The Quiapo amazing race. (Or, how I missed joining the Manila Pride March for the second time.)

This morning, friends I was with last night sent several text messages thanking everyone who joined them in their first Manila Pride March. Ain’t that sweet? It was my second. I mean, the second Pride March that I missed for some inane reason and just when I was already on my way to Malate. I don’t know why, but I’m prone to these: Pride March, friends’ weddings, special movie screenings.

Actually, I do. But it feels so much better to adapt a state of put-on bemusement.

The actual reason I missed the march was because I was in Quiapo, waiting for buttons I had made for our group in the march; the rest will be distributed to other people afterwards. I really couldn’t complain about the delay. It was a rushed job to beat other rushed job: I only commissioned them and submitted the design that morning. There was really no way they could create 500 buttons in 3 hours. But the man in the shop accepted my order and I was pretty desperate.

In hindsight, I should have split the 3 button designs between 3 shops instead. Realizing things in hindsight only adds further frustration to an already frustrating experience. I don’t know why I still indulge in it.

It was past 4 o’clock and they were still not done with the buttons. The shop owner’s mother, a salt-of-the-earth woman who was amiable enough to talk of the things they do in the shop, was still placing safety pins in the buttons. I decided to help them to speed up the process. It was easy; all I needed to know is learn the proper orientation of the pin as it’s placed into the holes in the back. We finished the last 100 button in 10 minutes. The woman probably sensed that I have not yet eaten all day so I was told to get myself something to eat and wait for an hour more.

The day wasn’t going that well for me. Blame procrastination. After several days of not getting enough sleep because of one thing or another, I realized we are totally unprepared for the march. I woke up early on Saturday morning to design three buttons, headed to Quiapo before lunch, tried to find someone to make a banner for us (no luck there), and ordered for balloons for the march instead. I learned that one could order 20 pink balloons to be ready in 30 minutes. That was pretty amazing.

Bern with balloons

I didn’t even had time to had my nails done. Bern got a haircut, Markee had a foot spa, Gelo had his nails manicured. I smelled of Quiapo, midday sun, panic, and mostly Quiapo. Bern was very kind to bring the balloons to Malate and have a little bit of adventure of his own. I had to go back to Manila to claim the buttons. While in the train, it hit me that the entire day felt like joining the Amazing race, except that I was not treated to those flashy editing to remove all the boring bits between challenges.

It was already 6:30 and a hundred butttons for PinoyG4M arrived at the shop. The shop boy said there were still 100 buttons ready in the next 30 minutes, which most likely mean at least 45. I told the shop I’m picking the rest tomorrow and was good with the 400 buttons that were already done.

At least most of the pins were popular. Several people kept asking for some. Except those for the Home for the Golden Gays, unfortunately. That was my fault: the design I did looked very politico-like, as if someone was campaigning for mayor. Which is a shame. The idea for the pins started as a way of promoting their website.

A quick postscript from a fabulous weekend at the Home for the Golden Gays.

It’s three in the morning in Manila, I’ve only had a few hours of sleep after a very busy weekend, and I still have to stay up for several more hours for work. Strangely enough, I’m not that sleepy. It must be some leftover high after the outreach program at the Home for the Golden Gays.

The fund-raising went better than our initial estimate and in behalf of PinoyG4M, I am thanking everyone who gave their aid for our elderly sisters. I wish all the sponsors could have seen the smiles of the golden gays when we presented our gifts; they made all the effort from the last few weeks worth it.

Special mention should be given to the team that made everything happen: The indefatigable Nex and PJ of Akei, as well as the rest of the Salenda siblings (whom I owe another pot of pasta). Juna and his wonderful graphics, Acee, and especially Lanchie for letting us bully him into handling the collected funds for the event. Jerome and Erik for ensuring that we could give the 2 sacks of rice we promised. Alex and the beautiful bouquets he bought from Dangwa. Markee the amazing host, Leo and my boyfriend Bern who put up with me when I got annoyingly impatient.

There are also the other volunteers who joined us in entertaining our Lolas: Annabs and Sky, Marko of UP Babaylan, Alver, Athan, Ethan, Tan-tan and Glen, and Page, who missed the program but still came to show support.

While I wrote that we entertained the golden gays, the truth is that they were the ones who entertained us with their hospitality and fabulousness. Growing up gay at a time when people are more hostile against homosexuals could break a person, but the members of the Home are not broken. When we had the beauty contest earlier, one of the judges asked one of the Lolas what was the thing he regrets the most in his life. The contestant gave a very confident answer: “I have no regrets.”

When I think of the many times I complained of petty inconveniences, it was very humbling to hear the stories of people who had not had an easy life but still managed to find happiness where they could. Like another contestant from the beauty contest, I wish I could remain as radiant and fabulous when I reach eighty-one. Heck, I wish I could grow to reach eighty-one.

That was the first part of Akei and PinoyG4M’s project to help the Home for the Golden Gays. We still have several unfinished long-term activities for the Home, but we had a great start which makes us excited to complete our other activities.

And, man, I still have to upload this afternoon’s photos.

Help us share some love for the Golden Gays.

As part of the Pride Month celebrations, Akei and PinoyG4M teamed up to aid the Home for the Golden Gays.

The Home for the Golden Gays, founded by writer and former public servant Justo Justo, is “a refuge for the elderly and vulnerable gays of Manila. A home for those, who have nowhere else to go, for those whose families have rejected them, and for those who simply want to be in the company of other elderly gays.”

Akei and PinoyG4M will provide assistance to the Home and spend a fun afternoon with our lolas on November 26. Join us in giving an early Christmas present for them by helping in two ways:

  • You may donate financial aid via GCash by contacting us below. Or you may opt to give items like slippers, colorful shirts, fans, combs, handkerchiefs and/or toiletries. Pledges and donations will be publicly listed but you may request to remain anonymous.
  • Volunteer and join us for a fun afternoon at the Home:

    1:00 – 5:00 PM
    November 26, 2011 | Saturday
    Home for the Golden Gays
    #108 David Street corner F.B. Harrison, Pasay City

However, due to restrictions of space in the venue, we could only accommodate a limited number of volunteers to ensure that more lolas could join and enjoy our little party.

Please contact us if you would like to help:

Lanchie Abanco
+63 917 365 9620

Jade Tamboon
+63 915 303 6322

PJ Salenda
Akei LGBTIQ Working Group
+63 918 942 8513

Home for the Golden Gays

Of course, our support for Home for the Golden Gays will not end with a one-day visit. Both Akei and will be providing assistance for the Home by building their website and promoting online presence for the Home. Both groups will also provide long-term assistance for the Home to help them get better funding for their facilities.

Outreach program for the Home of the Golden Gays (
Akei LGBTIQ Working Group
GCash Remittance instructions
International GCash Partners (arranged by country)