BONGGA AND FUN! This is how Chris Lagman labelled the event at the prominent Manila gay bar, Bed, last night. And rightly so, the two hours were filled with laughter because of kinky games, sizzling dance numbers, tempting prizes and of course, jaw-dropping drag shows. It was the kick-off party for the 3-day sports-centric and LGBT-focused annual gathering – The Straits Games (TSG). The event is held for the first time, since its inception 12 years ago, in the Philippines.
The night started at around 7:00 PM with the registration of participants to the sports activities and a light dinner. The program proper followed an hour after with Dennis Corteza, one of the event organizers, and Noel Contreras, a sports enthusiast, taking the mic as hosts. The welcome remarks of Ivan Yap, one of the brainchildren of the annual event and who hails from Malaysia, provided the objective of TSG. That is to foster “friendships and healthy lifestyle through sports”. He emphasized that we are a community, esp., the MSM, capable of leading a healthy lifestyle and not of sex and drugs; a message that somehow resonates to TLY’s mantra of DARE, CARE, SHARE.
Dennis and Noel then facilitated two games onstage to which the players eagerly pitched-in. Well, who wouldn't? With a promise of prizes, a chance to kiss a hunky Hilom masseur and if you’re lucky, an opportunity to indiscrimately frisk a hopefully beefy assigned partner to find condoms; the stage was full in no time. A dozen of gift cards and a hundred or so kisses later, the much awaited performances kicked-in.
First to jump-in was Helena Prasertkul of Thailand. It started well, she fell on stage halfway and twerked her way-up to the fascination of the audience to the end. It was followed by an electrifying lip-sync of yet another drag queen from Thailand (Boy don’t they run-out of these talents). The delivery of the first song brought the house down that when the crowd craved for more, she was happy to oblige. The last, which was the collaborative presentations of Las Mujeres and 38 Degrees made everyone feverish. It took almost half an hour but, hey, no one was complaining. In fact, had the audience had their way, they would have wanted more. Inspired by boxing, UAAP basketball and twinks (sorry, STUDENTS) in uniform, the sultry trio of Las Mujeres with their pompoms and the half-naked members of 38 Degrees strut their stuff and gyrated their oh-so-hot-bods to the music of “Eye of the Tiger” and “Roar”, among others.
Amidst all these, our indefatigable leaders, Vinn, Ian, Anthony and Chris, were at the background, unabashedly advancing TLY’s cause by arranging the showing of TLY’s video clips and the distribution of lubricated condoms accompanied by an ID tag promoting the use of it. They were assisted by Mr. Gay Philippines, Erimar Ortigas and a peer educator, Jester Jeff De Veyra.
Half of the participants fit on stage. Yes, they were few but they represent a group that attempts to break the stereotype – that we can’t actively participate in sports. Feel the adrenaline, build friendships, encourage a healthy lifestyle, incidentally contribute in breaking the stereotype and make the event more, as Chris aptly puts it, เหลือเชื่อ, tuyệt vời, 极好, hebat, fabulous, BONGGA!