Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


5 Notable things when dating in a not-that-cosmopolitan area

It’s the dating scene that stressed to me exactly how… distinct looking for any kind of LGBTQIA relationship can be when done in a not-that-cosmopolitan area.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from

So I sort of moved to Butuan City, supposed to be a “1st class highly urbanized city” in the Caraga region in Mindanao in the Philippines. But with a population of only approximately 372,910 people (based on the 2020 census), this is – in fact – not the most developed city in the country; it’s not even among the most advanced (the poverty incidence here was 20.82% in 2018; and the city’s assets only topped 8.69 million in 2020) like the cities of Quezon, Makati, Taguig and Manila in the National Capital Region; Cebu in the Visayas; and Davao in Mindanao.

There are pluses, of course – e.g. for LGBTQIA people, the city actually has an anti-discrimination ordinance that was passed in 2016 to prohibit discrimination based on SOGIESC.

But it’s the dating scene that stressed to me exactly how… distinct looking for any kind of LGBTQIA relationship can be when done in a not-that-cosmopolitan area (here, let me say sorry for the use of this term, knowing this may sound elitist and may even be deemed discriminatory…).

Let me cite at least five of my observations…

1. Everybody knows everyone… and may have slept with many of those you know already.

One time, I chatted with this guy through socked, and – after seeing some of my pics – he said he actually knows a few of the people in some of the pics I was in. Worse, he was in a relationship with one or two of them. This – for him – meant it may be useless even catching up with me because he could run into these exes, had to “pretend to be friends” with our common friends, and so on.

If there are more fishes in the ocean, then… any not-that-cosmopolitan area is but a puddle with even less fish to try to catch.

2. There are SOGIESC lessons that – already taken for granted in cosmo areas – have yet to reach men who have sex with men here.

Among those I met so far:

  • A self-identifying “bisexual man” who “hates women and their yucky vaginas”; but “I can’t be gay because I don’t look and act gay.”
  • A guy who – even before chatting with you online – stresses “I’m a decent gay; I don’t cross-dress”.
  • One who only wants to meet “bi or gay nga manly”, conflating (even confusing) sexual orientation and/or gender identity with gender expression.

3. There’s this expectation that just because you came from a more “developed” place, then… you foot the bills!

I met a med rep who, when he visited Butuan, complained that his dating experiences here have been tedious; guys he met usually expect him to pay for the bills “because you’re from outside; and you must earn more (than us).”

I, myself, experienced this, particularly when it’s me who took the initiative to ask the other person out. There’s no concept of pay-for-your-own; instead, there’s this assumption that since you may have originated from somewhere more “progressive”, then you should foot the bill.

4. When first meeting online, posers abound. So don’t always expect who you eventually meet to be as glamorous as that pic sent to you.

Yeah, those glam shots were NOT taken somewhere in Butuan…

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

5. Antiquated concept on STIs (including HIV), and the stigma around it continue to be pervasive.

I’ve met guys who prefer to have sex bareback, but do not even know the first thing about HIV (and other STIs), and – not surprisingly – have yet to get tested. Information on HIV hasn’t really been disseminated in many non-cosmopolitan areas, and when you start dating there (here, I mean), you’d note this…

This “lack” extends to dealing with people living with HIV. I have chatted with more than a handful who:

  • say “yuck” when asked about PLHIVs
  • will still have sex with people even if they do not know their HIV status anyway
  • are unfamiliar of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), or where to access the same
  • are unfamiliar with treatment as prevention (TasP)
  • do not know a single thing about U=U (undetectable=untransmittable)

Commenting on this, one HIV-positive friend quipped: “Very Dolzura Cortez pa ang pagtingin sa HIV eh!”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… the slower way of living (some say rustic) can grow on you (e.g. I don’t always have to worry I’d be late when meeting with friends, largely because my commute will be affected by the inhuman traffic jam). So does the seeming closeness of people (again because many move in the same circles anyway). And then there’s the opportunity to help a place further develop (e.g. in LGBTQIA and HIV advocacies).

But let’s revisit this discussion when I’ve met my match here already…

Cagayan de Oro City-based Stephen Christian Quilacio may be known as a party-goer (and yes, there's nothing wrong with that!). But this Bachelor of Architecture grad is serious when it comes to LGBTQIA and HIV advocacies - e.g. he founded Northern Mindanao AIDS Advocates (NorMAA) to mainstream the issues of people living with HIV in Mindanao; and produced "Lima" and eventually "Red Lives" via community theater to share HIV-centric stories particularly to grassroots community. Pushing for fringe communities to no longer be excluded is what drives Stephen; and "if this can be done in a fun way, so much the better," he smiled.


Like Us On Facebook


Love Affairs

86% of app users claimed that they enjoy facial hair on men as it makes them appear more masculine and mature.


Meet Erolyn Francisco, president of the local #LGBTQIA organization in #Mampang, #ZamboangaCity, who wants to help change the way people view #transgender Filipinos. "People...


Meet Fatima Bantuhan, a #Tausug #transgender man from Tawi-Tawi, who is trying to make a life with his partner in #Zamboanga City. Still not...

Love Affairs

63% of men and 54% of women, ages 18 and above, reported that the first thing they check on a dating app profile is...