Saturday, 15 June 2013

Doubt and Same Sex Relationships

5:47 AM. Almost Drunk. Diasorino and Coke being the culprit. Location: Ethnard Road.

Almost Drunk. But not quite. Hence, this blog entry.

I suddenly have a thinking about relationships – same-sex for that matter.

Most of the relationships I know last for months... years if they are lucky.

I somehow made a mathematical conjecture that 1 year in a same-sex relationship is equivalent to 3 odd years in heterosexual ones. The reason: the lack of capability to produce an offspring which basically seals a marriage, or any other relationships for that matter. If heterosexual relationships collapse in the presence of these little angels, imagine the bigger challenge awaiting for the “bekis”. This alone is enough to justify my predisposition.

The allure of being in love usually lasts a year or two. Three if its deep love. Four if it is undying love. Five if it is lets-grow-old-together kind of love. By the sixth year, somehow all hell break loose. Love could never be guaranteed. That's why it should never be taken for granted. For all you know, the expiration date is never far behind.

Same sex relationships involve the most difficult day by day decision to stay in love. Love alone is not enough to keep a couple together. Amongst everything, it requires patience, understanding and a constant belief that what you have can withstand the test of time.

The biggest obstacle – DOUBT. I remember a gay film with the same working title, DOUBT. It has been said that it is the source of all relationship breakdowns. I guess DOUBT is the opposite of TRUST. Without the latter, love might not exist. Imagine saying, I LOVE you but I do not TRUST you. It hardly make any sense.

I mess things up. I make big mistakes. But on the other hand, I also make BIG COMEBACKS.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Just another JUAN IN EU

I am guilty. I have drawn myself to utmost exhaustion that I have almost forgotten this blog (last blog: 13 July 2012). Nonetheless, throughout this absence, the earth still revolves on the same orbit  , most adults still need to work to earn money and Saturday still precedes Sunday. But Oh! There's one big thing. The world became more united through one common denominator – GANGNAM STYLE!

JK Rowling also had a run for her money this January 2013 – Harry Potter sales were overtaken by one book – JUAN IN EU (Don't quote me on this! Haha). It is a collection of inspiring stories of Filipinos in Europe. It is mostly composed of successful entrepreneurs, world-class chefs, award-winning professionals, international models and singers {Madonna Decena (Britain's got Talent finalist) and Vincent Bueno (Austria's got Talent grand winner)} and … ahmmmm.. Me?!? Really. 

I was first approached by Mr. Albert Jaru, former boss of TFC and now works for Western Union (his story was also featured in the book). He sent me a message that he is compiling a series of short stories and he wanted me to be a part of it. My first impression was WHY ME?!?!? And my second big question was WHY ME AGAIN?!? I do not have any inspiring stories to tell. Moreover, I do not consider myself as a successful individual nor have I been a propelling influence to change other people's lives.

I am not really sure on why had he shown particular interest in my story. Perhaps, he remembered the sad story I have told him of a young guy who was so lost that he almost killed himself. That guy was me. It was during those troubled times that I have met him.  I worked part-time for TFC (Barrio Fiesta 2011) to keep my sanity and has been given special tasks such as touring Filipino celebrities in London (you could check out my blog regarding KC Concepcion's tour) and assembling the stage that would be used for the said event. 

Either way, I was thrown into a burrow of ambiguity. He gave me a certain deadline but I would be working consecutive night shifts prior to that date. I have no story to tell. I have no time to write. I am not a person worthy to be a source of inspiration. But hey, Mr. Jaru has believed in me. Maybe somehow, I should believe in myself. And so, during my one hour break in my night shift, a story has been told.  Just to reiterate, it is not a success story but it is a story hopefully would be worth-reading. 

I am sure that this article would illicit mixed reactions from its readers. I am not even sure what my own family would think about it. But it is a story of failure and how one man can choose to change his life – destructively or otherwise. After all, the book does not only celebrate a Filipino's success but also his failures and his capability to rise above it. Because in a nutshell, I am only just one of them. Just another Juan in Europe. 

Here is a copy of the article published and is available in some Filipino stores across Europe.



It’s not a life I would have chosen for myself. 

Ironically, I am thankful for every ounce of blessing that has come my way and the person that I have become. Buhay Overseas Filipino Worker, Buhay Abroad. Nobody has ever said it would be easy. But reality hits you like a bullet in the eye and the sheer force of being isolated from your family and your home country has never been so challenging. 

