Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
It had to happen sooner or later.
With her arm firmly entwined round mine Daisy marched me into the bar and sat me down next to Jake. Jake looked at me and with a serious expression said, “listen mate I got some bad news for ya, looks like Daisy has a bit of a problem coz she failed health check today”, I looked at him somewhat incredulously and replied “failed the health check, what does that mean”? Jake looked at me like I had come down in the last shower and replied, “she’s got a dose mate”. Now at this stage I was still somewhat naïve and inexperienced when it came to STD’s so I asked Jake, what do you mean she’s got a dose, a dose of what? Once again Jake gave me the, is this kid for real look, then said, “she’s got the clap, the drip, gonorrhea mate”.
And then it dawned on me, if Daisy had it then chances are I also had it. As this realization came crashing down on me I just sat there and turned ghostly white. After about three minutes and a few steadying gulps of Jim Beam I hesitatingly asked Jake, hey Jake your telling me I may have gonorrhea as well, so what do I do about it? Jake smiled and replied, “if I was you I would go pay a visit to the one armed bandit and get a shot in the arse”. Not understanding what Jake was talking about I said who or what is the one armed bandit, to which Jake replied, “oh that’s Doctor DeGuzman he is the local doc, who deals with the clap mate. We call him the one armed bandit because he only has one arm”. With that said Jake gave me directions to the doctors and told me just grab a trike from outside and tell him take me to the doc’s place. They all know where he lives mate and for fucks sake put a smile on your face mate, it’s not the end of the world. All of us have had a dose at sometime mate, and it’s just part of living in Angeles”.
Upon hearing this I gulped down my drink, paid the bill, and headed out the door. Once outside I hailed a nearby trike and told him, “take me to Doc DeGuzman please”. The trike driver gave me a wry little smirk and replied, “walang problemo” and next thing I knew I found myself folded into a rickety old side car. With me feeling much like a sardine in a can we made our way to the doctors. While crammed into the trike I pondered Jakes words and thought to myself, the clap may be a common experience for the likes of Jake but for me this is a big problem and very embarrassing.
The trike driver knew Doctor Deguzmans place and within minutes I found myself standing outside his little house that doubled as a surgery. I paid the trike who then took off leaving me standing there feeling acutely embarrassed. At this stage I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms and I was telling myself, you don’t know if you have any infection so why bother going in, then on the other hand I was thinking, come on Martin it’s only one injection and its better to be safe than sorry.
I entered DeGuzmans house and came face to face with this quirky little one armed bespectacled guy, wearing a white doctors coat. In the Philippines image is always important and obviously Dr DeGuzman felt the jacket was a necessary prerequisite if he was to be seen as a true doctor. At first glance DeGuzman looked like something out of the twilight zone and this whole experience was surreal.
De-Guzman took one look at me and said step into my office sir. The tone of his voice was somehow ominous and I thought to myself, shit is it physically visible that I have a dose. Upon reflection I realize that this was just me being paranoid and that De Guzman in his time had probably seen literally thousands of men with the clap, but back then I was young and inexperienced, so this whole situation gave me the jitters.
I followed De Guzman into his office like a little puppy dog and once I had sat down he smiled and said, “what seems to be the problem”. I explained to him that I had been with a girl who had been found positive for gonorrhea, so I had come to him for a checkup. Upon hearing this De Guzman gave me a knowing look then asked, “have you experienced any symptoms yet”, to which I replied I don’t think so. This time he looked at me questioningly and replied, “sir do you know what the symptoms are”, to which I embarrassingly replied, “actually Doc I have no idea, I have never been exposed to anything like this before”.
When he heard this De Guzman seemed genuinely surprised and next thing I knew he was shoving a book at me saying, “look at the pictures and tell me if you have anything like that”. Suddenly the situation had gone from surreal to downright bizarre. This book was some kind of medical journal and in it were graphic pictures of gonorrhea infected penis’s and vaginas. To this day I am still not 100% sure why De Guzman made me view this book, maybe it was some sort of lesson, maybe he was trying to shock me, or maybe he just wanted me to be aware of the gravity of the situation so he could charge me more.
