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The Swinging 60's

I was born in the year 1949 and spent my teen years during the 1960s. It was a glorious decade and for many from my generation, the Golden Age in Philippine history. The younger generation would forgive us geezers for reminiscing about the old times. Don’t worry you’ll get your turn when you grow old.


The 1960’s was just a couple of decades from our declaration of independence so as a nation we were both proud and wary. We were proud to proclaim ourselves as an independent country but also wary of our future. With a population of around 27 million, the Philippines was considered by the world as an emerging economic powerhouse of the region. Yes kids, whenever you read in your textbooks or hear from your professors the phrase “ the Philippines was second only to Japan...” they were referring to the 60s and the previous decade.


At the time, we were considered as one of Asia's powerhouses producing consumer goods, processing raw materials and we had assembly plants for automobiles, televisions, and home appliances. We had a very high literacy rate and we were the largest exporter of sugar and coconut products in the region.


In 1960, we were 5th in Asia in terms of GDP per capita; the exchange rate was P2: $1, and the minimum wage was four pesos a day. But beyond the economic numbers, what we really remember, and miss, was the vibrant cultural life at the time. It was a much simpler life back then, you can get a jeepney ride for only five to ten centavos, and Rizal Avenue, or as we call it back then, Avenida, was the center of culture at least in Manila. Avenida was “ downtown” — that busy shopping district stretching from Carriedo Street to Claro M. Recto Avenue. In between Carriedo and Recto were streets bustling with economic and cultural life — Bustos, Ronquillo, Raon, and Soler. We don’t have that much money allowance so my friends and I would just wander in and around these streets and maybe stop for a siopao or mami at Ma Mon Luk when we got hungry.


What I remember most about the downtown area were its neon-lit movie theaters like State, Ever, Avenue, Scala, Odeon, Galaxy, and of course, the famous Ideal Theater where people would line up to watch movies from Sampaguita, LVN, and Premiere. I love watching movies so when I was able to save money from my allowance I would catch the latest film in one of these cinemas along Avenida. A movie ticket was cheap by today’s standards. around 50 to 60 cents at the time. In order to save money, we would go to The Mayfair movie house which was famous for showing back-to-back movies, double features they would later call them.


The Beatles were, of course, big during the 60s. There were other rock & roll stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Vale, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, but The Beatles were the most popular and most successful musicians of that era. They headlined the so-called Swinging 60s. It was in 1965 when they came to the Philippines to perform at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum that sent teenage girls in delirium and their parents in a state of panic.


These montages filled my mind when we were brainstorming a new cafe bistro. And the product was Sixty Four, a retro-themed bistro inspired by The Beatles’ popular song, “When I am Sixty Four”. Located at the Evia Lifestyle Center in Daang- Hari, Sixty Four is a paean to that lost Golden Age, a homage to the charm and joie de vivre of that magical decade, the 60s.


I have always believed that when you dine out where you eat is as important as what you eat. In other words, your dining experience should be wonderful in all aspects: food, service, and decor. So with Sixty Four, diners from my generation can reminisce about the good ol’ days while diners from the younger generation can have their interests piqued about living in an era they hear a lot from their dads and lolos.




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar