August 16, 2007
Dear Dr. Acido-Muega:
I wish to contribute to your and Dr. Michael Arthus G. Muega’s planned book tentatively titled The Best and the Worst: Encounters with mentors and classmates. Should you think that my submission titled Syoyot is publishable, I am giving you permission to have it published on the Internet and in your final printing-press-generated output. Please use the name “Zak” to keep my identity confidential. I understand that without my express consent you will also keep my contact information, the names of my school, classmates, friends, mentors and other entities involved in my story confidential. I also agree that I will not receive any amount or good in payment for my contribution to your project.
(true name withheld)
"Syoyot" or "Sot" -- this is the alias that almost all of my classmates, schoolmates and those related or socially connected to them is labeling me during high school and even until present. It is simply a slang word for “bayot” in the Cebuano or Visayan context, or a homosexual male to be exact. The label would have been tolerable if taken in a more liberal and intellectual context, but the context in which this experience belongs have seriously affected my well being, especially during my high school days. In that place and time, male homosexuals or “bayots” automatically connote males (teenagers and adults) who are attracted to the same sex and are engaged in (immoral) activities such as paying co-males for anal and oral sex, engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with co-males, and all other related activities pertaining to the morally unacceptable (and probably theoretically accepted) practices of homosexual males. Name-calling or labeling, I believe, started during our freshmen year in high school, when I exhibited behaviors disapproved probably envied by the dominant group boys in our class who later included me in their group. At that time, I was vying for academic honors, making me unavailable for this group's non-academic activities. (This name-calling was a big factor why I stopped pursuing academic awards later on and decided to join more in the activities of the boys.) I was more sociable , more accepted and more involved in the activities of the girl population of our class than they are. There was also this bully, Pierre, who always turns to me when he is in the mood for feeding his ego or for making fun of others, until such time that I got fed up with him and reported all his impertinent acts to our guidance counselor, his parents and mine. He was so incensed by this to the extent that he wanted to clobber me and called me insulting names. Unfortunately, one of his labels, “syoyot,” got popular and all our classmates and friends started calling me with it. I was devastated each time they call me with that label. It really embarrasses me, especially in front of those who hear it for the first time. They give me scrupulous looks and they seem to judge my whole character immediately from that moment on. I wanted to fight back, but the more I resist it, the more it comes. It even gave me doubts about my own sexuality. I asked myself, “Am I prone or destined to be a homosexual?” I didn't know what to do, except, to allow how things are and wait for the time that I'd be able to escape from the wretched environment that I am in. I thought the suffering would end after high school; but during gatherings in our vacations when we were all in college, they still call me the same label. It has become a habit for them –automatic. Although there were some who gave obvious effort to avoid calling me such. I got tired and simply accepted it...just the labeling, not the character associated with it. From that moment on, I pursued to establish confidence on the true nature of my sexuality. I sought to learn knowledge, ideals and practices to become a man in the fullest sense of the term, or a “gentleman” in the context of a highly civilized and morally upright society. I may not have succeeded completely yet. I'm still pursuing it and there were even times that I pursued it partly at the expense of being a dedicated student, or a dedicated son and brother to my parents and sibling. I never imagined that a simple name-calling in a previous stage of my life could affect me so much and significantly determine who or what kind of person I am now.
Am I a lesbian in the making?
I am a student in a private high school for girls. I never thought that I have lesbian tendencies until I started to feel that I am being drawn to my closest friend in class. Citadel (not her real name) is boyish herself, but I don’t think that she could be a lesbian in the making. I’ve been trying to understand myself because I was never raised to imbibe masculine values and virtues. My mother had exerted every effort possible to influence me to conduct myself in “lady-like” ways. But recently I found myself being jealous when I think that Citadel is a bit extra friendly with some of our classmates. Sometimes I imagine Citadel being cozy with boys and I think, if I will not be sane enough about this, it won’t be long before I could not bear the thought. My feelings toward Citadel are turning into a possessive type of emotion. But I can’t bring myself to be intolerably guilty about what’s going on within me as there are many partners in class who are themselves engage in a female-female relationship, and most of them seem to not care at all about what the other classmates will say. I am now a third year high school student and I’m just kind of trying to examine myself more. I know that my emotion and reason at this point are in conflict. But I want to be clear that with Citadel, I don’t intend to get something more than platonic and wholesome friendship would permit. I think that I should just sit tight and take things as they come. It won’t be long anyway before I get to college. Citadel and I don’t have a pact anyway that we will go to one and the same college.
