Tag Archives: Subic Bay

Living In Angeles City on a Budget

When broaching a subject like this one, it’s a good thing to remember that there is a substantial cross-section of budgets to be found in Angeles. Aside from the “Two-Week Millionaire” tourists, there are actual millionaires, fellows with great pensions, and men who have successful businesses that run themselves while they’re away playing; there are old boys with decent pensions, guys who need at least some work to get by, all the way down to persons who amaze us that they even survive, and actually leave us wondering why they’re here even bothering.

By its very name, this article obviously can’t be geared to someone who has more money available to him than he knows what to do with, but these fellows are in the minority around here. This will be geared to those who desire to settle in Angeles City, and don’t have that much backing them up, or need to find some kind of work locally to get by. If I outline my personal experience of living in Angeles a little, some might be able to get an idea of what to watch out for should they decide to try to settle here. Some of it just might apply to you.

When I came here as a tourist in the ‘90s, to say I was impressed is an understatement! After six bi-yearly trips, I got so sick of the depression I felt sitting at the airport waiting to get on that damned plane, knowing it would be six months before I could feel this happy again, I determined I had to find a way to stay. My personal life in my own country had gotten to where I was ripe to get out of there and give Angeles a long-term try.

I saved up $5000 and got a plane back to my new “home”, with an eye on finding a way to generate enough capital to stay in Angeles comfortably. I’d made a few friends in my previous trips, and out of these connections I got a room in a house with an American and his Filipina wife for P3,000 a month, all inclusive.

I found my first job at “The Abbey Road” (where “Las Vegas” now stands) as a singer, and helped manage the place, for P1000 a night, six nights a week. I also got into a four-month affair with Elaine, an insatiable 20-year-ol mini-Dolly Parton (giant breasts on a 4’8” frame!) who was the horniest person I’ve ever seen in my life. Night and day I was attacked by this voluptuous little nympho and she’d accept no money at all. As a result, at the end of four months, I had saved money (and was struggling to keep up with this tiny tornado)!

After four months of this affair, Elaine, much to my relief, was off with an Australian she eventually married, and Abbey Road decided they couldn’t afford me anymore. I’d already had an offer to move to Valhalla (now “Coyote Ugly”), and had been asked by the manager of The Swagman Hotel to sing there a couple of times a week, so now I was free to do so. I worked in tandem with Jhun Longhair at Valhalla from Tuesday through Sunday, for 750 pesos a night. On Sunday afternoon I sang at The Swagman for P750 right after Bingo, from 2pm to 6pm, then headed to Valhalla to sing all night from 8pm to 2pm. On Monday night I sang at The Swagman from 8pm to Midnight for 1000 pesos. So early Tuesday morning was the only time I used to go barhopping, right after Midnight. Bars like “Private Dancer” (where the right-hand side of “Insomnia” now stands) and “The Club” were great after-hours spots to meet girls to bring home. Working eight gigs in seven days every week, I was making a grand total of P6,250! I had moved into my own small apartment, In the PG Pawn Shop & Jewelry Complex right by the Balibago Post Office & Fire Station, which cost me only 3,000 pesos-a-month rent. My electric bill was always around 500 pesos, and water was about 150 pesos, so my overhead was very low. I don’t drink alcohol except when I’m drinking with customers, so that was not a factor, either. That sort of outlines my first year in Balibago. I then left The Philippines for three months to close out my affairs in Reno, Nevada, to sell off all of my furniture and band equipment. When I came back I started a pretty long string of various managing jobs.

This is not intended to be an autobiography, so I’ll get more to the point: what it’s like to exist in Angeles on a small budget. The fact is, in my years in A.C., I’ve worked, either as a full-time manager, relief manager, temporary fill-in, or singer, at thirty-two different locations (not counting LaBamba & Rhapsody, where I handled the M.C. chores for “Manic Monday” & “WOW Wednesday” for a couple of months, or Asian Escapades, where I worked for about four months in 2006), working for twenty-five different owners (some were partners), and about thirty-five different mamasans.

The thing I focused on the most was keeping busy. Being in bars most of the time, I didn’t have a lot of urge to hang out in them with what little free time I had. This, in itself, is a big factor in not over-spending on a less-than-tourist budget. You’re just forced to learn to live within your means, or get the hell out of here! I’m not a cheap man, by nature. I’m more generous with the girls that have become part of my life in Angeles City than many of the guys they know. If I can’t afford to be generous, I just go without until I can be. An added bonus of being here full-time, and being relatively visible in the scene is that one will usually get to know quite a few girls who want to visit, quite often more often than I can deal with.

I very rarely go for EWRs anymore. The bars have priced themselves beyond my budget, for all practical purposes. Most managers usually make per day (or less), about what it costs for an EWR, and when you factor in all the rest, like socializing, ladies’ drinks, and tips, it becomes pretty much out of the question to go that route.

Even though I cannot socialize like a I did as a tourist, I still love being in Angeles City. You might find you get more-than-pleasant surprises sprung on you by these young ladies quite often. I haven’t worked in any clubs since I started drawing my Social Security, and even though A.C. is far more expensive than it was when I moved here, coupled with the collapse of the peso-for-dollar rate in the mid-2000s, I’m still loving it. I’ve met some really good friends here who have helped me out in tight spots through the years, when times got tough. I owe a lot to them. I’ve never paid more than 6,000 pesos a month for my rent (often less), I don’t use an aircon except when it’s hot at night to the extreme, and eat most meals at home. All of this is pretty much what I’d do back in The States, except there’s no Filipinas there!

