In Nick Joaquin's story "Cándido's Apocalypse", Pete Henson tells Bobby, the story's main character, that

"Joey Perez and some fellows went joyriding and dog-hunting and they caught a good one. They're going to roast it in the vacant lot behind the Gatdulas and they have a fine collection of longnecks and cuatro cantos. The barkada's there. (...)"

Pete and Bobby are members of a band named The Vultures. Barkada (from Spanish barcada) is Tagalog for gang or clique.

Canto is Spanish for "song" but from the context it is doubtful that Pete is talking about songs here. I assume "cuatro cantos" (literally "four songs") is slang for something else here, but I have not been able to figure out what it means.

Update: longneck can mean "a type of beer bottle with a long neck", so "cuatro cantos" is most likely related to alcoholic beverages.

1 Answer 1


According to the online supermarket Lazada, Ginebra San Miguel, introduced in 1834, "is the first gin in the Philippines and likewise recognized as the no. 1 selling gin in the world."

It became known as cuatro cantos because the bottle in which it was originally sold had four corners: cuatro cantos. (Canto can indeed also mean 'song'.)

According to Esquire Magazine, "The artwork on the label, popularly known as Marca Demonio, features St. Michael, the Archangel, defeating Satan in the celestial battle during the War in Heaven described in the Book of Revelations."

Incidentally, "a cuatro cantos" means "on all fours". Perhaps that's part of the appeal of the name: drink enough of it and you end up 'on four corners'.

  • 1
    One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. Nov 1, 2020 at 15:23

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