Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coco Banana: Where Are You When We Are Now the Matronas and Aging Barflies?

We always thought (we being the Marcos babies) that Manila’s 400 during the Martial Law were having a party. As it turned out, yes. As Imelda’s disco throw pillow would say, Nice Girls Go to Heaven but Bad Girls Go Anywhere. I don’t know if Imelda went to Coco Banana’s but her daughter Imee certainly did. In fact all the innnneresting people did. Ernesto Santiago, the fashion designer, started the bar on June 12, 1976 and it became the tres chic’s best way to beat the curfew. The world knows where we are, was the come-on. No address. One time on TV, they showed what’s going on there: Life-size retablos using real people as saints. One time, Santiago came with a white and mirror party then Carousel, Rocky Horror or even West Side. Drugs were everywhere but I heard you had to bring them with because drugpushing was not allowed. Santiago as doorman was said to be worse than St. Peter at the Gate. Even if you can afford the ticket (which rang up to P150 at that time) but if he doesn’t like your face or vibes, You’re so out. He doesn’t like your outfit, go home and change. But you had to come back because the music was so UG NY. Underground New York. The Coquettes (the classy gay troupe) and James Cooper (that hairdresser of the stars) as Diana Ross stirred the Studio (Highway) 54 crowd. Helen Guerrero of Azabache would come as a geisha. The top models at that time were always there as wallflowers. Imagine that? You don’t know what to expect. The party could go on till 4 am. You would know the party was ending when Barang Streisand and Donna Summer’s “No More Tears” could be heard. You know the refrain, enough is enough is enough. Santiago said enough in 1988 when he just locked up that old house in Remedios for good.

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