I skipped through the book with my stomach doing cartwheels, beads of cold sweat dotting my forehead, and my complexion turning ghostly white. This book can only be described as graphic, and at one time my breakfast nearly came up. After paying what I thought was the appropriate amount of time viewing the book, I closed it, and told De Guzman, “luckily for me Doc I am not experiencing any of those symptoms.” De Guzman actually seemed a little bit disappointed when he heard this, but rebounding quickly he responded by saying, “well sir I will give you a shot anyway just to be sure”.
I don’t know about other guys but for me I have always disliked needles, it’s not a morbid fear like most Filipinos have, but it is a strong dislike, and I am never truly comfortable receiving a shot. If I didn’t know better I could have sworn De Guzman somehow sensed my discomfort and he almost seemed to relish it. After having informed me he would give me the shot he proceeded over to a small fridge where he kept the needles and pulling out a large syringe with brownish colored liquid he said, “go over to the table take your pants down and bend over”.
This for me was one of those life pondering moments. If you had of told me five years ago that one day I would be bending over a metal table in the lahar filled backstreets of Angeles City baring my buttocks, while a quirky little one armed guy was preparing to inject me with a huge needle filled with vile brown fluid, I would have said you were mad. Yet despite the bizarreness of the situation, it was happening and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Moments of my life flashed before my eyes and I remember thinking about all the decisions I had made that had lead up to this, then suddenly I felt a sharp prick in my behind, and the sound of Dr De Guzman’s voice as he instructed me to remain still. Instantly I froze and then 5 seconds later Dr De Guzman extracted the needle, announced that we were done and I should pay 1000 piso to his receptionist outside.
I pulled up my pants, thanked the good doctor for his time and proceeded to head outside. The receptionist looked at me with a knowing smile with just a hint of mischieviousness and announced, “that will be 1000 piso please sir”. She was so matter of fact about it and I realized that this procedure was probably played out hundreds of times a year, so for her this was nothing new. With mixed emotions of guilt, shame, embarrassment and even relief, I paid the bill, gave the receptionist a fleeting smile and headed out the door.
When I got back to the hotel I was actually quite tired so I decided a nap was in order but as soon as my head hit the pillow there was a loud knocking on my door and Wally saying in a loud voice ” wake up mate it’s only early and we have some bar hopping to do”. Replying in a sleep laden voice I said just give me a ten minutes to grab a shower, wakeup and I will meet you downstairs.
That night our first port of call was Ziggys where Wally reckoned he had found a real stunner. Ziggys was a weird bar in terms of design and it had certainly seen better days. When it was Ziggys it badly needed a coat of paint, some new stage lighting, new sound system and definitely a new toilet area. Ziggys is now Brown Sugar and in its modern day guise a completely different bar. Back when it was Ziggy’s it can best be described as tired and it was very obvious the owners approach was to run it on basics only, keep the costs down. In those days there really wasn’t enough business to be putting money back into the bar and as a result most bars were run on the basics with minimum expenditure.
The predominant feature in Ziggys was the stage which was in the center of the bar and ran from the front door the entire length of the bar. Back in those days the managers job was fairly simple, he was a draw card and it was his job to drag people in to come and drink with him. In Ziggys there was a raised part at the back of the stage with about six seats and this is where the manager would always hold court. On any given night there would always be about five guys sitting watching the stage quaffing down round after round of San Miguel beer. The topic of conversation would vary from world politics and religion through to a heated discussion of what it was like to live in the Philippines and what was the performance like of the last girl they had been with.
At this stage in Angeles the Australians were predominant and it was common to walk into a bar and hear five or six ACDC songs in a row followed by some Cold Chisel, Men at work Midnight Oil and Australian Crawl. In Ziggys the stage was somewhat stage in that it had the girls change room under the stage and the girls would walk up a kind of tunnel onto the stage. They would then head down to the front of the stage and move up one space each time a new dancer came on. This was actually quite clever because it meant they could run less girls but the stage was always full.
Wally seemed to know his way around Ziggys and as soon as he walked in this dark brown beauty named MayAnne literally jumped off the stage and into Wally’s arms. To say that I was impressed would be an under statement, this girl was absolutely stunning. MayAnne had silky long black hair, pert little breasts with tantalizing flashes of nipples, a rock hard butt and long shapely legs. I think Wally must have sensed my admiration because he turned to me with a Cheshire cat smile and said, “she’s mine tonight but if I cut her lose tomorrow you can grab her”.