Alex Maskara


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Boy Luneta



Boy Luneta

I stepped out of my Manila hotel in the dark and crossed Roxas Boulevard to take a walk alongside the bay, repeating a habit I formed some 40 years ago when I was young and green, full of dare and curiosity. I remember how I took a jeepney ride or walked miles so I could visit the Bay as often as I could then. It was like home to me. It was a pleasant home - I recall standing on the seawall, with nothing in front of me but the breeze and occasional moisture splashing from the waves of the Pacific. The habit disappeared with time, the way time took away my libido and youth and beauty. I stayed abroad for more than 3 decades, killing that habit. But today I returned to see if there was still the sparkle, if Manila Bay could trigger the old memories. I miss the coconut trees, the big rocks lining the wall. In the old days, the bay welcomed everyone through the night: lovers and schemers and the homeless and young dreamers, rich and poor, old men. We fortified the vulnerable Manila as we stood guard in the dark watching and waiting. From afar a ship with bright lights rolled by.

When the moon was full, forty years ago, I conjured up events and scenarios and stories, oh I was fond of stories that I witnessed and heard and read about. I wrote them all piece by piece, on notepads that have now collected dust in my storage. Good thing I converted them to digital decades back and now I can summon them as I approach the twilight of my years. I carry no illusions about my writing as I have no formal training. My language is definitely lacking in impeccable grammar and extensive vocabulary. I won’t worry much about this, I don’t think my intended readers prefer to read English anyway, if they even want to read anything at all. How can writing like this compete with the allure of digital content creations? Nowadays one would rather spend time checking out Facebook, Tik tok, reels, you tube for their quick and simple formats of sharing everything from ideas to philosophy to experiences to stories to entertainment in just a few seconds. Visually in an increasingly visual society! Compare that to this long-winding verbiage, really, it is a no brainer.

Yet I keep posting my long ago stories for whatever reason that I can’t fathom. I always wanted to be a writer as a young man but life’s demands required me to take a different route. There was no money in writing during my youth, especially in the Philippines where people could be limited in their scope of interest. Even today, what takes most attention are politics and scandals. The venerable gods come from show business. I even observed the openness of the society on things kept closeted during my time. It is both progressive and regressive I think. Now we have the LGBTs in the limelight, they command hefty prices for their talents, collect millions of followers on social networks and admirers to the chagrin of the close-minded and religious zealots. Relationships become a part of the daily menu, people stepping over the boundaries of what used to be private and polite to open and aggressive. Think of Trump and other conspiracy-theory driven personalities. I am glad I took the route of healthcare as my profession. It paid well and consistently as opposed to a possible writer’s job. That was the trend in my college years. Working in healthcare, especially abroad, was the main gateway to one’s family’s survival.
---
Boy Luneta



Boy Luneta 3




So we drank another round of San Migs. By this time, Boy Luneta's face was turning red and I was getting hot and horny. He beamed savagely,
- Why do you lookin' at me that way?
-Well I...
-I know, I know, I can read it all over your face. You lookin' at me like I'm pancit and adobo which you prob'ly never tasted for the past ten years.
-I hate you.
-Lemme tell you something' Ramon de Goiti. I may be eating shit like a goddamn native chicken but that has just made me more delicious and tasty.
-Stop!

Drunk, Boy Luneta and I walked out of the bar, the hang-out of Manila low life. I nearly tripped on the sidewalk of Roxas Boulevard, he had to support my balance. I was saddened by the old and tired city of Manila but excited by the prospect of having sex again with a fellow Filipino. I was ashamed of my feelings - two days ago, I was living a pretentious clean life in my citadel of false tranquility in the city of Miami, and today, I was wandering along with a hustler in Manila. I felt the presence of both God and Lucifer within me.

Come to think of it, I thought, what have I achieved so far in America? I did good, as far as making it in America is concerned. But what is meant by achieving good in America? Earn enough dollars to have a walk-in closet, a brand new car, a little respect for my service to sick people. Other than that...it’s empty. I did not find a single true love, oh I had faked a lot of love, fooled myself into believing I had found love worth dying for. And I died. I must have faked my death tens of times, because I'm still alive and feeling nothing. In America, I felt like a pancit and adobo, they would always love to taste me, but to consider me as a staple food, forget it. It is so easy to find someone in my bed, someone who in the heat of passion would whisper he loves me dearly, but after that, my bed would be empty again, waiting for another curious lover. Perhaps I could blame my morose empty feeling to my culture. And Americans hate me for saying this all the time. I grew up in the company of my family, my parents and all the parents I knew in my town who have managed to live together forever. Divorce is against the law. So I lived with this expectation that even in my gay world, I will find someone who would stick out with me for better or worse for the rest of my life. One whom I will take care of when he gets sick. One who'd be with me when I get sick. Isn't that the Philippine way? I hoped for someone who would wake up with me in the mornings, retire with me at nights. That's oh so romantic but unreal in my gay world, especially in my American gay world.

