and spend more quality time with him.

He knew that it was a long shot. The Artist, being too busy with his craft, and him, always in the office from morning until late at night, finishing the requirements for the next day.

Or maybe, both of them were just making excuses.

But along the way, he felt that he’s not making that much impact with the gestures he had been showing. He decided to go to The Artist’s hometown.

That was one of the lowest points of the entire 92 days.

He went there, thinking that something would finally be affirmed, but there were none. At night – after they spent the whole day together, going around the city, enjoying local delicacies – he admitted to himself that the situation he’s in will not go anywhere further than what’s already happening between them. And it saddened him big time.

He’s not used to being the first one to confide true feelings and intentions to the other person and so the whole situation became a waiting game.

The waiting made him anxious. He was uneasy for the longest time.

Every time they’re together, while they’re enjoying each other’s company, over a great food and several glasses of red wine – and that one thing, that single thing that he wanted to discuss, their feelings – was being left out.

He didn’t know if it was a deliberate move from The Artist; or mayve, were they just both afraid to confide their feelings to each other – afraid of losing each others company?

Was it just a mere misinterpretation? They obviously enjoyed each other’s company and they liked each other.

Weeks and months passed and he still hasn’t heard anything concrete from The Artist. It was also during that time when he slowly realized that he’s already willing to let go of The Artist.

The waiting, the anxiety, the madness that he had been feeling – all already hitting their limits.

He’s normally patient when it comes to dating and meeting new guys. He wants to know the other person first before jumping the gun. But in the case of The Artist, he didn’t seem to get through. And every time he tried to move away from The Artist, ignoring him for several days, The Artist sent him messages, paranoid messages, asking him how he was and all.

He was mad and furious. If The Artist didn’t want to do anything serious with him, he should have never led him on.

He reached the edge of patience. And he didn’t want to look desperate.

He never lied about the fact that he’s already falling for The Artist. He had been completely honest with himself about it, and his actions towards The Artist, the gestures he had been displaying the entire time – only proved how much he really liked The Artist.

But at the end of the day, you need to ask yourself: no matter how hard you show how much you like a person and your actions are not being reciprocated the way you want it to be, is the anxiety you feel each day, worth it?


(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)


The last grand gesture

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Outrage Magazine | 08 January 2013



It was a box of sweets, intricately prepared and arranged together in an interesting package. The brand is familiar to few.

It was an attempt to make The Artist smile. But it wasn’t the first time he did something like that, in fact, he did several few others in the previous weeks.

They were having a good time every time they were together. The exchange of messages varied from the intellectual to the concerned; though at times also only cutesy, flirtatious chats.

He wasn’t sure how he’s going to give the box of sweets – should he just hold it in one hand while he carried his other stuff on the other, or should he just place it inside a paper bag and give it to The Artist?

It’s not the value or the presentation he was eyeing for, actually, because for him, it was a gesture. A gesture that begs to be transparent and honest. But he knows, too, it’s not (always) his call on how The Artist should and would decipher his gestures.

The Artist enjoyed the box of sweets.

He has been single for a year when he met The Artist.

And The Artist, even The Artist couldn’t clearly define if he was single that time or he was still in the verge of ending the relationship with a boyfriend.

He knew about The Artist’s situation, but he just said to himself, “Everything will improve eventually. And why should I stop here?”

The thought of losing the feeling scared him.

They went out a couple of times – dined in a stiff restaurant where they ordered Italian, a spontaneous dinner invitation in a not so good restaurant, a surprise lunch where The Artist was too busy to show his gratitude immediately, and different meals in other occasions.

In one of their dinners, after enjoying a good meal, they went back to The Artist’s flat. The Artist opened another bottle of red.

They shared a good laugh, a good conversation, there was a connection, he thought.

His intentions were good. He didn’t agree to go The Artist’s flat to have sex with him, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to, that’s a different story altogether. He wants to know The Artist first. To talk to him a little bit more, marvel at his smile longer and connect with him a little deeper.

He left the The Artist’s flat past three in the morning.

He thought he made a good impression to The Artist. The next day The Artist messaged him. It was an affirmation. But the intentions of The Artist were still unclear.

How many gestures should one make until he realize that his actions doesn’t seem to get through to the other person?

Then a designer gift was given. It was Prada.

He was not sure if The Artist will like the gift. It took him more than two hours in the store deciding which item to give him, which color and style to pick. And another hour staring at the card, the card the comes with the gift box, deciding what to write.

He wanted to be straightforward and at the same time witty, but he didn’t want it to look like premeditated.

They were supposed to have dinner that night, but the plans changed because The Artist needed to finish something in the office. Hence, after several few hours later, he just went to The Artist’s flat and they enjoyed a few glasses of wine.

He handed the gift to The Artist and he was reciprocated with big a smile.

The Artist… a debonair, witty, confident, strong and independent. Just like Prada.

And then there was the trip to The Artist’s hometown. The plane ride was almost two hours.

He wanted to cancel the trip one month before, but The Artist convinced him, telling him that it’s going to be a good one. And being a spontaneous guy, he agreed.

He spent one week in The Artist’s hometown. They were together most of the time. Although it wasn’t his first time in the city, it was an exciting experience for him – being with The Artist the whole day, listening to The Artist’s endless stories, their mocking at each other, their agreement and disagreement, the laughs that have been a regular in their every conversation, the smile, yes that smile. And just the thought of owning time… a time spent with The Artist, that is, which was his idea of bliss.

He skipped work that week, but it didn’t matter. It was one of the few times when he could spend more time with The Artist.

They went around the city from morning until evening. They shared several meals together, finished several glasses of cocktails almost every night, and of course, enjoyed each other’s company. That’s the only thing he’s sure of and he wanted everything to last forever.

But then came his last day, his last night in the city, he had to go back to Manila. The Artist will fly back the next day. Had he known about The Artist’s schedule he would have adjusted his.

It felt like it was one of those vacations where you meet someone special and after the vacation ends, the connection, the spark, the rapport would also end.

The thought of losing the feeling scared him.

Some of his friends told him that he went overboard when he went to The Artist’s hometown and when he bought that Prada gift. But when will one know if what he’s doing is enough? Shouldn’t we continue doing the things that make us happy despite the odds?

After 92 days, everything remained the same. It was a good thing and was also a bad thing. He didn’t know if it was him or the situation, or it was just a kneejerk reaction from The Artist after he saw him displaying good intentions and all.

Were the gestures he showed for several months amounted to nothing? Or was it maybe because The Artist doesn’t really understand the meaning of his gestures? And will it really be the last grand gesture?


(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)


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