Category Archives: Eezee Writer

The OTH Question

Recently there has been a lot of talk about OTH. For the uninitiated OTH or on the house drinks are basically drinks paid for by the bar and given to customers on behalf of the management for absolutely free, hence the term on the house.

Within the Philippine bar scene at the current moment there is a debate ensuing regarding bar managers and bar managers practices such as giving away OTH. Basically there are two schools of thought regarding OTH. One school which I describe as the anti OTH school and the other being the pro OTH school. In the anti OTH school on the house drinks are seen as a waste and a cost which should be minimized wherever possible. In the pro OTH school they are viewed as an investment which when utilized properly, will generate a profitable return.

In this article I will analyze the relevant points of both schools of thought and in so doing hopefully give readers a better perspective of the OTH debate so as they can make up their own mind.

Amongst Philippine bar owners there seems to be a growing opinion that if the bars in Thailand can operate without OTH then so too can the bars in the Philippines. The bar owners who compare the Thailand bar scene OTH and that of the Philippines will at worst see OTH as a waste and at best as a necessary evil to be minimized wherever possible.

The anti OTH arguments states that by buying a customer a drink you are not only wasting the bars money but in fact costing the bar money. The argument states that the customer has his own money so he will normally buy his own drink. By buying him a drink you are stopping him from buying it himself and at the same time incurring the cost of a drink, as a cost to the bar. This argument concludes that the end effect of OTH is that it takes away from the bars profit. Some people even go so far as to say by buying some customers a drink you draw unwanted attention to them and it may even be a reason for that person not to come back to the bar.

Another extension of this argument states that most customers can only consume limited amounts of alcohol so they will often not appreciate another drink even if it is free.

Some bar owners claim that OTH is too easily abused by managers and customers so it is better not to have it all. In regards to the managers this argument states the OTH actually makes things too easy for them, because they do not have to pay for it they tend to forget about the cost of giving it away. As an extension to this line of thought they argue that being oblivious to the costs will encourage the managers to give away drinks randomly without any thought as to the objectives they are trying to achieve through OTH in the first place. This argument does have some validity however amongst the vast majority of bar managers I have found them to know exactly how and when to give away a free drink and will keep in mind the objectives they are trying to achieve by doing so.

In regards to managers another argument states that since alcohol for them is free, managers will often get drunk and abuse the OTH either through personal consumption or through giving it away to their friends. Whilst this may be true in some cases it is also true to say that managers who have been doing the job for an extended period of time are in fact quite weary of alcohol and the problems it can cause when over indulged in plus they are also well aware of customers whom buy back and the others who just seem to take but never buy back.

Lastly the OTH is open to abuse from the staff that work in the bar and indeed in my experience it is common for the staff to place a small amount of drinks on the managers or mamasans OTH check list. This can be a minor problem but will not escalate if the proper checks and balances are put in place right from the word go.

In regards to the customers some bar owners have claimed that some customers actually come to rely on OTH and expect it. Indeed during my time of managing bars I have on several occasions been approached by customers asking where is their OTH drink and when I reply “I am not buying one today” they actually seem upset, almost as if they regard it as their right to receive it.

There are many arguments in favor of OTH but in the interests of ease of reading I will just try to briefly highlight the main ones.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly there is the costing factor. Opponents who argue against OTH will often view it as a percentage of the total sales and it will be charged at customer prices. For example rum and coke will be charged at anywhere between 45 piso through to 95 piso when in fact it only costs about 5 piso for the bar to supply it. The same argument can be used for San Miguel beer which is purchased at approximately 20 piso but charged on the OTH from anywhere between 45 piso to 95 piso.

There are numerous advantages to buying an OTH drink for a customer and following are just some of them that I have been able to categorize over my years of working in the bar.

Firstly there is the rent a customer argument which states that people go where people are, in other words few people will walk into a quiet bar as they automatically think ‘what is wrong with this bar’, ‘why is no one here’. On the other hand if they walk into a bar and there are some people sitting around enjoying a drink then they are more likely to stay. In short by buying people a drink you are keeping customers in the bar which in turn attracts other customers.

There is always a strong social element in the Philippine bar business and a key element of this is OTH drinks. When the manager buys an OTH drink for a customer this serves a number of purposes. If the customer is new then the drink acts as a social icebreaker and if the customer is known to the manager the drink serves as a sign of greeting or respect. In each case the fact is the drink is keeping people in the bar, it is establishing friendly communication between the customer and manager, it is creating an opportunity for the customer to spend money either by buying a drink for the manager, another drink for himself, or possibly a ladies drink or even the taking a girl out of the bar. The point here is that if the manager didn’t purchase the OTH drink in the first place none of these scenarios would even have a chance of eventuating.

The OTH drinks have a tremendous word of mouth value. For example as a great English poet once said “no man is an island” and when you buy a customer a drink he will no doubt tell his friends and encourage them to come in and enjoy a drink in your bar. Few men are loners and the customer you buy a drink for will invariably know other customers and so on and so on.
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of OTH drinks is their profitability. The cost to the bar for buying a shooter or normal drink will normally be a fraction of what the customer is charged and in fact the markup for the bars is often 150% or more. As a result when the customer buys a drink back it is obviously a very profitable proposition for the bar but the most profitable scenario for the bar is when the shooters are involved. For example the shooters even if they are composed of imported liquor are cheap to make, small volume, quickly and easily consumed, they normally come in rounds and best of all there is an implicit understanding on behalf of the customer and the bar manager that a round will be bought back.

Last but by no means least it is a well known fact amongst the bar manager fraternity that the more drunk your customers are the more likely they are to spend money. Buying OTH drinks certainly helps facilitate this situation as well as helping to create an atmosphere more conducive to spending

As a bar manager I am very much in favor of OTH and in my experience when used properly it is an effective money spinner within the bar environment. Yes I concede that it can be misused and needs to be kept in check but for me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Replacing my bar manager hat with my customer hat I once again am very much in favor of OTH drinks and am certainly grateful when I receive one from a bar manager.

The bar scene is changing and evolving so it will be interesting to see what happens to bar managers as well as to the concept of OTH drinks. Personally I see both of them as something unique and an essential part of the Philippine bar business which hopefully will be around for many years to come.

Bar Managers, are they a dying breed?

Over my 18 years of running bars in the Philippines I have heard on numerous occasions how bar managers are a “dying breed” and I have come to learn this statement is true both in the literal and metaphorical sense. In physical terms the lifestyle of a bar manager is hardly conducive to longevity since it normally involves copious amounts of alcohol consumption, smoke inhalation, a sedentary lifestyle and believe it or not, an inordinate amount of stressful situations.

Referring to managers as a “dying breed” has always been a rather worrying statement for me in that it is too close to home. As a result, when it was said to me just the other night by a bar owner from Thailand, I paused for a moment of reflection and decided this subject would make an interesting column for AE.

Normally when someone says to me ‘you bar managers are a dying breed’ I pretend to brush it off as a flippant comment that I have heard a thousand times, however, given what has happened to the Blue Nile Group management team, (which until recently I was part of), the Thailand bar owners statement hit home and made me ponder the statement on a much deeper level than I normally would.

To fully understand the role of a professional bar manager it is necessary to look at how the position evolved. In the mid eighties in M. H. Pillar, Ermita, Manila the bar scene suddenly started to take off with an influx of money invested and an influx of customers availing of services the bars were offering. As the bar scene expanded it evolved from the owners acting as owner /managers to a fully blown industry incorporating individuals whose only job was to manage the bar on a day to day or should I say, night to night, basis. Back in those days it was common for the manager to drink copious amounts of alcohol, give away even greater amounts of alcohol and generally create a party atmosphere in conjunction with the girls and the customers. This in turn would encourage the customers to spend more and the end result was revenue for the bar.

A bar manager and customer both sculling shooters with no hands. In days gone by this sort of behavior was considered par for the course.

The concept of a ‘girlie bar’ manager creating a party atmosphere is in many ways unique to the Philippines. For example you will not find many professional girlie bar managers in Thailand or other parts of Asia and when you do he will normally be an owner wearing both his owner hat and manager’s hat. This situation occurs partly because in other countries the emphasis is on directly selling alcohol and sexual services rather than creating a party atmosphere.

