On my 3rd day, The Good Ambassador had scheduled a tour of Intramuros, the walled city within Manila. Our guide basically took us through the whole history of the Philippines, its colonization and what happened to them in WWII, something I really never learned much in my high school's Euro-centric history curriculum. Thank god our guide was over-the-top theatrical because
I was seriously hung over I’ve never been a fan of
history class. Somehow, this guy made it fascinating for 2.5 hours. It helped
that The Good Ambassador’s sassy young Filipina friend, KIM (in all caps because she's that awesome), joined us on the
|image from lawstude.net|
After the tour, we met The Good Ambassador at one of his favorite restaurants for dinner. He walked in with a very old American Catholic priest, which wasn’t a surprise since The Good Ambassador went to a Jesuit school (turns out this guy just knew the owner of the restaurant, had good timing and invited himself to join us).
Out of nowhere, two guys with SLR cameras showed up to photograph us (mostly The Good Ambassador), and a mother at the next table was overjoyed when The Good Ambassador signed her son’s tshirt. I have no idea where they got the Sharpie. It wasn’t til the guys with the cameras turned around that I noticed the back of their shirts said “MEDIA”. Basically, they were authorized paparazzi.
After dinner, I wanted to grab a Red Bull from the 7-11 on the corner. There was a long line, and it turned out that they didn’t even carry Red Bull (huh?), so I grabbed a Monster. As I was going to pay, Brutus busted in the front of the store.
Brutus: “What do you need? Do you need help?”
Me: “No, I just was trying to see if they had Red Bull. There was a long line.”
Brutus waited for me to pay and rushed me across the street. Turns out they were blocking traffic for the whole 5 minutes I was gone preparing to depart from the restaurant. Oops!
Our next stop was Hobbit House, a bar staffed almost entirely by little people. It was a challenge to find a balance between respectful interaction and “OH MY GOD, DON’T STARE AT THE FREAKS!” But the service was good, and the band that was playing was quite entertaining.
|image from KIM's facebook profile|
I’d begun to notice that when I go to a place and stay for any amount of time amongst Filipinos, there will be one guy who will gratuitously grin at me whenever we make eye contact. It was hard to tell if it was flirting or just curiosity at an American/culturally appropriate friendliness. Or maybe they thought I was in the NBA. Anyway, I first noticed it with one of the little people that worked at Hobbit House… and he was kinda cute.
Among the people that came up to either introduce themselves to or take a picture with The Good Ambassador: a random American veteran, the owner of the bar, the entirety of the little staff.
The Dutchess of Luzon was tired and left very early, and the Ambassador went home after we wrapped up at Hobbit House. But KIM and D. Kareem were going out! Turns out we were about a 10 minute walk from the gay village of Manila.
Third-world poverty is something that we really don’t see first hand in the US. I’m used to seeing homeless people begging on the train. Occasionally, they’ll bring a child or two with them, and that’s pretty shocking and/or compelling. But on the whole, I’m used to seeing homeless people as individuals. As we walked up the street from Hobbit House, we saw lots of homeless families. Mothers with their children surrounding them, all sleeping on cardboard on the sidewalk (perhaps an infant or toddler sleeping on top of a mother's stomach). This explained why we were walking in the middle of the street.
We eventually settled on a gay club among the many venues in the gay village, but it was a bit early, as evidenced by the sparse crowd on the dance floor. Eventually, they brought out shirtless dancers for the platform in the middle of the dance floor, but neither of us was sure about the tipping/touching policy. Eventually, Kim wanted to go to the roof deck to smoke, so I went with her.
|image from xclusivezone.net|
Of course, the first guy I talked to was the skinny white American guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with skinny white American guys. Some of my best friends are
TSWBs skinny white American guys. But the
simultaneous irony and appropriateness of the situation was undeniable. At
least he was cute, though. Funny, too.
The urinals on the ground floor were arranged in two rows that faced each other with a wall dividing the lower half and a fish tank dividing the upper half. So a Filipino guy on the other side with a nice body was the first victim of my make-funny-faces-while-you-pee flirtation. I ran into him upstairs, and it turned out to be the perfect icebreaker.
I don’t know if the guys at this club were into me or if they just COULDN’T STOP STARING AT THE FREAK. It was really a pattern everywhere I went, gay or straight, so it could have very well been the latter. But all this attention totally fueled my ego, and I found it much easier to maintain eye contact and give a flirty smile there than in America. I even winked (yes, winked) at an Arab guy in a tight shirt as I was being introduced and told him, “Nice rack.” Who does that!
Around 3:30, Kim and I were ready to call it quits. I made it a point to let the hot Arab guy, who happened to be the guy I was most attracted to that night, know I was leaving. We only exchanged a few lines before he dropped this gem: “I really like black guys.”
Usually, because I’m so averse to being fetishized for my race, that phrase a total turnoff. If anything, just tell me that you’re into me. But when I’m drunk and you’re hot, it’ll do.
|image from quickmeme.com|
Me: “Ah, cool. Well, I’m on my way out.”
Him: “Okay, then. Have a good night.”
Me (not giving up like I would in America): “So… how about you give me a goodnight kiss?”
He laughed. But nothing about his body language said no. So I went for it. So worth the cheesy dialogue.
And then we went to a gay store next door (KIM saw it on the way in and was much more determined to go there than I). Please tell me why the door handle was a flaccid penis on one side and a curved erection on the other! Both uncut! They sold tshirts with gay sayings, speedos, porn and my favorite piece: a tshirt with Marilyn Monroe’s hair pasted on Michael Jackson’s head, Warhol style. We must have spent close to an hour in that shop.
Did I mention I could barely stay awake during the cab ride home? Yeah.
Click here to check out my last night in Melbourne, Australia.