I would never recommend this lifestyle to anybody else, if they asked me, but it’s worked for me. I only need to remain conscious of how life was before I moved here. No matter how few beautiful ladies visit my premises each month, that is the exact amount of memorable experiences I wouldn’t have when I’m back in my own country. And, for me, that is priceless!

In closing, I’ll outline a few impressions I’ve come up with, as far as living on a budget:

1) It helps to acclimate so as to not depend on an air conditioner too much. Electric bills can get awfully high. When I bought a refrigerator, I acted on a tip from a friend not to get a frost-free one, because they use more power per month, and I find it’s very little trouble to defrost it every couple of months.

2) Sharing rent with friends in a house or apartment is a saver. It’s also a good idea to try to find a place that’s pretty close to where you prefer to hang out the most, so you won’t be spending much on transportation.

3) Save up as much money as you can manage to before making your move to Angeles, and look for a part-time manager’s position anywhere (if that’s what you have in mind to try to do), as fast as you can, at least to get your foot in the door somewhere (there are some internet-based jobs here-and-there for the computer-wise, though not plentiful). You really can’t afford to be too fussy if no one knows you yet. You need to get to know owners and people that surround them. The scene can really be quite a “buddy system”, and getting to know people is pretty important. A past resume from your life away from Angeles is normally quite worthless here. Network!

4) This one is pretty obvious: eat at home as much as you can. Eating in restaurants two or three times a day can really chew up your capital. The malls are pretty good for shopping, I have found. I rarely go to local marketplaces, though if you have a fulltime girlfriend she’ll probably spend less money shopping than you would, because she’ll shop places you might not be all that willing to go to. I have shopped for produce at The VFW on Thursdays now and then. They bring fresh-grown fruits and vegetables down from Baguio each week, and the quality is relatively good at decent prices.

5) Be budget-minded. Remember, you’re no longer a tourist! You have to plan out your monthly budget just like you would if you were back home. The better job you do with this, the more you’ll have left to play with the available ladies. Common sense goes a long way in making living in Angeles a good experience.

6) I don’t care what it is you’re trying to buy, it is a good idea to try to get a price for whatever through a local. When they see a foreigner is involved in the transaction, prices can skyrocket!

How Does A Bar Make Money

Like it or not a bar is a business and a business by definition has the objective of making a profit. When it comes to dealing with girls and partying or when it comes to regularly patronizing a bar, it is easy to forget that the bars are a business. The bars are accountable, they are a business and the objective is to make MONEY.

So now down to the crux of this article how do the bars make a profit. The first and most obvious way is through the bar fine. The bar fine in Angeles bars is anything from 1200 up to 4000 with the bar receiving 48% the girl receiving 50% and the mamasan receiving 2% as her commission. In most bars I would estimate that the bar fines account from anywhere between 40 to 60% of the bars revenue on any given night. The barfine is of course a critically important aspect of any gogo bars profitability and in my opinion a cornerstone of the Angeles bar business as a whole.

An equally big percentage of a bars profitability is made up of drink sales. The drink sales are composed of customer drinks and ladies drinks. Customer drinks range anywhere from 50 piso (local drink happy hour price at some bars) through to 300 piso for a shot of Hennessey XO Cognac. On average I would say the price for a local drink at the non happy hour time period would be 95 piso in most Fields Avenue bars.

A very important part of bars sales is the ladies drinks. For those of you who don’t know a ladies drink is a drink you buy a girl who works in the bar. These will normally act as an ice breaker or a prelude to a barfine. The ladies drinks are always more expensive than the same drink when bought as a normal customer drink because the bar gives the girl a commission on every drink she gets purchased for her. The ladies drink in this respect is actually a subtle way of giving the girl an opportunity to earn some money rather than just handing her cash.

In the last 5 years Angeles has seen the development of the so called double ladies drink. The double ladies drink pros and cons have been discussed endlessly but at the bottom line here is that the so called double ladies drink is normally a double price of a single ladies drink or if not exactly double then very close to it. The double ladies drinks will range anywhere from 280 piso through to 350 piso. The ladies drinks can also perform another function when they are utilized as a substitute for the bar fine. In modern day times there is some fairly serious pressure on the bar fine system from various authorities linking it with prostitution and even human trafficking. As a result it is becoming common practice for bars to replace the actual payment of a bar fine with the purchasing of a certain amount of ladies drinks. This is a variation on the more traditional bar fine system and is called the EWR (Early Work Release). The customer purchases a certain amount of ladies drinks and the girl is then free to stop work and leave the bar with the customer.

In Makati the owner of the major group of bars has gone on record as saying, “we don’t want a bar fine system”, in fact there is no such thing as a bar fine in his Makati based bars as it is based upon the purchasing of ten ladies drinks and once the girl has secured 10 ladies drinks she is free to stop work and leave the bar with whomever she likes. When it comes to Angeles I estimate that the ladies drinks make up anywhere from 35% through to 55% of a bars total sales on any one night. Of course the figure can go as high as 70% in the bars that substitute the bar fine with ladies drinks. As is clearly shown by these figures even they are only estimates the ladies drink is an essential component of a bars profitability.

