For the very first time in a long time, I’d decided to bar-hop. I couldn’t remember exactly when was the last time. But tonight I knew I was back. After a hard day’s work. After tasks were done in the domestic affairs department and in the business department.
It had been a long time since I had extra money in my wallet. How I obtained them is an entirely different story to what I am going to tell you now. I want to tell you what happened to me that night. I want to share to you because it was a beautiful night. Beauty is something worth sharing. Is it not?
So I had enough money to spend. I wanted to get rid of this extra money, immediately. Why? Because I’m not really a fan of money. Relax, drink a cold beer and get drunk was the quickest way possible to spend them.
As I’ve said, tonight, tasks were done in the domestic affairs and business department, as it had always been for quite a time: household chores, cooking and dishwashing, laundry, my creatives, self-indulgent pursuits like writing and vlogging. I was done for the day.
Since there was no bar in sight here in our place, even after roaming around with tricycle, unlike before I can just visit a bar in my shorts and pang-balay nga t-shirt and slippers (in my case, my Sperry Topsider), I’ve decided to go downtown, the city proper, to find a bar to drink cold beer, with my shorts and polo shirt and my six-year-old, usable Sperry Topsider. Yes. Alone. Not lonely. Alone. Big difference.
After telling the taxi driver to find me one, I spotted a familiar place, a few kilometers away from our village. I’d gone to this place many times in the past. And here I was again.
This time I didn’t go through the door. I’ve decided to just stay outside, at their front bar, the kind that you see in taverns and clubs and pubs in Hollywood movies, where guests sip their favorite liquor on a rotatable tall chair. This one looked like an abandoned front bar where you can see no wines and liquors and a bartender in front of you.
“Hi sir, dire ta solod sir, unsa imo?” said the lady waitress on her black skirt and long sleeve polo and tie, as I was walking in their direction.
He was with a guy. They were both waiters, or waitresses, gender aside.
I said: “Dire lang ko sa gawas.” I wanted to stay right there, exactly where they sit together.
I asked, “naa moy Red Horse?”
Naa kaayo sir, replied the guy.
“Unya, bugnaw?” I asked, teasingly.
Bugnaw kaayo sir, he replied with a smile.
“Gai kog usa.”
After a few minutes the waiter ushered me to go inside. So I changed my mind. I went through the glass door.
There, at last, I was back. I was back in my solitary world. Enjoying my own company. The itch, that terrible itch of solitude was back at me again. Like addiciton to drugs. It relapsed. I always enjoyed being alone in a place like this, where you see couples, girlfriends with their boyfriends, group of friends, a family of four or five. While me just watching them.
It wasn’t just a bar. It was a typical Filipino resto bar where they serve dinner while a duo, a male keyboardist, probably almost sixty-years-old, and a singer, a lady who looked younger, probably forty-years old, was in front, playing standard songs like Fly me to the Moon and O Lumapit ka.
The waitress arrived at my table and served me the beer with a napkin tucked inside the mouth of the bottle for reason I didn’t know. I just thought maybe for hygienic purposes. But couldn’t they just wipe it off with a clean cloth or something? Anyway, so I noticed the temperature was so cold because of the air conditioner was way too strong for few individuals inside the room: I, the duo, and maybe five other people, except the waiter and waitress. So I left the table and went outside.
The main reason I left was because I wanted just to grasp a breeze of natural air and just listen to the sound of automobiles running on the streets while I drink my cold beer, watching the passers-by, some bystanders and tricycle drivers and passengers alighting on and off in the corner. Just watching the beauty of it, the nightlife of a city. Things you can’t experience inside an air-conditioned room. So I was back again at the front bar, the abandoned front bar.
