Are there night places in Calbayog? Well there are a number of choices as would be in any city. Just don't think of Calbayog as your other highly-urbanized cities that do not anymore have time for sleep. But there are!
RFM has stalls of course. They line almost the entire perimeter of this rectangular square (me ganun?) plus more. I say plus more since at one end, stalls are lined in parallel rows, not just literally on the side. What kinds of stores? Ah, this is where it departs from the usual palengke. There are all kinds of stores in big stalls like restaurants, specialty shops, dry goods stores, bike shop, bakeshops, groceries, pharmacy and a plethora of little clean eateries rounding the prime location that is center of the square.
What is at center of the square? Ah, its some kind of a multi-use plaza robably as big or bigger than two basketball courts. It can be used as a party area, sarayaw nights, celebrations and even concerts. Well, during the day, I am sure it can be a basketball court – which seems to be a primary requirement everywhere in this country anyway! Of course it can be a volleyball court or any other court, though one afternoon I saw kids biking around or zooming in their rollerblades or skateboards just as fine! That concrete plaza is surrounded by a promenade-like park benches with a line of flowering plants, shrubs and lamp posts. All are hemmed in by streets - off-limits to cars or bigger vehicles – because across them are the many stalls. More of like how Matina Square is.
What makes RFM stick to my brain is the way they make use of that center plaza during the night. I was blown away hehe. You see that little unassuming stage in the picture below? Yep, that’s Julio Iglesias on wide-screen because when I took that pic, someone was singing “the winds of change are always blowing”. Videoke? the biggest and most public I have ever seen, ever! Wheh, how?! Well, you just sit at the table or kiosk of your chosen restaurant and sing for this entire place to hear haha!
Its like this… crews from all stalls, eateries, bars and restaurants, have a copy of those books where you choose your songs. You are given a slip of paper to write the corresponding number codes of your requested songs. Then they walk all the way to the end of the square to submit your list of songs where the AV crews operate the videoke thing. And you just wait it out. In no time your waiter comes with a wireless microphone and you start croaking away!
There is one rule that all the more sets this place away from any other in the country. And that is… “you must choose a MINIMUM of 2 songs BUT the MORE the MERRIER”! Try submitting just one song and the waiters wont accept it. That as they tell you it wont be allowed over at the control booth! Hah, if in many places you are given a maximum of 2 and the better if you request just one or nothing at all, here it is exactly the opposite. You don’t have to sing two songs, actually! You probably have companions, right? They can take the other song, but your table must have at least two songs minimum!
Oh you don't have to prepare a bucketful of 5-peso coins! The singing is free! But I think you have to observe an unwritten and undocumented law of human nature if you must submit a list of osngs and therefore sing. THAT IS…, maawa ka, maluoy ka, yes have pity on the hundreds of people at RFM who have no choice but to hear you croak hahaha! So you better not just have a voice, ensure your vocal chords can at least mimic some semblance with a well-tuned instrument! You don't want people abruptly adjourning or puking at the same time because of your singing, right?!
Most of the patrons wont even know who or where you are, especially if you were at a restaurant with not so many people. But some pesky little tykes do start searching, and them rascals point to their parents where the ‘good singer’ is belting it from hehehe! Mind you, the off-tune thing is seldom a problem here. Some would even stand up and go to the center of the plaza right in front of that big screen to sing and in full view of hundreds of folks! This is still the Visayas, remember?! So you better belong! Start vocalizing now!
Well, Visayas this may be, but you also have to observe the other unwritten law. And that is, avoid “MY WAY” as much as possible. You could cause a commotion with that song, y’know! Like on the first 2 notes of the intro to that song, people could all be standing demanding they have the microphone cuz their song is on! Ditto with “MY LOVE WILL SEE YOU THROUGH”. Its been proven time and again that in this country, those songs could kill hahaha!
Funny and fun night out at RFM. Yan ang memorable!