Many bar owners adopt the approach of trying to maximize profits by minimizing expenses. This is what I loosely refer to as the positively negative way to run a bar. Running a bar this way will typically include ordering the bare minimum of stock especially in terms of alcohol. This in fact does not increase profit because by purchasing this way they miss out on the discounts that come with purchasing in bulk however I think it is important to remember that many bars are run on little more than a shoe string budget and have little choice but to order thriftily. Two other ways of minimizing cost include a limited the use of electricity by turning off an air-conditioner and other electrical appliances when the bar is not busy and applying deductions to the workers salary, these will mainly include uniform and food deductions, deductions for bikinis, makeup, shoes and of course loan advances with interest.

In modern times bars will often try to sell a number of products where the profit margin is maximized. Two which spring to mind are ping pong balls and party poppers. The ping pong balls are perhaps the ultimate money spinner. They represent a one time minimal investment and can be used time and time again. The girls love them because they are an easy way to get commission and the customers enjoy them because of the atmosphere they create when the girls scramble to collect them. Most ping pong ball buckets contain 10 balls and they sell from between 300 to 500 piso depending on the bar. Another gimmick is the party poppers which are bought for about 50 peso each and sold for 100 to 150. Lastly there is the more traditional items for sale and these include T/Shirts, bar towels, beer coasters, key chains and a number of other cheaply produced items. Overall I would estimate that these items would account for approximately 3 % of a bars profit level.

Where To Live! Subic or Angeles? Part 2

In part one, I outlined my perception on the living situation in Subic (primarily the Barrio Barretto area, because that’s where I spent most of my time – that’s where the bars are, mostly). Where one needs to go to shop for essentials is outlined here, as well as what it is like to barhop here compared to Angeles City.

One of the reasons I decided to move back to Angeles, after nearly two years in the Subic area, was the availability of goods that I wanted, and how spread-out things are compared to Angeles. In A.C., I drive my old car about once every two weeks, and then only to go somewhere out of walking distance, like Marquee Mall, The duty-free stores on Clark Airbase, Perimeter bars, or to the immigration office. In Subic, I depended on my car nearly every day (it’s an old car, I’m not rich, and I hate to have to depend on it). I lived in the Santa Monica complex, Subic (close to Dreamland Resort), and I was driving to the bars and hotels in The Dryden group almost daily; I also needed to drive to downtown Olongapo or onto Subic Base to the duty-free stores to do much in the way of worthwhile shopping. I also found I needed to drive to Angeles a couple of times a month to shop at SM Mall, Marquee Mall, etc… I’ll give you an example of what I’m getting at: once I went on a quest to buy some local honey, which is readily available in Johnny’s Market, JJ’s Market, SM Mall, and several other places I know in Angeles. I drove all over downtown Olongapo, the Subic Base, and Subic City, and never found any at all! I did locate some imported “Sue Bee” stuff in a small jar, but it wasn’t what I needed, and the price was horribly inflated. I drove to Angeles City on my day off and picked a couple of liters up at Johnny’s.

I have other examples of things the Subic shopping area lacks, but the above one stood out in my memory. Another thing that really annoyed me was when, on two separate occasions, I needed some duplicate keys and good quality photocopies; there was no place in The Barrio Barretto area to get either, even with all the expats jammed into that area. The only place I could get keys made (that I could find) was on the streets of downtown Olongapo, in little street nooks. For photocopies, I had to continue on to the duty-free stores on SBMA, where I found a machine at the National Book Store (unfortunately for me, their machine wasn’t very good, but it was the “only game in town; I ended up re-doing the project the next time I went to Angeles).

This situation is due to improve! Our friend “Pok Pok Boy” has informed us that there is an SM Mall being built in downtown Olongapo, and an Ayala Mall (The Corporation behind Marquee Mall in Angeles) on Subic base, right by the entrance to downtown Olongapo. Even though it’s still a bit far from where most of the expats are living, it at least means that shopping will be easier and better than before. This is bound to draw more expats to the area, which will, in turn, draw more girls. I saw these two construction sites in late November of 2011, and they’re moving right along. I was told the SM mall will be in operation in about six months, and the Ayala mall in less than a year. If you have kids or girls that you’d like to entertain during the daytime hours, there is “Ocean Adventure Marine Park”, with a dolphin/whale show on the base that we found surprisingly entertaining, along with a sea lion show. There is also the “Zoobic Safari” zoo, but we didn’t get to see this, as our group arrived too late in the day to go in. I’m not the best person to ask about such activities available in the Subic area, but it’s clear the area is growing again!

As far as the bars, what expats/tourists are looking for in a barhopping experience can vary quite a bit. The fact is there are less bars, and less customers. As the area has grown, so have the number of expats, and the number of girls hoping to meet them. More action = more girls, and vice versa. You should see it when ships come in! The volume of girls seems to double, coming out of the woodwork. If you’re one of the fellows who like to “drown” themselves in a “sea of girls” (putting it politely), this is far more likely to happen for you in Angeles, at this point, than it will in Barrio Barretto. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen plenty of happy fellows achieve “major party time” in Barretto! There are plenty of fellows who prefer this scene to Angeles.

Back before Pinatubo erupted, it was pretty much the opposite for these two areas. After the Americans left the two bases, Angeles grew out of the ashes to become the punter’s prime destination, while the bars of Olongapo were replaced by a virtual ghost town of empty buildings. The real “death-knell” came when this was compounded by the then-mayor, Kate Gordon, deciding to shut down all dancing bars in Barrio Barretto. This caused what little scene was left to locate in the Calapandayan area of Subic City. Obviously, this is changing.

While Angeles City is still a far more active scene, I believe we will see this becoming less the case as time goes on, particularly with the much-improved access provided by the expressway, and the large malls coming in.