So are bar managers a dying breed, is the position of professional bar manager soon to be a thing of the past? In my opinion the answer to this is both yes and no depending upon the sort of bar and the owners marketing approach. In many of the bigger more commercial bars (Doll House, Atlantis, Tropix, Crystal Palace, Blue Nile, Neros and Blue Nile Executive) it would seem there is a definite trend to utilize cheaper Filipino management as opposed to the more costly foreign management. There are numerous reasons why this has occurred some of which I will now examine in this article.

Firstly there is the question of cost. By not employing foreign managers the bar will cut down on OTH (on the house) drinks and the bars salary bill will be significantly less. Whilst this line of thinking may be true on paper it is in reality a falsehood because by cutting down on OTH you may minimize expenses but at the same time you also minimize sales.

The same argument can also be applied when you address the question of Filipino managers versus foreigner managers. The simple fact is the Fields Avenue -Perimeter Road bars are mainly patronized by foreigners and these same foreigners will often choose which bar to visit based on the fact they are friends with a particular bars manager. Caucasian customers naturally tend to patronize bars which are run by Caucasian managers just as Filipino customers often feel more comfortable patronizing a bar run by Filipino managers.

Secondly there is the question of the owner’s market perception. The owners who see their main market as being the Asian customers really have no need of a highly paid foreign manager. In most cases the Asian customers are handled by the mamasans and contact between the foreigner managers and Asian customers is traditionally minimal. Conversely, owners who employ foreign managers expect the managers to attract foreigner customers to their bar.

Thirdly there is the question of a bars ambiance. On the whole I think it is safe to generalize and say the owners who choose to employ Filipino managers over foreigners place little emphasis on a bars ambiance. In my opinion a good foreigner manager will influence a bars ambiance by his presence, his appearance, his personality, his implementation of the rules, his relationship with the girls, his choice of music or his approach towards the customers. To this day I have only seen one Filipino manager who considers the ambience of the bar an important factor which influences the bars sales.

This man is renowned for his outlandish apparel and unique ability to generate the party ambiance.

Fourthly there is the question of the interaction between the manager and customer. Generally speaking the owners who employ foreign managers view customer relations, (or PR as it is often referred to), as an important part of the job and those who employ locals place only a minimal emphasis on customer relations. For the owners who employ Filipino managers they place an emphasis on the girls and the mamasans relating to the customer rather than the manager. In this situation the manager job becomes more of a supervisory role.

Prince Charles a happy customer indeed as he parties with the girls in Lollipop bar.

Fifthly it is a well known fact that the political climate which effects the bars is changing rather quickly and as such no one is absolutely certain what direction things will take. In uncertain times such as these there is a prevailing logic which states who better to deal with the Filipino powers that be than a Filipino citizen. In this scenario the manager actually assumes the duties of official representative for the bars.

When discussing the value of a bar manager the most important aspect to consider is return on investment. Basically if the owners view the manager as an investment then they must look at their return on investment. In most instances the very least a bar manager should be able to produce in sales is his salary plus ten percent. By doing this he is covering the cost of employing him and his OTH expenditure. Obviously most owners will expect a lot more from the manager than just covering what he costs and as a general guideline I have found a productive manager on any single night will be directly responsible for producing sales equaling his salary plus 60%. Of course this figure will vary from night to night but over a period of one month it tends to average out to roughly this amount.

Speaking as someone who makes his living from managing a bar I feel worried by the trends I am observing in the rapidly changing Angeles bar scene. With several of the bigger bars choosing to utilize Filipino management the employment options for foreign bar managers are becoming more and more limited. Most of the bigger bars with the potential to gainfully employ a foreign manager have either decided to cut costs and go with the lower paid Filipino managers and the other big bars that like foreign managers have already employed one and are happy with his performance. As a result the only other options are medium sized bars and the smaller Perimeter Road bars. In the case of the medium sized bars they are normally operating on a tighter budget than the bigger bars so as a result, traditionally speaking, they pay their managers less than the big bars.

The next option is the Perimeter Road bars but here again the budget comes into play. Basically the Perimeter road bars operate on a very tight budget and this is why you will often find a sort of owner/manager situation in these bars. By the owner assuming the duties of manager he manages to save paying out a regular wage. In most Perimeter Road bars the main group of customers will be local expatriates and long term visitors who frequent that bar because they know the manager/owner and enjoy drinking with him. This of course places a special importance on the manager’s role yet the irony is in most cases the bars do not generate enough income to justify employing a full time professional manager.

Last but not least there is a seeming lack of new blood coming into the industry. Many have gone on record as saying bar management is a young man’s game and yet there are very few young men working as, or seeking the position as, bar manager. Currently in Angeles I can think of only four managers under 30 years of age who are employed in the bars, what’s more, in the last 18 years I have seen only a few younger men apply for the job. As the future of the business will ultimately rely on the younger generation the lack of younger men working in the industry or seeking to work in the industry, does not bode well for the positions future.

To summarize I do believe the statement “bar managers are a dying breed” has a certain element of truth in it. Basically many of the big bars in Manila as well as Angeles are turning towards utilizing the Filipino labor force in the position of bar managers. In Makati there are approximately 40 bars yet there is only one full time manager that I know of and even he is looking at leaving. In Pasay there is basically only the Firehouse Complex at EDSA which to the best of my knowledge does not employ foreign managers but rather the owners tend to act as owner managers and the emphasis of customer entertainment is placed on the mamasan. In Subic the bars do employ managers but normally this is considered a part time job or just something to do to keep busy and the majority of bars are small affairs where the owner acts as owner and manager. As the bar scene in Subic grows there will no doubt be more available positions offering a decent salary but when this will actually happen is impossible to accurately predict.

Currently the only place for a professional bar manager to effectively ply his trade is Angeles. As long as the bar owners have the opinion that a good manager will bring in substantially more revenue than what he costs then the position is to some extent secure and has a future. On the other hand if what I call the cost minimization mentality prevails and the perceived value of a bar manager declines then the statement ‘bar managers are a dying breed’ may well prove to be prophetic in the near future.

Supporting Filipinas

It was September 21, 1991 and I had been in the Philippines for about three months. This was my very first trip and I was still very much on a steep learning curve. I can remember asking a Philippine veteran what sort of Filipina is perfect for you and then with a smile he replied “an 18 year old millionaire orphan”. I just laughed at the time not really understanding the implications of what he was saying but about one year later when I found myself supporting a girl and sending money over from Australia his words came back to haunt me and I understood perfectly.

“Send me money honey”. How often have I heard this exact phrase gushing forth from the mouths of Filipinas. Even the girls with a limited grasp of English quickly learn how to say this perfectly. Yes I am a bit cynical when I say this, but the simple fact is when you are involved with a Filipina the issue of financial support will always be an important factor in your relationship. I would estimate that up to 90% of the Filipinas we foreigners meet have very little money and expect us as foreigners to give them money. In the short term the giving of money will take the form of a cash remittance for services rendered or possibly an act of charity but in the long term it will take the form of financial support. The level of support required will vary amongst individual girls but at the end of the day when involved with a Filipina it is almost inevitable and something we all have to come to terms with.

So why does the ‘support’ situation occur?

Firstly, there is what I like to call the support chain. This is where we support the girl and the girl in turn supports her family. Undeniably the vast majority of girls we meet in Angeles come from poor families and the reason they are here in the first place is to earn money for themselves and their family. I have known many guys that say “I don’t mind helping the girl but why the heck should I support the whole family” or “she must have a brother or something, why doesn’t he get a job”. The familial ties and associated responsibilities are a whole other subject and for the purposes of this article it is sufficient to note that familial support is ingrained into the Filipina psyche. As a foreigner you support the girl and she in turn supports her family because in her mind, that is her duty and that is the way it has always been and always will be.

Secondly there is what is commonly referred to as the walking ATM mentality. I remember having a meal one day and the foreigner / Filipina couple next to me, were having an argument about money. I tried not to listen but I had to laugh as the guy said to his girl “what do you think I am honey, a walking ATM”? Whilst this was a cause for merriment it did make me think, because in my experience this is exactly how many girls view the foreigners. Amongst Filipinas there is a common misconception that we are rich simply because we are foreigners and as an extension to that we should be sharing our money with them.

Thirdly with the advent of Western Union, Xoom, LBC, and other money transfer services it has become relatively easy to send money both on an international and national level. This ease of operation has encouraged more girls to actively seek the “support” and there has developed a kind of sub culture nick named the WU (Western Union) girls.

