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How Naning, a mobile bar, solved a coño problem in Tacloban

Expats, locals hang out at Naning, a mobile bar in Tacloban that has found its parking spot.

Expats, locals hang out at Naning, a mobile bar in Tacloban that has found its parking spot.

MANILA–Jacques Palami had something of a coño problem, the term used to describe the concerns that ail the Philippines’ upper crust.

He wanted a drink.

Except that he had wanted it at the worst possible time and the worst possible place.

It was December 2013 and he was in Tacloban, two months after supertyphoon Yolanda killed thousands, inside and outside the city.

Naning staff wait for patrons in May 2014.

Naning staff wait for patrons in May 2014.

At that time, Tacloban’s streets were still littered with corpses, food was still in short supply, and peace and order remained volatile, no thanks to the government’s slow disaster response.

Since electricity service had yet to be fully restored, very few roamed the streets at night. And those who did risked theft, injury, and perhaps even death.

Tacloban was a scary place to be–at least at that time–and understandably, that was more than enough to drive anyone, including Palami, to drink.

Jacques Palami with a Naning regular.

Jacques Palami with a Naning regular.

“I was looking for a place where I could hang out…you could see all these volunteers who were walking the street as well and looking for a place where they can unwind and there was no such option,” Palami said in an interview.

Unlike most Tacloban residents, Palami and his family were able to quickly overcome the aftermath of what is considered as the world’s strongest typhoon.

When family members in Manila learned about food shortage, transport delays, and security risks that arose immediately after Yolanda, Palami’s brother, Dan–yes, the Azkals’ manager–bought an open flatbed truck, filled it with goods, and sent it to relatives in Tacloban.

Naning may soon sell premium items, including but not limited to napkin containers.

Naning may soon sell premium items, including but not limited to napkin containers.

After several trips between Manila and Tacloban, that same truck was put to good use.

Inspired by people who brought in goods to the city and “sold them right off the luggage compartments of their cars,” Palami had someone install a roof over the truck’s flatbed and converted it into a mobile bar.

He called it Naning, the same name of the family-owned sports bar at the Leyte Park Hotel compound that was destroyed by the typhoon. Palami chose to keep the name in memory of Tatay Daciano, his grandfather, whom the original bar was named after.

“I just wanted to hold onto something that reminds you of the old Tacloban,” Palami said in an interview. “We wanted to keep the name because it’s a brand and it’s something that we love.”

The Caipiroska, a Brazilian drink with a "Tacloban twist."

The Caipiroska, a Brazilian drink with a “Tacloban twist.”

Seven months after the bar served its first patron and popped open its first beer, Naning–open from Tuesday to Saturday nights–has become more than just an establishment being run for sentimental reasons.

It has become something of an institution in Tacloban, especially among its primary clients: expats and foreign aid workers.

And this explains why it serves one of the most expensive–albeit the coldest–beers in Tacloban at P70 each.

Naning's neon sign was salvaged from the old sports bar.

Naning’s neon sign was salvaged from the old sports bar.

Besides selling imported beers, it also offers several cocktails such as the Flaming Lamborghini and its bestseller, the Caipiroska, “a Brazilian drink with a Tacloban twist” that remains a hit among customers.

Thanks to its reputation for good service and inexpensive pulutan–a stick of barbecue and a platter of peanuts cost P40 apiece–it was invited to Ormoc City to serve foreigners who were unable to visit Tacloban regularly.

Nowadays, Naning has found its spot along Padre Burgos Street in downtown Tacloban, months after it moved around from one spot to another, usually near hotels where foreign aid workers stayed.

And from the looks of it, Naning is here to stay long after solving a coño problem..

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