Very few remain aware of the Thursday Institute for Transformative Ideas, a small group of self-proclaimed experts, many of whom prefer to drink in Quezon City, because its members live there.
Like most Filipinos, members of the Thursday Institute—overworked males with few useful skills such as myself—offer solutions to the country’s urgent problems without being asked. The enthusiasm with which they propose ideas are usually proportional to the amount of alcohol they’ve consumed so far.
Which is to say that the idea being discussed gets crazier with every gulp of beer (i.e., capital punishment for traffic violators, a proposal seriously considered on the fifth round of drinks.)
Perhaps the most hotly-debated topic in recent memory involved public transportation, a favorite subject next to Maureen Larrazabal and plasma TVs.
The group recently discussed the pros and cons of putting up a bus rapid transit system along EDSA, the country’s main thoroughfare.
Establishing a segregated—and possibly even elevated—lane along EDSA to be serviced by an extended bus would do wonders for commuters. It was exactly the same system implemented in Bogotá, Colombia, one member said, with the conviction of someone who has never been to South America.
The concept was later lost in the haze of idle chatter and inebriation. After all, they knew very little about what they were talking about.
But then again, ignorance never got in the way of their enjoyment.
This explains why every Thursday, the institute named after the fourth working day of the week has kept on meeting at the same watering hole for the past three years.
Stormy weather, political instability, and professional responsibility has not diminished their commitment to drink, pontificate, and indulge in one-upmanship in the establishment that has become their second home.
Thanks to their regular patronage, the watering hole—located along Maginhawa St. in UP Village—has informally named a dish in the group’s honor.
Dubbed the Thursday special, the dish consists of tenderloin tips fried with garlic and served on a hot plate. It is so tasty that you can have it any day of the week.
Unfortunately, for the past few weeks, the institute’s weekly meetings have been postponed indefinitely.
The establishment that has hosted the group’s meetings has been shuttered by the Quezon City local government, citing what appear to be reasons of very little consequence.
A few months earlier, when the establishment encountered difficulty in securing a liquor license, no one took it seriously. The restaurant’s patrons—both sober and otherwise—thought it was just a wrinkle easily ironed out by a combination of charm and chutzpah.
They were wrong.
In September, the establishment—together with a row of three similar restaurants beside it—was served with a closure order.
To this day, the order remains in effect.
Besides depriving its owners of a fair return on their investment, the order also substantially reduces our chances of getting cold beers, a nice table, and tasty pulutan during Thursday nights, an injustice any way you look at it.