MANILA, Philippines - Fair-skinned and well-groomed Bern Josep Persia may be the new face of the gay-speaking community, being the self-proclaimed bekimon president in the country.
A photographer and a tech support representative, Persia plays different roles (from a call center agent to a newscaster) in a series of videos about bekimons, defined as people who are "hard-core users" of gay language -- whether they are homosexuals or not.
|A Bekimon poster. Credit: Bekimon Facebook page.
Most of the terms that bekimons commonly use are alterations of basic Filipino and English words such as workibells (work), kalurkey (kaloka or crazy), teh (ate or sister), anekwaboom (ano or what) and heller (hello).
Others are totally unique -- from the popular jowa (spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend) to names of showbiz figures such as Carmi Martin (a term used to refer to karma).
The term bekimon (beki is a colloquial word for "gay") took off from the growing popularity of the jejemon subculture, which refers to those who deliberately exaggerate ordinary words by adding or subtracting letters, or by using a mixture of upper-case and lower-case letters, in written communication.
On Monday, jejemon was chosen as Salita ng Taon (Word of the Year) in the Sawikaan 2010, an academic conference organized by the Filipinas Institute of Translation Inc. (Read story here.)
Just like President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Persia delivered a so-called State of the Nation Address (SONA) as the chief executive of the Bekimon Republic in one of his videos.
Here, he detailed his "plans" for his gay-speaking constituents -- from placing flowers along the streets to turning every establishment into a pink parlor.
"Lahat ay dapat mabango at ang basura, dapat bonggang-bongga (Everything should smell good and even the garbage should be nicely presented)," he said.
To gays who are still afraid to admit their true sexuality, he said in jest: "Babalatan kayo nang buhay (You will be skinned alive)."
Bekimons may not be as talked-about as jejemons yet, but it can't be denied that the new term is starting to create a buzz in the online community.
The Bekimon Facebook page, for one, is slowly gaining fans at more than 2,500, with comments flooding the site each day.
On top of these are a number of news articles as well as several discussions about the new subculture in social networks, blogs and online fora.
Persia's YouTube page, which is home to over 40 bekimon videos, is said to be the 85th most viewed channel under the Comedians category last month.
The future of bekimons
Gay lingo has been prevalent throughout the Philippines, and was initially used by the homosexual community as a tool to communicate with each other.
Jovy Peregrino, director of the University of the Philippines - Diliman Sentro ng Wikang Filipino, reportedly expressed support to the growth of the bekimon language.
Peregrino stressed, however, that learning about formal languages such as Filipino and English should not be sacrificed.
But the question is, will the bekimon subculture last just like the jejemons, or is it merely a fad?
For Persia, it doesn't really matter. In the bekimon Facebook page, he stressed that he didn't coin the term or upload videos of himself just to be the talk of the town.
Rather, he said he's doing this to "make sad people happy, relieve stress and ease the homesickness of Filipinos living abroad," particularly the gay-speaking community.
"Walang mali sa pagiging masaya (There's nothing wrong with being happy)," Persia said.
One of his supporters, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the bekimon subculture will never die, saying, "Everybody has a bekimon side."
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.