Adventures in biking and beercasting

The Black Swan along Magsaysay Boulevard in Tacloban City. The bike and the beer are no longer with me.

The Black Swan (the name of the bike) is photographed along Magsaysay Boulevard in Tacloban City last year. The bike and the contents of the bottle are now gone.

Below is a two-minute or so long podcast—a collection of several sound files recorded before Christmas last year—that I recently put together using Audacity for the Mac.

Continue reading

A home for sincere drinkers

Photo by Fred's Revolucion, taken from their Facebook Page

I was sitting on the bar, waiting for Red Constantino to come back and play loquacious host on the other side of the counter when all of a sudden, a man barged in with the urgency of a spy on a secret mission. [See: Red Constantino]
“I think I forgot my wife,” he said, pausing for effect.
It wasn’t exactly something I was expecting to hear, especially not at ten in the evening after I’ve had my third beer.
I was half-expecting someone to ask me whether I belonged to Manila’s Finest because I was either too noisy, too rude, or too inebriated.
But to listen to someone say that he had forgotten his spouse in a bar — that nearly shook off all the good spirits I had imbibed that night.
I understood the guy’s situation somewhat.

Fred's Fish and chips (Photo by Vincent Go as shown in Fred's Facebook Page. Is his middle name Van? I have no idea.)

I had lost things too throughout the years: a Montblanc Meisterstuck 146 fountain pen which I bought really cheap in a Manila antique shop, a length of white cord that my late Lola Vita told me to hang on to upon arrival from a vacation in Canada (I didn’t know what it was for but I never heard the end of it), and the occasional expensive, push-button umbrella in taxicabs.
I haven’t lost my wife in a bar however. (She got lost somewhere else but that’s another story.)
Now here was this guy, standing three feet away from me, telling everyone within earshot that he had forgotten his wife in the very same bar where I was.
He then hunched over the counter and pointed to a black bag on the floor.
The guy — obviously a professional photographer — had left his camera behind.
As if on cue, Red showed up behind the bar and handed him his equipment.
After they exchanged pleasantries, Red returned to his other drunken guest without bothering to bring up spouses unaccounted for.

View of Fred's Kitchen (Photo from Fred's Facebook account)

All throughout the night, Red and I both drank and talked shop with hardly anyone volunteering to explain why the photographer had forgotten his camera, which was so vital to his profession and livelihood.
We didn’t bother with that at all.
But then again, come to think of it, the photographer’s senior moment could be the result of the food, the beer, or the bar itself. Who knows? It might even be the combination of all three.
If true, then the bar’s proprietors could never be happier.
Because this is exactly the feel that they want the bar to have. They want it to be a home, especially for sincere drinkers.
The bar’s name?
Fred’s Place, the newest establishment in Cubao X that aims to be a tavern, a bar, and a place where people can get their hair — and their guard — down.

Fred's interesting bar habitues (Photo by Bjon Abuyuan)

Besides seeking to recreate a homey, cozy atmosphere, Fred’s seeks to have its own set of habitues, whether loners, social butterflies, or regular barflies.
“You can come here and you know all the assholes — just don’t pet the pets,” said Red Constantino, who’s part of Fred’s Revolucion, the company that runs the bar. No one among the owners are named Fred though.
Although menu items may be added in the future, a few things are already definite: Fred’s will serve cold beer, a few classic cocktails (daquiri, margarita, manhattan, dry martini), and brewed coffee from the provinces.
The first batch of brewed coffee will be from Jolo, said Regina Abuyuan, one of the proprietors. [See: Regina Abuyuan]
As to the food, Derek Soriano, the chef, has promised not to cook for health but for taste.
Feedback has been positive so far.
Just a week ago, one dish impressed a guest so much that he called the chef Fred.
No one complained.
After all, everyone was home.

(N.B. In a recent email sent to me by Gina, she listed a few items that may be served, depending on availability. These are:
1) Smoked Blood Sausage with sticky rice and Tomato Salsa. Traditional Tuguegarao smoked Dinuguan, topped with Chicharong Isaw — crunchy and salty isaw bits.
2) Kuala Tripa. Fred’s answer to Chicharong Bulaklak. Deep fried slices of tripe sprinkled with chili.
3) Smoked Porkchop with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy.
4) Hum-beer. Traditional Cebu Humba simmered for a day in Coors beer and spices. Download Fred’s menu here.)