I came to London in 2006 to join my Filipino partner who works as a nurse in this part of the world. We were madly in love – and words could not even define the intensity of our relationship. I have the most amazing partner and he made the whole process a lot easier for me to adjust living here in the UK. There was not a gray cloud on sight and everything makes perfect sense. And yes, at that conjecture, I was living my own European dream, our own European dream. 

Until 2010, I fell in a trap so deep that it has broken everything apart. The dilemma had just begun. A real life teleserye was about to be disclosed.

I fell in love with someone else – he is a Filipino writer based in the Philippines. It was wrong. It was unfair. It was totally inappropriate. But there are things beyond our control.  And I found myself helplessly in love again – but with a different person. It was a force stronger than me – like Niagara Falls or something. I could only succumb to that power. But to make matters worse, I have chosen the writer over the person who had done nothing but to give the whole world to me. I have broken up with my partner. I chose to live alone and had commenced a long-distance affair with the anonymous writer. It was unplanned and it was a result of a very impulsive decision.

As expected, our set of friends was extremely furious at the course of action I have taken. I have received hate mails, even death threats. I have messages like, “Wag lang kitang makikita sa central London at bubugbugin kita. Bubuhusan ko ng asido mukha mo!”. As a result, I was frightened to go out in public. I always sneak in under the radar, travel during off-peak hours and wear hoodies in an attempt to avoid being a human target.. I have no friends – they have all turned their back at me. I have been called by every other name imaginable – cheater, user, and a selfish a**hole. To add fuel to fire, I found myself all alone on a foreign land with no one to turn to. I am in the midst of breaking down… I have broken down.

But the more pressing issue is that I am financially struggling. Even money has turned its back on me. The salary from my hospital would not be in my bank account until the end of the month. And even then, it was not enough to cover my expenses. I was literally homeless for a while and had sought shelter from some people I barely knew but were kind enough to lend me a space in their homes. I was a nomad. I leapt from one place to another. I was struggling to make ends meet. I could not afford a deposit or a down payment either. I have no place to live. There was even a point where all the money that I have is down to the last few pennies in my pocket. I could not forget the time when I was in a food shop and I was praying to God that my coins would be enough to buy a £2 loaf of bread.  I was sobbing my way out of that shop and every night, I cried myself to sleep.

I have thought of suicide several times but I have spared a thought of my family who depends on me to survive in Bulacan. They were totally oblivious of the struggles that I am facing. But I have chosen this and this is my own battle now. In due course, I was forced to seek medical help and I have started to take some anti-depressants. It has worked somehow. I have learned to drift away from my suicidal tendencies. I was also offered an accommodation at my workplace since my colleagues have realized my plight. 

Through it all, the lover from the Philippines have been a portal of strength. But what I have feared all along has transpired. He has been cheating on me. The “karma” principle has never been so veritable. I was torn into pieces. And the face of suicide has re-appeared once again. I have been left with no choice but to break up with him. Two failed relationships, one devastated 27 year old man. I was alone now – ALONE in every sense of the word.

The next few months have just been a series of nonchalant existence. I have worked 6 days a week to cover up mounting financial cost of living in London and to cover up my depression. It was dark, and perhaps, the darkest part of my life. The sadness was truly palpable and every fiber of my being has lost hope. 
But I needed to carry on. My family depends on me and that every single time I feel like giving up – I thought of them to alleviate my worries. A man by the name of Ambrose Redman has quoted that “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that some things are more important than fear.” My family is more important to me than my own struggles. They are the pillars to which I stand upon. 

I diverted my attention to prayer instead. And so I prayed. I prayed so hard that it shook me to my very core. A bible verse has said “Be not afraid; for I am with you always”. My belief system has been utterly battered but a part of me is hopeful that my faith will save me, one way or another. And it has. 

I continued to believe in HIM and He answered my prayers. I consequently find comfort on a new set of friends who have accepted to me for the person that I am. I have learned to acknowledge my flaws and deficiencies. I asked for forgiveness from all the people that I have hurt in the past especially my partner who has loved me from the very start. He was God’s blessing to me – he was always there. In fact, he never left at all despite my failures. Inevitably, he has welcomed me again with open arms and we were back in each other’s arms. We got back together and the world is a better place once again. We have now been together for eight years and is getting stronger. We are looking forward to buying our very own apartment next month and have been both successful in our respective careers.

It has been said that what breaks us make us stronger and that experiences are the best teachers. The whole process has allowed me to reassess my priorities and ascertain what really matters in life. I believe that my courage to stand up despite all the tribulations has allowed me to become a better individual. Our mistakes form part of our humanity but it does not define who we are. It does not shape our fate but rather we could use it to our own advantage.  

