Lydia’s Sari-Sari Store/Beauty Parlor: The Benchwarmers

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You haven’t drank like a true Pinoy until you’ve drank on a make-shift wooden bench outside a barangay sari-sari store.

The sari-sari store is the inuman epicenter of the grassroots, sando-wearing, belly-exposing, mustachioed Pinoy. This is the place where old Pinoy movie villains like Rez Cortez and Pacquito Diaz marked as their territory. (If by some off chance a young lady would dare pass by the sari-sari store whilst Rez and Pacquito were splitting a Ginebra kwatro kantos, she could expect some groping and grinding as a toll fee. That’s just how they roll.)

We made our way to Sampaloc, Manila to find the right sari-sari store to quench our thirst. In this part of town, sari-sari stores could be found at every block (and sometimes even beside or across one another). Of course, all of them carried beer and various local liquor, like the aforementioned Ginebra Gin, or other popular Filipino poison like Tanduay Rhum and Gran Matador Brandy. One store even had a sign outside its window that read “Red Horse available here.” Now we know what the people in these parts often seek out.

We eventually settled on Lydia’s sari-sari store/parlor. Yeah, that’s right. Slash parlor. My guess is this “Lydia” made enough cash in peddling cigarettes and canned corned beef and parlayed that into putting up her beauty parlor. Either that, or she won some kind of pang-kabuhayan showcase on Wowowee. Or her husband who’s toiling over at Doha, Qatar as a truck driver (TAP salutes you) has sent her enough money to put both of these enterprises up. In any case, there were those classic wooden benches outside the store/parlor, and we sat down beside an 80s looking photo of some dude with a hairstyle I wouldn’t be caught dead sporting (Think Rick Astley). We ordered a couple of rounds of Pale Pilsen.

As expected, beer here is cheap at about 24 bucks a bottle. It was cold, too. And to complement the beers and the atmosphere, we got a couple of those P1 packs of Chikito nut snacks (not to be confused with Chikito’s nut sack). It was a cool, quiet night and it was actually refreshing to drink in a place where you didn’t need air-conditioning or even a fan to cool off the heat generated by large, drunken crowds and where your ears didn’t have to be constantly raped by Justin Bieber and the Paradiso Girls. It’s a steady place to drink if all you’re after is cheap booze and a place sit down. Apart from the occasional Agua Oxinada blondie in his barangay liga jersey with bloodshot eyes passing by to buy some booze (or rugby, I’m not entirely sure), the people in this part of town are generally friendly and hospitable. It makes you wonder why the people who can afford collared shirts (popped, of course) are the ones that are such douchebags.

TL;DR

The Good – Cheapest and easiest place to get your alcohol, cheap “puluts”
The Bad – Limited selection, always the possibility of a Rez Cortez-type causing trouble
What P500 will get you – 20 bottles of beer and 20 packs of Chikito.

TAP’s recommendation for:

Maximo Bartolome “Mang Max” Ituriaga – Retired PNP officer, has recently purchased a new owner jeep, spends his retirement days with his belly exposed and drinking brandy.

Rhonjayson Treyver “RhonJhay” Maharbol – Dropped out of high school, is the star player of the Barangay San Isidro Stallions basketball team, is unaware that he has a scalp infection from all the hair-bleaching.

Honeylhen May Ann Sarweda – Yaya to a well-to-do Chinese family, has had “relations” with Jonel, the kargador in the ground floor of the Wong Factory/House, is Lydia’s “suki” for buying load.

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