Weekend with Friends

Last Friday, Raquel and I met again with other Filipinos in Melbourne from the Philippines.com.au message board. We’ve met with two of them the Friday before last and one of them from the first Philippines.com.au eyeball back in October 2004. After a while of no personal contact with other Pinoys, it sure had me craving for some social interaction.

I’m not sure if the people I’ve met would want to have their real names mentioned in this blog so I’ll just use their pseudonyms in the message board to protect their true identities for the time being.

So, the arrangement was we’d meet at around 6:30 pm in front of Myer along Bourke St. However, we didn’t really discuss where in the front of Myer we’re supposed to meet (there were like three main entrances along Bourke St). Fortunately, some of us had exchanged mobile phone numbers so we were able to send text messages to one another in case of emergencies. Those that confirmed to be at that Friday meeting were Chinita, Irar01, SilentSentinel (or SS), Milkshake, Raquel and myself.

The first I met was Chinita who had come a long way just to meet with the rest of us in the CBD. She had brought her cousin J (not her real name) with her. More, the merrier. Next came Milkshake who came all the way from Werribee. Next along was SS.

Since there were already a few of us then, I figured it would be easier for the others to find out where we were. All they had to do was look for a group of Asian looking people chatting in Tagalog. However, Irar01 needed just a bit of help locating us. But, like I mentioned earlier, we had mobile phones handy in case of such events. She was able to find us quickly afterwards. Next came RChristian whom we totally didn’t expect to come at all. Good thing we didn’t leave earlier than 7 pm or we would’ve missed him completely. Or rather, he would have missed us.

What came next was the usual discussion of where to eat. Chinita suggested we eat at this self-serve Chinese bar along Chinatown. The self-serve Chinese food was at $7 per plate where you get to choose dishes from a buffet. Though it may sound like it, it wasn’t really an eat-all-you-can deal. You could fill your plate but you couldn’t go back for seconds. So it was kinda like that thing we have in the Philippines when we order the Wendy’s salad and everybody tries their best to fill the plate without the contents spilling on to the tray to get the most out of your buck except with Chinese food.

From the time we met at the front of Myer till we got to the Chinese bar, we were swapping stories and life experiences like there was no tomorrow. I think I may have talked more than my fair share, actually. I guess, I just really missed the company of other Pinoys. But socialising with just any Pinoy probably wouldn’t have cut it. It was really great that they were around my age bracket (mid 20s to late 30s) and very friendly to boot. Some of them were also into movies, comics and computer games. Great!

After dinner, we went to Starbucks to buy coffee and continued our chat all the way to Federation Square where we settled till around 9 pm. Although it was cold, we braved the nippy weather just to be able to continue talking to one another. At around quarter past 9, SS’s friend S (not his real name) was able to join us as he just got off work.

A few more minutes and everybody proceeded to walk back to Swanston St to try to get in one of the night clubs so we could continue our conversation in there (where it was potentially warmer than out in the open night air). Raquel and I decided not to join them as it was getting pretty late. That and we are both sort of allergic to cigarette smoke. Going by my experience inside night clubs, I bet it was going to reek of second-hand cigarette smoke so we thought that maybe it was just as well we said our good-byes then.

While waiting for the Sandringham train at the train station, we noticed that RChristian was there, too. He had to go home then as well because he still had a class early the next day. That and he wasn’t too keen on cigarette smoke neither. At least we were able to talk some more while waiting for our respective trains to arrive.

I was very pleased with the Friday get-together. I got to meet new Pinoy friends who all seem to be the type of people I’d like to hang out with. We decided to form a Yahoo! Group so we can email each other and easily arrange any future get-togethers. In fact, the next get-together would be a trip to the Melbourne Zoo followed by a barbie at Milkshake’s place. We’ll see what happens then. I can’t wait.

