Review: Galing Cine Cafe

Galing Cine Cafe
by Lawrence Antaran

Nestor De Guzman gives us a retrospective of gay trysts with Galing Cine Café (From Cine Café). An actual establishment in Quezon City, Cine Café is one of the many memorable rendezvous points for both lust and love affairs. Episodes unravel in other metropolitan venues (such as Alta Theater, Quezon Memorial Circle, Act Cubao and Ali Mall) in other poems. As a whole, the book contains unadulterated Filipino poetry on encounters most characterized by dark settings and enlightening conclusions.

“Ikinandado ang bulok na sinehan./ Sinalakay ang kapihan. Inilawan, binakuran/ ang masukal at mapanghing parke …” (They chained off the decrepit cinema./ Invaded the coffee shop/ Flooded with light, Fenced with metal/ the pungent forest for a park …) This is how vividly De Guzman sets up “Sa Kapihan”(At the Coffee Shop), one of his more powerful poems in the collection.

He nearly overwhelms the reader with anger, consternation, and disgust: “Nakikilan na tayo sa presinto,/ natutukan ng kutsilyo,/ hinabol ng maligno,/ nangudngod sa lubak.” (We have been extorted at the precinct,/ pointed at with a knife,/ chased by monsters,/ fell flat on rocky ground.) Horrible is the plight of the gay man in the poem.

Despite such state of affairs, De Guzman offers this response—persistence: “pero nagkita at nagkita pa rin/ at magkikita’t magkikita/ … habang dito lang/ nagpapakatayo.” (But we still met each other/ and will still see each other/ … while we are here/ being ourselves.)

His poems tackle other matters such as politics in sex and gay pride. In “Pride March Street Party” he recounts, “Sarap pala ipagbunyi ang sarili/ magtatalon-talon/ … kumembot-kembot/ kahit umaambon/ at nakatutok ang kamera/ ng ABS-CBN” (How good it is to explode in pride/ to jump up and about/ … to swing one’s hips/ never mind the drizzle/ and that ABS-CBN points it cameras/ like scalpels).

Upon finishing the book, readers will hopefully dance as it drizzles … celebrating their sexuality.

GP Magazine, volume 1, issue 1, p. 45