Old School “Pale Pilsen”

We ended our stay in Samar a day ahead of our flight to Manila.  So we headed for Tacloban City and checked in a hotel for the night.  We decided on this so that we won’t be rushing about to take our flight back to Manila all the way from Samar.  After depositing our personal things in our rooms, we headed out to grab a bite for dinner.  My friend Ruben, brought me to Gaisano mall to savor “lechon cebu”, which he had been raving about, way before our trip to Samar.  After the hearty lechon dinner, we decided to drink beer for nightcap.

We scoured the surrounding streets near our hotel and saw a karaoke bar.  It was dark inside and there was a  big videoke tv with a store patron belching out old favourites.  We ordered light beer, and to my surprise they were offering us “pale pilsen”.  I didn’t realize that they were still serving that kind of beer.  In Manila, it is seldom ordered.  That kind of beer is already out of fashion.

Memories flooded me when we got to drink the first round of “pale pilsen”.  It was my late Father’s beer of choice, but there’s not much to choose from back in the days.  It reminded me of Fernando Poe movies where the protagonist and antagonists would drink “pale pilsen” in beer houses before pouncing on each other and using the bottles as deadly projectiles.  FPJ

It reminded me during the ‘80s when me and my “barkada” were lazing around our favorite street corner, either inventing word meanings for the acronym of the brand name or singing commercial jingles of the popular beer with our shared guitar.  Lucky for us, barangay ordinances were not yet passed restricting public drinking.  It also reminded me of my younger days as a fledgling salesman drinking company sponsored “unli pale pilsen” beers during sales conventions.  Beer bellies were fashionable for men back then because it was perceived as being “macho”.  Lucky for me, I didn’t get to sport a beer belly, because I was fortunate enough to have a fast body metabolism.  It was also the time when women seldom drank “pale pilsen” because it appeared too bulky and manly for them. Only a select few adventurous women would try it.

“Pale pilsen” was very much available till the ‘90s.  At the turn of the decade, I don’t recall exactly when, it became out of fashion….like an old  matinee idol bowing out of the limelight.  It was replaced by light beers with low calorie or low alcohol content as the beer of choice especially for the younger generation. Later, new flavoured beer variants came out.  On restaurant tables, the “pale pilsen” dark bottles, which to me is more appealing and more classic were replaced by bottles of transparent functional light beers.

I was probably one of the “holdovers” to the pale pilsen, but by force of circumstance, I finally crossed over to the more contemporary beers because “pale pilsen” was always unavailable. The line is now blurred between men and women drinking beer.  It seemed contemporary. Times are changing, so I had to move on.

Lo and behold the classic “pale pilsen” available in a Tacloban City videoke.  I thought that night, with the third dark bottle of beer in my hand, would be fleeting, so we just had to enjoy it along with OPM songs of Rey Valera, Basil Valdez, et al,  and the 70’s and ‘80s English songs.


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