Monday, August 20, 2012
It's been quite a while since I walked the streets of Poblacion early in the morning. Weekends are the only days that I can afford to do this, but the sheer number of people and vehicles crowding the streets on those days dampen my resolve to go back to this old habit.
Then one day I told myself I'll check out the scene and see what's new. It was a long holiday weekend, and the prospect of taking a walk in a less crowded street on a weekday was a good enough incentive. So off I went for an early morning walk - or more precisely at eight in the morning (that's early enough for this late sleeper =:) True enough, there were few people on the street, and even less motorists. Call it a miracle, but I actually had a leisurely walk along B Morcilla St. My destination and mission: breakfast at McDonald's.
There were only two open counters, and the first thing I noticed was that the line leading to the priority counter for senior citizens was longer than the regular lane. I took a position at the regular lane, together with a group of senior ladies who appeared to have come from an aerobics activity judging from their attire and all-too-perky conversations. Women being women, they refused to fall in line in the senior citizens lane.
Sausage McMuffin with egg, hash brown, hot apple pie, freshly brewed coffee, a copy of the day's newspaper - too bad they don't make Twister Fries until ten-thirty in the morning. I got myself a good corner table by the glass panel window in the second floor dining area, with a good view of the road below and the imposing bell tower of the parish church. A few tables away were the same ladies, now joined by more of their kind. They occupy a long table that sits around twenty. The hall was filled by their lively chatter and laughter.
I also saw families taking breakfast together. A group of old men were huddled together in one corner table, enjoying their coffee and lively banter. There was a noisy bunch of kids enjoying themselves in the play area. Across the street were Erika's and Aling Tessie's lugawans, which were both almost empty of customers. Just a few years ago, these two eateries would be full of people waiting for their turn on the few tables to eat lugaw, tokwa't baboy, pritong lumpia and puto.
I thought only the landscape of Pateros have changed with the times. My breakfast at McDonald's was an eye opener. People have changed as well. Fast-food outlets like McDonald's and Jolibee have taken over the iconic eateries of yesteryears. Back then we have Paris and Dos Hermanas restaurants, the Pateros Ice Cream House, Aling Tessie's and Pili's lugawan, and the row of carinderias by the side of the parish church. These are the places where people congregate, where old timers have their small talk, getting up to date with each other's lives - and those of others as well. It was then what Facebook is to us today.
My one hour-McDonald's breakfast showed me that people of my beloved hometown still keep the bonds that bind them since the days of old. They may have levelled up on the venue, but they have managed to keep the warmth of personal interactions alive - as warm and comforting as the freshly brewed coffee I so slowly sip as I take in the scenes of my little town.