Arayat Escapade

Originally posted 2016-03-07 10:32:53.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Mount Arayat National Park in Pampanga, here in the Philippines.

I’d been invited by some friends to spend the day, with a walk in the mountain park in the morning followed by socialising later. This meant first taking a bus to San Fernando and then another, local bus. We wanted to be there for sunrise, which is why I found myself sitting in a taxi at 3.30 am, hurtling through Quezon City at speeds in excess of 100 kph. It was a good adrenaline rush to start the day.

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Baklas and Beer in the Afternoon: A Tale of Manila

three-baklas

Originally posted 2022-04-14 15:32:15.

I have just been to the Bureau of Immigration Visa Extension Office in Makati. I have to do this once every two months, for the economy of the Philippines.

My papers are in and my money has been paid, but for unknown reasons, they’re not handing the passports with the new visas out yet. I have plans for the afternoon so will have to come back on Tuesday. I sigh and decide to get a beer and some food. I had no plans, then, to meet baklas.

Baklas, to let you know, are the local ersion of the ubiquitous ladyboy, the transwomen found all over southeast Asia, under different names. They are highly feminised males who live as women and seek straight men for partners. They are often as beautiful as natal women — or more so.

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I head for Market! Market! in Taguig. It’s my favourite mall in Manila by far, partly because half of it is actually outside. Unlike some malls, there are plenty of beer-bars and small restos too, serving a myriad array of meals in price bands to suit any bakla’s pocket, as they say. So I indulge in a taxi — 105 pesos — and, once I’m there, head for the bars at the back, near the van depot. I know from experience that these are good and cheap and so, attract locals — including baklas.

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Angel: Women in the Philippines

Angel in the Philippines

Originally posted 2022-04-08 11:15:29.

I remember Angel well. I was walking along a backstreet in Cubao on my way to the Baliwag Transport depot. As I approach it I hear the familiar call: ‘Hey Joe!’

Usually I just wave my hand and smile but this time it’s a girl standing in a doorway across the street. She’s pretty, fake blonde, so I cross over. The reaction of teenage Filipinas to an approaching foreigner — even one they have just saluted — is too delicious to miss and, as predicted, the girl collapses into hysterical giggles.

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Philippines Diary: Jeepneys

jeepney

Originally posted 2015-01-28 14:52:34.

Most people have at least heard about jeepneys, the ubiquitous, colourful and incredibly noisy backbone of the Philippines public transport system. For those who have not, you’ll catch up.

The first jeepneys were in fact modified Willys Jeeps that the Americans left behind. The enterprising pinoys lengthened the chassis and fitted seats. Now they are custom built with stainless steel, all-enclosed bodywork and diesel engines.

Most jeepneys are 20-seaters; 18 in the back and 2 in the front, guv. This makes them unquestionably the friendliest form on transport on the planet, because actually there’s only enough room for 16 in the back and we are talking kitten-hipped pinoys here.

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The Goddess in The Philippines

goddess-philippines

Originally posted 2014-03-10 13:59:50.

The Goddess is a big deal in the Philippines and goddesses are out in strength there this week. The occasion is the closing rounds of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament, held at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Teams with names like De La Salle Lady Spikers and Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, the Tigresses, the Lady Warriors and the Lady Bulldogs battle it out in front of huge, enthusiastic and thoroughly partisan crowds. And these girls aren’t kidding; this is serious stuff.

 The audience is mainly young – but everywhere in the Phils is mainly young. That’s only to be expected in a country where the population has increased by a factor of ten in fifty years. And there are as many men here as women. Filipinos are as passionate about volleyball as Scots are about football.

 This is hard sport, and women are seen as true warriors.

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Bakla: explaining the transwoman of the Philippines

aswang lakanpati

Originally posted 2022-03-28 19:50:38.

All humans, with the exceptions of a tiny minority with disorders of sexual development (DSDs) or Intersex, are either male or female. So there are two sexes.

