Right now and up to the end of the month, there is an on-going fashionable treat in the heart of the city – a sale on all items. Before drooling over it, however, know that is it actually a closing-out sale. In other words, the economy is hitting rock bottom. Businesses are folding up. One such is Kitkat’s Boutique and Gift Shoppe, after 40 years that is.
In its anniversary, last year, Gigi Lumauag (proprietress, and a family friend), intimated to me the struggles of keeping Kitkat’s afloat. I mindlessly told her. “Kaya po yan!” Hence, when Ate Gigi, before making public, has informed me of the closure-ordeal, my first reaction was to shrug it off again, but only for a short while since I have quickly realized the current bad times. To which Ate Gigi blurted out, “Hindi na talaga kaya, Father.” As fate would have it, the wretched COVID-19 sealed the coffin to the iconic Kitkats… Grief.
Palaweños grew up with Kitkat’s. It has already been around long before malls and commercial centers came to the fore of Puerto Princesa City landscape. In the 80’ thru the 90’s, it was focal to the locals in community events, more particularly in the glitz and blitz of fashion and entertainment (with showbiz personalities every so often). Its proximity to Mendoza Park, then Palawan’s point of convergence, made Kitkat’s cultural milieu accessible, affordable, and enjoyable to people. For some more gifted Palaweñas, Kitkat’s had served as a door to showcase homegrown talents. The live mannequins at Christmastime was a real treat. Truth to tell, some parents in fact would volunteer to Ate Gigi to have their kids do modeling too, either free of talent fee or that they themselves would give something in return for the much-coveted exposure to the world of glamor.
From a different viewpoint, other than business and fashion, Kitkat’s departure can also be seen as socio-culturally. For so long a time, the corner where Kitkat’s is located was the de facto urban center of the populace. Around it was the former City Hall, Mendoza Park, some national government agencies, hotels and restaurants, and commercial banks. Nearby were the Public Market, cinemas, recreation center (notably the bowling alley), among others. People did flock to this spot for anything and everything about living. In that specific intersection though, there is still one figure left as standing- the Ramtan Store (This is yet one interesting story for another piece). To state what is obvious, that side of Puerto Princesa is no longer the dominant point of convergence for every Palaweño.
In a far distant past, however, the cradle of civilization was around where I am currently residing – the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Rizal Park, Eulalia Park, the Governor’s Residence, the pier, the Plaza Cuartel, business establishments largely owned by old Chinese families, then HTC (now Holy Trinity University and the thickly populated Quito and Seaplane. Nowadays, except on Sundays at that, this poblacion has ceased to be peopled. As a heritage must it be transformed though.
Needless to say, naglalakbay ang tao at gumagapang ang sibilisasyon. With the two points of convergence coming to a close, to which intersection are we being led once more? At present, there is no meeting point as iconic and as common as the previous two. Instead, we always just find ourselves exchanging stories and pleasantries either in a mall or in a coffee shop. But much predominantly though, we also meet each other in virtuality. By malling, coffee-ing and Facebook-ing, we have just ushered ourselves into a new way of social living.
And while we are at it, no more Kitkat’s. And it is not just a break. It is an end.