Notes from a really long weekend: Muli.

It will be a while before I will get over Adolf Alix Jr’s Muli.

Sid Lucero played a gay former seminarian-turned-revolutionary who inherited an inn from his late mother. Cogie Domingo was student, and later a lawyer, who became a frquent guest in that inn. Eventually, the two were drawn into an affair which lasted several decades.

Various archival recordings pepper the story to place it against the backdrop of Philippine history. Some of these tend to call too much attention to themselves, as if the movie was a history trivia game. The aging of the actors through make-up could have been done better, too, as well as the fireworks shown near the end of the movie. For someone who became a big-shot lawyer, Cogie Domingo fequently slurs and mumbles his lines; but that’s Cogie Domingo for you.

I could nitpick at all the tropes and gimmicks the movie used and it would merely be a way of making it appear that I was not really affected by its story. And that would be lie.

Muli (The Affair) screenshot

The affair the two men had lasted more than four decades and the lives of their respective spouses (the lawyer married his girlfriend, the innkeeper got himself a long-term boyfriend). Did the affair weigh more than their legitimate partners? Did they love their respective spouses less? Was it a different kind of love that they reserve for each other? Should they choose the affair over the legitimate relationship?

No, the movie did not wish to answer that.

In most Filipino movies, the main characters must choose whether to go with the legitimate spouse or the mistress (usually with the legal wife winning). The deliberate moral ambiguity on how the movie presented the affair was both intriguing and frustrating. Long after the movie, Juna, Lanchie and I were still arguing about the main characters’ decision to keep the affair going for so long.

For many closeted gay men, a part of their lives will always remain a secret for many people. In the innkeeper’s case, he was a walking cabinet of secrets: a professor and member of the secretive (and illegal) Communist Party, very few people know of his political leanings, his sexuality, his boyfriend, his other boyfriend. It blows one’s mind wrapping around the layers upon layers of secrets and double lives.

Which might be the reason why his relationship with the lawyer transcended a mere affair: they shared each other’s secrets. That will not work for a normal relationship. I suspect that, if they entered a normal relationship, it will end quickly and bitterly for both of them.

Blah blah blah. In other words, the Pride March after-party.

The post-march program was already halfway done when I arrived in Nakpil. Exhausted, I accompanied Bern to a food stall. At least I already got to eat; Bern hadn’t eaten anything all day.

It was sad seeing so few people in the program. Most of them were probably the same people who attend Pride March every year, enjoying the photo ops. A perimeter was built around the Nakpil-Orosa area; the event charged an entrance fee when the actual program highlights started.

Shortly after I arrived, our group went into one of the bars for karaoke and beer. Later on, I was told that many of the people who were already in the party area were asked to pay the entrance fee outside the gates. We missed that because we were already inside a bar which was conveniently inside the venue.

So the Pride March boiled down to simply another means of making money. That was not unexpected. But the attempt at exclusivity to the area tasted of gross commercialism, I could feel it clogging my cynical gay arteries. Ironically, the bars probably would have had more people coming in if the organizers did not put up a stupid wall around the venue.

I was watching go-go boys doing poi while they danced on elevated platforms and thinking: What would Maoi warriors feel watching their fire-dance performed by go-go boys? It’s that side of gay culture I am not comfortable with: the gaudy sexuality, the trashy hedonism, the garish excess. Not that I think it should be part of gay culture. If other people like it, that’s their thing.

Maybe I just don’t like the idea of sugar-coating it with labels of advocacy.

After we left the venue with Lanchie, Juna and Alex, we were talking of what we felt about the Pride March parties. We felt like the organizers may be missing a point in gay advocacy. Most people attending parties are just there for the parties; they don’t care if it was for a cause. They won’t even remember what the cause was. I won’t dwell too much into it because if I was asked, so how should it go, then? I won’t know the answer either. Only that I think if you wanted to support an advocacy, you do it because you believe in the cause. Not because you’ll have friends joining you. Not because you’ll have people taking your photos. And not because there will be a party later with half-naked go-go boys dancing with their crotch at eye-level.

Burgundy, Amelie, and mopeds.

Leo mentioned last Saturday that The Juna was inviting us to The Juna’s apartment in Pasig. Since Bern and I were so broke during the weekend, we accepted the invitation. The Juna served The Juna’s guests with pasta and burgundy and we watched several moview until dawn while drinking several cocktails.

By daybreak, nearly everyone else was asleep, while Leo and I were watching Amelie. Leo has not seen the movie before, and it was the only movie that night he sat on without turning his eyes away from the screen. Even after several years, the movie still has it charm.

There are so many things to like in Amelie. One that I saw again was the character Nino’s Mobylette moped. The movie ended with Amelie and Nino riding a moped around the streets of Montmartre.