I loved. I lost. I have loved again. I have managed to rewrite my own fairy tale ending. In a world of scepticism and biased judgement, I know we will defy all odds and prove to everyone that happy-ever-after do exist, even in a foreign land. We just need to have faith and to believe. 

Ninoval Roque hails from Bulacan. He moved to the UK after studying at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela. With a keen interest in writing and the media, he runs his own blog called “Ramblings of my Mind”. He lives in London with his partner, where they both work as a nurse. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Costa Neoromantica Cruises: A neophyte's perspective

Cruising. Ahhh that big fat luxurious thing. Three things instantly come to intuition. Rich old pensioners, old and I dare say, old.. That was my predisposed conjecture. Everything changed now. As inspired by the concept of having a bucket list of 20 or 50 or even 100 things that you should do before you die.. Cruising has definitely become a part of it. But that was a long term plan. Twenty years from now. Or even Ten years from now if I am fortunate enough. Imagining myself in a cruise seemed to be a foreign concept to me. So spare me a thought or two of how elated I am when I saw a bargain cruise online ( – a Northern Europe Cruise (8 nights) normally priced at £1500 and now reduced to £399 per person (and that is an Outside Cabin!).

The long term plan was cut short. The time is now. 6 months of vacation drought propels this particular insight of cruising mid-july (perfect time to getaway on a Western European Summer!). A door of opportunity has flung wide – lets do this!

Forward to July 13, I am writing this article and enjoying the bargain I have booked.. Somewhere between Copenhagen and Hamburg. Somewhere between the Little Mermaid and the land of “Hamburgers” (I am still puzzled if hamburgers came from Hamburg. Another one of my foolish thoughts!). Somewhere between the cross-over of luxury and gluttony. FYI: An approximate 10 kilogram of fats has recently taken residence between my ass and my newly acquired love-handles (Tiya Nena as I call – from the beki root word: TYAN).

I am sitting in a posh upper deck where a 180 degree panorama of the sea awaits. The views of the waters are infinite. A refuge of dry land is nowhere to be seen. There is no going away from here (God forbid this ship will capsize!). And yet the serenity of the seas were more than reassuring. Being here enables me to realise how little I am on this circle of life. I felt like I am just a very “tinee-tiny” piece of a puzzle on earth. I am lost in this certain philosophy of vastness. My life is nothing compared to the array of life that the seas (and all the life within it) has to offer. Humility – a virtue that will get you anywhere. A virtue that sitting here certainly has thought me. Whilst luxury is all around me, it gave me an indelible sense that this is just temporary. Our lives are but temporary. Indelible and temporary facets of life – ironic yet undoubtedly true.

If anything, I have no reservations that this whole dream-like state of cruising affirms the veracity that TRAVELLING NOURISHES THE SOUL (A thought that out of nowhere suddenly sprung whilst checking out the Flower Market in Amsterdam). It is an opportunity to calm the mind and find an inner peace that not even the edifications of yoga can defy (no offense to yoga followers!).

Being in a cruise enables you to be on a mobile hotel complete with a bonus of a hop-on, hop off international feature. It is arguably reserved for the financially endowed and socially unchallenged individuals, couples or families. Yes it does come with a huge price tag. But if you're lucky, a £399 bargain is not a far-sight. And I am looking for the next big one.  

Monday, 23 April 2012

Never stand still...

Today, I had an interview at the King's College Hospital NHS Trust. I'm guilty as charged. I have been job-hunting again. Yet again.

At another turning point in my short-lived nursing career, I stood before the "juste milieu" of the Wellington ICU North, took a deep breath and recollect my thoughts. Then, I came to realize that there is not a person in the unit that I would like to swap nursing career with. No offense to my supportive colleagues but I felt like a rock on a surging stream -- stagnant and stale. This has added fuel for my burning hunger to a more challenging and fomenting post.

Everything seems to be routinary and mechanical. It has finally dawn on me that, yes, it is official -- my current work is getting too comfortable to the point of appeasing exhaustion. I felt like I wanted to learn so much more in the field of ICU Nursing. But then I was debilitated by the amount and nonchalance of the cases and the type of patients that I handle.

After a rocky start to my morning, I braved a full hour of confusing and rain-filled travel to Denmark Hill. I was late, but pleasantly surprised that the facilitators did not kick me out -- given the strict instruction on their invitation to interview letter that late-comers would not be even given the slightest opportunity to take on the coveted post.

