Monday, August 10, 2009

why i don't go to malate: a different angle

malate is indeed a place of the unexpecteds. it has this distinct characteristic of breaking norms, of opening possibilities and revealing unnoticed realities. its ironic how it promises sudden escapes, decadent fantasies and false hopes despite the evident sullied cloak of striving humanity.

after three years, a friend have finally convinced me to go back to malate last week. i admit, i was really quite hesitant at first. but not because of any downbeat reasons. perhaps, i just find the place not or no longer my turf. but then i thought of giving it a try again.


we were walking down the long and busy saturday stretch of nakpil. I could see the pounding music of every establishment mildly shaking the tables soaked with warm and blinking lights along the sidewalk. men on their tight shirts were calling out passer bys. i must say that they were carefully handpicked for the job. but we decided to have dinner first since the night was still young. when suddenly, we saw a familiar face, it was Y. he was gracious enough to invite us over their table and we were able to convince them to join us afterwards.

but while we were having dinner, I could not help to notice how interesting the place have combined the diversity of people: rich, bourgeois, poor, straight, gay, local, foreigners and the classification could be endless. But malate has this certain magic that dissolved these differences, to a point where everyone could only care less. I am not sure though if this is already acceptance, or tolerance or perhaps it could go as far as sheer apathy. And probably, I am there that night to realize it myself.

the place had a very large crowd that night. but my company told me that it was actually smaller than usual. a number of people approached our table. I could no longer remember there faces. but their begs definitely echoed inside my ears up to this very moment. there were vendors selling almost everything. A woman, probably in her 40s, even offered us to tell our fortunes. there was a father showing us a piece of paper, asking for his son’s medication. a mute who was wearing a two piece bikini and vibrantly dancing to each table for change. a group of children eagerly waiting for our leftovers. Until a familiar woman stood in front of our table, face sunk and cheekbones swollen, her body was the frailest I have ever seen and has a voice that scratches the deepest of our conscience.


now I remember her. she was the same woman in this local show, where they reunite separated relatives. how could I forget? It was her episode that I was moved the most.

when she was young, she abandoned her family in mindanao to look for a greener pasture here in manila. she never wrote to her family and basically cut her communication from them. many years have passed, but her life here in the city went from bad to worst and when she thought she had the nastiest blow, she found out she has cancer. the show’s staff tried to look for her family and bring them back together, only to know that the woman’s mother just recently passed away. while the furious father would not just simply accept her despite her conditions. probably, if I did not see her there in malate that night, it would not occur to me that the staff made them to look that the father finally accepted her, just for the sake of the show.

all I could do that very moment was to look at her as she moved away, carrying a sackful of empty bottles and cans. she approached all occupied tables that night but none of them spare her some change. i could see on her face that she has been numbed with the same blank reaction from people. Then I thought, when all cancer patients are resting and gaining all the strength they can have lying on their beds, she was there in the wee hours of the night getting all the trash and pity she can have to live and staring how life for most people are being enjoyed. i could imagine how horrible that could be.

when another friend arrived we decided to hit the bar. I pulled a couple of bucks from my wallet, with the picture of the woman still in my head. as I hand it over to the doorman, i then realized, how happiness could cost that much. how we can have the most advantage and benefits in life while some simply don’t no matter how they strive. and lastly, how decadence can make me realize all these.

as we entered the place, I was surprised how dark and many people were inside. it was an explosion of senses: the ear popping music, the humid, clashing sweating bodies and probably a hundred of faces that welcomed us, as we made our way inside. I only had three bottles that night, stripping almost all my hesitations with a friend and just allowing the spirit of the place, succumb me. but at the end of it all, as I was riding a cab home, beating the sun rise, i realized that life in malate was not really what’s inside its bars rather whats outside of it.

Now, I know why I don’t go to malate anymore, because in a way it reminds me of how my life was before. true enough, malate is a destination of escape to many, while a place of hope to some.

well, enough said.

i will just leave the rest to the mind of the master.hahaha. wink! wink!


Knox Galen said...

Thanks dude. For the longest time, I only see the struggle of humanity within the four lonely walls of the clubs there. Hindi ko alam, kahit sa labas pala, the struggle remains.

ELAY said...

... this is something na dapat maipaskil sa mga public forums!

mikel said...

Now, I know why I don’t go to malate anymore, because in a way it reminds me of how my life was before.

pulubi ka dati o nakiki-baka ka dati para sa pulubi? malamig at madilim ang gabi, erik.

mikel said...

at 2 hours na advance naka-set ang orasan mo. asang mundo ka ba? o, mas sakto, saang mundo mo ba gusto? [nangungulet lang]

Anonymous said...

very nice... this one's for the books. though, i've never been to malate, i can picture myself there. well written

wanderingcommuter said...

knox: and thank you for letting me see the struggle inside those four lonely walls.

elay: hahaha! ang tanong anong public forum?

mikel: alam mo naman ang sagot eh. ;P

anonymous: hey thanks for the comment. appreciate it!

Trip said...

from ur description, malate seems like the haven for the lost souls. :)

Yj said...

pinaiyak mo naman ako.....


Chyng said...

All the while we thought she had AIDS.

Ay sorry, I still and will go back to Malate.
Our home (down there, the straights are the freak!). (--,)

pie said...

this post bumped me into thinking that i had a post coming relating to why i dont go to malate, too. beside the fact that i easily get lost, hehehe. sige, cocompose ko muna. in the meantime, magtayo na tayo ng club, ewik! hehehe.