Boring history class
The year was 1996 and I was a student of History of Mass Media. I think I was 22 years old in that semester. There were around 25 students in our class. My teacher is said to be a well-respected scholar of History, but I was not interested in the subject. When he starts talking, I would feel literally sleepy. I thought to myself that the things that he was talking about, pure history, people, dates and names of events, were completely irrelevant to modern Journalism. He passed very old newspapers around, but that did not make sense to me. I don’t know if my classmates were interested in what we were doing in class. But I don’t remember anyone raising a question to the teacher. That subject was like a simple description of what happened in the past. Nonetheless, I would have been at a lost if I had been asked to give a suggestion on how the subject should be taught at that time. Several years later, it occurred to me that the subject could have been made relevant to modern Journalism if only our teacher discussed the style and content of the profession in the past and how are these elements similar to and different from modern Journalism. Also the teacher should have told us some practical lessons that could be drawn from the history of mass media. Certainly, there were many mistakes that had been committed by the media in the past and I believe that they are worth telling in a history class so that future journalists will know what not to do in the practice of their profession. I think it would have been helpful, too, if the teacher showed the possible factors that could have given rise to whatever, which obviously I don’t know, was the brand of Journalism in different periods. I never looked for these things when I was taking that subject but I believe that it was their absence that must have been the reason why I was so bored in our class. I was just looking, not listening, to the teacher. In one of the meetings, I walked out of the room while the teacher was talking about the past and he super slammed the door right behind me. I was both angry (at I do not know) and terrified. I did not return to our room until the meeting was over. When all my classmates were gone, I entered the room and apologized to the teacher without telling him why I left. The teacher did not look me in the eye; he simply shrugged me off and left without a word. Well, that did not change anything. He was still boring except at the time when he slammed the door. I decided to continue with that subject without giving the teacher a modicum of reason to give me a failing grade. I had never been absent, but my presence in his class was nothing but a mere physical existence and lackluster compliance with the requirements of his subjects. I simply had to pass the subject.
Why is my mom the best teacher?
I’d been thinking about the best teacher I’d ever had and I cannot name anyone from all the schools that I’d attended. My thoughts always bring me back to my mom. I tried to examine my conclusion as objectively as possible and I have no doubt now that without my mom, I could not have possibly imbibe some important values, acquired useful habits, and develop attitudes that significantly made me who I am today. Obviously, I love myself and much of which is the making of my mom. It was my mom who taught me how to read before I entered pre-school. I remember that my mom would sit beside me while I studied my lessons when I was in grade school. She always did everything to make my learning fast and easy. My mom was my ready encyclopedia and dictionary until grade four. My mom gradually broke away from me whenever I am studying when I reached grade five. I never had to be assisted by my mom or any tutor after grade six as I was already equipped with the necessary values and attitude that kept me going independently with my studies. When I reached my sophomore year in high school, I had noticed that my mom was not as knowledgeable as I thought she was. I later found out that when I was in my early years in grade school, she would study my lessons whenever I’m in school so that I will not lose my trust and confidence in her should I ask her to answer school-related questions. Though my mom admitted that she was not the academic type of person, I believe that she knows what was good for me when I was still a very young student. And she adjusted according to what she believed were the demands of my situation. She always explained to me the importance of learning that one could get in school. She found a way to get me to believe her on many important issues. If my mother did not exert every effort to make me consider her as someone worth emulating in many ways, I think I would never have learned to place a premium on studies and good thinking. I could not think of anyone in school that will make a legitimate equal of my mother when it comes to teaching good character building which is necessary to further one’s theoretical and practical knowledge.
My promiscuous English teacher, once a seminarian
I was in third year when this new English teacher came, Mr. E. Judging him physically, he looks like just one of the “lasengeros” in town because he really has a big stomach. But to my very surprise, he was boasting to us that he was a former seminarian. In his first few teaching days with us, all he did was to tell us what life is all about in that seminary in Sorsogon. Instead of stories of holiness, all he shared were stories of his naughtiness and bullies inside it. I remembered when he was boasting his mischievous act of stealing 1 bottle of wine to their Italian Priests, for he was a former heavy drinker before he entered he seminary. He said if those priests caught him, he would have been kicked out in that seminary and his father would kill him for that. He is even very confident and proud in sharing it to us, assuming that he would gain much appreciation to us for such a non-sense bravery of stealing. That's not all, he was very promiscuous. Some of our boys love it, but for me I could just tolerate some of it, but not to the extent of hearing it five times in an hour! He was fond of saying the word “tawag ng laman”, when he was narrating his story when he met her wife. Evey meeting, you could expect that he will tell a story about his wife, fro the day they met, how they got married, what are their plans, how many kids they want to have, but expect it that at the end of his story he would say that he really loves his wife and because it is “tawag ng laman” he left the seminary. His stories even reached the point that he told us that his wife would get mad to him if they would pass a night not having sex! Is it really too much? Here is another promiscuous day with him, that they were supposed to talk about German literature. I do not know what nerve had tickled his brain when he said the word, “auten” he suddenly laughed so hard together with some of my classmates. I was totally puzzled to what was funny with that word, until one of my classmates answered it for me. The word he said was the equivalent word meaning the male sex organ and if i am not mistaken it is in Bisaya. And for that day, all he did was to say and say that word and endlessly laughed and laughed until he himself had given up for he is already having a hard time breathing. (How I wish that time he would stop breathing.)
After all those experiences with him it is really unbelievable that he was an ex-seminarian. Even if i am judging his fairly that he would have just been deprived of these things when he is inside their monastery, I do not think it would be enough reason for him to act like that. I am absolutely disappointed with how he made me remember him. Honestly, for now, I do not know if I would even respect him if I'd see him around. But, I would never ever be as disrespectful and promiscuous like him.
Last updated on 17 December 2007