Fourthly it is important to realize that in the Philippines the wages are low and there is a general lack of income earning potential no matter how hard you are prepared to work or what level of education you may obtain. Consequently, many Filipinas find it necessary to supplement their meager income with money being sent from overseas.

Traditionally the Filipinas are renowned for their emotiveness yet at the same time they have a definite ability to distinguish between, emotions and practicality. Just the other day I was talking with a girl in Lollipop and because she was particularly attractive I asked her if I could take her photo. She replied “yes but please don’t put me on internet”. I then asked her “why not” thinking that she would express the usual fears of her family seeing it but instead she replied “Daddy I have a support”. I asked her “do you mean you have a boy friend” and she said “no boyfriend daddy, I have support”. At the time I had a quiet little chuckle over this statement because I realized she had made an interesting distinction between a relationship based on emotion and a relationship based on practicality. In her mind she had made a clear distinction between emotions and practical survival. Whoever was sending the money she viewed as support and no emotion was involved. Even though Filipinas are traditionally renowned for their emotiveness here was a girl whose entire relationship was based purely on practical need.

Why do guys support Filipinas?

There are a number of reasons why foreign men decide to support Filipinas but perhaps the most common scenario is that they want to get them out of the bar and to do this they must replace the income earned from the bar which normally translates into support.

A second reason is a genuine sense of altruism or simply a desire to help the girls make something more of their life. Recently I was telling a friend of mine about this article and since he has been down the support road many times with a number of different girls he was immediately interested. In fact he even proposed he write down the reasons why he supports girls which I gladly accepted. The following is what he wrote “I Like to get girls out of the bar that really, really don’t want to be in the bar or are especially vulnerable”.

“- Even if it goes bad and they end up returning to that, at least I kept them out of it for a little while – because in the end, if one is honest with oneself – it is not a very pleasant job and I don’t like to see them have to put up with the plethora of jackasses that think it’s cool to treat people like objects instead of people … just because they can …”.

There is of course another side to the altruism argument. When I discussed the support issue with another close friend of mine he argued that by providing support you may be doing the girl a favor in the short term but in the long term you are actually doing her a disfavor. Certainly you are taking her out of the bar and certainly you are providing short term support for the girl and her family but the reality is your support will not last forever and secondly the bar girls so called “shelf life” is a short term time span so by taking her out of the bar “you are shortening the time she has to find someone to marry her”.

Another prominent reason guys like to support a girl is to ensure sexual exclusivity. I have seen many guys who support girls because they believe that in so doing they will receive exclusive sexual rights. This is in fact a fallacy and whilst support money may satisfy the girl’s familial obligations and provide rice on the table it will not guarantee sexual exclusivity.

There are a number of questions that are associated with the issue of supporting a Filipina and to be honest there are no conclusive answers. First among these is how much is enough? To be honest there is no definite amount that can be used as an indicator because there are so many variables and each case is different. When asked I generally reply ‘well I am no expert but twenty to twenty five thousand piso per month should suffice’. Some people will say this is not enough whereas others will say this is too much. I then reply “well how much you spend is really up to you, I am just giving you a general guideline based on my experiences”.

How will the support money be used?

In most cases the vast majority of the money will be used to support the girls’ family and a small amount will be used to meet her personal needs. This is an absolute fact and if you are considering supporting a girl, be aware that one way or another you will also be supporting her family. When it comes to how the money will be spent there are literally hundreds of horror stories ranging from drugs, macho dancers and multiple supporters through to gambling, videoke bars, and Filipino boyfriends. However despite their frequency it has been my experience that the horror stories are in fact a minority and in general the money will be spent in helping her family or improving the girls’ station in life.

So now for the million dollar question, should you support a Filipina? There are a two main arguments for supporting a Filipina and they are as follows.

1: By providing support you are helping the girls who have limited means of getting money otherwise.

2: By providing support you are helping the girl get out of the bar life.

3: By sending support you are helping someone less fortunate than yourself.

4: The altruistic feeling that is engendered by sending support.

There are several arguments against sending support.

1: By providing support you actually take them off the market during their prime time and in so doing decrease their chances of finding a husband.

2: By just giving money you encourage the “hands out mentality” when it would be more constructive to help them help themselves.

3: By giving money you are perpetuating the family support system. It is a simple fact that in most cases the money you send to help your girl will actually be used to support her family rather than herself.

4: From the mongering perspective by taking a girl out of the bar and supporting her you are weakening the bars ability to provide you the monger with girls whom you and other mongers would want to meet. By weakening a bars lineup you actually hurt the bars profitability.

5: With support will come a number of expectations on behalf of the supporter. Normally the priority expectation would be sexual exclusivity but in my experience this is an unrealistic expectation. Just because you send money to a girl do not assume this will then guarantee you sexual exclusivity. The fact is in most cases the Filipina bar girl has multiple lovers.

6: Another expectation often associated with support is honesty. Most men if supporting a girl will expect their girl to be honest. Again it is my experience that this is rarely the case, indeed I have seen girls picking up two different payments from different men at the same time.

To be honest there is no easy answer to the should I or shouldn’t I support a girl question and when I discuss it with people I find it usually boils down to what their expectations are. When supporting a Filipina most people have a number of expectations or should I say conditions that go with the support and in my experience it will always boil down to whether these expectations are realistic for both parties. As stated previously there are no absolutes when it comes to supporting a girl and each case will vary according the individuals involved and the conditions involved.

If you are considering supporting a Filipina it is my sincere hope that this article will provide you with some helpful insights and practical guidelines. Whilst there are no definite answers and every situation is different, one thing is for sure, getting involved with a Filipina will be a unique experience and a ride full of highs and lows unlike any other.

Angeles City Bar Waitresses

Recently I paid a visit to Dr Guzman complaining of a sore throat and rapid hair loss. He took one look at me and said “young man it looks like you have waitressitis”. “Waitressitis” I said in a questioning tone, what the heck is that. Being a good doctor and not wanting to make a rash diagnosis he answered my question with a question. “You work in the bar right”? Yes doc I do” “and you have been raising your voice a lot particularly at the waitresses”? I thought about this and through overworked vocal cords replied “yes doc all the time”. “Well if that’s the case then it’s my considered medical opinion that you have waitressitis”.

Having been diagnosed with waitressitis I reflected on my times in the bar and it was with wry amusement that I realized just one night previously I had been yelling for a waitress and probably contracted the disease.

There I was sitting at the managers table with a few friends and it was my round so I looked around for a waitress but of course none were visible. I knew we had at least 15 waitresses on duty that night so I was not amused by their lack of appearance. I looked at Shagger and said “these f*&^%$ng waitresses are like taxies always hanging around when you don’t need them but never around when you need them” He looked at me with a knowing smirk and said “go check in the change room, mate”.

Following his suggestion I rose and walked to the change room to be greeted by 8 waitresses, 4 sitting around having a chat and a chow down, 3 waiting for the Bakla to do their makeup and 1 just surveying the whole scene.

Well this was too much for me and as the blood boiled I yelled “hey waitresses what the f*&k are you doing in here.” When they heard me yell they looked at me and the groups spokesperson replied, “daddy we on break time”. Now ordinarily I would have asked why do you all have to take your break time together but being here long I knew better so instead I politely asked “can I please have a waitress at the managers table right now, if it’s not too much trouble”. Instantly one waitress got up and took my order when I returned to the managers table. One hour later it was my round again and I looked for a waitress only to find two sitting just beside the table having a good old chin wag. I politely asked just loud enough to be heard over the music, “waitress” but as usual no one heard me so I had to yell at the top of my voice thus exacerbating my waitressitis.

Just recently I read Pok Pok boys thread called the role of waitresses and upon reading it I decided this would make a good topic for an AE column. Thanks in advance to Pok Pok Boy for the insightful thread which demonstrated his vast experience and inspired me to write down my own thoughts on this subject. Pok Pok boy, rest assured I will unashamedly plagiarize your post and expand upon your thoughts wherever possible.
In this article I will attempt to define the role of a waitress and also examine the reasons why there are so few competent waitresses in the AC bars scene. In so doing I hope I will pass on some useful information and at the same time come to a better understanding of the AC bar waitress myself thus saving my vocal cords and what hair I have left from wiatressitis.