There was a time when pedaled mopeds had a surge of popularity in the Philippines. And then the fad ended so you could hardly find one in the streets today. Most Filipino cyclists would opt for a scooter or a more powerful motorcycle.

I don’t mind getting a Derringer for myself, though. Maybe I’ll get myself one, should I decide to sell one of my kidneys.

Kuya, that is NOT shrimp! (Or, the creepy-crawly noodle incident.)

Thursday night found me at the Ayala-Buedia area meeting Bern for dinner. We decided to go to 101 Hawker Food House, an Asian/Singaporean restaurant near Burgundy and PeopleSupport Center. Bern heard about Hawkers from an online review commending the place’s good-tasting food at inexpensive prices.

There were several diners when we arrived. A waiter quickly approached us, handing a menu and asking what we would like to order. We humored the guy, asking what he would recommend; he told us to try the toppings. Bern and I decided we’ll but noodles; I ordered Singaporean curry bihon while Bern got for himself Hokkien fried noodles. We also ordered some sharksfin siomai and two glasses of dalandan juice.

Here is a photo of the Singapore curry noodles:

Singapore curry bihon from 101 Hawker Food House

Both dishes smelled wonderful and I decided to photograph them before we eat. Bern noticed a small piece of what he thought was noodle fall off the plate.

The small piece of what he thought was noodle started to move. Bern, knowing my digust of small worms, tried to cover my eyes and said, “Hunny, don’t look.”

It was a maggot. The plate had several maggots crawling between the noodles.

While I enjoy the occasional exotic dish whenever I travel (I don’t consider frog that exotic and I’ve eaten — and enjoyed — bugs), one food rule that I still observe is this: Food that is served should not move on its own.

Bern took the plate and approached the cashier counter to complain.

“Kuya,” he told one of the waiters, “what’s this?” He was referring to the little crawlers in the noodle. I assumed the waiter did not notice them because he answered it was shrimp which was part of the dish.

Bern pointed out to the maggots and said, “Kuya, that is NOT shrimp.”

Bern told me about that conversation later because I stayed in our table. Worried about the other dish, I looked at the fried noodles closely and, sure enough, I also found some maggots crawling between the noodles. I took the plate, approached the counter and presented the dish to the waiters.

Now, if it was just one contaminated dish out of several, I might accept the restaurants offer to server the same dish or maybe order a new one. Which is what the waiters offered. Thing is, two different dishes had maggots in them, which makes me suspect that the restaurant’s noodles were contaminated by them.

“No,” I told the waiters, “we’re not ordering anything anymore.” I asked that we get a receipt for the dalandan juice we have in our table. However, I told Bern maybe it’s not a good idea to drink those either.

To be fair to Hawkers, they did not let us pay for the drinks anymore. Bern and I quietly walked out of the restaurant, deciding whether we would still want to eat dinner.

It’s a good thing we’re both hearty eaters, although I told Bern I don’t feel like eating Chinese food anymore when we passed by North Park in Convergys One. We settled for Brothers Burgers. “After all,” I joked, “if maggots ever get their way into the patty, they’ll be roasted by the time they are served to us.”

“Settle” made it sound like I was not at all eager to eat in Brothers. I like Brothers and I’ve always enjoyed their chicken sandwich with pesto sauce. This time, though, I decided to order something different.

Bern chose fried chicken strips over rice while I ordered their Santa Fe burger.

Santa Fe burger from Brothers Burger

The chicken was good, though a little dry for me, but the burger was yummy. The patty was topped with chili con carne and jalapeno slices. The burger’s accompanying fries also had a lovely cheese dip that went well with Bern’s fried chicken.

Bern told me a story of how during Good Friday, when nearly all restaurants in the Ayala were closed, Brothers was one of the few that remained open. They were in fact still serving beef burgers, despite how most Catholic people in the country were observing meat abstinence. Awesome.

Making Bern and I enjoy our dinner despite the horrific experience in that other restaurant is no small miracle.

Should I decide to change jobs, I could always be a hairdresser.

Neighbor Markee, over lunch, said wanted to have his hair cut; Leo, Bern both pointed at me and suggested that I cut his hair instead. I’ve given Leo a haircut before, and he was pleased with how that came out so he was able to convince Markee to be my next victim. I mean client.

Markee wanted to have his hair with the sides shaved, leaving only the crown hair intact. This is Markee before the haircut:

Markee: Before

After minutes of shaving and trimming, here is the result:

Markee: After

Markee is actually the fifth person I’ve cut hair for. Sixth, if I include myself I had alopecia. That was extra-challenging: I used to shave all of my hair using an electric razor without looking at a mirror, merely feeling my way around my head.

Here are the other victims clients:

The Juna
The Juna

Notice how they all seem to have the same hair? That’s because I only know some variations of a mohawk or doing a complete skinhead.

Bern already asked me to style his hair to a Sokka-haircut once it grows longer. I guess I’ll have me another victim soon.