Came out to my mom…

I just came out to my mom…

Whew…

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I expected any of the following:

1. Being disowned.

2. A massive melodramatic scene straight out of a soap or teleserye where I would be a. shouted at, b. slapped, c. grabbed by the hair and d. dragged out of the house by said hair, but not before

3. My mom reciting a litany of lines where I would be forced to listen to homosexuality being a. sin, b. a mistake, c. a phase that I would grow out of, ending with me burning in hell

4. My mom wishing never to speak to me ever again.

Instead, of course, my mom does the very adult parent thing and says, a. she suspected all along that I was gay and that b. if that was what would make me happy then it’s fine by her.

I think to myself, what?!?

The next thing I think of is, a. this is too good to be true, and b. I have been watching waaaay too many melodramatic lesbian movies where the lesbian always has a tragic ending.

Either way, I am relieved.

Cat’s out of the bag!

Or in this case, out of the closet! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Friday: Last night in London – central London one more time

It is hard to describe what I am feeling right now.

I should be excited to go back home. I should be excited to see family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers. I should be excited to see familiar sights and smells, familiar haunts and tambayans (hang-outs), familiar anything.ย  But all I can feel now is a mix of indescribable emotions ranging from sadness, to nostalgia, to depression to anxiety, to apprehension, to belligerence, to something akin to, or verging on, regret.

And the songs playing on my laptop!…all depressing and somber: Lionel Richie, Karen Carpenter, Fleetwood Mac (their song, “Hold Me” sounds like a milder version of Metallica’s “Hero of the Day”), Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”. And it was cloudy all day today. It rained in the afternoon. Sigh. Even more depressing. Even Mylene Jampanoi’s lovely face is not making me feel any better (but god, ain’t she pretty! ).

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Well, maybe Mylene Jampanoi modeling Dior is making me feel a bit better...

I went to central London today, just to see it one more time. I took the overground, then the central line, but there were signal failures, so I went back to the overground, got off at Liverpool Street, took the central line, got off at Gloucester Road, took the Picadilly to Leicester Square and from Leicester, had some lunch, wandered around Trocadero, said goodbye to Monet and Renoir at the Gallery, took one last look at Trafalgar Square, walked up to the Parliament Square, heard Big Ben toll one more time, went to the bridge, to see the London Eye, and to see the River Thames one more time, took the bus back to Trafalgar and then the bus to Liverpool Street, then saw Stratford one more time, then took the overground. I lingered a bit at Trafalgar, but I stayed more at the Thames. Oddly enough, for a simple looking river, it still seems so grand – full of history and memories.ย  I do not know, maybe it is just me.

I got home and cleaned up the room. It is very bare now. There seems no evidence that I stayed here. I have vacuumed, cleaned the windows, got rid of my rubbish, put everything that can fit into my luggage.ย  I say goodbye to my landlord – he will not be able to see me off tomorrow. As a bit of comic relief, he says he will miss me just being locked in my room, something that he says worries him to no end. He wonders what I do all the time in my room – he thinks maybe I have already committed suicide or something. I laugh half-heartedly.

I am going home. For a moment I feel the onslaught of panic. I feel like staying. I feel like I have made a mistake. I feel like I should have stayed longer, I should have at least stayed til the visa expired.ย  Have I given up too easily? Is this what I really am? I do not know.ย  I would like to say that maybe this is destiny, that if I was meant to stay then there would have been signs, things would have been easier. But I think that is the fatalistic in me rationalizing things. The reason I had decided to go home was precisely because I had wanted to take destiny into my own little brown hands. I was sick and tired of letting life just happen to me. I wanted to take life by the horn and make it lead me where I want to go, not the other way around. I am sure that will be hard – life is pretty much like wrestling a wild bull to the ground – but to take that bull by the horn says a lot: that you refuse to just let life string you along, that you want some measure of control over your life. Some argue that you cannot control destiny – that everything has already been predestined, that no matter how hard you try, life already has a script for you, a script you must follow, and if you refuse to follow it, then you lose, you die. Eventually life will reveal what it really is, but for now, I like to think that maybe in some little form, I can do something about it.

