Sensory overload at Malate

I have not been in the area for quite some time. Perhaps a year or so. Oh I have been in the periphery of the area - I've had dinner at my favorite Italian Resto (Cosa Nostra) about a block south, and at the Robinsons Manila a few blocks north. But I havent set foot in the area bordered by Adriatico, Remedios, Nakpil and Orosa streets for quite some time. It was quite a shock for me to discover that the heart of Malate has undergone a major change.

Wednesday found me in the area with my bestfriend Jojo. A good friend, Andrew de Real owner of The Library and writer/director of many comedy shows was celebrating his birthday and went out of his way to make sure that all his friends were there. So we went. I reckoned it was a perfect time to revisit old haunts.

We parked along Remedios near the Circle. Or what used to be the Remedios Circle at least. It is still in the shape of a circle, but the old quaint park is gone. The place has been flattened and the old white structure that looked like a giant fountain in the middle has been demolished. I do not know what to make of the new "park." It is brightly lit - which could have been achieved with the addition of more street lamps to the old design. It is now a plaza, with what looks like red marble tiles. I don't know maybe I am just an old romantic fool, but I think that the old design was more charming. Today, the Remedios Circle is simply a giant playground where street kids run around half naked.

We walked to Adriatico and run smack into the middle of Patpong. Or what looked like Patpong in Bangkok at least - minus the night market and the sleazy show (at least on surface). Hawkers of all makes and forms shoved flyers into our hands and enticed us to hang out in the noisy new bars that have replaced the old restaurants that used to dominate the area. Adriatico is now a Tarpaulin city. Printers of those colorful banners must be making a killing as the facade of the bars and establishments in Adriatico were plastered full of these things. Yes, including some really tacky posters. We spotted one which said "'where happy hours are happy." Yeah, they thought is was clever.

At least the old Cafe Adriatico is still standing although the "extension" the one on the other side of the Street is gone. I hope they do not put up another bar that thinks putting up speakers outside is so cool. There were many establishments in the area that did not require anyone to go inside to find out what was happening anymore - standing outside was more than enough.

Oh god, the noise pollution! I think I went half deaf within the four minutes it took Jojo and I to play patintero with the cars and people and vendors and carts and clowns and peacocks that blocked our path from Remedios Circle to The Library.

Andrew's party was in his other bar next to The Library, called Fab. It's a small joint - perhaps as narrow as the original Library (which has become so huge - quadruple its original size). It made me long for the good old days when bars in Malate were so intimate, you sit or stand or hunch in a tiny space and stayed immobile but did not mind because you were in the company of kindred spirits.

And we all had a great fun. It was so great, to borrow the language of the current generation, to eyeball old friends again although we all did feel a little out of place in a sea of new faces whose concept of fun seem different somehow. The old Malate habitues were there - even the likes of Beverly Salviejo and Vangie Labalan (who came in gaudy attires and got gawked at by the younger set). This will sound like one of those showbiz gossip shows - but Ai Ai de las Alas, Arnel Ignacio, Mel Mier, Frederic Peralta, and all the old souls of Malate were all there partying like the good old days when they werent such big celebrities and we could still litter along Adriatico and no one gave a damn (there were many many more, "old" people - actually we are not that old, but we could well be ancient if we are to go by the ages of the current Malate set; gee, I think many of the people we saw in the area must be high school kids).

We walked around the Nakpil/Orosa area and saw how the area has truly changed. It is still bohemian - but in a different way, a little less "art" and more "sex" seemed to be the pervading scent. But at least it is a little more respectful of diversity now.

There was a time when 0ne went to Malate or Adriatico to just chill and hang out. Now it seems you go there to get bamboozled.

I am getting old. I just don't feel I belong there anymore.


vic said…
On noise pollution: Our cops gave notice last summer to all night establishments and all electronic stores (audio) that they are going to enforce the Anti-Noise by-law. The yardstick was is if they can hear the sound (noise) coming from the inside of the estalishment as they walk their beat, then it is Pollution and the fine is quite hefty. So most bars and clubs must keep their noise within their confines and close their doors and windows and turn on their ACs. It worked..
Anonymous said…
i. feel. your. pain.

i loved the fact that back in the late 80s to mid-90s, when only a few brave souls bohemia-ed their way to Malate.

The old Penguin, Moviola, even Milky Way and the late, lamented Insomnia,
and a few blocks down, Weinstube.

Cosa Nostra's still around, true;
but the walk there used to be romantic. Now, patintero na nga.

ivanhenares said…
The Atienza rampage continues... Patayin ang MayniLA! Sigh!
ivanhenares said…
The Atienza rampage continues... Patayin and MayniLA! Sigh! He should have kept it the way it was and simply cleaned in up. Up next, the eviction and demolition of the Jose Abad Santos HS and Rajah Sulayman HS near the historic Meisic Cuartel to give way to Lito's new shopping mall.
Mr Austero, I linked this article to an entry I made on the "new" Remedios Circle.

Both my entry and your article were also mentioned in the blog PHILIPPINES MAKEOVER.

Here are the links:



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