“HOY, BAKL!” said someone close by. I turned around to see who it was and there he was sitting with what appeared to be a transvestite in a corner two tables away from where I was. The culprit was the stripper.
Bakla. The closest English translation is transvestite, a male person who talks, sounds, and behaves like a woman and wears make-up, and not gay. But the local effeminate homosexuals insist on the term “gay” as the best translation of the local term bakla. But it’s not our attempt to further delve into this matter. Our discussion right now is the use and overuse of the Philippine term “bakla” as a term of endearment, as a term of insult, and as a moniker.
As a term, bakla looks intriguing, especially for those not familiar with it. Within the local transvestitedom, the term is used, overused, and abused, and even killed, if you will. Within their own circle, the use is acceptable, I used to presume. Outside the bakladom, I thought the use of it is inappropriate, unacceptable, and demeaning. But that was then. Now many an Indio employs the term and abuses it. Even the bakla folks themselves have since accepted this cultural practice. But there are some members of the purple corps who abhor the practice of using such a term as a moniker for a certain person instead of calling him by his own given name. Their contention, as explained above, is that calling an openly transvestite person “transvestite”, that is, by his own gender preference, is inappropriate and insulting already. Do you really have to rub it in?
People have names and they expect to be addressed by their names, which is why their names are there. Why on earth would you call Carlos “bakla” instead of by his name, which is Carlos? What are you up to then? To piss him off or tease him about his gender preference? How would straight Leonardo feel and react if his bakla neighbors from across the street address him as “straight guy” or simply “straight” instead of calling him Leonardo? “Hey, straight Leonardo, can you give me a hand?” How would he take it?
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind he wouldn’t like it. Or, how would a local cop react if somebody would go up to him to ask for help? “Excuse me, straight officer, I need your help.” Certainly, this statement wouldn’t sit well with him. “Tunay na lalake” (real guy) when employed to call a straight guy’s attention does not seem nice to hear on the part of straight-as-arrow men. Or, does it? They, too, will feel insulted, and may probably whine about it.
Or, is it right to assume that when a real, straight person calls a sissy local man “bakla”, he is simply trying to endear himself to the latter; hence, bakla becomes a term of endearment. Even women address their bakla friends “bakla” instead of calling them by their respective names. That is interesting.
I guess there are many in the mainstream society who simply lack respect for people of a different gender preference and these same people need to be re-educated. But then, even so-called schooled and educated animals are too bigoted, indifferent, and hostile towards the bakla folks. Transvestites are normal people and are just as normal as anyone else on this planet.
The clock was about to strike 2am and the effeminate patron was getting ready to leave. The straight stripper-mate was getting ready, too, but not to walk his guest to the exit door. He was excited about the tip money the customer might give him. A manager joined them. The dancer excused himself after the bar official pulled him aside. The manager and the patron were seen in a serious huddle. After a while, the former escorted the latter outside. “Ingat po kayo (You take care),” the manager was heard telling the customer. Back inside, the executive approached the stripper and handed him something. “Two hundred, lang! (Just two hundred pesos!)” the disappointed macho dancer wailed. “ Putang inang bakla (Your mother is a bitch, you transvestite!).”
Now, that’s even more insulting and demeaning!