Kane said...

Wandering Commuter,

Growing up, we struggled to understand who we were supposed to be, why the world is the way it is. So we'd spend time apologizing for the privilege and the wealth and the opportunities we felt other people deserved more than we did, or that others didn't have.

Well, you know what I finally learned? You can't fight who you are. We can choose to be the best we can be, and in the process make this world a better place without feeling guilty of what we have or who we are.


argunn said...

because of apathy..

wanderingcommuter said...

trip: we can put it that way. but i dont want to use the word lost. probably more of restless and searchiong souls... hehehe!

yj: o eto tissue! hahaha

chyng: babalik pa ako dun dahil magkikita pa tayo!

pie: ay, me likey... anong name ng club? hahaha!


perhaps, but how do you define the best that you can be or how do make this place a better place through decandence?


argunn: elaborate... hahaha!

mikel said...

how do you define the best that you can be or how do make this place a better place


GENE-use said...

Nice :D

I remember reading Last Order sa Penguin (na paborito ko. hehe. Sa Penguin Bar sa Malate ang setting. Ganitong-ganito rin talaga ang description. Never been there pero nararamdaman ko na. Ahaha.

peripheralviews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Atom said...

ive been there once, and i thought that it was a place for PLAYERS, i never saw in the darkness of the place where fairies and ogres usually bump with each other, there were also angels in disguise, trying to find their lost wings.

Kane said...

Wandering Commuter,

I think there is no clear answer for this one. We all have different abilities, skills, talents, and we all come from different social backgrounds.

It differs per person. We try the best way we know how. It's not quantifiable, in terms of time or money.

I know sometimes it feels like the world is drowning from all the pain and suffering there is. As I said, we do the best we can, on our own time, in our own way.


p.s. thank you for what you said. it's a ray of sunshine.

About Us said...

love your classic way of giving glory to poverty.. your writings exude something that it's still worth the fight and the strife.. ewan ko ba, manila carries some classic spirit talaga..

visit my new blog at

;) -Auj

pie said...

yoko mag-isip. masakit sa ulo. hehehe.


I've never been to Malate. Ever.

cb :: 林偉文 said...

i don't know why but i never understood the allure of malate. yes, it's a place full of fun but there's a very faint scent of desperation (perhaps from the people who see it as a "place of hope") in the air. it makes me sad.

lucas said...

i've never been to Malate before... i've heard stories about the place. i think i could drop by there sometime. sounds like a very interesting place for fun... and many others.

lucas said...

i've never been to Malate before... i've heard stories about the place. i think i could drop by there sometime. sounds like a very interesting place for fun... and many others.

Bulaang Katotohanan said...

ive studied in ermita at ni isang beses mapasa hanggang ngayon ay napadpad ako diyan sa malate.

tama ka, hindi lang naman 'sila' nakikita sa labas ng clubs o ng social places kung saan lalong namamagnify ang widening chasm ng ating mga estado.

dito nga lang, pag labas ko ng bahay, di kulang sa limang taong grasa/mentally disabled ang nakita ko.

ang llit ng kabite ah, mantakin mo ang maynila.

Good post! wandering c!

Masai said...

malate, isang santuwaryo ng panandaliang emosyon, panandaliang buhay at kamatayan.

wanderingcommuter said...

mikel: kulang naman yung quote mo. nawala tuloy yung thought.

gene-use: hey thanks for dropping. yup, last order sa penguin is probably one of my favorite books... kaaliw at ang ganda!

atom: indeed, malate is so mystical. no wonder many people are seduced by it. hehehe.

kane: aha! another relativist. hehehe. indeed.

auj: hello auj! hey thanks for the comment. i appreciate it.

pie: hahaha. naku, ikaw din kapag biglang magtampo ang mga brain cells mo. patay ka!

acrylique: try it... theres always room for first timers. hehehe.

cb: at may scent ka pa din ng bitterness kahit sa comment mo. hahaha! joke lang!

lucas: yes it is... you might find a number of bloggers there. hehehehe.

bk: agree! one time punta tayo. mag ethnography tayo. hahaha! kapag lumabas ka ng katipunan may community na ng mga taong grasa dito. kaya siguro nag karoona ko ng kakaibang amazement sa kanila.

masai: huwaw isang buong entry talaga ang comment mo ha. thank you for dropping by.

wanderingcommuter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lucas said...

hahaha! i think so... ang dami kong nababasang blogs talking bout their escapades in malate. naku-curious tuloy ako..hehe!

i wish there's a definitive way to determine which is which...

The Lady in Green Ruffles said...

galing naman nito

wanderingcommuter said...

lucas: mahirap magrely sa stereotypes... just let them be. ganun lang siguro yun.

lady: hey thanks for dropping!


I feel sorry for her. She struggles both emotionally and physically, perhaps more.... If only the officials of Philippines can offer their citizens the basics instead of spending millions in NY's restos.

wanderingcommuter said...

kj: sinabi mo pa... hay, i still wonder paano siya nakakatulog having all of these against her.

efrenefren said...

"because in a way it reminds me of how my life was before"

dati ka bang callboy, drag queen o batang kalye?

Joke lang. Very well written. You're getting better and better!