The role of a waitress

So what exactly is the role of an AC bar waitress? In the normal world I would describe the role of a waitress as a woman or girl who waits on tables in a particular establishment. Put more simply a waitresses role is to serve drinks or food or both to customers patronizing the establishment she is working in.
Well that’s in the normal world but in the AC bars the role becomes somewhat expanded so much so that it requires analysis and sometimes explanations.

So what exactly is the role of waitresses in the AC bars? Well it just so happens that I have definite ideas on this as I have had many a meeting with waitresses and the following is what I tell them.

1: Her role is to serve customers their drinks and in some cases food.

2: Her role is to help the dancers get ladies and serve the dancers ladies drinks.

3: Wherever possible her role is to get ladies drink herself.

4: Since she is often the first point of contact with the customer it is also her job to entertain the customer with light hearted conversation.

5: In many bars the waitresses must look sexy and visually appealing, in fact, they are positively encouraged to go EWR.

Why are AC bar waitresses generally incompetent?

Ok so the job description sounds fairly basic and indeed it is, so why then is it so hard to find a waitress that can do her job properly. The answers are varied and detailed but for the purpose of this column I will try to list them and simplify them.

Pok Pok boy tackled this question by stating why waitresses are selected or hired and why girls want to be waitresses instead of dancers. In so doing he bought up some very relevant points as to why in many cases bar waitresses are incompetent at their job. I am not saying they are all incompetent in fact there are some very good waitresses but in my experience these are few and far between.

1: A girl will often become a waitress because she is a “long term employee” and past her prime as a dancer. Since she can no longer make money as a dancer she is “rewarded with a change in job description” and becomes a waitress. Basically when a girl reaches this stage she has very little options in the bar so this is seen as her last step and an easy way to make money.

A classic example of this is Evelyn a waitress in Neros who can supposedly suck a bowling ball through a garden hose. Yes she has well accredited oral skills but is a bit long in the tooth to be a productive dancer so as a result she has decided to ply her trade as a waitress.

2: The girl is a cute cherry girl that can get ladies drinks but doesn’t go out with customers hence she becomes a waitress where there is less emphasis on going EWR.

3: Thirdly there is what I refer to as the standby situation, this is where a customer steady barfines a dancer and for whatever reasons wants her to stay in the bar but not to go out with other men. Often the customer, the bar staff, the mamasan and the girl in question will opt for the better of two evils and rather than be a dancer seek a position as a waitress.
The so called standby situation has disadvantages and advantages. The major disadvantage is that even though she is a waitress and no longer dancing, she will still be exposed to bar life, peer group pressure and other men. In short whilst in the bar she will always have temptation and the modes of behavior she has learnt as a dancer will be reinforced.

The advantages are that the girl can still feel self worth in that she is earning a small income and has what is in her mind a legitimate job. Secondly she still gets to hang out with her friends in an environment she is familiar with and this stops her from feeling bored. Thirdly the besotted customer can now keep an eye on her, or so he thinks.

4: Often amongst Angeles bar girls there is very little comprehension of English and they are not good with slang or accents. Many times I have personally experienced a waitress who will not understand my order either because of her lack of English or because of my accent.

I can distinctly remember one waitress at Nero’s who we aptly named brain surgeon. One night a bunch of us were sitting round the managers table when I ordered a CC ginger for Shagger, a vodka coke for Jason, a Jim Beam diet coke for myself, a Rum Diet coke for Drummer and an SML for Netguard. Shagger looked at me and said “that’s more than one drink I bet you 500 peso she will get the order wrong”.

We waited 5 minutes but no drinks arrived so I looked around and there she was in an animated conversation with the bar tender. I walked up to her and said “let me guess you forgot the order” to which she replied “ooh po, sorry Daddy”. I then repeated the order and made her recite it back to me. Ok now she had it and I was sure the 500 peso was mine.
Another 3 minutes passes when Miss brain surgeon walks up to the table and asks, “on your Bill daddy”? Another 5 minutes passes by and then she saunters back with 3 drinks returns to the bar tender picks up two more and delivers them.

At this point I have a smile on my dial and confidently request that Shagger pay up. He looks at me and says “hang on a second I just have to check this out”. He takes a sip of his CC Ginger and says “there is something wrong with this, it tastes like shit”. I grab his drink and have a sip only to taste J&B with ginger. Close but no cigar and I could see the 500 peso leaving my wallet in a hurry. I looked at Shagger and said “well that doesn’t really count as she did get the whisky part right so let’s call it even” Drummer tasted his only to find whiskey coke, whilst Jason’s was Jack Daniels coke and mine was some strange concoction about as far away from Jim Beam as you could possibly get.

Ok I had to admit she had stuffed up big time so it was time to hand over the 500 to Shagger and then as I did so, amidst various expletives, Netguard looked at me and said “I don’t know what your problem is I got my SML”.

The brain surgeon was a classic situation of if you didn’t laugh you would cry. I remember to this day how Netguard and Jung were sitting at the managers table and Kim was trying to force Tom to drink beer. As such he called the brain surgeon over and ordered a SMB for Tom and an SML for himself. The brain surgeon waddled of and came back placing the SML in front of Tom and the SMB in front of Kim. I was just about to reach over and swap them round when Tom said to me “wait one moment” and called the brain surgeon over. He said to her “You have given us the wrong drinks, I wanted SMB and Kim wanted SML so can you please take these back and bring us what we ordered.” The brain surgeon looks at him vacantly, takes the drinks and gives them back to the bar tender. She then proceeds to tell the bar tender these are the wrong drinks they want SML and SMB not SMB and SML. The bar tender looks at her and suddenly breaks out laughing. At this point brain surgeon scratches her head totally unaware of why the bar tender is laughing looks at drinks and bang it dawns on her. With this she brings the beers back and says to Tom, “funny man you, what do you think to me, stupid?”

The lack of understanding English is a common problem and it is exacerbated by the Filipina habit of just walking away and not admitting that they don’t understand you because to do so would be a loss of face.

5: Lack of training. Lack of training occurs simply because there is no official training for waitresses. They are thrown into the job for the wrong reasons and are expected to learn as they go.

6: Lack of product knowledge. Because there is such strict lines of demarcation and such defined job boundaries the waitresses very rarely progress to bar tenders, as such they have no knowledge of the actual product that is being ordered. For example, many times I have found myself ordering a B52 shaken and unless it’s one of my regular waitresses this request will always be met with a blank stare and the obligatory scratch of the head denoting total bewilderment. Most often it is “ano B52” and the shaken part totally eludes them. If the waitresses had experience behind the bar actually mixing the drinks then they would no doubt have a much easier time understanding the orders, this however will never happen as the bar tender jobs are valued and jealously guarded.

7: They listen but they don’t hear. How often have I heard this said by expats who live here and deal with the Filipinas on a daily basis. So many times I have listened and watched customers ordering drinks only to find the wrong drinks being delivered. I always used to think this was a language problem and the mistakes were coming because the waitresses couldn’t understand English however this misconception was soon to be shattered when I came to work with James.

James is fluent in Tagalog and quite often he will order using this language. I remember one particular night walking into Neros to find him literally pulling his hair out. I asked him “what’s wrong” and he replied watch this. He then called a waitress over and in Tagalog ordered five Jager bombs emphasizing that they were on his bill. The waitress wandered off only to shortly return and ask “Daddy the bar tender wants to know why you order 5 bomba (Tagalog for bomb)”.

James patiently explains the mix of a Jager bomb and emphasizes they are on his bill. Two more minutes pass and an empty handed waitress returns asking “daddy your bill or the customers?”

8: A waitress has a perceptional advantage in that many customers perceive her as being a good girl as opposed to the dancers who are bad girls and high mileage. How many times have I heard customers and girls themselves state, “she worked in the bar as a waitress she was never a dancer”. Straight away the perceived implication is that she was not a whore, aka a dancer, but rather she was a waitress where she is perceived as being a good girl.

In my experience this perception is a false one and in fact the waitresses have often seen more action than the dancers. However the point is not to discuss whether the waitress are good girls or bad but rather to point out that there is a perceptional falsehood at work here and this is not a good reason let alone a necessary qualification for a girl to become a waitress.

Many girls see the position of waitress in the same way as the customers and therefore will strive to become one. Does this mean they will be good waitresses, on the contrary in my experience it means they will be bad waitresses because they do not really understand the duties and they just want to obtain this position because of how it is perceived.

