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|Essays · Travelogs · Poetry · Comedy · Art · Digifilm||spring 2007|
Welcome to the Piliffines
Manila, August 1996,
Welcome to our Island Nation. Where are you from? Australia? Oh, the `States! Are you here on business?
Within 15 minutes of inviting himself to my table, this poor gayboy from Baguio City, Northern Luzon, is inviting me to invest in his sweet-foods business back home so that I can stay in the Philippines. This, after offering to show me around Manila (he's also a tour guide). I know the story too well.
"But you don't even know me. I don't know you," I protest.
The truth is, I'm all 'socialized' out. No more. No more sex, no more meeting cute guys who `show me around,' no more obvious false starts. The most embarrassing truth is that my last week in Hong Kong was tumultuous with pointless, aimless, not-going-to-go-anywhere carnal assignations with decent, gay Hong Kong Chinese guys who like Caucasian guys (gay slur: "potato queens"), who are faced with the opposite of the outrageously harsh demand-to-supply ratio that I lived with in DC. The physically limiting truth is that my muscles are painfully sore from too much bed-exercise, and this is not like me at all.
And the one guy I had feelings for in Hong Kong quit answering my pages.
And I'm here for only three more days.
And this is my last Asian country.
And this is the Philippines! Origin of so many of the guys in America whose unmatched beauty I oafishly fell for, only to repeatedly, stupidly, carelessly wreck my ship of feelings on their rocky coastlines.
"It doesn't take much money to invest," he continues.
"I'm sorry, but I don't have any money to invest in a business. Plus, I don't know anything about that kind of business. I don't have a business background."
"Many people who invested a long time ago are now rich."
I ask how's the tourist business these days. Very slow. Is it the fear of kidnapping? He thinks maybe it's the competition from Bangkok and elsewhere. Plus, there's not much foreign investment here anymore.
Eventually, he gives up and leaves me alone at "the Libraryi" [sic], the bar on Adriatico Street where I've been told I can meet a friend of a DC friend, who may be able to put me in touch with another friend of that DC friend, who could show me around. I hadn't known it was a gay bar, but so what.
After a few more sips on the watery beer that I bought but did not want in the gay bar that I didn't especially want to be in, after my entrepreneur acquaintance had excused himself to the bathroom, I put away my chair and beer and walked out, careful not to even look at any of the several guys sitting out front, lest a single eye-lock spell my undoing.
Monday, August 19, 1996, 11:32 AM
David SaiaDavid Saia traveled extensively in Southeast Asia in 1995-96. These travelogs were originally sent out via email to a select group of friends and acquaintances. The collected travelogs, now in manuscript form, are awaiting print publication.