Two probable reasons, I can think of, they wanted me to go inside the bar was, one, they wanted to fill an almost empty space of the room, and two, they thought I was lonely because I was alone, even though I didn’t look lonely. A brotherly gesture to let me know they care, and that they probably didn’t want me to be lonely… or see me lonely. But I honestly wasn’t lonely. In fact, I looked so enthusiastic you can see the smile in my eyes. Curious, intrigued, scheming, waiting for something to happen…
After consuming two Red Horse stallion, a man went to sit beside me. I acknowledged his presence by nodding my head. Some minutes earlier inside the bar, I remembered he was the one who told me to sing. That it was allowed to sing on stage. That I just have to choose a song I desire, or at least any song I like, that was on the bands’ repertoire or list.
“Tugnaw kayo sa sulod noh?” he said.
“Mao lagi,” I replied.
Then I asked, “ga togtog sad ka dire?”
“Dili. Ga sayaw ko.”
“Oo kanang nay mga babaye manayaw akong tudluan. D.I ko sir. Dance Instructor.”
“Ahhh I see.”
“Pero mingaw lagi kaayo ron.”
“Pero kung biyernes og sabado, daghan tao?”
“Usahay sir. Pero kasgaran mingaw na jod. Dili na pareha sa una.”
Before he could ask me some personal stuffs like “ikaw ra lagi usa sir” because he was displaying curiosity, looking straight to my eyes, I told him, “Ing ani jod ko bai. Ganahan ko mag inusara.”
I further told him that I was still single. Haven’t married all my life. Had I been married he won’t see me hanging around in this bar, all alone. There was a high level of freedom when you’re alone, I said to him. And also I didn’t like to be with friends most of the time, because, to be honest, talk were always boring, insincere, monotonous, and unproductive. I seek a different experience like talking to strangers like him. I had always wanted to talk to strangers in a place like this, in a bar, in a jeepney, bus, in a grocery store or just about anywhere where you can a have a chance to talk to anyone, whom you had no idea about his/her background and circumstances in life, his journey, his struggle and all. It made me feel good to talk to strangers. That’s why I was here, I said. He smiled and showed interest to what more I had to say.
I asked him his age. 48, he replied.
Then to my surprise, I said, “Really? I’m 48 too.”
We both laughed. He said his name was Jim and I said my name was Nonoy. So we talked about music and rock n roll. Nirvana and Metallica. That I had been a musician and most active in the mid-to-late 90’s. I told him about the time when we were so young and wild and free. The rock n roll scene in Davao we used to play at gyms every Saturday night for months. An era where Davao City was still not as peaceful as it is now. Infested with gangs, drug addicts, drug pushers, robbers and those troubled teenagers who just wanted to get into fistfights. We also talked some other things about the 80’s. Times when life was so simple and happy and not difficult. Then he began to share his circumstances. That he had two kids but had no mother to turn to, for reason I didn’t bother to ask.
Some moments later he said he needed to get inside the room. I beckoned to the waiter to order another bottle of Red Horse Stallion. He went out together with the waitress. Then, as I wasn’t expecting, he asked me “Nganu ikaw ra man usa ya?” as he handed me over the beer. I smiled. I told him the same thing that I told Jim. That I felt comfortable being alone. That I didn’t want being around with friends or group of friends. I didn’t feel comfortable when I was with them. I quoted Charles Bukowski even though I knew they didn’t have a slightest idea who it was: “Ingon pa ni Bukowski, ‘I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they’re not around.’”
“I cannot take advantage the essence of drunkenness of being alone when I’m with them. I just want to watch the vehicles running, the passers-by walking, bystanders idling, passengers in jeepneys and tricycles alighting in the corner, while I am gulping my beer. The beauty of the city. Its nightlife. That was more pleasurable to me than talking to old friends who say things over and over again.”
“That’s the problem with people,” I continued. “They feel lonely when they’re alone. They also have that uncomfortable feeling of overthinking that people would see them awkward or embarrassing when they’re alone. That it’s not normal for you to be seen with no company. So they don’t want to be left all by themselves.
“Hala!” he said. “Ing anah sad ko ya bah. Mas ganahan ko ako ra isa ya.”
I asked how old he was. He said he was 24. Then I turned toward the girl, the waitress, with a name tag on his right polo shirt “HONEY.”
