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Filipino Street Food

Every country has its own culture and quite often the local food is both a reflection of that culture and a reflection of the physical environment that surrounds and influences the people. Such is the case with the street food available in the Philippines.

Throughout the Philippines, from the biggest cities to the smallest most remote provincial areas, there are street vendors and stall operators plying their trade. These vendors and the produce they sell invariably reflect ready availability of commodities from the local environment – specifically, anything that has a low initial purchasing price and the opportunity for a significantly marked-up end sale price. These vendors and their produce will to some extent reflect as well as create certain cultural aspects of Philippine society.

Perhaps the most famous or should I say infamous of all the products sold by street vendors is Balot. Balot is basically a duck or chicken egg with a semi formed fetus inside. For the uninitiated taste buds this tastes vile, and even the Filipinos whom I know that eat this do not claim it tastes nice.

The balut is normally sold by a vendor on his bicycle. The vendor will pedal the streets squeezing a little air horn and crying out Balut. Vendors such as this are a common site in most communities throughout the Philippines.

The vendor will have a basket with anywhere up to two dozen balot inside and there are two types of balot. Firstly there is ballot sa puti which is the egg with the line on it. In this balut the fetus is less developed. The ballot without the line is a larger ballot where the fetus is more developed to the extent where the nails feathers and hair are present.The basket serves to stop the balot from moving thus preventing breakage and also keeps the balot warm.

It is a commonly held belief amongst the Filipinos that eating balut is good for you and it will enhance your strength as well your virility. They believe that there are numerous vitamins and minerals inside the egg which are good for a person’s health. Whether this is true or not is hard to say without actually analyzing the egg but it is interesting that in nearly all cultures there is some sort of natural product that is believed to increase the male sex drive and general strength.

Male virility is an important aspect of Filipino culture and it represents an intriguing mixture of Spanish and Chinese influences. The ‘machismo’ and extroverted masculinity aspects come from the Spanish influence whereas the belief that a man’s potency can be increased by what he eats, is more of a Chinese concept. In fact I would hypothesize that the practice of eating of balut has Chinese origins and is a classic example of Chinese influence on Filipino culture.

Another food sold by vendors which clearly demonstrates the Chinese influence on Philippine culture, is chicken feet. I can distinctly remember the first time I saw these being served in a Chinese restaurant in Sydney and my reaction was much the same then as it is today, YUCK. However my reaction is far from common place in the Philippines as many Filipinos seem to consider barbecue chicken feet, barbecue chicken intestines along with barbecue pork as part of their staple diet.

Prior to arriving in the Philippines I always associated chicken feet with Chinese cuisine and upon first arriving in Manila in 1991 it was quite a shock for me to see them being sold on a street side barbecue stand. Over time I have gotten used to seeing them on a daily basis and upon reflection I realize chicken feet are another example of the Chinese influence on Filipino culture.

Paa ng manok. Chicken feet and example of Chinese influence on Filipino culture.

Apart from deep fried and boiled foods much street food is cooked by utilizing a barbecue grill. This is a very effective and cheap way of cooking but does not have the advantage of portability.

Pork along with chicken is very much the staple meat source in the Philippines. Again most parts of the slaughtered pig will be used for consumption including what is referred to as Tainga or pigs ear.

Where I come from it is common practice to pigs and chickens but only certain parts of the animal. Here in the Philippines nothing is left to waste as was clearly demonstrated by a visit to my local barbecue stand in New York Street Vila Sol.

Balat ng manok – chicken skin and puwet ng manok – chicken anus, just two of the many parts of the chicken that are sold at the barbecue stands. Other parts include the chicken intestines, chicken bowels, and the chickens neck.

Chicken neck and intestines. Virtually every part of the chicken is used in the barbeque stalls.

When it comes to street cooking the grill or barbecue is the qucik, portable and an inexpensive means of cooking. Best of all the raw produce can be readily purchased from the local market at very low prices and resold incorporating a significant mark up. These are high profitability items. The barbecue produce can vary in price anywhere from 5 piso through to 15 piso and it is often consumed in a social situation along with alcohol. When the food is served in this way it is referred to as Pulutan.

Chicken and pork are by far the most common sorts of meat consumed by Filipinos not including fish. The problem is pork and especially chicken are mostly fried which is not exactly the healthiest means of cooking. Upon walking the streets of Angeles you will often see street vendors with their portable stalls selling fried chicken. Normally this will be a piece of chicken wrapped in flour and a wok with cooking oil heated by a gas flame very much like an enlarged portable bunson burner. Each piece of fried chicken costs 20 piso and as you can see by the amount pf chicken he has pre prepared this is quite a popular snack and probably quite profitable.

The eggs of various birds and other animals seem to be considered a viable food source throughout the Philippines. For example you will see many vendors selling Pugo- quail eggs. These eggs are sold either hard boiled in a plastic bag of 4 or 24 together with rock salt or as quek quek where they are deep fried and covered in flour which has been dyed a light orange color. The Pugo are considered a light snack and sell for approximately 12 piso for a bag of four or fifty piso for a bag of 24. These are a very much sought after item by the Filipinos when traveling, as such, you will often see vendors plying their trade on the many buses that crisscross this country.

One part of the pig that is considered a delicacy is the pig skin or crackling as foreigners would call it. The pig skin is basically cut into thin strips then deep fried in oil. This is called Chicharon and served in a plastic bag with a vinegar and chili sauce applied liberally. The Pampanga area is renowned for its quality Chicharon and it sells for 20 piso per bag.

As you get into the poorer more provincial areas you will find both portable stores and stationary stores. For example on a recent bike ride we found this store which was almost like the Philippine equivalent of a local soup kitchen.

Again the primary meats were chicken and pork but utilized in a sort of soup concoction. Chicken joy would normally be a piece of fried chicken but when I asked the stores owner they replied with the by now standard phrase so common amongst the Filipinos, “aye sorry sir out of stock”. What they did have was a pork soup and a chicken broth soup with noodles. Both being composed of mainly the animal fat rather than any actual meat.

Pork fat soup

A chicken broth soup with noodles and pieces of chicken

Moving away from the meats and on a slightly healthier level, many tropical fruits and nuts can be found in abundance throughout the Philippines and often these will make the perfect produce for vendors as they are easy to find and cheap to purchase with a good end sale profit margin.

For some reason Filipinos seem to like a lot of their food stuff either raw or unripened. A classic example of this is the Green Mango. Vendors will mostly utilize a push bike with covered side car attached.

Some of the green mango are cut in half, skewered on a stick and placed in a jar of water. Accompanying the fruit there will be a jar of Bagoong (Shrimp paste) and or plain salt. A portion of Bagoong is served separately or applied to the top of the mango slice by the vendor.

I have often pondered why Filipinos like to eat their fruit raw and the only reason I can come up with is that in this country food can be a scarce commodity so if hungry enough you do not wait unti a fruit is ripe to eat it, on the contrary, you consume it as soon as possible. Secondly competition is fierce in this country and if you don’t consume the fruit when you have the chance, someone else will.

From eating raw fruit out of necessity I hypothesize that what started out as a necessity has slowly crossed over into mainstream culture to the extent where eating raw fruit is now considered totally normal. A second factor is that when eaten with the shrimp paste your taste buds are assaulted by totally opposite flavors which makes for an interesting eating experience.

Very often the Mango vendors will also have other types of fruit to sell including a local orange called dalandan which is picked and consumed whilst still unripe. Depending on the time of season there may also be oranges, mandarins and even apples.

One very popular and versatile fruit amongst the Filipinos is the banana and once again it is often served fried. When it comes to the vendors many will sell the raw product simply by having a bunch of bananas hanging of their cart or they will sell it as a type of banana fritter.

To make the banana fritter the banana is fried in a wok with raw sugar and cooking oil. The banana is very sweet and naturally filling which at ten piso a pop makes it a cheap way of taking the edge of your hunger.

The humble peanut is grown and sold just about everywhere in the world but here in the Philippines it takes on a special significance as it provides a food source and an income for a large number of people.
Depending on the season you will see street vendors with a variety of fruits ranging from Bananas and Mangos through to pineapples, oranges, mandarins and apples.

Slowly but surely as the Filipino taste buds become exposed to outside influences a number of different fruits are finding their way onto the streets of Angeles. For example on my way home after work I stopped at my favorite fruit stall on Fields Avenue only to be confronted with a variety of fruit including Kiwi fruit. Coming from New Zealand originally this was somewhat of a pleasant surprise for me and I asked SWMBO to ask the vendor if they were grown here and she received a definite yes. Somewhere around Angeles there is a kiwi fruit farm or maybe it’s in Bagiou, either way the point remains it is now finally possible to get a greater range of fruits in the Philippines.

The peanut is cheap, in abundance, easy to cook and an easy to transport food source which can generate a healthy profit margin when sold. The Filipinos have a number of ways of cooking the peanuts but the most common are steaming and deep frying in oil.
The vendors who steam the nuts normally have a bicycle with a large iron pot in which they place water. A wicker tray with holes in it is then placed on top of this and the nuts are placed on top of the basket to cook by steaming.

The nuts are sold in small paper bags and will cost 20 piso per bag.They also come sprinkled with fresh rock salt.

Steamed peanuts are also sold by the plastic bag full for 20 piso and these are also mostly sold by vendors using a bicycle with attached side cart.

Another way of selling peanuts very common in most of the bars is to sell a plate full of deep fried peanuts for 20 piso. For this the vendor will go the market buy the peanuts and other merchandise in bulk then resell them as smaller portions.

Being composed of numerous islands it is only natural that a major component of the Filipino diet is seafood and fresh water fish. In terms of the vendors this will normally take the most abundant and therefore easily accessible and cheapest product to sell. For seafood this will normally be a small fresh water fish called Tinapa. These fish are about the size of a sardine and are smoked by the vendor who then sells them raw and smoked. The cost is 25 piso for 3 pieces. Once the smoked fish is purchased it is then stir fried in cooking oil and eaten with rice.

In most cultures there is the stable starch based type of food group. Here in the Philippines the dominant form of starch type food is white rice, however, there are also a number of bread based products which are popular especially among the vendors. Of these the most popular is siopao

The closest equivalent I can think of to Siopao would be a dumpling. The siopao was originally a Chinese delicacy but is now very popular in the Philippines. It is composed of cooked meat wrapped in a sort of white bread bun and the meat is flavored by a special source.

It took me a long while to try siopao because the Filipinos used to joke that it was cat meat inside. I have since cottoned onto the fact that this was a joke and now quite enjoy it on an the occasional basis. I am still not quite sure what the meat is inside but I am leaning towards pork.

As you get into some of the more provincial areas the food types and the means of selling them become more basic. In many cases for the older and more traditional Filipinos you will not even use the bicycle but instead they will balance the food on their head and sell it like a door to door sales person.

Often these foods will take the form of a delicacy but always the emphasis will be on ease of preparation and low production cost with a decent sales profit margin.

There are many other products sold by the street vendors so many in fact that it would be impossible to mention them all in this article. What I have tried to do here is present the most commonly sold products and examined their link to Philippine culture and explain why these particular items are selected by the both the vendors and the customers.

