In my pre-MBA days, I acquainted myself with misfits, bohemians and activists who did not subscribe to the consumer capitalist culture. I was surrounded by an amazing band of artists, sculptors, poets and film directors, generally the nonconformists who are always grumbling about the status quo.
And then, life happened. I don't see my old friends as often anymore but I still try to pop up unannounced to remind them
of my existence. "We thought you sold your soul already to Wall Street," they would chide. I feel like the occasional ghost who
creeps into their lives, just to let them know that I haven't pulled a Faust just yet.
We were reunited in a humble bar in the heart of Old Manila. I don't know if it's possible to feel nostalgic for a time that you never lived through, but that's exactly how I felt upon entering. The bar walls are furnished with pre-WWII photographs. The old pictures were romantic black-and-white reminders when our city was once the Pearl of the Orient, a forgotten era when Manila was a magnificent city likened to Paris, Madrid, and London. Gustave Eiffel himself designed Quiapo's San Sebastian Basilica as the first allsteel church in Asia.
Just as the old framed walls offered nostalgic comfort, it was just as endearing for me to see the old ghosts of my past right in front of me; doing the same thing we do best: talking — and then arguing — and then heated matches on art history, philosophy and political ideologies.There are some things that never change. For instance, we had to transfer bars because of one big abomination: their menu did not have Red Horse Beer!
Then there are some things that do change: I notice their energies have mellowed down by age, and the radical minds are now tempered with some conservatism. Albeit still provocative in quoting Nietzsche or Chomsky or some dead philosopher, the radicals are already, for lack of a better phrase, "picking their battles judiciously."
Maybe it does come with age. Our group was composed largely of individuals north of 30 until mid-40s. I reminded them that I am the youngest, still in my "experimental" decade and nearing the end of it: I am still to