9: Laziness or perhaps the path of least resistance is always a key factor for most waitresses. Let’s face it sitting in the corner, hiding in the dressing room, sleeping on the lounges, chatting up the DJ’s, eating a snack from the lady keeper or outside or having a good old gossip session is common place amongst AC waitresses and as such it has to be an easier job than dancing 8 half hour sets every night. The laziness aspect is exacerbated when they divide the bar into service stations. Often you will see a customer trying to get service from a waitress but she will just sit down and ignore his pleas and when asked why she will tell you “that is not my station”. This is a very handy excuse for one or two waitresses to do all the work whilst others sit and do nothing. There is no concept of teamwork or covering your fellow waitresses back.

10: Pok Pok boy in his post also pointed out that uniform plays a large role in why a girl would want to be a waitress instead of a dancer. Often you will hear them say “No I don’t like bikini” or “I like waitress uniform”. Noticeably when the girl tells you this she is invariably self conscious about a minor defect or flaw and she realizes the waitresses uniform will cover this up.

11: There is often less scrutiny on a waitress and as such she has less pressure to go bar fine, less pressure to secure ladies drinks and she can have more days off without being penalized.

12: The blurring effect. Part of the problem with waitresses is that the actual duties are a little bit blurred. This has occurred because they are encouraged to go barfine so in their mind they are half dancer, (working girl or as the Filipinos would say puta) and half professional waitress. This is clearly emphasized when you see a waitress who is good at waitressing. In the bars the waitresses who are good at waitressing are invariably the older girls who do not concentrate on bar fining. Of course there are a few pretty younger waitresses who manage to juggle the duties of waitressing and of bar fining but these in my experience are few and far between.

Sometimes the importance of the ability to barfine outweighs other considerations such as whether or not she would be good at her job.

One day when I visited the Executive I overheard daddy Bruce having a conversation with his mamasan regarding a new waitress the mamasan had just appointed.

Bruce: Mummy why did you give that dragon a job?
Mamasan : She nice girl daddy and she go bar fine
Bruce: So do the baklas in Santos Street and you don’t see them working here.
Mamasan: But daddy she nice girl and she money maker
Bruce: So are the baklas on Santos, now get rid of her.

13: The low salary. Waitresses traditionally are paid a very low salary and this is because they are considered non productive in terms of raising revenue for the bar, especially in comparison to dancers. Whilst the assumption of low productivity may be true in many cases the low salary is a deterrent for quality service. Bottom line here is that even if they perform their job well it will not gain them any more money. In short they have no incentive to be a good waitress.

What about the tips I hear you asking, well the unfortunate fact is in the majority of clubs the tips are centralized and divided equally amongst all the waitresses working that particular night. As a result the waitresses tips are not an incentive for the girls to work harder or learn their job to a professional standard.

14: The number of waitresses hired. For this point I will directly plagiarize Pok Pok Boy. “Like most Philippines hiring policies its hire 15 and hope 5 show up for work. That’s why some nights you see a number of waitresses sitting in the corner waiting their turn to serve and yet on other nights there aren’t enough to do the job! Go figure!.”

15: The Mamasan connection. Quite often a new troglodyte waitress will surface and when the manager looks in horror and asks who gave her a job, the answer will invariably be “mummy is the one”. I remember when I was working in Mistys and this particularly obese waitress with absolutely no English or comprehension of the job suddenly appeared. I was sitting next to Steve the manager of Nero’s at the time and I spotted her and asked in amazement what the f*%k is that? Steve followed my gaze saw the troglodyte and said “I bet she’s a friend of mummy’s”. I called her over and asked her “when did you start work” and she replied “sa gabi (tonight) daddy”, then I asked her “and who gave you the job” to which she replied, “mummy be the one”. I then asked her “don’t you think you are a bit old for this job” to which she replied “ooh ooh dad but my anak (child) have utang (loan) to mummy so work me now”.

The point here is not to blame her but rather to point out that the criteria for choosing who can be a waitress is often totally irrelevant to the job itself.

So far I have painted a fairly gloomy picture but the truth is there are several bars where the waitresses are efficient, courteous and well trained these include Roadhouse

La Pasha, Carousel, Roadies and to a lesser extent Champagne. Of these the one that stands out for me is Roadhouse. Noticeably the waitresses here do not go bar fine and they have experienced head waitresses who actually teach the newer waitresses how to do their job. Another bar that stands out is La Pasha and not coincidentally the waitresses here are average looking yet highly ranked in terms of service.

In the Blue Nile group they literally have a plethora of waitresses and some of them are very good however once again the good waitresses are the older ones who do not concentrate on bar fines but rather on serving the customers.

The quality of waitresses is often reflected by the owners or managers attitude towards the job itself. In the case of Roadhouse Mark puts an emphasis on quality service as does Neil from Roadies. Just yesterday I was in Roadies having a few beers with a couple of friends when I realized I had run out of cigarettes. I called the waitress over and asked for a packet of Winston lights. She promptly fetched them bought them over together with the bill and proceeded to neatly open the packet for me with one cigarette already slightly out, ready for me to smoke. To be honest I was pleasantly surprised by her courteous and professional demeanor so I left a healthy tip.

As anyone who has been here more than once will attest to, waitresses in AC are a unique breed and it is my sincere hope that this article in some part explains why they are this way and at the same time helps you the customer to understand them and as such deal with them more efficiently. If you have had a few laughs as well as gaining some useful knowledge along the way then I have achieved my objective.

El Kabayo

El Kabayo
Gil Puyat Ave corner Panday Pira
Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga
Tel +(63) 916 519-9146
Fax +(632) 852-3117

Roll em out round em up Rawhide.

That’s right folks it was the Blues brothers, not literally but the sound track from the movie playing through the music system at El Kabayo. Ok so what is El Kabayo I hear you asking and I’m glad you did because that is the focus of this article.

In our never ending quest to supply readers with information on what to do in the daytime when in AC, Shagger and I recently took a trip out on the base and discovered El Kabayo.

El Kabayo is a term which normally refers to Thotoy but in this case it is the name of a mock old western town, featuring horse riding trips. This is a fun day out especially if you take a Filipina with you and we thoroughly recommend when in AC you pay it a visit.
El Kabayo is situated along the Mabalacat gate road out on Clark airbase. To get there go through the Friendship gate and turn left, continue up the road until you reach a second set of lights and turn left again. Follow this road veering left continue past the outside air force museum and turn right following signs to the Mabalacat gate. El Kabayo is approximately three kilometers down this road on your left hand side.

El Kabayo is done up as a mock old western town and features the facades of buildings typical of this era.The buildings except for the general store and the saloon are all facades and behind the exterior walls are stables where the many horses are kept. As you enter the El Kabayo compound, walk into the general store which is in fact the office and main reception area. Enter here and you will be asked to pay 350 peso for a half hour ride on the horses.

After paying the 350 peso walk outside and you will be greeted by the stable hands / horse instructors. If you are an experienced horse rider tell them and they will let you ride around the compound for half an hour by yourself, if inexperienced which most of us probably are, then tell them and they will guide the horse keeping a tight hold on the reigns whilst you ride.

When we arrived Shagger and the girls went inside their office paid their money and were presented with safety helmets which are required usage for any riders. After this they were greeted by the stable hands who promptly told them “for a while” which in local parlance means wait here while we decide which horses are best for you.

After riding her Thotoy kabayo the night before in Neros

Ronalie thought she was ready to take on the real thing however when seeing the actual size of the horses both girls had second thoughts.

Just then Shagger had the bright idea of getting the girls acquainted with their rides by feeding them carrots.

The girls were a little afraid of the horses thinking they may get bitten when feeding the carrots so it was time for a demonstration of the correct procedure.

But no matter how the stable hand tried he couldn’t install enough trust in the girls to actually feed the horse.

Somehow they seemed unimpressed and no matter what methods of persuasion were used the girls weren’t about to start feeding the horses at least not the four legged ones.

After brief acquaintances were made it was time for the girls to mount their steeds and prepare for a ride. I thought this would be quite a challenge but the stable hands at El Kabayo had obviously been through this scenario many times before and from out of nowhere produced some wooden steps.

The girls were rather tentative at first and very unsure about these big beasts between their legs.

With all riders mounted it was time to head out on the trail.

The Shagger man seemed pretty confident as he toured the course using only one hand thus freeing up the other hand to snap photos whilst riding. Impressive move Shagger.