A lot of street food are products which come from the immediate surrounding environment. Generally speaking these products are cheap to grow and can be sold for a handsome markup. One example of this is corn or maize as the Filipinos call it. The corn is sold on roadside stalls and also by mobile vendors who trail it around in a hot tub. Normally the corn ears are precooked and sold to purchasers with butter and a sprinkling of salt. The corn ears cost twenty piso each.

Some other items commonly seen being sold by the vendors are pusit barbecue squid, fried squid balls, taho which is soybean curd with caramelized sugar, buko, green coconuts which are supposedly very good for a persons kidneys and ice cream served in a bread bun.

The Philippine street food is both basic and diverse as well as being a direct contributor to, and reflection of, Philippine culture. It is nearly always plentiful, cheap, and ready to be consumed with minimal preparation. For us foreigners there is literally a whole new world to be explored complete with some very nice and some not so nice, taste experiences.

Angeles City Showgirls

Part of the changing face of the Angeles bar scene is the prominence of more and more show girls. In this article I will examine the concept of show girls, both the good and bad aspects, citing specific examples along the way.

The concept of show girls acting as an individual specialized dance group separate from the bigger body of normal go-go dancers has been around for a long time however the first bar to actually make their dance troupe prominent and try to attract customers utilizing a dance group, was Jools in Makati.

With their emphasis on show girls and specialized dance troupes, Jools was singlehandedly responsible for the emergence of showgirls and professional dance troupes into the mainstream girlie bar industry. The shows came about primarily because they saw the opportunity to cater for a sizeable niche market, that of local business men and their international clients.

Secondly the shows were perceived purely as entertainment. Rather than selling sex, the bar was seen as selling entertainment.The issue of bar fines has always been contentious in Makati and the shows basically took the emphasis away from bar-fines and placed it on entertainment. Lastly the shows were professionally choreographed and offered something different from the norm. At this time the majority of bars simply offered rows of bikini clad girls standing on stage hardly moving or the old fashioned Filipino style where a solo dancer would perform one or two numbers either removing articles of clothing or at the very least gyrating her body in a sexually provocative way. When Jools came along with their emphasis on professional dance troupes they raised the level of the bar so to speak and developed a whole new facet of the girlie bar industry.

The second stage in the evolution of dance troupes particularly those composed exclusively of female members was the emergence of the “sex bomb dancers” on mainstream television. In approximately 2003 -2004 the “sex bomb dancers”, who performed on a local afternoon show “eat bulaga”, suddenly became famous and a role model for every female from age 5 to 45. The sex bombs represented a celebration and the public aggrandizement of female sexuality. This was a sort of girl power movement taking the form of a dance troupe and complimented by a hit single. The Sex Bombs represented the slightly naughty and sexually provocative aspects of femininity as such it was only a matter of time until they became role models for females across the country. With their constant exposure through a national television station and airplay of the sex bomb song, it was in some ways inevitable that they should come to define certain aspects of femininity in the Philippines. Indeed, it was not uncommon to see female kids in the slums of Manila and in the remotest provincial areas gyrating their hips to the sex bomb song and directly mimicking the sex bomb dancers. Their popularity was to some extent ground breaking and it wasn’t long until rival groups such as the Viva hot babes came into existence and between them they paved the way for the emergence of all female professional dance troupes within the girlie bar industry and even within everyday Filipino culture including in the provincial fiestas.

Over my years of working in the bars I have seen numerous dance shows and so called professional dance troupes. I have made my own observations and talked to numerous customers and as such have formed definite opinions regarding dance groups. Basically I see more disadvantages than advantages but for the purpose of this article I will simply highlight both and let the readers form their own opinion.

(Picture of Blue Nile showgirls)
Angeles City bar show girls

The Blue Nile show girls during their seventh anniversary show.

In AC bars the Blue Nile Group was the first to introduce an individual group of dancers and they were called the Blue Nile Executive Cultural Dancers. Initially this group performed cultural type dances which reflected aspects of Filipino provincial culture. In the beginning the cultural style dancing was somewhat unique and was seen as different from the show girl groups that were later to dominate the scene. This however is no longer the case and now the only difference between the cultural dancers and any other group of show girls is the name.

One major advantage of a separate group of show girls, or cultural dancers, is that they break up the monotony of just more bikini clad girls standing on stage looking bored. When they first started in AC they were something different from the norm and helped distinguish the Blue Nile Executive from its competitors.

A second advantage was how the Cultural Dancers were perceived. As in the case of its Makati predecessor Jools, local business men would take their friends and business clients up to the Exec and watch what was perceived as a politically correct show. There could be no innuendo or allegations of sexual impropriety bought against cultural dancers whose dance reflected the cultural values of Filipino society. The cultural dancers helped the owners position the Executive so as to appeal to an affluent niche market and a more up-market clientele in general.

(Picture of Blue Nile showgirls)
Angeles City bar show girls

A third advantage is that it appeals to the guys who are already committed to a relationship with a girl and are looking for someplace acceptable to take her. Basically Filipina wives and long term girlfriends do not appreciate the girlie bars where bikini clad dancers make eye contact and flirt with their husband, however a show bar where the emphasis is on entertainment via a professional dance group, is a lot more acceptable and less threatening to them.

A further advantage is that when done properly a dance group can create an energetic atmosphere in the bar. In Neros it was not uncommon for the majority of girls to gather round and cheer on the show girls especially when they had a new dance routine. The newness of the routine was not necessarily appreciated by the customers but the atmosphere created by the girls cheering on the dancers, certainly was.

For every girl there is always a limit to her bar life longevity. All girls go through what I call the “barizing” process and after a while they are either too old or jaded to be dancing in a bikini however these same girls will often make excellent show girls because the emphasis, in their mind, is on dancing and providing entertainment, as opposed to dancing so as to attract a man for sex.

One major advantage is in terms of the image the showgirls portray. The professional show girls take away the emphasis on bar fines and sex for money replacing it with an emphasis on professional entertainment. This is a particularly relevant point considering the political environment at the current time.

The saying states, competition is a wonderful thing, and when it comes to show girls this is certainly true. Now that there are several different groups of bars providing show girls and competing for the same market, the standard of the dance routines has risen considerably and a new level of professionalism has come into being.

(Picture of Neros showgirls)
Angeles City bar show girls

The Neros cultural dancers in one of their constantly changing formations

Another distinct advantage is that show girls attract the better looking girls. Generally speaking the better looking girls, or the class A girls as they are often referred to, will work in the bar as a show girl as they see this position as being above the normal dancer. These same girls will not work in the bar as a normal dancer as they see this as being beneath them.

A final advantage is that when the show girls are on stage this gives the normal dancers a chance to mingle and communicate with the customers. It allows them time to approach the customers on the ground level and talk to him rather than having to make eye contact from the stage. When communication occurs between the girls and the customers everyone wins.

Perhaps the major disadvantage of having show girls is that it creates a division between the girls who work in the bar. As already discussed it is often the show girls who see themselves as being better or more important than the normal dancer when in fact the opposite is true.

The Filipinas who work in the bar often have what I call a clannish mentality where they like to form their own little gangs and in my experience having a separate group of so called show girls very much panders to the gang mentality.

(Picture of Bad Influence Dancers)
Angeles City bar show girls

Traditionally the showgirls see themselves as being better than the normal dancers and this falsehood is reinforced by the bars that try to charge more for the show girls to go bar fine with the customer or for her ladies drink. Indeed many times I have seen customers ask the showgirls to go out with them only to be told the bar fine is significantly higher because the girl is a show girl not a normal dancer. A perfect example of this is the Dollhouse spotlight dancers. In short I think the concept of show girls is often misused by the bar owners as an excuse to charge higher prices especially in terms of the bar fine and ladies drinks.

In many cases there is an over emphasis on the showgirls and a classic example of this is the Bad Influence Dancers. They are now being promoted as a major attraction supposed to entice the customer into the soon to open Golden Nile. The Golden Nile is a rather large building which will incorporate two floors of poker machines and other gambling activities with a large show bar on the third floor. In this bar there will no doubt be numerous dancers and yet the promotional banners outside the club only feature the Bad Influence dancers. Personally I think an advertisement stating that they have over 100 beautiful dancers would be a much more powerful enticement for me to visit the bar than an advertisement for the Bad Influence dancers.

Angeles City bar show girls

The Bad Influence dance group. They are performing in Cambodia but being advertised outside the Golden Nile.

In economic terms the show girls do not make sense. Basically they cost the bar more because they draw a higher salary and yet they do less wok than anybody in the club. Take for example the Neros show girls who get paid more than the normal dancers and yet they only dance for five to seven minutes out of every hour. The normal dancers in Neros get paid less and have to do a solid 25 minutes of dancing every hour for a nine hour shift. The showgirls on the other hand only have a 6 hour shift and are on stage for a maximum of 7 minutes every hour.

One big negative for me is the fact that the so called show girls often exist at a cost to the normal line up. A classic example of this is Tropix Bar. Here the mamasans have created a showgirl group by taking the best girls out of the normal dance lineup. As a result the normal dance line up is severely depleted of good looking girls.

The lack of variety in the shows is a big problem. Most often they will have a bakla dance instructor and the dance moves are just so obviously choreographed by a male trying to look feminine. When the real females copy these moves it tends to look ridiculous. What’s more most of the baklas have very similar dance moves so it looks like the different groups in different bars have all been choreographed by the same dance instructor. Here I must give credit to the Bad Influence at least their show is original and different from the show routines that exist in other bars.

The lack of variety is also a problem for the all female professional dance groups such as the Bad Influence. The Bad Influence originally came from Makati the spawning ground of professional showgirls and even though they have been working in the Blue Nile Group for over one year, I am yet to see a new dance incorporated into their routine. They are doing exactly the same dance numbers as when they first started.

Angeles City bar show girls

Far from dying the Bad Influence group is in fact expanding.

One very negative aspect for me regarding the showgirls is their lack of friendliness and interaction with the customers. Too often show girls develop an attitude that they are better than the normal dancers and this attitude is passed on to the customer in the form of aloofness. It is almost like they adopt a different perspective and see themselves as above going bar fine. In their minds they are now professional entertainers as opposed to normal dancers that have to go bar fine to make enough money. Indeed this attitude is reinforced by the bars who pay the show girls substantially more than their normal dancers. To often I have found the show girls attitude is one of aloofness and superiority. They think they are better than their fellow dancers and it is rare for them to smile at customers make eye contact with customers let alone interact with them in a friendly way. Lastly and perhaps most importantly these shows often become almost A sexual as the emphasis is placed on so called professional dance moves rather than flaunting female sexuality.

(Picture of Atlantis showgirls)
Angeles City bar show girls

From the bar operators perspective shows are not actually profitable because it is a well established fact that whilst the show is on the customers do not spend as much. Rather than drinking themselves or buying ladies drinks the customers tend to simply watch the show and not spend any money. Having said this Cambodia bar is persisting with the Bad Influence dancers and by all accounts they are the top money earners within the bar. So much so that management have now started a second Bad Influence group composed of local Angeles girls.

