02B59: Happy Birthday, Rupert

Our Last Photo Together

 Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 833

Happy Birthday, Dearest Rupert.

We miss you so much. We made sure to be at O Bar last night for your birthday salubong - it's perfectly fitting that your special day is also the first in-person LGBT Pride Party in two years given the pandemic. It feels like almost everything has aligned except for the fact that you're not with us - at least not physically. This week O Bar is the cover story of Rank Magazine and today Mon's interview for NCCA's Padayon web show also went live. 

The first set was great and obviously dedicated to you - at least obvious to O Bar regulars like us. We didn't make an overly big spectacle of it because we know you wouldn't have wanted that. You always wanted the focus to be on the show and the performers and not all the hard work you and the rest of the O Bar family put into delivering an amazing show every night. But we did raise more than a few glasses to your memory because it was only proper.

I know you're so very proud of your "kids". The O Divas, O Boys, and O Ledge Dancers have all been doing so well and last night's show was a great demonstration of how far they've come thanks in part to your vision, guidance, and direction. I'll admit that I teared up when Eva came out performing Stephanie Mills' "Never New Love Like This Before", which triggered memories of your wake and the tribute event right before O Bar reopened last December. So many things will always remind us of you.

Ramon & Rupert O Bar Stool

It was only mid-way through the night that I realized I had somehow ended up with the stool marked for you and Mon. Didn't mean to do that - I hope you don't mind. But I like these clear reminders that you will always be a part of O Bar. And for some reason, I can handle this stool much better than your actual chair at your usual spot. I tried sitting there once after your passing and it just felt totally wrong for me. That'll always be your space in my mind. I'm perfectly content standing to the side.

I miss being able to catch your eye after a particularly good performance. I'd look for you because I'd want to convey to you how much I enjoyed whatever magic had just happened on stage and you'd just be surveying the audience to subtly gauge everyone's reaction. We wouldn't need to exchange words - all it takes is that moment of connection and somehow we'd share so much. And I'd like to think we had a lot of moments like that while at the Bar. I miss our little ritual of waiting for you to notice/acknowledge us before we come forward to greet you whenever we first arrive at the bar. We did this because of our love and respect for you plus we never wanted to interrupt you while you were giving directions whether for the lighting or making last-minute adjustments to the plants by the bar.

There's not an O Bar night where we don't think about you and miss you. And I'm tearing up a bit as I write this letter to you. But better I cry now than later during the Pride event because we still have that no drama "rule" at the bar. Tonight is going to be about celebrating the community and the hope we have for the future. But last night was for all of us who love you dearly.

I wish we had more photos together. Our last photo together above isn't my last photo of you, but that's just the nature of things. I'd always be nervous about asking to take a photo with you because I didn't want to impose or interrupt you while you did other things. Now we make sure to take photos with everyone we run into at O Bar as soon as possible because we can never have too many photos of those we love - especially with the pandemic still ongoing. 

I hope you're feeling all the love that everyone continues to dedicate to you on your birthday. I hope you are having a killer party somewhere with other friends and family that you've missed. We'll all do our best to keep your memory alive in everything we do. O Bar will never be the same without our "Daddy" Rupert with us, but we do our best to keep the fire going.

Happy, happy, happy birthday. We love you so much.