After she settled down and had gotten used to the riding Mr’s Mjibbo was all smiles. Later on I asked her did you have a good time horse riding and she replied “yes mahal I like it but the saddle keep rubbing my peanut”. No wonder she was smiling all the time.

It took Ronalie a while to relax even though her horse looked like it was sleep walking. In the end she was heard to say “much better I ride Thotoy because he smaller and closer to the ground”.

Shagger seemed right at home on horseback.

For the 350 peso you basically get half an hour ride. The ride is a pleasant stroll through a grassy tree lined park.

Along the way they met many locals who were quick to offer friendly salutations and they even had their own 4 legged guide in the form of the local Labrador.

Meanwhile back at the ranch yours truly was busy taking snap shots of the El Kabayo compound.

Inside the saloon is in fact a tastefully decorated eatery with large wooden tables capable of seating and feeding numerous guests.

Pictured here is an ornate saddle inside the general store.

A quick glimpse at the coffee table demonstrates the concept behind this place.

Inside the general store there are numerous merchandise items for sale.

They were going to take them for two laps around the riding circuit but Shagger seeing that Ronalie was not exactly comfortable decided to head back to the ranch. At the rides end the wooden steps magically appeared again and the girls s disembarked hastily.

Once the actual ride was over No Nose Ronalie seemed to relax and was all smiles.

But when questioned she openly admitted she preferred the Honda steed to her four legged steed.

All in all we had a great day out at El Kabayo. The girls were a little tentative at first especially Ronalie when she saw how big the horses were compared to the Shagger horse she was used to riding. However, after a while both girls relaxed and enjoyed the ride. This is definitely a fun way to spend a couple of hours with your honey-ko and it’s something different to do in the daytime.

We were in fact looking for Paradise Ranch but ended up at El Kabayo which we came across first. As a result Paradise ranch is on the agenda for our next trip.

El Kabayo
Leisure & Trail Rides
Riding Lessons
Riding Tours

Day tours in and around Angeles City #4

Up the Mountain and back again.

“Gooday mate” shouted accross the bar and the bell ringing like there was no tomorrow. Yep Les ‘the fuck monkey’ was back in town.

Now I hadn’t seen Les for quite a while so after he ran riot in the bar reacquainting himself with anyone and everyone, we settled down for a quiet little session. He was on his fifth Jack Daniels and coke when he looks at me and says “when are we going for a ride mate”?

Now I know Les is a motorbike enthusiast and can ride like a demon so I cautiously responded “how about on Monday or Tuesday my days off”. Sounds good to me replied Les “I will go to nice bike and rent a Honda Steed so we can do a fucking thunder ride mate”. A thunder ride as the name implies means going fast, in fact it means going fast the entire time with no let up for traffic, caribous, or stray dogs who wander across the road like they own it.

At this point I had a quiet little chuckle to myself because I knew full well the Honda Steeds were all rented out and I couldn’t imagine Les doing a thunder ride on a little 125. Wrong again, Martin.

Come Tuesday I am round at Shaggers place when we get a text from Les let’s go boys it’s time for a ride. We meet up at Nice Bike and sure enough there’s Les and his mate Peter on the massive 125’s.

This is a sight for sore eyes and I was just about to laugh when Les turns to me and says “try to keep up mate”. Ok that was enough the gauntlet had been thrown down and who was I not to respond.

Les and Pete on their massive 125 rice burners.

We started off crossing over Macarthur Highway (a major achievement in itself) and heading down Mountain View road towards city hall. We were just negotiating some traffic when I felt the back of my bike wobbling. I glance in the rear view mirror and sure enough there’s Les giving my rear tire a little nudge.
Enough was enough so I pulled on the throttle and with a roar left Les eating my dust. We proceed along Mountain View road past city hall and come to a roundabout. Here we veered left following signs to Magalang.

We get through the town of Magalang with Les up to his usual antics the whole time. At one stage Shagger was minding his own business riding along at a sedate pace when Les goes flying past him on the massive 125. No problem for the Shagger man he was going slowly letting No Nose Ronalie take pictures but he was a bit perturbed when 5 minutes later he sees Les riding back towards him on the wrong side of the dirt road with every nut and bolt of the 125 shaking as he hits the pot holes. Turns out Les had lost his cap and was a bit worried about his bald scalp getting sun burnt. This procedure happen no less than 4 times and I am sure the local motorists were wondering what the heck was wrong with this crazy foreigner riding on the wrong side of the road, chrome dome shining in the sun and dirt flying everywhere.

We get to the end of the Magalang road only to find Les has a flat tire and wouldn’t you know it 20 yards away is a vulcanizing shop. Some people have all the luck.

Now was time for a little rest stop while the guy fixed the tire ably assisted by Les.

Les lending a helping hand.

Ronalie used her rest time wisely. Here she is trying to find her nose with the help of Shaggers bikes mirror.

15 minutes later all tires fixed for a mere 100 peso we were ready to hit the road again. With me in the lead our convoy headed out towards Mount Arayat. Along the way there is a little traffic but nothing to cause any prolonged delays.

Many small front yard businesses in the provincial areas.

We travelled about 20 minutes along the road then took a left turn following the sign posting to the town of Arayat.

Once you hit this road things get decidedly rural and it is like being in another world. Along the way we stopped at a local church so I could pray for my safety whilst riding with Les.

Could do with a bell like this in Neros.

Mount Arayat dominates the surrounding countryside.

The town of Arayat is a small rural sort of place but it is a distinct worry when a group of school girls call out hello daddy and the local cops are having a quick snack 30 feet away. Needless to say I did not acknowledge their calls.

After the town of Arayat we turned left again heading towards the actual mountain. Some weeks previously we had been told by the owner of Bar Hopping bar about some rock pools in the Mount Arayat National park and I was now on a mission to find them.

We pulled over in the town of Arayat and asked directions. This caused quite a stir for Ronalie who was the object of much attention being the only Filipina in a group of four foreigners. Once she had gotten the directions she hid behind Shaggers bike so the prying eyes of the locals would leave her alone.

We had a short conference on the roadside in Arayat and decided we were going to try and find these elusive rock pools.

The big conference in downtown Arayat.

Back on the bikes and Shagger asks me “Martin do you know where your going?”, to which I replied “not really but I have to find those rock pools”.

We travelled about ten kilometers then there was a sign saying Mount Arayat National Park next left. Ok now I knew I was on the right track and the rock pools were getting closer by the minute.

Taking a turn to the left we then stopped for Peter to cool down a bit and take in some refreshments. He had just come from the Australian summer but even that couldn’t prepare him for the humidity of the Philippines.

We literally descended upon a little eatery where cool drinks and foot long hot dogs were consumed. The lady running the store thought all her Christmases had come at once being visited by foreign celebrities, whilst other locals just gaped at us in awe.

The little eatery wasn’t quite ready for a horde of hungry foreigners

The infamous foot longs now renamed as the Thotoy Dog.

At one stage I asked Shagger why do some Filipinos just stand around and look at you with vacant eyes, mouth wide open. He replied “because they are waiting for a miracle, everyone knows that”.

Some of the locals checked us out as we devoured the foot longs.

Well after an answer like that I decided it was time to hit the road again so saying our goodbyes we roared away heading towards the mountain. After about 5 minutes ride we arrived at the Mount Arayat National Park.

Out here it is like another world and as we rode through the local township it seemed like the entire towns inhabitants had lined the street to gawk at these strange foreigners and cheer us on.

A very basic existence in some of the poorer rural areas.

Heading through the town we then took a right turn and it was then the going got a little rough. Normally I am the slowest rider so the boys put me up front and I don’t get left behind but I noticed when we hit the dirt road I was all of a sudden at the tail end wallowing in the other riders dust.

Once again here I am swallowing dust.

The dirt road is a gradual incline and gets a little rough in places but basically it is easy to negotiate and good fun to travel on. We travelled upwards with Mount Arayat looming up ahead when suddenly we came to a sort of hideaway retreat from which came the sound of a religious sermon and people singing.

Very clean and well maintained compound.

After the compound the road carries on to virtually the top of Mount Arayat.

I was curious to have a look but then thought the better of it as stories of weird Filipino religious cults came floating into my head.

This was an interesting place and even included a number of tree houses.

Some members of our species came down from the trees whilst others have climbed back up them.

