Tuesday, December 31, 2013


"It is what it is. What can I say? You chose a man with complications." And he said this to me in one breath, as though it were that easy. My mind raced with questions. Did he love me? Would that be enough? What was I looking for? What did I expect I could get from all this? I couldn't answer any of them. I just sat there, eyes glued to the floor as the man with too many strings attached broke my heart.

"Do you love her?" I asked. It was a question that would hurt but I needed to hear his answer. He tapped the bottom end of his cigarette pack and tore the seal off. He took the first stick and put it back in the pack, filter end first. What he needed a wish stick for, I didn't need to know.

"I don't know," he answered, his pitch tentative. "Not as much as I used to but I guess there's still some love there. When you give your heart to someone, anyone really, a part of you will always love them."

"What about me?" I asked, the words getting caught in my throat. "Will a part of me always be with you?" He looked away. His silence spoke more than any explanation he could give me. And since the burden was all mine, I was left with nothing to do but to cradle my head in my hands and wait for the world to stop spinning.

"My father taught me how to smoke. Did I ever tell you that? He said that the first cigarette is always lucky and so each new pack gives you a fresh wish. That's why I keep doing this," he said, showing me the stick he had flipped. Maybe this was his way of answering my question. "I know it sounds silly but a part of me has always believed in that."

"And what did you wish for in this pack?"

"I wished that I'd met you before her." He lit up a cigarette and took short, pensive puffs. "Because the only alternative is after her. And I just don't think I can do that." I looked straight into his dark brown eyes and saw a million forevers that would never be.

The new year brings us hope – hope of a fresh start, of possibilities, and of countless choices that won't turn into regrets. If I could do it all over again, would I have wrapped my life around his? He took one last puff of his cigarette, put it out on his shoe, and walked away.

♫: Dishwalla | Angels or Devils (2002)
Photo: mbart

MANIGONG BAGONG TAON! And so another year comes to a close. I know I didn't really get to write that much (14 posts! My lowest ever!) but I sincerely appreciate everybody for sticking around anyway. See you next year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

stella (4): shadowplay

He hides in the closet, between sundresses and black miniskirts. He inhales through his mouth, his regular breaths sounding more like wheezes than exhales. His sweat often soaks through his shirt and the face towel beneath it. All this he endures to catch a glimpse of her naked body under the sullen moonlight. It is Wednesday, her day off, and he is all too familiar with her routine.

Stella is awake. She is humming a tune under her breath, a melody from too long ago. I recognize it almost instantly. She closes her eyes and her right hand ducks quietly under the covers. You can see her writhing in bed, one hand on her sex, the other fondling a breast. She seeks pleasure nightly, her regulars coming before she can even think about getting turned on. Her neck relaxes as she finds the right rhythm, the right pressure for pleasure. He shifts from within the closet, the wood creaking at his weight. Stella's eyes fly open as she lets out a quiet, little scream.

"Surprise!" they exclaim as she enters. And to think she had prayed they'd forgotten. All the girls are there. They transformed the tiny dressing room into a little corner of home. Makeshift streamers and condom balloons line the walls. Stella is breathless. She didn't want to make a fuss of this day but one of the girls had overheard her talking on the phone and the passing of her 25th birthday was too tempting, too delicious to ignore.

This would be her final birthday at the bar. Girls just tend to disappear when they become too old for the patrons and it was decided long before her time that 25 was the right age to retire.

"Who's there?" she asks, clutching the blanket close to her chest. "Who's there?!" she shouts.

The closet door opens slowly and she sees a dark figure emerging into the light. He looks embarrassed, like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. But this was no regular cookie, he would soon find out.

"What the hell do you think you're you doing? How long have you been watching me?" He doesn't answer. Instead, he gets up to leave. He looks at her one last time, his eyes full of regret, then he walks slowly to the door.

"So, what are your plans after this?" Hazel asks.

"I don't really know. I'm probably just going to eat my cake then go home," she answers, playing dumb.

