Being gay and in a relationship isn’t easy in this city, where, in spire of the fact that segments of the larger population are accepting of same-sex partnerships as part of the norm, some of us prefer to “grow together” as couples in relative privacy. As in: locked away in a room or a lodging house, afraid to be found out.
My partner and I are discreet. We don’t ever talk about “us” to our friends. We pretend to lead separate, single lives, and we meet occasionally in secret–once, or twice every other week at home or somewhere chary. We bond, fight, laugh, gorge on gossip rags, and dissect our friends’ Facebook status updates like ladies who tea.
I understand same-sex relationships collapse largely because one partner prefers to keep the arrangement hush hush (in the closet). But we survive–we cope. Or we try to. We cook and we clean after ourselves but I worry all the same. I do not want to stay discreet forever, it’s not healthy and it’s not a lifestyle I espouse; I’ve been open about relationships, and my sexuality in particular, for as long as I can remember.
I just want to kiss and cuddle him in public I guess, wave him around like a flag, and the throng can stare for as long as they’d like. There is nothing strange or unbecoming when two men (two consulting adults mind you) elect to express their love for each other publicly.
Please make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Love is love.
I am compiling poems for a book I plan to self-publish on April. A collection of only my best bits, noxious, toxic verses drawn from the mind of a chronic depressive. Wow, how compelling.
Saint Jude, the title, will not be a pleasant experience. It will be honest, raw, threadbare (on purpose, in the absence of a grant or a generous patron) and it will come in black and laden with expletives.
I am having difficulty selecting compositions however. I revisited several of my earlier work and found them all lacking in some capacity–forced exercises in craft the lot of them, I doubt if any of them effectively conveyed an emotion or an episode at all. I wrote poems with no subjects, no discernible personae, verses that were disconnected, that were disjointed, poems that generally made no sense. And they were all about love, what is this love, this foolish thing!
So I am resigned to write an entirely new collection; baked fresh, chapters upon chapters of verses with subjects drawn rom memory, from events in the past and the present, from circumstances new and old, from quarrels resolved and questions left unanswered, and I will not be censored, or held back by norms. I will write what I think and express what I feel. Poetry, the art of letters is not something I take lightly.
Photography by Teegee Villanueva
I sit at cafes, observing the goings-on of the bored. There’s a woman outside, eating madeleines on the fly; she’s distracted by something on her little magic box; totally unaware of the world. When did people become so mindless, when did a cigarette become a means to escape, a means to forget, to pass time when time drawls on listlessly. I thought smoking was glamorous, something only the really rich enjoyed between gossip and cups of cafe au lait.
Continue reading “The Bored (Photography)”
I like to write poetry. I enjoy the process immensely. Waking up to a good day, heady, and full of ideas. It takes a while to put pen to paper, to paint images with words, like a master portraitist. But I get there eventually with a little rhyme and rhythm; pulsating beats, a pack of rabid metronomes I can only hear but I cannot see.
My photographs complement my poetry. I know when I started I was more than a little straightforward…I presented images as is, real and unfiltered…but lately I let myself loose, I let myself experiment with colors and subtle variations on subjects previously explored. For one, I let the laws of poetry take precedence over photographic technique. This is why my present work lends itself a certain je ne sais quoi, slowly morphing into abstraction, into the realm of pure expression.
Honestly, my poems are dark, on edge; my personae are troubled individuals meting out their grievances in rhyme, or in some distant language only they can understand. Poetry is an exercise in patience, futility even, or poetry can mean absolutely nothing (depending on context)…poetry should be felt, the words should be sung in the privacy of one’s mind, played out, like an instrument of music.
I write from a place far away, many try to uncover the symbols and the meanings embedded deep within my compositions, some dismiss them as banal, some are quick to dismiss my works as reflections of my troubled mental state. But I pay these people no mind, I never do.
Poetry isn’t that simple.
Artwork by Dyck Cediño
“Do it if you wanna do it,” said B “but why put yourself through that though, that’s like self-denial on a totally Christian level, and you hardly ever go to Mass”
I chug my beer, still cold, “I kinda wanna live in the moment, stay in the moment while it lasts”
And then I was off Facebook. The updates stopped, the endless stream of pictures, the gossip, they all stopped. For a moment I felt at peace. I had only myself to look up to, myself to please, and my friends did not agree at all with my “coming to terms” sort of, my growing “self-awareness”. Whatever. They thought it was passe–that I was part of this “growing” movement of people who wanted to boycott Facebook because it was fashionable.
No…I love Facebook, but I just want to focus on what’s important: me. My happiness, something I neglect a lot only because I work thrice as hard, and put in more effort than most people I know.
It’s time to slow things a bit.
- I’ll be in Bacolod to take pictures all weekend. It’s a trip I’m looking forward to; a totally new environment, a different culture, people, language. Dumaguete is my home and will be my home for quite some time but I tire of the place occasionally and long for some kind of escape; a release from its grip per se.
- I take photos of urban life, the squalor, people in the margins, the Filipino (or the foreigner) going about the tedium of daily life…Ultimately, I want my photographs to drive people to act, to inspire people to help. I don’t want to glamorize poverty, it’s a problem. And I go out of my way to show people that life in the Philippines isn’t that peachy for most. So are my followers on Instagram missing the point? I know people in the “first world” have the resources, the time, and much more, so what’s stopping you? This isn’t even about art anymore; there’s a place and time for that. And there is nothing “fabulous” about a group of children scurrying for food.
- And yeap, I write poetry too.
Follow me on Instagram: @teegeev
Photography by Teegee Villanueva
My books are my life. I carry them around with me wherever I go; wherever I am they accompany me, bother me, pick away at me like children.
Continue reading “A Beautiful Ending”