Manila in 1986
Went to Manila on a visa run, my first time in the city. The airport designed to make it difficult to exit from the upper floor, trying to leap into a taxi after it had dropped off a passenger… this was a well-known enough trick to have some dodgy taxi drivers loitering outside who were not amused when I didn’t respond to their entreaties. It was clear they had none of the grace of their Thai counterparts, looked like bandits who would, given the chance, leave you standing by the roadside destitute in your undies. Eventually found an arriving taxi driver who was willing to use his meter, though he then spent a couple of minutes fiddling with the meter’s innards… but the fare to Ermita was only pocket money. Wasn’t inspired by the sights of the slums along the roadside – some hovels constructed out of cardboard – or beggars trying to break into the taxi when it was stalled in the traffic!
Had not booked a hotel so was dropped off in the red-light district and meandered around looking for suitable lodgings, a bit perturbed to find the taxi following me until I went the wrong way (for the driver) down a one-way street. Despite the ramshackle general appearance of the area, shotgun armed “security” guards and dodgy looking natives the hotels were more expensive than Bangkok but still very cheap by Western standards and ended up in a relatively modern room with a half-decent bathroom. Five minute walk to the bars, there were cheaper hotels down dodgy looking alleys but did not fancy walking down them late at night.
So far I was not impressed, would have been quite happy to get the plane back to Bangkok but at the least the bars would be interesting. Found a McDonald’s for some food, very low quality chicken but compared to the gruel the natives fed on it was possibly paradise found for many of the populace, some child beggars outside giving me beseeching looks. On exit, I gave the prettiest gal some loose change, was almost knocked over by a mob of kids who appeared out of the ether, each desperate for their own cut… throwing a pile of (Thai) coins in the air saw them off for long enough to escape. Lesson learnt!
Nearly broke an ankle when my foot went down a hole in the pavement, distracted by scanning the streets for would-be muggers as the area between McD and the bars was not well lit. Luckily, I had my steel-cap boots on and they saved me from serious damage. I would not put it past the locals to have dug up the hole, hopeful that an incapacitated foreigner would be an easy victim… an elongated street of neon attained. I was finally in my element.
Where Thais tended to tuck their bar areas away a little bit, the reprobates in Ermita had filled a whole bit of street with go-gos. San Miguel was better and cheaper than Singha, finally something good to say about the place – though going down easier did mean I tended to drink too much. The gals were similar but different, somewhat more reluctant to make eye-contact and not generally as attractive as the Thais unless the genes went the right way. The mamasans much more in my face, demanding to know who I wanted to barfine before I even sat down, though to be fair they would warn you off gals who had Filipino boyfriends – then a minority, though, these days, they are just as bad as the Thais.
The big difference to Thailand, many of the customers were younger than me (I was 30 then), American armed forces or even spooks, who knows. This caused problems when trying to chat up the really beautiful dancers who basically did not want to know… the mamasans seemed to find this amusing! As I had already had a lot of sex in Thailand, I wasn’t particularly desperate and happy enough to ignore the more sensible – rather peasant-like – suggestions of the mamasans who would eventually mutate into scowling beasts as their cut of the proceedings did a disappearing act. I was quite shocked by a sweet-looking mamasan going into rage-mode, whacking one of the gals who did not do what she was told!
Nevertheless, a pleasant enough bar hop ensued and I did eventually bar-fine some fine looking twenty year-old. I was less impressed when she proudly announced that she had her arse broken in by a Marine and had done three guys at the same time! The disease possibilities bounced around my head whilst she gave me a blowjob and then tried to put her tongue up my rectum… she then auditioned for a role in a porn movie, being less than impressed that I only managed to come twice. Somewhere along the line she had whipped off the condom, insisting on feeling the juices explode inside her. She left, after proclaiming she had another guy booked up… luckily, no diseases were passed on! She had learned her trade in Angeles City!
