Sunday, 16 October 2011

Moneyman Shop and the Radical shopping (and hanging out) experience

"Monkeyman Shop" and the Radical shopping (and hanging out) experience

By Paul Smirnoff

This writer is a frequent visitor of Monkeyman shop since college. For it all started when  he was visited Cartimar Recto looking for books (especially Zines) and DVDs only to reached a place hidden in the outskirts of Recto. A place where different genres converge and buy things "necessary" for their persona.

And as expected, it is radically different from mere stores like those in Makati yet close to Cubao, for it is basically a living (and breathing) archive of old punk records, memorabilia, audio equipment and everything punk-related during the 1980s.

However, the reason this writer visited most there is not to buy goods but rather to enjoy having a chitchat with its proprietor (and a friend as well), with the name of Roland Solidarios.

"Ompong", as most of his friends and colleagues called him, is proud of his background as a Punk, that according to him he was basically a part of its beginnings in the metro, who had friends including band members and acquainted with some personalities, mingled and even analyzed how real music sprouts from the ground up. Not to mention that he also maintains a small rehearsal and recording studio (along with his partner, Jerry Tan) that caters to punk rock and Ska bands who wants to get a shot at sharing their music.

However, as he sought left-oriented books being vended in the shop-Ompong even gave an introductory summary of the book to me, only to conclude that he was also an activist: that during his student days at MLQU he personally led students to a walkout greater than what I experienced during my college days; and he even earned the respect of fraternities and varsitarians in Quiapo especially the Muslims who also studied there being an organizer, that made me say that both his punk and activist roots made him as he today the way skater goods, Dr. Marten boots are side by side with those of Karl Marx's and Chairman Mao's.

Obviously, in staying during noon till evening (or even after class during my student days), it somehow made this person enjoyable to stay longer just to experience things, talk with people and even buy or borrow some books from the shop and even lessen a serious problem that once he remember as a student had his backpack stole by a someone in a computer rental, it made him dismayed at first yet there are no important things inside that bag to think over. Lucky that he had enough money in my pocket (and Cellphone of course thank God!) in order for him to go and buy another bag from the shop and at the same time told Ompong and another shopkeeper (and friend), named Reyson about that matter.

They even enjoyed the Pizza that this writer often bought (and even requested to buy another too!) as well as allowed him to display my "figurines" made out of clay or tile grout; after all, Ompong is also allows consignments for artists who don’t have a space to exhibit their paintings (but this person not an artist, he just like to sketch and sculpt clay!) and even encourage this person to express in doing artistic work too.

As time goes by, despite the ups and downs the shop tries to deal with, still continues to thrive well in selling clothing, LPs, and skater supplies, and this time, with the Graffiti Art Development Cooperative, They used the second floor of the shop, this time in creating Varsity Jackets that cater much to the "Swagger" youth who usually go not to buy but to have a customized jacket being made to pay.

Nowadays, this person is still part of the shop not just as a visitor, but also acting as a volunteer "working" with the people inside (especially with the Graffiti Art who makes jackets and this time as a promoter) while continue pursuing research and writing work at home (through this blog of course!). The experience somehow made me productive also not because of having friends but also a part of knowing what goes on in the metro. After all, Cartimar Recto, Monkeyman shop and the Graffiti Art Development Cooperative, although not much been shown by mainstream media, still keeps the alternative culture growing and enjoyable enough for an individual. 

...especially who have interest in art and culture different from what the mainstream tries to inculcate with.