June 1st, Thursday night. It took almost an hour for our pizza to get to our table. One Handuraw Special + something else I can’t remember. Beers would come later. With fifteen more days until they close shop, Handuraw Pizza Gorordo’s been busier than usual, with a gig every night and a parking lot that gets more cramped after 8PM.
Two years ago, when we used to do small shows here (Tono-Tango, August 2014), it was already a small victory to fill up the indoor space, never mind if the people didn’t stay for the last act. Farmer Folk, our little pop-up event in collaboration with Cebu Farmers Market ran for the entire December 2014 and, save for the regular attendees, was only usually attended by some curious strangers and the friends who managed to come through.
But we had no problem with the crowd that night. The place was packed. Must be a testament to the growth of the audience for local music. Or they were there for mid-week pizza and beer. I guess everything tastes better when you know it’s not gonna be there forever.
Lourdes Maglinte started the show with her Bisaya belter: Buwag Balik followed by Man Who Couldn’t Stay, Two Cents, and ending with Empty Sheets with Kyle Wong. Fun fact: She first sung Empty Sheets two years ago in a Tono-Tango gig, now the single is available on digital platforms.
Vincent Eco recalls his early days as a solo musician, with most gigs held in Handuraw Gorordo. Two years since that first Tono-Tango run, Vincent is now a more confident performer on stage with his funny quips and a body of work that has garnered him a lot of fans—they know all the lines to his songs, I swear!
Mary Anchit gets some storytelling done, as per usual, with songs like The Race, Seafarer, and some newer tracks she’s come up with. Like Vincent, “Miss Mary” has also graced this particular stage a lot in her early days as a solo performer. One thing has remained consistent: She always has family in tow!
And speaking of a family affair, the Wonggoys brought their A-game with a set featuring songs from their most recent album High Hello. Songs Blurt, Missy, and Gay is OK were met with much fervor before they changed gears for the love song Never Too Late. I first met the boys here a few years ago; it’s fitting that they should be in the lineup for this farewell show. They ended with their single Weekend.
Mother Folker draws more people in as the night’s last act, opening with Tsaeh. It’s a classic dig on a person you’d love to hate, and Cattski taking on a more somber rendition of the song made it all the more sarcastic. Jamming along was Clado on bass, punching up a set that included crowd favorites Sea Hue, Monsters, Hello Tears, and more. They also performed Smitten and got everyone singing along to Drunk.
The post-gig buzz was palpable even as the lights were turned back on. The team never misses out on a group photo opportunity and we did just that before a few more drinks and chitchat with friends, feeling so at-home. That’s what is ultimately special about the place. With a looming deadline though, the talk in the room involved a lot of reminiscing. Handuraw has been a training ground for a lot of Cebu’s budding musicians, a reliable buddy to anyone looking for midweek music & beers, and has hosted many gigs for out-of-Cebu acts.
Handuraw was even more packed on its last two days, and rightfully so. Seemed like all of Cebu—or at least the community of artists, musicians, friends, and families that have come to love this place gathered to say goodbye. It’s true what my friend Chloe said: Losing this place was like losing a limb—especially for the music community. Who will follow Handuraw as a stronghold for local music? We’ll have to see and wait for the next wave. For now, all we can say is SALAMAT, Handuraw! It’s been an awesome run.
P.S. There are four other Handuraw Pizza branches in the city, we hope to see more of you (musicians, enthusiasts, etc.) around!
Authored by Nina Alcoseba
Photos by Zachary Aldave