I’m aware that there are punters who are on a constant “feeding frenzy” for new faces in greater volume which, clearly, the Subic area is far less likely to provide at this moment in time (for a precious few, even Angeles City can’t keep up with their “thirst”), but I can say, for myself, that some of the best girls I’ve ever met were right there in Barrio Barretto, and I’ve got plenty of company in guys that agree with me. There were plenty of beauties I never managed to get to. As a good friend of mine said to me, “Sure, there are less girls here than Angeles, but how many do you need at any one time?” … and, too, as the scene grows, so will the volume of girls, just like it did in Angeles.

One perception that I have regarding the Subic scene that makes it preferable to the Angeles scene: the Gordon family seems to have the respect of the departments who routinely attack the Angeles bar scene in search of favorable headlines and big payoffs, under the guise of enforcing morality. I’m not personally aware of how far back it goes that a Gordon family member wasn’t the political leader of the Olongapo/Subic area, but they go back quite a way, and really appear to be respected enough to run the area without federal agency interference; the different agencies don’t come in over the local government’s heads like they do in Angeles City. In Angeles it sometimes seems like nobody’s really in charge, opening the door to seemingly rogue operations aimed only at foreigners, while turning a blind eye to the many native-run establishments who are far more guilty of the charges they throw at the “visiting teams”.

I’ve always enjoyed The Subic Bay Area, and I will continue to enjoy it. I can say that I hope to live there again. Even though Angeles is more convenient for me in a lot of ways at this point in time, I look back on my stay in Subic with fondness, and would certainly go back if the opportunity presented itself. I miss those peaceful days and nights at the beach! … and, not just a few of the beautiful girls I met!

Where To Live! Subic or Angeles?

There are so many fellows from different walks of life, and many levels of financial security (or insecurity) around here, who, honestly, have one common bond when they find their way to this village ¬¬– that’s the lure of the Filipina (they’ll sometimes develop other reasons as time goes by, but this, with damned few exceptions, is at the root of the attraction). This place is surely as great a testament to the lure of an available, attractive woman as there is in existence. Without them, I probably wouldn’t even know how to spell the name of the country, or even know where it is!

Of the years I have lived here, nearly all of them have been spent living in Angeles City, with the exception of a year and eight months I lived in The Barrio Barretto area of Olongapo City, in the Subic Bay Area.

The Subic Bay Area, at one time a larger bar scene than Angeles City (in the days of the American occupation of the Subic Naval base) is now a substantially smaller scene than Angeles (as of this writing in 2011). Through the years, in my “tourist” days (as well as while I’ve been planted in A.C.), Subic has always been a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for a three-day visit. I always wanted to live there, and I finally did, from October 2008 to May 2010.

The secondary lure (everything’s always secondary to the ladies for me!) of The Subic Area was the beaches and being close to the water. I grew up on the West Coast of America, so I take to being around the beach. Leaving the women out of the equation for now, I’ll share what I liked about living in Subic, and what I didn’t.

I enjoy spending the afternoons on the various floating bars. There were three when I was last there, and they all are just fine with me. The “Arizona”, The “Blue Rock”, and “Treasure Island” are all hotels that have floating bars tethered to their beaches. The GROs working on them vary, but mostly they’re good company while hanging out on those floaters. Nothing like this in Angeles City. The most popular beach area for expats is in “The Baloy Beach Area”, though the “Arizona” is quite nice, on the main highway; it does seem a bit windy there, at times, though.

As far as restaurants, there are more of them in Angeles City (as there is more of just about everything) than Barretto, but a very good meal can usually be had at The “Arizona” or “Blue Rock”. There is a lower-budget place just up the street from the corner where Club One is situated, right across the street from the former “Marmont Hotel”; it’s called “Sit & Bull”. This location was the “VFW” in my tourist days, and is known in the area for good solid meals at a reasonable price – it’s where the locals eat. There’s a pretty good English-style fish & chips joint on the main highway called “The Underground”. The “Dryden” restaurant, which once was my favorite place to eat anywhere, unfortunately didn’t survive the transition of Tom Dryden leaving it, but is now a pretty good fast-food-style spot next to The Wet Spot bar, serving a variety of sandwiches, pizza and snack foods. Right across the street from “The Arizona” is a little Filipino spot called “The Coffee Shop”, which makes a very popular taco and taco salad. It’s not the same as if you were eating in Mexico, but it’s a pretty darned decent bite to eat. People’s tastes in what-satisfies-them- in-a-meal vary so greatly that it’s almost pointless to spend much time recommending anyplace. If you ever decide to go/move to Subic you’ll come up with your own preferences, as we all do.

I’ve often been asked about the difference between Angeles and Subic as far as renting a house or apartment. I came away with the impression is that it’s not a lot different. There are more new complexes in the Angeles area. You can pay too much, and good deals can be found in both places. One thing they both have in common is that you’re best off hitting the pavement and looking for places with a sign and phone number out front. Realties and want ads aren’t as dependable as they are in the West for finding something you’d like for a price you’d be willing to pay. Subic landlords are quite fond of having you pay your lease money up front, and will sometimes offer substantial discounts for your ability to pay them a lump sum in advance. I’ve rented in seven different locations in Angeles and one in Subic. I found all of them by word of mouth or just having a look around.

