Woke up at sunrise on the couch in my 22nd-floor hotel room in Makati looking out at the city thinking about the wild night of KTV with my cousin and those strippers in the private room the night before, and couldn't get back to sleep. I flipped around the tube (they're still old-school in the Philippines--no channel guide), and got sucked into this depressing movie on HBO Asia, My Sister's Keeper, where the cute kid from Little Miss Sunshine sues her mother (Cameron Diaz) for medical emancipation. I asked myself through every cancer-filled scene what the hell I was doing spending my vacation watching it, but it was filled with such great flashbacks of happy moments and sentimental music--and Jason Patrick and Alec Baldwin's characters were so wonderful in it--I just couldn't get enough.
After ordering my favorite Filipino breakfast to my room (beef tapa with eggs sunny-side-up and garlic fried rice), I checked out at noon and took a cab to my cousin's condo in Bonifacio Global City a couple miles away. It was where I'd be staying the next few nights. When I arrived, he was on his computer in his living room. There were supposed to be a couple ladies over for lunch, but they had canceled. Instead, the stripper from the night before was crashed out in his room. Since that was also where his TV was at the time, I decided to take a nap in his spare room. I wound up sleeping until 7 p.m.
When I woke up the stripper had already left, and my cousin moved his plasma back into the main room. (I was very relieved he did. There was no way I would have been able to stay there without it.) He ended up showing me around his area that night. Just a few blocks away from his place was a whole bunch of shops and restaurants, as well as this shopping mall called "Market Market." We wound up eating at a restaurant for dinner. The food was all right, but I made the mistake of ordering a Corona. It tasted about four years old. They didn't have a big variety of tequila, but they did have Hornitos, and as long as I didn't have to drink Cuervo I was fine. After dinner we walked through this big courtyard looking for a place to drink. Everything looked too restauranty, so we actually wound up settling for TGI Friday's. It was the last place I ever thought I'd want to hang, but this was the Philippines, and Filipinos with their friendliness and hospitality can turn the lamest chain spot into the place to be. My cousin had already drunk there a couple times before and knew some of the staff. The waitresses were really pretty, and one bartender was the master of that Tom-Cruise-in-Cocktail bottle-flipping thing. Any chode in the states does that, it's the douchiest thing ever, but this guy made it cool.
We wound up getting trashed at Friday's, and moved on to this club where they played loud, throbbing techno. It's not my scene, but we wanted to see if we could rustle up some girls back to his place. No luck. We were way too wasted to make anything happen at that point. We picked up a couple of nightcap Red Horse beers and drank them on his roof. I asked him if he missed Seattle, and he looked at me like it was the stupidest question on earth. He lives in a land where the women throw themselves at Americans, there's fried chicken on every corner, and 20 bucks lasts like a hundred. I love home, but retiring to paradise before I turn 40 sounds like something I should seriously consider
Day 4 -- Friday, January 21, 2011
Naturally, I didn't feel much like drinking on this day. I woke up at 7 a.m. and cranked out the column about my encounter with Buffy, the stripper, at the KTV. I went back to sleep until four in the afternoon. When I got up, my cousin told me Buffy and another stripper friend of his would be coming over at 10. I was supposed to meet my dad and his buddies for dinner, but it rained so hard that night he called to say he was running late, so I was able to get out of it.
My cousin left to pick up the girls and had me buy some dinner at this place a block away from his flat called Reyes Barbecue. I got four different meals and rice for 455 pesos. It was an obscene amount of food for 10 bucks. I also bought a bunch of beers, and we were ready for entertaining.
When they arrived, Buffy and me pretty much picked up where we'd left off with the heavy kissing and petting from the other night. She looked even sexier in civilian clothes. I fired up the Sirius Backspin (old-school hip-hop) station on my cousin's computer, and we all hung out in his living room until 2 a.m. My cousin's date wasn't as stunningly perfect in the face as his other girl, but she seemed a lot cooler. We both retreated to our separate quarters, and yes, I slayed the hell out of Buffy--twice. I was actually pretty proud of myself. She went pretty nuts. The tough part was leaving her alone in my room. This wasn't a pay-to-play encounter, but during my water and restroom breaks that night I really wanted to ask her to keep her hands clapping so I knew she wasn't digging through my wallet. Of course I didn't, but the moment I could count my money the next day to make sure it was all there, I did (and it was).
Day 5 -- Saturday, January 22, 2011
We slept in until almost one in the afternoon. Buffy asked if I was going to see her again. I said yes. It was a total lie, and I think she knew it. After they left we spent the remainder of the day hanging out watching TV. That was the night of my dad's 50-year high-school reunion (the reason for this trip). I wanted to look good so he'd be proud to show me off to his old friends, so for the first time in almost two years I shaved with a razor. It cleaned up my face pretty good, but my hair was looking a bit bushy in the back. My cousin goes to a barber in the same complex as the barbecue joint from the night before. It only cost 180 pesos, and this guy did such a thorough job and finished me with a full head massage.
The reunion was a blast. It was at this restaurant called Barrio Fiesta in Green Hills, not too far away from my cousin's. My dad brought his two brothers, my uncles Henry (younger) and Mojie (older). I met his best friend, Ernie (I call him Uncle Boy), during my last visit in '06. This guy is a character. He's a little short guy that sings with a lot of style and demands attention everywhere he goes. After the slide show and an incredible feast of fried fish, fried chicken, deep-fried pork leg, and this amazing dish called Kare Kare (oxtail, tendon, veggies, and tripe in a peanut sauce; might be my favorite of all time), it was sing-along time. One of my dad's classmates played the keyboard as people got up and sang their favorite songs from when they were young. My Uncle Boy started things off with the standard "The Way You Look Tonight" and followed it with the Beatles' "'Til There Was You." My dad sang a couple numbers, but my Uncle Mojie delivered my favorite number of the night, "Because" by the Dave Clark Five. Uncle Henry (who also is an incredible singer) and I held off on singing. We wanted to leave it to the celebrants. Line-dancing took over after everyone got their fill of singing. I wished they'd kept the songs rolling, but it was pretty funny to watch all these old people completely botch the routine. Midway through every song, everyone was facing a different direction.
At the end of the night there was an extra suite available; the reunion committee had arranged it for any out-of-towner who needed it. My dad, after seeing nobody wanted it, claimed it for himself but gave the keycard to me. This place wound up being on the 18th floor and was easily the most luxurious place I've ever stayed anywhere. It was 12:30 when I dropped my things off. I hopped in a cab and told him to take me to a bar where I could meet girls. The guy wound up taking me to the very KTV spot, Asian Entertainment, where I'd met Buffy a couple nights before. It wasn't what I had in mind, but I walked in anyway and gave it the once-through. It was way too packed, so I just bagged it. I hopped back into the same cab and told him to take me back to the hotel. I spent 'til 4 a.m. watching a marathon of Glee on this channel called "Jack" and eventually went to sleep.