He Said, She Said, then He Said: Vins Santiago’s Journey to Homosexuality, Femininity, and Back

           On the year of the first People Power Revolution, Gavino “Vins” Santiago made a metamorphic decision as life-changing as that of the events that took place on the streets of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, more commonly known as EDSA. At that time, Vins donned the name Vinna to suit his fantasized feminine alter ego. His dreams turned into realities after undergoing a surgery at the age of 24 that made him the first Filipino in history to have had his gender altered.

            Before his transformation, his occupation as an entertainer in the club Coco Banana gave him the advantage and confidence to participate actively in beauty pageants, where he almost always took home the crown. During the early eighties, he recounts that judges could not care less about gender; they considered the outward appearance more than anything, and wearing a bikini would intrigue and impress, as hiding a man’s unmentionables was a challenge to behold. Occasionally, Vins would fly to Japan to work as performer at nightclubs. It was in the country of the rising sun that he would religiously take his first shots of female hormones. Nightly, he would attend to his adoring audience and, surrounded by mirrors on stage, he would catch glimpses of the womanly change occurring in his body, thinking that he was one step closer to achieving his goal of being a transsexual. The euphoric feeling would dispel come morning, when nausea stroke, although Vins felt better knowing that the void he felt in the past was now being filled.

            Vins was the youngest of six children: two sisters and three brothers before him. At a young age he discovered from his mother’s gynecologist and sister that his mother anticipated a baby girl while pregnant with her sixth child.  In the latter part of his adulthood, Vins attributed this finding to be a core reason of his early homosexuality, believing that this was a prenatal psychological command from his mother while he was still in the womb, although he openly forgave her for this when she was on her deathbed. His childhood was filled with other crucial experiences leading to his eventual gender confusion, paired with his passion for cooking and singing, and his siblings’ bullying him into finishing their degrading house chores. He felt hated all throughout his childhood. But it was at the tender age of nine when an older cousin sexually abused him that he first found love in that wretched act of intimacy. Succeeding this, he knew he had to become a girl.

            After pre-operative counsel, which he muses as having “passed with flying colors”, and a successful operation, media men hounded the remodeled Vins, and his desirable new appearance displayed on television screens nationwide. He was celebrated by the press and envied by both women and gay men alike, but something else was missing. He seemed to have caught everyone’s eyes but a pair in particular belonged to one who would end up tying the knot with him. Vins had many boyfriends, though Englishman Steve Robinson got him to settle down. After their move to England, Vins enrolled in a business school to pursue his master’s degree. He had everything he could ever want, but he could not help but cry at night. The supposedly occupied hole in his heart still bothered him. His emotional unrest was comforted by television show, The 700 Club, which he watched habitually, and there he found God. As a last ditch effort to find true happiness, he turned to God. Although he grew up a catholic, tried several religions such as Daoism, Buddhism and New Age, Vins never found the answers he continuously searched for and this left a pain in his heart. Finally, he realized the error in his decisions and committed himself to the Born-Again Christian faith. His marriage with Steve fell apart and they divorced. Presently, Vins has proclaimed himself a man again, legally, psychologically, and emotionally. In 2009, he was even engaged to a woman, but they broke off the engagement after further assessment concluded their relationship was of a selfish nature.

            While Vins cannot undo his surgery and can never obtain his original sex organs, he continues to testify in churches all over the Philippines.  Though he had his breast implants taken out, until today, the remains of his past mistake remind him of what he once was and this only strengthens his faith in the Father. He shares his testimony with other homosexuals as well, expressing that it is better to let it out in the open for a better chance of resolving the issue, rather than boxing it in. When asked whether he regretted the sex change, Vins says without skipping a heartbeat that he did not because if he did not go through that, he would not be as wise and would be unable to share his story to those in need. “We should not doubt what God has allowed us to become because this has a reason,” he adds, “Even the most successful will ask what I have done [reverting back to my original gender]. All this success will not define the person. It will only define what is outside, and not the inside”.

My Friend the Wind written by Special Guest Poet Andrea L. Harris

It’s been a while since I read a decent piece of poetry, and this one definitely fills the void.

The Neighborhood

My Friend the Wind

written by Andrea L. Harris

The wind sat on my lap today
And told me what he’d heard.
When asked where he obtained his knowledge,
He replied, “Oh, a little bird.”
He said that he has seen it all
While drifting through the sky.
He’s seen some live and laugh and love,
And he’s seen some die.
“Now Wind,” I uttered a humble bliss,
“Why are you perched on me?”
The wind replied, “I’ve come as a friend
To show you what I see.
“I’ll tell you Miss, with tears in your eyes,
Why must you feel so sad?
Just come with me, I’ll set you free,
You’ll see all the riches you’ve had.”
“But I’ve had no riches,” said I to the wind,
“My life is filled with sorrow.”
The wind replied, “Nay, my lad,
You’ll understand all tomorrow.”
So, off we drifted, soaring through…

View original post 119 more words

The Orphaned Spirit

Most of us today are lost, but fail to recognize or admit it. Sometimes we’d like to take ourselves out an ‘adventure’ and out of our comfort zones, and this is both good and bad. I know of this one man who had everything he could ever ask for, but decided he wanted to see the world. Like the ungrateful child that he was, he asked his father for his inheritance so he could take off and leave. His father was a wise and loving man, and although it pained him to see his son leave, he granted his wishes and gave him the money. My friend left his home and squandered his riches in casinos and on girls, with his other so-called friends. Obviously, he got himself broke. He reached the point where he did not even have money for food or shelter. Having lost all sense of pride, he dragged his sorry butt back to his father, asking for forgiveness. Any of you know what happens next? His father welcomed him back with open arms! Even threw a party for him!

