They faithfully come everyday in groups ranging from eight to twenty people within a particular time in a specific restaurant and within a span of about one to two hours, dallying over cups of coffee or tea between cigarettes or the other way around.
Rain or shine, these groups of men (not to stress that they’re already in their 50’s) never miss a single day to gather in different restaurants in Koror where they talk about politics, economy, social issues, fishing, farming, health, latest issues and just about anything under the sun, including one topic which these groups all have in common- that is women. (!!!) But among these groups, nothing personal or family problems are being spilled out.
The regulars from the Furusato Restaurant group come in between 6:30 to 8:00 without fail every morning. “For the past ten years, even if there’s a typhoon, we always find a way to come. Before we gather at the old Furusato Building before it was transferred to its new location,” Tangy Anastacio said.
He added “So many of the bills which were forwarded to the OEK were made from the discussions from this table,” Anastacio added. He also said that when election time is nearing, the group increases in number but after the elections, the number dwindles and goes back to the regular group.
The Emmaimelei group comes in later, sometime from 8 to 10 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes they occupy a very long table but those who can not come in the morning comes in the afternoon session- around 4 o’clock. One thing about this group is they do not smoke or chew. They just have coffee or tea and the regular dosage of oatmeal. One politician (whose name he doesn’t want to be mentioned) even comes all the way from Ngarchelong every morning without fail, come sleet or hail.
“The length of time we spend everyday depends on the topic we are discussing,” one of them said. Another added that they are all (or almost all) retired and doesn’t know what to do with the time. Also, they said the bonding they get from the group “connects” them to the world of work they have left.
The Red Rooster “session” usually starts at ten in the morning and lasts from one to one hour and a half. They come and swap stories about long-ago adventures or recall memories of the past years.
Other groups also gather at other restaurants in Koror like the Penthouse, Ramen Express and other places. These guys look like ordinary “retired folks” but behind their coffees and laughter and story-swapping are years of extensive experiences. The regular morning rendezvous is a part of their daily existence.