Now I was in a dilemma. I still hadn’t found the illusive rock pools but it was getting late and darkness would soon be upon us. Weighing up my options I decided a ride back in darkness along a dirt road in the middle of nowhere was not really my idea of fun, so as a result the rock pools would just have to wait until another day.

The ride coming back was seemingly faster than the ride coming out and there are some great stretches of deserted road where you can get some serious speed happening.

With the sun sinking low on the horizon I was looking forward to a cold shower and a little tumble with the missus.

We negotiated our way through traffic and made it back to our respective homes and hotel safe and sound. Mr’s mjibbo had just arrived back from Manila and was not particularly impressed with her grubby man covered in dust and grime from the road, so it was time for a quick shower and then off to Stargate to party with BeauBrummel on his last night as manager.

The trip to Mount Arayat National park is really worthwhile and would make the perfect day trip for anyone wishing to get out and see little of the countryside as well as meeting the locals and seeing how they live. Pack some food and refreshments as the various food outlets along the way are primitive to say the least.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #3

Angeles City and the Philippines

Day tours in and around Angeles City.

I was just getting ready for an early afternoon appointment with the owner of the Orange Lion Hotel when I get a Yahoo message from Shagger

Shagger: What’s happening?
Mjibbo: Just getting ready to go Orange Lion for meeting with the owner.
Shagger: Sounds like a good place to have late breakfast and I’m bloody hungry
Mjibbo: Sure why not
Shagger: After that lets go for a ride
Mjibbo: Well I really wanted to do a few bar reports
Shagger: Well I just thought it might be a good idea to go for a ride because I have to go down to the Ponderosa Hotel anyway which is on the way and then we can go from there.
Mjibbo: Why do I have the feeling we are not going to do any bar reports?
Shagger: See you at my place 20 minutes not Filipino time ok.

With this I hurried up into the shower, pushed SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) to get ready which is a major achievement in itself, and headed towards Shaggers place.

First stop the Orange Lion hotel where we sat outside enjoying a delicious breakfast which people with an ordinary lifestyle would call lunch.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Cross over MaCarthur Highway and head down Mountainview Road towards City Hall. Along the way we stopped to view the construction of the new Ayala Mall. Judging by the amount of space utilized this will be a huge mall substantially bigger than SM on Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Through the roundabout and veer right following signs to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the road to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

As you head towards Magalang you pass La Terazza housing development which seems to be conspicously absent of any houses being developed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

No nose Ronalie and Shagger enjoying the ride. Our respective girls are getting really good at snapping photos from the back of the bike.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The outskirts of Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The thriving little town of Magalang. Here agricultural produce tends to dominate. These are bags of feed for the financially important pigs.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Go through Magalang and when you reach an intersection turn right. You will go over a series of little bridges and then things begin to get decidedly rural.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here Mount Arayat dominates the landscape.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Corn fields grow adjacent to the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

We travelled along towards Mount Arayat but since I had already done a report on the trip to Arayat I decided we should take a right turn and head out to an undefined place just to see what happened. Next thing you know we were literally in the middle of the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Past the local cemetery which none to surprisingly seemed to be the best kept plot of land in the surrounding area.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Another turn to the left and there we were in the middle of nowhere. literally in the middle of nowhere. However this didn’t seem to phase Ronalie who thought this may be a good chance for a little exploration and prove that she was right at home in the province.

Angeles City and the Philippines

And even a game of hide and seek.

Angeles City and the Philippines

In fact she was right at home amongst the rice fields and was last seen sprinting through them heading towards Mount Arayat.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Some of the locals were looking on and didn’t seem particuarly impressed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

White men on big bikes and a crazy Filipina running through the rice fields was all a bit much for some of the locals. Still life goes on and this man had to feed his animals no matter what strange things were going on in the neighbourhood. I asked swmbo why he was carrying grass on his head, she gave me her best disdainful look and said “Mahal you cant feed the Carabao rice”.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here’s another one of the locals with freshly killed nights supper in his hands. We did notice the chicken looked particuarly srcawny and just hoped it wasn’t meant to feed an entire family.

Angeles City and the Philippines

One more gaze at the rural surroundings the majestic Mount Apo and the gathering grey, rain laden clouds and we decided it was time to head back.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the way back there was a little more traffic but nothing to really worry about. In fact you don’t really hit major conjestion until you hit MacArthur Highway.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Not all vechiles can be expected to maintain a steady speed and this includes the local garbage collector.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Back to the roundabout and turn right following signs to Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

This will take you along Mountainview Road where there is a lot of rural produce vendors. Their prices are significantly cheaper than Fields or in the malls.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Continue heading straight and in no time at all you are back in good old Barangay Balibago the home of happy mongerers.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City; The Golfing Experience

So what can you do in Angeles during the day? There has to be more to Angeles than just bar hopping and drinking?

These are the type of comments I hear nearly everyday so I thought I would supply an answer. Here is one alternative to endless bar hopping and drinking, yes you guessed it, a game of good old golf.

Wether you play golf or not this is a truly fun activity and there are of course unique aspects to playing golf in the Philippines.

Since we were heading out to the base we decided to meet at the Clarkton Hotel a well known landmark.

We were planning to play on the base at the 9 hole Airforce golf course so it was up to the Friendship gate then left and follow the road up to the next set of traffic lights. At the traffic lights turn right and follow the road then its the first turn on your left. Follow this road through the airforce compound and you arrive at the golf course.

This is only a nine hole golf course and it has certainly seen better days however for part time golfers who are more like slash and hack merchants such as myself and Shagger it is the perfect venue.

They have a small club house where people meet prior to teeing off.

They have clubs and balls for rent and at very decent prices.

Initially we were told there were no golf clubs and no golf buggies but after 15 minutes the golf clubs miracuosly appeared and we were good to go.

They also have golf buggies for rent or at least they used to and as you can see by the picture their golf buggies have seen better days.

Perhaps the most fun thing about playing golf in the Philippines is that there is always a nice looking caddy ready to accompany you around the course.

It’s a bit hard to play golf without golf balls so we called over one of the local vendors and bought a dozen balls for 100 peso. Obviously at this price these are not new balls but there is a bunch of guys who hang around the golf course and everyday you can see them searching through the undergrowth and water traps finding balls to resell.

First to tee off was Shagger and I have to say he looked a bit tentative as he lined up the ball with his 3 wood. Seeing how uncomfy he was I asked have you ever played golf before and he replied what I do doesn’t rate as playing golf.

Shagger took 2 swings at the ball but eventually connected and then it was time for a stroll down the fairway with no nose Ronalie negotiating the bumps in her high heels whilst trying to take photographs.

After a while no nose got tired of following us around and decided to try her luck on the green. With putter firmly in hand, Shagger carrying the high heels and a little advice from the caddy she lined up the ball like a true professional.

Now Bodo lives in PNG and actually plays golf quite a bit. I think his handicap is 13 and I can’t figure out why he wants to play with hackers like myself and Shagger apart from a genuine love of the game.

As you can see from the pictures the course was brown and dry. When we commented on the lack of watering my caddy looked at me somewhat disdainfully and replied “Mr. Martin this is not a golf course this is a desert”.

Funnily enough after we mentioned the watering it began to drizzle and Bodo was found underneath the umbrella with his caddy.

The course runs adjacent to the old army barracks which are still very much in use for housing the current generation of Philippine soldiers.

The course has a number of obstacles including large ditches which are spanned by wooden bridges. These bridges proved a bit of a problem for Ronalie in her high heels.

There are still remnants of the American troop days but of course many of the facilities created by them have gone to ruin through lack of maintenance.

The course has several areas of roughage and the way Shagger and I played we seemed to be spending more time in the rough than on the fairway. In fact I thought Shagger was more like an intrepid explorer than a golfer.

Half way through it was time for a drink at the local canteen. This having to walk around the golf course was thirsty work.

Bodo didn’t bring his golf gloves so he had to make do with tissue paper borrowed form the canteen.

At times Shagger resembelded a true professional and he is now waiting a call from Tiger Woods inviting him to join the professional circuit.

By the time we reached the last fairway we were about ready for a nice cold drink and a sit down in the clubhouse.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity we hit the club house and relaxed with some nice cold drinks.

Having been dragged around the course in her high heels Ronalie was seriously unimpressed and had no hesitation in expressing her feelings to the men folk.