From the Usual Disclaimers Apply Dept. No financial nor promotional consideration was offered nor received for a favorable review of Fred’s place. The proprietors are my friends though.

Drunken Dispatches

Gays have gaydars.
It’s useful for checking whether a man’s interest in Broadway musicals and/or Barbara Streisand has gone beyond levels generally acceptable for his gender.
However, no such devices are available for drunkards (or, for that matter, lesbians).
But of course, I may be wrong.
Which is why I was amused when an acquaintance from eastern Metro Manila managed to track me down and asked me to have a beer with him on a day when I was doing exactly nothing.
The government agency that hired me a year ago as a consultant was shuttered by no less than the President.
With the shutdown, I wasn’t expecting checks to arrive anytime soon from the Aquino administration.
As expected, for the next month or so, budget for beer would be tightened, if only to cover life’s non-essentials like food and rent.
In short, on that day the guy tracked me down, I had very little to look forward to. So why stay sober at all?
I agreed to drink, even with someone who was practically a stranger.
A few text messages later, we met at a hole-in-the-wall in Quezon City.
After the pleasantries — which took about six bottles of beer — he then popped the question: Was I willing to blog regularly for this Tumblr.com site that he was putting up?
It’s called Drunken Dispatches, a blog about anything vaguely related to drinking. [See: Drunken Dispatches]
“It’s not literature. It’s a blog,” he said, wolfing down our pulutan like an Islamic guy on the first sundown of this period when they don’t eat during the daytime.
At first, I wasn’t too impressed.
Sure, I probably drank more regularly than the regular drinker and therefore had more material to offer and perhaps even blog about.
But I needed cold hard cash, which he didn’t offer.
In any case, money didn’t matter eventually.
Just being asked to join was an honor. Or so I found out later.
The quality of the blog’s content exceeded those found on other websites, such as, for instance, this one.
One entry talked about a breakup, another dealt with about liquid courage. The latest, as of this posting, discussed the perils of commuting while drunk.
So now, I’m waiting for him to allow me to post my own entries on the website.
I guess he better do that soon before a real day job gets in the way of my drunken dispatches.

Guy walks into a bar

Thanks, Fotosearch

Guy walks into a bar, inspects whatever passes for the decor, and asks how much for a beer?

The waiter, all-too-accommodating, proceeds to give a number, which appears reasonable, so the guy — who is accompanied by an acquaintance — sits down.

Guy orders one round for both.

Suddenly, the speakers go full blast.

Guy is irritated because he may be unable to hear the story of his new-found acquaintance.

Fortunately, management has immediately deemed it fit to turn the volume down to a more tolerable level. After all, waiters are trying to listen into the exchange taking place at the other table.

Some white-haired, middle-aged geezer wearing a loose T-shirt, a pair of shorts and slippers appeared to have arrived late for his date, a young, female hottie with upper body advantages. As the middle-aged guy slips into a seat in front of her, they both smile and laugh.

Guy who just walked into the bar and asked for the price of a beer is not amused.
How come, he asks himself, he’s stuck with male acquaintances on a Saturday night while old geezers like this one — swift dagger look to his left — bags the babes?

He is mystified.

The mix of contempt and regret quickly evaporates as the ice-cold beer arrives.

Both guys proceed to exchange life stories.

First guy is drinking just a few hours of the night away until he gets lubricated enough to write something, he says, without mentioning that he maintains a website.

It’s far too complicated, he says to himself, thinking of some people whom he occasionally meets, asking him: “Website, what’s that?”

Meanwhile, during his turn to talk, his acquaintance tells him that he once drove a BMW out of a twenty-foot metal container.

He says he was assisted only by his wits and two thin planks of wood.

Two planks of wood, he repeats. Two planks of wood.

It happened twice, he says, forgetting the name of the other sportscar.

Guy nods.

Interesting life you’ve led, he says, as he catches old geezer and the girl get into a cab.

He takes another pull at his bottle of beer.

It’s cold and crisp, just about every bottle of beer he’s had since he started drinking regularly at the age of 20.

“At least you were good enough to bring the car out safely,” guy says to his companion.

“You don’t know half of it,” the other guy replies. “Two planks of wood. They were thin — like plywood.”

