Short Time sa Sogo

(Ang sumusunod na artikulo ay rated PG-13.)

May mga establisimyento sa Pilipinas na hindi maganda at medyo makulimlim ang kanilang reputasyon. Makatarungan man o hindi, ay atin silang tinatagurian na hindi dapat puntahan ng mga taong may dangal. Kasama dito ang mga sauna, massage parlor, at motel. Ating iniisip na may mga nangyayaring “kababalaghan” sa mga establisimyentong ito.

Pero kung tutuusin ay mararangal naman ang mga ito. Dito sa Amerika, ay walang malisyang iniisip kung ikaw ay pupunta sa sauna o sa massage parlor. Sa Pilipinas lang kaya may mga extracurricular at happy ending na mga pangyayaring nagaganap sa mga lugar na ito?

Ang motel naman ay galing sa katagang “motorist hotel.” Ibig sabihin ito ay para sa mga manlalakbay. Muli, sa ibang bansa tulad ng Amerika, walang konotasyong masama kung ikaw ay matutulog sa motel. Ngunit sa ating bansa, ito ay kilala para sa “short time” lang. Tinatawag din natin itong “biglang-liko” sabay “biglang-yuko.” Dahil ba para sa mga naglalaro ng apoy lang ang lugar na ito, at tagpuan lang ba ito ng mga bawal na pag-ibig?

Lahat ba ng tao na pumupunta sa sauna, o massage parlor, o sa motel, ay may kabulastugang ginagawa?

Ako’y magkukumpisal: ako ay nag-short time sa Sogo. Oo, ‘yung kinikilalang “lover’s hotel” na hindi mo dapat puntahan, kaya No Go.

Pero bago ninyo ako husgahan, ay inyo munang pakinggan ang aking kuwento.

Mahigit dalawang taon na ang nakalipas nang ako’y biglaang umuwi ng Pilipinas, dahil malubha ang kalagayan ng aking ina. Siya ay naratay sa ospital ng UERM sa may Aurora Boulevard. Doon namin napag-alaman na kumalat na ang kanser sa kanyang boong katawan. Iyon na ring uwi kong iyon ang huli naming pagkikita ng aking ina.

Pangatlong araw matapos kong lumapag sa Pilipinas, at matapos kong lumagi sa UERM para bantayan ang aking nanay, ay sumaglit ako sa SM City Santa Mesa na katabi lang ng ospital, para mananghalian. Solo flight lang akong lumabas. Matapos kong kumain, ay bigla akong inatake ng napakatinding antok. Wala naman sigurong pampatulog ‘yung Jollibee na kinain ko. Marahil na rin sa aking pagod sa paglalakbay, pagod at puyat sa pag-aasikaso sa aking nanay, at grabeng jet-lag, ay hindi ko nakayanang labanan ang sobrang antok.

Aking inisip na kung babalik ako sa UERM, ay wala akong tutulugan doon. Kung ako’y maglalakbay patungo sa tirahan ng aking kapatid sa Quezon City kahit pa malapit lamang ito, ay baka hindi ako umabot at ako’y makatulog sa daan. At kahit pa sabi ng aking tita na malugod akong inaanyayahan na tumambay sa kanila sa may Pasig, ay lalong hindi ako aabot doon, at baka sa LRT pa lang ay mawalan na ako ng malay, dahil nahihilo na ako sa sobrang antok. Kung puwede nga lang humilata sa mga binibentang mattresses doon sa mall ay ginawa ko na.

Dito ko nakita ang Hotel Sogo na kadikit lang ng SM City Santa Mesa. Alam ko ring maraming mga motel (biglang-liko?) na malapit sa Santa Mesa, pero hindi ko na kailangan pang lumayo, dahil kaharap ko na mismo ang Sogo.

Hindi ko inalintana kung ano man ang persepsyon ng mga Pinoy sa lugar na ito at kung ano pa man ang sasabihin ng iba. Unang-una, wala naman akong tinatago. Isa pa, wala rin namang nakakakilala sa akin doon. Kaya’t binaybay ko na ang daan patungong Sogo.

Sa aking pagpasok at paglapit sa front desk, ay tinanong ako ng receptionist kung anong klaseng kwarto ang gusto ko, at kung gaano katagal ako lalagi doon. Dahil ang nais ko lang ay matulog ng ilang oras, kaya’t short time lang ang aking pinili, at basta ba may kama sa kuwarto ay sapat na sa akin. Hindi ko kailangan ng jacuzzi, o complimentary champagne, o ng disco ball, o ano pa mang romantic amenities.

Hindi ako tinanong ng receptionist kung may kasama ba ako. Siguro alam na nilang maraming nagche-check-in sa hotel ang hindi magkasabay kunwari sa pagdating, para hindi mahalata kung mayroon man silang tinatago. Siguro mayroon din silang “no questions asked” na policy para sa privacy ng kanilang mga customers.

