Gweilo’s was located in Eastwood City in Libis, the hottest ‘gimmick’
destination for Manileños. The whole district was upscale and classy.
From outside, the place looked impressive. Fronting a charming water
fountain, the place had an imposing back-lighted panel where huge
letters now advertised Sheila and the Insects alongside the other bands
playing there tonight. Seeing the building’s façade amidst the glitter and
neon lights that made up the colorful street scene now playing in front
of me, I quickly regretted forgetting to bring a camera.
Inside, the scene was just as exciting. The setup was at the second
floor in a cozy room that was not too large but not too crowded either.
The band played in the middle of the floor while everyone else stayed
in tables and couches lining the sides. Boobop, Jerros, and I had
arrived ahead of Ian and Boom who were driving in the small Kia car that we
had been servicing the past few days. We’d load it up with all our
instruments and then one of us would drive the car with Boom to wherever
our gig was. The other three would take a cab. Tonight, it was Ian’s
turn to drive.
Shortly after Ian and Boom arrived, we decided to go fetch our
instrument from the car. All four of us walked out and took Ian’s lead who
tentatively walked towards what turned out to be the wrong parking area.
We took a different direction and ended up right back where we started.
We had walked quite a distance already and we were now beginning to
curse Ian’s ineptness at spatial memory. He couldn’t remember where he
had parked the car. He was totally lost. In a few more minutes, Boobop
and Jerros would lose it. It was bad enough we were wandering
aimlessly around Eastwood working up a sweat. What made it worse was Jerros
wasn’t feeling well and had been coughing all day so he was in no shape
at all for an impromptu workout. I fared better because of my regular
running and gym work. Of course, the humor still escaped me. After a
few more rounds of aimless wandering, we finally stumbled on the
separate parking facility that, it turned out, was just a few meters away
hidden behind the labyrinth of mall boutiques and stalls.
Walking back to the bar with our instruments in tow, Jerros was telling
me through his heavy breathing that he was feeling some tightness in
his chest. That was what you get from too much late night beer and too
little exercise I told him. I looked at his pained expression and
quietly worried. Of course, I knew it probably was nothing much. Just a
viral infection messing with his health.
our thanks to suedehead for the photos
Later that night, we took the center stage and played our prepared set
of six original songs. After a couple of numbers I began to notice
that after every number, Jerros would wince in pain. I asked him what was
wrong but all I could get was a mumbled reply that I couldn’t
understand. In any case, he signaled that we should continue. So we did.
After every song, I’d look over to Jerros and found that his pained look
slowly got worse. I was suspecting he was having difficulty catching his
breath or something. Still he signaled me to go on. If anything, I
got the impression he wanted us to finish the set sooner. All three of
us were by now beginning to sense something was wrong so after playing
our second to the last song, all three of us looked towards Jerros for a
visual cue. Suddenly, he stands up and signals we had to cut our set
short. I mumbled my apologies to the audience that we had to end our
set right there. Everyone was surprised with our sudden close. All this
time, everyone’s eyes locks on to Jerros who was now picking his way
through the tables and finding his way upstairs towards the third floor.
Speculation quickly mounted and a few friends asked if everything was
alright. I knew something was wrong but somehow I felt it was really
nothing serious. Mingling with the crowd after the show, we began to
piece together what had actually happened from what Jerros had been
telling some friends earlier. It turned out that Jerros had started
complaining about his stomach just as we were about to start our set. Word had
gotten around discreetly among all the close friends.
The place had already thinned out after several minutes. We were all
just about getting ready to go for the post gig party when Jerros
finally walks down the stairs from the third floor. Everyone cheers him like
crazy. I’ve never seen anyone make a more applauded entrance before.
The pained expression was now totally gone. Replacing it was a
sheepish grin and a relieved face. “I’m so sorry everyone,” Jerros kept
saying, “but when you gotta go, you gotta go”.