Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pizza Pub and People Watching

After some needed rest and snooze, it was already dark when I got up to find dinner. Determined not to eat at Yanie’s (so I could see the rest of the city), I started roaming again. The idea was to just walk around until I get hungry and there arounds probably find a suitable place for dinner. Voila! It was not very far… and the Pizza Pub was it!

The Restaurant
The pizza pub is a restaurant right across the city plaza/park and arguably the best place to have pizza – if there is another such place anyway. Oh it occupies the ground floor of a house that is part of the heritage square! Even on a Friday evening, it is not bustling with diners. Many folks do come and go to get ‘to go’ food. Just a glance at the interiors of this restaurant will immediately reveal that it is not owned by a Filipino. My guess, a German dude with a Pinay wife hehe! On entry the cheerful waitresses and equally cheerfully gay waiter sprang up to meet and greet me at the door. I immediately saw that there were only two tables occupied – probably the reason these wait staff were too eager to receive another patron… me!

Food here is not average in terms of price, even for Cebu City standards. It is expensive. But I had to at least try them as a policeman I earlier asked at the corner outpost told me this pub is one of the best in Bogo. Hmm, clean and there’s a TV playing the evening news – thankfully it was not a telenovela! Not that I hate those but I have learned long ago that these TV soaps distract the wait staff that their service becomes slow. Alright, I was given the menu and the two folks in front of me (yes two, a waitress and a waiter) started some light conversation as I chose what to eat. First question was: “where are you from sir? I said Mandaue. Next question: “I mean what country sir, Japan or Korea?” and I said “unsa mo oi, bisdak ra tawon ko”! Both said “aw sorry” giggled and we all laughed.

By the way, in case you don’t know yet, this is where the friendliness of the Filipinos (me inclusive) becomes predictable. Almost always, they (ooops, “we” I mean) start asking where you are from to strike a conversation. Then you respond. The most likely next question is either “how long have you been in ______” or “how do you like ______ so far”! The ______ is the city or country! And without you knowing it, you are already in a friendly chat with a Filipino! AND that comes without any effort. I cannot even call this phenomenon a norm or a habit. Its seems to be nature amongst all Pinoys since we never even get to be taught about this in school hehe!

Alright, back to my dinner. Of course I was asked all of the above questions! Until I said, I want grilled fish but nothing like it was on the menu. They almost simultaneously pointed at the board for the special of the day but they clarified it can be a whole slice and grilled. So I settled for just that and SanMigLight.

Hey, old house this may be but the whole dining area is air-conditioned. And yes, the ceiling is too low compared to the houses of today. But you know the history on that, right? Okay, if you don’t… the big houses of yesteryears had low ceilings because they were not really living quarters but just used as granaries and/or parking areas for the farm animals and other implements. In fact, at this restaurant, the floor is lower than the street level – which means they must have dug a bit to ensure that people like me can comfortable stand erect.

So, air-conditioned kasi, I went out to one of the tables on the sidewalk as I waited for my dinner. Whoa! The waitress followed me there with my SML. I really thought she would leave me there. Instead, when she brought out an ashtray, she stayed there standing beside me to keep me company and continue with the small talk. Like what? We talked about the ashtray hehe! I casually remarked that the ashtray I use at home looked exactly like what they had. Her reply was: “oh, so you also shop at SM sir”! Wow! Soon the waiter also came out to ask if my dinner should be served at where I was. I said no, and headed back inside the restaurant. Hey, whether they were trained for this or they just miss having to attend to customers, I liked it that both crews stood nearby, alert and even anticipating what it might be that I would need next! I looked at the condiments in the bar. One immediately asked if I wanted soy sauce. Like that! Impressive!

Those kids (yep, they’re rather young) even knew when to stop. Once I glanced at the news, both kept silent. Once I started on my food, both were mum. But when I asked them a question, they merrily replied and stepping forward closer to me. Then back to standing just beside and a little behind me.

Now the challenge… I wanted to taste their pizza but any whole – small, medium or large was obviously too big for just me who was already devouring my fish. I remarked that it was too bad as I really wanted to sample how their pizza tastes. And I do not like Hawaiian as the pineapple bits usually wrecks havoc in my stomach. At first they said they were very sorry since the only pizza that can be sold per slice is Hawaiian flavor. I was resigned to that fact. Later however, they came up to me and told me they can serve me ¼ slice of the 9 inch Pizza E Salami. No questions asked, I grabbed it. And yes, their pizzas are good. The cheese alone hints that they’re not using quick-melt hehe! I Loved it!