"You know what I mean. You've had a long career here. Surely, you've thought about this at least once." Stella could tell that this was her idea. With her out of the picture, Hazel would inherit her regular customers. But she didn't think she'd be smart enough to orchestrate this blatant reminder of the bar's policy on how old the talents should be.

"Well, we can't all be rock stars," she says. "Any day now, Bookie will ask to meet with you about your options. What are you gonna do then?"

"I don't know," she dismisses, a blank expression on her face. "I'll figure something out." And something in me knew she would. She always does.

she offers. His hand on the doorknob, the door ajar. "You don't have to go." He looks at her from the dark hallway. She seems smaller than before. Something has changed. You could see it in her eyes.

"Get back in there and watch me." Her voice is warm at first, like the beginning of surrender. He refuses to move. Her dark brown eyes pierce through him in the darkness. She commands him once again, this time louder, harder. He closes the door and gets back in the closet. Stella resumes.

I'll figure something out, she answered. And something in me knew she would. She always does.

The girls sing her a song and Stella blows out the candles. She takes a large slice of the cake and sets it on a paper plate. She picks a sugary flower, the largest and brightest of them all, and plants it in the middle of the slice. She walks slowly, carefully like a cat about to pounce, and knocks gently on the manager's door.

"Bookie?" she beckons, her voice low and gentle like a purr. "Bookie, I have something for you."

He comes back every Wednesday, her one day off work. He knows her routine all too well. One week, he is in the closet. The next, on the bedroom floor. One week, she lets his hand rest on the bed. The next, he lays there quietly with her. He doesn't touch her. He wouldn't dare to. But on a particular Wednesday when the moon was at its dimmest, Stella raised her final white flag.

"Hold me," she whispers, desperation in her voice. Bookie's eyes light up with anticipation. He puts his arm around her and rocks her gently to sleep. I look away.

And I have seen all this through my eyes in the walls. I move undetected, like a shadow in the darkness. I am here because love compels me. I am here because the light has denied us.

My name is Bryan and I am not here, No, not really.

♫: The Killers | When You Were Young (2006)
Photo: shadow

Sunday, October 6, 2013

the courage of lovers

He stands in the middle of a lonely kitchen fiddling with the radio. He hears the beginning of a gentle love song and the distinct clacking of heels on the ceramic tiles. He turns to see her standing awkwardly, freshly scrubbed and in a new dress. Her hair is pulled tight behind her head, save for a few unruly strands on the side. The moonlight glows on her olive skin as he struggles to speak. How do you even begin to describe such beauty, such delicate perfection in the rough?

"What's wrong?" she asks, her weight shifting from foot to foot. She pats her dress down, waving away imaginary wrinkles on the fabric. He shakes his head and walks toward her. There is a hunger in his eyes. He takes in some air to speak but hesitates.

"You look stunning," he finally says and she breathes a sigh of relief. Her shoulders relax and her lips break into a knowing smile.

"…if you don't mind me saying so," he adds. For a second, she remembers that he is not supposed to be here. That this is a house she shares with another man. Oh God, was this a mistake?

"Make-them-run-around-the-block-howling-in-agony stunning." He smiles at her, that lopsided grin she's seen him put on countless times and all of a sudden, she is a different woman. She breathes a sigh of relief. Her fears melt away. Such is the courage of lovers.

She walks towards him, feeling braver and stronger with each step. On the radio, the man sings about his lover's eyes. There's a certain warmth in these old records. It's almost like they were made to score scenes like this. As she approaches, the phone starts to ring – yet another cruel reminder of the family that waits for her miles away. He looks at the telephone, indecision in his face. You should get that, he seemed to say. Resigned, she picks up as a voice from miles away clicks on.

"Johnson's. Hi," she answers in her thick Italian accent. It is Madge, a gossipy old woman two houses down. He walks to the fridge to get a beer.

"I was just fixing myself something to eat," she lies. She asks if she's heard of the drifter, a serious looking man with striking grey hair. She feigns indifference, not wanting to cause suspicion by the sudden shift in her tone of voice.

