Tick tock, tick tock, BOOM. The Tick DMZ Angeles City Philippines story.
Tick tock, tick tock, boom. This was how Tick saw himself. I asked him one day. “how did you get the nickname Tick” and he replied, because in the Marines I had a reputation for being a ticking time bomb, always ready to explode at the slightest provocation.
Tick was an interesting character and in my opinion one of the original old school Angeles City Philippines veterans. I am not sure of the exact date he arrived in Angeles City Philippines, some say late seventies, whilst others say early eighties. He did a solid 20 plus years in the Angeles City Philippines bar business, during which he lived life to the hilt, experiencing moments of debauchery and decadence, together with moments of true tenderness and mind numbing loss.
Ticks first taste of Asia was a tour of Vietnam serving as a US Marine. During this tour he was wounded by mortar fire which he was always reminded of by the metal plate in his head. After Vietnam he did several years in rehab which according to him did stuff all for his state of mind, but the drugs were pleasant.
During his time in America he met and married his Filipina wife with whom he fathered one son and a daughter, who according to those in the know, was seriously beautiful and an absolute glamour. The marriage was an important part of Ticks life because in some ways it determined the course his life was going to take,and was instrumental in him deciding to live and do business in Angeles city Philippines.
Like so many of his fellow Vietnam vets the war had changed him forever and he always had problems adjusting to normal civilian life in America. Sometime in the late seventies or early eighties Tick arrived in Angeles City Philippines and using his and his wife’s money he purchased the land on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines under his wife’s name, and built the legendary DMZ bar.
I can remember when I first came to Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines in 1991 walking past the DMZ and thinking to myself, what the heck was this all about. At that stage in my life, having come from a somewhat protected upbringing, I had little concept of what DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines meant, and for me it seemed like some sort of dilapidated memorial to Americas involvement in the Vietnam war.
In later years, with a deeper understanding of the American military’s influence on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, it all made sense, and I realized what an appropriate name for a bar, DMZ was. Tick was no fool when it came to marketing and even more astute when it came to efficiently running his bar. When he first started 99.9% of the DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bars patrons were American military and what better way to attract them than by naming your bar DMZ.
As said previously Tick was a former American marine. He was proud of his time spent in the core and much of DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was dedicated to the pride associated with being a US marine.
When I first saw DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines it was not exactly a salubrious dwelling, in fact it was more like a war bunker that had narrowly missed a couple of direct hits. My first impression was that this place had seen better days but then again this was only two months after Mount Pinatubo had exploded and just about every bar in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines at that time was in dire need of a face-lift and substantial repairs.
Looking back on those times I realize Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was more like a nuclear waste land or a deserted adult theme park, than the brightly lit, mega bar scene it is today. Yet despite it’s dilapidation there was that indefinable something about Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that appealed to some and repulsed others. Tick was certainly one it appealed to and no mere volcanic explosion was going to send him scurrying home running away from Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.
Back in the early nineties DMZ was one of the most popular bars on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. There was always a decent selection of girls, with a few mud between their toes nubiles scattered between the older hand professionals. Since Tick owned the land and the building on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines he managed to keep his overheads down which meant even though the customer numbers had been drastically reduced by the Americans pulling out and Pinatubo exploding, Tick was still able to turn a tidy profit out of DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.
Initially I am pretty sure Tick had his wife working the cashier booth in DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines which was again a clever idea, because it meant he eliminated the vagaries of creative book keeping, that seem so common among Filipina bar cashiers working in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. In later years when his wife was living back in America he would have his mistress stroke girl friend doing the books and once again, everything was accounted for.
Tick was a mans man full of bravado and stories. In his prime he could keep people entertained for hours and guys who had popped in for one drink often found themselves walking out onto Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines with a girl under one arm and a lighter wallet in their pocket.
Tick was very much old school and believed in making money both on the front end and the back end. When it came to the back end he followed the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) to the letter. DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was nothing if not basic and old Tick would keep close watch on the overheads. I think when he sold the DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines it still had the original air conditioners as well as the rickety old sound system. He would spend enough to keep it going but anything after that went straight into his pocket.
I only knew Tick in passing, and as I was just beginning my life in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, he already had many years under the belt. I never got to spend much time with him but I would see him occasionally when he used to bar hop on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and if he had a skin full, his bar hops were always adventurous.
One particular barhop in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that will be forever etched in my memory was in 1996 when he visited me in Stinger just off Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, together with a young Aussie guy named Paul. Both Tick and Paul were drunk as skunks and I could tell straight away there was going to be some fireworks. They sat down the front of the bar right by the girls, but they hardly noticed the girls because they were engrossed in a conversation about American and Australian special forces.
The conversation started out peacefully enough but as it progressed, both Tick and Paul were getting more and more animated and agitated. I watched carefully ready to ask them to move it outside to Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, when suddenly and as fast as lightning, Tick whipped out an evil looking blade and pointed it at Paul. Paul, who can be a loud mouth, was momentarily taken aback, but recovering quickly he smiled and embraced Tick as if he was some long lost brother. Tick sheathed the knife, smiled back at Paul and they carried on drinking as if nothing untoward had happened.
For me Tick seemed like a lot of combat vets who I met over the years. He had obviously lead an interesting and diverse life, very much influenced by his days in the military. He struck me as one of these hard bitten guys who had seen and experienced to much to ever fit back into so called normal society.
During the late eighties and early to mid nineties I met a lot of guys like this, both here in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and in Thailand. They normally came across as grizzled old bums slumped on a bar stool drowning their sorrows in the next drink. As we all know appearances can be deceiving, and as I came of age in the Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines bar scene, I would learn to unobtrusively talk with these guys and some of the stories they told were nothing short of enthralling.
