Halloween 2017 Part 1: Breaking Out of Our Stan's Clutches
Kari and I haven't hung out for months since Art Fair PH last February. Our group of friends haven't hung out together completely since 2015. We had a lot of long overdue kwentos, and these were better told in person than through messenger. Also, both of us had this desire to try two things: Kari wanted to check out Sunnies Cafe, while I had this burning desire to try and escape in Breakout Serendra.
Kari is an Insta-addict, as much as I was. She loves going to pretty places that would definitely match the scheme of her feed. Sunnies Cafe was one of them. I pass by it when I take long walks at BHS, so I knew where it was. Once I saw Fully Booked, all I had to do was walk straight until I reached the place.
Sunnies Cafe is indeed an Insta-worthy place. It's an extension of the eyewear brand Sunnies, and the soft pastel branding is alive and well in the cafe. The doors, walls, menus, and lamps are millennial pink and some of the booths were a faded shade of blue. There was a smaller second floor with turquoise fencing, and up there were racks of several magazines for the upper floor patrons to read. Downstairs there was a bar where baristas and bartenders made their magic. You can say this place definitely had my aesthetic, and I can see why Kari wanted to go here so much.
I arrived earlier than Kari so I got us the high table with bar stools that were near the entrance. Main reason? That lighting when I take selfies. Sadly I did not take any selfies at all. While waiting for Kari, I ordered their flat white coffee and worked on some sketches for my passion project. As I noticed, most BGC establishments serve their coffee with brown sugar. Is it a bougie thing or is it just because most of the target market are health conscious millennials who prefer organic ingredients? We'll never know.
After a few sketches and snapping photos of the place, Kari arrived. I then called a server so both of us could start ordering our food. She got chicken and mushroom pasta while I ordered steak and eggs.
Initially, I wanted baked squid ink lasagna because 1) pasta craving and 2) what does squid ink taste like? Before that day, I looked at their menu online. Calamares with cheese sauce? Do not get me started, that's like the dream. But when the server said it was phased out, I just had to settle with a brunch meal that looked like something I'd have for breakfast.
After exchanging and catching up with our lives, we then looked for an ATM around the area. We found the Nutriasia Bus Stop, which was laden with cute kid-friendly images promoting healthy kids going to school. What do Instaddicts do when they find cute walls? Insta-shoot. When you love Instagram so much, all the walls in the world are your backdrop.
It was about 1:30 PM when we both headed back to Serendra. We had to be at Breakout 15 minutes before our booked schedule, which was at 2 PM. Right on 1:45 PM flat, we entered Breakout Serendra and one of the Breakout crew members greeted us.
I was excited because I always wanted to try Number 1 Fan, one of their escape rooms. It's showtime!
For months, I was bugging my friends and asked if we could finally try an escape room. After tons of scheduling and financial conflicts, I finally got us booked!
Breakout Philippines has such a diverse set of rooms. There's one for many genres–horror, mystery, sci-fi, adventure... But let's focus on horror. After all, we went out on October 28, just three days before my favorite holiday, Halloween. I don't have a costume prepared for this year, again... However, I'm too chicken to visit an actual haunted area (or too smart to avoid them so I don't end up like the idiots in horror movies). So an interactive, live-action role play experience living out my horror fantasies? Game!
Before explaining the rules of the game, the escape assistant made us sign some waivers. General rule of the fine print is that we were healthy individuals who have no heart ailments and were able to handle the tension that goes with the game. They also asked for our contact details as well as an emergency contact, just in case, you know. Either the lock fails to open our door after 45 minutes, an injury or illness of sorts inhibits our escape room senses, or we get possessed while going crazy over the clues. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
One of the crew members explained to us some rules. One, definitely no phones or any recording devices inside! There are two reasons for this 1) it would disrupt the immersion you get a high from during these games and 2) it's to avoid spoilers for everyone else who want to try the rooms. I guess that's a given, but knowing how sneaky we can get sometimes, they have to enforce it. Another is not to touch certain objects in the room. Our assistant told us there were some who tried to dismantle the setup. Spoiler alert: they do not hide clues in lightbulbs! And when you enter the room, you know which parts are off limits so you don't waste your time looking for clues in them or prevent yourself from getting electrocuted. So that's a given. If we needed any help, there's an intercom where we can communicate with the assistant outside our room.
Our escape room, where Annie Wilkes is an unknown guy
I picked Number 1 Fan for our escape room. On their website, Breakout rated the room's difficulty as 4.5 stars out of 5. It meant it was challenging enough for us to get fully immersed in, but it would be very satisfying if we solved the game in 45 minutes. That's a challenge we're up to, noh?