He sits down in front of her and she notices his messy collar. Her fingers dance upon his shirt, little cackles of electricity coursing through their bodies. Her hand finally rests gently on his shoulder. There is a warmth in her touch that he had never felt from anyone or anything before.

He places his hand on hers. She looks longingly into his eyes, noticing the deep wrinkles around the edges. She hangs up. He stands and leads her to the middle of the kitchen. They start to dance, slowly and with all the emotion they'd kept at bay since they met. She rests her head on his shoulder. He takes a whiff of her soft, sienna hair, wondering how he could have truly lived all those years without knowing what it felt like to hold her in his arms.

"If you want me to stop, tell me now," he warns. Before his passion consumes them, before they cross the line they've been toeing all night. Their lips move closer and farther, like magnets undecided of their poles. She closes her eyes until there is nothing but warm current in her veins, his hand on her waist, and her warm breath on his waiting lips.

"No one's asking you to," she whispers, eyes ablaze. He kisses her, spreading quiet little flames from her mouth to her cheeks to the small of her back. He kisses her again and again until her whole body is on fire. He pulls her body to his, their hearts beating to the same drum, to the same love. On the radio, the man sings of their love as it unfolds.

I see your face before me
Crowding my every dream.
There is your face before me
You are my only theme.
It doesn't matter where you are.
I can see how fair you are.
I close my eyes and there you are.

He kisses her until their bodies are on fire. Tomorrow, there would be reckoning but for a few stolen hours, she wanted to think of nothing but his warm embrace, his gentle kisses, and the sound of two hearts beating to the same love.

►: The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
♫: Johnny Harman | I See Your Face Before Me (1980)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CITYBUOY! Gawd, I'm really getting old. Today is this space's ninth birthday. From adolescent rants to unsolicited advice. Through haphazard movie reviews and saccharine stories, we've certainly gone a long way. Thank you for staying with me through personal crises and countless hiatuseseseses. I am celebrating with a fresh coat of paint (and let's face it, the pink layout just wasn't working). See my first post here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

birthday thoughts

Last year, I wished for excitement. Let’s just say I got waaaaay more than I bargained for.

All in 365 days, I unexpectedly moved out of my parents’ house, learned how to cook, had 3 jobs, got promoted and terminated within the same week, survived "funemployment", went to labor court, wrote a bunch of stories, had my blog plagiarized, met a ton of new friends, and experienced the biggest love of my life. Thank you to everybody who made all these happen.

These are only words but I hope they are enough to show how much I appreciate how you have touched my life. No matter what tomorrow brings, I know that I am strong enough to face it all.


♫: Imagine Dragons | It’s Time (2012)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

how to deal with plagiarists

UPDATE: See his response here. As promised, I have removed all identifying marks on this post.

“Hi citybuoy!” I heard someone say. I sat up surprised. No one at work ever calls me by my blog name. The source was a boy two tables away. Seeing I was alone, he came up to me and introduced himself.

“My name is Jp. I’m such a big fan. Pwede magpa-picture?” I must admit I enjoyed my mini-celebrity moment and so despite the awkwardness in his request, I gave in and smiled for his camera.

A few minutes later, Twitter notified me I was mentioned. He wasn’t kidding. He really was a big fan.

It’s funny how a year and a half later, I found myself remembering this exchange. I didn’t know (couldn’t know really) then that this would be the start of something really big. I was smoking with a co-worker when she asked me if I’d seen Jp’s Instagram account lately.

“No, not really. I don’t think I even followed him back.” I answered.

“I think you should check it out. Naka-open naman siya so even if you’re not following him, you can see his posts.” There was something different about how she was talking about all this. Like there was something she wanted to say but couldn’t.

“Wait, why should I check his profile?

“Basta. Check mo lang when you get home.”

That night, I did. I couldn’t find his account at first so I had to check some of our common friends to see if he’d commented on any of their posts. When I found him, I saw that his account was private and I couldn’t click Follow. I logged out and went back to his profile and I was not prepared for what I saw.

There, in broad daylight, were plagiarized versions of my stories.

beachbuoy, published in August 2010 here.

a letter from the future, published in April 2010 here.

interlude: flight, published in January 2010 here.

I scrolled through all of his posts (and there were A LOT of them) and I found around 20+ story excerpts, status updates, and iPhone notes that I wrote. Many of them linked back to his Facebook page and referenced a “#GCW”. It was clear that if I wanted answers, they’d be on his Facebook profile. I remembered he added me a while back so I logged on to Facebook to search for him. Surprise, surprise. There were no hits. He blocked me from even viewing his profile.

So I did what any responsible netizen would do. I borrowed a friend’s Facebook username and password, and for the next hour or so, I took screenshot after screenshot of Jp’s blog: Gay Can Write.

Right away, I recognized many of the posts. He posted them as pictures and since they were locked behind Facebook’s airtight security settings, there was no way in Hades I could’ve ever seen them. He edited a few of them, perhaps to make it less detectable but a writer always knows what he’s written. Heck, he even used some of the pictures I used. With the exception of about 5 posts, everything was plagiarized from this blog.

CALL AND ORDER WITHIN THE NEXT 15 MINUTES. For your our enjoyment, here are ALL the posts that this talentless thief stole from me. I used my phone to take these screenshots because it's faster. The downside is, you can only scroll through limited lines of text at a time. I tried to caption most of them but with over 60 entries, this could take a while. The impatient may click here for the resolution. :)

quiet, published in August 2010 here. He changed a few things like the petname and the song I heard on the radio towards the end but everything else was pretty intact. I checked the comments and got the shock of my life.

I immediately recognized Michael Tolentino’s comment. Kane left the exact same comment 3 years ago. Jp’s comment is what I replied to Kane then.

He didn’t just steal the post. He also stole the comments. (Note: I checked these frequent commenters and saw that he set up 2-3 dummy accounts to comment on his stories. Most of them had empty profiles except for one who was kind of cute. Apart from commenting on #GCW, this “person” had Facebook checked-in to Jp’s apartment a couple of times.)

mirrors, published in July 2010 here.

stella and her waiting (1), published in May 2013 here.‎ He changed Bookie to Mamu. This made me laugh because Bookie will actually play a pretty interesting role in the series. Him changing the character to what sounds like an older lady would totally kill the ending.

reprising the bashful, published in March 2010 here.

guadalupe, published in May 2013 here.‎ He went through all the effort to take pictures at the MRT. I once heard this was illegal. But then again, someone who plagiarizes 60 or so stories must not be that mindful of the law.

fifteen different words for tears, published in May 2013 here.‎ He changed my Alanis metaphor to Christina Aguilera with humorous effects.

surrender, published in November 2011 here.

the taylor swift formula for love, published in March 2010 here.

mean, published in July 2010 here.‎ I wrote this when I was still an accent trainer. He changed the long e sound to some product-specific topic.

crash, published in November 2011 here.

doodling, published in February 2010 here.‎ The last picture is an actual doodle from my planner.

Used here again when he reattempted a side x side. He DM-ed me on Twitter to ask for permission to use this picture. I didn’t know he also wanted the post.

epilogue, published in April 2010 here.‎ This was where I first explained where I got the name citybuoy. Good luck owning that.

this is your life, published in October 2011 here.‎ In his pathetic attempt to recreate my life, I am guessing he rented out this tattooed man and well… yeah. Never mind that this post was filed under fiction.

eraser, published in June 2011 here.‎ This was particularly freaky because I had an actual helicopter eraser that looked very similar to the one he posted.

black widow, published in November 2011 here.

never over, published in February 2012 here.

change of address, published in November 2009 here. Yes folks. When he moved out, he used my moving out post to announce it to the world. And when he got sick…

swallow, published in September 2008 here.‎ …he dug all the way back to 2008 to find this post. I talked about my dirty slippers and how beautiful Makati was from my hospital window. Apparently, he had really dirty slippers too and thought Valenzuela was really beautiful. Um okay.

chances, published in August 2010 here. The park bench where I professed my love to A is now a sarong on the beach. Very original.

prelude: touch, published in February 2010 here.

never yours, published in December 2012 here.

dying / time, published in August 2009 here.

