I've always been "one of the boys," despite being prone to the occasional swipe of lipstick and purchase of gorgeous heels (who isn't, anyway?). Back in college, I was part of a judo varsity team and hung out with guys all the time. So when the offer to work for FHM Philippines came, I thought I could easily hack it. Never mind that I was allergic to beer, abhorred basketball, and knew nothing about cars—"go lang nang go," I thought.
Two years in, I've been asked if so-and-so's breasts are real and how much we really Photoshop this-and-that girl—but never how it's like to be the only rose among the thorns. The truth is, it's not as prickly as you'd imagine.
Guys are allergic to drama, dilly-dallying, and daldal.
In a work setup, this fact's actually a plus. During meetings, everything is discussed quickly but clearly. I felt a little lost at first because I enjoy discussing things at length. But when I saw my editors' eyes literally glaze over at all my jabber, I realized that the only way to do my job well was to adapt a go-for-the-jugular, hassle-free approach to getting stuff done. Also, guys do not have a bullshit threshold. No amount of pa-cute absolved shoddy work, no picture of Chris Hemsworth could distract my bosses from a missed deadline. So I found myself really taking charge of my workload. Today I'm more outspoken and no-nonsense, and I credit that to being trained how to, well, think "like a man." And can you imagine how nontoxic a workplace is when the only PMS you worry about is your own?
Guys do really need their post-work inuman.
Let it be known that the boys' night out is not the all-out debauchery I had thought it would be. It's ironic how something as manly as a post-work inuman sesh exposes their most sensitive sides. Much like how a bad day can drive any woman to devouring a pound of chocolate, guys turn to this alcohol-laced powwow to de-stress. And no, it isn't (just) to spot chicks. The conversation often runs deep, touching on their love lives, their childhood, even their bucket lists. And yes, they gossip just like we do, so I reserve the right to debunk the myth that talking about other people is women's work.
Yes, guys do care about you.
An important insight I learned here is that yes, guys do care about you, and no, you won't always understand how they show it. Take it from me—all guys are secretly sweethearts, but they'll be the last to admit it. From this premise comes my favorite moments working with men. The very same guys who tease me for eating too much will save me the last slice of pizza. I've produced tons of out-of-town shoots in the past couple of years, and my co-editors were always there to carry my bags at seaports and hail cabs for me without being asked. On the rare times that I ditched my flats-and-shirt uniform for heels and a dress, I was met with "Saan ang binyag?" quips like brothers are expected to. But my co-editor admitted to getting pissed when he'd see guys on the street stare at me because "parang hinuhubaran ka na, eh." Tough love may be their response to everything, but it's love nonetheless. All in all, my time with the FHM guys really affirmed one of womankind's beliefs: Boys will be boys. And in my experience, that's a good thing.
This story originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, September 2012.
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors