POSTSCRIPT / March 16, 2021 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Jeep fare was ₱.10; gas at just ₱.25/liter

JUST when we were complaining about high prices (and rising COVID-19 cases), Romy Macalintal the election lawyer came up yesterday on our Viber page reminiscing on the days when jeepney fare was only 10 centavos and gasoline was sold at 25 centavos per liter.

AttyMac, the advocate of senior citizens, shared his notes on a bygone era in Manila before inflationary forces swamped the capital. President Duterte who turns 76 on March 28 may want to recall those days when life was simpler, cheaper and less brutal.

Noong araw… Panciteria Moderna (not the vaccine!) was the place to go for pancit miki and miki bihon (wrapped in banana leaves and paper secured with a rubber band). Pancit bihon was the specialty of Panciteria Wa Nam. Those who preferred chop suey rice went to Hen Wah beside Avenue theater.

At Ma Mon Luk, siopao was at 30 centavos, mami at 70 centavos, and 2 pcs. of siomai (large) with unlimited soup at 30 centavos. So with one peso, busog ka na.

In Quezon City, the most popular restaurants were Max’s Chicken, Aristocrat Cubao, and Dayrit. The US dollar then fetched P3.70 (compared to P48.40 today). Kung medyo kapos ka e takbo muna sa Tambunting o A. Aguirre pawnshops.

Among soft drinks (soda sa mga Kano), Cosmos Sarsaparilla was at five centavos and Coke at 10 centavos. There was also Cosmos Orange or Sarsi. (Some people swore that Sarsi with a raw egg beaten into it was a health drink.) Costing a bit more was Royal Tru-Orange. There were 7-Up, Lem-O-Lime, Canada Dry, Uva and Bireley’s strawberry and pineapple. Competitors of Cosmos were Ideal and Avenue soft drinks. Also Fress Gusto, Yes Cola, Grassland Milk, and Choco Vim.

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FARE in Manila and suburbs on jeepneys (jitneys) was five centavos for children and 10 centavos for adults. Aside from PUJs, there were three-seater ACs (auto-calesa). “Upong diyes” lang, “konting ipit” lang po, drivers would tell passengers.

The busiest routes were Avenida Rizal at Sta. Cruz, Blumentritt, Tayuman, Espiritu Santo Church, Grace Park, Pasay-Taft, Dakota-Harrison, Paco-Taft, Sta. Ana Tulay and BBB-Monumento.

The G-Liner buses from San Juan to Quiapo would crawl up to the corner of N. Domingo to pick up passengers, so were called Gapang Liner. Plying the Quiapo-UP Diliman line were the red JD and MD buses with tomboyish conductors.

Gasoline was dispensed at 25 centavos per liter and there were only two types: premium and regular. Caltex called their premium “Boron” as advertised by multi-colored dancing lights atop the old San Miguel Ice Plant. Esso named theirs “Extra” to “put a tiger in your tank”.

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ALTA Vista on bayside Dewey (now Roxas) Blvd. was the favorite for wedding receptions at P8.50 per cover. These days, that won’t even be enough for the parking fee.

The Shangri-la in the basement of Shelborne Hotel (at the back) was the place for dates if one wanted a dark and cozy atmosphere. The Black Angel on Shaw Blvd. near the kanto of Kalentong in Mandaluyong was a very good place to listen to soft music (Fleetwoods, Lettermen, Cascades) with the lights quite low.

Wack-Wack, the Sky Room in Jai-Alai, the penthouse at the Rufino Bldg. as well as Capri at the Sarmiento Bldg. opposite it were the favorite venues for proms and balls. Sikat ang event if the DynaSouls (the Beatles of the Philippines), The Tilt Down Men (the Sotto brothers, Tito & Val, favored the Dave Clark 5), Hi-Jacks, the Electromaniacs (later Electros) or the Bad Habits was the combo playing.

Other popular bands then were the Bits and Pieces (after the Dave Clark 5 hit), Purple People, Versatiles (remember the late Bobby Lim), Technicolors (whose drummer Tony Tuviera is now the producer of Eat Bulaga), Red Fox (forerunner of Hotdog), Jungle Cats, Glenmores, Robins, Crystals, Phantoms, and the Downbeats (where most Juan de la Cruz band members came from, notably Pepe Smith or Joey Smith).

Special ringside seats for performances at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao were at P5 per. So with P20 you could safely invite someone and still have enough for a snack afterward or a game of “putt and putt” at the mini-golf place at the back of Araneta.

The more popular performers at the Big Dome were Neil Sedaka, Anita Bryant, Teddy Randazzo, Nat King Cole, Jo Ann Campbell, Paul Anka, Johnny Mathis, Matt Monro, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Dave Clark 5, Zombies, Peter and Gordon.

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AMONG the best shopping centers then was the Good Earth Emporium. The first Shoemart store of Henry Sy was on Carriedo St. in Manila. That shoe store has burgeoned into the SM Supermalls owned by SM Prime Holdings that operates 76 malls in the country and seven abroad.

For cinema, the Manila Grand Opera House, Clover, Odeon, Roxan, Hollywood, Cinerama, Avenue, Universal, Dalisay, Ever, Galaxy, Ideal, State, Lyric, Capitol were the “first-run” movie houses. Tickets sold at P1.20 and P1.50 for Advanced Roadshow (meaning timed with the international release). One could settle for the “second-run’” cinemas at P.85 for “double program”. At Palace, there was even “triple program”.

Some of the second-run theaters were Main, Times, Society, Scala, Globe, Esquire, Vista, Republic, Mayfair, and Palace. The last two were known for their “singit” where they insert back censored portions. The two theaters also showed the early foreign “bomba” films, or skin flicks.

Bodavil was still a hit during the early 50’s when Opera House featured Lopito, Patsy, the Lou Salvador clan, Toto, Chichay, Ike Lozada, Pabo, Cachupoy, etc., while Clover theater had Pilita Corrales, Wing Duo, Reycard Duet, Bobby Gonzales, Sunday Contreras (anak ni Pugo), Joseph Polk, Eddie Mesa, Pugak & Tugak, Chuchi, Aruray, Doro de los Ojos & Popoy. German Moreno started as a utility man at Clover and did bit parts until he was discovered by Sampaguita Pictures.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 16, 2021)

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