He nods. The other guy nods. They drink.

In a fit of inspiration, guy says to himself, “Hey, why don’t I write about this cool restaurant?”
———————
This piece of “fast fiction” — for the lack of a better definition — is an unpaid piece for Chickenalicious Restaurant, a newly-opened bar at 22 A Matapang corner Malakas Streets in Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City. Forgot the price of the beer but you can call them up to ask 227 4323. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. House specialties (which is served with rice) include Chicken Inasal (P83), Liempo Inasal (P70), Pork Inasal (five pieces P100), Grilled Boneless Bangus (P105), Pinaputok na Pla-Pla (P110), Sirloin Oversized Steak (P120), Pansit Canton/Bihon (P75). Chickenalicious Restaurant also takes bulk orders, its says in its flyer.
Just to make it clear: No consideration, financial or otherwise, has been made between the owner of this website and any employee, relative, owner, or stakeholder of Chickenalicious Restaurant.

Why Noynoy Aquino owes us a beer

Yes: you, me, everybody, including Vetellano Acosta, Koala Bear, and Juana Change.

Throw in the whole caboodle of lunatics and psychos out there who grabbed the limelight, talked their heads off, wasted our time, wore out our patience, and dissipated whatever remains of our charity, Christian, secular, or otherwise — Jamby Madrigal, Bayani Fernando, and Anna Susano. These three losers also deserve a free round from Noynoy.

And let’s not forget the two other less-celebrated, brain-dead subhumans who provided some semblance of amusement: The Smartmatic technician who stored 60 automated voting machines in his house in Antipolo City and the backhoe operator who forgot to fill up his vehicle with enough gas, inadvertently introducing the rest of the world to the much-vaunted Ampatuan family temperament.

These two geniuses are also entitled to a cold one.

And it’s not just because Noynoy won the elections, which, in itself, is a good enough reason to celebrate, roll out the barrel, celebrate Oktoberfest in June, complete with Brazilian bikini babes.

It’s just that from the looks of it, a Noynoy presidency doesn’t look too promising.

A week or two before his proclamation, important people close to the President-elect have said that uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. — a known Marcos crony — have supported his bid to run for the country’s top position.

What’s the trade-off?

Easy guess: a substantial stake in San Miguel Corp., that’s what.

Twenty-four percent of what reportedly is Southeast Asia’s largest food company is being claimed by coconut farmers.

Worth some P24 billion (SMC closed at P70.50 apiece on Wednesday), the stake was bought using the coconut levy fund, which was collected from farmers in during martial law. The fund was administered by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), which was then headed by Cojuangco.

Cojuangco reportedly used these funds to acquire the stake and claimed it as his own. (Using the same funds, he reportedly bought a separate 20 percent stake in SMC which he directly owns. But that’s another story and another case.)

In May 2004, the Sandiganbayan — the Philippines’ anti-graft court — has ruled that the funds are public.

But so far, authorities have yet to issue an order to return the shares to their rightful owners. Not that that would have any use right now.

In 2009, San Miguel Corp. management — led no less by Cojuangco — voted to have the 24 percent stake converted to preferred shares.

The move will earn its owners — the coconut farmers (not that they actually reaped benefits of ownership) — higher dividend payouts.

But the conversion of common shares to preferred will make farmers lose their claim on the company after a few years. The shares will be transformed into Treasury shares and will revert to San Miguel.

Meanwhile, from the get-go, our future man in Malacanang appeared to have been unable to give a categorical response regarding the matter.

And now that he’ll be president in a couple of days, what do you think he’ll do, given Uncle Danding’s support?

Another easy guess: Nothing drastic to upset an old, lovable uncle.

After all, the old geezer has had enough humiliation already.

When Danding was studying in the US, he reportedly worked as a gasoline attendant, according to Boss, an unauthorized biography written by Earl Parreño.

During this time, Noynoy’s mother, Cory, also a student, was doing volunteer work in the East Coast.

But, in any case, since I voted for Noynoy, I’ll give him a chance.

If he wants to get on the good side of his uncle, sure.

But not before I get that beer.

See you at the street party.

———————

Picture from my GMANews.TV Oktoberfest blog, when I attended the 2009 launch of the event.

Thursday Club no more

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.