we finally moved house two weeks ago. still waiting for our new phone line to be installed, hence no internet at home. haay.
quickie updates: Trick and Threat anti-chacha concert was still a success notwithstanding the two-hour brouhaha over the venue (you don’t wanna know about it!). my deepest thanks to bands and artists koyang jess, datu’s tribe, grin department, milagros dancehall, nerveline, etc. etc. is chacha really dead? ramos thinks so, but GMA and her boys seem to be gearing for a smackdown.
november 1 was the anniversary of the Subic Rape case. venz and other LFS lit candles yesterday in front of DOJ to ‘mourn the death of justice’ — Nicole’s lawyers are said to be expecting an acquittal on November 27. tsk, tsk.
barely three weeks to go before nato and beng’s wedding!!!! more about this later.
still no internet. still, no excuse for my blogging hiatus so i’m posting this feature on ‘watering holes’ i wrote for Paraiso magazine.
The tarpaulins in the backdrop caught my eye first.
Trudging along Timog Avenue’s side alleys, away from the usual discos, comedy and videoke bars, I saw Jimi Hendrix in psychedelic background. A closer look and there were Carly Simon, the Beatles, and a very, very young James Taylor. “Walang tao, mukhang mahal tumambay (No customers, it looks like an expensive hangout),” I told my friend. But another look inside and Jimi Hendrix had his way.
We immediately realized our misgiving when Mang Boy, the owner, welcomed us with his pleasant smile. The place was barely open. The bar was just doing a test run.
That was five years ago. My friend and I were the very first patrons of My Brother’s Moustache Folk Bar in Timog.
Mang Boy is Atty. Rafael ‘Boy’ Vinzon, a lawyer with a passion for good music and enough faith to put up a folk house in a time of videokes and so-so show-band bars, bless him.
Mang Boy is a regular guy who always speaks fondly of his wife and kid. Our first meeting led to more late night pleasant conversations and the occasional on-the-house ‘kropek’ treat. His DVD collection of concerts is admirable, nothing any other regular guy can come up with from a short visit to Quiapo. He comes to the bar straight from work, in his familiar barong, always with a ready smile for friends and patrons.
He told us then that all he wanted was a place where good folks could hang out and listen to great music – reminiscent of My Father’s Moustache, a legendary folk bar in Malate in the 70s. No high-end place, just regular-priced beer and some cozy lighting. He was apologetic, “wala pang line-up ng tutugtog (there’s no line-up of musicians yet).” “Balik kayo, ha? (Be sure to come back, ok?)”
And we did. Over and over again.
My Brother’s Moustache eventually moved to a bigger place in Scout Tobias Street, still a Timog side-alley but closer to the bustling main road lights.
Folk and then some
A night in Bigote, my pet-name for the place, is always a musical delight. Their line-up boasts of some of the best folk singers in the country.
My Brother’s Moustache is home to local folk musicians Jesse Bartolome, Florante, Freddie Aguilar, Joey Ayala, Asin, Juan dela Cruz, Chikoy Pura, Bobby Mondejar, Willy Gonzales and other upcoming artists as regular performers. Trust only the legends to offer a night of reminiscing and relaxed bar-lounging with music from America, Jim Croce, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and Bob Dylan among others. The place serves above-average Filipino food and appetizers that would go well with your ice-cold lager.
When rock legends play are the few times that the bar charges a minimal entrance fee. P150 after all is a pretty low cost for a night of mind-wracking music from the greats. Just enough money for a couple of beers? No problem, a view and a tune or two can still make a rock ‘n roll night from the outside tables.
Oh, and jammers are always welcome. On a good night, who knows who just might bring the house down?
My personal favorite was a jammer who sang Led Zeppelin with Wally Gonzales’ band. He was just another middle-aged man who was wallowing alone in the bar when we arrived. I remember my friend’s smirk when he offered to jam. He looked really wasted, the worst for wear. He was tripping all over the floor on his way to the spotlight. I was so fascinated I failed to catch his name. His presence onstage hushed up the crowd, all waiting, anticipating not without a little apprehension. But when he opened his mouth, wow! We were transported straight to freaking Mars!
I’ll never forget that night. I never saw him there again since.
Freedom of expression
Another thing about My Brother’s Moustache is that it is also one of the few places blessed with an owner and management which hold artistic integrity in higher esteem over commercial bulls#@%.
This month, the bar’s walls are lined with abstract paintings by a young group of painters from Valenzuela City. Billy, a fine arts student from the University of the East in Caloocan, is very grateful for the exposure. He says the same opportunity cannot be expected from other bars in the metro. “Yun ang gawa ko (That’s my work)” he said, pointing to a 2×2 canvas piece entitled ‘Ang Pagbabalik ng Pidol,’ a symbolic portrayal of Uncle Sam hovering over an abstract interpretation of a chaotic red texturized background.
Also this month My Brother’s Moustache hosted a leg of the Stop the Killings bar tour – an event sponsored by Inquirer columnist Conrad de Quiros in protest against the continuous spate of extra-judicial killings in the country. When asked why he graciously allowed political events to be held in his bar, Mang Boy mouthed three words, “Freedom of expression.”
Bless him. And the folk house. Maybe the times really are a-changing. But in Bigote, my folk home away from home, Jimi Hendrix lives on. ###
photo by Pat Roque