Personally I cannot see how groups such as the Bad Influence make money but obviously there must be an angle here that eludes me because if they were not a profitable option they would no longer be in existance. At the end of the day they like everyone else working in the bar are part of a business and as such are there to create money for that business.

For the customer who wishes to date a lady from the bar the show girls represent a major inconvenience. In most cases their bar fines are more expensive and even then the girl cannot leave until after a certain time as she is part of the show group. For example the Neros show girls are encouraged to wait until after midnight before they can leave with a customer. To me this is clearly a case of placing an emphasis on entertainment at the cost of customer satisfaction.

Because the show girl position is seen as being a better position than a normal dancer it is valued and a much sought after position amongst the girls. Because it is valued, so too is everything that goes with the position, including the dance moves. These girls literally see their position as a source of pride and whenever they get the chance they will revert to the dance moves they have learnt. In the local disco Skytrax it is not uncommon to see groups of show girls actually dancing to a particular song utilizing their dance moves incorporated in their show. The same scenario can be seen when a customer takes a show girl bar hopping, many times the girl will be in another bar and when she hears a song which is incorporated in her show she will start doing the exact same dance moves as she would when performing a show. Personally I find this slightly annoying and inconsiderate.

(Picture of Atlantis showgirls)Angeles City bar show girls

The Atlantis showgirls.

Overall it has been my experience that people like to see a large volume of girls on stage and that a large quantity of girls generates a much more positive, festive and fun atmosphere. The point here is that the show groups by definition are composed of fewer girls which will in turn influence the atmosphere in the bar.

There are some advantages to having showgirls and professional dance troupes however there are also many disadvantages. As the Angeles bar scene evolves I can see a much greater emphasis on show girls and professional dance group type of entertainment. Could this be the future direction of Angeles bars, are we looking at a future scenario where the bars are strictly entertainment like in Vegas? I guess only time will tell but I certainly hope this is not the case.

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
Email: clarkridingstables@gmail.com

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 #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

Understanding Filipinas

When Shagger asked me to write this article, I nearly fell off my bar stool. We were discussing potential subject matters for future columns and the conversation went something like this

Shagger: You know what I would really like to see

Mjibbo: I have no idea but I’m sure you are going to tell me and I’m sure I’m not going to like it.
(A wry grin from Shagger at this point).
Shagger: I would really like to see an article that describes how these girls think

Mjibbo: For fucks sake why would you want to try and understand a Filipina?

Shagger: I think a lot of guys would like to understand a Filipina and Filipino culture.

Mjibbo: You’re pulling my leg right?

Shagger: No mate, I’m serious. You think about it all the guys come here and spend time with Filipinas. Wouldn’t it be nice to understand how they think. Imagine the problems you could avoid.

Mjibbo: Yeah, I suppose your right.

Shagger: Come on mate, you have been dealing with these women for 17 years. I imagine the knowledge that must be stored in your head

Mjibbo: Yeah ok I suppose I should have a fairly good understanding of Filipinas but what makes you think I can pass this knowledge on and even if I did, who would be interested anyway?

Shagger: Well, I for one would be interested and I reckon there are a lot of AE guys who would be. I think guys would find an article like this quite helpful. You would actually be promoting better cross cultural understanding.

Mjibbo: You’re serious!

Shagger: Yes mate I’m very serious. I reckon an article like that would be really interesting and helpful.

(This is where I nearly fell off my bar stool)

Mjibbo: Well if you really think the AE guys would find it helpful then I will give it a go

Shagger: Good one and I better buy you a drink . Waitress ……………

So there it was. I had been manipulated and had foolishly committed myself to “mission impossible”. I mean, what man can understand a woman let alone convey that understanding to other men.

When I got home later on that evening I started to write down some thoughts and it was then that the enormity of the task hit me. It very quickly became obvious that this article would be no walk in the park in fact it was going to take me a long time and would be quite a challenge. Over the coming months I would just jot down some notes and then try and formulate them into a readable article..

This article is not designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Filipina psyche and culture rather it is intended as a brief summary of my observations gained through 17 years of living in the Philippines and dealing with Filipinas on a day to day basis. The result is what you see below and it is my sincere hope that readers find this article amusing, informative and helpful

The Filipina is, in many ways, unique among women. She brings to any relationship a set of culturally generated behavior traits and attitudes which, to us as foreigners, are totally alien yet to them are totally natural. In this article I will briefly highlight some of these behavior traits and cultural factors in the hope that readers will gain a better understanding of the Filipina.

The Family:

Recently I was sent an email titled how to tell you are married to a Filipina and I decided to use this email as a basis for this article. One of the jokes in the email was you know you are married to a Filipina when; the instant you are married you have 3000 new close relatives that you can’t tell apart, or you know you are married to a Filipina when; your in-law’s first visit lasted 5 years.

Whilst these jokes are obviously based on satire and exaggeration they do have an element of truth. The simple fact is 99.9% of Filipinas come with baggage and that baggage normally takes the form of the ‘ family’. Filipino families in my experience are never small and the average family has a minimum of 3 kids.

The concept of ‘extended family’ where cousins, uncles, aunties, etc become part of your direct family is ingrained into the Filipino culture and you will be expected to understand this and the resultant responsibilities it entails.

When you are involved with a Filipina, for better or worse, you inherit her family, particularly if you are a foreigner. This can be advantageous but in most cases it is a financial and emotional burden for both yourself and your wife, even though she will NOT see it as such.

Be aware that since you are now part of the family, your domain becomes their domain. You can expect the brothers and sisters to try and move in to your house and sometimes even the mother, father, aunties and uncles. The Filipinos mostly grow up in crowded conditions with a strong sense of sharing so for them it is only natural that you would want to share your house with them. To stop this you have to put your foot down from the very start otherwise the family members moving in is inevitable.

In my experience, when it comes to the family you will be expected to pay for just about everything from the younger sisters schooling and the daily food through to medical bills and a new karaoke machine. The day to day expenses always seem to fall upon the foreigner to the extent where you will wonder how the family ever survived without you. In their minds it goes without saying that theirs is a Filipino family and as such do not have enough money. As an extension to this logic, it is expected that you will have money simply because you are a foreigner.

Recently an Australian friend of mine was talking to the old Irish priest who performed his wedding ceremony in Lingayen up at 100 Islands. This particular priest has lived in the Philippines for 40 years. Speaks numerous dialects of the Filipino language and in general has probably had more experience concerning the Philippines than just about any other foreigner. The subject of supporting the family came up and the priest simply stated “always remember my son hand outs are the last resort”. He further went on to state that in his opinion the major problem with Filipinos is the attitude of “they have it so it is their responsibility to share it”. Many Filipinos who don’t have money, see it as your obligation to give them money. They figure that since you are a foreigner you must have money therefore it is your duty to share it with them.

In terms of the family, be aware that if you have money it will be seen as your duty to use that money to support the family. In short, you instantly become the bread winner or should I say the support mechanism for your partner’s family. Even if you manage to keep the family out of your house your partner will have pressure put on her to support her family and that pressure will in turn be passed onto you.

The family pressure will vary according to each situation but it is a constant and in one form or another will always be there. I have often had a discussion with girls along the lines of “in my country the parents actually support the kids”. They look at me mystified and cannot grasp the concept at all. It is ingrained into the vast majority of Filipinas that she must support her family. Be prepared for this and know that in the long run it will basically come down to a financial obligation.

I have witnessed the family pressure both in my own relationships and those of my friends but what I don’t understand is why the pressure to support the family always seems to go on the eldest daughter? I have known many girls who, when asked “are you sending money to your family”, reply yes, then when I ask them “do you have a brother” they reply yes, then when I ask them “why doesn’t he get a job and support the family” most of the girls will look at me like I am mad. Others have tried to explain to me “no job in Philippines” “my brother no earn money”.

Whilst it is true there are very few decent paying jobs in the Philippines and that these jobs are reserved for the people with appropriate education or family contacts it is also true that many of the brothers sit around and do nothing, never expecting to get a job and quite content to live off handouts or whatever other family members can supply.


Because they mostly grow up in crowded conditions Filipinas generally have no concept of privacy. For them it is totally natural to coexist within close confines to each other without ever developing a sense of privacy. This can be a problem when living with a Filipina especially when you require privacy and your Filipina doesn’t understand why. In fact, do not be surprised if she thinks there is something wrong when you seek a little privacy and solitude. This is a totally alien concept to the majority of Filipinas.


Again, I will refer to the recent email. “You know you’re married to a Filipina when; you are the only family in a 200 mile radius with 6 DVD players and 5 televisions”.

The concept of ‘face’, once thought to be the exclusive domain of Chinese culture, is alive and well in the Philippines. This concept is pervasive throughout all levels of Filipino society. From common everyday interaction of individuals, through to multi-million dollar deals, saving face will always play an important role.

In terms of your relationship with a Filipina the ‘face’ concept manifests itself in many different forms. From personal appearance and arguments through to shopping and material possessions the concept of ‘face’ will always be present.

For the Filipina perhaps the most common way of ‘face’ manifesting itself is in terms of personal appearance. In certain situations, like around the house, most Filipinas do not really care how they dress or what image they are projecting however, change that situation to a social gathering where they are interacting with other females or their social peers and all of a sudden it’s a whole different story. In these situations her shoes must be the latest fashion, her jewellery can be silver but gold is preferable and her dress must make a statement as does her hair style, choice of perfume and makeup.

In terms of social situations in the bar face again plays an important role. Recently inside the bar my wife was introduced to the owner’s wife. They said hello and acknowledged each other’s existence and then a frosty silence developed between them. When we got home I asked my wife “do you have a problem with the bosses wife”? She replied “not really she just look at me like she was better than me. I think because her (husband) is the boss and she has money she is better than me”.

If you listen carefully you will often hear Filipinas in the bar make bitchy comments about another and again this is related to face. For example “that girl thinks she is pretty but she is not”. “That girl pretends she is rich but she is only a bar girl”. “ Look at her clothes she looks like a slut”.

When the girls go out to the bar they are particularly aware of their self image and the image their fellow females are projecting. Some girls will go to extraordinary lengths to project a certain image. Some want to be seen as sexy and available so they will wear short little skirts, revealing tops tight clingy clothing, T/back panties and sometimes no panties at all. Other girls like to project the wholesome I’m a simple person image. These girls will normally wear jeans or a simple dress which is almost A-sexual.

When it comes to personal appearance, the concept of ‘face’ is even projected onto you as their partner. Your appearance somehow reflects on them. For example, recently a friend told me prior to him going out on a bar hop, his girl friend went to great lengths to polish his shoes, provide him with clean underwear and iron his shirt. When he asked her why she replied “I don’t want those other girls saying I don’t take care of you”. In short she equated her mans appearance with her ability to look after him and thought she would be judged by her peers on this basis. Her mans appearance was an important aspect of her maintaining ‘face’ amongst other Filipinas.

Personal possessions are also an important part of ‘face’. If a friend or neighbour has a 32” flat screen TV then to preserve ‘face’ it is important that her TV is just as flat and preferably bigger. The same logic applies to stereos, refrigerators, motorbikes and cars. Another friend of mine was considering buying a golf buggy to putter around Angeles in. When he asked his girlfriend what she thought of the idea her reply was “it’s up to you but I don’t like”. He then pushed and asked why don’t you like it and she replied “because it’s not a nice car and I don’t want my friends see me riding like that”.