This was one of Ticks strengths, if in the mood he could spin a yarn and entertain people for hours on end. It was always the same subject, but strangely enough Tick was never short of an audience who seemed eager to listen and chat with him whenever visiting DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.
Ticks wife was a Filipina but having been exposed to a decent life in the states she was never going to be happy living and working in the bar business in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. Add to this the fact that she had two kids already, and a parting of the ways was almost inevitable. I am not sure about the details of the separation but it must have been comparatively amicable because she left Tick with the bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines under her name and never caused any problems for him, that I am aware of.
From 1997 through to 2004 I didn’t have much to do with Tick. There was never any problem but we were basically moving in different circles. I would sometimes see him and we would exchange cordialities, then go our separate ways.
I met Tick again in 2004 after I moved back up to Angeles from Makati, and to be honest I was quite shocked at his appearance. The once robust Tick was now significantly skinnier, his skin was sallow and a flat dullness had replaced the once taunting sparkle in his eyes.
Having said that, although obviously sick, there were moments when he was the same old mischievous Tick. On one occasion I remember him rambling into Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and making a business proposition to the owner. At the time the American military were in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and Tick had managed to do a deal with the brass, where he would supply some girls from DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines to visit the troops out on base. Tick asked the officers how many girls they wanted and nearly fell over when he heard their answer, “minimum 100”.
Of course it was impossible for DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines alone to supply 100 girls but Tick being a long time operator in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines was unperturbed by this minor set back, and next thing he knew the officer was handing over the money with Tick sincerely promising he would take care of all the arrangements.
That night Tick reportedly visited 5 bars on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, of which Bedrock was one, and arranged a total of 120 girls. The next night Tick went around the bars of Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, gathered all the girls, then organized 7 jeepneys to take himself, the owner of Bedrock om Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and 120 horny bar girls out to the base, where the even hornier young marines were waiting in eager anticipation. While out on the base Tick introduced the owner of Bedrock to all the brass and as a result Bedrock and DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines were deemed “safe zones” for the visiting marines.
For Tick utilizing his military contacts was totally natural, but for the owners of the other bars this was a first, and to this day the owner of Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines still has the business card the US General gave him when he visited the base with Tick.
Things like this were classic Tick and the fact that nobody blinked an eye lid, really demonstrates how much Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines has changed. Try doing something like this in today’s environment and you would be looking at Human Trafficking charges with forty years in a Philippine jail. In my opinion it also demonstrates how much the military has changed. Back then the officers had no problem mixing socially with the bar owners on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and the troops were allowed to mingle with the bar girls on Fields, albeit under the watchful eyes of the MP’s.
One thing I liked about Tick was the fact that he wasn’t afraid to be himself. His attitude was, I am who I am, and if you don’t like it, then fuck you. A classic example of this was his habit of smoking and chewing on a cigar that never seemed to leave his mouth. At first I thought it was some sort of General Patton impersonation but when I asked Tick about it he simply smiled and said, I smoke the cigar just to piss people off.
My last sighting of Tick was when he and the Aussie owner of Bedrock on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, were chatting in Molly Malone’s. Tick was looking old and burdened by life’s woes. I couldn’t hear much of the conversation but I’m pretty sure it was to do with Mummy A— who was working in DMZ Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and battling with Tick. There were various strong expletives used whenever her name was mentioned, and the look in Ticks eyes was one of utter hatred.
Some time after Tick departed Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines I heard some stories of what the problems were. This mummy A was working for Tick and she had a habit of employing underage girls then telling certain people. These people would visit the bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, find the underage girl working there, blame the owner, then offer him a way out of trouble. The way out of trouble would involve a monetary payment some of which was then back handed to the mamasan who had started the problem in the first place.
Mummy A was a piece of work and she was making Ticks life a misery. At the time he was obviously sick and the mamasans conniving, duplicitous, extortion was only making matters worse.
I ran into this mamasan again some years later when she was working for Kelly in Classroom 2 Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and straight away I understood why Tick had, had a problem with her. She really was an evil conniving individual, who barely tried to hide her contempt and loathing for the bar business in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, and the foreigners involved in it.
When Tick decided to sell DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines he was very obviously sick. He was sick, his long term girlfriend of several years had passed away, he was dealing with problems from Mommy A, and the whole thing was becoming overwhelming. I think his state of mind was an influential factor in his decision to sell, as were his health issues, and the realization that because he owned the land and the building on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines, he could get top dollar for DMZ.
DMZ on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines being sold, in some ways marked the end of an era. The days of a small bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines with rudimentary lighting, rickety old air-con’s, a dilapidated sound system , gnarly old waitresses who could suck a bowling ball through a garden hose, a urine reeking toilet, 50 peso local drinks, 20 or so bikini clad dancers ranging in age from 18 through to 30 (some with mud between their toes, some with more pricks than a pub dart board), and perhaps most importantly, a bar on Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines that made it’s money from the guys hanging with the guys in a military pub like atmosphere, were rapidly coming to an end.
The DMZ was classic old school Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines and with it being sold one of the last bastions of a bygone era, faded into Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines folk law history.
After selling Tick moved back to America where he could get proper health treatment. He managed to battle whatever his illness was for a few more years but in the end succumbed.
Tick was a character who as the English would say, ‘lived life large’ in Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines. He was hard bitten, to some extent a social misfit, and definitely in many ways, stereotypical old school Fields Avenue Angeles City Philippines.
R.I.P Tick and I hope wherever you are, your kicking ass and taking names.