Years ago, they could only be found in the vicinity of Rizal Park when it gets dark, wearing their scrub suits of different shades. A neat row of monoblock chairs for customers to sit on mark their territory, as they gladly serve your choices of either Swedish, Thai, or saksak-sinagol massage. The proliferation of these street masseuse or therapists, as they like to be called, signals the emergence of a new pit stop crew for the working class. Just as it should have been from the beginning.
In the old days of the 60s and the 70s, when massage parlors were still lorded over by no-nonsense professional massagists, one could get the max of an hour treatment, doze off a bit, and leave the establishment fresh as new. Then somehow, a few slowly graduated into those dodgy fronts for hanky panky, which smeared the overall reputation of these wellness centers, as they are now referred to in the modern day. Poof, their image for quite a while, seemed tainted forever. There even used to be a time, when you said that you were headed to a massage parlor after a day of tennis, you would be met with either a sneer or a malicious smile. Aside from these, not everyone could really afford them in those days, as the services were steep for the common workingman, or woman.
That had been the norm for a long while, until now. Taking it to the streets, as I like to look at it, is an apt term, because, aside from being accessible and equally affordable to all, the streets are where the clienteles are, either on the home from work, or intentionally headed their way because of convenience.
I have asked around, almost all have received formal trainings on the craft, either from government’s TESDA or other private groups, and all have permits from city hall. So, these are legit, people. Some have naturally banded into organizations of their own, and exclusively service select areas in the city, reaching as far as Mintal and Calinan. There’s even a group composed solely of blind masahistas.
Observable through the variety of people who have become loyal patrons, the phenomenon is so much unlike the bygone days. Now, people from all walks of life, come and have their weary bodies mended by the deft hands of these able crew. Of course, others still prefer those cozy, incense-smelling dim cells that hopelessly like to emulate Tibet, with their loop of chimes and gongs, feels like the Dalai lama might walk in any second. That is a choice.
However, for the masses, under the stars, with food stalls nearby, and the numbing (not dumbing) sound of a city machine slowly shutting down, it is the place to be. Might go there tonight, not for after-tennis reasons but more for the after-laundry type.