0:20:26, published in January 2011 here.‎ This is special because I actually wrote this about him. I logged on one night to find that he Twitter-mentioned me several times asking for a new blog post. I got so annoyed, I wrote about the pressures of writing to a demanding audience. Oh irony of ironies. Perhaps someone was pestering him about his stolen blog posts too (?)

paralisado, published in October 2012 here.‎ That’s my actual toothbrush making out with Z’s.

how would you do it?, published in September 2011 here.‎ He changed “park bench” to “park bench in a gasoline stop.” Um, there’s a reason why they call it a PARK bench.

city, published in October 2009 here.‎ He changed the location to a Becky Nights party but the picture shows the Greenbelt references I made in the post.

molar support, published in October 2009 here.‎ For the record, that disgusting cavity-filled tooth is definitely not mine (and most likely his). My molar is pictured clean and white in the original post.

this year’s love (ii), published in October 2011 here.

sooner or later, published in May 2009 here.‎ This was about the one girl I ever loved and I guess he had one of those too? Funny, I thought Multiply stopped sending these notices years ago.

fog you / i remember, published in August 2009 here.

reprising the teacher, published in October 2011 here.

bicycles, published in September 2009 here.‎ Very curious how many of our mutual friends who liked this post in 2009 didn’t recognize it when it reappeared in 2013.

vacant, published in September 2011 here.

heatstroke, published in April 2012 here.‎ To prove this actually happened, I took a picture of the Starbucks cup. Amazingly, he recreated that shot with his own cup. The major conflict in this story is how I had to be really butch since I’m only partially out so the thought of a known drag queen posting this is beyond me.

closet, published in closet May 2009 here.

conflict, published in November 2011 here.‎ The animal I wrote about was our pet bird who “crashed into our living room” years ago. Perhaps his cat, Baby Yum, can also fly.

maps, published in June 2013 here.‎ Props for adding more dreams to this paragraph.

hanging by a thread, published in March 2009 here.‎ I uploaded this screenshot on Facebook last Thursday. The overwhelming love and support (and threats of cyber-kuyog) have made this experience tolerable. If you got here from this post, here are the screenshots I promised!

phantom, published in June 2012 here.

mississippi, published in May 2010 here.‎ I know for a fact that his first love died. I think it would’ve been nicer if he had written something heartfelt to honor him.

hello anger, published in September 2009 here.

his jacket, published in October 2010 here.‎ This looks nothing like my father’s leather jacket (or any other leather jacket a father would own).

a letter from the future, published in March 2010 here.‎ A two-fer! The picture is from side x side In this post, he tagged a “Lyssa.” I am soooo tempted to ask her if she really did find a gray hair.

side x side (II), published in January 2010 here.‎ I wrote this after getting promoted. Since he didn’t, he had to change a few lines. He also recreated the picture I used in the post. IMHO, I did it better. :x

sorry story, published in January 2011 here.‎ He loves my Story stories. He even published the prequel (see next)

write me, published in June 2011 here.

somebody loved, published in May 2012 here.‎ Pares to bagnet. That’s actually not a bad idea.

breaking, published in December 2011 here.‎ In this post, I talk about my desire to come out to my parents and the fears that come with it. I think if you’re the type to wear a gown and high heels with matching full make-up, THEY PROBABLY KNOW.

three of three: right or wrong, published in April 2012 here.

disconnect, published in December 2011 here.

look at me i'm twenty-three, published in August 2009 here.‎ And when he turned 24, he posted beachbuoy (see top of post).

