It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived in Brgy Kalibangbangan, and it was too late to do some island trips. For this trip, we were hosted by a co-passenger in the jeep, who happens o be the brgy secretary, Nicole.
We prepared dinner.. some fish we bought from a dealer in the brgy; and Right after that really home grown dinner, well.. not to be lost on any trip, we bought 2 big bottles of Empe Light brandy.
Nicole's actually a transvestite, and living in with his partner for 8 years now; When we were looking for a boat to hitch, people in town kept referring to her as "baklang may asawa." And, indeed, when we arrived at her house, we were met by Tupe, his lover.
All three of us were quite curious about their status, but out of courtesy, no one really shows any curious face, or bother mention anything. We but don't care for that time, but seriously, have we had the chance, we would have probably thrown so much question already.
Then again, since we're kind of intoxicated, our playful mind lost inhibitions, and so there were the questions. Nicole seems to be excited too about sharing stories, and her love life too.
While we're already about to knock out the second bottle, I was still that careful about raising questions. I knew it wasn't going to be easy for a man to be questioned about these kinds of life choices, but I had been more than receptive. Above the curiosity, after all, is the admiration for standing up for one's own.
Tupe hails from Bulan, Sorsogon, and his fishing work has brought him from place to place. This kind of livelihood lend him 3 (straight) partners, from place to place, and a kid on his last that neither worked out. Being kind of fed up with the life he had, we felt like moving elsewhere a little far. That's when he decided to move to brgy Kalibangbangan.
As per Nicole, they met through some celebration in the barangay, where, after loosing her mobile phone, she had to send some emergency messages and it was Tupe who has a cellular at the time. That's where it all started.
They used to live at a piece of lot owned by the same owners of Tacling island, until they were sent away. That's when they decided to buy this small lot for their own.
They've been together now for 8 years, and when asked why Tupe thought about settling with Nicole (and after all three women, he ended up with Nicole), he said it was Nicole who cared for him, and it was when he was with him that his living gone better.
They're celebrating their 9th year the following day, so we convinced Tupe to take a day off and join us for the trip around the islands.
They have one foster kid, Kishna,now 7, Nicole's nephew, who calls them mom and dad. Living with them, are two of Tupe's brothers, and Nicole's half sister.
Nicole works as the barangay secretary, and on her free time, sells Natasha and other products, while Tupe is on fish culture of Lapu lapus.
More than the story there is between them, these hosts were that kind who treated us purely as their visitors, as if they've known us for so long, as if they've invited us, and as if we're relatives. I really appreciated that they don't bother wait for us to purchase things. They run to the store, buy fish, food, ingredients, whatever stuff, without us asking, and waiting for us to give them money. I knew they gave more than what they were really capable of. And when we left, they were even insisting on returning some of the money we've given them.