I feel a bit nostalgic so this post is about the past.
The date is February 27, 2009. I was still working for one of the Philippines’ oldest newspapers, which is located inside The Walled City, Intramuros. Despite being a slow Sunday, I clocked in earlier than usual. I intended to have a second breakfast. You read that right: a second breakfast, even when it hasn’t even been two hours since the first. I channel my inner hobbit.
After dropping off my stuff at the office, I went back outside. Sundays at Intramuros, between 7 and 8 AM, were always a treat. In place of cars, kalesas, and tricycles were basketball matches. Cheers for teams took the place of students’ recitations and songs. And you could tread the invisible line on the road where the shadow met with the sunlight.
The five-minute walk ended with a familiar destination: McDonald’s Intramuros.
Bright red exterior, dark red shingles that formed the roof, and the golden arches incorporated into the name of the restaurant. Colorful banners hang from beneath the gutter. Rare was the local who did not know the sight.
Its interior was cream and beige, with splashes of red. The arched transom windows were like 6-foot guards. White and grey tables and chairs were moved around by kids having their breakfast before continuing their field trip. As usual, despite being alone, I took a booth; its seat resembled park benches.
With all that sunlight flooding in, it felt so bright and warm. The chatter and giggles from the children felt so great so hear. It was just so inviting to drown in the ambiance of coffee, chocolate, and maple syrup.
My usual order: two-piece pancake set with orange juice. Sometimes, when I feel like it, I would have a egg and sausage sandwich combo, which I would have with a dollop of BBQ sauce. While any breakfast meal comes with a complimentary newspaper, I never took one—mainly because it was the rival’s. It felt wrong to bring one to the office.
Pancakes rarely met butter. For the record, I do not hate butter. I just prefer maple syrup. And there was a lot of it there! I tend to soak my pancakes with so much syrup that they would turn out soggy. Yet I was never sorry about the outcome. I drizzled syrup on a hash brown once but it did not do anything for the taste or texture. What I failed to do there: BBQ sauce on pancakes.
Knowing I couldn’t linger at the place for too long made me sad, even sadder because I was well aware of the truth: that day was the last time I would eat at McDonald’s Intramuros because it would close its door permanently the next day. That Sunday treat of mine would vanish into memory.
Back in 2009, I didn’t know how long it would be until another McDonald’s would rise from the same spot. While there is now a McDonald’s Lyceum, its look and feel is far too different from the previous possessor of the place. Despite serving the same food, the pancakes taste different there. The ambiance certainly changed. I don’t know if the smell of coffee, chocolate, and maple syrup are still heavy on Sundays. It feels like a different sun shines there now.