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Why Last Week’s RePoblacion Street Party Should Be An Annual Freedom Fete

The sky poured down mercilessly last June 11, many times throughout the day. Cars coming from the North were practically crawling their way to Makati. Given the weather, some people scoffed at the idea of a street party proceeding right in the heart of Poblacion on the eve of Independence Day. But despite grey skies and the wet roads, a friend who knew the event organizers tipped us off: “Walang cancel yan.” After all, when Makati’s party bar owners say they’re going to throw a shindig, they do just that.  Come hellish weather or high water, the owners of Z Hostel, Alamat and Agimat were determined to proceed with RePoblacion ng Pilipinas, an Independence Day street party celebration.

 

 

“We figured that there’s really no official Independence Day party in the Philippines.  We want this to be one of the biggest,” Cao Ocampo, Marketing Manager of Z Hostel, told us when we met on a wet curb just as a drizzle began. “Hopefully, we might start a trend. Maybe Cebu will follow soon, Davao might follow soon—[this could happen] all over the Philippines.  Last month we had a Cinco De Mayo event and we had a really great turnout.  Cinco de Mayo’s not even our national celebration so why shouldn’t Independence day be an even bigger celebration?”

 

 

The stormy weather only gave the Poblacion street scene a reflective, dreamy quality that evening as soon the lights came on. 

 

 

Erika, a visitor who only came to check out RePoblacion’s party with a friend said, “This was somewhat more enjoyable for me than when they had Cinco De Mayo.  Although Cinco was fun, too, it was way too crowded. The rain this time lessened the number of visitors.  There are still lots of people, but it’s easier to get around than last time.” 

 

We spy Erika’s black chori burger!

 

There were several setup concerns given the less than ideal weather, yet it was quite evident that the organizers and staff knew what their roles are for the evening.  A small parade was set to begin marching at about 8:00pm. There was minor delay due to a sudden but brief downpour but this didn’t prove to be a major setback.  In case it rained, people could take cover in the nearby Ruins which had a bar and a couple more food stands. Agimat Bar was also welcoming visitors indoors.

 

Inside The Ruins, historically relevant videos were shown. A bar and more food stands away from the rain were also available.

If you were in for slightly swankier offerings, or something special to drink, Agimat Bar was the place to be.

 

 

Over on Alfonso street nearer the “Z” side, “satellite” food stands of participating restaurants like JP Anglo’s Sarsa and bars like Alamat lined the sidewalk.  Even Agimat’s “liquid maestro” Kalel Demetrio had a couple of non-alcoholic coolers—two blends, dalandan or guyabano based— to wash down all that gourmet street fare. Culinary camaraderie was evident, with popular hotshot chefs just walking about.

 

Chef Niño Laus of Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli chats side-by-side with Chef JP Anglo of Sarsa as they oversee their gourmet street food stands.  Plotting as usual we presume.

 

L-R: Chef Kalel Chan, Chef Niño Laus, and Agimat’s Liquid Chef Kalel Demetrio

 

As part of the program, there was a small parade with costumed soldiers and a marching band, which culminated in a flag ceremony.  Also, a revolutionary address by someone playing “Heneral Luna” energized the crowd (with a bit of noteworthy commentary on the current administration), not to mention a surprise appearance by Epy Quizon who famously played Apolinario Mabini in the Luna movie.

 

 

We got our mini dinner fix with Chef Niño Laus’ Pinoy take on a corndog; Alamat sisig swaddled snugly in bibingka, which was grilled inside split bamboo shells.  These were delicious and made us think twice about ever having an original corndog again. 

 

Alamat Bar’s roadside offering: Bibingka-wrapped sisig corndogs

 

Since we surprisingly enjoyed ourselves that evening despite the Signal #2 storm warning, we’re convinced RePoblacion couldn’t be a one-time thing; this just has to happen again. We should be able to look forward to Independence Day in a fun, familiar way.

 

Other than celebrating the historical facts and milestones, we ought to be able to celebrate each other’s company with a tight-knit sense of community—Repoblacion much.

 

ABKD x ñ’s Chef Lica Ibarra preps Tokwa’t Baboy and their own Goto Believe in Magic.  Food al fresco is always festive and fun even when it’s standing room only.

 

The rustic, artsy ambience of the Poblacion community in Makati is known for allowing people to celebrate in a free-flowing (pun intended) manner indoors or outdoors.  It’s slightly more ”roughing it” but people adjust to simply take part in whatever the occasion is.

 

Whether you choose to blend in or come as you are, revolutionary nostalgia is bound to hit you left and right when celebrating freedom on the streets.