Monday, February 13, 2006

Two weddings and 74 funerals

The text message that woke me up that Saturday morning seemed like a joke: 66 people were reportedly killed in a stampede that happened outside Ultra, where the first anniversary of a noontime variety show was supposed to be held. I didn't think too much of it and even tried to go back to sleep; just another one of those senseless forwarded messages. But the steady drone of a neighbor's AM radio kept me awake. I couldn't exactly make out the words coming out of it, but the fact that I was hearing AM radio from the neighbors and not the usual Backstreet Boys or Sugarfree made me get up from bed and go downstairs to turn the TV on. Sure enough, the news was true. Before the weekend was through the number of fatalities would go up to 74, most of them women and children. And all I could think about as I watched and listened to the steady news reports about the whole thing was god I hope those guys from that network finally let go of Willie Revillame.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not blaming the guy for what happened. Even though I absolutely have nothing good to say about the Willie I see on TV, I'm not mean enough to even imply that he wanted something like that to happen. Nobody can be THAT evil. But I gotta wonder what the execs over at that station see in him anyway. The guy has the charisma of a flea. He's loud to the point of irritating, he's a mediocre-closer-to-bad host and he's not funny AT ALL. I'm sure I'm missing something about the guy, but as far as I can tell from the few times I've seen him on his show, the network would be better off without him. They've already kicked him out once (and why they brought him back is an even bigger mystery); they ought to do it again, this time, for good. Besides, I don't see how the show can go on with something like this hanging over their collective heads; I don't know about other people, but if they DO go on, every time I see those dancers gyrating to the music, I wouldn't be able to keep myself from thinking about the dozens of people injured or killed, not to mention their families and friends grieving over their senseless deaths. If Willie really wants to help people by brightening up their day and making them happy, there're lots of other things he can do, but hosting another noontime variety show shouldn't be one of them.


That same day, I had two weddings to go to. The first was at 4pm, and well, it involved two men. Yep, it was my first time to attend a gay wedding. When an old friend from high school, A, texted me a few weeks ago to invite me to his birthday, I said I would come. I haven't seen him in a long time and I figured it would be a good chance for us to catch up. The next text stopped me in my tracks - he said he was also getting married that day and he wanted me to be there. He had always been out, so I knew it wasn't going to be your traditional church wedding. For a second, I had reservations about actually witnessing something that extraordinary, but I've always thought of myself as a pretty liberal-minded individual (despite statements to the contrary by some of my more open-minded friends), so I said I would be there.

The ceremony was very informal and there were only a few of us there. I will leave the details of the actual ceremony private. I'm happy for my friend and his partner and, just like any other normal married couple, I wish them both the best of luck.

We all went to dinner afterwards, but not before I made a quick trip back to my apartment to change for the next wedding. (Quick tip: If you're looking for a fine Italian place to eat in the Cubao area, Bellini's is it).

I was already late for the next wedding and it was all the way in Makati, so I had a friend drop me off at the reception in Rockwell instead of at the Church. The motif was bohemian, but I couldn't find anything in my closet that comes even close to it (heck I don't even know what "bohemian" really means). So I walked into the posh reception area wearing a safe button-down polo shirt and slacks. Pretty boring, but that was better than wearing something outlandish to try and look bohemian and end up looking like a smelly castaway or an even smellier hippie. The groom is an old co-worker, and when he dropped by the office to deliver the invitation, he kept going on about how the wedding was going to be "different," especially the reception. I couldn't tell him that whatever he had planned wouldn't even compare to how "different" the first wedding I went to that day was. But hats off to him for trying though. The venue was spectacular and had that "island reggae" atmosphere going, complete with a reggae band. There was even a chocolate fountain, which I thought was really cool. Uncool though was how the host dragged me up the stage during the "garter" part of the program. And there I was thinking I could duck tradition by making myself invisible. And for the love of god they even made us dance "Pinoy Ako," which, of course, I wanted no part of. But you can't really say no when the 300-pound host is in your face threatening to kiss you if you didn't budge from your seat. Reggae Mistress capped off the night and I went home in the middle of their lively set.


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