There is also what I call “reverse face”. To explain this lets take the situation of the flat screen TV again. If your partner knows you cannot afford the same TV as that of your neighbours, to save face she will often come up with a cliché saying such as “well they have money but they don’t have love”. When the neighbour has something better than her, in this case a TV this is a loss of face so to then save face she makes the assumption that this possession was gained at the loss of something (love). In her logic she may not have the TV but she does have love and all Filipinas know, love is more important that a flat screen TV. This is an example of a Filipina engaging in what I call ‘reverse face saving’.

One final observation on the subject of “face”. Do not belittle your Filipina partner. If your partner puts her point of view across in a discussion then listen carefully and even though her point may be totally irrelevant or simply incorrect give it some credence because if you prove her wrong she will see this as embarrassing and a loss of face. Then she will accuse you of trying to make her look stupid in front of others when all you really did is point out that she was wrong. She will take the point of view that you pointed out her incorrectness and by doing so demonstrated her lack of education or lack of intelligence.


The differences between the Filipino diet and that of foreigners are clearly obvious for anyone who has been to the Philippines and is often the subject of jokes. Again I refer to the email

“your house isn’t really on fire, but there is a very charred fish right on
top of the stove burner”.

Like most jokes this is funny because it is exaggeration of the truth. When living with a Filipina you will often find her cooking dried fish. For most foreigners this smells and tastes bland but the Filipinos seem to like it. For them it is not exactly a delicacy but certainly considered a staple food. When living with a Filipina be prepared to have your nostrils assaulted by a variety of foods and worst off them all is dried fish.

“all the desserts are sticky and all the snacks are salty. She eats her fruit with giant salt crystals and her fried chicken with ketchup”.

This joke again has a basis in fact. Filipinas seem to genuinely enjoy un-ripened fruit such as green mangoes, green oranges and green papaya. The green mangoes are consumed with salt crystals and whenever possible a salty fish or shrimp paste.

“even the ketchup tastes weird . . . very weird”.

This is very true, prior to coming to the Philippines I had never heard of Katsap which is basically a banana based ketchup and it does indeed taste weird.

“you throw a party and everyone is fighting to chop the leathery skin off a dead pig”.

The pig on the spit is considered the perfect party food and the prime part is the skin which the locals call crispy patter. This in itself is not so weird since in many cultures pig skin is considered a delicacy. I can distinctly remember as a kid how much I enjoyed the crackling from the family ham but in the Philippines they take this enjoyment to a whole new level and it is not unusual to find them devouring the pig skin and disregarding the actual meat.

“The best fish dish includes fish heads and rice”

My father was a keen fisherman so I became familiar with eating trout however I could never bring myself to eat the head. However, in the Philippines many consider the fish head the best part of the fish. When living with a Filipina and asking for lunch don’t be surprised to find a bowl of fish heads and rice served.

“ Semi formed duck and chicken foetus are considered a delicacy and supposedly very good for you”.

Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of eating ‘balut’ is a braver man than me. ‘Balut’ is a semi developed chicken or duck foetus still within the egg and it is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. It is a general belief that this revolting dish is good for you the Filipinos will tell you it makes you strong where the Filipinas will tell you it is full of vitamins. Do not be surprised to see your beautiful Filipina munching on a duck foetus as if it was a perfectly normal, everyday event.

“all the vegetables she buys at the Filipino store look like they were grown at Chernobyl”.

This is so true, in general the vegetables available from the Filipino stores and market places look old withered and tasteless. In short do not expect fresh vegetables as a regular part of your diet when living with a Filipina. She will not realize the importance of vegetables, she will not understand why you like them and she will not be able to buy decent ones anyway.

Chicheron (Deep fried pork fat) This is considered a delicacy by many Filipinos and is sold in plastic bags together with a vinegar and chilli sauce. Filipinos will often devour this when travelling any substantial distance.

Last but not least be aware that rice is the one constant in the Filipino diet. The vast majority must have rice everyday or they have not eaten properly.


There are several old jokes which poke fun at the level of basic education that most Filipinas reach. Try asking a Filipina

• . What time does the nine o’clock bus leave Angeles and head to Manila?
• How many centavos in 1 peso?
• Where is the Sydney Harbour bridge and what country is it in?
• Which is closer to Angeles the moon or Cebu?

I am painfully serious when I say very few Filipinas will be able to answer these questions. This is not because they are stupid but simply because no one has taken the time to teach them basic geography, history, comprehension, or general knowledge. The vast majority of Filipinas never finish high school and exist on a day to day basis never expanding their knowledge or having to think beyond their immediate surroundings and needs.

When I first applied to manage a bar in the Philippines my ‘soon to become boss’ gave me some advice along the lines of “when doing this job remember you are dealing with, 18-19 year old girls with the educational level of a 10 year old”. At the time I passed it off as a flippant comment from someone who had been here too long. I was soon to find out just how prophetic his words were and many times I have managed to find my way out of a difficult situation by remembering this advice.

The average Filipina is not stupid but they do tend to have a low education level and in my experience this is well worth remembering. It is also important to realize that these same under educated girls are often street smart much more so than the average foreigner girl of the same age.

When you remember their low education level it explains why they do certain things that you consider stupid and nonsensical. Remembering this will also help you communicate more effectively and will save you a lot of potential headaches. I am not saying talk down to them just slow it down, use rudimentary English, do not discuss subjects that require a certain amount of knowledge and always assume she doesn’t really understand what you are saying.

Language and Communication:

They say communication is an important key to any relationship but when it comes to communicating with a Filipina, things can get a bit complicated. Because many Filipinas speak rudimentary English it is easy to think they understand what you are saying when in fact quite the opposite is true. Even though she may appear to understand chances are she doesn’t understand at all. If you are lucky she will comprehend approximately half of what you are saying and it is important to remember this when dealing with a Filipina.

The communication problem is compounded because it goes hand in hand with the concept of “face”. Even though a Filipina may only understand half of what you are saying she will not admit this to you for fear of looking stupid and as such losing face.

Another communication problem occurs when the Filipina appears to be listening to what you are saying but in reality she is not. Sometimes it appears to go in one ear and out the other and you will find yourself having to repeat what you are saying.

“other than eyebrow raising and lip puckering, her next most expressive form of communication is grunts and pssst’s”.

Once again, this flippant joke has its basis in truth. Body language and monosyllabic grunts and groans are common forms of expression amongst the Filipinas and you will be expected to understand this.

To indicate a direction the Filipina will often point with her lips rather than her fingers and when calling for another’s attention will often make the PSSSST sound rather than calling out a name. The other way of attracting another person’s attention is to simply call out “hoi”. When calling you over, a Filipina will have her hand pointed downwards (a bit like you would hold your hand to a dog whom you are letting smell you) whereas a Westerner will motion for someone by either pointing or by signalling them with one finger pointed upwards and curled. Whilst on the subject of pointing try not to point directly at another person as in the Philippines this is considered rude and inappropriate. The Filipinas will only point when they are angry or trying to emphasize the point they are making.

The Filipinas like most women have the ‘withering look’ down pat. The old saying “if looks could kill” is highly appropriate here. The Filipinas seem to have a large range of facial expressions including the icy stare, the hot impassioned look of anger (high blood) and the ‘what don’t you know that you stupid foreigner’ look, the lost puppy dog look, the adoration look, through to the ‘what rock did you crawl from under’ look and the ‘I’m going to kill you, chop of your balls and feed them to the chickens’ look.

Filipinas do not understand sarcasm or facetiousness and will often take a joking remark literally. For example I have seen friends of mine say to their long time girlfriends or wife “hey babe I’m going out to get two girls tonight” or when accused of having a short time they reply “of course I was honey and not just one girl I had three.” Most Filipinas take facetious joking statements like the ones in my examples, literally and will believe you are going to do exactly as you have said. The practice of exaggerating a statement or a situation to the point of absurdity is lost on Filipinas. They will not understand the humor, they will take you literally and in this case they will see it as an admission of guilt.


Every Filipina I have ever met has a broad jealousy streak and invariably the jealousy manifests itself as a violent reaction directed towards their partner. When a Filipina’s jealousy reaches boiling point more often than not she will lash out at you, try to slap you scratch you or in some cases punch you. Be prepared for any light weight object to be hurled at you and verbal abuse at maximum decibels.

In the Philippines women far outnumber the men so I guess in their minds the competition is fierce. Secondly they have an innate distrust of the males and this is further reconfirmed in their day to day interaction with both Filipino and foreigner men. All Filipinas have a natural tendency towards emotional drama and the jealousy tirades are the classic examples of this. Lastly. Filipinas see jealousy as an affirmation of the depth of their feelings towards their partner. Many times I have heard “I love you that’s why I get jealous” or “mahal if I am not jealous then I don’t love you”.

The Filipinas definitely have the capacity to genuinely fall in love with foreigners and it is the intensity of emotion that drives the jealousy. In the most part there is normally an age difference between foreigners and their Filipina and as a result the foreigners often find themselves having to adapt to their partners emotional immaturity.

As a general rule when dealing with a love struck Filipina I try to remember the intensity of my feelings as a youth. Nowadays I can look back on my adolescent love affairs and laugh but at the time I considered my relationships with girls as being tremendously important and when I am dealing with a Filipina I try to relate to how they are feeling by remembering my own turbulent emotions when I was their age. This is just a technique I use and I do not suggest it will work for everybody it is only possible to empathise to a certain extent and the empathy will only determine your reaction not hers.

The point to realize here is that the Filipinas are capable of intense emotions both positive and negative and for them their feelings are very real.

It is a generally accepted theory that jealousy results from insecurity. If we apply this theory to Filipinas we can see the effect of the greater numbers of females than males.

There is most often no set trigger for the jealousy. The smallest things can set them off and invariably it will be a physical as well as emotional reaction.
Filipinas tend to react emotionally. Do not expect them to sit back and analyze their emotions before acting. They will just feel the emotion and react accordingly. Jealousy can be a major problem in any relationship but in the Philippines even more so simply because it is so rampant, it often takes the form of physical expression, the Filipinas have a natural tendency to be dramatic and they can always justify their jealousy by saying I got jealous because of love.


The concept of love is the most important aspect of any Filipinas existence. Love is seen as an ideal which must be obtained. From day one the ideal of love is drummed into them from all aspects of their environment. They are taught ‘love is the most important thing’, ‘love is the universal panacea’, ‘love is what makes the world go round’, ‘you may have everything but without love you have nothing’. Clichés such as this dominate the Filipinas cultural upbringing and it is reinforced through the movies, television shows, magazines, pocket books, advertising, school friends, social peers family relationships and a myriad of other subtle ways in their everyday life. In the end, love is the dominant driving force for all Filipinas.