But also, just look at their promotional image for the room. It's so intriguing! The lipstick lettering on the dressing room mirror just screamed Lady Gaga in American Horror Story type of horror. Judging from the scary silhouette and the title of the game, I assumed it was like Stephen King's Misery but with reverse genders and with more glamor. This poster promises a thriller of sorts, one with horror and mystery meshed in... And after this experience, I read more on the experience of celebrities with crazed fans, such as Rebecca Schaeffer and Theresa Saldana. Only the latter was lucky enough to survive an encounter with a stalker. And although no one is harmed, there's that drama over some 30-something dude stalking one of the Stranger Things kids and pouting when the kid refused to take a photo with him.
Anyway, here's the premise of Number 1 Fan that is on Breakout's website and Facebook page:
You are a famous celebrity. Your life is an open book. Everybody knows your every move. You have thousands of people claiming that they're your number 1 fan. Fame has a price. Overloaded with countless letters and gifts from your admirers, you tend to overlook some. You start getting hate mail. Out of all the negative mail, there was one that was very alarming. It's from a lunatic fan who, despite claiming to be your number 1 fan, made very detailed and violating threats on your life.
As you sift through more mail, you notice that more than half of the hate mail has come from that one lunatic fan. Your heart sinks. As you try to go outside your dressing room to get some fresh air, the lights suddenly turn off and you find yourself locked in. You find a note from the same so-called number 1 fan. He locked you in and is now challenging you to identify him by name. He also threatens to kill you if you fail to do so.
Do you have what it takes to pay attention to the details and figure out who your number 1 fan is before time expires?
The Experience and The Aftermath
45 minutes sounds like a long time until you enter the room and frantic over where the next clue is... and honestly, it's pretty fast. It's just three sets of 15 minutes that pass by really, really fast!
Before we started, the crew member in charge of our room asked that we deposit our stuff in a storage outside the room. Afterwards, he gave us blindfolds and led us to the room. With clearly nothing to see, we were petrified when a deep voice dictated a creepy secret admirer letter over the sound system. Kari and I clutched each other so hard we were squealing. Then we heard the cue for us to take out our blindfolds and then that's when the game starts.
I'd leave the rest of the experience [redacted] to hide the spoilers. :)
Our aftermath photo looks so vague. Did we win? Did we lose? Let's just say we won... 50% of the game. We were halfway done, but the timer rang. We are not losers, but we are half-winners, the ones who were so close yet so far. For the first 10 minutes, we were frantically looking at numbers plastered on the wall thinking they're codes. We just looked at any three or four digit number just to unlock some coded padlocks. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. The experience left us with a cliffhanger that left us wanting to finish this puzzle. We'll be back for sure!
Here's the only cheat I'm going to give you: focus on the obvious clues and what they're trying to tell you. Take them as literally as you can. Don't make clues on your own, or you'll waste a lot of your time. Hah.
Strolling Around BGC
After having our half-winner photos taken, Kari and I looked for a coffee shop to settle in. She found Local Edition, which was right on the ground floor of Serendra. I wasn't feeling hungry or thirsty after the game, so I didn't order anything. Kari got herself some cold beverage while I sat and continued working on my passion project.
Afterwards, we went back to Sunnies Cafe to take more photos, and explored the rest of BGC as well. BGC is rich with murals, installations, and backdrops that many Manila-based Instagram users travel to just to take their OOTDs or do faux-toshoots.
As we looked for more walls, it so happened that Cotton On BHS was on sale up to 70% off! We took a look at the tees and the tops that cost around 300 - 700. I found the striped, sleeveless cropped top I've always wanted. But the confidence that goes with wearing it is still on its way. I'm still a skinny-fat girl with a bouncy tummy LOL.
On the way back to Serendra, we noticed a set of wooden stairs where people took photos. We did want to take photos on the stairs, but there were too many people for us to be able to utilize that. What we found instead is a set of books under the staircases! A lot of old books and small publications were on the shelves. Honestly, it made a nice faux-toshoot even with the cramped space .
Before parting home, I bought a letter-sized watercolor pad at Art Bar and we window shopped at Fully Booked. Now as I went home, I kept wondering what was the solution to our escape room. Until now, I'm still trying to solve it. But we'll be back...
Breakout Philippines has several branches: Greenbelt 5, Serendra, SM North, Paragon Plaza, and Katipunan. Weekday rates are P300 on the weekdays. Holiday and Friday to Sunday rates are as follows: P600 for 1-2 people, P500 for 3-4 people, and P400 for 5-6 people. For more rooms and details, visit their website.