“Ikaw Honey pila nay edad nimo?”
“22 pa ko oi.”
“Unsa name nimo?” I asked the waiter.
“Christian, ya. Ikaw?”
“So you belong to the generation z, right?” Then he laughed. “No. Millennials mi ya oi.”
“Generation X man ko. Unsay sunod sa Generation X?”
“Generation Y,” Christian scoffed.
Yes it’s Generation Y, but it is called millennials because you grew up at the time of the new millennia. Year 2000 onwards.
Then I asked: “Ikaw Honey unsa ka nga generation, Generation Z?”
“Nah ambot ya oy.”
“Don’t you know your generation is the most complicated one among other generations in the past? And the most entitled generation in the history of mankind,” I said, smirking.
“Mao lagi ya,” said Christian.
“Because you were born in the age of Internet,” I said.
Then I asked. “Unsay music ang ginapaminawan ninyo? K-pop noh?”
“Dili ya oi.”
“Really. So what do you listen?”
“Sagol man ya. Mga r and b, raps.”
“Nagapaminaw ka og Eraserheads?”
“Ikaw Honey kaila ka anang Eraserheads?”
“The thing I like about the millennials and generation z is that even though the music in our era isn’t your music now, you still have the zest of listening to it. Some I know, my nephews and nieces, sing my favorite songs in the 90’s, when I was your age. They even memorize and understand the lyrics.”
Honey suddenly asked me: “Naa na kay anak ya?”
“Yes I have one daughter but she’s with her mom, I replied.
“Nagakita pa mo ron?”
“Well, let’s just say I’m only the biological father, not the legal one.”
“Ay kadali lang ha,” Honey said, as she was giving hand signals to somebody inside the room. Christian followed her.
I felt like I wanted to smoke. I went to a store, just across the bar, to investigate. There were no cigarettes for sale. I asked one tricycle driver where can I buy some. He brought me to a store with his tricycle just about a hundred meters away.
After the tricycle dropped me at one sari-sari store to buy cigarettes, the driver and I had a brief chat as we’re going back to where I previously flagged him off, across the bar.
“Mingaw na kayo ang Davao noh?” I said. “Dili na parehas sa una ba.”
“Mao jod. Sa una daghan pa kaayog tawo direng dapita mag lakaw lakaw.”
“Tungod sa pandemya ni bah nya gi samotan pa jod sa gira sa Ukraine.”
Then suddenly he said to me as I noticed he had been examining my face: “familiar lagi ka sa ako boss.”
“Lagi murag nakita na taka sa una bah.”
“Basin nakita ko nimo sa YouTube.”
He laughed as if somebody cracked a good joke.
“Daan pa lagi ko bah. Cebu and Davao man to boss noh?”
“Kadtong naa mo sa Times Beach; pirting katawa nako oi.”
I laughed, a bit awkward but flattered at the same time. He continued to laugh.
“Shoutout. Unsay name nimo?”
He mentioned his name but now as I’m writing this, my mind can’t grasp that memory anymore when he told me his name.
So he pulled over to the side of the bar as I reached into my front pocket to get some bills. I handed him two hundred-peso bills. “Imuha nana bai.”
He laughed as I also laughed.
“Salamat kayo boss.”
“Way sapayan boss.”
I came back with my warm bottle of beer, waiting for me on the table like a stone. Christian was already there with Honey before I arrived. Some moments later Jim appeared from nowhere. Our conversation began again.
“Asa man ka gikan ya?” asked Honey.
“Nagpalit ko og yosi,” I replied.
Christian looked to be desperate. He wanted to tell me something.
“Ya, naa koy pangutana nimo ya bah?”
“Unsa man?” I asked as I lit my cigarette with my cricket lighter.
“Minyo na ka ya?”
“Wala pa,” I replied.
Some moments, Honey left the table. Christian turned toward her as if he was pleased that she left, probably because he didn’t want her to hear what he was going to ask me.
“Pero daghan na ka experience sa mga uyab, ya?”