Because love is perceived as the ultimate ideal there is often a problem when the reality of this emotion confronts the ideal. In other words there is a gap between the emotional ideal and the emotional reality. In Philippine society love is presented as the perfect emotional state, the ultimate emotion that transcends everything else. The reality however is far from this. Love is not perfect, love can be hard work, love can fade over time and love can be very painful. Often there is a problem when the gap between reality and idealism comes crashing down on the Filipina. As a foreigner how you handle this is really up to you there is no magical cure but in my experience I have found being supportive caring and affectionate seems to work the best.

Another important factor is to set the parameters early on in the relationship. Set the ground rules for both yourself and your partner and make sure they are clearly understood and adhered to from the very start. This will prevent problems from occurring in the future.

As a foreigner dealing with a Filipina, remember love is very important to them, romance and overt demonstrative behaviour are expected of you wherever possible.

Sense of humor:

The Filipino sense of humour is not exactly refined in fact it verges on slapstick with elements of ridicule and self parody.

Most Filipinas enjoy a good laugh and one way to relate to them is to relate to their sense of humour. The girls will like you more if you appeal to their sense of humour and appear jovial and happy. Remember to smile wherever possible and to try and make them smile. Remember wherever possible smile as they are naturally attracted to a smiling face and happy personality.

Laughter in the Filipino culture acts as some sort of panacea. Quite often you will see them laughing at another’s misfortune or if something bad happens they will laugh it off.

Fantasy and reality:

When you are in a relationship with a Filipina be aware that she will inevitably have preconceived ideals that she will apply to her relationship and often the reality of the relationship will not match the fantasy ideals.

Most Filipinas grow up with visions of the perfect romance and love however cold hard reality is as always a different matter and the disparity between fantasy and reality can sometimes cause problems in a relationship. When something turns out to be not as good as expected, the inevitable result is disappointment. Your Filipina partner will not be able to express what is wrong but she will feel something is missing and you can expect disgruntlement, short temperedness and occasionally irrational outburst of anger.


Recently I was talking with a friend about the behaviour of Filipinas and he made the comment “to understand the actions of a Filipina follow the money trail”. This may be an exaggeration but it is certainly true that money or more correctly the pursuit of money is an influential factor in a Filipina’s behaviour. The vast majority of Filipinas grow up without money so the acquisition of money becomes very important for them and some will literally go to extreme lengths to attain it. Money represents an increase in power, in social status, in security for oneself and family.

Then again the opposite is also true. I know of several cases where Filipina women have left an economically secure position to become involved in a situation where there is so called love but no money. It is interesting to see how the different needs compete with each other in Filipino culture.

The Filipino boyfriend:

This is a touchy subject and the experience is somewhat different for each individual. For example Shagger says in his experience very few of the girls have a Filipino boyfriend or seem remotely interested however in my experience I have seen the opposite. I would estimate that as high as 80% of the Filipinas I have met have had or currently have a Filipino boyfriend or at the very least a Filipino lover.

I have heard stories and seen first hand examples of marriages between Filipinas and foreigners that work extremely well and inevitably the girls involved are not interested in Filipino men. I have also seen many examples of perfectly good marriages where kids are involved go out the window because the girl has gotten involved with a Filipino guy.

Just the other night I was talking with a long time resident of Angeles who was reciting a story about what happened with him and his wife. To cut a long story short she started spending extended periods of absence away from him and the kids then came the lieing and stealing. Next thing you know it was an extortion attempt to get money then she runs off with the Filipino boyfriend leaving husband and kids behind. I know of 6 other examples of much the same scenario.

I am not saying all Filipinas have Filipino boyfriends however as a foreigner it pays dividends to remember that the Filipino guys will chase a girl involved with a foreigner because they believe she can be used to get money, and it is their way of getting back at the foreigner who they see as stealing their women.
For the girls it is a temptation because here is a guy who speaks their language is normally younger than their foreigner partner, he understands their culture and knows exactly how to push their proverbial buttons.

Cultural differences:

There are a number of cultural idiosyncrasies that distinguish the Filipina from other women for example the desire to have a bigger longer nose and whiter skin. The vast majority of Filipinas don’t like having a flat nose and wish for a longer one. They also don’t like having dark skin and are the biggest purchasers of skin whitening crème in the world. These desires are pandered to and propagated by advertising. For example there is literally a plethora of cheap plastic surgeons who for a minimal price will perform a nose job. These surgeons advertise extensively in the magazines and newspapers that proliferate throughout the Philippines.

The importance of having white skin is also propagated by advertising. For example I recently saw an advertisement for ponds whitening crème where a girl loses her boyfriend because he finds a new girl with fairer skin. The girl then starts using Ponds whitening crème and all of a sudden the ex-boyfriend and numerous other suitors show interest in her.

Sleeping – relaxing:

The Filipinas and Filipinos seem to have an amazing ability to sleep or simply relax just about anywhere. They can sleep in the backs of jeepneys, trucks, cars, on the back of a motorbike or on hard concrete with a constant stream of traffic passing by. When it comes to relaxing they have the somewhat enviable ability of being able to relax in just about any environment.


The Filipinas in general are very caring people. For example when their man is sick they will be the first to wipe his brow if he has a fever, rush to buy medicine and be attentive to his every need.

In western cultures we have become somewhat self absorbed and maintain an imaginary wall between ourselves and other people. The Filipinas do this is as well but they are more prone to wearing their heart on their sleeves particularly when it comes to caring for their fellow human beings. Perhaps this is why there are so many Filipina nurses working overseas.

Giving and sharing:

The Filipinas are very aware of people less fortunate than themselves and will not think twice about giving if they think it will help a person less fortunate than themselves.

After living in the Philippines so long I have become somewhat immune to street beggars and hard luck stories however in this regard the Filipinas never seem to get hardened. I have personally witnessed many of the hardest core bar girls be the first to give to street beggars or those less fortunate than themselves.

If a Filipina has a sudden windfall of money it is understood by her and her friends that to some extent this money is not just her private funds but rather a sort of group fund. For example when this situation occurs you will often find them organizing a ‘blow out party’ all paid for by the recipient of the financial windfall


In my opinion Filipinas are some of the best liars I have ever seen. I have heard all the stories about Thai women but in my experience the Filipina is more convincing simply because she has enough grasp of English to convey her thoughts, secondly she knows how to pull at the proverbial heart strings and thirdly she can adopt the ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look better than anyone. The average Filipina can look you straight in the eyes and lie to you point blank without batting an eyelid. They are so good at it they would probably make a PolyGram test useless.

For a Filipina to tell a lie is absolutely natural. In fact in their culture they even recognize different categories of lies. There are the little fibs which don’t hurt anyone and are seen as a normal part of everyday life, then there are the little white lies which are slightly bigger than the fibs but do not cause any real harm. You will often hear a Filipina saying “I lied but it was only a little white lie”. Lastly there is the big lie. In their culture they are taught that to lie is bad yet they still persist in doing it. Often it is a face saving exercise whilst other times it is merely because they have their own agendas which they want to hide from or they wish to avoid a problem situation or they have done something which they don’t want you to know about.

Lying is by no means unique to the Filipina but the Filipinas have it down to an art form and this is something all foreigners should be aware of.

Lying represents what I see as a contradiction in Filipino culture. They are bought up believing that to lie is bad yet at the same time in practical day to day existence lieing is seen as a necessity.


Most Filipinas are susceptible to gossip and the detrimental effects of gossip to a relationship can be devastating. With many Filipinas if they hear some gossip especially from a fellow Filipina they instinctively believe it to be true. Even if they have direct proof in front of their eyes they will believe something to the contrary if it is told to them. For example if you are with your Filipina partner at a certain time and place but she hears you were somewhere else at the same time she will chose to believe what she hears rather than what she knows.

Common courtesy:

In my opinion common courtesy is something that seems to be getting less and less in the Philippines. Little things like pushing in front of you in a line, shouting across the room to someone else when you are right next to them, spitting anywhere that takes their fancy, not cleaning up their mess after them, throwing rubbish anywhere. There are numerous other examples engaged in by Filipinas and Filipinos alike and they clearly demonstrate the lack of common courtesy that is becoming a very common behaviour trait amongst today’s younger generation.

Filipino time:

Filipinos and Filipinas are renowned for their inability to be on time they are nearly always late so much so that there is a common expression called “Filipino time”. Basically they see two sets of time normal time and then the time that suits them which is referred to as Filipino time in other words late.

When involved with a Filipina do not expect her to be on time this is just part of their culture and it will never change.


There are also a number of superstitions which to us are laughable but to the Filipina are very real. They seriously believe in aswangs (a Filipino version of vampires), white ladies (malicious female ghosts) or moo-moo’s which as far as I can ascertain are a cross between a ghost and evil spirit the Manananggal (a half torso lady with wings which bites you). Dwarfs also play an important role in Filipino superstition. There are evil dwarfs such as the red dwarf which will always fight with you the black dwarf which will make your life worse in whatever way possible and the white dwarf which is nice to you and can make your life better.

Other baddies include the Tikbalang whose body is half horse half human and the Kapre which is basically a large black man who lives high up in a tall tree and smokes a large cigarette. The Kapre does not do anything specifically evil but he is a scary figure none the less. Mangkukulam, this is a Black Witch who uses little dolls or effigies of a certain person and then sticks pins or sharp objects into the doll. This will course the said person pain and suffering. This is very reminiscent of Voodoo practices. Mangbabarang, this is another Black Witch but instead of dolls she will use insects to cause you pain and suffering. The Kamatayan who is basically the Filipino equivalent of the grim reaper.

I am sure there are many other superstitions but what the foreigner has to realise is these are very real for the Filipina and will often be used as an excuse to explain certain events or situations.

I distinctly remember sitting in Mistys at 2:AM when all of a sudden there was a mass exodus towards the door. Instantly I thought there must be a fire or something in the change room so armed with fire extinguisher I walk out to the change room to find one girl having an epileptic fit. There were several security guards standing round her just looking and I asked them why dont you help her to which they replied no daddy we cannot touch her she is possessed. Straight away it became very obvious I would have to do something so I hold the girl down turn her head to the side so she cannot swallow her tongue and just wait for the fit to pass. After about 1 minute the fit ended and some tall Filipino security guards were suitably impressed with this white man who dared fight a demon.

The point of this story is to realize that superstition can play a role in the everyday life of a Filipina and it is something foreigners should be aware of.

There are also a number of light hearted superstitions which can best be described as old wives tales. Some examples are dont go out in the rain and get your head wet if you do you will get sick. If you are suffering from lack of sleep don’t have a shower as you will get sick. If you have a fever don’t take a bath or shower as this will make the fever worse. If the gecko makes its clicking sound three times after you have said something that means what you have just stated is the truth. If you are sweeping the house at night don’t push the dirt outside because if you do you will also sweep out the luck. Sometimes in the bar you will notice salt on the seats or the actual bar top, this has been placed there by the mamamsan or head waitress to encourage good luck for the night. Prior to traveling make the sign of the cross to ensure safe travel. When eating and someone leaves the house turn your plate this stops that same persons spirit from entering the house should something bad happen to them whilst outside. When eating if you drop your spoon you will have a girl visitor if you drop your fork you will have a male visitor. Never point your bed towards the door as this will mean all the love will escape through the door.