Ako’y pumanhik sa silid na ibinigay sa akin. Maliit lamang ito, at kasya lang ang isang kama. Mala-bartolina ito dahil wala itong bintana. Mayroon naman itong gumaganang aircon at mayroon din itong TV, pero hindi ko na tinangkang buksan ang TV dahil wala naman akong balak manood. May maliit na banyo rin itong kasama na may shower. Malinis din naman ang silid, at tulad ng slogan nila, “so clean, so good.” (Wala po akong komisyon galing sa Sogo.)

Sa aking pagbulagta sa kama, ay tinakasan na ako ng aking ulirat. Nahulog na ako sa napakahimbing na pagtulog, at wala na akong namalayan pa sa aking kapaligiran. Para akong na-knock-out ni Pacquiao. Kung may mga kakaibang kaluskos, indayog, ungol, hikbi, sigaw o ano pa mang mga kababalaghan sa mga katabing kuwarto ay wala na akong alam.

Matapos ang tatlo o apat na oras ng malalim na pagtulog ay ako’y muling nagkamalay. Namalikmata ako sa aking pag-gising. Mga ilang sandali rin ang lumipas bago ako natauhan kung saang lugar ako naroroon.

Naninimbang akong lumakad na parang lasing patungo sa banyo. Matapos ang malamig na shower ay tuluyan na akong nagising.

Aking kinulekta ang aking gamit, at nanaog na sa lobby ng hotel. Aking sinauli ang susi ng kuwarto sa receptionist. Maaring nagtatanong ang tingin nito kung sino at nasaan ang aking kasama, o kalaguyo, o kulasisi. Wala akong imik na lumabas ng hotel, at hinayaan ko na lang ang mga matang nakamasid na humabi ng mga kwentong mula sa kanilang malikot na pag-iisip.

So long, farewell, and so I go, Sogo.

sm-centerpoint-sta-mesa

SM City Sta. Mesa and Hotel Sogo (next building)

(*photo from the web)

 

The Art of Rubbing

Massage therapy is over-rated. At least in my opinion. But before all the spas, massage parlors and masseurs detest me, I have to put a disclaimer that this opinion is not based on scientific nor medical facts but purely on my personal experience.

I grew up in Manila, where a massage parlor has a connotation of something else. Something shady. Where there is more hanky-panky “extra-service” occurring than a real massage. Maybe it has changed now. But that somehow influenced my view of them. I just don’t go to them.

During our recent trip to Colorado, our group went to Sulphur Hot Springs Resort and Spa. One of our friend paid for all our entrance to the resort as a treat. There we spent half a day soaking in the mineral-rich natural hot spring. (see previous post)

They also have massage services available in that resort. Due to the prompting from my friends and from my wife, encouraging me to have a massage to complete the spa experience, I obliged.

Before the masseuse started working on me, she asked me when was the last time I had the massage. To this I answered: “never.” She was kind of surprise in my answer, but am I the only one who never had a massage therapy?

Well, that’s not true, I had massage therapy before. There was Mamang Hilot who treated me when I was a kid for my “pilay” (see previous post). Then when I was older, Mang Tony, the barber in Sta. Mesa will give me back and shoulder rub, after slapping a whiff of alcohol in my neck and face at the end of my haircut. Do they count?

Back to the massage, when the masseuse was giving me the therapy, I was so uptight that my muscles were so tensed. I was as relax as I was when having my teeth cleaned at the dental chair. The masseuse even told me at least twice, “Relax and let go.” But how can I, when I feel it was somewhat painful to have my muscles squeezed and mashed? Must have been a deep-tissue massage, eh?

relaxing massage?*

The scientific evidence on massage therapy is quite limited. Though this therapy dates back thousands of years with references appearing in writings from ancient China, Japan, India, Arabic nations, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Hippocrates defined medicine as “the art of rubbing.” Would he define bad medicine as “rubbing the wrong way?”

Massage became widely used in Europe during the Renaissance. In 1850’s, two American physicians who had studied in Sweden introduced massage therapy in the US, where it became popular and was promoted for a variety of health purposes. (Now, I know where the Swedish massage originate.) However, with scientific and technological advances in medical treatment during the 1930’s and 1940’s, massage fell out of favor. Interest in massage revived in the 1970’s, especially among athletes**. Today, with proliferation of massage parlors and spas, massage has been mostly used to relieve stress and promote relaxation.

After 30 minutes in the massage table, that seemed forever for me, my “agony” was finally over. I was more relieved that it ended. The masseuse then asked me when will I have my next massage. Honestly? Never again! But that’s not what I said. “I’ll think about it,” was my less emphatic and genteel reply.

Don’t get me wrong, it was not the fault of the masseuse, who I know was a competent massage therapist, and who I later learned was also a licensed physical therapist. Nor was there anything wrong with the parlor, for it was indeed a world-class resort and spa. It was just me. I am not used to this kind of pampering, and I have a different view of unwinding.

I left the massage room more bent, not straight, than when I entered it. I then went back and soaked in the hot spring pool with temperature of 105 – 107 F. I felt the almost scalding hot water more relaxing, than the squishing and kneading of my neck and back.

That evening, my muscles were all sore, as if I just played basketball with Jaworksi, with shoving, elbowing and all. That could have been more fun and relaxing.

*****

*(image from here)

**source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (National Institute of Health)