Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (Burnham Version)


A correspondent sent me this touching story of the Brokeback Mountaineers.


Out of Burnham Park
By Isak Denizens


I had a trick in Burnham Park. He came from out of the blue lake into the bike rentals and proceeded to the hill where once stood the mini-train ride of my youth. ETCHING! Enough of this romanticizing. Yes, Burnham Park is still major cruising ground for locals and visitors alike. The Hetero or homo or metro kind. Like all parks of major centers, Burnham Park is fodder for predator and prey alike. Think of Central park in New York or Trafalgar Square or heck, the old Mehan Garden of Manila. Luneta and Paseo not withstanding.

By day Burnham Park is tourism-picture-perfect. Sunshiney, pleasant and all abloom. Parents and children wander about with souveniers and snacks in hand. By dusk, the park casts a not-so-innocent demeanor. Young lovers in groups catch the tail end of the boat rentals. Giggling their testosterone and estrogen levels throughout sunset. The splashing of water made by their paddles add up to the sexual cacophony. Intermngling with these are the sounds of the vendors shouting ‘Baluuuuuut!’, ‘Maniiiiiii!’ uhm, ‘Putoooooo!’.

And so we come to ‘putos’. They carouse in tight shirts, tighter jeans, and the prerequisite soft, dark, olfactory leather jacket. They pounce on ‘sashaying’ tourists or lone men and ask the quintessential question: “Service?!?” with a smile. ‘Service’ being you-know-what and from hereon it’s tiangge divisoria-style. Haggling is not only permissible, it’s the only logical step to follow. It’s the old economic tenet of supply and demand. Customer vis-à-vis product exchange. Satisfaction guaranteed and no-your-money-back guarantee. At least one gets to know or expect what he’s paying for.

Peak season sees the whole caboodle of ‘servicemen’ plying the park all the way to Session Road. This time of year sees the rise in ‘service fees’ as tourists abound and are willing to pay ‘manila rates’ for a good time in the city of Pines. (I hear the female counterparts are in Magsaysay district). The ‘servicemen’ are enlisted by senior ‘officers’ or relatives or simply out for a good time themselves and extra cash to be able to pay for their entrance or drinks at the latest concert or gimik place. Thus ‘freelancing students’ abound specially after exams during this period. Or make that even before exams. Go figure.

Oh but this happens in every corner of Luzviminda. Here’s bad news to the moralist, the oldest profession in the world is here to stay. The best we can do is regulate it and come up with a comprehensive health program for ‘them’ or to designate a red light district that will be easier to monitor and control. It’s useless to fight them, they will only go underground and wreak more havoc, health-wise. With monitoring, at least they may be someday taxed for their profession. Oh enough…

So what else is there for the pinoy gay to do up in Baguio. The usual tourist trappings do not discriminate against the homosexual. Any tourist in Baguio equals much needed revenue for the city. Hence, the tolerance for homosexuals – flamboyant or not – is prevalent in this city. Hotels, restaurants, bars, theaters, parks, activity centers are open and friendly to gays. And such, these places are prime ‘cruising’ grounds for gays. While it is still illegal to perform lascivious acts or behave in a scandalous manner, much of the negotiations appear out in the open. With monetary gains or not. Gays have much taken to the internet and thus most alliances are formed in the chat rooms and the eb’s are the final touchdown. From hereon, budding romances may flourish to full-blown relationships. Or they wither into yet another vacation fling in the diaries (or PDA’s) of the modern pinoy gay.

Baguio is no stranger to such encounters. What is strange is that the few gay bars (as in macho dancing) in the outskirts of the city cater to… tada!!!...the female market. The first time I heard of a gay bar in the city was from my female friends who out on a whim drove over to Naguillian Road on a weekday and found themselves in the company of more females. The only gays around the bar were the employees/gro’s. While the matrons or young female executives are the constant habitués of these places, the gays in Baguio City prefer the more mainstream entertainment. Like their metropolitan counterparts, they roam the malls shopping to their hearts’ and wallets’ delight. They frequent their favorite bars, restaurants, etc. in the hope of meeting someone they eventually will…’whatever’ with.

Stranger even is the tolerance up north. In the mid-90’s my friends and I went up to Abatan, Benguet for a wedding. Weddings up north are events for townsfolk to get together in what could be a three-day to a full-month event. Depending on the stature of the host family. Traditional butchering of cows and pigs were present in this wedding. The first night we ventured into the main highway in search of a bar to drink the night away. We stumbled into one by the roadside and entered with glee as the place was packed with prospective males. Like peahens we sat coyly and ordered our drinks and waited for the Benguet Cowboys to strut their stuff. In less than 10 minutes, one cowboy goes to the jukebox, plays a slow tune, approaches our group, este, moi, then asks for a dance. I oblige feeling like a colegiala in her first soiree and as we dance a slow drag, the rest of the cowboys approach the rest of my ‘sisters’ and follow suit. We all danced to two songs, exchanging pleasantries as our arms were wrapped around each other. A decent space was observed though between our bodies. All the while I was thinking how pleasant the experience was. Not only because it was terribly ‘pa-girl’ but also because it was refreshing to encounter males who had no biases or phobias regarding gays and were similarly out for a good time if not to do their hometown duty of entertaining guests from the city. In retrospect, the Benguet Cowboy apparently has its own version of Brokeback Mountain. Too bad text messaging or email was not yet around. Who knows I could’ve been Laura Ingalls to their Cowboy persona.

Going further back, as a kid I remember the Grand Canao Celebrations of the late 70’s. Different tribes would gather at the top of Session Road in full regalia and instruments and ‘pattong’ their way down the road. I remember one distinct assembly at the top of the road when the parade was about to commence. A few minutes into the start, there were about 6 or 7 participantss in their late teens huddled together to keep them warm. They were all naked but for their g-strings and they hugged skin-to-skin to keep warm. They were all smiling and cavorting with no-holds-barred abandon. How pure their male camaraderie was. And how oh so homoerotic. Today I shake my head in frustration at why the westerner has imbued us with their malicious ways as we now frown on male public displays of affection. Remember when it was not uncommon to see two ‘pards’ walking down Session Road with their pinkies locked in friendship? Ay, Apo…

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, that was nice, Frankie. Opps, do I still need the 'manong'?

Fedeliza

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mel says "brokeback mauten" kano. Hehehe.

F

1:32 PM  
Blogger frank cimatu said...

Loko kayo, ni Martin Masadao dayta

4:25 PM  
Anonymous 'D-Nice Finch-Hardon said...

interesting but not informative enuf. I wonder who Isak Denizens is?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Bryan Anthony the First said...

frank cimatu...your name rings a bell

6:00 PM  
Blogger Angelo Espanol said...

Makapunta nga jan charot!

7:46 PM  

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