30 November 2011

buma-ballad of the sad cafe-ish mode

I was watching some showbiz news show earlier in a local channel when they showed what was up next in tonight's episode of Glee. I was never hooked to this show and never got interested, even when one of my college friends went gaga one time when he showed me how one episode revolved around Madonna songs. "It's just like our college barkada" he said. Well okay admittedly, that was okay. The Madonna ep actually reminded me of our own fresh-out-of-college days life in our Reality Bites mode of an apartment in QC. Yeah, that was okay. But still, Madonna wasn't enough to move me to become a regular viewer of this musically-oriented show.

Until tonight's ep.

Tonight, the lesbian plight of the cheerleader named Santana was the subject of the ep. Apparently, she just came out or something, or she made a video for the It Gets Better project or something to that effect, and
since she's not yet out to everyone -- especially her family -- the story worked up on her outing.

Her storyline had a good pacing. Not too jampacked with a lot of emotional drama stuff, story handling was quite reserved in a good way, meaning not too heavy-handed in treatment. Boy, if this was Philippine TV, I
tell you, it would not be this mellow! Geez, we Pinoys put the melo in melodrama, that's why. How I envy US writers who can write freely like this.

Anyway, I think what made me change my mind about the show was its handling of this issue. Now I am curious as to how they handled her whole lesbian story arc. I get bits here and there, reading posts of my fri
ends in the lezzieverse, and of course seeing clips of the other gay-themed storyline with the boy kissing another boy and all that, which also led to this lesbian storyline. But since this is a girl-to-girl interaction, I want to watch it and see how they present such storylines.

But to connect this with reality, I also felt sad when Santana's abuela (Spanish for lola or grandma) rejected her outing, saying so
mething like "You put me to shame" or something, meaning the lola's reaction is that this secret should have remained a secret, and that secret now burdened her lola. I can't help but compare how we Pinoys deal with such things. It's the don't ask, don't tell policy in Pinoy families when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity things. A recent article I wrote centered on that. Read more here.

But I guess more than the lesbian storyline, it was the songs that got me. I mean, I never heard some of my favorite female-penned/female-sung songs sung by male bodies before. But somehow, it was still a kind of gender-bending treatment, I dunno. It felt that way. Like when one boy sang
Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" but it still had that lesbian vibe to it. Man, I love that song, and the whole album where that came from! You kidding me? No self-respecting woman-loving-woman should be caught dead without a copy of Yes I Am heheh (or maybe that's just my generation? Bleh, ageism.) And then that lead boy sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by one of my '80s favorite Cyndi Lauper; equally good treatment, since it was melodramatic and acoustic. Well, I guess for lack of a better pop hook, they also had to sing Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" but craftily avoided the discriminatory portions towards the end. Smart. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, I dissected some "seemingly gay-friendly" songs before in an article. Read it here.)

But what got me was when they sang one of my favorite favorite favorite songs of all time, kd lang's "Constant Craving." Oh man, that did it for me! And to use it for what it truly is -- a song of empowerment about who you are and what you want to attain, whether it's love or ambition (or both, or the ambition for love, actually) -- and arrange it so that multiple voices sing it but it somehow applies to their own existence, I mean wow, simple yet cool. Subtle, but loaded. I like it.

The song's lyrics are just simple, but how kd sings it is really striking:

Even through the darkest phase
Be it thick or thin
Always someone marches brave
Here beneath my skin

Constant craving
Has always been

Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls towards truth
Or maybe it is life itself
That feeds wisdom
To its youth

Constant craving
Has always been

Funny, I just remembered one of the very first short stories I wrote that was published in the late '90s had something to do with songs, about a woman hesitatingly falling in love with a woman, and I ended it with them quoting that kd lang song. The story's title is "The Ballad of Tisha Gail" and it's actually one of my favorite stories in my treasure trove. Fiction writer Butch
Dalisay, in our grad class, termed it as "the search for princess charming" heheh.

My very bad attempt at videoke, peer-pressured by my lesbian friends
in Baguio heheh. I tell ya, I can dance bad-ass like Ellen but I can't sing a song
to save my life. So un-Filipino, di ba? To be a bad singer?
And my last name means "soloist in a choir" pa naman haha!
(City Tavern, Baguio / April 2011 photo by superfriend L)

You can't find that story online so here's part of it. The pitch is, it's about this Pinay lesbian named Gina who has a huge crush on her officemate Trish, a Fil-Canadian. Sharing the ending here:

“You know, you’re really nice, Gina. You’d make some woman very happy some day, you know, when you decide to settle down.”

“Geez, Trish!”

“What? It’s true. You’re a hard-working woman, very talented, nice, kind, a good confidante, and domesticated. Am I embarrassing you enough or do you want more?”

“Ha! Yeah, right! More! Geez!”

“And you’re also sweet, thoughtful--”

“Geez, Trish! Stop it!”


“And what’s that ‘domesticated’ thing? How can you say that?”

“You fix up your bed and the room every morning. You even fix my own bed without me asking you to. And you like doing the dishes, you help in preparing the food. You know, wife stuff.”

Wife stuff? Hasn’t it occurred to you that maybe I’m just doing that because I have to, because that’s my only contribution to this trip since everything’s provided for free by your Tita?”

“No, Gina. It’s more than that. You’re also like that in the office. I know, because you always fix up our cubicle. And I’m always embarrassed, because I can be such a slob!”

“Yeah, that or I’m just super obsessive-compulsive.”

“That never bothered me.”

“You’re such a flake, Trish. Did you know that? Miss Nicety-Nice is a flake!”

“Yes! I am! Ha-ha! Only you guys don’t know it!”

“He-he! Great! So what else don’t we know about you that you feel like sharing, huh?”


“W-ell... what?”

“Well, I’d like to know why, Gina.”

“Why? Why what?”

“Why you never made a pass at me? During all those times that we’re out of town?”


“Um, you know...”

“Uh, geez, now I’m uh, speechless...”

“I’ve been thinking about it, Gina. I’ve had more fun with you than with anybody else I’ve met and had relationships with all my life. I was toying with the idea of kissing you, you know, just to know how it feels to kiss a woman. A Filipino woman.”

“What—you mean—“

“I mean… I had some lesbian suitors back in Vancouver, but I never found them interesting. Through them, I found out that I can be open, but not with them. Perhaps I’m looking for something else in them. I’m not sure what exactly, but, um, I guess I found that in you.”

“Alright, stop with the jokes before I get really really embarrassed here!”

“No, Gina, no jokes, honest! These past three days, I keep on thinking ‘what if I lie beside you and just hug you?’ You’re so caring, so nice, that I’m wondering why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

“W-ell... I dunno. He-he… Kinda hard to find the good girls.”

“Um, I’m here, am I not? I’m good. You guys always say so yourselves.”

“Wh-- uhh, you, uh, mean...”

“You want to give it a shot?”



“No, I’m not!”

“Prove it then!”

I guess I have Freddie and Jill to thank for not showing up that night at the bar. No, I retract. I have my boss to thank for trapping them in that charades game. I have to thank her for making nepotism a priority and putting Patricia in our office as my supervisor. Or do I have to thank Vancouver for exposing Patricia to the proper gay and lesbian awareness? Whoever and whatever it is that I should thank, I thank them all. If not for them, then I won’t be receiving this wonderful feeling called love from this wonderful woman named Patricia. She taught me a new song about myself, about giving people a chance to show their true selves to me. And I’m grateful. I guess I’m also teaching her a new song, the one that says being loved by her is the most wonderful thing on earth. She then persuaded me to take a much-needed vacation. So I guess next month, we’ll be jamming in a videoke bar somewhere on the outskirts of Vancouver.

“Your Tita Myra will miss me at the office, you know. Are you sure it’s alright?”

“Gina, let nepotism work to your advantage for once.”

“But she will suspect, because I’m going with you! And you’ll be in trouble.”

“Gina, why do you think she’s still called Miss Myra and lives alone in her house with her adopted daughter at the prime age of 42? It’s just one of those family things that the family doesn’t really discuss, you know what I mean?”

“You mean…”

“Yes, I mean.”

“Oh. OH! Oh. Wow. WOW!”

We were both wondering if Freddie and Jill noticed the special closeness Patricia and I had after the Burnham Park walk. I guess they did, because I saw the two wink at me when I said goodnight. Sleeping early Patricia, Jill said. Well, the walk back here was tiring, she said. Besides, Gina’s teaching me the lyric to this new song I liked, this k.d. lang song the bar band sang. O-kayyy... So, goodnight, you two. Wink, smile, courtesy of Freddie. Wink, smile, courtesy of Jill. Smile, thumbs up, courtesy of yours truly.

“So, how does it go again, Gina? And constant craving is -- is what?”

“Has, Trish, has always been.”

("The Ballad of Tisha Gail" ©1999, this revision ©2008)

Yeah, it's really interesting to note that the good kicks I get from pop culture stuff still have something to do with women-loving-women-themed stuff. And I like it. So sige, will put this show on my backlog of things to watch for the holidays and see how the storyline goes.

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