I’m not claiming to be an expert in the carbonated drinks industry but as far as I know, Fanta is a noted absence in Manila. I never bothered checking at S&R because there are only two things I buy when my family goes grocery-shopping there:
1. Cheese Hungarian Sausage
2. Clam Chowder (available on the pizza eat-in/ takeaway area)
Fanta constitutes a chunk of my childhood, where, after playing all afternoon in the kalye— my lola or yaya would spare me some coins so that I can buy a bottle at a nearby sari-sari store. The seller usually puts them inside a plastic with straw but I prefer drinking directly from the bottle (I was a grubby child, I know). Back then, my favorite flavor is Grape. I don’t even eat real grapes, I just like drinking grape juice.
We moved to a different neighborhood when I was twelve where sari-sari stores ceased to be ubiquitous. I honestly don’t remember when I stopped drinking Fanta but it could be any of the following (or a combination of) reasons:
1. They were no longer available in the market.
2. I became too old to play in the kalye, thus, no longer entitled to a thirst quencher after hours out in the sun.
3. People in the new neighborhood don’t buy goods at a sari-sari store. They get them at the local grocer which is approximately a 5-minute tricycle ride away from our house (Waiting time for a tricycle to come by: 15 minutes???).
I missed Fanta not for how it tasted but for the childhood memories attached to drinking it. That is why I was delighted to find them all over Siem Reap. The first time I saw one, I actually let out a tiny squeal.
Who doesn’t love orange soda?
A can usually costs USD1.00 but in my suking Khmer na tindahan, retail price is KHR4,000.00 = USD1.00 for two cans. I stressed the use of the Cambodian Riel because unlike the other merchants in Siem Reap, my suki calculates everything in KHR. 🙂
My suki only carries one flavor (Orange) and so do the surrounding stores in the hotel’s block. Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to find flavors I never tasted before.
Lychee, sold by a little Khmer girl at Beng Mealea
I actually wanted the Strawberry and she didn’t hesitate to dive into the Coca-Cola cooler looking for one but turns out, they ran out so I opted for this. I’m not disappointed though. I have such a sweet tooth. 🙂
Fruit Punch, sold by a teen Khmer at Banteay Samre
I was offered to sit on the shade by the teen Khmer who sold it to me. She, the merchants her age and I got into a very interesting conversation where I asked them how they learned English (no school but from tourists while selling), how much is a sack of rice (they buy in kilos for KHR2,000.00 = USD0.50 = 1 kilo of good rice— emphasis on good), if they are acquainted with television (Marian Rivera soap operas imported from Manila), etc.
I admire their resilience. Banteay Samre is not one of the more popular temples so they seize every opportunity to hound tourists with Khmer silks, books, “cold drink(s)”— to earn a measley Dollar. 😦
When I came home, I was really bummed not to have Fanta on my daily “diet”. On hindsight, however, perhaps it’s all right if they no longer sell Fanta in Manila. Just so, whenever I see one, I can continue creating memories associated with this lovely drink. 🙂