“Tagay hanggang mamatay” is the catchphrase of Sharon Cuneta’s latest movie, “Revirginized.” My story has nothing to do with her movie but of my own experience in the city that never sleeps, Olongapo City.
I was a late-bloomer in anything related to alcohol. Most of my college friends and acquaintances spent their Friday nights in Spirits Disco while I preferred the solitude of fog watching and stargazing in the veranda of my first boarding house. The first time that I felt the kick of alcohol in my system was one boring January night when my equally non-alcoholic roommates decided to buy San Miguel Beer bottles for our consumption. I ended up tipsy but not entirely intoxicated. From thereon, I realized that I would never really learn to love any beverage with alcohol.
When I say today that the last time I tasted alcohol was 13 years ago, I mean it in all honesty. Take note that I have nothing against those who consume alcohol for fun or social drinking; I just went back to my old non-alcoholic self.
Alcohol is nothing new to me, my father was a heavy drinker and so were some relatives. I was exposed to this kind of celebration at an early age yet I didn’t acquire a taste for alcohol. In addition, while my father indulged in alcohol, he was against women drinking it. We had a patriarchal set-up at home and women were expected to behave accordingly. This was for this reason why I was in my early 20s when I first went into a bar.
In my first job, they had this Friday night gimmick wherein the goal was just to go to the bar to bond with their officemates. It was a rainy August night when finally, a friend convinced me to try to go with them to the Subic Hard Rock. More nervous than excited, I followed them and mimicked whatever they did to conceal my amateurish actions. The place was badly lit as most bars were expected to be. The deafening music of the live rock band plus the cigarette smoke in the air left me with a sore throat for days. In my half a decade of stay in Olongapo, I’ve been to the other bars, too like Blue Note, Pier One, Gigolo (hahaha!), and some forgettable ones that were beyond my photographic memory. The only reason why I went was because of “pakikisama.” If I had my way, I would have loved bonding over a tall glass of frappe coffee. This dream bonding happened in my late 20s when I reconnected with some high school friends. Sometimes, we went to the bar in Balanga just for the sake of drinking. I realize that the more you grow older, the less you become excited about going to the bar. Like, when you’re younger, you have wandering eyes to check on who to hook up with but that looks awkward when you’re approaching your 30s.
I stopped my bar life and alcohol bonding when I started a relationship with the boyfriend who became my husband. He had nothing to do with my decision, I just felt that drinking was never really my love language to stay with a friend or boyfriend.