The Moment Group
Why Manam is Perfect for 3 Blind Dates
Bea Sigua | February 2019
I knew two things to be true: I’ve never been on a blind date and I’ve never eaten in Manam. In a flurry of impulsive decisions, I found myself about to change these two things at the same time, as I suddenly had not one, but three blind dates lined up at Manam.
I was thirty minutes early to Blind Date #1 as an adverse reaction to the anxiety. Imagine showing up to a date with zero prepared small talk ideas because you had no idea who to stalk on social media beforehand. (I’m not saying that I do that, but the opportunity to do some light stalking to quell my nerves would have been nice, right?)
It turns out my first date (let’s call him M) and I went to the same college and started the same year, so I had nothing to worry about. We had a bajillion common friends—after a long round of “Wait, you know si ano?” questions and the Pancit Canton Special, it was actually a bit confusing that we hadn’t met each other until that night.
Some (okay, maybe just me) would say that when you meet one Atenean boy, you’ve probably met them all. But in some cases, that shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. The feeling was familiar and homey. He reminded me of lazy afternoons on campus, with the sun beating down—but I was also in the middle of enjoying an Ube Sago Shake, so I wasn’t sure if it was him or the satisfying feeling the shake gave me. It was driving me nuts. I mean, who even had the time to find out?
Certainly not me, because I rushed into Blind Date #2 (who I’ll name S) just 10 hours later. There wasn’t even time to throw a face mask on for the 8AM breakfast date, which I looked forward to the most (yes, with utmost menu bias). Honestly, I pick up breakfast menus knowing full well I’m getting Beef Tapsilog, no questions asked, so I’m happy to note that the beef tapa was tender and crispy at the same time, not too sweet or too salty.
I was a little bit reserved on the “date” bit though—I wasn’t confident in my ability to perform in such a high pressure situation so early in the morning. But breakfast with S was refreshing. We hit it off almost instantly because he had an easygoing vibe, the type you want to make kwento to for hours. After, S offered to walk me to my next meeting, and on the way there we realized we were both at a birthday gig I hosted for a friend just two weeks ago. Apparently, I drunkenly hollered hello at him and he awkwardly greeted me back, even if we hadn’t formally met then. Who knew that formal meeting was going to be a blind date on an early Wednesday morning?
The success of the first two dates meant that I waltzed into Blind Date #3 (this one I’ll dub H) with the confidence of a cocky fifteen-year-old—unfounded, but unwavering. Until I met H.
Unlike M and S, who both worked in the same industry as I did, H was a corporate guy, and he was throwing around terms like “career sustainability” and “market research” and would say things like, “here’s a fun fact” followed by what could only be described as a piece of trivia that was only mildly entertaining. This was when the aforementioned light social media stalking would have been helpful—my little extrovert self could only handle so much.
We were from two completely different worlds, but with our first mind-blowing watermelon sinigang experience, H and I suddenly found our common ground. Maybe it was the curious blend of sweetness and sour flavors, or the tender beef that perfectly complemented the rich soup, but I found it endearing how H and I were so unlike each other. I figured this was what a real blind date must be like, with a little bit of growing pains here and there—we were just lucky enough we had House Crispy Sisig to tide us over. I shared stories from work, my freelance life so vastly different from his 9 to 5 lifestyle. When the bill arrived, H shared his love of math, and I guffawed at the thought because I can’t even practice basic math without panicking on the spot.
And then I realized—it worked. He and I just clicked. Is this how watermelon sinigangs are born?
I came into this humble dating experiment with truly despicable intentions: I wanted to eat. I didn’t expect to come out of this week full of deep ruminations about dating and the act of sharing a meal with a stranger. But it all reminded me of how fun meeting new people could be, especially over good food. S was right—Manila is so tiny. Everything eventually finds a way back to you, may it be some forgotten college feeling, or a drunken night at a bar. But H also showed me how remarkably playful the city could be. Here was a guy I probably would never have met if not for our shared love for easy, familiar yet inventive Filipino food.
And so the question begs to be asked: was Manam worthy of three blind dates? Hell yes. Sign me up for another.