Saturday, August 20, 2005


PENGUIN CAFE GALLERY (Also known as 604 Cafe)
Remedios Street corner Bocobo on Remedios Circle, Malate.
For almost thirty years, spending Sunday nights at the Penguin was an uninterrupted tradition for Malate's writer/theatre/artist set. And it came as no surprise. In the wasteland that was a Manila Sunday afternoon in the 1980s, Penguin was an oasis of great music and art - especially in an era when the only other things open in the neighborhood were the Aristocrat Restaurant and Manila Doctors Hospital. The parking was plentiful, the drinks were cold and cheap, the menu was eclectic and happy hour started right about the same time that the matinees ended at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Penguin was the definite choice for those looking for an after theater cocktail to cap the weekend or for those looking for the hair of the dog which bit them the night before. The good times rolled all throughout the 80s to the early 90s until the sudden commercialization of the Nakpil-Orosa-Remedios areas sucked the bohemia out of the Malate district and replaced it with Korean fastfood glitz and showbiz karaoke bar glamour. So sadly, somewhere in the early 00s, the tradition faded away and the lights were turned off at Penguin every Sunday night. A tear was shed by many an alcoholic artistic type.

But cry no more and wipe those tears away, dear Dolly. It's time for a holiday at the Penguin once more. Management has been handed over to a younger crowd and the tradition is back. Penguin's doors are now open on Sunday again and the artsy set has returned in full force. So if ever you find yourself in the Malate area and needing a bohemian break at the end of a weekend, be sure to drop in. Beers are three for one at Happy hour (630pm to 8pm) and you just might catch some spontaneous spoken word organized by cultural impresarios Aslie Aslanian and Triccia David of Sanctum Unmasct.

Photo above is of Penguin Cafe, taken on August 14, 2005