two letters, published in September 2010 here.‎ This really freaked me out. He had handwritten drafts and the actual note. Sabi ko nga kay Z, di kaya ako yung nang-plagiarize? YJ says maybe I’m stuck in some Johnny Depp movie where I feel like I’m chasing a murderer only to find that it was me all along.

bibingka, published in June 2010 here.‎ I wonder if he knows the bibingka place closed down two years ago.

to be enough, published in April 2011 here.

envy, published in February 2010 here.‎ Am I the only one worried about how he’s holding this baby? #dangerousselfie

fix me, published in May 2010 here.

leaving, published in September 2010 here.

love for sale, published in February 2010 here.

trial and error, published in September 2009 here.

spit, published in October 2009 here.‎ I wonder if he actually took a picture of spit. If I followed the timeline right, this is the first post he stole from me.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! I wasn’t the only one lucky enough to be plagiarized.

A Criminal Mind: Free Fall, published by Sprial Prince in March 2012 here. Spiral is a dear friend and when I told him about what you did, you can imagine how happy he was.

Pagtataksil, published by Ako Si Aris in June 2013 here.This is a translation of infidelity, published in August 2010 here. He promoted this post in Instagram saying this was his first attempt to write in Filipino and that he hoped he made his country proud. I think I speak for everyone when I say UM NO.

AND WE’RE NOT DONE YET! As recent as this afternoon, our favorite plagiarist was at it again. Check out his status update for today.

disconnect, published in December 2011 here.

The first question I asked is why. Why did he do this to me? Why did he go through such lengths to copy my blog? Why can’t he just write his own stuff? He doesn’t really look like someone who was starved of attention. Why go through such efforts for a few likes?

But then a more thorough glance of his Instagram revealed that yes, he really is doing it for the attention. @_@

And so to you, Jp R, I give you my full and undivided attention. Baka kasi kulang pa yung effort and attention I gave you while drafting this. From this point on, this post will be addressed to you.

First of all, I want to thank you for being such an avid reader of my blog. You chose some of my best posts. It was a thrill to see them again today. That being said, there seems to be an issue with how you chose to show your love for my writing. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I regret to inform you that after I saw all that you stole from me, I was anything but flattered. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I was very, very, VERY upset.

Here is a list of my demands. I hope you don’t think I’m asking for too much. Consider it payback for the 63+ posts you stole from me. :)
  1. You will write an explanation and an apology. Let’s say at least 1,000 words? You can either email it to cityb_oy [at] yahoo [dot] com or post it as a comment below. I prefer the second option seeing as I know a lot of people would like to read what you have to say for yourself.
  2. You will do something about Gay Can Write. You can either delete it (and all other plagiarized posts), or you can change the title (It’s a really bad title, by the way. #imjustsaying). Here are some suggestions: Gay Cannot Write. Gay Can Copy. Gay Can Paste. Gay Can Steal.
  3. You will share this post on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I don’t think you would have a problem doing this seeing as you’re somewhat an expert at sharing my posts. In the link that you will share, I want you to own up to stealing my blog posts. I want to read the comments that people will leave. I realize you might have to unblock me and send me a friend request so I can see your post. Don’t worry. I will definitely accept your friend request.
  4. You will promise to stop plagiarizing once and for all. As you wrote in that catty photo at the top, DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF.
In return, I will not take you to court for stealing my intellectual property (which by the way is protected by a Creative Commons license). I will also remove all identifying marks on this post. What does this mean? I will blur out your pretty face and remove all instances of your name. Please do not expect anything more such as my friendship as that ship sailed the moment you started stealing from me.

You have one week to pay for your crimes.



PS. And to you, dear reader. I wish to extend my deepest apologies. I know exactly how this looks and I’m not proud of it. I hope you know that I am only doing this because I work very hard for this blog and to have someone just take that from me is completely unacceptable. If this happened to you, wouldn’t you do the same?

♫: Lily Allen | Fuck You (2009)
Photos: http://instagram.com/*****, https://www.facebook.com/*****