Peoples physical characteristics are also part of Filipino folk law. For example if you have a big pimple it means you have fallen in love if you have a mole on certain parts of your body it indicates certain things. For example if the mole is on your lips it means you are very talkative on your ears it means you will listen a lot if its on your foot you will travel extensively etc.

If your right hand itches it means some money is coming your way and if the left hand itches it means you are going to spend money. If you accidentally step in dog shit some money is coming your way.

All cultures have superstitions and folk laws and even though these may seem laughable to us they are very serious for the Filipinas.

This article has been written for Asian Escapades by mjibbo. The purpose of this article is not to provide the definitive psychological analysis of Filipinas but rather to relate some of my observations and experiences gleaned over the last 18 years of living in the Philippines.It is my sincere hope that readers will enjoy the article and benefit from my experiences.

Philippines fiestas

The provincial Fiestas are a nightmare for bar managers and owners because every year they happen and every year more and more girls leave work and return to the province for the fiestas, often staying away for a couple of months. Just the other day as I was bewailing the lack of girls for the opening of Cambodia after being told a whole lot were in the province. Shagger who was sick and tired of listening to me said, “now there’s an article people would like to read, write up something about the Fiestas and their role in Philippine society”. Well Shagger does have moments of clarity and who am I to question him, so with that said here comes an article on Philippine fiestas and I hope all who read this, find it informative and entertaining.

To examine the Fiesta and understand what it means to Filipino’s I believe it is necessary to briefly look at the history of fiestas and see how they developed in Philippine culture. The beginnings of the Philippine fiesta go back to before the Spanish conquistadors arrival in the 1500s. In the original culture the indigenous Filipinos would make regular ritual offerings to placate the gods, and it is commonly accepted that these occasions of offerings together with the Spanish influence evolved into the fiestas we know today.

For the indigenous peoples the fiesta also marked a time to recognize their connection with the land and to celebrate the gifts the land had bestowed upon them. This connection with the land is almost a universal truth and it is celebrated by peoples of diverse cultures throughout the world. There are many different “harvest festivals” but perhaps the world’s best known celebration of mans connection with his physical environment, together with accompanying religious overtones, is Americas Thanksgiving Day.

With the Spanish invasion of the Philippines and their predominant cultural influence the fiestas took on a whole meaning. The Spanish kept elements of Filipino culture and simply combined them with their own creating the basis for Filipino fiestas as we know them today. For the Spanish the Fiesta meant a multitude of things. Firstly it was a celebration of life itself and secondly a celebration of the Spanish system or more accurately the Spanish way of life. Thirdly there were always religious overtones and fourthly political aspects. Last but by no means least the fiestas represented recognition and a celebration of the people’s closeness to the land and the importance of the physical environment in ensuring their survival. During Spanish times the Fiestas involved people from all levels of society. People from an entire provincial area through to a local Barrio, no matter how rich or poor, took part in the Fiesta.

The very word fiesta is a Spanish word originally so there is no denying the Spanish influence on these proceedings. For the Spanish the celebratory aspects of the fiesta were accompanied by a well developed sense of the dramatic and a natural flair for ostentatious showmanship with a healthy dose of melodrama thrown in. The Fiestas provided the perfect outlet for these aspects of the Spanish psyche. For example during the fiestas in Spanish times the women would be paraded down the street dressed in the most flamboyant clothing they could find. There was always joyous dancing and partying and this was in some ways the predecessor to modern day beauty contests. In this regard the fiestas were comparable to the Madri-gra’s. The concept of a woman’s beauty being displayed and celebrated is still very much part of Filipino culture and in modern times this takes the form of a beauty contest which are often an integral part of modern fiestas. Many provincial fiestas will include a beauty pageant featuring 15 and 16 year old girls and this will often include a parade where contestants along with various sponsors will be paraded down the street for all to see.

The Spanish were devout Roman Catholics and this Catholicism served both as a justification for colonialism (converting Filipinos to the Catholic faith) and as the major pervading influence on the structure of their society. From the most powerful and wealthy land owners through to the political appointees, the conquistadors and even the average Spaniard the Catholic religion influenced the society they lived in and helped define their place in that society.Given that religious beliefs were a cornerstone of Spanish culture it is only natural that they should play a major part in the Fiestas. Indeed the very basis for many of the modern day, nationally recognized fiestas in the Philippines, is religion. For example the most easily recognized fiesta throughout the Philippines is that of the Black Nazarene which represents a black statue symbolic of Jesus Christ carrying a cross. Every January 9 a blackened statue of Jesus Christ bearing a cross is set on a gold and red carriage and pulled through the Manila district of Quiapo by male devotees. The feast of the Black Nazarene is a time honored Philippine ritual that is reputedly as old as Filipino Catholicism itself. Even though in the modern world change occurs rapidly here in the Philippines time honored festivals such as the Feast of the Black Nazarene continue to draw larger and larger crowds every year.

Most fiestas in the Philippines will have religious overtones either in the form of a direct physical representation of certain sections of the bible or in a the form of celebrating a local patron saint. This is clearly demonstrated by the Feast of the Black Nazarene (as shown in the two photographs above) which draws literally thousands of male devotees as seen in the two pictures above.

Under Spanish rule the fiestas were used as an occasion to reinforce the Spanish political system that held sway over most Filipino societies. The political aspects of Spanish society were always emphasized from the wealthy land owners through to the political appointees. Often the fiesta was marked by an actual political appointment and nearly always a speech and maybe a present giving session by some of the provinces more powerful identities, all of whom were invariably Spanish.

Just as the pre Spanish fiestas recognized and celebrated mans connection with the land so to do the modern day fiestas, in fact it is almost as if in this regard, fiestas have gone the full circle. Initially an essential element of the fiesta was to celebrate mans connection with the land and the gifts it had bestowed upon him. With the arrival of the Spanish this element of the fiesta was lessened but never forgotten and in today’s provincial fiestas this connection with the land has been re-emphasized and plays an important role in most provincial fiestas. Many Filipinos who reside in the cities, come fiesta time, will travel to the provinces to experience the so called rural lifestyle. At these fiestas it is not uncommon to see the older folk engage in the traditional dances which mimic the peoples work on the land. This is a subtle reinforcement of tradition and recognition of provincial man’s close link to his immediate physical environment.

(A traditional provincial dance performed by the older generation in which they mimic work in the rice fields.)

Recognition of mans connection with the physical environment will often take the form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. One perfect example of this is the Kadayawan Festival in Davao which represents a celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The fiesta is one week long and celebrated every 3rd week of August which is the season of good harvest of fruits and orchids.

The modern day Filipino fiesta incorporates all the facets of the indigenous peoples and the Spanish fiestas as well as some uniquely Filipino aspects. For Filipinos the fiesta works on multiple levels and represents numerous things. In Filipino culture the provincial lifestyle is romanticized through artwork, literature and movies and the fiesta represents a chance for city dwelling Filipinos to get back in touch with their roots and experience the rustic lifestyle portrayed in popular culture. The Fiesta also represents a chance for them to mingle with seldom seen relatives and friends. In fact the general get together element is a critical part of fiestas in the Philippines. .As one popular Filipino writer put it the provincial fiesta “is the tie that binds Filipinos from a region or an area together, a time to reunite with your extended family and you kababayans (countrymen/women.)

Another important part of the Fiesta is the social mingling aspect and the giving and sharing aspects. No matter where you are you are expected to attend and take part in the festivities. This taking part will include a variety of things from dancing and singing in the streets or at a designated meeting place (often the town basketball court) through to sharing food or drink with close friends and relatives. Again a Filipino writer has expressed it well, “no mater where you are, you’re expected to attend. It is a time to rejoice in friendship, spend all you have, forget the expense, just be happy you can afford to entertain and feed others, if you can”.

For Filipinos the fiesta often represents the recognition of certain physical aspects unique to an individual geographical region in the Philippines. For example the ebon-ibon festival which is held in the town of Candaba Pampanga Philippines. This fiesta emphasis environmental conservation and represents the people’s recognition of this areas unique physical attributes. The Ebon-Ibon festival is a showcase for the many species of birds and their eggs that can be found here as well as recognition of the unique marshlands and swamps that attract a huge variety of birds to this area.

One very important part of the modern day fiesta is inherited from the Spanish and that is the love of pomp and pageantry. The provincial fiestas represent a chance for the Filipinos to express their natural attraction towards pomp and pageantry as well as an excuse just to have some dam good fun. A perfect example of this is the Centurion festival held in the town of Pinamalayan on Oriental Mindoro. During this festival the townspeople dress up as roman centurions and parade through the streets posing for photographs with onlookers.

Filipino society places a large amount of importance on the social aspects of life and the fiestas are very much an expression of this. As one Filipino writer put it “The fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the Filipino fiesta must go on. Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country”. A Filipino friend of mine is fond of quoting an old maxim which says “The Filipino is a social animal” and the fiestas are very much proof of this. Most of the larger fiestas will have an overriding theme but beneath that theme the fiesta is viewed as an excuse to socialize and party with ones peers and friends. The fiesta is a social gathering which serves as a chance to mingle, a chance to party and most importantly, a chance to renew old friendships and family ties.

In summary the fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture and every fiesta has multiple levels of meaning to all Filipino patrons. For Filipinos the fiesta is an expression of religious philosophy and recognition of a certain way of life or a certain political system. It is also a reflection of mankind’s connection with his physical environment as well as a reflection of the unique characteristics of a certain geographical area. It is a chance for the older generation to reinforce cultural values, as well as, providing a chance to strengthen the all important ties of friendship and family. The fiesta also represents a chance for Filipinos to explore the rural lifestyle that is so constantly idealized in Philippine art and literature. Last but not least the fiesta is simply an excuse to have fun, to have a holiday, to engage in ones love of pomp and pageantry, to entertain and to socialize.

Following is a list and a brief description of the major Philippines fiestas:

Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines
13-19 January

The Ati-Atihan Festival commemorates the 13th century land deal between 10 migrating Bornean chieftains and the aboriginal Ati King Marikudo. It also honors the town patron, the infant Sto. Niño.
The festival features thousands of drummers who ceaselessly pound their drums while festival attendees dance on the street with soot blackened bodies and colorful costumes.

Cebu City, Philippines
18-19 January

This is Cebu cities, Philippines premier fiesta. The Sinulog is a century-old tradition observed in this part of Visayas region, Philippines. Included are a mass prayer dance which takes place on the streets of Cebu culminating at the Cebu Sports Center.

Iloilo City, Philippines
25-26 January

This is the major festival celebrated in Iloilo city, Philippines. Participants don Ati warrior costumes with black body paint then to the beating of drums they dance on the streets brandishing weapons and shouting ancient war cries.

Baguio, Philippines Flower Festival
23 February – 3 March

This festival takes place in the City of pines Baguio, Philippines during flower season. The townspeople of Baguio reveling in the cooler climate don multi colored costumes which mimic the colorful blooming flowers that can be found in the region. The flowerbeds are presented in a parade of floats, Panagbenga.

Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Philippines
28 February – 1 March

This festival is features the tribal ethnicity of Bukidnon, Philippines The fiesta commences with an an early morning pamuhat ritual which is then followed by an ethnic food fest, trade fairs, and a lot of native dancing.