After a group scenario part of the day take its close, the exams came next. And what better way to do your drug calculations when you do not have a calculator in hand. With hundreds and thousands of microgram per kg per minute in question, I was not really at my best. After all, this was not the hospital I was really keen on taking on.

So on two particular items, my answer was something like this -- " NO CALCULATOR :( ". Nonetheless, I still put on a chivalrous face for the interviews. Then it was over -- I have no expectations since I did not have any objective in the first place.

A call at 1730 hours cleared things away, I DID GET THE POST THAT I APPLIED FOR... They would like to have me on their team. One exciting twist though -- they want me to re-sit the exam, but this time -- with the best reliable calculator I could ever have.

I did not know how to feel -- all the more what to say. I have a couple of interviews coming up but I would like to keep all my options open. I suppose life is all about taking the risk -- "the right kind of risks" though, as the tough lessons in life has thought me.

Maybe this could be the start of something really enthralling. It could propel me to bounds and leaps which I never thought possible. It might surprise me to find capabilities and pressure-bound nursing virtues which I never thought existed. I do not want to stop learning and to refuse to give in to the appeal of the dormant corners of my current employment.

I am still uncertain of where this current job-hunting will take me.
But one thing is for sure, I will not take a long while...
I will not stand still.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

21 GUNS...

This song echoes every scream of my heart..
and yeah, I'm in ruins..
I've laid down my arms..
I gave up the fight..

Do you know what’s worth fighting for?
When it’s not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?

Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside?
You’re in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms, give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky, you and I

When you’re at the end of the road
And you lost all sense of control
And your thoughts have taken their toll
When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul

Your faith walks on broken glass
And the hangover doesn’t pass
Nothing’s ever built to last
You’re in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms, give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky, you and I

Did you try to live on your own
When you burned down the house and home?
Did you stand too close to the fire
Like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone?

When it’s time to live and let die
And you can’t get another try
Something inside this heart has died
You’re in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms, give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms, give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky, you and I

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Like an autumn leaf that falls in a stream’s depthless meed..

And so is my life recapitulates to an insipid cycle of passive existence..

Living life for the sake of clinging to it.

Nothing else makes sense..

Everything is lifeless…

For what is worse than loving someone so much..

That your entirety could only function for him..

But in the end, he could never ever take the risk to be with you again.

And that he is in love with another…

I’d rather cut short every breath..

I’d rather delay alternate heartbeats..

For this life has no other reason to subsist..

I refuse to abide and endure…

F*ck! Sh*t! D*mn!

I’m lifeless..

Lord, save me from despair!

I don’t know what to live for, breathe for, and dwell for..

For through it all, it has always been YOU…

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


When you live alone and not in a relationship (I refuse to use the word single) there is only one thing you need to survive – your so-called “FRIENDS”.. I never really gave this term much thought since I have always found myself in a shelter of another person's arms. Since I was 13 (Sorry but I did start early... haha.), It was either I was in a relationship or looking out for a new one. One month was too much to bear... And so, imagine my frustration when three months has come past and gone, and I still found myself still singing to the tune of “In this California King Bed, we're ten thousand miles apart... “ – complete with the Rihanna MTV hand gestures.. Hehe. (I suddenly remembered Jewel's imitation of this in the Notting Hill Rooftop!)...

Every single day is lonely – nothing ever really made sense.. I found myself eating my meals alone, searching for a text or an email that somebody somehow remembered me, and constantly picturing myself in an MTV – looking out on a window and crying my heart out for a lost love and broken promises... Sorry for the melodramatic theme – but frustrated artists tend to do this. Haha.

And so I turn to my one and only salvation – FRIENDS.. There are no dull moments with them and it seems like I'm shifted to another world.. I'm meteors apart from my usual self.. I feel cool, crazy, calm, dramatic, and over-the-top down wild.. I was invincible when I am with them.. I found myself laughing to my heart's content... And yet, even though I'm away from my quotodian and routinary ME – everything is so REAL that I don't want to let go of that reality..

There were no pretentions.. I could just be myself with no holds barred and without any fear that someone will have any judgment from the way I talk, react, laugh and eat.. You could act anything you want. You could dress up any way you please.. You could just simply bare it all and be yourself without any fear that someone will raise an eyebrow., It was amazingly REAL.. They tirelessly LISTEN to every story and FEEL every teardrop..