There are quite a few expats leasing in the “Baloy Beach” area, in the neighborhood of the “Blue Rock”, “Wild Orchid”, and “Treasure Island” resorts. They, naturally enough, like to be part of the expat community gathered there, and enjoy its proximity to the better beaches in the area. I, personally, wouldn’t want to live on Baloy Beach because I found it to be a poor value-for-money – you are, in good part, paying for the beach that the rental is close to, which causes the leases to be pretty high for what you’re getting, in a great many cases. I know plenty of guys who are quite happy with what they’ve found on the Baloy Road, so just keep in mind that you can likely get a nicer place for your money if you venture away from this popular area. If you’re willing to pay the price that is, of course, your personal choice. One other thing I dislike about this particular area is the horrible road leading into it. With all of these popular resort hotels in there and the large expat community, I feel it’s downright stupid to not do whatever it takes to get this road paved properly. In the rainy season it often becomes almost un-drivable! The potholes and flooded areas are formidable.

During the rainy season The Subic area is far more flood-prone than Angeles. Where I lived in the “Santa Monica” complex (in close proximity to the “Dreamland Resort” area), the whole complex got flooded for three days once (it hadn’t happened to this degree in over ten years, but once is all it takes)! The water was waist-deep outside of the house I was leasing, and I had 21” of water in my bedroom/toilet/den area on the lower floor. A couple of more inches and the whole living room and kitchen area would’ve been flooded, also. If I ever live in Subic again (which I might) I’ll definitely look for higher ground!

Where To Live! Subic or Angeles?

Part 1:

There are so many fellows from different walks of life, and many levels of financial security (or insecurity) around here, who, honestly, have one common bond when they find their way to this village ¬¬– that’s the lure of the Filipina (they’ll sometimes develop other reasons as time goes by, but this, with damned few exceptions, is at the root of the attraction). This place is surely as great a testament to the lure of an available, attractive woman as there is in existence. Without them, I probably wouldn’t even know how to spell the name of the country, or even know where it is!

Of the years I have lived here, nearly all of them have been spent living in Angeles City, with the exception of a year and eight months I lived in The Barrio Barretto area of Olongapo City, in the Subic Bay Area.

The Subic Bay Area, at one time a larger bar scene than Angeles City (in the days of the American occupation of the Subic Naval base) is now a substantially smaller scene than Angeles (as of this writing in 2011). Through the years, in my “tourist” days (as well as while I’ve been planted in A.C.), Subic has always been a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for a three-day visit. I always wanted to live there, and I finally did, from October 2008 to May 2010.

The secondary lure (everything’s always secondary to the ladies for me!) of The Subic Area was the beaches and being close to the water. I grew up on the West Coast of America, so I take to being around the beach. Leaving the women out of the equation for now, I’ll share what I liked about living in Subic, and what I didn’t.

I enjoy spending the afternoons on the various floating bars. There were three when I was last there, and they all are just fine with me. The “Arizona”, The “Blue Rock”, and “Treasure Island” are all hotels that have floating bars tethered to their beaches. The GROs working on them vary, but mostly they’re good company while hanging out on those floaters. Nothing like this in Angeles City. The most popular beach area for expats is in “The Baloy Beach Area”, though the “Arizona” is quite nice, on the main highway; it does seem a bit windy there, at times, though.

As far as restaurants, there are more of them in Angeles City (as there is more of just about everything) than Barretto, but a very good meal can usually be had at The “Arizona” or “Blue Rock”. There is a lower-budget place just up the street from the corner where Club One is situated, right across the street from the former “Marmont Hotel”; it’s called “Sit & Bull”. This location was the “VFW” in my tourist days, and is known in the area for good solid meals at a reasonable price – it’s where the locals eat. There’s a pretty good English-style fish & chips joint on the main highway called “The Underground”. The “Dryden” restaurant, which once was my favorite place to eat anywhere, unfortunately didn’t survive the transition of Tom Dryden leaving it, but is now a pretty good fast-food-style spot next to The Wet Spot bar, serving a variety of sandwiches, pizza and snack foods. Right across the street from “The Arizona” is a little Filipino spot called “The Coffee Shop”, which makes a very popular taco and taco salad. It’s not the same as if you were eating in Mexico, but it’s a pretty darned decent bite to eat. People’s tastes in what-satisfies-them- in-a-meal vary so greatly that it’s almost pointless to spend much time recommending anyplace. If you ever decide to go/move to Subic you’ll come up with your own preferences, as we all do.

I’ve often been asked about the difference between Angeles and Subic as far as renting a house or apartment. I came away with the impression is that it’s not a lot different. There are more new complexes in the Angeles area. You can pay too much, and good deals can be found in both places. One thing they both have in common is that you’re best off hitting the pavement and looking for places with a sign and phone number out front. Realties and want ads aren’t as dependable as they are in the West for finding something you’d like for a price you’d be willing to pay. Subic landlords are quite fond of having you pay your lease money up front, and will sometimes offer substantial discounts for your ability to pay them a lump sum in advance. I’ve rented in seven different locations in Angeles and one in Subic. I found all of them by word of mouth or just having a look around.

There are quite a few expats leasing in the “Baloy Beach” area, in the neighborhood of the “Blue Rock”, “Wild Orchid”, and “Treasure Island” resorts. They, naturally enough, like to be part of the expat community gathered there, and enjoy its proximity to the better beaches in the area. I, personally, wouldn’t want to live on Baloy Beach because I found it to be a poor value-for-money – you are, in good part, paying for the beach that the rental is close to, which causes the leases to be pretty high for what you’re getting, in a great many cases. I know plenty of guys who are quite happy with what they’ve found on the Baloy Road, so just keep in mind that you can likely get a nicer place for your money if you venture away from this popular area. If you’re willing to pay the price that is, of course, your personal choice. One other thing I dislike about this particular area is the horrible road leading into it. With all of these popular resort hotels in there and the large expat community, I feel it’s downright stupid to not do whatever it takes to get this road paved properly. In the rainy season it often becomes almost un-drivable! The potholes and flooded areas are formidable.