When Indian-born Canadian director Deepa Mehta was interviewed by rediffonthenet.com for the controversial homosexuality-themed “Fire”, she defended the movie by saying,

Fire is about choices, the choices we make in life which may lead to alienation. By the bisexuality theme in the film, I have just shown an extreme choice. But the end result is that you cannot have everything in your life. Happiness does not fall into your lap; in fact, happiness is too ephemeral a word.

You have to choose in life. Ultimately, you have to take a risk. You may hate your job — you have the choice of doing it or leaving it. You will risk alienation and a lot of hardships by sitting at home doing what you like, like painting or writing for yourself. But one has to make a choice because, before you know, it’s death.”

This is probably why I am going through all these. Life back home will not be any less harder than my life had been here in London. Life back home will not be any less alienating, any less risky, any less sadder. I know I cannot stay here and dream about what I really want for myself, in these circumstances. I cannot have that and want to be back home. If I wanted a fulfilling, happy life, I have to work for it, but at the same time, it is true, happiness is ephemeral. I can choose to be happy anywhere. I took a risk leaving the Philippines, I am taking a risk going back, only because I have had to make the hard choice of choosing life over slow death here. Maybe yes, it is the alienation and hardship that I am afraid of, for what I had discovered here was the longing to do something, finally for myself, to do something that mattered, to want to matter.

I have had to make a choice now, because tomorrow death may come knocking.

But god, I shall miss London.

Thursday: Discovering “Martyrs” with two more days to go in London…

6:00 pm – Watching “Valley of Flowers” and “Martyrs” simultaneously.

Common denominator: Mylene Jampanoi. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mylene Jampanoi

Though liked “The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter”, did not really like it enough to keep watching it again, but did like Mylene Jampanoi and Xiao Ran Li.

8:00 pm – “Valley of Flowers” looks like a classic Asian B-movie film,but I will go through it for her. What tipped me off that it might be B-movie? Lead Miland Soman showing his ass (or possibly his butt double) only a few minutes into the film.ย  “Martyrs” though seems intense. Not “Drag me to Hell” intense. More like “Saw” meets “Blair Witch Project” meets “Hostel” intense. I am bummed that the movie is dubbed in English, so I cannot hear her speak in French. I would happily read subtitles if it means I can hear her speak in French. She makes French sound even hotter.

8:30 pm – I just noticed that at certain angles, Mylene Jampanoi looks French, then at other angles, looks Chinese, then a combination of the two. Her eyes remind me of Milla Jovovich’s. She kind of reminds me of a younger version of Sophie Marceau (and at times, Emanuelle Beart).

8:45 pm- Monumentally crushed that Mylene Jampanoi is married. To a Bollywood actor, no less (that should provide an interesting gene pool for their offspring). Why? Why? Why? ๐Ÿ™‚

9:00 pm – Cannot seem to finish either movie, though “Martyrs” seem the more compelling of the two. I keep getting distracted. This is a message to you, filmmakers – if your movie sucks, or is only marginally interesting, we, your viewers, can always go online and find something else more entertaining.

I feel like watching “I love you Beth Cooper” now.

9:52 pm – “Martyr” has more blood and gore in it than a weekend “Red Cross” blood donation drive. Mylene dies after 45 minutes. Might go downhill from here. Morjana Alaoui and the character she plays, Anna,ย  are interesting though. Her character is supremely devoted to Mylene Jampanoi’s tortured, demented character (I don’t know why – I just think girls like them demented or tortured). I mean, hell, she gets rid of the bodies Jampanoi’s character murdered! If that isn’t devotion (with a hint of some subtle sapphic undertones) I don’t know what is.

I wish I could watch more of her movies though. Damn Hollywood imperialism! It forces me to watch such blockbuster drivel as “Transformers 2” but keeps me from watching better non-Hollywood films.