People watching!
Done with the dinner, I decided I’d stay put a bitmore by downing more bottles of beer at the outdoor tables. When not busy, the two wait staffs would come out to stand on alert beside me so I kept asking them questions. A jolly topic was how gay Bogo was!

My table was just outside the restaurant, on the sidewalk and inches from the street where even Ceres buses pass by! In fact, some folks opt to wait for their rides in this area just a few paces away from where I was. And I noticed one thing. People passing by, strolling from the wharf going elsewhere, strolling from elsewhere towards the wharf, strolling towards or out of the park were a merry mix of boisterous and giggly girls, young hip-hop boys pretending to be gangtas, romantic love birds or lustful dudes! Ah hey, yes, some were even septuagenarians just probably savoring the cool breezes by strolling at the park. Others would be coming in via motorcycles or bikes. Just a Friday night kind of stroll for many of them, really. But one thing was out of the ordinary… amongst all these passersby there was noticeably a good number of gay guys!

I asked the waiter why it was so. Even those going home, waiting for a bus ride had a spattering of the dear sisterettes! I was a bit surprised at the reply: “yes sir, there are a lot of gay people in this city, probably because they are respected here and treated by people as just about anybody else”. That is my best translation of what I was told by the waiter. Interesting. Then the waitress offered that in this city, it is even common for some groups or barangays to hold gay beauty pageants. And she adds that those are well received and watched by majority of the residents. Hmm, interesting indeed!

As if on cue, while we were on the topic, a group of about 4 women (obviously on the flesh-trade side) and 4 gays passed by. They were jolly and boisterous but all went hush when they passed by me and the wait staff. Then one of the ladies exclaimed in English… “hello, you want delicious? I am”! They laughed as we laughed too. Then one of the gays, probably not wanting to be overshadowed, walked in front of me and said “I am better”! another one shouted “betterer”! Laughter laughter laughter!

Then I said “sosyala ba ninyo uy, mga englisera”! And the laughter went even wilder. One of them shrieked “bisdak ra man di-ay naglibug pa ka mag-english vayuta ka”! Even the waiter and waitress were curling in their stomachs with laughter. Probably liking the attention that we gave them, this group holed up a bit at the side of the park just across me. They would tease boys and men passing by and they were just generally lively. They were even mimicking some kind of a fashion show on the street that attracted attention of all passersby. Interestingly, my table seemed to be their imaginary central audience. The other crews of pizza pub even came out to watch them.

A black car pulled up just in front of us and three ladies (including the driver) with a cute little girl emerged. They took the table just beside me. Little girl spoke Taglish while the ladies spoke a mix of English, Tagalog and Bisaya. They ordered pizza and beer plus ice cream for the little one. One of them was obviously the mother while another was obviously a godparent of the little tyke. All that while the faggots across the street were jokingly shouting sneers for them to remove the car as it blocked their view of the restaurant (us). Soon a (probably well-respected) more mature gay arrived to join the girls on the next table. After kissing all the women and the little girl hello, his attention was drawn to the boisterous sisterettes across the street. Hands on his waist, he said something albeit friendly in Bisaya to the pack and everyone started to move away after saying “okay mother superior… bye”! Interesting!

Not a long time thereafter, there came a solo dude in sando, seemingly brandishing his buffed physique. The walking shorts waistline was too low it revealed his boxers. His eyes was directly at me often times darting to the waiter and the waitress. Waiter whispered… “call boy yan sir”. I just looked at him and smiled a bit. Nge! My smile was probably uncalled for. He took the position where the faggots have left just a few minutes earlier and sat there facing directly and watching us. I pretended not to mind him and soon hew vanished into the dark shadows of the park.

I thought that meant I have had to go back to my hotel, lest anything more kinky descend on this place hehe! Paid my bill and went back to Nagano!

Oh well… I did hear sometime ago that Bogo is fitfully the gay capital of this province. I think I’ll subscribe to that!

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