February 6, 2007
It pays to drink and be merry. There is a certain plane of reality we enter only with a bottle in hand. The reality we are in may be okay or not, but just the same, sad or happy, we drink. I have Chinese blood (though arguably, I look Japanese). My great grandfather was a merchant-sailor from Amoy, China. The same as the Chinaman who brought sioktong here in our shores more than a century ago. That man started up what could have been the very first distillery in the country.
Old Nick digged beer and would consume more than ten bottles in one sitting. And yes, he was not fat. In 2004, shortly before he passed away, I saw him at CCP (it would be his last book launch). He was so thin, no sign of the beer. But we can’t all have the same cosmic beer power. Sometimes we have to take it hard.
Taking a shot each night before I sleep, I made sioktong the replacement for my Milo. After-all, I like to think of myself as a writer and not a basketball player. My hardcourt is the blank page. And it’s quite tough to manage a score really for it’s full of demons trying to steal my balls: non-readers, bureaucratic academe, antagonistic pedagogues and apathetic beings. Now just look at the drink and the macho man in it. Not a running red horse, but a muscular, ‘don’t mess with me’, version of me. Althusser was right–just hit the right buttons and you will start the apparatus of machismo.
But don’t get me wrong, Red Horse is still my beer brand since highschool. And back in Baguio City, during the 3rd UST Writers Workshop, we took a truckload, divesting Hotel Veneracion of all its supplies. The thing with this beer is that it hits you real hard but after taking a nap for a few hours you’ll be okay.
Since I don’t have P45 pesos to spare all the time, why not try sioktong and go back to history, back in Amoy where my great old man came from.