10:09 pm – Still have not finished “Martyrs”. Gave up on “Valley of Flowers” already. Tried to watch Japanese movie “Machine Girl” but it is crappy as well. I still want to watch “Martyrs” – I just do not know if I want to go where it wants me to go.

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Kick-ass movie poster don't you think?

Two more days to go…sigh…

Read a Jessica Zafra review on the film “Adventureland“, which she ends by writing, “True, maybe I love this movie because it reminds me of Say Anything, another movie with a Replacements song. And because I was an unemployed comparative lit major who had long planned to get out of here.”ย  That stops me on my tracks. What does that mean? She wants to get out of Manila? Of her life? What?

And what about me? I had succeeded in getting out of Baguio – at least for 14 months.ย  The sinking, depressing realization though is that when you get out, you realize that the other place isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. And then you spend your time trying to get out of that place that you planned to go to in the first place. I think to get out of anywhere does not mean to get out physically – but just to escape in other ways.

I guess this is why “Martyrs” is so unwatcheable: we are all planning to get out somewhere, of the “here”, but never really quite escaping it. You’re trapped. In your past, by your demons, by your own concepts and constructs.

11:00 pm – Saw the ending of “Martyrs”. Morjana Alaoui’s Anna is caught and tortured repeatedly, and….you have to watch the film to know what happens next.

It is a horrid, harrowing, terrifying film. And it is not even because of the profusion of blood and gore. It is more the suspense, the anticipation. It is a very unusual, surprising film (very French, in that). I do not think I will watch it ever again. Even if it has Mylene Jampanoi in it. It is also an existential film. Yeah, you heard me. Existentialism in a horror film! Who knew?

But one thing this film does succeed at is its promise that it will make “Saw” and “Hostel” seem like “Sesame Street”. In all aspects it is true. I dare you to watch it.

12:45 am – I just found out Mylene Jampanoi or as I like to call her hot French actor crush, or simply The Crush) may have separated from her Bollywood hubby. Hope springs eternal…err…I can dream can’t I?

Martyrs Trailer (it’s actually pretty neat):

Wednesday: 3 more days to go…

I hate goodbyes.

I’ve always hated goodbyes.

When I left my hometown to come to London, I did not even say goodbye to a number of people. When friends leave for overseas, I do not go to bid them goodbye.

Today I did not go to Oxfam. I had a headache and I felt some nausea coming on, so I thought it best to sleep it off first. I went there after, but by then, it was the afternoon guys I had caught there and the manager. I missed the morning guys. I said goodbye to the afternoon ones, and already I felt a bit bad.ย  Perhaps as the day to my flight approaches (or D-day, as I am wont to call it), I will feel even more sentimental about things. I really will miss London.

Countdown: 6 Days! OMG!

Sunday. Woke up today to realize I only have 6 days in London.

I think I’m going to panic now.

Aaaaaiiiiieeeee!

Choice quotes I like:

“When the wind stops blowing, start rowing.”

” And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anais Nin

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain….”

7 days….!

I have packed everything now save what is on my back. I thus have no bed sheet, no pillows, no blankets, no kitchen utensils, no pots and pans to cook in. I have thus resorted to covering myself with the mattress and sleeping on the carpet to keep myself warm. I have resorted to eating canned goods and heating them up in the backyard. Since I’ve packed my spoons and forks, I’ve resorted to eating with my hands as well. I try to minimize my use of clothes since I’ve packed all of that away already, along with the necessary toiletries. I don’t do laundry anymore also. I don’t want to open the box anymore because we’ve already sealed it with duct tape and packing tape – an art form that I had only recently learned. That means no showering as well. Sure, there are more flies hovering around my window waiting to pounce, but hey! small price to pay for readying yourself up to go home. My only consolation now is that I still have my laptop, where I can wilf for Lisa Ray/Sheetal Sheth fan vids (which are actually better than the actual movies, because they go straight to the naughty bits) as I count the days to my flight home.