Marinduque, Philippines
13-20 February

The island of Marinduque, Philippines is commonly referred to as the “Lenten Capital of the Philippines”. During Holy Week, the people of the island engage in the age-old ritual of the “Moriones”. This will mean colorful warrior costumes are worn, together with carved masks which depict the Roman soldiers of Christ’s time. This parade supposedly depicts the story of Longuinus, the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side – and his subsequent beheading.

San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
16-18 April

This Philippines fiesta features the villagers of San Pedro, Philippines engaging in the act of self-flagellation. Villagers perform this on Good Friday whipping themselves with burillo whips. The event climaxes at midday when penitents are literally nailed to their crosses.

Quezon, Philippines
11-15 May

This Philippines festival is designed to celebrate a bountiful harvest and is marked by a dazzling display of colorful flowers and showcases the towns culinary traditions. There is a heavy emphasis on the kiping – a colorful, translucent rice tortilla that serves as an edible ornament and the suman-sweet, sticky native rice cakes.

Nationwide, Philippines

A parade of the town’s loveliest ladies, depicting the search and discovery of Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine.

Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines
24 June

The underlying theme of this Philippines festival is oneness with nature. The main parade includes participants dancing down the streets clad only in mudpacks.

Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines
15-24 June

The people of Camarines Norte, Philippines are renowned for their love of pineapples and this festival is actually in honor of the pineapple. Alternatively known as the Pineapple Festival this occasion features a colorful street presentation complemented by art exhibits, trade fair, cultural dances, and sport events.

Balayan, Batangas, Philippines
24 June

Pampanga, Philippines is renowned for its tasty lechon (Roast pork) and every June this culinary delight is celebrated in Balayan, Batangas, Philippines popularly known as the “Parada Ng Lechon”. This Philippines festival features a dazzling display of succulent pork .The festival coincides with the feast of St. John the Baptist, where people repeat the ritual of baptism by pouring water.

Tacloban City, Philippines
29 June

For the natives of Tacloban tattoos in the pre Hispanic days signified aggression and courage. These days they symbolize a cultural revival, and a wild, Philippines fiesta called the Pintados. Participants in the festival deck themselves out in body paint, mimicking the warriors of old while dancing to the frenetic beat of drums.

Tagbilaran City, Philippines
1-2 July

The Spanish colonization of the Philippines began with a blood-sealed peace treaty on the shores of Bohol, Philippines. This event is remembered today via a fiesta at the island’s capital city. The festival incorporates a street parade featuring ten colorfully-dressed groups dancing to the beat of drums. There’s also a traditional Filipino carnival, a martial arts festival, and Miss Bohol Sandugo Beauty Pageant, and many other exciting activities.

Dapitan City, Philippines
25 July

This is an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, with particular emphasis on the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against Saracan.

Davao City, Philippines
20-24 August

Davao, Philippines annual festival, Kadayawan Sa Dadaw is an entire week long and culminates. on Saturday morning when the Kadayawan parade is held. This parade features colorful, orchid-bedecked floats and more than a dozen “ethnic” groups dancing to the beat of wooden drums.

Surigao City, Philippines
9 September

This festival features Surigao’s tribal background. The Surigaonons celebrate their heritage with a loud, frenetic street dancing parade.

Naga City, Philippines
20 September

This is a 9 day long Philippines festival that combines religion with culture and tradition. The festival culminates at sundown with the fluvial parade as it makes its way down the river, surrounded by a sea of glowing candles.

Zamboanga City, Philippines
10-12 October

The big fiesta in Zamboanga, Philippines the city of flowers is the annual Hermosa Festival. The prominent spectacle of the fiesta is the vinta (native sea boats) race. Also featured are cultural and flower shows, art exhibits, and trade fairs. This is an all out Philippines celebration of life Chavacano style!

Bacolod City, Philippines
14-21 October

This Philippines festival made Bacolod, Philippines famous was originally an event meant to fortfify the locals to face hard times by putting on a smiling face hence the now famous parade of people wearing smiling face masks. The main part of the festival includes street dancing, drum beating, drinking, eating and just partying.

By mjibbo

Boom Na Boom Review

Only in the Philippines could you have a name for a fun park like Boom na Boom. The Filipinos have an amazing ability to simplify some things and over complicate others. The Tagalog language and names like Boom na boom are examples of the former and somehow when you live over here a name like this make perfect sense.

Boom na Boom is basically a fun fair it cannot be categorized as a theme park as there is no central theme and there are no associated characters such as Mickey Mouse or Donald duck. At its best Boom na Boom is somewhere between the old fashioned English fete and a very simplistic amusement park. This is not to say it is no good, on the contrary it is simplistic fun and makes for an entertaining day or night out.

I am not sure when Boom na Boom originated but I first came across it in 1994 in Manila right next door to Starcity on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. I have asked many Filipinos why it is called Boom na Boom and the most logical explanation I got was because the name is reminiscent of firecrackers exploding and in the Philippines firecrackers always denote a celebration or a special event.

This Boom na Boom is situated on Clark Airbase right next to SM Mall, it easy to get to and there is plenty of parking space available however, be aware it is on a grassy field so if it has been raining the parking lot becomes more like a parking bog. If this is the case then patrons can simply park in the SM parking lot which is tarmac and walk to the park.

Upon entering you will be greeted by the obligatory Filipino band. All members of the band will invariably be excellent musicians and entertainers and as such are worth watching and listening to for a couple of songs. The band will normally play a nice mixture of Filipino and English language songs ranging from the classics through to competent renditions of the latest hits. When we were there a small group of Filipino fans were watching the band and obviously enjoying themselves. We listened for about two songs then it was time to hit the rides.

When we entered the ever practical Shagger suggested that the best ride to take first would be the sky chair so we could get a view of the park and plan our strategy. This turned out to be a great idea as the sky chair provides an excellent view of the park and all the amusement available. On a side note for the mongerers this is considered a very romantic ride and your Filipina companion will love it.

The picture at one end shows exactly how the Filipinas view the sky chair

No fun park is complete without a roller coaster ride and the roller coaster here is called the Boomerang. I asked the guy selling the tickets why did they call it the boomerang and he replied I think it is because it is shaped like a boomerang then his partner told me no sir it’s because it travels in a circular pattern and always comes back to where it started from. I have no idea if this is the truth but it made enough sense to be plausible.

In my experience the Filipinos are extremely good with their hands however the work is normally done with archaic tools and tends not to last very long, as such I was very reluctant to get on the roller coaster and decided I would leave this to the lighter weight girls.

Having said this they do some maintenance on the rides as was clearly evident by this sign but being overweight I was not about to risk a ride on the Boomerang.


The boomerang design in modern day terms is old fashioned and simplistic however there are the necessary turns and dips where the passengers are thrown around at an appropriate velocity so it certainly suffices when it comes to being a fun ride.

Another classic ride to be found in any modern day amusement park is what I call the loop de loop or in this case the Super Loop. This is basically a giant circle standing about 60 feet high at its highest point. The circle has a metal rail which carries metal carriages. The idea is the carriages rock back and forth along the metal railing until the train builds up enough velocity to go round the complete circle. Of course this means at some point the passengers will be upside down 70 feet up in the air. To make matters worse during the ride there will come a time when the train is seemingly stuck at the top of the circle and all the passengers for at least 10 seconds are suspended upside down high in the air.

I went on a similar ride when I was a kid and I knew there was no way I was going to subject myself to this hazardous ride again. There was no such fear for the girls however and amidst screams of delight and terror they took the ride and came out with shaky legs but otherwise unscathed.

As for me I took one look at the Super Loop and with my lack of respect for Filipino maintenance skills decided it would be a cold day in hell before I ever went on that. As I gazed in horror at the Super Loop, Shagger in his laconic Aussie way said “I bet that’s the best collection point for wallets and cell phones in the Philippines”.

Another classic ride contained in most fun parks throughout the world is the Octopus. This ride features eight arms with little carriages on the end of each arm hence the name Octopus. I always enjoyed this ride because the carriages although fixed can spin in just about any direction backwards, forwards and to either side. Combine this with up and down circular motion of the arms and you have a truly entertaining ride.

After a quick stroll around it was time for the Vortex. This is a very basic ride where the passenger is put in a carriage with a bar to hold him or her in place. The carriage then rises at a 90 degrees angle to approximately 50 feet high. Once it reaches the top it then descends rapidly in a corkscrew motion. The entire ride only lasts one minute but it is kind of fun and nice to take your Filipina on as she is confined in a small place next to you which is nearly always an advantage.

Another absolutely mandatory ride in any fun park is the ghost train. People all over the world have their superstitions and beliefs in the super natural demons etc, and the Filipinos are no different. People’s desire to get scared has always confounded me but it is exactly this desire that makes rides like the ghost train so popular.

The Ghost train or horror train as it is called here is very basic and actually a testament to Filipino ingenuity. The ride features some great murals outside which set the tone for what is to come once inside.

Amidst haunting cry’s from supposed ghosts the train slowly takes off and enters the tunnel. Inside, the tunnel is only about 50 feet long and the walls are decorated with florescent paintings various monsters and evil spirits. On the first trip through the tunnel absolutely nothing happens and one is left with the feeling of having been ripped off. Then on the second trip through from out of the darkness jump Filipino guys in masks banging on the carriage doors and moaning in an imitation of a monster or ghost.

Whilst this may seem a rather pathetic attempt at scaring the passengers I saw it as a testament to Filipino ingenuity. These guys operate on a shoe string budget and yet night after night they manage to genuinely scare the Filipino passengers simply by wearing a mask and jumping out of the darkness saying BOO. It also demonstrates just how easy it is to scare a Filipina.

Believe me I saw a cue of grown young ladies refuse to ride the ghost train because they were genuinely convinced there was a ghost or monsters inside.

There are also a number of rides and games for the younger children and principle among these is the good old fashioned merry go round. The merry go round in Boom na Boom is situated right in the middle of the park and features a large range of wooden animals to ride and it actually revolves at quite a fast pace.

Another fun one for the younger kids is the large slide where the kids can slide down into a bunch of soft rubber balls and then proceed to throw the balls at each other. This is simplicity at its best and the kids seem to thoroughly enjoy it.

Of course we are in the Philippines and as such we have to have games that involve the chance to win money. The classic of these is Bingo and there are numerous Bingo tables situated throughout the boom na boom grounds. Bingo is a very popular game in the Philippines simply because it is easy to play, it is cheap to set up a bingo stall and it requires minimal investment by the players.

There is also a sort of loto game and a variation of roulette.

The idea behind the Roulette imitation game is to throw a ping pong ball into a net with a wooden box beneath it. In the box are painted a series of images such as a king of hearts the ace of spades etc. The idea is to pick which square the ping pong ball will land on and make a bet accordingly.

Perhaps the most basic game and therefore very popular amongst the Filipinos is the good old coin toss. The idea is to toss the coin and make it land in the middle of a square and then win whatever is denoted in that square.

All in all Boom na Boom is an interesting experience. On the surface it is a simple amusement park with some basic rides and games which feature the chance to win a prize or better yet money.