We are not tilapia, frogs or molluscs, and these sexes are fixed for life. Sex can never be changed. The nonsense that biological sex has no basis in reality and can be changed from male to female is just that, nonsense. It derives from Post-Modernism; a rotten, toxic ideology. But that means we must explain the phenomenon of transsexualism, and to do that we’ll focus on the form found in Luzon in the Philippines, the bakla.

The explanation hinges on the critical difference between sex and gender. These are not the same.

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Palawan, Philippines, 2012

Crissy at Palawan, Philippines 2012

Originally posted 2013-06-28 23:08:00.

Palawan is an island in the west of the Mimaropa Admistrative region of the Philippines. The Phils is divided colloquially into three regions, Luzon in the north, Visayas in the centre and Mindanao in the south. Palawan is on the far west of Visayas.

It forms the northern boundary of the Sulu Sea and is only some 70 kilometres from Malaysia at its southern extremity. It is served by two airports, the larger being at Puerto Princesa, the main town on the island.

I had come to the Philippines because I had met, on-line, a transpinay called Crissy José and I wanted to meet her in real. At the time I was still recovering from the end of my marriage and a brief and failed affair with a women close to my age. (Which was an unmitigated disaster.) I’d been chatting to a couple of women but here was a click with Crissy that I didn’t get with the others. So I booked my ticket.

Spring and summer of 2012 I had passed sailing my yacht Misty around the coast of Scotland. She was sold in September and I wanted something I hadn’t had in a long time — a good chillout holiday and plenty of sex. Well, the Philippines trip got me one of those.

That first visit to the Phils was only three weeks — back then you only got 21 days on the automatic tourist visa. I had made my base at the Oasis Paco Park hotel in Ermita, Manila, and Palawan was the second exploration trip. The first was to Boracay, which I write about here.

(As an aside, I again highly recommend the Oasis Paco Park. It’s reasonably priced, clean and the staff are super-friendly. It also has a really good, if a tad pricey, Italian restaurant.)

We had booked our tickets for the Palawan tour through TravelTeam, and found ourselves on a Zest Airlines flight out of NAIA at 0700.

Palawan Gallery

Bakla to Kabaklaan: the way of beauty

ladyboy-bakla

Originally posted 2021-09-30 07:42:37.

Transwomen in the Philippines are classified locally as ‘gay’. The specific word used might be ‘bakla’, ‘beki’, ‘bayot’, ‘bading’ or any one of several others, depending on location and dialect.

Here, ‘gay’ does not mean what it does in the West. It means you are male but not a man; that you have ‘green blood’. You are an unmasculine male. In Luzon, the most popular local term is ‘bakla’. Their lifestyle is called ‘kabaklaan’.

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bakla-beginners
A bakla starts on the life of kabaklaan when she is young, perhaps five or six. This type is called the ‘batang bakla’. Girls who ‘come out’ in later adolescence are known as ‘late bloomers’.

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Baklas, sex and motorcycle maintenance

baklas-philippines

Originally posted 2020-10-02 18:30:19.

I’m at the local motorcycle repair shop where Sherwyn, a most competent mechanic and pleasant cove, is replacing a brake master cylinder on the Blaze. He first thought to replace only the seals, but he can’t find the right size. A new cylinder is 400 pesos, just under six quid, an unwell encephalopod. I just tell him to get on with it. Sherwyn works in the open space outside a motorcycle parts shop, where he seems to buy most of his stuff, although, as today, sometimes he has to go further afield. While I wait I sit on a wooden bench in the shade and observe the street life. Baklas soon begin to appear; it’s like they’re in the woodwork.

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Ladyboys by the Sea and Botticelli

Originally posted 2017-07-22 00:16:22.

Beach beer and paddling with ladyboys in the Philippines. I wonder what the collective noun would be here? A delight of ladyboys? Pictures made in 2016.

Jelly and I  went to the beach to relax and drink beer with some ladyboy friends.  Two, Azumi and Icey, paddled around in the water and I photographed them. Icey reminded me of Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’. She had amazing – dyed of course – auburn hair that fell in cascades around her face and adopted a perfect contrapposto, holding a towel over her head to keep off the sun.

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