So I developed this compensation in relationships. I became the prissy senorita who would stand in a party or a bar in a backoffish manner. Snubbish. Moralistic. Yet shallow because beneath all these, I was extremely sexual. Always leaving me in eternal conflict.

This extreme sexuality became clearer when I found my old fling Boy Luneta. I simply stripped myself of all my inhibitions. Am I crazy or what?

"Where are we now, Boy Luneta?" I asked.

"Oh please...stop these stupid pretensions and hypocrisy Ramon de Goiti. If there is anybody who knows every nook and crook in Luneta, it is you my friend. It's not as if Luneta has changed since you last came here."

I gave out a hearty laugh as we continued walking on the Luneta strip. He was right. It was the same old strip all the way from T. Kalaw to CCP. Except for extra coconut trees and smashed seawall for repair or replacement, nothing was really changed. And to be honest, I was anticipating we would end by one hidden coconut trunk in my secret nook close to the Film Center and make love. Standing. We did that before. By the time we reached my secret coconut tree, I became a one hundred percent slut. I grabbed him by the collar and started kissing his beer tasting mouth. He was caught by surprise and had to push me away.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked.

"Sky's the limit," I reminded him.

"If this is what you learned in America, I pity you." he quipped.

I pulled him back again towards me and began unbuttoning his shirt. Being drunk, he started to give in. Until... "Did you hear that?" he asked. In the heat of passion, all my senses except my lust were oblivious. "No I didn't," I said. I started unbuckling his belt. By the time I was about to unzip his pants, he pushed my hands away. "There it goes again, can you hear it?" he persisted. I raised my sex-starved voice. "No!" obviously pissed.

He raised his voice, "Because you're not listening dammit!"

I stopped momentarily, releasing a deep sigh. Okay, I listened. The sound came as a suppressed cry. It was obviously that of a man's. It came in spurts, sometimes prolonged, but it was meant not to be heard. It sounded creepy. Boy Luneta did not waste time in following the sound. Under the moonless night, beside the dark Film Center, he combed through the overgrown wild weeds and searched through shrubbery. He tapped the corrugated iron fence separating the Center from the Manila Bay shore.

"Hello, is anyone there?" he called.

The voice stopped. And then...not far from the coconut tree where I intended to make love, I saw a silhouette, a sitting figure whose back was leaning against the iron fence. The figure was tall, muscular, I saw its arms move, large hands.

God, this can't be true, I thought. I've been in America too long to know that this broken crying man was Caucasian. Walking closer, my suspicion was verified. There he sat, a man with a crew cut, light hair, probably blond. He was holding his cap in his hands, there was a streak of blood running down his face. This is exactly what I hated to see, another incident that will run across the newspapers in the world, claiming how another foreigner was violated in Manila. Another incident that will add to the so-called notoriety of the Filipino which everyone the world over wants to feast about. Another incident that would scare tourists and investors, another to make Filipinos ashamed, or to the likes of me, become guarded and defensive. My friends would often assure me this happens everywhere in the world. Yeah, tell that to the peace loving Swiss. Tell that to Miami which lost a lot of revenues after a few crimes were committed to its tourists. Tourism is simple hospitality. You don't commit crimes to your guests. Incidences like these don't land you in tourism brochures.

But...was the man a tourist? We approached the leaning figure.

Boy Luneta had other thoughts. He was like any typical Luneta resident who believes every Caucasian is American. To him, this American was not a tourist. American tourists like the Japanese come by bus loads taking pictures, or hopping from bar to bar. A solitary American like this sitting in a dark corner of Film Center is either a service man who refused to leave after the closure of the bases or a Peace Corp volunteer who got lost on his way to the American Embassy or a Mormon Missionary. The Protestants are better prepared and less adventurous, Boy Luneta once claimed. But the Mormons? They think the Philippines is Paradise. But surprisingly though, he continued to claim, he hasn't heard of any violated Mormon in the Philippines. I guess it's something to do with their looks - they suffer enough wearing neckties and long sleeves under the Philippine heat. Actually Filipinos worry more about the Mormons than themselves because these missionaries are barely out of their teens, they don't have cars much less money and they give out Bibles containing the Gospel according to Joseph Smith. No, you don't violate the Mormons, Boy Luneta claimed. They are so dedicated to God that God will kill you if you violate them.

"Hey you, what's wrong man?" Boy Luneta asked the poor leaning Caucasian. I preferred to stand behind to watch the events and conversation about to unfold. The Caucasian did not even budge to raise his head. "Enough," he said faintly. "Beat it."

"Say that again?"

This time, the man stared at us with ferocious eyes. "Don't you understand English? What the fuck am I doing here?" I saw it all right there and then, the poor guy was robbed. And beaten too. I could smell liquor from his breath, he wryly waved us to go away.

Boy Luneta was deeply hurt by this gesture. And no one hurts Boy Luneta. He said once, I may be a hustler, but I've got pride.