I start to think of them as my private INSURANCE contract.. Not that they were obliged or anything, but every BALIW-BALIWAN episode is covered by this contract.. I think of friendships as an EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT – you spent weeks, months, and years trying to fortify them since you know that these are the people who will catch you no matter how high you fall – no matter how hard you fall flat on your face.. And the greatest thing of it all, it doesn't matter whether you are in relationship or not.. IN-LOVE OR NOT-IN-LOVE, ISSUE OR NO-ISSUE, you are covered by this special INSURANCE CONTRACT..

I remembered sending a text message to RADGER TEDDY (which everyone knows is my bestfriend/fafi) in the wee hours of the morning and it goes like this – “EMERGENCY BEST FRIEND call for Mr. Santos, please call back immediately!” – and just like an automated response callback – I heard his voice and said - “Oh.. Ano na naman friend ang problema, malungkot ka na naman?!?!”.. We spent hours talking that time.. I even forgot how that conversation went but I really did not mind – as long as I heard his voice – I feel a whole lot better..

The same thing goes with our adopted anak-anakan, MARK JEWEL (Radger, Jewel and I form an unusual family setup which actually works and feel damn good!) – He would send an almost empty message in the morning that goes like – ;( – and mabilis pa sa alas 8, we would textback showing one's concern over the latter – and either FAFI (Raj) or ME would text each other lalo na if may work yung isa and text – pakitawagan naman yung anak mo.. nagbabaliw-baliwan na naman.. and one will reach out and call our beloved anak.. and the awkward thing about this is that – it felt so NATURAL – these two people have actually drawn a special place in my heart and I regard them much closer than a real brother.. And do you ever get that feeling na sa sobrang dalas nyo magkasama, you would guess kung anu yung isusuot nung isa and anu yung oorder-in sa resto, and anu yung magiging reaction nya and komento nya sa mga bagay-bagay.. and in the same way, you would feel if something is not right with them.. you feel how they feel and cry over their pain..

OVER AND OUT to my extended family, I feel blessed to have known other guys who has also made an imprint to my lonesome life.

GRACE BULABOS, whose intimidating beauty managed to find peace in our company (super ganda nman kasi tlaga!)... and yet the pagka -ATE attitude never wores out.. I find it comforting to find someone who will actually tell you stuffs like “Oh gago ka pala, eh bakit mo ginawa yun!” and “Bayaran mo nga muna yung mga credit card mo kasi!”.. I see her as my real ate.. (apart from my biological ate which I really miss!)

LOUIE AMBROSIO, whose commanding presence will never fail to illicit a smile or light up a crowd.. Although he will text you stuffs like “Hu u?” and “Ang tagal nyo mag-reply matutulog na lang ako!?!?” --- we still love him to bits.. I will never forget how he confronted me one time and uttered – “Haay. Naku. Wag ka dun friend! Sana dun ka nman sa maayos mapunta!”.. I was moved ..

PATRICK BRION, everyone's VIVI.. and Ate Grace's ANAK KONG PANDA.. We always miss his vintage “checkered” style and his out-of-nowhere comments which boosts an atmosphere.. But hidden from those laughs and frequent hirit of “EEEEE! Kasi nman eh.. Sabay hila ng buhok. Hehe!), I found a bonafide individual and a true friend...

BENISON CAMBE, whose new haircut made me miss him all the more last time.. Hehe.. My sleeping buddy since we randomly found ourselves kapag nakikitulog sa malaking kama ni MARK JEWEL.. Hehe.. I miss his dance moves and down-to-earth personality and we love him for that! (Special thanks to the bicol express from his ate and mom on his bday! Hehe)

RACHEL GOMEZ – the banoffee pie queen.. and whose “healthy” personality makes us love her all the more.. peace! Rachel! Haha.. Her sweetness made me love her from the very first time we sat together on the bus to Hounslow.. Hehe.. Sana lang mas makasama sya more often. Hehe.

There are other guys too.. In fact, I found some friends in the PINAKURAT guys, whom I found very unassuming and welcoming.. (especially Gracey Jans which I miss terribly!)Special thanks ulit to Kuya Matt, Dodong, Kuya Pao, Yssa, Kuya Lord, Ate Ghie and many others.. I admire the way they regard each other as family and I found another breath of life in them.. They were hilariously funny, humble, and I saw a sense of family belonging in them.. They were always there to support each other and take care of one another.. I wish I could spend sometime with them too..

THE weirdest thing of it all – I haven't known them all for a long-time – but with the way they treat me and bring out another dimension of myself which I didn't know existed, I would never trade these friendships with anything... I feel like I have known them my whole life..

Finally, let me say this -- With all my heart, Thank you very much for being my LIFE in the TUNNEL.. Now I could truly say, I am blessed – FOR I HAVE FOUND YOU..