University of the Philippines was my dream school. I actually had no idea that it existed up until high school. I hailed from a public secondary school and many of the top students from my alma mater went to the said university. First off, it was perfect for a plebeian kid like me because the tuition is affordable. Second, spoon-feeding was not part of the curriculum and third, freedom in all aspects was encouraged. You see, I was an idealist in high school who loved to question authority even if I didn’t have concrete facts and principles to back me up. According to my mom, I would have been an activist had I pursued my dream. But God had other plans for me. Instead of an unpopular degree program in a state university, I ended up taking the road most taken that is nursing in a university that was exclusive for girls until 2004. The shift happened after I had already confirmed my slot and applied for STFAP scholarship. Grabe.
That did not stop me from experiencing all non-academic fun things I heard from friends and upperclassmen about this school. First and foremost of those is food. I spent four years in a place where you had no other choice during weekends but to eat another McDonald’s meal and the lifestyle was a bit heavy on the budget. Food is not supposed to be [always] expensive because I believe it is a fundamental right to eat good food. Imagine my joy when I discovered that after an hour of bus ride, there are great hole in the walls to blow moolah at.
First was the famous Mang Larry’s Isaw. They sold a variety from chicken’s to pork’s. Though the isaw was a bit dry from what I am used to back in the province, it was still good and there was no bitter aftertaste (making you think you just ate an animal’s feces). A stick costs 3 to 6 php depending on the organ part but it’s only good for 1 to 2 bites. I alone can consume 10 sticks or more in one sitting. Because the business already stood the test of time, they have developed a way of taking orders that is efficient.
Other things I liked about Mang Larry’s are the vinegar and sweet sauces. Unlike other isawan where you have to dip your food in a container where hundreds of others (whose medical history you know nothing of) have dipped theirs, you have your own personal sauce in a plastic cup. I later learned that a cup costs 1 peso. I did not pay for ours. I guess buying 40 sticks of isaw will suffice.
Good thing we went there early because the place can be jam-packed late in the afternoon. We were lucky enough to have a log all to ourselves where we sat and ate our isaw and drank Mountain Dew. Bringing your own wheels would be very helpful unfortunately we were car-less beings.
Nicky said Mang Larry’s isaw was not his type so he once brought me to another isawan at the back of UP Shopping Center. True to his description, it was juicy like the ones we had whenever we are home in the province. A stick costs the same as Mang Larry’s but the serving is bigger.
Near Mang Larry’s is a dirty ice cream cart. It was delicious but a bit expensive at 25 pesos. My favorite flavor of dirty ice cream is cheese.
Next stop was Rodic’s at UP Shopping Center for the famous tapsilog. The place is small but it has a second floor albeit made only of wood so I was a bit scared at first because I am very heavy and the floor might not be able to bear my weight.
While playing Monopoly deal on the green grass that is abundant within the campus, we chanced upon this Banana Q vendor and we tried her products. Lots of vendors walk around UP selling not only BananaQs but rice cakes as well.
Their shakes were dirt cheap at 30 pesos for a large cup (sometimes there’s even another container for the extra shake). I had mango and it was delicious. You could actually taste the fruit and no big chunks of ice were present (contrary to what I always experience when ordering shakes in carinderias). Even if you just sip without stirring, the taste is consistent. Cheers to that!