A NIGHT AT THE CITY
Walk up or down Session Road at 5 o'clock in the afternoon and you would be among a stand of moving shoulders jostling for room hurrying up or down towards where the jeepneys to their destination are parked or lining up along designated taxi stops to flag down a cab.
Then a siren goes up, it's shrieking halts all traffic, pedestrian and vehicular and the city quiets down in a minute to murmur a short prayer for the Angelus. It is 6 o'clock. Then the siren subsides and finally comes to a stop, vehicles and pedestrians starts moving again and builds up into frenzy as everybody rushes home for the night.
The night owls start their night at Dainty occupying a table and ordering a cup of coffee while waiting for company. Then one by one they come in, ordering the same strong coffee distinctly the trademark of the restaurant joining in the topic of conversation currently on air. It may be religion first and then politics next or whatever comes first, the conversation never ending. When the issue gets heated up somebody butts in to ask a down to earth reality question and the argument breaks up a queue for another topic of conversation to go up the table.
As the bantering goes on, somebody starts ordering a round of San Miquel beer and then somebody orders "pulutan" to go with the beer. Since there are four in the company, the round of beer will be four or more depending on who is buying after four rounds. One wouldn't notice when its time to go until Henry or John or some other waiter would close the door and starts putting up chairs on top of the table. By this time, it is 10 o'clock. Somebody signals for the chit and everybody starts digging in to chip in and settle the bill.
As everybody prepares to leave, somebody suggest going up Session Road. Another one says let's go down. Up means these choices, the Fireplace along Assumption Road. This is a folk house where one can listen to local talents like Bobbot Olarte, Inday Villalba, the Medina brothers delivering songs of James Taylor, John Denver, Paul Simons, Joan Baez etc. Or one can visit a Karaoke bar beside Session Theater and a disco joint right beside it. Another choice is Patria de Baguio, where one can continue to drink beer while listening to piano music and old songs belted out by the regulars or listen to jazz music by local talents in Songs at the upper story of Patria.
To go down means to go right through Abanao Street where the downtown disco houses are Orange County or Peek-A-Boo. Manila Café would also be a cozy place to continue the bantering while playing darts if not the game machines that is there. Spirits, another disco house is located at Otek Street. Or one can visit the western country style folk house that delivers country music in a typically cowboy motif pub house beside the UCCP church. On the other hand, one might feel that a song or two would be nice, then it would be the Karoake bar along Legarda Road a few blocks away from Mount Crest Hotel. If you are feeling brave, visit the disco houses or the pubs along Magsaysay Avenue near the Rabbit Sinkhole.
Whichever way one goes, after the night's adventure, one goes back to Session Road for a nightcap or to continue the discussion that started at Dainty and that was broken up by the intermediate activity. So at 2 o'clock, your company will troop to 456 restaurant, as this is the only 24-hour service restaurant open at Session Road. After all the beer that you haven't noticed you drank, your gut tells you its time to take in some solids but you don't feel like it. So you just settle for a steaming big bowl of "mami" to wash away the cobwebs and "siopao" to pacify your gut.
You'll notice friends or acquaintances come in individually or in-groups. These were the more adventurous that came from the city's outskirts, either from the cockpits whenever cockfighting derbies are scheduled which runs up to the wee hours of the morning or the nightclubs along Marcos highway that stop blinking their lights only at 4 o'clock in the morning. Then you will notice the discussion turns to a more sober tone when somebody airs a problem. How do I explain this night's outing to my wife? The question hits you like you like a ton of bricks. It's now 6 o'clock in the morning! Time to prepare for another day. So the company parts ways individually thinking about how one can explain away the night of adventure in the City.P.Q.B. February 21, 1999
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