During the rainy season The Subic area is far more flood-prone than Angeles. Where I lived in the “Santa Monica” complex (in close proximity to the “Dreamland Resort” area), the whole complex got flooded for three days once (it hadn’t happened to this degree in over ten years, but once is all it takes)! The water was waist-deep outside of the house I was leasing, and I had 21” of water in my bedroom/toilet/den area on the lower floor. A couple of more inches and the whole living room and kitchen area would’ve been flooded, also. If I ever live in Subic again (which I might) I’ll definitely look for higher ground!

When I continue this subject, I’ll go over other differences in the two areas, from my perspective. I’ll discuss what it is like to shop for basic goods, where things are located/convenience of location, the differences in the bar scenes, and what one area features that the other doesn’t.

Part 2:

In part one, I outlined my perception on the living situation in Subic (primarily the Barrio Barretto area, because that’s where I spent most of my time – that’s where the bars are, mostly); shopping, and where you need to go to do it, is outlined here, as well as what it is like to barhop here compared to Angeles City.

One of the reasons I decided to move back to Angeles, after nearly two years in the Subic area, was the availability of goods that I wanted, and how spread-out things are compared to Angeles. In A.C., I drive my old car about once every two weeks, and then only to go somewhere out of walking distance, like Marquee Mall, The duty-free stores on Clark Airbase, Perimeter bars, or to the immigration office. In Subic, I depended on my car nearly every day (it’s an old car, I’m not rich, and I hate to have to depend on it). I lived in the Santa Monica complex, Subic (close to Dreamland Resort), and I was driving to the bars and hotels in The Dryden group almost daily; I also needed to drive to downtown Olongapo or onto the Subic Base to the duty-free stores to do much in the way of worthwhile shopping. I also found I needed to drive to Angeles a couple of times a month to shop at SM Mall, Marquee Mall, or some other place. I’ll give you an example of what I’m getting at: once I went on a quest to buy some local honey, which is readily available in Johnny’s Market, JJ’s Market, SM Mall, and several other places I know in Angeles. I drove all over downtown Olongapo, the Subic Base, and Subic City, and never found any at all! I did locate some imported “Sue Bee” stuff in a small jar, but it wasn’t what I needed, and the price was horribly inflated. I drove to Angeles City on my day off and picked a couple of liters up at Johnny’s.

I have other examples of things the Subic shopping area lacks, but the above one stood out in my memory. Another thing that really annoyed me was when, on two separate occasions, I needed some duplicate keys and good quality photocopies; there was no place in The Barrio Barretto area to get either, even with all the expats jammed into that area. The only place I could get keys made (that I could find) was on the streets of downtown Olongapo. For photocopies, I had to continue on to the duty-free stores on SBMA, where I found a machine at the National Book Store (unfortunately for me, their machine wasn’t very good, but it was the “only game in town; I ended up re-doing the project the next time I went to Angeles).

This situation is due to improve! Our friend “Pok Pok Boy” has informed us that there is an SM Mall being built in downtown Olongapo, and an Ayala Mall (The Corporation behind Marquee Mall in Angeles) on Subic base, right by the entrance to downtown Olongapo. Even though it’s still a bit far from where most of the expats are living, it at least means that shopping will be easier and better than before. This is bound to draw more expats to the area, which will, in turn, draw more girls. I saw these two construction sites in late November of 2011, and they’re moving right along. I was told the SM mall will be in operation in about six months, and the Ayala mall in less than a year. If you kids or girls that you’d like to entertain during the daytime hours, there is “Ocean Adventure” marine park, with a dolphin/whale show on the base that I found surprisingly entertaining, along with a sea lion show. There is also the “Zoobic Safari” zoo, but I didn’t get to see this, as our group arrived too late in the day to go in. I’m not the best person to ask about such activities available in Subic, but it’s clear the area is growing again!

As far as the bars, what expats/tourists are looking for in a barhopping experience can vary quite a bit. The fact is there are less bars, and less customers. As the area has grown, so has the number of expats, and the number of girls hoping to meet them. More action, more girls, and vice versa. You should see it when ships come in. The volume of girls seems to double, coming out of the woodwork! If you’re one of the fellows who like to “drown” themselves in a “sea of girls” (putting it politely), this is far more likely to happen for you in Angeles, at this point, than it will in Barrio Barretto. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen plenty of happy fellows achieve “major party time” in Barretto! There are plenty of fellows who prefer this scene to Angeles.

Back before Pinatubo erupted, it was pretty much the opposite for these two areas. After the Americans left the two bases, Angeles grew out of the ashes to become the punter’s prime destination, while the bars of Olongapo were replaced by a virtual ghost town of empty buildings. The real “death-knell” came when this was compounded by the mayor deciding to shut down all dancing bars in Barrio Barretto. This caused what little scene was left to locate in the Calapandayan area of Subic City. Obviously, this is changing.

While Angeles City is still a far more active scene, I believe we will see this becoming less the case as time goes on, particularly with the much-improved access provided by the expressway, and the large malls coming in.

