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Pastures New Or Does Greener Grass Really Exist?

  • Written by JS
  • January 26th, 2005
  • 7 min read


Just returned from my eight night sojourn of all the bars and gogos of Makati and Angeles in the Philippines.

My first visit had been 10 years ago, when at the time I was really trying to evaluate whether or not Thailand or the Philippines should be my preferred choice of residence, an incredibly difficult decision to make then and even now not an easy one despite all these years of hindsight.

To start off I was very impressed with the Philippines, the people have a disposition that is in a completely different league to that of the Thais, this I might add is in a situation and environment that few of us could accept let alone even try to come to terms with.

They are for me bar exception the happiest race I've come across in my travels, don't ask me why, but by complete contrast there's the Swiss who have the most in the world but have you ever come across a happy one?

The greatest major factor that they having going for them is that they are all fluent in English, having said that they speak American with a Spanish accent, incredibly quickly and at some times loudly, but apart from that they are quite easy to understand.

But it is not just that they can communicate in our language but the fact that they have been brought up in our culture, they are for all intensive purposes westernised Asians. Initially I was really taken aback by just how much they understood, to the degree that they not only understood all my jokes but they could also pick up my sarcasm. I would strongly argue that even the most fluent of Thai speakers could never attain the same level of rapport I had going with these Filipinos.

The other major difference that immediately strikes you is that you feel that they have had an education, and coupled to this they have an inquiring mind that they are always asking questions and show a strong interest for what is going on outside of their borders. So instead of just making statements with Thais here you are being able to have normal conversations with these Filipinos.

Our travels started off in Manila, staying in the financial district of Makati, where the up market bars cum gogos are situated.

My considerable research on the internet had paid dividends, the Best Western Hotel The Astor proved a winner, and within easy walking distance of the watering holes, only 35 US$ which is cheap for the area, including ABF and no joiner fees being requested.

City Garden is another option I would recommend. These hotels I would put into a three star category. Now for the bars, Papillon, Rascals, Stardust, Dimples, Flamingos, these all should certainly get you into the mood for food. Their operatus modi is a cross between a hostess bar and a gogo, you have your GRO's – Guest Relation Officers – I love this title, and then of course you have all that eye candy of the gogo dancers, with shift changes every half hour. The word intimate comes very quickly to mind as the lights are very low and the seating is on red velvet settees, which are mostly tucked away into dark corners, so for the lovers of the art of diddling this is a diddler's paradise.

So just when you think you got all points covered you then discover this is a three pronged pincer attack, as the waitresses have been held up as reserves, you might as well go down smiling.

Financially Makati is not cheap, lady drinks are 300 peso a throw, 55 pesos to the US$, and the bar fines are 3000 peso which however includes extra curricular activities. Against this there are happy hours, and of course where there's a will there's always a way. Outside of Makati district in Manila there is a gogo complex of bars on EDSA, Miss Universal and also LA Cafe, all should be explored if time allows. I would try and allow at least four nights if not five to cover all these bases.

If elephants go off into the jungle to die alone where in the world do you think that all the old Johns end up?

You've guessed it – Angeles, and this town really feels that you've been trapped in a time wrap, a museum of how things used to be and still are for that matter. It originally sprung up just outside the entrance gate of an American Air Force base, and in spite of it's closure it still continues servicing males from all around the globe.

The scene in Angeles is predominantly gogos, and from past experience I was really expecting average looking girls in comparison with Makati, but as they say I was soon to discover many diamonds in the rough. There are many good looking girls in Angeles, if not no other reason as that is where the punters are now in force, the bars in Makati were dead by comparison and the girls were really complaining of the lack of business. It feels that Angeles is just on the cusp of a huge change, a lot of capital investment seems to be pouring in, with the construction of some really up market gogo bars, new hotels and restaurants. The days of it remaining as a one hick town might soon be over, so personally I would try and catch it now whilst it still has that original, authentic, unique atmosphere about it. Sure nobody's going to miss that there are sometimes no sidewalks to walk on, no street lighting, pollution from all that volcanic dust, street kid beggars to contend with, but to me that is all part of its present charm.

There are rumours of a direct rail link from the airport to Angeles, plus the fact of a new huge shopping mall where window shopping will take on a completely different connotation.

The big difference between Angeles and Makati is the cost of accommodation, food and gogos, it's a fraction.

There were many differences between Thai and Filipino girls in the gogos, some of which I'm sure I failed to notice.

The girls are not smoking, drinking unless its a lady drink, no sign of space cadets on yah ba, no tattoos or studs, no ripple pregnancy stomachs, no tantrums when you decline a lady drink, not popping out like Thai girls for their endless grazing of meals, in fact the whole operation is run like a very tight ship which obviously is attributed to and by the mamasans, who rule with a rod of iron.

Talking of which I'd love to produce a website as a Hall of Fame of portraits of all the mamasans working in these establishments, they really are caricatures of themselves, a sort of immoral police force making sure that all the debauchery is carried out in a quick and efficient manner. For cheap Charlies they are the bane of our lives, in fact Brown Sugar had as many as five to contend with.

You may well think that the girls lack of free expression is solely attributed to the strict, rigorous enforcement of the rules by the mamasans, but I think there is more to it than that. All these girls come from huge families, and every year they return home there is another additional mouth to feed, in the land where contraception is not practiced the population breed like rabbits. I wouldn't be surprised in many cases that nearly all the income the girls makes is sent directly home.

Marrying a Thai girl you have to take care of her family, marrying a Filipino girl would feel like having to support the whole village.

The other big difference that really hits you is that Filipino girls have busts, and more often than not terrific figures to go with them, and even more surprising really cute butts to boot. The only downside is that for most of them they come in a reduced smaller version than Thais. My friend who I was travelling is very choosy who he selects to spend the night with, after endless gogos he finally found his match and expressed his desire to take her, to which she replied that she was a "Cherry girl".

Not having heard of this expression before he quickly retorted, "I don't care if you are a cherry, apple or orange girl, as long as you get all your kit off that's alright by me".

Stickman's thoughts:

Sounds like an interesting place, The Philippines. People seem to love it or hate it.