Then Sunday, Randolf, my friend from Canberra came to visit us in Melbourne. Actually, he and his housemate came to visit Melbourne, period. But since he was here, he wanted to visit us anyway. The agreement was that we would meet him in the morning in St Kilda and have lunch. By St Kilda, we thought the Luna Park area. And by meeting for lunch, we thought before 12 noon.

So, that morning, Randolf rang me saying they’re on their way to St Kilda via tram. Okay. Raquel and I got dressed and waited for his next call saying that we could meet him at so-and-so. It was almost 12 noon, I was getting real hungry and still no phone call. I said, bugger it, and left for St Kilda anyway as it might be difficult to get a free parking space there.

After a lot of circling around, we finally found a 2-hour free parking space just across the road from McDonald’s in St Kilda. I think it was past 12 then and still no phone call. So I texted him to find out what’s going on. He called and he said that he was nowhere near Luna Park and that he was at the St Kilda Beach port area. AND that he already had lunch with his housemate. Nice. So we walked around to find him and getting hungrier by the second. A few more minutes and another phone call later and we finally found him.

We ate at this Italian restaurant right in front from where we parked. We were able to catch up on stories then. He talked about what it was like in the Philippines nowadays (he just came back from a three week visit vacation there) and his employment situation in Canberra. And I talked to him about… hmm… not much really. He did most of the talking as was typical of our get-togethers back in Canberra. Some things don’t change.

When we got in the car, he wanted us to switch the radio off and turn the CD on. As we didn’t have any CD that he liked, he just told us to turn off the radio completely. And if I recall correctly, he did told us and not asked us to do so. Sheesh. If I were the one riding in his car, I probably wouldn’t be able to order him to switch off the radio or change the music. We just let that one slide, as always.

Anyway, I decided to take us to Brighton Beach afterwards for those colourful technicoloured cottages always shown on Melbourne tourist guides. Raquel and I haven’t been there ourselves so at least we had another reason for travelling there. During the drive south, I wasn’t sure which parking lot to turn to get to the part of the beach with the colourful cottages and we ended up driving along St Kilda St all the way to Sandringham. When we realised that we had in fact reached Sandringham, we turned back and turned into the first parking spot we could find that seemed to lead to the beach.

The first one was a miss. We still got off there though to take some photos of the rocky — I could probably say, craggy — beach. From there, I discovered that the colourful cottages were further north from where we were. We could probably walk all the way to it but we all didn’t want to walk on the beach and get sand in our shoes. So, we just took the car and drove to the parking lot nearest that part of the beach. We got there and took some more snapshots. Since there wasn’t really much there, it didn’t take long before we went back to the apartment.

At the apartment, we were able to finally have a long overdue rematch of SoulCalibur II on the Playstation 2. Back in Canberra, I didn’t have a PS2 of my own and Randolf did. We’d meet almost every week at his place for a SoulCalibur II match or a Capcom/SNK match or a Tekken 4 match. Every time, he’d have more wins than I would except on some days when I was being really lucky. By yesterday, I was already able to practice some moves on SoulCalibur so I was feeling a bit confident.

However, he had more man-hours playing SoulCalibur than I did so ultimately, he still had the upper hand. I was only able to beat him like 18 times and he beat me like 40 times. Ouch. Anyway, I had a great time. It’s one of those things I missed, that was, to play against another person in a fighting game. Although Raquel also plays, she doesn’t really aim to be the greatest fighting game player by memorising all the moves and relies more on the “button mashing technique.” And the computer AI at a very hard setting is still not as smart as an experienced human player.

Soon, it was past 6 pm. We drove Randolf to the city and met with his housemate there. We had dinner in Chinatown where we were able to talk some more before parting ways afterwards.

It was a tiring weekend overall but at least I was able to replenish a little my need to socialise with my fellow Pinoys. I keep saying to Raquel that I’m really an introvert but she insists that I’m an extrovert. After that weekend, I feel more energised and I’m now inclined to agree with her.

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Published in: on May 17, 2005 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment