When talents are innate and inherited…

by Evans Yonson

I have a special talent for singing and dancing. I must have inherited the voice of my mother who was a church choir member back in my island. My parents who had a transistor radio would listen to singing programs every night. At early dawn, I would hear the sweet singing voices of some unknown American singers. I remember when I was courting Ben, I would tag along my friends and sing to her. We did harana[1] every Friday night at Ben’s place. Dance is something that I developed naturally when I was growing up in Bohol. My friends and I would watch public programs where dance was an added feature. They would be dancing waltz, rhumba, salsa, and cha-cha. On some Saturday nights, I would invite Ben and her friends to a baile. Since Ben is small, I can easily carry her in the dance. She is not a good dancer though.

I have a beautiful voice and I can dance. I developed my singing talents when I was younger. One of our clients was a nun working in the Saint Augustine Cathedral. She invited me to the convent to practice with young girls to sing during mass on Sundays. We sang songs like Handel’s Hallelujah during Christmas and Cebuano praise songs. When I was in high school, our teachers organized dance classes for all of us. We danced boogie, foxtrot, cha-cha, tango, and even samba. In school, I always participated in choirs and group dances. In the university, I went out with my friends to dance balls. I didn’t have any troubles with my dresses because my parents would make me a new one each time I go to a ball. At work, I would always lead our choir in public programs and parties. Terry would always tell me that I have angelic voice when I sing and a professional dancer when I dance with him.

I couldn’t sing but I could dance. They told me that I have a snake’s body. I could sway my hips without any effort at all. But I couldn’t do any breakdancing though. It must be my weight and my right arm. I inherited my Nanay’s talent for dancing but I could never equal her voice. I remember her voice very well in 1992 when I had my major operation. When the anesthesia wore out, I was experiencing too much pain and the nurses would not give me more pain reliever as it was addicting. Nanay would sing her favorite Johnny Cash song complete with emotions:

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine.

You make me happy

When skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear,

How much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

The other night, dear,

As I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms.

When I awoke, dear,

I was mistaken

And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine.

You make me happy

When skies are gray.

You’ll never know, dear,

How much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

One of my professors told me that I needed to conquer my fear of standing in front of many people. I joined a theater company in school. The company was looking for actors for a musical play that they were mounting. Remembering what my professor said, I auditioned and passed. We were staging Man from La Mancha and I played a part of the Inquisition and a prisoner. The guy who played Don Quixote was my classmate. He was the handsomest in class. Seeing him every day in class and at our rehearsals, I developed a crush on him. I was completely disillusioned by this infatuation that I daydreamt that I was Dulcinea to his Don Quixote. All these went to nothing when I realized that he also dreamt of someone else. Rehearsals for the musical ended very late that I forgot to study for my subjects anymore. All my grades went down that term and I failed in my religion class. I found out two things in this experience, I learned how to stand in public and never felt the butterflies in my stomach anymore and sometimes failing is a good thing in order to learn new things.

On my last year in high school, I decided not to compete anymore. I was sick and tired of studying so much. I was missing a lot of fun that adolescence gave to every one of us. I made friends with university students who were also gays. I enjoyed their company because we had intellectual fun. We discussed political matters. Although we did gossip about people sometimes, our conversations mainly focused on issues such as the economy, governance, the anti-Marcos movement, university campus politics, and boys. In the Philippines, gays went for straight men. Male machismo is very strong and gays are so effeminate. It is only recently that some gays would prefer to have gay partners.
(to be continued)
[1] A Filipino courting tradition. The man courts a woman by singing at her house’s doorsteps. The man leads his groups of friends in singing love songs signifying his undying love and affection towards the woman.

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