Several weeks ago I came across several articles about Tommy Osmeña on my timeline. Some had to with accounts of how he was driving out business in Cebu City and other accounts linked him to a big time drug dealer who had been recently killed.
First I wondered why the name struck me as familiar and then suddenly remembered that I had once had a few beers with him.
It was sometime in 2010 during the fleeting heydays of Smartmatic-TIM when its former spokesman Gene Gregorio and his friend Monch Cruz invited me for a couple of drinks at Little Tokyo in Makati.
It was a heady night full of talk about how the successful implementation of Smartmatic-TIM’s automated election system resulted in a swift victory for Noynoy Aquino and how it could possibly mean more business down the road.
In between a smattering of talks about how some one presidential candidate or another fared, we toasted to copious amounts of draft San Miguel Pale Pilsen and feasted on an eat-all-you-can Yakiniku.
Just as we got a good beer buzz going, Monch gets up and waves to a roundish looking man waddling our way.
“Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Tommy Osmeña,” Monch said, with a bit of a flourish and a faint British accent.
The man shook hands all around the table even as his eyes darted between our faces and the sizzling bits of assorted meats.
After he settled in a bit and took his first mouthfuls of barbecued pork, Tommy regaled us with stories of how he implemented what he claimed were innovative measures that sped up the construction of roads in Cebu City.
Usually, he said, the ground underneath newly constructed roads had to be stabilized through a number of processes which could take weeks or months. Such would cost a lot more compared to his ingenious method which he said not only gave the people roads much quicker but also saved the government a lot of money.
The technique, he said, was to line the freshly dug up ground with rice sacks filled with filling material (I’m not sure at all if it was sand or gravel or both) and then pave over the sacks.
“Easily, we could make about a kilometer of road in twice or three times the speed of the conventional method,” said Tommy.
Already a bit tipsy, I thought of amusing myself and asked Tommy, “But, wouldn’t the sand seep from the rice sacks during the rainy season?”
Monch stared at me and Gene giggled.
I don’t know how, but the conversation suddenly switched to a couple of pretty girls across our table. There was a bit of discussion as to whether they were “tax paid” or “tax free”. I didn’t get the reference at all until it was explained to be that “tax paid” meant that the girls were for hire and “tax free” meant that the girls, perhaps with the right approach, could be persuaded to spend the night somewhere.
So, a bet was made and it was decided that someone had to do the honors of sending them a bottle of sake in order to break the ice. There was some haggling over what kind of sake to send over until Tommy went for the cheapest bottle, which wasn’t sake at all but soju or Korean kamote wine.
I had pretty much assumed that the girls would be over at our table soon and so I decided to go to the washroom to freshen up a bit.
When I got back, the girls were nowhere in sight… not even at their table.
The waiter who had brought the bottle of Korean kamote wine to the girls smirked at me as I took my seat and I smirked back.
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