I am going home and there’s no going back. ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially as I have spent 400 quid on a non-refundable ticket. So all you folks (Filipinos or otherwise, but mostly these random Filipino strangers who feel inexplicably entitled to give me unsolicited advice) who want me to stay, let me just say these things right now:

  1. No, I don’t do care work, child care, whatever. I don’t do fastfood work either. I know that kind of life fulfills you. But it doesn’t do it for me. I would do it if I get to keep the childย  or I get to keep my cute Indian (female) co-workers (who all seem to look like Sheetal Sheth) at the end of the day, but since I cannot, I might as well go home!
  2. No, I don’t do TNT (Filipino slang meaning “to stay in a country illegally”).ย  That clandestine,arcane life of dodging immigration officers, coming out only to work at night, staying in seedy flats, windows all boarded up, and always looking behind to make sure no-one’s following you, is not for me.
  3. No, I won’t do cross-country. Because why would I go to another country to be treated like a second-class citizen, when I can just go back home and be treated like that there?
  4. No, I do not want to marry some random English guy just so I can get a permanent residency (are you listening, random middle-aged Filipino lady at the flight centre?). I’m not that desperate. Besides, why would I marry for a visa? I’d marry for (loads of) money, yes, but not for a visa.

For those folks back home who think I am just a carefree bum here – you are a jackass. You don’t know what it’s like to be living, studying, working abroad, under harsh conditions, so shut up.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me just say, thank you for those who have been reading my blog. I am excited to see friends and family back home, and I finally have an epiphany.

During months of being holed up in London, attending West End workshops, studying management, writing, working, watching movies and TV shows, reading books, going around galleries and museums, blogging, and so on – something came together yesterday. Something that makes so much sense to me now. I suddenly know what to do.

I won’t tell you just yet. But I will once I’ve hit touch down and it’s off the ground.

Can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Points for you if you get the tone of this post. haha!)

Retro-recap: Harper’s Island, Episode 12 & 13 (finale) – Abby Mills, I’ve missed you!

Episode 12

Wow. Just wow.

Didn’t see the twists in this episode coming.

It’s been a few days now since John Wakefield has started wreaking havoc in “Murder Island”. Everyone is either dead or waiting to die. Everyone looks puffy-eyed, tired, grimy, filthy and unwashed. I feel like hosing everyone down with extra-strength soap.

John Wakefield and what is left of the wedding party is still wondering around in the forest. Danny (Brandon Jay McLaren) and Sully (Matt Barr) are trying to find John Wakefield, as are Henry (Christopher Gorham) and Abby (Elaine Cassidy).

Danny breaks the tension by saying this randomly: “How are we supposed to find anything in this…nature?”ย  (haha!)

Sully uses Danny as Bait and catches John Wakefield. They get John Wakefield…and…they don’t kill him.

I shout at the TV – what is the matter with you people?!? NOW is not the time to start growing a conscience!

Oblivious to my angry, frothy musings, the characters ignore me.ย  Abby is given the chance to shoot John Wakefield and she cannot. Even though John Wakefield murdered her mom and dad, and pretty much most of the wedding entourage and half of the island’s population. What a wimp! Character development! Ugh.

They throw John Wakefield into jail and of course he escapes – but not before murdering Danny, who I’ve kind of grown to like. They suspect (finally!) that John Wakefield has an accomplice and they suspect it’s Abby’s boyfriend, Jimmy (C.J. Thomason), especially since he was paired off with Trish (Katie Cassidy), Henry’s bride and he manages to lose the bride.

As it turns out, Henry is the accomplice and he kills Trish. Here’s more: Henry is John Wakefield’s son, from Abby’s mother. Making Henry Abby’s half-brother.