I’m aware that there are punters who are on a constant “feeding frenzy” for new faces in greater volume which, clearly, the Subic area is far less likely to provide at this moment in time, but I can say for myself that some of the best girls I’ve ever met were right there in Barrio Barretto, and I’ve got plenty of company in guys that agree with me. There were plenty of beauties I never managed to get to. As a good friend of mine said to me, “Sure, there are less girls here than Angeles, but how many do you need at any one time?” … and, too, as the scene grows, so will the volume of girls, just like it did in Angeles.

One perception that I have regarding the Subic scene that makes it preferable to the Angeles scene: the Gordon family seems to have the respect of the departments who routinely attack the Angeles bar scene in search of favorable headlines and big payoffs, under the guise of enforcing morality. I’m not personally aware of how far back it goes that a Gordon family member wasn’t the political leader of the Olongapo/Subic area, but they go back quite a way, and really appear to be respected enough to run the area without federal agency interference; the different agencies don’t come in over the local government’s heads like they do in Angeles City. In Angeles it sometimes seems like nobody’s really in charge, opening the door to seemingly rogue operations aimed only at foreigners, while turning a blind eye to the many native-run establishments who are far more guilty of the charges they throw at the “visiting teams”.

I’ve always enjoyed The Subic Bay Area, and I will continue to enjoy it. I can say that I hope to live there again. Even though Angeles is more convenient for me in a lot of ways at this point in time, I look back on my stay in Subic with fondness, and would certainly go back if the opportunity presented itself. I miss those peaceful days and nights at the beach! … and, not just a few of the beautiful girls I met!

Angeles City & Subic Bay Beauty Pageants

No matter what country we come from the chances are we have heard about or seen a beauty pageant. All over the world beauty pageants are common place but when it comes to the amount of pageants and the importance attached to them, no single country can rival the Philippines. From the smallest Barrios’ in the remotest provinces through to localized events in metropolitan centers, then onto national and international events, beauty pageants are commonplace and form a significant part of Philippine culture.

To understand the importance of beauty pageants in Philippine society it is first necessary to examine their history. It is generally accepted that beauty pageants harks back to the 600 years of Spanish occupation in the Philippines. Within Spanish culture it was common place for the Spanish women to be paraded down the street in a sort of beauty parade. This parade would always feature lavish costumes, sumptuous food and generally celebrate the joy of life and femininity. From these elaborate beginnings it was not a big step to develop into the modern day concept of a beauty pageant.

Miss dreamland beauty competition.


The Spanish influence also defined the characteristics of beauty and these characteristics are still ingrained into Filipino society several hundred years later. For example what the Filipinos think is beautiful is often very different from what the foreigners regard as beautiful. The Filipino concept of beauty can be directly traced back to Spanish influence where they find beauty in characteristics such white skin, long aquiline noses, tall stature and even body hair. All of this is often accompanied by lavish ostentatious costumes and dresses. Foreigners on the other hand will mostly prefer the Malay look with darker skin and smaller bones. It is always interesting watching beauty contests judged by Filipinos as compared to those judged by foreigners. The two will normally have totally different results.

The frequency and importance of beauty pageants in the Philippines can be explained in many ways but I think the most generally accepted explanation is that women in the Philippines outnumber the men. When it comes to the ratio of women to men I have heard various statistics ranging from 5 to 1 down to 3 to 1. No one seems 100% certain what the ratio is but all seem to agree, here in the Philippines women outnumber the men. It is my personal belief that the greater number of women than men creates a sort of insecurity factor and as such Filipina women are well aware of the competition and at the same time relatively insecure about their looks. Entering a beauty pageant and obviously winning one offers great reassurance to anyone feeling insecure about their looks.


Traditionally contestants will parade in several categories including evening wear bikinis, casual wear etc. Pictured above are some contestants from the Maganda Filipina competition sporting their tropical attire.

It is my personal belief that mankind or in this case woman kind is competitive by nature and beauty pageants are a manifestation of this competitiveness. What better way to show your superiority over your fellow female than by being judged as more beautiful. In the eternal feminine jousting between females, beauty is a major factor.

The Filipinas have always been renowned for their beauty and femininity and these two factors are both emphasized in beauty pageants. Looking as an outsider it seems to me Filipino society like many others is obsessed with physical looks. Right from the start you will hear people commenting on a baby saying it is handsome or beautiful. This is a form of social conditioning and kids grow up inherently understanding the importance of physical appearance. For the women beauty contests are a chance to display their physical appearance and be judged against their fellow females. The beauty pageants in this regard provide a definition of female beauty as well as providing an affirmation that a certain person or a certain look meets the criteria of what is considered beautiful.

Beauty and feminine appearance have always represented big business and the acquisition of money. By far the most products sold in the Philippines even more than the basic food stuffs are female beauty products. From skin whiteners and nail polish through to silky shiny shampoo the latest fashion and women’s shoes the beauty industry is big business all over the world but particularly here in the Philippines. Beauty pageants are on one level a cultural event and on another level they are just purely a means of making money, they represent an entrepreneurial venture as much as they represent a cultural event.

Little miss no nose as she cleaned up in the Miss Blue Rock competition.


As a general rule of thumb the bigger the pageant or the more high profile the pageant then the bigger the money involved. On the small level the money will often take the form of a sobre collection. For example in many local schools a beauty contest is a means of raising revenue for the school. The children will be given a “sobre” envelope which is then passed around for people to put whatever extra or whatever spare change they have into it. Often the child that raises the most money wins the beauty contest.

