Saturday, December 5, 2009

Addiction | The Great Manila Roundtrip (Second Part)

Unnamed Chinese Drugstore
Carriedo LRT Station
6:40 PM

Earlier that morning.

"Beh makakadaan ka ba ng Quiapo mamaya? Magpapabili sana ako sa iyo nung pinapahid mo sa ilong." The supervisor was referring to the Polar Bear menthol I habitually shove under my nose.

"Okay lang... Sige daan ako..." The answer I gave had a tinge of doubt. I myself wasn't sure if I could accommodate her request.

"Ang mahal kasi nung binibili ko sa Mercury eh" She was talking about Boehringer, the German brand which I heard, cost around 300 pesos.

"Sige, daan ako mamaya Mami."

"Sure ka ha? Kasi kung hindi eh pupunta na lang kami ni Eduardo dun para bumili."

As if her husband knows the streets around Quiapo.

"Weh punta ka diyan! Hindi mo nga alam kung anong tindahan sa Quiapo yung binibilhan ko eh."

Our conversation went on for a few more banters until she was convinced that the Chinese Drugstore where I buy my menthol is hard to find. A flu pandemic is making everyone sick at work and since some of the agents who drop by for the training carry the virus with them, it didn't take long for the contagion to reach our department.

"Magkano nga ulit yun?"

"80 pesos yata."

"Sure ka talaga ha? Teka, bigyan na lang kita ng P100 for all the trouble you'd get."

"Sus, kahit wag na nu."

The supervisor insist that I get the whole amount. There's no use arguing for I would never win - no matter how I go around her logic. Going back to the menthol, reputation spreads fast at the floor. If the agents would remember me, they would probably recall more the plastic cylinder I carry around when doing trainings. The plastic cylinder packs menthol granules, which could last for over a month. I stick it under my nose, sniff it with my eyes closed and bliss would suddenly jack up my mood. It's like cocaine, except it only clears my nasal passageway and not bring me to a state of psychedelic Nirvana. Like Vicks Vaporub - whose Camphor and Menthol properties leave a patch of the skin warmer than the rest of the body - the Polar Bear brand accomplishes the same feat with double the effect.

"Make sure you bring my menthol tomorrow or I'll kill you..."

I don't know if my supervisor-slash-surrogate mother is bluffing or what, but earning her disappointment is the biggest of my concern. Unless I can spin a string of work-related achievement in her behalf, better grant her immediate request than fall out of favor.


So I hailed a jeep going to Divisoria, and crossed Avenida to take a short stroll going to Carriedo. I savored the sights and smell of a derelict Rizal Avenue, and tried to remember the young days when my mom and I would walk the same sidewalk, check the old grand bazaars which is now home to ukay-ukay and other thrift shops, and go home with a Matchbox die-cast toy car as our only souvenir.

I caught glimpse of my dad's newspaper on my way to the drugstore. For all my fears the struggling publication has gone bankrupt, I felt relieved knowing the tabloid remains in circulation.

It was the first among the little perks I got for taking such round-trip journey.

The air was bitter cold. Fumes from passing jeepneys left me nauseated. Above my head stood the monolith that is the Carriedo Station. It blocked the neon signs, the stars and the clouds from my view. Crossing another side street and the rows of small stalls appeared right before me. They sold everything, from gold watches, jewelry made of precious stones, and lucky charms only the esoteric among us would buy. Of the tiny stalls that sold everything, one sells something of great value to me.

"Isa ngang Polar Bear ate."

"Nandito ka na naman!?!"

"Oo eh. Sumisikat yung binibili ko senyo eh."

"Nasan na pala yung kasama mong babae? Yung intsik?" Usually, the lady who attends to me undoubtedly hails from Sichuan.

"Ah siya, nag-CR lang."

"Magkano nga ulit ito?" Turning sidewards the capsule-shaped plastic cylinder to open, I found the menthol still wrapped inside the tin foil.

"70 pesos."

"Sige kuha ako ng isa."

As bills exchange hands and the menthol safely tuck inside my bag, I head off towards the nearest staircase going to the LRT ticket booth upstairs for my final objective.




buboy said...

Makabili nga din ng Polar Bear pag nagka-trangkaso ako. He he he!

Goodluck na lang sa paghahanap ko ng Chinese drugstore na yan!


Galen said...


Showed you the map. Hanap-hanapin mo lang dun. Ingat lang at baka ma-addict ka gaya ko.

blagadag said...

three things i noticed here:

i also call my sweetheart beh.

i also use polar bear. the one i am using is still the one of the last three bottles i bought at divisioria, three years ago.

lastly, very dear ones call me mami, including zambo.

cheers soulja. this entry made my day.

Galen said...


How sweet! Sayang, may mami na ako. Tatawagin pa naman kita sanang Mami. Hehehe. I hope you are doing okay.

thecurioscat said...

refreshing mga entries mo Galen ah. Good boy ka na yata talaga.

Galen said...


There's always a price for peace. Malalaman mo na lang kung ano yun. :)

blagadag said...

surrogate mami na lang, beh.

Galen said...


May surrogate mother na ako sa office eh. Hehehe. Ano nga pala e-mail mo. :)

jeszieBoy said...

ma try nga din yan.. kumakalat na rin ang virus sa school. Lol.

Herbs D. said...

Chinese drugstores usually have weird shits in 'em. I wonder if they have amps with them too hehehe

blagadag said...

blagadag na naman akech. anyhows, i will wait for the four more stations that you went after the pressed pow and polar bear shopping.

Galen said...


Must be the fucked-up weather. Kahit ako eh may ubo pa rin eh.


We have to remember that it was the Chinese (aside from a bunch of old-world-new world civilizations) who gave us alternative medicine.


I will try to finish the last part today. Hehehe.