That took me aback. I hadn’t expected that. Especially because there was a scene in which Jimmy admits to Abby that when she left him he was so brokenhearted he wanted to hurt her, and that Henry, up to this point, has always been the most affable, most boring, most likeable, most goody-two-shoes in the whole series. I didn’t think he even mattered, really. I was too busy getting annoyed at the other characters: the stepmom, the brother-in-law, Shea, Sully, Cal, Trish, and was so bent on Jimmy that Henry’s reveal was just completely surprising. Hurray for Harper’s Island! Still has a few surprises after all. And of course, everything makes sense to me now: the Wellingtons didn’t like Henry (of course, they all had to go), the wedding entourage were just a bunch of upper class snobs (of course, they had to go as well) and now it made sense why Henry was always very protective of Abby (of course, it’s all about Abby!).

Random thought: I know where I’d seen that guy who plays John Wakefield from. He was in “Battlestar Galactica”. He played the cylon (?) who kidnaps and keeps Kara “Starbuck” Thrace captive while she was on Caprica (I think that was in season 2).

Episode 13

Everything comes together here:

Henry (Christopher Gorham) reveals himself to be a bigger psycho than his father. He kills everyone so he can be with Abby (Elaine Cassidy) because he has this weird, psychotic, incestuous, obsessive love for his half-sister (which, let me just say now, is really, eeww). He has her holed up in one of the nifty little cabins in the island and – I don’t know – probably plan to take the practice of in-breeding to a whole new level.

He burns all the bodies in the church, conveniently leaving behind DNA samples, dental records, the works (I’m kidding), so that the Coast Guard can conveniently assume that he and Abby are dead.ย  The whole island is deserted, save for the two. Shea (Gina Holden) and creepy little daughter Madison (Cassandra Sawtell – I swear she must have grown a few inches in the course of this series) are the only survivors left.

Henry reveals his grand in-breeding plan to Abby (well, not really, but you know where this is going, don’t you?). Abby tries in vain to escape, and finds that the love of her life, Jimmy (C.J. Thomason), has been kept alive, tied and gagged, so he can conveniently take the fall for all the murders. Henry convinces Jimmy to take the fall, else he will kill Abby. Jimmy escapes and tries to kill Henry. They fall off a cliff, and Abby finally grows a pair and kills Henry.

Notes:

  • I am happy that Abby has stayed alive. But everyone else is dead. Such a bummer!
  • I can’t believe Trish Wellington (Katie Cassidy) and Sully died! Just when both were growing on me.
  • Jimmy is not the killer, yay! Henry as the killer – that was actually the best thing about the series. Message boards are going overtime, fans complaining about it – but it just makes so much sense! He looks so insignificant, inconsequential, and just so goody-two-shoes, that when the reveal happened, it was just so cool.

