Poblacion Story: That night we randomly met Jake Cuenca

It was already 3 in the morning. Apollo and I were already feeling tired after a hazy night out.

We decided to recover in a small hole-in-the-wall in Poblacion, Makati; with plans of drenching the night’s alcohol consumption with high-cholesterol chicken skin.

Upon sitting down, I immediately noticed the man beside our table. He was drinking alone, in a total IDGAF swagger.

He seemed familiar.

“Hey,” I caught my friend’s gaze and motioned to the guy beside us, and whispered “Do we know that guy?”

Apollo turned his head towards the man, and then back to me poker-face. With all the poise he can muster, he nodded in confirmation.

“Jake Cuenca.”

It’s not every day when you find yourself sat beside a famous local celebrity. We grabbed the opportunity and said hi. I could not exactly remember how we started talking, but soon he was buying us beers and we were engaged in discourse on storytelling.

We shared the love for stories, albeit found home in different mediums: me in words and letters, and the actor in moving pictures.

He shares that he does not learn by studying theory or watching movies, but rather he needed to be out there to gather real experiences, meet real people and hear real stories—probably why we found him in a humble hole-in-the-wall in Poblacion.

“So, how did you two meet?” the question was posed towards me and Apollo.

Apollo and I looked at each other and smirked, like we were sharing some inside joke.

“So, funny story…”

My first memories of meeting Apollo was when he was about to be kicked out by bouncers in a dance club in Boracay during my bachelorette party (P.S., the bachelorette party happened, but the wedding didn’t). While I couldn’t remember whether they really did kick him out of the club or not–we became the best of friends bonded by this odd event in this obscure, earlier chapter of our lives.

I seem to meet my favorite people in rather unconventional ways. It was rarely the usual ‘oh-we-went-to-school/work/church-together’ narrative, rather there’s always a crazy backstory attached to my favorite people. A random hitchhiker who jumped in your car on Sinulog; a bored surfer waiting for some wave action in the middle of the ocean; a lost soul looking for a companion to see a fortune-teller; an MBA classmate I sneak into the comp lab to watch rap battle videos together; a hostel roommate who forgot to bring his shampoo (and soap. and lotion. and sunscreen, toothpaste and conditioner).

Funny how details of our back-stories fade in memory. But I can still remember the one thing they all had that caught my attention: bright eyes that lit up and spoke to me:

Yas girl, we’re the same brand of crazy!’

I will never forget those who shared these bright eyes, as they remind me what a great time it is to be alive.

They say that great stories happen to those who can tell them; but I think great stories happen to everyone. What sets a storyteller apart is their artful introspection, seeing things in a more colorful light, masterfully transforming past events into colorful anecdotes to share and tell.

Half an hour later, one of Jake’s friends arrived and we were introduced. After sitting down and grabbing his beer, his friend asked how we knew Jake.

I smirked.

“So, Funny story…”

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