The next night I picked up another lovely who had a beautiful head of hair and a willowly body… her most interesting feature was a dense bush of pubic hair that I found much more attractive than the shaved look. Her boss was some fat Australian, almost a caricature of the criminal type, lated singled out by Mayor Lim who would go on to close down the whole neon area in the early nineties. She started squawking baby talk as soon as I mounted her and continued even as I put my tongue down her throat… most off-putting!
In the day I had walked along the seafront, a marvellous bit of real estate but totally ruined by villainous locals, packs of child beggars and the general feeling of decrepitude and danger. I had scampered all over Bangkok with no feeling of imminent demise but Ermita seemed like it was about to explode into rage and violence. There was a reasonably sized department store but the quality of the clothes was poor and the prices high compared to Bangkok. An open air market only likely to appeal to tourists off a cruise ship. I did pick up some bits and bobs made out of volcanic ash for almost nothing, after a round of strenuous bargaining, from street sellers. Terrible pollution, much worse than Bangkok, added to the experience – every time I visited the city I ended up with a harsh cough that, these days, would have had me marched off to the nearest coronavirus testing station!
The next night I staggered out of a bar only to find a large group of Filipinos surrounding a Western guy, prone on the pavement and leaking blood from a stab wound! Most of the Filipinos appeared bovine-like and open-mouthed at the excitement. They started to disperse when some portly cops appeared, some of the bar girls had suggested not reporting robberies to the cops because if you were rich enough to be robbed the police would then get all excited at the thought of getting money off you rather than solving the crime. In my amblings during the day, a couple of times fat porkers had given me the eye, looking disappointed that they could not shake me down (the US was still heavily involved in the country so Westerners were generally safe from shakedowns unless they did something wrong) so I did not hang around, either. No doubt Asian logic might suggest that as a fellow foreigner I should pay the medical bills, though the guy looked a bit too far gone to come back to life.
The crime emphasized the level of poverty and desperation in the city compared to Bangkok. In fact, Manila was much more like I had expected Bangkok to be, the latter always a pleasant surprise in terms of its relative civilization despite the low cost of living. I always found the really hot women in Bangkok were much easier to get my hands on than the beautiful Filipinas who seemed to turn into little princesses after finding out how easy it was to get money out of foreigners. At that time, and for the next few years, a bit of persistence and stubbornness were still enough to get into the knickers of the top echelon of Filipina dancers but these days it is a lost cause – but no great loss as all the bar-girls seem to have Filipino boyfriends. Going back to Bangkok was always a joy, even if it meant another battle with a taxi driver to get to the airport and then keeping a watchful eye on the airport officials to make sure they didn’t stash something in your bag so they could shake you down!
In town, I never managed to work out where the Jeepneys were going and it was always a hassle getting a cheap fare out of a taxi driver – both Thais and Filipinos enjoyed a round of negotiation on taxi fares, the Thais would then happily take you to your destination whilst the Filipinos would try to cajole and threaten you into paying more during the journey, whining at its end that it was not enough and that they had sixteen kids, four mistresses and half the village to feed. And it really wasn’t the kind of city where you could walk miles between the shopping centres without fearing for your life, not to mention ruinous humidity, heat and pollution.
Despite all these tribulations, over the years I returned to Manila many times, occasionally staying as long as three months – at times when Thai women had really pissed me off. Makati a bit more civilized although its red-light district always a bit on the expensive side unless you arranged to meet the gals after or before work when sex was as cheap as Thailand. I took a certain delight in sending babes off to work with my juices sloshing around inside them, some suited dude paying three to four times what I had paid for (very) sloppy seconds! Filipinas really did not like condoms but also did not take contraceptives so God knows how many kids I might have fathered! Some really beautiful young women (18-25) but I never really gelled with any in the way I had with a series of Thai gals. I jokingly asked one reluctant babe if she was waiting for a millionaire to turn up and a big smile and “I hope so” put me in my place! Even the 1980’s was a bit late to win the real beauties, these days it is pretty dire for a sixty year-old unless going for a sensible choice of woman. And I have no enthusiasm for that!
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