The caddys lined up for a final photo shoot and it was all smiles as they waved us goodbye.

To hire the clubs, buy the balls, pay the course fees and tip the caddy it cost us about 1500 peso each which is a very decent price for an entertaining nine holes.

If you are a golf enthusiast or if you are just looking for something different playing 9 holes here makes a refreshing break from the regular routine of bar hopping and drinking.

The caddys are actually quite good players themselves and will always offer advice and helpful hints as you play the course.

This is a fun day and a refreshing break from the normal mongering routine.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #2

Day tours in and around Angeles City.

Day Trip Number #2

Recently I got a text from Shagger imploring me to accompany him on a bike ride. I am not sure if this was because he felt the need to get me back on the bike after my recent spill or maybe because he hadn’t really taken his bike for a decent ride in a long time. Anyway I said yes and so with Ronalie (no nose) armed with camera we took off on our second day trip.

After leaving home it was up Don Juico Avenue past Roadies heading towards Friendship Highway

Along the way we passed Stargate with it’s ever attentive guard guarding the portal

Past Easy Riders where we revved the bikes especially hard just to let them know we were around

Cross over Friendship Highway (the old Friendship Gate is on your right hand side) and head towards the new Friendship entrance to the base.

Just keep on following the road past the new Friendship Gate and very soon you are on a classic provincial road travelling through the now vegetated lahar fields

Very soon you will come to the new Expressway which heads towards Subic. After reading the signs promoting the development of this road for so many years it is really quite exciting to see it is actually getting somewhere near completion.

After crossing over the new Highway it’s a bit bumpy as the roads are half sealed and half lahar. The lahar is actually quite a pleasant driving surface and does not pose any real problems for adventurous travelers.

Fairly soon you come to Barangay Margot where the rural lifestyle begins to dominate proceedings. This is truly a rural area and only 15 minutes drive from Fields Avenue.

The locals were a little curious about our presence who are these crazy white guys on their noisy bikes

After Barangay Margot you will come to the last entrance to the base. If on a bike make sure you are wearing your helmet if going into the base and for car drivers make sure your seatbelt is on.

After the base entrance there is a small water hazard which the first time we did this trip proved a small problem wetting a spark club. However this time we heeded the advice of Thotoy and came prepared with condom covered spark plugs.

Then the next town of any significance is Sabatoda.

In Sabatoda life moves at a more sedate pace

In fact in many ways this is a very civilized little town

But even in the provincial areas modern industry is the order of the day

After travelling through Sabatoda it’s a slight downhill run to the bridge which marks the true beginning of your provincial expedition.

The view from the bridge.

Life here is very basic and close to the environment.

After the bridge it is a steady climb on a lahar road heading towards the infamous Mount Pinatubo

Passing through some very basic provincial areas

Where existence is somewhat primitive and basic at the best of times

But there are constant reminders that we are not that far from civilization such as the pristine jeepney which we found was utilized by Roadslut on his last staff outing.

As you progress up the hills the vegetation becomes more tropical and jungle like with banana trees Mango trees and lush undergrowth dominating the surrounding area.

After reaching a high point of the hills it was time to make a decision either turn round and head back to civilization or carry on up the mountains heading towards Mount Pinatubo. We decided heading back was the best option and this decision was duly prompted by miss no nose Ronalie complaining of a sore ass.

I had a look at the road as it headed onwards and it looked fine for travelling. I have no hesitation in recommending this trip to any adventurous traveler. The road heads towards Mount Pinatubo and eventually intersects with other back roads which in turn connect to Subic. Due to time constraints we did not take this road but plans are underway for this expedition in the vey near future.

As you travel through the small villages religion is always present and the signs remind you of the predominance of the Catholic Church.

As always there are the local sari sari stores which are considered a “nice business” by the majority of Filipinos

Carry on down the road heading past the new Friendship gate entrance to the base.

Turn the corner and it’s back to civilization

As the journey comes to a close I thoroughly recommend a trip along Friendship and a stop off at The Cold Drop for a drink and some good food.

This is a great Day Trip and will take you about 2 hours driving at a sedate pace and allowing for stoppage time. This is a good trip because you really get to see the provincial life style of the Filipinos yet you are literally in the very near back blocks of Angeles.

Evidence of the devastation from the Mount Pinatubo explosion is everywhere yet life goes on and it is a testimony to the Filipino hardiness to see how they have adapted. This trip will afford you glimpses of a hardy somewhat basic life and increase your understanding of the country we all love so much.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #1

Day tours in and around Angeles City

There are actually quite a few short day trips that visitors can partake in within close vicinity to Angeles. These tours afford an excellent view of the local countryside and the Filipino rural lifestyle. In this article I have highlighted two tours which I do regularly on my motor bike but they would be just as good in a car. These tours are only short and take about 3 hours including stoppage time however they really give you a great feeling for the countryside and the lifestyle of the Filipinos living there.

Tour 1: Angeles – Magalang- Arayat.

Head down Fields Avenue until it meets Mcarthur Highway cross over Mcarther and continue along Mountain View Road. Just follow Mountain View Road until you pass City Hall on your left and come to a roundabout. Go into the roundabout and veer left following signs to Magalang. Cross over the bridge which spans the highway and continue straight. Next big town will be that of Magalang.

Magalang is a medium sized town but well worth stopping in to have a little stroll around the markets. It’s an interesting experience to look at all the shops and the different appliances they are selling. These shops are very indicative of the lifestyle in the area surrounding Magalang.

Keep going straight until you come to an intersection. At the Intersection is a Caltex and a patron service station. Turn right and just keep going straight. Follow this road for approximately 20 Kilometers and you will then come to a sign pointing towards the town of Arayat. Take a left turn 50 meters after the sign and you are heading towards Arayat.

Keep going straight and after about 30 minutes travelling at a leisurely pace you will come to the town of Arayat. Arayat is only a small provincial town but it is worth stopping and just having a stroll around. The people are friendly and most will be only too pleased to show you around. Here you can expect some surprised looks as many of them don’t get to see foreigners very much.

After Arayat simply turn around and retrace you’re your journey back to Angeles.

Here are some pictures of some of the things you can expect to see and experience when you take this trip.

Perimeter road heading down towards Fields Avenue. This picture was taken just around the Oasis Hotel area.

Down town Fields Avenue busy as always.

Mountainveiw Road

Heading down Mountain View road leaving Barangay Balibago

Down this road there are many produce stores including pineapples


and even oversized chickens which to us foreigners are normal sized chickens.

The roundabout after city hall

Round the round about and veer left following signs to Magalang

Over the bridge which spans the North bound Highway.

On the outskirts of Magalang there are many little stores which serve the produce needed for day to day existence. Note the many different types of rice. This is the Philipine rural equivalent of 7/11.

Its a nice road heading into Magalang proper with pot holes and cracks predominating.

Building nippa huts seems to be a thriving business in this area.

Great views of Mount Arayat for all those who travel this road.

The entrance into Magalang township.

The Magalang public market. It is perfectly safe and kind of fun to stroll around here looking at all the different produce that is for sale. You will be amazed at what you can find here.

Outside of Magalang it becomes more rural very quickly.

As always the obligatory trike with a sack of rice on top.

Splendid views of Mount Arayat.

Can never go anywhere in the Philippine countryside without seeing a rice field.

Here’s a more cost efficient way of getting around. It may not be quick but you get where you want to go eventually.

Heading out toward Arayat it is a very nice drive as you sit back and absorb the scenery.

The Journey takes you through many pictureque little towns.

Outside of the towns there is some great scenery to be enjoyed.

Turning left following signs to Arayat you are now on the main road to the town of Arayat.

There is some awesome views of the Filipino countryside along this road.

The road is great and not much traffic.

As long as you discount the occassional Caribou.

Along this road there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy a quiet snack whilst savouring the beautiful countryside.

If you wish to you can go to the town of Arayat and have a look around but I tend to turn around and head back rather than go into Arayat town.

There are some interesting old houses to be seen in Arayat.

You will always encounter a little traffic on the way home

This is an excellent one day trip and takes about 3 hours including stoppage time and driving at a leisurely pace. This trip affords you a glimpse into the rural lifestyle around Angeles which in many ways represents the real Philippines much more so than the bars.

From a tourist perspective trips such as this give you a real feel for what this country is all about and actually make the perfect break from bar hopping and drinking.

This article was written by Mjibbo