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A Token of Our Friendship: Philippine Photos of Male Affection book byJohn Silva

"Is just the man who never met the right woman." That's what most would think what gays are, says John L. Silva who is a collector of old Philippine photos for 30 years. He recalls in 1985 when the New York Times publication forbids to mention the word 'gay' to any of its post but look at now when New York joins the states that legalizes same-sex marriage.

John worked as a  teacher for Fil-Am kids in USA in the 1970's. During his free time he visits  photo stands and studios to collect Philippine old photos that might have been unpaid or might got stuck somewhere never returned to the owner or to the one whom it is intended to be sent to. Of the thousands of old, black & white photos what caught his attention are those males posed in a very "sensual" way not the usual stiff and "macho" image.  He explains how a Filipino before in USA who works in a factory sweating all day would go to a photo booth have a picture taken of himself wearing a 3-piece suit and sends it  back to home just to show he is doing "oookay" when in fact it's not because he's sending almost his money to help his family.

His book  - A Token of Our Friendship, Philippine Photos of Male Affection, First Half of the 20th Century was greatly influenced by other writers like Wald Whitman - one of the most influential American poets and has colorful share of his sexual identity, Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian - the woman who wrote about an emperor who is so in love with a man, she later was found out that she is also living with another woman, Thomas Mann's Death in Venice - a man who falls in love with a young boy and E.M. Forster's A Great Unrecorded History who had diaries of his experiences of being homosexual.

The photos and postcards  have also dedication at the back that are as cheesy or mushy as an ordinary two people who have had great times together.  One dedication starts like this "Jose, Maliit at dahop na alay datapwat buhay at sariwa na kailanman..." and another one in pure heavy Spanish dedicating his picture to look at every time his lover would "play" himself since he is far.

Translation: For "Palaspas" (hand palm, suggesting the receiver masturbates) you are sexy and smooth, and a sweet talker, this is proof of my admiration.

The name of the sender is Fernando Flores. Written in Dec. 22, 1912. In a photo studio named  T. Kapulong. Back when we still call our homeland             Manila, I.F.  as in Islas Filipinas.

The Author signing books

These people came all the way from Calamba, Laguna just to attend the talk.
To view more photos you may click here. The book can be purchased currently at Silverlens Gallery, Makati. You may visit their Facebook Fan Page here

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