Under Pressure

For Patrick King Pascual, "it's all up to us to take precautions and not cross the thin line between socio-pressure and being desperate."

In a city like Manila, where everything is available and up for grabs, why are we experiencing scarcity in available men to be in a relationship with?

For more than three years, I was single. I went out like any other gay and party until the break of dawn. I had promiscuous sex with different men. I shared the same false hopes and broken expectations with my friends. But all of it changed a year ago.

It was the usual Maundy Thursday night in the island of Puerto Galera. Everyone was half drunk, dancing and cruising and I was about to enter an orgy party. I was playing with my phone, after sending a message to my friend, I heard a voice, “You can’t use your phone inside.” I nodded and entered the room. I stayed near the door, waiting for my eyesight to adjust in the dark.

The door opened again. I saw a guy, topless and walking very slowly. I liked him. I walked towards him, but he walked away. I ignored him. After a minute, I felt someone touching my arm, I looked, and it was him. We went out of the room. We talked and got to know each other much better. We went back to Manila… We’ve been together for a year now, and still counting.

A month before Holy Week back in 2009, my friends and I met for our usual Saturday night-out, we conversed and planned Galera, but in the course of our discussion about the endless men we’ll meet in the island, the unlimited drinks we’ll enjoy, the clothes we’ll bring for the 4-day trip, we thought of one thing; are we following a pattern?

A pattern; every time we go out, with friends or alone, we’ll meet someone and go out with that person a couple of times and maybe have sex with him a couple of times and then he’ll just disappear for no reason.

We all shared the same sentiment for years and years, we’ve been in relationships, but everything ends up to nothing. It seemed like an endless and painful trail in finding “the one”.

Maybe I was one of the lucky ones who finally found him, but a year ago, I was following the same pattern, and feeling hopeless.

***

In a recent conversation with my friend, Bernard, he told me that he’s dating someone and it seemed to him that this guy might be “the one”. I told him, “Don’t you always feel that way every time you date, that the guy you’re currently sharing more than three meals a day might be “the one” for you?” He didn’t reply to my pessimistic remark.
Bernard is 24 years old, an aspiring designer; he gets his monthly income as a call center agent. His parents’ works abroad, he lives with his grandmother and his brother. He looks Chinese, a bit cute and have an almost gym developed body. He dreams to be with a man who will love him for who he is, like how he experienced with his recent ex.

Bernard has been going out with the call center agent trainor for more than three weeks; they shared stories about their past, and related to each other’s works and hobbies. Bernard sounded happy and hopeful about the guy he’s dating.

After a week from our conversation, I texted Bernard and asked if he wants to go out and check out this place near my house. He replied, “Okay, let’s meet around 1AM. I’m bringing him. Be nice to him, I really like the guy.”

My phone beeped, it was Bernard. I went to 711, our meeting place, and saw them. We went to this small-scale bar, a not so pleasing bar. We entered the place and we laughed when we found out that it was a “hosto” bar.

I attempted to start a conversation with the call center agent trainor, while I took a humble sip to my half finished San Miguel Pale Pilsen. He answered my question with a “Yes”, a smile, and a puff on his Winston Red, maybe he was still trying to get use to the fact that I’m his date’s friend and that we’ve only just met.

You see, judging from Bernard’s ex; cute, clean-cut type of guy, who have a job anyone would want to have, from the 14 guys he had sex with last July 2008 in Puerto Galera, and from the casual partners Bernard had – he follows a certain standard.

Bernard described the trainor perfectly; matured-looking, moreno, have a trasherish long hair (‘til his waistline), have a beer belly. I didn’t have expectations when I met and greeted them before we entered the bar. He was definitely not Bernard’s usual dates, but I don’t oppose the fact that he’s planning to be serious with the guy.
It’s just that, this is the first time I saw Bernard with someone who doesn’t fall in any of his categories. Maybe he’s really the kind of guy Bernard has been looking for in a long time.

Or maybe, Bernard was already numbed by the unconscious on-going pattern; the non-stop repetition of meeting someone, go out for a few dates, have sex with the person and when you start experiencing a nice time with him, he suddenly disappears –instead, Bernard plans to settle with someone who can relate to his work, someone who he can talk about anything, but really, someone who doesn’t fall under his categories.

We parted around four in the morning. I made my way home, as I opened the door of my apartment, it made me think; are we willing to believe anything even if we know deep in ourselves that it is not what we hope for in the first place, to have a one-way ticket ride away from the reality of being single?

***

Like any of us, we have categories and standards we unconsciously follow in everything we do. And when it comes to dating, we have endless categories that we strictly follow and keep an invisible checklist for it, so at the end of the night, we count the checks and the x’s and decide what to do next.

But every time we feel desperate, we forget we have categories – which unconsciously, we want to strictly follow. And when we meet someone who doesn’t meet our “category”, we allow ourselves to believe anything and look things differently just to experience being with someone for a week, a month or up until we wake up to reality.

More often than not, we easily get carried away by what’s happening around the community, like when we go out and see someone wearing a four-thousand pesos white sneakers from Aldo, the thought of owning one will be playing non-stop in our minds the whole night until we get the chance of owning one.

It’s more of pressure that we consistently feel, every time we want something so bad – just like relationships, everyone wants to be in a relationship. There’s like a hidden cult that spreads a secret propaganda, and recruits everyone – to continuously look and date everyone that come along our way until we find the perfect guy to be in a relationship.

And it’s all up to us to take precautions and not cross the thin line between socio-pressure and being desperate.

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