Nikki and I decided to walk around the area near Shaw and Megamall and decided to settle down in a bar somewhere where the streets are kind of clean and the buildings are high. After an hour into the scene which was made up of what I assume to be call center agents and acoustic RnB, we saw Daryl, an old saxophonist friend from Baguio who has just decided to go to Manila four months ago. We invited him for a drink but he doesn’t drink beer. He got a glass of brandy from the band playing, they’re “tropa.”
His head’s a bit balding now, but his energy was the same. He’s a smashing loudmouth who has a low sense of shame and we talked a lot about his (it was actually ‘our’, until I decided to get an office job) plans and his enthusiasm radiated throughout the bar. He was full of verve. Nikki and I almost did not talk but simply reveled in his energy as he talked about how to tried to scrounge for gigs and ‘collab’-ed with a bunch of hot shots.
He went on about talking to a drunk Noli Aurillo after a crazy rendition of “Girl from Ipanema” and how nice Noli is even though he seems to be grumpy old and all. We talked about musicians and he shared chismis on people I only know on Instagram. He talked about how the Manila professional music scene is really about networking and trying to establish one’s own circle (“Isnt’ that how it is everywhere tho?”), and how one lucky guy hit the jackpot by managing to have Hardrock Makati as his ‘territory’, having Atong Ang and Bongbong Marcos or other big shots as his clients, and he doesn’t even know how to read music (like us). He also talked about how this lucky guy started out by going around the exclusive and gated villages and trying to befriend the ‘village people’ by offering free music while they drink wine or something in their indoor pools or whatever. In no time, this guy pulled together a significant number of contacts to establish a scene and a steady flow of gigs and bread. True story, Daryl assured.
This seemingly depressing tale of how musicians use ‘diskarte’ just to get ahead did not make Daryl flinch a bit. In fact, he seems to revel in this, and for every insight he spewed out he giggled, his mouth brimming with spit and spam. He wanted to head out into the streets. I was not much into it; I was tired of work. Nikki was energized, she wanted to go too.
We headed into a place called 12 Monkeys where reggae music is playing and the people are in fancy clothes. The vocalist repeatedly calls the audience to dance, and all of them are in their seats, moving their butts around in mid-dance. One drunk guy went all out tho; he doesn’t care. We danced during the last song of the set and by the end of the song only the drunk guy was dancing.
Then we headed to Metrowalk and everybody was leaving, leaving, and Daryl, like the breath he puts into his old brass, exploded through the stalls, carrying us with him. “Tara, libutin natin to, baka masulit naman natin yung Manila.” We peeped into the karaoke bars and the dead ends, we checked out the empty bottles and leftover pulutan. We tried to grab a drink at a comedy bar but the funky manager told us they are already closing (it was about 3 in the morning) and Daryl deftly shifted the conversation into an inquiry regarding her love life. It was hilarious, and we’re not even a little bit drunk. We finally settled to grab gin in Family Mart and put it into a cup to drink in the bleachers.
By then I was already tired and sleepy, Nikki was so fine with everything, and Daryl continues to yak about jazz, Manila, people and other things which, like him, has made up my life more or less in the past few or so years. I said I feel really sleepy and I can go take a nap in the bleachers and they can go on drinking and talking, but they stiffened in concern and said we should go. Daryl then talked sweetly about us playing music together and me leaving my job in the future, sweet-talking the village people and playing what the fuck we want. We shuffled out of Metrowalk, quarter-drunk and ablaze with the vividness of the now, the future blindingly white and certain in its fierce glow, as it must be in Daryl’s head.