Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Real Man

ManCome to think of it, Fathers’ Day came and went this year with hardly a hint of a fuss. Had I not gotten the call from L that day and heard his son in the background, I could’ve possibly completely forgotten about it. I know I seem like such an ungrateful son to have only greeted one person and it wasn’t even my own dad. But that's just how it went.

Growing up, I didn’t really have my dad beside me. His profession required him to be out-of-town most of the time. He did, however, show up around once a month if I remember right. During those once-a-months he’d come home, I would run out to meet him and hug him around the waist, my little arms unable to wrap around his fully-developed beer belly. Yep, my dad was a Pale Pilsen person, and he was a real man.

I remember the lingering scent of a smoker, as well as his signature smokers’ cough that filled the house every time he was around. I don’t even wonder why I never felt the need to get hooked on cigarettes. Yep, my dad had his own carbon footprint, and he was a real man.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I used to sleep in the same bed my parents did. And waking up beside my dad without his shirt on, I would wonder why there were stray hairs around his nipples, which I’d try to tug at, eventually waking him up every time. Yep, my dad walked around without his shirt on, had armpit hair, nipple hair and a full mustache, and he was a real man.

But of course, my dad was a real man in all the other senses of the word.

He would go hang out with his drinking buddies out on the street corner, usually coming home so drunk that on some occasions that he’d fall asleep right on top of our school books, and on one really bad day, he pushed my mom around and left her in a heap on the floor right before our very eyes. Yep, my dad was an alcoholic, and he was a real man.

He was always right. He knew how to use any product ever manufactured, even better than the manufacturer. And not even the scientific knowledge that we, his children, would bring up was enough to overturn his own know-how. Yep, my dad was a know-it-all, and he was a real man.

He was one hell of a driver. He had a habit of running female drivers off the road, and honking them to jitters. He hated being overtaken, and loved cutting in. Yep, my dad was king of the road, and he was a real man.

He was a man of few words. When I told my mom that I was gay back in 1999, she actually forced me to tell my dad. So I did. I admit it scared the shit outta me, but hearing him say Just let him be in a matter-of-fact way just shocked the hell outta me, too. Yep, my dad seemed void of emotions, and he was a real man.

So my dad may have seemed like as much of a real man any man can ever get. But it took a real man to put my dad down... he succumbed to himself.

In late 2003, my dad felt the need to once again be a real man, as he ignored advice from his doctor-cousin to go for a checkup. By the time he couldn’t bear the pain, which was when he finally went for a checkup, it was too late. He was diagnosed with terminal stage cancer.

Of course, being a real man, he still didn’t follow everything his doctor said. Yes, he went in for chemotherapy, which would seem to say he still wanted to live. But he still ate what he wasn’t supposed to be eating, drank what he wasn’t supposed to be drinking, and did what he wasn’t supposed to be doing.

The fact that he outlived the 10 months he was given didn’t even help. He just became more stubborn. I felt how it was to have a child... and a brat at that. He couldn’t see that we were just trying to take care of him. He wanted to live, but wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice.

I remember thinking to myself, Is this what it takes to be a real man?... If it was, then I was rather relieved that I wasn’t one.

Finally, his moment of humility came as he was lying helpless in the hospital. With his wife and all us kids around, he confessed that he fathered two other sons with another woman, both of whom shared our family name, as well as our initials. Oddly enough, we were far from shocked, having known about it since years ago. But the way he said it... the first ever time I may have seen him cry... was a breakthrough. It redefined what I knew of what a real man was supposed to be.

Sadly, about a week after that, we were awoken by the dreaded call that rushed us to the hospital. Other than the doctors trying to resuscitate him long enough for us to get there, it was too late. My dad had died.

Time flies, and it’s been almost five years since. I still will openly admit that we hardly had a real relationship, and still think that he was an arrogant, stubborn ass most of the time. But hell... I had to get some of it from somewhere, right?

Remembering my dad and my own challenges today, I will have to say that I got more than my tolerance for alcohol, my thinning hair, and my skin color from him. If he could see me now, I don’t exactly think he’d be proud, but he can definitely rest assured that some of the better points of his “real man” legacy may just have rubbed off on me.

8 comments:

Ming Meows said...

may the real man rest in peace

Anonimus said...

Give or take some differences, my dad is (he's still alive and kicking at 84 yo) as your dad was.

Same driving skills. Same know-it-allness (never the truth unless he read about it himself).

Except for the hair. He has lots more than I do. Believe it or not. He simply refuses to have bald spots.

But same hardheadedness. At 50 he had his first birthday party. Four months before that we discovered he had ulcer because he fell and hit his head on the doorknob and was unconscious therefore couldn't resist the trip to the hospital. No one in the house had any idea. Suffering in silence and all that stuff.

He had to quit smoking, and he did. Maybe that's why I took it up.

They don't make 'em like they used to, no? Everyone's so faggoty these days. Vanity is now virtue. Or maybe just in Makati/Ortigas and the malls.

Mark Cabos said...

Happy Father's day.

onestrangeboy said...

Maybe he just wanted to enjoy whatever day he had left that's why he ate what he wanted to eat and drank wanted to drink.

butakal said...

your dad is man enough to accept you as you are, mine was ashamed of me and my sexuality. but who cares i did not have stomach ache when he told me that. may your dad and my dad meet there on the other side and compare us. he he he!

BLACKPOOL said...

hmmm i want to write about my father and all of a sudden i saw the word butakal? it speaks for some fathers what do you think butakal?

btw butakal means the male hog who does nothing but screw the females.

Yj said...

i look up to a lot of people but they were never my heroes.....


papa ko lang....

masuwerteng masuwerte na tayo sa mga tatay natin.... :)

danyhael said...

^_^