Life Lessons learned while living in London

  1. Never exceed the use-by date.
  2. Always check the use-by date.
  3. You can only eat so many burgers.
  4. You can only eat so much sardines and beans.
  5. Cooking is easy. To figure out. If you put your mind to it. You just hope for the best.
  6. The microwave is your best friend.
  7. Never leave home without your tube map.
  8. Never leave home without any map, period.
  9. Know how to read maps.
  10. Sat-navs and tom-toms help you get lost more accurately.
  11. Be prepared for anything. Especially on weekends, when the tubes are down.
  12. Have a plan B. Be prepared to resort to it, if need be, even if it means going back home to start all over again.
  13. Never be afraid to start all over again.
  14. Safe is for sissies. Risk is for winners!
  15. Duct tape can pretty much patch up anything.
  16. Never rely on British movies (or books) for cultural education about England.
  17. The Stone Henge is a bit less majestic up close.
  18. Travel light. Anywhere.
  19. Avoid wearing accessories that may set off detector at airport.
  20. Wear nice socks so when they ask you to take your shoes off at the airport, you won’t be embarrassed at toes sticking out of socks.
  21. Important things to bring anywhere: underwear, shades, water, sunscreen.
  22. Look good on your passport photo. Remember – that will be your photo for the next five years, or until your passport expires.
  23. Your passport is your security blanket.
  24. You can live in a shoestring budget. If you want to. Seriously.
  25. Know how to budget. Know how to handle your money.
  26. You will be surprised at the lengths you are willing to go to to survive under harsh conditions.
  27. Charity shops are your best friend.
  28. A laptop and an internet connection are necessary things for a person living overseas.
  29. Being abroad is not what it’s all cracked up to be.
  30. You find kindness in the least likely places.
  31. You can find art and beauty in the most unlikely places.
  32. The best things in life really are free.
  33. Arriving at your destination can be very anti-climactic. It is the journey itself that really does matter.
  34. If you let people walk all over you, they will.
  35. Just because you are from a third-world/Southern country doesn’t mean you are any less human, intelligent or less deserving of respect.
  36. You will fly millions of miles into another country, cross oceans and continents – and rediscover your own self, your own identity, your own sense of self-worth and self-respect.
  37. People are the same pretty much everywhere you go.
  38. Cities are all the same. It’s the people that matter.
  39. Decide and decide now.Firmly.
  40. Don’t hesitate.
  41. Never think you deserve any less.
  42. Fight for what you want. More importantly, ask yourself if what you are doing now is what you really want.
  43. No matter what you do people will always judge you.
  44. You can never please people, ever.
  45. Sometimes plans don’t always work out.
  46. Sometimes you can be in love with a person and it still won’t work out.
  47. Love isn’t the only thing necessary for a relationship to survive.
  48. Letting go sucks. Moving on sucks even more. But growth doesn’t.
  49. Never settle.
  50. Act!
  51. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. And most importantly –
  52. There is no place like your home country! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wednesdays at Oxfam

Busy reconnecting with people back home so I don’t feel much ofย  an outsider when I get back.ย  Emailed former editor, former boss, friends, family, even acquaintances I met in lesbian and gay conferences ages ago! ๐Ÿ™‚ At the same time, I am getting people’s emails here as well, just so I can easily transition from London to Baguio to Manila in the space of a heartbeat. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also because I think blogging, emailing, looking for jobs, hatching evil ideas so they can become projects, working, and catching up on much-needed partying will be good for me – take me away from the reverse culture shock and adaptation logistics.

Today, I went to Oxfam to volunteer. I culled, filled up near empty rails, went around the shop just giving any suspicious would-be shoplifter the evil eye, writing a paragraph for Oxfam’s “Write-a-paragraph-for-a-pound” venture, which is kind of funny – I pay them so I can write a paragraph. Usually people pay me to write. At the same time, trying to stay away from till, where volunteers almost always seem to be drawn to, congregating around the till person chatting and gossiping and whatever until the team leader comes and breaks up the crowd.

Esoteric Oxfam joke I came up with: “How many Oxfam volunteers does it take to change a lightbulb?”

Answer: A lot.

One to cull the lightbulbs.

One to top up the empty lightbulb sockets.

One to distribute the flyers outside announcing that we are changing lightbulbs.

One to be on the shop floor and make sure no one nicks the lightbulbs.

One to buy the lightbulb.

One to complain about how the capitalists are taking over the world.

One to be upset about that the complainer.

A few to gather around the till just to gossip about the lightbulb changing.

One random manager randomly just going out for coffee.

One to actually change the light bulb. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is in contrast with: How many corporate geniuses does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: Just one. He will outsource it to India. ๐Ÿ™‚

(If you don’t get the two jokes, email me. Or just volunteer in any Oxfam GB shop. It will help Oxfam and help poor countries around the world as well).

Random thought: Co-volunteer asks me – Am I gay?

My answer: Am I gay? I’m ecstatic! haha ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, it was a busy day: there was a book reading with children (which consisted only of one child. He was the only one interested in reading. State of the nation right there!), and a lot of customers panic buying for books and quality clothes. If I didn’t know any better I’d think the economy is picking up! ๐Ÿ™‚