As the new term in university begins, I find myself in a state of summer hangover. Once I was too bored to stay in my own room, constantly looking for even the slightest possibility for human interaction. Now, however, I am once again surrounded by people. I thought I’d never miss the quiet, but I guess it was just a matter of getting accustomed to a life of low-volume music and books.
But now that we’re back, I’m still–there’s no proper word for it, so I’ll take a stab in the dark–groggy from the time when I didn’t have to think of other things. So today, when I left for campus, I forgot my lunch at home.
Next, me and my good friend Craiggy ate out at ManilaQ. After lunch, Craiggy and I took a seat around the science building while waiting for our next class. I had a five-hour break, and Hedda had invited me to go shop for cupcakes with her at Sophie’s Mom in San Antonio later on in the day. When Hedda left the table, I left my stuff with Craig to buy water at the university cafeteria, but then–
“Kuya, water po.”
“Opo. Thank y–” I checked my wallet. I only had a twenty left. What the hell happened? I had a five hundred bill that I used to pay for my lunch I . . .
I forgot the change.
I had to run back to One Archers, up to the second floor where ManilaQ was.
“Uhm, Ate, I ate here awhile ago, and I–”
“Bagwang?” She asked. It was what I had ordered for lunch.
“Opo.” In affirmation.
She asked me to take a seat, then later on someone came out to give me the receipt and the change that I forgot to claim.
The staff there is little, but nice and quite accommodating. And the food is pretty good, too. The main perk of having condominiums built around the university campus is that they provide so many places for a decent lunch.
ManilaQ is at the second floor of the One Archer’s building, next to Andrew Building and right across the Science & Technology Research Center (STRC). The cuisine ManilaQ features is your basic Filipino bagnet (which means pork in Cebuano), sliced thinly and deep fried for a crispy Filipino styled bacon, aptly called bagwang.
Bagwang is their bestseller here, and this Filipino bacon is often integrated into their other dishes, making usual Filipino pork dishes even crunchier, notably the classic pulutan go-to Sisig. They also have other classic dishes like Adobo, and a corned beef sinigang. Other than this unique bacon, they have Vigan Longganisa–and I don’t know if it’s vigan because it doesn’t have meat, or if it’s Vigan because it came from Vigan. Even the Filipino favorite Kare-Kare has its place in ManilaQ, getting a rename of Qare-qare, which is weird but hey, it’s food.
The customer has the choice to buy the ulam with pandesal or rice, with the rice meal usually being ten pesos cheaper than pandesal. And they come with fried egg–sunny or scrambled. Dining in gets you a free first glass of fresh iced tea. It isn’t the instant kind from Nestea like in most food chains, but seems like a freshly brewed green with a bit of sweetener. It’s mild, but you can still taste some of the tea.
For take-out, they put your food in a plastic container, put in an easy-to-handle box with their clean logotype work printed on. ManilaQ’s attention to marketing detail is superb for a Manila-based business, and it’s so easy for a lot of food places to ignore things like logotypes and the design of the place. But it seems that this establishment understands how important marketing strategies are. Other than the clean and catchy logotype and design for their printed materials, their branches are designed with cream cushion seats, clean-edge wooden tables, and on the walls of the One Archers Branch are black-and-white images of DLSU, much like Universitea Taft Branch. Also on the wall is a widescreen television, showing a roll of their menu and best dishes along with the price.
On the topic of price list, the bestseller Bagwang costs 115php with rice, and 125php with pandesal. Most of their dishes are just along this price range, so a humble food budget of 150 is enough for a great meal.
I don’t know if I forgot my change because of a simple summer hangover, or because I enjoyed the lunch all too well for my own good.
Appendix of everything that sounds incredibly Filipino:
- pulutan — any dish eaten alongside alcoholic drinks
- Sisig — a famous pork Filipino dish comprised of ground up parts of pork, not limited to the meat but often includes ears and intestines, often used as pulutan, served on a sizzling plate with mayonaisse and/or egg and calamansi or Philippine lemon
- Adobo — the classic Filipino stew of any meat cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper
- Sinigang — another classic Filipino stew of any meat, most often pork, cooked in tamarind broth (other sour fruits may be used to substitute) with local greens like Kangkong and Okra
- Longganisa — a thick, sweet sausage made of processed pork
- Vigan — a province in the Philippines with classic Spanish-style houses; a historical heritage site
- Kare-Kare — a Filipino dish with ox-tripe and beef cooked in sweet peanut sauce with eggplant and other local greens like pechay and sitaw
- pandesal — a Filipino bun, usually the size of a fist, with a mild sweetness; most often served in the mornings as a traditional breakfast bread