“It’s very nice to have a friend…someone to lean on when the road bends…” (Friends, by Bob James)
Let me start this post with a line from Bob James’ 1979 hit “Friends”, which I hear on 105.1 Crossover every weekend. While most of my acquaintances spent the Saturday at SM Megamall for the annual Toy Convention, I had the chance to meet up with an old friend of mine from cosplay. The last time we met was October of 2013 – back when I was still jobless. We failed to catch up on things after that – our schedules didn’t match…until that day. Originally, I planned to go to Makati if this did not push through, but I thought: Ayala Center’s rather far, I’ll just go there some other time. So we talked on Facebook, and agreed to meet on that particular Saturday. I left the house early and headed to the Crame area first, riding a Cubao-Murphy-Crame jeep, in order to have patches made. I finished that in a snap, paying P300 for two big patches.
We were to meet at 2:00 in the afternoon and I had a lot of time in my hands, so I stopped by Tous Les Jours at the Shopwise Arcade to have a snack. When it comes to breads, Tous Les Jours is my second choice after Bakers Fresh in EDSA Shangri-La. It currently has branches in SM Megamall, Greenbelt 5, SM Fairview, Shopwise Cubao, SM North EDSA, and Eastwood City. Speaking of Shopwise, here’s a small piece of trivia: that place wasn’t like that back when I was younger – it was the old Fiesta Carnival. After the Tantocos bought the place, Fiesta Carnival moved to the old parking space beside SM Cubao until it folded. Today, the Telus and EGS call centers stand on a portion of that land and there’s an ongoing construction on the remaining part. A carpark for SM, maybe?
After finishing my meal at Tous Les Jours, I crossed the street towards Gateway Mall and met with my friend at the newly-opened Uniqlo Gateway Mall (it opened last June 12 – in time for Independence Day). By the way, let me introduce Kate. She’s a cosplayer, and has been in the hobby for a long time now. We then took a cab to Petron Katipunan Avenue (just beside La Vista) in order to have lunch at The Royal Piccadilly Restaurant, but it was closed for a private function and would open at around four in the afternoon. Ever since I saw the place on Facebook, I wanted to eat there – but the winds weren’t in our favor. We simply walked to UP Town Center instead. This was our first time to go to UP Town Center ever since it was finished.
After walking around and looking for a place to eat, we settled for Tokyo Tonteki located outside. This joint is known for its tonteki (pork steak), something that makes it different from the rest of the Japanese restaurants around, offering tonkatsu and ramen. Both of us ordered the chicken steak with tonteki sauce, since we believed it was a healthier choice. Each order comes with unlimited rice and cabbage just like Yabu. The sauce was really savory that I just stirred the cabbage in it and it was enough. On the other hand, she was more creative and tried out different sauces with the cabbage. We caught up on a lot of things while eating – how she wanted to be a team lead, and when would I resign from work since I no longer enjoyed it. We left the restaurant fully satisfied after two refills of rice; Kate told me that it was the first time she felt really full after so long. We returned to The Royal Piccadilly hoping to have dessert – but alas, it was still closed; I guess that will have to wait for another day.
Since Kate and I were unable to dine at the aforementioned restaurant, we simply walked to another spot full of restaurants – Regis Center, just across Ateneo. I personally enjoyed that long walk from UP Town Center to Regis as we reminisced college days. Kate is a fan of milk tea and I wanted a hot drink after a heavy meal, so we agreed on having dessert at Saint’s Alp Teahouse. This is only one of two Saint’s Alp branches I know, the other one being their Robinsons Magnolia branch. She ordered a cold glass of taro milk tea and a red velvet cupcake, while I ordered a steaming pot of coconut milk tea and a white chocolate macadamia brownie to go with it. Both of us were craving something sweet after that savory feast!
Now wait just a second…coconut milk? In my tea? People commonly know it as gata, commonly used for cooking savory dishes like curries and Bicol express. Weird as it may seem, but it does pair off nicely with black tea. The sweetness in hot milk tea is cloying due to the syrup, but the coconut milk neutralized it by contributing a hint of saltiness with a nutty aftertaste. Perfect for the white chocolate macadamia brownie I ordered – with its dark chocolate chips and white chocolate base, topped with macadamia nut pieces. My partner, on the other hand, was raving about the red velvet cupcake she ordered. We continued our conversations about life amidst young Ateneans enjoying the view and studying for the difficult subjects. Looking at the Ateneo campus from where I was sitting made me realize three things: I’m getting old, time flies fast, and I miss the place. I’m at a point where I barely fulfilled my own dreams and I’m being paid to fulfill the dreams of others, but this blog gives me at least a shred of hope to at least keep trying. Maybe someday, I’ll be on top – if that happens.
After that dessert trip and hearty conversation, we walked all the way to Katipunan LRT station where we parted ways. She rode the train to Santolan, whilst I headed towards Cubao then transferred to the MRT headed towards SM North EDSA. Seeing friends like Kate and Wil (my tag team partner who I previously mentioned in the blog) showed me what true friendship was. I may have stopped cosplaying already, but the bond forged with friends during those years isn’t severed by time or distance. They’ll give you the best advice when you’re down, and be there when you need them the most. But that doesn’t mean you won’t look for new ones anymore. Go around, walk, meet new people. I’m an introvert myself, but that hasn’t prevented me from making new friends despite that setback. Out of the many people in the world, you will find someone who appreciates you for who you are.