In the bigger competitions such as Miss Philippines and Miss Binibining Pilipinas which are nationally televised the money aspect becomes very much more pronounced and the acquisition of funds goes to a whole new level. In the upper echelons of beauty pageants it is all about the sponsorship funds and these can amount to considerable amounts. Also it is not uncommon for serious amounts of money to be raised for charities. Like in America the charity business is big business especially when it comes to beauty pageants.



Contestants in the Miss Binibining Pilipinas Beauty Contest an event designed to raise money for charity.

As previously stated beauty pageants in various forms are a regular occurrence throughout most of the Philippines and on the lower level there are various cultural implications associated with each contest. For example they are nearly always political with the Barangay Captain his wife the local mayor and his wife all becoming involved. They represent both a chance for economic gain and a festive occasion. The beauty pageants give a sort of identity to a certain Barrio and the important people within that Barrio. All beauty pageants will have an organizing committee which is normally composed of the local power players and their various spouses. For the contestants the pageants represent both an affirmation of their physical appearance and a reinforcement of the cultural definition of beauty. The pageants also represent a chance to gain public exposure and maybe get an opportunity to move onto bigger and better things, the possibility of financial gain or perhaps just the simple enjoyment that comes from wearing a special dress for a special occasion.


Pictures from Miss Philippines 2008 beauty pageant


On the national level the bigger more prominent beauty contests represent the definite chance of financial gain and of course very valuable public exposure. In fact winning a beauty contest such as Miss Philippines is seen as a launching pad for a range of different careers including showbiz, politics, advertising, marketing, modeling, community leadership or even a career in big business corporations. Just as in the smaller local level the bigger competitions are intertwined with politics. For example there will be a Miss tourism and a Miss earth beauty contests.


Gionna Cabrera a contestant in Miss Philippines 2005 had her own web site.


As is clearly obvious the beauty pageant and its associated implications go right to the roots of Filipino society. They are off huge cultural and economic significance. In fact some enterprising foreigners have conducted their own beauty pageants with varying degrees of success but one thing they all have in common is economic gain. Two of the more successful pageants conducted by foreigners are the Miss Blue Rock contest and the Dreamland Leather and Lace competition. In both cases the beauty contests result in increased occupancy rates in their respective hotels and they provide the perfect social venue for foreigner men and Filipina ladies to mingle and have fun. Last but not least they represent a perfectly legal means of presenting available Filipinas to available foreigners. This is not prostitution and cannot be construed as such, this of course makes the girls a lot more at ease and if the truth be known many of the men as well. Another big event is the Maganda Filipina event which has even branched out into using other mediums such as press and the internet.

Contestants in the Miss Atlantis beauty pageant competing in the swim suit section.


Just like in American society beauty pageants work on several levels and are always a popular event. In the Philippines they are important on a cultural level as well as an economic level and when this is combined with the fact that women outnumber men in this country then beauty pageants take on significant importance which influences all levels of Philippine society.

My Bangka Boat Trip

My Bangka Boat Trip By Ronalie


One of the things I have never done is ride on a boat so when I found out we were going to Subic for the Miss Blue Rock Beauty Competition I asked Shagger if we could take time and go for boat ride while we were there.

I had no idea that this weekend in Subic would be so amazing as I did not expect to win anything in the Miss Blue Rock competition because there are so many pretty and sexy girls here in Philippines.

We woke up the next day after celebrating all night and I still can’t believe what happened the night before, it was already after lunch time and Daddy Martin and Shagger were already gone doing some work for AE

I new they were busy and wound probable not takes us for a boat ride so Jen (daddy’s wife) and I decided to use some of the money I won the night before to hire a Bangka boat ourselves and go for a ride.

We found a guy on the beach in front of our hotel and he said 600p for one hour ride. We went back to our rooms and packed some stuff then we went back to the boat and I ask to the bangkero what will happen if we sink me and jen we are a little bit scared because maybe we not good swimmers. The Bangkero laugh at me and said no one sinks in Subic Bay it very quiet water so off we went.

Jen was scared to go at first and wanted to wait till the boys came back

But once we were on the boat she was happy because she had the room key

The very first place we went past was the Blue Rock floating bar and Shagger and Daddy were there on top of roof and they have a girl! We tell to the driver to take us there and we stop beside the bar.

Daddy and Shagger come down and ask what we are doing; I said you promise to take us on boat ride not play with a girl. They see our angry faces so they climb onto boat and come with us but now our boat is tangled in ropes from the floating bar. After a little time we get free and off we go to look at the islands

First we traveled along the shore and we seen many poor peoples houses next to some very nice places

After we traveled for a while we turned out towards some of the islands in the bay

Passing some rocks sticking out of the water I was thinking if our boat hit these and sunk I would choose the big island

The first island had building on it so I asked how they can build a house with no roads and no shops, Daddy and Wayne they just laugh at me. :blush:

The next Island had no buildings just a tower and they said its to tell the boats at night not to crash into me :crazy:

I really enjoyed our ride in the Bangka but it was a bit scary when the land was so far away :sauer:

Sitting looking out at the ocean I started thinking about the night before and still could not believe what happened to me, maybe it was just a dream :/

I was happy when we were back near Blue Rock and I could see the castle and I think that’s where the mermaids live

I am sorry to bore you with my boat trip but it was a very special weekend for me and the first time I experience like that, I had such a fun time 🙂

BY Ronalie