Day 1: So there’s a new place, Mang Rudy’s, down the block, a turo-turo/ihawan joint. I order a squid and a bangus and a couple san mig lights.
The college kids are singing along to the pinoy pop on the PA. The woman asking me to sign the receipt can’t make out a word of my Tagalog. I’m reading Hikmet.
I point to the exact fish I want and she pulls them away to take them to the griller. I house the pusit and start on the head of the bangus (stuffed w onions, peppers and garlic). Fresh calamansi and sili in my tuyo.
The college kids swell into laughter every fifteen minutes.
The young lady in the coral spaghetti strap is rapping outside to the boy who owns the scooter and black helmet.
She comes back, pulls her ankle under butt and shows the room how easy Manila soot sticks to you.
When I’m done, I walk out to find some bottled water for the flat. And where on the planet, you might ask, do they sell bottled water, toothbrushes, siopao and rum? 7-11, Makati (and lots of other places in the Philippines). I pass on the rum, but grab a toothbrush and some Bulalo Cup-O-Noodles (many restaurants are closed starting tomorrow for Holy Week). Hopefully this, leftovers and four bananas will get me to Sunday.
Of course, I’m welcomed back by the condo guards, clean, pressed white shirts, a nine and baton hanging on each of their belts. They’re sharing a cigarette and singing along to a little radio blasting Luther Vandross.