Now, why does this story sound oh too familiar? Because it isn’t my story. I ripped it off straight from the Bible and JC Himself. In one point or another, we all play the role of the ungrateful son. Everything we have and need now is already handed to us by the Big Man. What do we do with it? We take it for granted, leave Him estranged and get ourselves in a whole lot of trouble. Sooner or later that desperation will hit us. It may be gradual or may hit us hard, but when it does, the only answer is to come crawling back to God. Yesterday I learned in Sunday service that we are all orphaned spirits once we’ve parted ways with God and that’s when we’re most vulnerable to the tortures of the world and the stupidity of ourselves. 

But, Hannah, you said that seeking these adventures could become a good thing? Yes, it can because once we’ve experienced the harshness of the world, it’ll just make us weaker and stronger at the same time. Naturally, we’re as weak as a newborn lamb, but we realize we’re strong once we acknowledge Our Father and denounce our own selfish will. 

Feeling lost or alone? Look to Him for guidance. You’re never truly alone and you’ll eventually find your way.

Media Trumps Human Purpose: A Map to Contentment

Admit it, you’ve caught yourself at least once in your life harbouring jealousy towards someone prettier, taller or wealthier than yourself. We, too, want to achieve that excellent physique, pearly white vinyls, non-frizz glossy hair and the ability to max out our credit cards with no worries of any debt, not to mention the other several you keep with you at all times. The cause of development of the green-eyed monster? The media. The glorifying creator of all things “perfect” in this human world. We put up on a pedestal the traits they favor because we think possessing these will give us better lives.

Another common belief is that acquiring beauty, fame, and fortune would bring us much praise and would make our lives complete, but I tell you this: these things will suck you and your humanity dry, spit you out, and leave you empty. Leave it to me to tell you that once you’ve gotten everything you’ve ever wanted through the most questionable and time-consuming means, you will never stop wanting more. A vicious cycle ensues after, and you begin to tire of everything you’ve ever wanted and will never be content nor happy. This is never living. Life is not about the quantity of your achievements and the despicable capability to flaunt it to other people’s faces; it’s about living simply and pursuing the wellness of others. My university education has taught me the most valuable lesson one could ever learn in this life, and that is we are in this world, not for ourselves, but for others. Your outward appearance or sum of money won’t amount to anything in about 80 years of walking this planet. What matters most transcends the earth as we know it, and this is the legacy you leave behind that lives on in the lives and hearts of others. This feat may be done through our little daily acts of kindness partnered with undying optimism and faith as hard as the hardest of rocks. Touching lives may sound corny, but it is what counts most in life because not only did you live for yourself, but you’ve managed to extend your life through the quality goodness you’ve shared with others. After accomplishing this moral task, I assure you, you will never hunger or thirst for those worldly temptations again.

10 Things That Make You Intimidating

This is me in every sense. Not a lot of people can hang with me. Maybe because I have that unwelcoming look? Most times, they just misjudge me.

Thought Catalog

Have you ever gone somewhere and not exactly blend in…? It’s more than what you decided to wear that seems like an anomaly. People behave a certain way. You observe this many times at different social scenes. Nobody will approach you aside from a little “hi” and a courteous fake smile.

  1. You look unapproachable, or give off that energy that says something completely opposite of the way you are. Maybe it’s your clothing, maybe it’s a “don’t fuck with me” attitude displayed in your facial expressions, or maybe it’s just like the animal kingdom and your composure. The alpha male or alpha female struts in and all the other animals take notice and make a mental note to stay the fuck away.
  2. You have confirmation: Your friends didn’t like you originally, they told you they didn’t, but now that they know you, you’re really not that bad.
  3. People refuse to…

View original post 483 more words

Together Forever!

Together Forever!

Just throwing this out there. Something I made in a few minutes just for the heck of it. Got Harry’s sloth photo from BuzzFeed and the link is on the photo and I did my sloth face by myself. I’d like to think that if we were in an alternate universe where everyone had sloth faces, Harry Styles and I would be together.

The Worst Breakup

Just yesterday I began my last first Theology class and I remember my professor saying that commitment takes up every waking moment of your life and requires all of you. Relationships are not enough anymore. Commitments are far more valuable than relationships because once you’re committed to someone or something, you revere, fear, respect, and love whole-heartedly all at the same time and this is no easy feat. If there is one thing I want — nay, need — to learn about most in this world: it’s to commit to something or someone. Tips on how to accomplish this?