I had to intervene."I'm sorry..." I stared at the bruised man and all I saw in his face was anger. An anger that didn't care what happened next. And for a person like me who never encountered any problem in a foreign soil, I just felt this immense obligation to ease the pain of this man. If there was one thing I wanted to do is to give back to foreigners in my soil whatever kindness they offered to me in theirs.

"Son of a bitch. Yes, what the fuck are you doing here?" Boy Luneta hissed. Before he got out of hand, I pushed him away from the Caucasian man.

"Sir," I addressed the man in my best Florida accent, "We just wanna know if you're alright. Do you want us to get you some help?"

The man just stared at me blankly.

"Do you want us to call the police?" Still no response.

"We will leave if you want us to." I was answered by silence.

I immediately grabbed the hand of Boy Luneta, who continued to mumble all the Filipino cuss words he knew, there's a lot of them actually. When we were a few yards away, the man spoke. "Wait."

Boy Luneta stopped cursing. We turned back to look at the man who began crying. This time it was a loud cry. I never saw an American cry this loud except those who were about to die in the hospital where I worked.

He wailed, "Tesang, forgive me. I forgot myself!"

What did he mean by that? He was obviously calling the name of a woman. But then, he was as drunk as I and Boy Luneta. Drunk people are capable of many unrestrained acts and can cry out anything.

"Who did this to you?" Boy Luneta asked. His words came out in a false pretense of concern, unfortunately. The Caucasian whose English and accent obviously were American stared at us with a pained face, first at Boy Luneta, then at me. He kept his eyes at me afterwards. He probably thought I was the lesser of two evils. In between his sniffs and sobs, he said to me, "Your accent is different."

I said, "I just arrived from Florida two days ago. I work there."

In saying this, a ray of hope landed on his face.

Not wanting to be ignored and outdone, with or without accent, Boy Luneta kept his inquiry, which progressively sounded more sincere as he rattled along. "Are you a serviceman?"

"No."

"A Peace Corp volunteer?"

"No."

"A...Mormon?"

"No."

At this point, doubt had cast a dark shadow upon all his American-visiting-the-Philippines stereotypes.

"Are you a...you know...a tourist?"

"You can say that again...Fuck, it's all gone...Shit, I'm bleeding...They kicked me in the face..." the American kept mumbling as he felt his body.

Boy Luneta shouted "Why?" As in "Why are you not in your hotel sleeping the night off with fellow tourists? You should know better than to be alone in this dangerous side of the city at this time of the night." In other words, "Why are you different from all the other tourists I know?"

I tapped Boy Luneta's shoulder. I whispered to him, "Shut up." I looked again at the American. I asked, "Who are you and what happened?"

"My name is Keith Devlon. I used to serve in Clark Air Base. I came back to Manila to look for Tesang, a bar hostess I met a couple of years back. I was promised by her friend Leila some leads to her whereabouts. And then...we ended up in a hotel in Manila...and then...oh fuck...fuck...I remember now... I was duped and beaten and stolen of everything I have. My bag of clothes and my wallet."

A series of slurs came out from the lips of Boy Luneta. "So here you are! Another one of them superior Americans coming here to save the world while enjoying a Filipina! And you thought everyone here would call you a hero? This is your own doing man."

Keith Devlon just stared at him with an open mouth. I knew that Boy Luneta was playing nationalistic, really, but to an American, this American at least, his outbursts made him appear like a specimen of wonder. I tapped Boy Luneta once more and gave him the shut-the-fuck-up look.

"Who is this Tesang you're looking for?" I asked Keith. Keith Devlon shook his head, this time, tears rolled down his face, it took him minutes before he could answer.

"She is the woman I love."

Now, my dear readers, I want you to sit down and rest. Because what I have is another long story to share. This is another one of many long stories that Boy Luneta led me to. A story that happened in four weeks, mere four weeks that I intended to spend as a homecoming visit from America. Against your expectations, this is about a love between a foreign boy and a local girl, as opposed to the love between Boy Luneta and me which more likely will always be between a native chicken and a chicken with no wings.




Volume 1
Ramon de Goiti



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2024-05-05 01:16:43
masquerade

Lazaro Sembrano

Manila in the Dark

Boy Luneta

A Night at the Luneta Grandstand

Migratory Bird (circa 2005)

Manila Travel 2022

On Bad Blood (Part 1)

Understanding my unique Self on my way to Retirement

Intramuros 1

Pasig River

Proenneke

A Visit to Quiapo with El Fili2

Visiting Quiapo with El Fili

The Very Thought of You

THE DIARY OF ANTONIO PIGAFETTA

Visions of St Lazarus 1

Popong 9

Diary of A Masquerade

Acacia

Brother, My Brother (Ben Santos)

Popong 8

F Sionil Jose

Four Students - 2

Popong 7 - Meditation

Popong 6 - Meditation

Friday Night Thoughts

Current Interests

Bulosan Syndrome

Maid of Cotton

Popong 5

Popong 4

Current Readings 2

Popong 3

Reading: Name of the Rose

Current Readings

Popong 2

Web Projects

Getting Back in the Game – Technology

Four Students

Selya

Last of the Balugas

Introduction To Popong