Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh My, Enrollment Time!

The first week of June signals the end of the summer season for the Philippines. The sunny days are over, replaced by the cloudy weather that casts a state of gloom across the country.

While this quite-depressing atmosphere is felt by everyone, I think the most anxious and worried people during this season are the Pinoy parents. Why? It's back-to-school once again. Enrollment time!

It's a common feeling of stress for parents during these last two weeks. Registering the kids at school. Paying for their tuition. Buying the school uniforms. Lining up at bookstores to get school supplies. Thinking what their kids will bring for their meals or baon. Budgeting again for allowance. Etcetera.

If the middle to upper class parents find this season a bit stressful financially, how do you think the lower income brackets with children in public schools would survive?

Being a gay guy, I initially thought, great, I've escaped this ordeal by having no kids (yeah, pro-creating with a woman sooo turns me on). Life was pretty sunny for me despite the season, as everyone else was scrambling to procure all requirements the past few weeks before June starts.

Well, until I got involved with a few macho dancers. Nothing serious though, like involvement through a relationship. Just by-products of friendship (with benefits?).

So how does being a gay bar patron get affected by this back-to-school season? Let me share.

For the past weeks, I've been tabling "Luigi"*, the 25-year old macho dancer all-the-way from "Home Base". I've been his regular customer at the bar (and I think his ONLY customer), and our relationship I feel is already on its way past customer-MD. We're constantly texting, even having dinner outside already, but nothing more (yet).

On Tuesday this past week, after the daily long SMS exchanges on the usual boring how was your day, have you eaten, how are you blahs, he mentioned that his child's school was already starting. In that same message, he asked directly if he can borrow some money from me, for his child's uniform. His earnings the past weekend got depleted already, and he couldn't borrow from his sister anymore.

He  texted: "Nakakahiya nga e. Kaw pa lang malalapitan ko ngayon. Sensya ka na. (I feel embarrassed. You're the only person I can approach now. Apologies, I ask for your patience)."

A pause. I inquired how much he needed and by when.

He gave the details, again apologized, and added that it would also be fine if I didn't have budget and won't be able to lend him.

Well, Luigi was a good guy, slightly soft-spoken, and a somewhat shy-type. This was the first time he asked something from me, and I felt that him asking for some money was already a huge hurdle for him to overcome. Especially if it involved his only child.

So I met up with him the next day, before he went to work. The meet-up was quick, clinical, as I didn't want to make a big deal about this, emotionally. He was sincerely thankful, of course, as he didn't know who else to approach.

Did I go home after dropping Luigi off to work? No. Because that same night, another MD friend from another gay bar texted. It was "Russell", my 25 year old regular MD who worked in "Kingdom Come" gay bar before transferring to "Answer for The Emotionally Needy" bar.

After a few kumusta, how are you, have you eaten dinner messages, and where are you, his text message then said: "Sakit ulo ko ngayon grabe... papasok na kasi pati bunso ko... kulang pa ang tuition nila... (My head is aching. Maybe because my youngest kid is starting school already. And I still don't have enough for their tuition)."

Slap to the forehead! I knew what this line meant, and where this could be heading. I was out of the house already, and still had enough to give. So I contacted him to ask where we'd be meeting.

I've given "financial aid" to my macho dancers previously, but never for the education of their children. It was always about a sick relative who needed check-up, or a broken cellphone that needed to be replaced. Even last year at this time, I didn't get any of these enrollment stories from the macho dancer whom I had a relationship with. But now I am wondering why I am hearing dilemmas about their children's schooling.

Lucky me, the macho dancers I am tabling now are from the low-income young fathers, aged 25. Gotten their past girlfriend pregnant at an early age of 19 or 20, and the fruit of that relationship is now school-aged. The past guys I had were either single without kids or young fathers with newly born babies. And as these single fathers' regular guest, I'm their nearest source of help when it comes to matters like these.

It's like a driver asking his employer for an advance in salary. Or the maid asking for a small loan. In my case, it was the macho dancer. And with this set-up comes the social stigma about these men.

I didn't foresee this happening. Being the single gay guy without any obligations, I wasn't prepared to subsidize anyone's schooling fees. This part wasn't explained to me by the receptionist at the first gay bar we went to, when she told us all the house rules, including the house fees. Maybe it was part of the bill which I failed to read, in the fine print with an asterisk saying "will subsidize schooling needs of a macho dancer's child in the future, especially if you table a young father."

But if I were placed in their position, where majority of my income comes from tips and isn't enough for my family's daily needs, I might've done the same thing as well. However, it would be very difficult for me to ask for a favor, especially something monetary from someone whom I've only met in the place I worked in. I would need to muster a great deal of confidence, and some swallowing of pride, just to approach my customer for financial worries.

Kudos to Luigi and Russell who were brave enough to ask. Though they asked separately, it just happened to be on the same day.

I strongly believe in the importance of education. And somewhere among the 13 million elementary school children going back to school these first weeks of June are a few kids who were my instruments to affirm this belief. My help to this cause just came in the form of subsidizing their uniform or school materials. The extra money I had would've gone to good use. Or I am just rationalizing.

The young father macho dancers may have dreaded this enrollment season for weeks, especially on where to get the money. And the customers of these macho dancers would also have something new to worry about, once the first week of June casts the season's gloomy skies.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila



  1. My latest boy asked a cellphone, the cheapest of its kind, recently. And I am of two minds. Do I give in to his request? I never had shortcomings with my family but I'm feeling guilty I could just give the same amount to my bro or sister.

    Something happened between th boy and me last weekend and I promised to return the favor when we meet this coming Saturday. Care to comment?

  2. Haha! I don't give items anymore. A small thing might lead to another. Cellphone today, motor tomorrow. (so money na lang, ganun?) So when they start to mention about the need for something that can be bought, I just tune out and say "uhuh, really? okay."

    I'm curious though what that "something" was last weekend. Whatever "that thing" that happened, worth it ba yung cellphone to give to him? I am assuming a real cheap one, like a Cherry mobile. Because if you're planning to give him a smart phone like BB, I suggest you really do need to think twice, especially if your younger siblings need it more.

  3. Saw your post in your blog. Now I know what that "something" was, and who this person is, and how much the phone he wants. Haha! I replied there again. Anyway, will repeat it here:

    "Would you like to see this guy again? Since you know what he wants, you can tell him that you can give him the phone once the two of you get to know each other more. So the cellphone is a bait for him to go out with you (like for friendly dates or more mot-mot experiences), and for you, giving the phone will already come out as an act of friendship and not guilt (or love, If love mo na talaga siya. charot)"

  4. Thank you, Ina. Ina talaga! Haha

    At shet thanks for the heads up, muntik na mabulgar kung taga saan akembang. ahaha

  5. haha, natawa ako dun sa hidden fee thing na speculation mo teh.

    nako, ikaw bahala kung ano gusto mong gawin. as for me, i really can't spend for a guy! haha #broke

  6. naku, ha , ginagawa kang ATM machine, para kang si belo kung huthutan ni hayden hahaha, i hope , you have done the deed with these 2 guys, naku naman , dapat dyan kung kailangan ng pera, bigyan mo na basta me kapalit na churvahan

    ako ganyan, give ko anda basta ako rin bigyan ng churva haha, no churva no anda hahaha

    di ba, masama ang maisahan , lalo na ang bading



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