More than 20 years after the infamous Ozone Disco fire claimed the lives of over 160 people and injured around 95 others in 1996, a new commercial establishment has opened at the same location in Timog, Quezon City.

The establishment, a new branch of the popular all-Filipino food chain Goodah!!!, is endorsed and partly owned by TV host Boy Abunda. It had its soft opening Wednesday, October 5 when it launched its special Crispy Pata offering for the last quarter of the year.

During the press launch Tuesday that preceded Goodah!!!’s soft opening, Abunda told media that he himself had fond memories of Ozone where he at one time even celebrated his birthday.

“I was very young, 16 and still a virgin,” he joked.

Turning serious, Abunda was asked how he felt about the establishment of a Goodah!!! branch on the very same spot where the Ozone tragedy took place.

“We did not talk about it formally but I did raise that point. I admire the brave view of our president Tim Yang. He said, number one, we had nothing to do with what happened and number two, people will understand,” the talk show host said.

For his part, Abunda said that it’s important to give “pasintabi” or courtesy and respect to the spirits. He said that if you asked him if he was afraid given the numerous stories of paranormal activity at the Ozone site that had been reported over the years, he admitted that yes, he was, but only at the beginning.

“I am in the belief that we are not alone in this world, we have to pay our respects and courtesy to the departed. We established Goodah!!! to help in the country’s economy and to give jobs to many people,” he pointed out.

Abunda further shared that the night before Goodah!!!’s press launch, he went to the food chain’s Timog location where there was no one around and just “quietly spoke to the spirits.”

“I prayed and said, we will have our soft opening on October 5. Tabi-tabi po at patawad. I hope you will bless us and understand that we are trying to eke out an honorable living. The food is good and at the same time, we are able to give jobs to several people. It’s Pinoy na Pinoy but I had to do it.”

“Tabi-tabi po” is a Filipino variation of the phrase “excuse me” that has become associated with superstitious beliefs and is often uttered when entering or passing by places that are believed to be inhabited by the supernatural.

Being a part owner of Goodah!!!, Abunda is very proud of the fact that the restaurant has done a lot for his Make Your Nanay Proud Foundation, the non-government organization he founded in honor of his beloved mother, Nanay Lesing.

“Yes, I’m proud of Goodah!!!’s contributions to Make Your Nanay Proud Foundation. If you dine here and order our Boy’s Bistek, part of the sale goes to MYNP and that has helped us with many of our projects like the Best Nanay Awards, Mga Nanay deprived of Liberties, Sine Nanay schools, our secondary research on mothers, and our expansion of our Nanay allies,” he further shared.

Abunda added that Goodah!!!’s own twist on Crispy Pata comes with a trio dip of adobo sauce, classic soy vinegar and spicy sweet chili.

An extra special treat to the numerous menu items that are already popular with GoodAh!!!’s diners, it is the centerpiece of GoodAh!!!’s Timog Avenue branch and will also be offered in six other branches around Metro Manila.

Abunda’s venture with food services like Goodah!!! is not new, as he had previously operated restaurants such as his eponymous Food Republic, a buffet joint, only to close them, possibly due to his bout with illness, which he has said to have overcome totally.

As early as its soft opening, interest in Goodah!!! increased with the arrival of diners, unabated by Ozone’s haunted past.

With the success of the food chain early on, and the friendly environment, the location certainly did not give off a haunted blight indeed.

Perhaps due to the vision of the restaurant to move forward, no markers in memory of the Ozone disco tragedy was seen on the area, curiously.

(With writeup from Interaksyon)