Quantcast
Latest Stories

THE NIGHTLIFE

They still call it Penguin

By

MURAL painting at the bar

Back in the ’80s, nightlife in Manila was centered around the Remedios Circle area. The café society crowd would enjoy dining and talking at Café Adriatico, while those who preferred drinking while listening to a DJ playing records would walk over next door to Hard Rock Café.

But the more adventurous and restless types would cross Bocobo Street to soak in the bohemian vibe at Penguin Café—a club that doubled up as an art gallery where artists of all stripes, including poets, filmmakers and musicians, congregated.

Penguin was always an exciting choice to hang out with friends during our college years, and especially after we found work as a writer—no matter if the cash in our pocket then was good only for a beer or two.

Through the years Penguin even became a venue of live gigs featuring local alternative bands. We thought the club would live forever, until it closed down in 2009, because a Korean had bought the building where it stood.

JD RODRIGUEZ, Jaycie Tanseco and HoneyMachuca

 

Former Cosa Nostra

Last year, the Internet was abuzz with talk that Penguin’s owner had found a new location to move and reopen the club, and that it has a new name, although people who’ve been there still refer to it as Penguin.

Now called The Bar@1951 (referring to its address at 1951 Adriatico St., a stone’s throw from Café Adriatico near the former Havana and Bistro Remedios), the “new Penguin” is run by business partners Eric Gonzalez and Butch Aldana. (The latter bought the rights to operate the old Penguin after original owner Ami Miciano sold it in 2004.)

MURAL painting at The Bar@1951

The Bar occupies the space where the old Cosa Nostra Restaurant was.

“I told Butch, we’re not getting any younger, so we might as well do what we love most,” Gonzalez told Inquirer Lifestyle a few months ago when we first set foot at The Bar. Gonzalez, a geologist, was referring to the idea of picking up where the old Penguin left off, especially holding art exhibits and live gigs.

“Most of the bands that play here are my friends. They either approach me or I call them up,” said Aldana, a former member of the ethnic music group Pinikpikan.

Aurillo

HIJO in action

The first gig we saw at The Bar featured Noli Aurillo, the brilliant guitarist who never fails to rock our brains out with the way he puts his own spin to Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Doors, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin classics, plus some surprising takes on film soundtracks like “Over the Rainbow.”

Every first Friday of the month, Aurillo “blasts away” with what he calls “impromptu music” at The Bar with his group called the Brujo Skinheads.

The second time we visited, The Bar was full of foreign tourists who, Gonzalez said, have discovered the place and apparently loved it and they keep coming back.

The biggest difference between the old Penguin and The Bar is space; the former could accommodate only less than a hundred people while the latter is quite big and expansive—with a second floor, an adjoining room behind it and a loft above.

The bohemian vibe is still felt through the artworks that hang all over the place; the wall behind the actual bar on the ground floor is painted with historical icons in humorous, unconventional poses: Mao Zedong making hand signals to Luciano Pavarotti; José Rizal and Marilyn Monroe sharing spaghetti as Charlie Chaplin looks on; and the visual artist Santi Bose with his arm around Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

One night, the controversial tour guide and cultural activist Carlos Celdran walked in to join some Caucasian friends.

Another night, filmmaker Lav Diaz was spotted having a good time with visual artist Dante Perez, journalist Juaniyo Arcellana and other colleagues from the pioneering music magazine Jingle Chordbook.

On other occasions, another controversial figure, actor Soliman Cruz, could be found chilling out alone or with a few friends.

But of course, the music played live completes the hip ambiance. One time, the former members of Bamboo, now called Hijo, performed a set of originals with infectious energy.

Last Wednesday, we went back to The Bar not knowing who was scheduled to play. A female acoustic guitar-vocal duo called Jaycie and Honey was covering The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” when we arrived.

 

Jaycie and Honey

The ladies sounded like amateurs; they actually flubbed the chords to “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and stopped playing after the first few lines of the lyrics. We were starting to feel sorry and disappointed with them until they began playing an original, “Sometimes It’s Okay,” which sounded fine.

Turned out that Jaycie (Tanseco) and Honey (Machuca) were school chums at La Salle Taft where they finished Communication Arts; music was a hobby they pursued 10 years ago.

One of their guy buddies went on to play interesting covers of Smashing Pumpkins (“1979”) and The Cure (“Just Like Heaven”). By that time, we were settled down upstairs, laughing at the jokes of a friend over San Mig Lights, which were a steal at P60 per bottle.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bocobo Street , Cosa Nostra , Malate , Manila Nightlife , Nightlife , Penguin Bar , Remedios Circle , The Bar@1951

  • http://twitter.com/vintage_alley Ali

    OK na sana yung article. I get the way the writer showed the nostalgia of the place and how Penguin is flocked by artists of different kids. But parang he picked on Jaycie and Honey? He’s not even familiar with the duo. He hasn’t seen them perform before. Wala lang, maka-criticize lang. Disappointing :(

  • http://twitter.com/vintage_alley Ali

    * of different kinds



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Tagle to Napoles: Be honest and return the money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Obama rejects notion that trade deal is in danger
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
    Marketplace