“Nah. Di na nako ma ihap.”
“Daghan na man jod kag experience about kanang uyab ya, unsa man akong buhaton ya kung ganahan ko sa babaye pero di ko gusto nga masakitan siya?”
“Nah. Ayaw nag panguyab. Better when you’re single.”
“Tarung ya bah.”
I gave him a wide smile.
“Nganu naka ingon man ka anah?” I asked.
“Kuan man gud ya… kanang…”
Christian told me a lot of things, about his life, his problems, love, his family, about the girl he was courting. He said the girl he was pertaining to was Honey, the waitress he’d been accompanying all this time.
I finally told him that you better not delay if you’re sure about what you feel. Otherwise, you’ll regret it. If you love someone, deep in your heart, with all the instincts inside you, you feel you want her, you like her, you love her, do not waste time thinking whether she would give in to you or not. Go ahead and tell her that you like her, you love her.
Then he told me he was afraid to tell his feelings for it might be the reason for her to avoid him.
“Just have some balance. Don’t play games. Try to ask her out. Get to know her as she would get the chance to get to know you. Do that maybe 2 or 3 times. Then if you still like her qualities, excluding her physical aspects, then tell her you like her and that you wanted her to be your girlfriend. Tell her why you like her. If she won’t give in doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you. Maybe she needs time. At least you told her what you feel. After telling her that, be cold. Play heart-to-get. But no games. She will give in to you. If she won’t, you got nothing to lose. You told her you love her. It’s her loss not yours. It’s a win-win situation.”
I put my cigarette in an ashtray as I dunked the remaining beer in my mouth.
“‘Cause you know, sometimes it’s better to live without a woman in your life. Don’t get too attached. Avoid them as much as possible,” I said.
Afterwards, Honey appeared. As Christian went away to the room to attend to new customers who had just arrived. Then a few moments later, Jim arrived.
We talked again for almost an hour. Then he went back inside the air-conditioned room.
Afterwards, I followed him and ordered another Red Horse Stallion. I have already consumed 7 bottles of Red Horse stallion. Then I was beginning to tap my hands and my feet with the song the band were performing. I was beginning to enjoy the moment. I thought this was what I wanted after all. Talk to strangers, listen to good music, drink beer and get drunk.
After a while, I felt I had already too much to drink. I knew myself when I get drunk. I might do something that I will regret the next day. You know, like do some obnoxious things, offend people. I decided to leave.
Jim, on the other side of the table called my name. I went to him.
Then he said, “Pait kaayo karon bah. Walay customer; walay mga babae nga manayaw.”
I can sense that he needed some money. Any amount I guessed. This was because I mentioned to him, while we were having that small chat some hours ago, that I gave some money to people in my vlogs during Christmas time some months ago. He took advantage of it and he knew I had some with me since I was having a good time in the bar. He took advantage of it. He took advantage more because he knew that I was drunk. Problem was, he was right: I’m a compulsive spender, an unreasonable giver when I’m not sober.
I reached out my wallet and got out 3 hundred-peso bills. I handed them to him.
“Salamat kaayo Noy,” he said as he smiled.
“Way sapayan bai. ayo ayo. amping sa imong life. Be happy.”
Then I left the bar.
I walked myself drowsily at the sidewalks as I kept flagging occupied taxis. Finally, some moments later, a taxi pulled over to the side as I got on board.
A week later I came back. Christian came to me at one of the tables outside the room. I was already drunk from a friend’s party, so I decided to only consume one bottle of San Mig Light. Honey wasn’t around. He said she had fever that’s why she was absent. Christian still kept on talking about her for maybe about 10 minutes. We couldn’t talk more because there were many guests he had to attend to. I told him to message me in Messenger.
A few days later, he PMed me. He told me he had just gotten herself a girlfriend, and her name was Honey.
Honesto Avellanosa III is a 48-year-old guy who creates content for his Youtube channel Cebu and Davao Journey and Cebu-Davao Adventures. He used to sing and write songs for his rock band The Happiest.