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O-Mart: No pretensions in Cebu City

Yes, this isn’t fancy; just a hole-in-the wall type of place. Inside could even be stinky. But if you are looking for a place that has no pretensions (at least generally speaking), then visiting O-Mart is definitely, definitely worth considering.

The name that appears plastered on the wall in front of the bar says “KWIKSPAR”, with the “I” replaced with the silhouette of a woman. But no one actually calls the place as such; instead, people refer to it as O-Mart, referring to the area’s shopping/retail destination. And with that name “confusion”, for non-Cebuanos, even finding this place is a challenge. But when you do (just tell the taxi driver you’re getting off of Tonyo’s in Lahug; and the venue is right beside Tonyo’s), then it can be fun to be there indeed.

WHAT’S THERE

O-Mart has four parts.

The first is the “store” when you enter. A thing to know when partying in Cebu is this: many venues actually encourage people to mix their own drinks. And so there are “stores” (as in sari-sari/variety stores) where the patrons buy what they want to drink (i.e. “raw materials”), and then mix these when they reach their tables (after they are provided by the waters/waitresses with pitchers, spoons, et cetera). The drinking then follows…

The second part is the first outdoor drinking area, separated by a glass wall to the indoor drinking area (so you can see what’s happening “inside” from “outside”). The outdoor drinking area is popular because you can actually hear yourself chatting while catching up with friends there. Plus: it’s brighter, so you can see if there are cuties, so you know who you may pick up (if that’s your goal for the night).

The third part is the enclosed indoor drinking area (right “beside” the outdoor drinking area). This is: 1) where the toilets are located, so there are times when the entire place is actually… mapanghi (smells of urine); and 2) where people can have fun with the single karaoke machine (you choose a song from the tattered songbooks, put P5.00 in the karaoke machine, and start belting out when it’s your turn).

The fourth part is the second floor that has six private rooms to accommodate those in groups that would rather sing without having to mingle with the other party-goers.

WHY GO THERE

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Firstly, if you hate the social climbing (e.g. in Alchology in Mango Square), then this place is for you. Yes, there are social climbers who go to O-Mart; weirdly, they’d publicly say they prefer going to the likes of Alchology, but then they stay until 6:00AM at O-Mart. So it can be generally said that, yes, this place is (almost) pretension free.

Secondly, for those who do not have a lot to spend, the drinks here are cheap. As well they should be, considering that you/your friends basically make your own.

And thirdly, the crowd can be… yummy. Young, old, skinny, chubby, gay-identifying, bi-identifying (even if they are only attracted to men), hetero-identifying… this place has them all. Particularly when there are “gatherings” – e.g. clan get-togethers.

WHY NOT GO THERE

Admittedly, this isn’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea.

For one, it isn’t fancy; just a hole-in-the wall type of place. And remember the mapanghi comment earlier…

Secondly, there are “slow” nights. Unfortunately, you can’t really tell when these nights are, as the crowd just comes and goes and comes and goes whenever. This “uncertainty” isn’t going to be to everyone’s liking…

And thirdly, if you aren’t familiar with mixing drinks, you’d just be stuck with beer the whole time you are there.

AN “IT” PLACE

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Now, would we recommend this place?

In a word: YES (all caps intentional).

Because there are times when you just want to hang out in a place that has no pretensions (at least generally speaking).

And in Cebu City, O-Mart definitely is (can be) that place.

O-Mart is in Lahug (near IT Park), Cebu City.

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