C How They Made Me! Chapter 6


Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer

C how they made me Chapter 6

So what could I possibly do to top the exquisite Carolina? Well as it turned out I didn’t find better than her for a long time but it was sure as hell fun trying. After a while I settled into an easy going routine. Wake up around 11 pay the girl next to me, swear that I will drop by to see her in the very near future, escort her downstairs, then settle down for some breakfast and a chin wag in the outside dining area of the Mayfair hotel.

The Mayfair Hotel was nothing special it wasn’t a top of the range 5 star hotel but it certainly wasn’t a cockroach infested pension house either. The rooms were basic but the beds were comfortable, the air-conditioners worked albeit a bit loudly and there was always decent water pressure in the shower with hot water. There were many other comparable hotels but there was something indefinably special about the Mayfair and upon reflection I think this special something was a direct reflection of the management teams personalities.

At just about any time of any day somewhere in the hotel you could always find someone to have a chat with or go bar hopping with. This hotel was very much a central meeting place for mongerers from all over the world.

My regular routine was normally an afternoon bar hop. We would start with the walk of shame exiting the Mayfair via the front gate and turn left to stroll down Mabini Street past the money changers, massage parlors and various other establishments which I had no idea how they managed to stay open. Mabini street in those days was a hive of activity with brightly colored Jeepneys, dilapidated yellow and white taxi’s, small vans, large busses and of course a barrage of private motor cars all with straight through exhaust systems spewing out toxic fumes much to the dismay of pedestrians, beggars, shop keepers and any other life form trying to exist in those torrid conditions. Mabini street at that time had certainly seen better days and along with the uncovered man holes and drainage holes in the middle of the road or pavement there was always a seething unwashed mass of humanitywith an overabundance of dirty kids wrapped in squalid rags tattered shorts and grubby flipflops. One annoying feature I will never forget was the perpetual thin layer of dust or grit that seemed to cover everything. I was told this was partly composed of lahar from the Mount Pinatubo explosion but to me it just seemed like a unique sort of grime that managed to cover everywhere and everything. Many a time I would come back from a bar hop only to have to deposit the clothes I had been wearing in the nearest laundry mat and I learnt very quickly that white colored shirts were next to useless in Manila.

After dodging the various hazards of Mabini street it was a left turn at Pistang Filipino and then a right turn onto M.H.Del Pilar Street. For some reason everyone used to refer to Ermita as being Mabini Street but by the mid eighties into the early nineties M.H.Del Pilar was the major street as all the big clubs representing a bigger financial investment were situated here. I asked several people why Mabini street was the one everyone talked about when referring to the Ermita red light district but nobody could give me a decent answer.

Walking up Del Pilar was actually quite a hike but back then we never seemed to care as there was always something going on to take our attention away from how long the walk was. Invariably our first stop would be Firehouse which also took us past the yellow butterfly and even though Firehouse left a lasting impression the scene still vivid in my mind is the yellow butterfly door girl. This girl was garish street trash prostitution personified but for some reason I adored her and always found time to say hello but never enough time to sample her bounteous wares which would be lasciviously on offer. I will always remember her humungous breasts, trashy white makeup, black eyeliner, ruby red lipstick lathered over permanently pouting lips, two missing upper front teeth and the fashion sense of a toad. Her standard door girl uniform was some brightly colored tight boob tube accompanied by tight black spandex pants reminiscent of an aerobics outfit gone horribly wrong and seemingly expensive gold colored 3 inch high heeled shoes. Everyday we walked past she would regale us with promises of exotic sex but never once did I make it inside the premises because for me it was more entertaining just to listen to what line she would come up with to entice us inside her bar.

From Firehouse it was usually a short walk to Mistys where we would check out the lineup but were always careful not to get drawn into a drinking round by the Australian managers as these would too often end in bar fights or at the very least an expensive bar bill. Mistys never did it for me as I always saw it as a sort of rough Aussie bar but I will admit there were some gorgeous, trashy women in there. Mistys was not a bar for young sweet innocents neither the customers or the girls however even though their girls were for those days older, they were on the whole amazing performers and I very rarely heard anyone complain after bar fining a girl from Mistys . This was the first major bar to utilize a blue light effect from the outside sign though to all corners of the interior. Even the much sought after Mistys calendars seemed to feature a metallic bluish tint.

Next stop would normally be Bubbles and then onto Visions to check out the early afternoon lineup. If lucky I would manage to pick up a partner in Bubbles, Visions or Superstar, take her back to the hotel then after one round send her on her way while I had a little power nap. By 8 PM I was ready to hit it again and normally the first stop would be Shampoo to say hello to Mick Bailey and play a few games of connect four and a little drink with some of the girls there. I always found this bar a very nice relaxing alternative to the bigger more commercial bars and perhaps the perfect place to begin ones night time bar hoping activities. Shampoo was started by Michael Klegg and based on the more relaxed Makati style bars as opposed to the bigger more commercial style bars that would come to predominate. The emphasis in Shampoo was not so much on generating a party atmosphere with loud music and a host of girls but rather on close and comfortable communication between the girls and the customers. The girls were dressed in white negligees with knee high white stockings and would be always braless. The bar had a heavy emphasis on red with heavy red curtains and red vinyl around the front of the stage and around the tables. The emphasis on red and the sexy see through negligees gave the place a sort of old fashioned bordello feel. The music was piped in from Bubbles directly across the road and always played at a soft level allowing easy communication between the girls and the customers.

One thing that amazed me with these so called undereducated Filipinas was how quickly they picked up the subtle nuances of a game like connect four. I had played this game many times before and considered myself above average at this game until a bunch of 18 year old Filipina bar girls consistently kicked my ass causing me to spend way too much money buying ladies drinks.

I would always try to see as many bars as I could but inevitably it seemed that I always ended up in Visions especially if it was drinking and partying time. If I had found a girl I would hardly ever take her bar hoping but instead would pay her barfine and come back to get her later. Doing things this way you ran the risk of the girl doing a short time or going out with another guy while you were out partying but on the positive side it also gave you time to do what you wanted without being hampered by the presence of a girl you had barfined and secondly I have found girls accompanying you on a bar hop while you express interest in and play with other girls, rarely works.

As I have said previously there was something for everyone in Ermita and that included some excellent restaurants and fast food outlets. Normally if it was a party night and we had not barfined girls then the groups of bar goers would meet in Rosie’s diner for a sobering meal and cup of coffee. Rosies diner was somewhat of an institution in Ermita and today it still is although it is now known as LA Café. This was a good middle of the road, well lit, fast food outlet very similar to the roadside cafes and grills in America. The food was nothing special but at least it was always clean, easily priced, quickly prepared and extremely consistent. Another splendid thing about Rosie’s diner was that it was the ultimate pick up joint. Girls would congregate there basically hoping to meet customers and likewise with customers hoping to meet girls. There were girls from all the bars just having a night off, girls who had finished with a customer and were just looking to pick up some extra cash on the side, girls who were professional freelancers or hunting girls, girls looking for some quick cash to support themselves through school or a particular course and girls who for whatever reason couldn’t work in the bars any longer (normally because they were to old) so they now hunted the customers in establishments such as Rosie’s diner.

The owners of Rosie’s are still around to this day and like Margaritaville they initially downplayed the importance of Rosie’s as a meeting place claiming that it was so popular because it was a good restaurant with consistent quality food at reasonable prices. Indeed these were major factors of its success but overall I believe it was so popular because people used it as a meeting place. I remember on many occasions picking up a companion from Rosie’s diner only to be disappointed once back at the hotel. Being small boned and having innate clothing sense a very average looking Filipina in a bikini can look like an absolute stunner dressed in appropriate evening wear. Many a man, myself included, has fallen for this trap and in my experience these girls whilst technically good were generally a bit of a letdown in the looks department and nearly always had a separate agenda this being to find themselves a man to support them before it was too late and they were past their use by date in a very competitive marketplace.

Life in Ermita was actually quite predictable and it evolved totally around the bars and the girls working there. Of course there were variations to the routine but mostly it was the same for all of us just another night of drinking partying and chasing beautiful nubile Filipinas. There was something different happening every night and yet it was delightfully predictable. There was something intoxicatingly addictive about this lifestyle and as one wise man said to me “Hey Martin this place has plenty of faults but it’s one hell of a ride and the ultimate in hedonism”. I soon learnt that within reason anything goes in Ermita and as long as you kept a moderately low profile without drawing massive attention to yourself you could get away with just about anything.

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