I write this in the ungodly morning hours of Sunday with my mind still on Saturday; ergo, I shall refer to Saturday night as 'tonight' and Sunday night as 'tomorrow night'.
Tonight, the 2012 Palanca Awards were given out at The Peninsula Manila. By mentioning that, I am of course confirming that I did enter and lost. Perfectly excusable, since 1) it's my first time to join the adult categories, and 2) it's never not excusable to lose in the Palancas.
It's like Viola Davis in The Help losing out to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady - (riot alert! riot alert!) - I mean, Jessica Chastain in Take Shelter losing the nomination to Jessica Chastain in The Help - (RIOT ALERT! RIOT ALERT!) - I mean, Avatar losing to The Hurt Locker for Best Picture - (calm).
Well, what I meant to say was, winning a Palanca is always the exception, so here's a warm and sincere congratulations to the winners, especially to that of Short Story in English. And for the curious, here's my Palanca win back in 2009, 2nd prize in Kabataan Essay in English.
Ergo, my day turned out quite fantastic. Eli - friend since 4 years old, classmate since nursery, best friend by whatever definition - is here in Manila. Again. (I say that because he doesn't even study here, yet he's here more often than either of my parents are.) Last night - Friday night - he was at the Araneta Coliseum for the Mixed Martial Arts thing (like the one in Warrior starring Tom Hardy, who's now colloquially known as Bane). The entire ordeal involved seven hours of standing, so he said.
Since he wanted to have lunch at some traditional Chinese restaurant that served 'good' oyster cake, I took him to Sincerity Restaurant along Yuchengco Street. I've been there only once, so I wasn't quite sure if it's really that good by expert culinary standards. Turned out to be not quite as good as its reputation paints it to be, but I actually don't care since I don't like venturing into the heartlands of Binondo in the first place. One, because it's always rowdy and overstuffed with people; two, because the horses and their carriages make the entire place reek faintly of horse manure.
Eli pointed out that it's more or less the same case with every Chinatown, from Singapore to New York. I pointed out that this Chinatown is in the Philippines, where I live; therefore, its innate rowdiness and faint smell of horse manure are legal reasons for me to not enjoy walking down its narrow roads.
After lunch, we walked from the restaurant all the way to the Carriedo station of LRT Line 1 (in Avenida, Sta. Cruz) and took the train to Vito Cruz station, or De La Salle University. The plan was to eat at Zark's Burgers, but he quickly realized the lunch had transiently left us with not enough space in our stomachs to contain the famed humongous burgers.
So we settled for hanging at Starbucks beside College of St. Benilde and summoning our dearest Iloilo classmate and friend Paopao to come to our side. She had class, then ran off to CCP for the matinee of The Phantom of the Opera. I like that word by the way - 'hanging', denoting the act of hanging out. Like how Americans or conio Filipinos say it: "Let's hang this Saturday," or "I, like, hanged with the barkada at Banapple along Katipunan."
Then, Zhou - Eli's South Korean friend who's currently having his OJT with Jeju Air - answered the summon. So it was, the three of us hanging at Starbucks like a trio of over-entitled elitist brats or med students who find it necessary to study in coffee shops. On a side note, Zhou earns way more in his OJT than most doctors in residency training in this country do.
Then, Eli decided it was time for Zark's. By the way, he'd been saying a lot about not having tickets to the afternoon's Ateneo-La Salle UAAP men's basketball game. So guess what, there and then, one of his contacts texted him saying she still had unsold tickets. He successfully bought them for P200 each. Thus, we found ourselves in a taxi, got off at Legarda station, took the LRT 2 all the way to Gateway Mall, ate a bit at Taco Bell, then got our tickets from a high school batchmate from another school in Iloilo. All that meant four 'firsts' for me: Starbucks in the La Salle area, taking the LRT at Legarda station, eating Taco Bell, and seeing a major UAAP game live.
After 3.25 years of staying in Manila, I finally got to watch a UAAP men's basketball game, and undoubtedly in its most exciting form. We were at the Ateneo side since our seller's an Atenean, but that's just about the amount of loyalty we have for Ateneo. In any case, it was loads of fun cheering the Ateneo cheers like a bunch of presumptious fake Ateneans that we were.
Which made me realize how out-of-place a UP student/ alumni/ person would feel if he or she went to these games. The last (and first) time I watched a UAAP game, it was women's basketball - UP vs. Ateneo, and we won. But it was only because our PE class required us to watch at least one UAAP game (not in reference to why or how we won.)
We ended the night back at Zark's where Eli tried but failed to conquer the Jawbreaker challenge: 300g of fries, a glass of iced tea, and a half-pound burger - all for free if consumed within five minutes. I feel sick just thinking about it. Sadly, he lost, said he still has much practice to do. He shall return, Zark's.
1st year Intarmed students in the aftermath of a UP-Ateneo UAAP women's basketball game, September 2009.
My first photo using PicFrame.
The monster. Zark's Burgers across De la Salle University, Manila.