On the philosophical level Boom na Boom is in many ways a direct reflection of Filipino culture from the parks name and the simplistic almost child like approach towards entertainment, the lack of money and the chance to win plastic Tupperware.

On some rides such as the ghost train Filipino superstitions are played upon and then there is the obligatory Filipino band providing American songs sung in perfect English yet these same people are unable to have an extended conversation in English.

Most importantly the amusement park appeals to the child in us all. This is clearly emphasized as you see 27 to 47 years old thoroughly enjoying the classic rides with what can only be described as childish enthusiasm.

If you are here during the holiday period I thoroughly recommend a visit to Boom na Boom. Take your honey ko or even your temporary honey ko she will love it as will you. Even the most sophisticated Filipina has a childlike sense of humor and fun, as such you cannot go wrong with a date to Boom na Boom.

The most expensive ride is 40 peso and on average most rides will cost 20 or 30 peso. If you get tired of walking around there are some hot dog and barbecue stands however I wouldn’t recommend eating at these.

There is some seriously impressive eye candy available but to be honest most of the top notch stuff will be found on the arms of a Filipino guy however there are also groups of attractive young ladies wandering around and once eye contact is made it is then just a matter of getting a cell phone number and doing the leg work.

Lastly, a lot of bar girls will take a night off and can be found wandering around Boom Na Boom on any given night. This makes Boom Na Boom an excellent pick up area for everyone concerned.

Chapter 5: The Anticlimax


We were spent. Both of us.
If you actually made it all the way through Chapter 4, then you know why I’m smiling as I type these words. Spent, yes, but neither Spinner nor I wanted to leave Miniloc Island. When I expressed that thought out loud, our departing outrigger captain offered up a very sincere scheme to call both the Philippine airline and my American business with a story of a sudden serious injury that would require a “couple more weeks” of hospital stay. (Dude has done this before!)
Long after reluctantly passing up this offer, the ITI turboprop glided gently into Manila, the fading orange sunset barely illuminating the singular profile of the Spinner and I. Our bodies clung together inside the airplane with the same natural, familiar bond of returning honeymooners. Spinner had just conquered her fear of flying on this fourth and final flight of our adventure. My assurances of air-travel safety finally paid off. She felt calm and sleepy in my arms. I smiled with my face quietly buried in her wonderfully wild hair as the plane drifted downward within a few feet of touchdown.
I sighed.

I flinched.
I fucking jerked!
My head snapped up just as both engines unexpectedly spooled up to full power just before any tires safely screeched onto the runway.
Take Off and Go Around. Emergency style.
The little craft struggled, shuddering at the flat altitude of 15 or 20 feet above the runway for a few seconds before finally pulling up into the sunset.
I madly goosenecked at the window, searching for the cause of our emergency ascent. Another plane on the runway? Couldn’t tell. Just then, during our crazy climb, I heard the unmistakable mechanical thunk of the landing gear, followed by the unmistakable rumble of the WIND through the landing gear.
I never heard any such wind-rumble on our approach.
We were just a few feet from making a truly spectacular BELLY landing on the Manila runway. Spinner smiled unknowingly, as most of my very pale face was hidden in her hair. I could hear all the echoes of my “flying is safe” speeches bouncing in my head as I hung onto the armrest with knuckles as white as those that Spinner displayed on Lt Kilgore’s speedboat. Earlier in this report, wrote that SEAIR sucketh. ITI might just be worse.

“Why the emergency TOGA?!” I drilled the pinay copilot who was maybe 19, after we were all safely walking together on the tarmac away from the plane. I already knew the answer. She hesitated. The pilot interrupted her.
“A warning light, sir. Don’t worry, we will get it serviced.”
“Bulla Bulla.”
“BullSHIT! You FORGOT to deploy the landing gear.” He started walking away. “Warning light, my ass! Three wheels DOWN, three green lights ON. You almost did a belly-flop! Thank God there was still a little daylight- the tower probably spotted no gear, right?”
Captain Careful smiled back over his shoulder as he walked away. I knew that stupid smile. That was the stupid smile of a happy guy after an airborne airstart. I used that smile too. Fucker. Too far away for my heat/humidity speech.

Our ride through the darkness to Angeles in the back seat of the hotel car was quiet, intimate. I felt her lips in the dark before I felt her tears. I dropped Spinner off at her house with the happy exhaustion of a teenage boy on the morning after the high school prom. (minus the grass-stained dress) I was sad to part with her, yet I was happy to part with her. Hell, I was in Angeles City. I had one more night. (Whoo hoooo.)

Spinner and I slowly kissed goodbye, barely swaying in the silent darkness of her neighborhood to a soundtrack of sad music in my head. (My life seems to happen this way) It was “Love Hurts”, by Incubus. (sappy fucker, here) For an entire week, we shared emotions. We shared intimacy. We shared love. Yes, we shared love that was no phonier than the convenient “love” volunteered by most Western girls confronted by a man of means. No less significant. Funny how that works…

“Louie? Your girls are getting skinny,” I grinned with the surprise delivery.
Louie’s eyes held the contempt of Lt. Kilgore’s boat passengers forced to hear my singing. The Hawaiian pizzas arrived in Tender Touch as Louie rolled his eyes. It seems there was one previous UPI (Ugly Pizza Incident) involving a few Tender Touch girls hoarding several pieces while a few other girls went without. How was I to know when I ordered? (I think I identified two of the plump pizza pirates!) We all ate Hawaiian pizza because that’s the topping begged by Louie’s harem as I conducted my informal survey, while he was distracted with other customers.

Louie eventually introduced me to another AE member.
WHAT?? Holy shit! Doc??!!
Small world. How cool is Asian Escapades?
Yep, this particular Doc was the very same experienced AE member who answered a stranger’s PM regarding El Nido just a month earlier. I altered my island travel plans just a bit based upon Docjaidee’s wisdom. I now have to give him much credit for my amazing memories from Chapter 4. (Thanks, Buddy!)
Our AE house doctor, here, was back in Angeles just a bit early from his own Chapter 4- style visit to an island just south of my own Boom Boom Beach. Lagen Island, I think. I was still glowing so much from my trip to paradise with Spinner that Doc first eyed me with the careful distance that he might save for Mjibbo dressed in a skirt with full makeup. My colorful stories were all born from his recommendations. I was the student who finally met the master who steered me to paradise.
(did I mention that AE is truly cool?)

Eventually, we all embarked upon the ritual AE barhop including Louie, running into Shagger and Lewis the Hotelier along the way. (Lewis draws the women!) We stumbled through Lolipop, Vortex, Carousel, Cambodia, Neros, and Blue Nile Exec. Finally, after two trips to AC, I was on a REAL barhop… tasting tequila from titties, feeling feminine behinds in my lap, gazing in awe at Ronalie’s tricks with her friends. (me likey Ronalie, diba?) The sounds were shouts, squeals, giggles, and thumping music. The smells were beer, sweat, and the unmistakable pungent pleasure of transudated skin oil. Yep, smegma. Female variety. Maybe a little lime juice mixed in, found much higher on the body than expected. Smegma nipples?? Yummy! (who put that stuff THERE baby??!!)
As Louie and I stumbled into Carousel, I witnessed a shocking event. At the mere SIGHT of AC’s youngest pimp, I saw four or five bargirls faint. Fucking FAINT, I tell you. Just like a heard of those stupid fainting goats that fall over sideways when they are startled. Shit. MVPIMP truly has powers of some evil variety. Just when I was bowing down to the God of the Fainting Bargirls, we entered another bar where three other gyrating pinays suddenly started screaming and pointing at us like we were rock stars. Louie beamed. I shook my head with simultaneous respect and disgust. Louie proudly stepped in front of me to fully acknowledge his fan club, arms raised like Bono in a large stadium. One of the girls urgently waived him to the side and then they all pointed to me. ME? Louie looked back at me, arms comically frozen in false benediction. What?? HAAA. It seems that just being THE one white guy in Rock Star Louie’s entourage makes some of them wet. Good times. It was Louie’s turn to shake his head. It was my turn to be Bono. Haaa.

“SHAGGER!! I just barfined three lesbians!!” I shouted over the chaos surrounding Louie’s bodyshots with a pretty girl who looked to be about 18. (Barely.)
I received a wise yet reserved grin after my declaration. Let’s be clear: Dude knows stuff. I was on HIS turf, yet too Patron-fueled to grasp the subtlety in his smile that was fading into a smirk.
My three new lesbian friends were very happy to participate in my multiple bastos body shots. The tequila was flowing in… BNE? Maybe. I think so. It was a bit of a sticky blur. The music caused all three semi-nude bodies to sway while the tequila dripped into hidden places that increasingly occupied my lick-that-later mental notes list.

Two out of three limp-lesbians landed in my bed and one limp-lesbian landed in the (empty) Jacuzzi. I was truly infatuated with one of the carpet-munchers, but there was very little carpet-munching that occurred that night. I woke naked, next to two of my fully-clothed companions, and contemplated the Spinner/tequila mathematics that I ignored in Chapter 3. Seems like I suck at math in South East Asia. My little cutie woke earlier than her hungover cohorts, though, and salvaged her tip as I submerged MY tip.

I was NOT yet ready to let go.
One more Sunday afternoon in AC found me at the white-washed Lewis Grand Hotel for the first time. The previous night, I had shared the man-in-paradise-grin with Lewis, and was determined to see his hotel. I instantly understood his disgust at my response to his previous “where are you staying” question. Wow. I found my obvious accommodations for my next trip. Who knew? (okay, YOU guys knew!)
The mellow Sunday Lewis Grand pool party included amazing food (seriously-spicy wings!), cold SML, and many AE regulars. While I was again making goo-goo eyes at Ronalie, Shagger spoke up.
“Mate, you were very excited about your lesbians last night!(?)”
“Well, yep, I had all KINDS of plans, based upon mr_bastos pictures,” I replied.
“And?” came the now-familiar sideways Shagger smirk.
“And they all passed out from too much tequila,” I shrugged sheepishly.
”Ohh, I NEVER give the girls tequila,” Master Shagger declared.
I squinted at Ronalie the Tequila Girl like Phoenix might squint at dad’s naked girls in the rain in his backyard. My very hungover brain sensed an oxymoron, yet was not even prepared to spell “oxymoron” at that moment.

The afternoon pool party was fun, but at first lacked the proper quantity of submerged labia. I had just asked Louie which nearby bars could cure balls that were a bit lonely and blue when the other famous Lewis Grand hotelier, Pateng, walked right up.
“ I hear you want to barfine a few girls?”
“YES!” I exclaimed to Bobby, who shared my crazy-eyed vision.
It turned out that Mr. Bobby Pateng, here, was tight with the Geckos manager and merely a phone call produced the requisite wet labia. We both barfined a few, and the party cranked up a notch.
I spent the early afternoon of my final day truly in awe of Lewis, Bobby, and Mr. DJ Dude.
I spent the late afternoon of my final day perfecting underwater tickling of the cherry girl among the Geckos girls.
I spent the evening of my final day reluctantly flying back home.
The Post Philippine Depression kicked in while I was still on the plane.
My PPD won’t fucking let up.
Look out.
I’m coming back!
(ooh hey, and look out, the sky is fucking blue!)