CADIZ CITY – The coffee shops here, like in Myanmar and any other country under martial rule, served a dual purpose in the days of Marcos.
It was both a place to rouse the spirit from slumber with a cup of java, and know the latest news of the day. In case you forgot, there was no “pesky press” during martial law.
It even served as a meeting place for rebels or activists who would down a bowl of pancit guisado or bihon. Naturally, it also was a listening post for government agents.
Sometimes, a rebel or activist would get arrested ahora mismo in the coffee shop and get the noodles beaten out of them.
“Gaguluwa pansit sa ilong ko, sir (Noodles came out of my nose, sir),” one ex-activist who experienced the “kastigo militar (military beating) recalled to this writer.
Until Marcos the dictator was ousted in 1986, people talked in hushed tones in the coffeeshops, asking each other if it was true that there was an underground cell where suspected dissidents were jailed.
When the tides rose, it is said prisoners of average height can barely breathe if the water rise up to their noses.
It was not known what happened to midgets who got jailed.
If midgets like Mura or Mahal got jailed.
Lyn Regodos was a young girl growing up when it was martial law. She has heard these stories and have seen Cadiz City rise and fall through the years.
Now, she heads the promotions unit for investments and local enterprises of the city.
Things are picking up, she said, years after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) cut a massive swath of destruction across Cadiz City. The superstorm destroyed at least 4,000 houses and damaged a significant number of the fishing fleet here.
“It’s looking brighter,” Regodos told DNX in an interview in FC Food Haus, a local fastfood joint near the new city hall that had been enjoying brisk business recently.
The economy is being driven up over the past few years by the service sector, she said.
A Hypermarket branch of SM, a national chain of malls, has already opened here.
Another big brand is expected to put up its own store.
But the biggest one could possibly be a private-public partnership venture that has the potential of making the city’s economy “leapfrog” though Regodos did not give details.
The statistics look good, said Regodos, a trained economist.
This energy, however, can be felt even in the coffeeshops that have recently started to pop up here or have seen an increase in walk-in customers.
In fact, Councilor CJ Olvido, one of the youngest local legislators here, usually takes a coffee break at KD’s Cafe near the new government center.
He reckons coffee production could be a new sector to develop apart from the traditional sugarcane crop.
“It could even be possible that we could have our own Kape Cadiznon coffee variety,” he said.
Coffee in Cadiz City has a different taste and aroma, film maker Aldritch Rosano said as he sips on a puro – black, no sugar.
That aroma can’t be smelled anywhere else.
Now, it also smells good.
Like business in Cadiz.
Related story: Part 1: Cadiz and a series of unfortunate events.