[September 2012 at the University of the Philippines Film Institute]
This is because sometimes, I still remember this boy who once climbed the side roof illegally to claim the frisbee that he and his friends were playing with, which happened to land right outside my window. Yes, climb, because my office is on the second floor of our film school building. And as I was staring out the window, he startled me when his head popped outside my window, sheepishly grinning at me at the knowledge of his illegal activity, but he knew that I will just smile back startled and shrug it off. And I did.
And this boy, he was a brilliant talent. During the time I started teaching, the institute also gave me a job as an academic coordinator, so I had close contact with the kids. More than a professor, perhaps the kids also saw me as a friend. When his best friend was in trouble, he ran to me for help and we tried to solve it. When it was his turn to be in trouble, somewhat, his best friend ran to me for help as well. And more than a professor, I helped them as a friend. Gaining their trust, he sometimes comes to me all excited, wanting me to see his extra-curricular film projects he created for the sake of creating images in film, just for the pure love of. And I was flattered that he valued my opinion and asked what I thought of these extra projects of his. They were all good, but I didn't give him all that. I wanted to teach him humility as well, so I encouraged him but did not praise him to high heavens. Because these kids -- like my generation before when we were also studying there decades ago -- they had the tendency to develop their egos first before their talents. Needless to say, this boy had a balance of both. All of these things sometimes makes me feel that it was worth it to give up my life outside the academe and focus on life inside the academe. If only for moments like these, you know. If only.
But still, this boy, we also officially helped him achieve the steps that led to his dreams -- the dream to be a good imagemaker, because he has a good eye, a promising young cinematographer in the making. An exchange scholarship abroad, a slot in a master class, we tried helping him. But sometimes, we figured that he also should try to help himself. But such is life, I guess.
Has a good eye. I should have said had. He had a good eye. Because he is not here with us anymore. Very early, he chose to go to the great beyond, where the films he planned to shoot we will not have the privilege to see anymore. One boy who went early towards the beyond. For whatever reason that tormented him inside, we have no privilege of knowing. But the time and talent he showed us and shared with us, the trust and comfort he afforded me during the time we were sharing a space during a certain time, perhaps that was enough. Perhaps that was just right, even if many people around him thought otherwise. A life wasted, a life full of promise. But I don't believe anything goes to waste in this world. Maybe that short, short life of his was enough to make tangents out there that will last beyond anyone's lifetime. And maybe we don't even have to question why.
Today, as I went about my way on the interwebs, I was also reminded of another beautiful boy. Like my previous student, this young man also decided to go to the beyond earlier than what we all expected.
I cannot remember what was happening here
but I remember we were having a good time.
That you don't forget, especially when you are
with unforgettable queer folks.
[early 2011 somewhere in Cubao X]
I met this young man through one of my queer friends and colleague at the university. And during our first meeting, we already hit it off. He was here as an official participant of his government to some civil society program where university grads like him got the chance to work in developing countries to focus on the advocacies they are interested in. They had a hard time deciphering his language at first but since I have this special device embedded in my being to adopt and understand accents, I had no trouble understanding his Oz speak. And since he also identified as queer, like me, we hit it off even more.
Soon, I learned that at a young age, he started a non-profit organization in his hometown to help underprivileged kids to have access to education and stuff like that. It was too bad that his org was small and can't accommodate foreign workers (I was contemplating on applying for an opening there early this year) but he promised to pimp me to the uni circles there as he said he believed in my talent and capacity. Very flattering. He was also constantly telling me to go visit him there in Melbourne since I will fit into the queer scene there perfectly, he said, as I've voiced to him several times that I don't think I fit into the queer scene in Manila anymore, or perhaps I'm looking for more, something else. He said I will feel at home there in Melbourne. He promised to tour me around if I did go there, and I was actually trying to save up to make that happen one day. But no more. Not that I don't have money but I don't have him anymore to tour me around. Because this beautiful boy, he also decided to go to the beyond, way earlier than we all expected.
He once told me that had I been a boy, he would have slept with me.
And I said had he been a girl, I would have slept with him as well.
So we became good friends hahaha! So no, nothing happened between us
but he slept with some other boy and I slept with some other girl
and we told each other about it hehe. Queering friendships indeed.
[early 2011 somewhere in Cubao X]
And as I sit here in the middle of the coffeeshop trying to suppress my tears due to his passing, I began to wonder what is it with these beautiful boys and the beyond, particularly this move to chase it way ahead than what is expected. Why jump the gun? Is there a race to begin with? But in my almost four decades of being on this earth, somehow, I understand. Perhaps because part of me echoes the sentiments of these beautiful boys, harboring secrets inside of them that cannot be broadcast in any social network of any kind. People are strange that way, and secretive. And that has to be respected, and not judged. No, no judgments. Any good book containing any tenet of faith will tell us that we have no right to judge because it is not in our place to do so. Whether one subscribes to any of these tenets or faiths, it doesn't matter. Perhaps basic human thinking should make us feel that each of us function differently from others, even if we have similarities of some sort as well. We cannot second-guess things, we cannot jump to conclusions about things.
And yes, to tell you the truth, I understand. Because once upon a time, I was there, where these beautiful boys were. At that edge of jumping, of chasing the beyond, earlier than expected. It was often said and studied that those who are thinking of ending it do not really announce it to the world. They just do it. Life is not always happy and some of us have a hard time adjusting. I was half a step away from doing it. I almost did. But for the life of me, I don't know what made me stop, what pulled me back. And then it was just a matter of reframing things, of how I looked at the world. Like an imagemaker who had difficulty capturing a good picture, one adjusts the tools to make the vision clearer. Like what I've often said before, when life is a blur, refocus. But it took me decades to arrive at that new tenet, and it wasn't all that easy a journey, I should say.
Queers with beers in Baguio. Great times indeed. [June 2011]
But still, I guess the universe still wants me to do something else, that's why I'm still here. Whatever that is, I'm not yet sure. And perhaps the universe determined that these beautiful boys only needed to be here with us to shine as good examples, super bright lights to inspire us to do more. Perhaps that is their role in the great scheme of things. They are like those stars in the sky that has already collapsed a long time ago but their shine and sparkle are still there and still visible in the night sky. They are those stars. And we have to admire the sparkle. Yes, they still shine. They still do. And that is how they will be seen.
To my queer mate, you go gently into that good night, you hear? I know you're up there smiling at us. Don't worry. After being sad for a bit, I will look up and smile back at you. Shoot me back a star in the night sky to say hello once in a while, okay? You take care, dude. You take care. We miss you.
And stay as queer as you are, okay dude?
[June 2011 in Baguio City]