Yesterday morning, two University of the Philippines students breeze in at our home and look for me. I’m an incurable insomniac, so the girls had to wait for the prince to kiss Aurora. They come back and without me even asking what they need me for, we all agreed to meet at the same place after an hour and move to a nice and quiet spot. Before they arrive, I had an inkling that one of the girls was Raine Mateo Calucag, the budding Ilocana lifestyle writer who writes features for The Philippine Star’s Young Star, as I messaged her once that I was planning to catch up with her for a project. So random to me, it was me they needed to interview for a thesis about Ilocos Norte’s Paoay Kumakaway tourism brand. I was a little spaced out initially ‘coz I regard myself as not fit to be a sensible respondent/resource person for a campaign I only hear about and see in tarps.
Considering that Ellouise Cachero, the other UP student, is a Manila resident, I suggested the Johnny Moon Cafe at the La Tabacalera Ilocano Lifestyle Center. Does the name Johnny Moon ring a bell? There’s the Johnny Rockets chain of restaurants and there’s also the Johnny Midnight of the once famous toning trend, and my own brother is named John and my mom calls him Ang Kwan, but never a Johnny, so maybe no or maybe kind of.
Let’s quickly go back to old history, back when the Spanish global empire spread its rule in the Philippine islands — in the 19th century, there was an Ilocano revolutionary hero named Juan Luna. He showed the world he had what it takes to conquer the hearts of the cultured and the avant garde. He won several international art expositions, set up a studio in Paris, hobnobbed with the connoisseurs, but then he also channeled his skills in the arts, in true patriotic vein, to underscore the political turmoils during the Spanish rule. Juan Luna is arguably the most iconic son Ilocos has ever had, and to rename him Johnny Moon for that more global sound, and use his trademark mustache as an emblem is way out, very Juan Luna imo.
While I was answering questions one after the other, the pan de quezo dressed with marrungay sauce, Johnny Moon pasta, Luli spaghetti and tomato paninis were getting cold. Can you imagine how long I can talk if my fascination is the subject and vice versa, I mean the local places that I’ve been to, my work as a developer (hahah, I got that from Rappler editor Glenda Gloria), and everything within the realm of local tourism that affects me as an ordinary citizen of the province? I sipped the Banna blend rice coffee-banana smoothie to hydrate while speaking. The drink had character.
We all gushed over the Johnny Moon pasta with seafood pesto. It had this nice saltiness, enhancing the beautiful seafood flavors even more.
– REFMAD Farms has a new addition to its list of innovative products. Farm-style papaya ice cream that’s pretty refreshing.
And there were two men at the other table. They might have sensed and put together what we were talking about. The younger guy excused himself and asked if we were journalists and I told him I am an online journalist and the girls are studying to be journalists. Hahah, eavesdropping men. I offered them to join us and I came to know that both of them are my parents’ old friends, and the bespectacled man is writer/poet/former radio commentator Mr. Sammy Bangloy. Spontaneity striked, we stayed at Johnny Moon an hour or so longer. As it turned out, veteran commentator Tata Sammy stole the show with his provocative, technical, blunt opinions.
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