Betias, Tico-Tico Disco, Narra Restaurant, Timberlanes Bowling: Butuan’s famous landmarks in the 1970s

By Nestor Garcia

With the help and encouragement of the lifestyle editor, I purposely put the names in order of the eating and good time meccas of Butuan in the 70s and towards the early part of the 80s.

I must say it is part of my personal evolution as a young boy growing up to college before I left abroad to work. Now it’s nostalgia time as I talked to RJS, the editor, and reminisced the old times, bringing back memories and feel like young again.

Pardon the sentimentality if there would be. I know young people today has not heard of them as they may be not born yet that time. It would be fun to ask your old folks, young people, about those places.

I was born in Agusan del Sur province but my parents transferred in Butuan in early ’70s and spent my childhood in Guingona Subdivision and studying in Butuan Central.

My parents took me to Betias Ice Cream House downtown as a reward for my high grades and good behavior. Even on rainy days and overstaying floods we never missed it. It’s the best ice cream in the city the way I remember it but maybe because it’s the one available or I knew of.

When I reached high-school onto college, both in Agusan High and Urios, Tico-Tico Disco was the place to go, at least when you’re young and restless and disco was your thing, together with the gang, or you’re not “in” with the trend.

Tico-Tico was in Guingona Subdivision, nearly facing the equally famous Timberlanes Bowling Alleys. It was the coolest place to hang on where young professionals also converged.

I spent many Saturday afternoons disco there with friends in school and the neighborhood. We burned the afternoon away, rest for an hour then back to dancing  till midnight. Our parents all the time protested but who can stop the young? This went on until we’ve done college and went to work, mostly out of Butuan.

Turning professionals, our week-end reunions moved to Narra Restaurant, then the classiest place to go to and be seen among the local elite and pretenders or just the plain office-workers and the middle-class.

The food was good and Manila and Cebu-based entertainers like Rico Puno and Max Surban came to perform. The restaurant faced the old Urios Elementary School building alongside the convent and the Butuan Cathedral.

After eating at Narra, we often took a walk nearby the old Rizal Park, which to me is more dramatic and attractive than the current one which is nothing but an open playground, devoid of aesthetics.

But our all-time favorite hang-out was the outdoor set of eateries called “Suez Canal” in Montilla Street because its practical in terms of price and its delicious “kinamot” food-barbecue and the eternal “hanging rice” plus the chicken soup.

Suez Canal was definitely Butuan, even if the “barbecuehan” is everywhere in the country, but Suez Canal has a character of its own. I am glad that local stage artists will mount a rock -musical of it as a tribute to Butuan’s glorious days of my time. Bravo!

I understand the artists are encouraging and soliciting support from all sectors. This is a worthwhile creative project that should be supported by all.

Now we can really proudly say, no, shout to the world, “Ato ni!” More power to Butuan!

Photo courtesy of Cyril Udtojan/Butuan City Old Photos


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