Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A Quick Peek at P.Burgos St, Makati, Manila

 Accidental Tourist 
I did the usual research on the top 10 destinations before visiting Manila, and not surprisingly, P.Burgos St didn't come up. But that sounds like a place i would like to visit, at least in the day time.

Street sign, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
O, what a tangled web of wires they weave.
When first I set my eyes on Burgos Street !

Yesterday, when my hotel's shuttle bus drove past the corner of Makati Ave and P.Burgos St, a yellow building by the business name of Moulin Rouge squats at this corner caught my eyes successfully. Because it was less than 15 mins walk from my hotel, I decided to drop into this red-light district for a quick peek the following day.

Moulin Rouge, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines

Moulin Rouge, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
The front (left photo) and side (above) of Moulin Rouge.
The pair of alluring eyes beckon, "Why don't you come in and see me sometime..."
Yes pretty please! And I'll stay here for 101 nights (and days if you let me).

This yellow Moulin Rouge bar (I think) marks the start of P.Burgos St at Makati Ave. This joint lures the Arabs with eye candies (of eyes), Francophilia and belly dancing (I'm imaging. Who knows what else is going on inside. Probably some hookah smoking is involved). Satan, oops! Santa (what a terrible typo) stood outside the door ringing the bell for business. Hoe hoe hoe, it's glorious mix of multiculturalism, globalisation and tradition. Oui oui!

Jeepney, Makati, Manila, Philippines
The iconic jeepneys waiting for passengers on Makati Ave. An American legacy from WW2's Pacific theatre

 Survey the Lay of the Land 
I went there after my chicken lunch at Jollibee (located at the corner of Jupiter and Makati Ave). P.Burgos is located just across the street from this Jollibee. So I thought I would take a little walk into chicken town to work off my lunch ("chicken" is Cantonese - Hong Kong's local dialect - slang for sex worker).

Since it's afternoon and P.Burgos St is a red-light district, meaning it's still sleeping (come back aftersun, not afternoon). While the business hours for red-light district is 9 to 5, it's 9pm to 5am. So you won't find too many businesses open now and streets were quiet with an occasional tourists like me, walking around like a black sheep lost. Bah...Humbug!

This worked out fine for me as I wasn't gonna enter their premises (without duly protection), I was here strictly for boring sightseeing. I imagine the workers here are camera shy in general, and the customers are probably camera phobic. Coming here at this time was great. To me, sightseeing without shooting is like eating without chewing (or eating without teeth).

The Clipper Hotel, P.Burgos St, Makati, Manila, Philippines

The Clipper Hotel, P.Burgos St, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Didn't expect to see an art-deco building here with a cruise-ship theme.
Pretty sure this place had seen many U.S. sailor boys.
Big surprise for big sucker of art-deco architecture.

I had to admit, going there at day time, you would have missed all the tacky bright neon lights. Red-light district always looks more alluring at night - in a 2-bit tart kinda way - than in the cold day lights where you can see things as they really are (who wants that ?! You're here for fantasy. Not reality). The kitschy neon lights can be quite good if done well. The swarm of touting for business can also be a source of joy, and quite heart-warming interactions where heartstrings pull on g-strings that pull on purse-strings in a string of emotional transactions. Bewdiful!

Another thing about walking at this time of the day is that it's extra safe. Not that it's unsafe to walk here, but it's even more so at this time of day. That's the vibe I got. One fella approached me with a few boxes of Viagra. I stood erect and said to him with my eyes, "Hey buddy, you think I need Viagra! What I need is 2 dozens of XXXL size condoms. Just for tonight!" (after all, tomorrow is another day).

Apparently, he was neither a mind or eyes reader. But he slipped away quite quickly, he didn't stick to me like silicone-based gel, and left me with only one attempt to sell me those recreational aids (the 4 letters are all in lower case. Ok?).

I wonder if they're doing brisk trades by having their customers admitting their plumbing problems in public (try to say the last 4 words rapidly, i dare you. And no shower please. I just had one). It's like kids being seen in supermarkets buying condoms with price check being broadcast over loud speakers (except there's nothing wrong with that. The kids certainly have more than adequate level of hydraulic pressure to lift their cranes to a level that's higher than firemen need to reach to put out the fires).

Apart from drug - strictly Viagra - pushers (ok, ok, they should be called hustlers), you could also be approached by ladies who ask you if you want a massage.

Shampoo Bar, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Pagan, Muslim and Christian at the corner of the Shampoo Bar
(click to enlarge)

After taking this photo, the lady (boy oh boy!) in pink approached me and asked if I wanted a massage. There were also other ladies asked me if I wanted massage. But the touting were brief and not aggressive. Maybe they're still sleep walking.

If I remember correctly, I watched on Sydney's TV more than a few decades ago (before the web) that there were female performers showering themselves with lots of soapy lather on stage in Manila. Is this Shampoo Bar provided that entertainment? Is this kinda entertainment still available in this day and age? Was it all just a very nice and clean adolescent dream? Am I a soapy froth who dreamed I was a man? Or a man dreaming of watching live show? What's the sound of no hand clapping?

 Ring the Bell at Ringside 
One of the more stood out place in P.Burgos St neighbourhood is Ringside bar, located right in heart of it. Well, midget-boxing is certainly uniquely Manila. Si, señoras y señores.

Where did the whole idea of midget-boxing come from? I'll try to make some educated guesses. Filipinos got to like boxing because Manny Pacquiao is probably the most notable Filipino outside the Philippines (ok, only Imelda Marcos - the 1st Lady with 1,220 pairs of shoes - could match his fame. Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, we have Duchess with the Mostest, and in the blue corner...well, you know the rest). Ok, ok, Pacquiao is more well known among gals and Marcos among guys (I say that just so that I won't appear sexist. Pervert, yessiree Bob. Sexist? Absolutely not!).

In the 10 days I stayed in Manila, I've seen Pacquiao at least 5 times on TV. Pinoygreats is a sports website, but features almost exclusively boxing. There's a photo of Pope Francis receiving a boxing championship belt (yeah, Catholics is the other Pinoy's great love).

Ringside, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Guy: "Hey look over there!"
Santa:  "Shhhhh..."

That explains the popularity of boxing, and even lady boxing (醉翁之意不在酒), why midget boxing?

Professor Jim Turner (from Home of the Brave) opened Hobbit House - not far from Rizal Park - back in 1973 where the restaurant's waitstaff are consisted of  Hobbit size Filipinos. The fact that it's still in business after 40+ years suggests that this little market niche in the tourism business can work. Others see and seize the opportunity and expanding it out to cover other area, like the national sport of boxing. Just connecting these 2 dots (one big and one small, but more numerous), and Voilà, you get midget-boxing. Let's throw in the ladies (but without the towel) into the ring as well.

At least, the Filipino Hobbits weren't being tossed about in the Philippines as they do in USA and Canada in the sport of dwarf-tossing (if you watched and remembered the first few mins of The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), you know what I mean). These countries - ok, probably just USA - may also give Pinoy the idea of midget-boxing. Why not? The adult entertainment in Burgos St is very American friendly because America is one of Pinoy's great love (if there's a boxing match between Uncle Sam and the Pope, i think the match would be a draw). O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light...(or afternoon's cloudy sky)

Ringside, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines

Adult Entertainment venue, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Burbon Babes, I never heard of it until now. Only Filipinos would cater such an exquisitely beautiful American entertainment

Montana Club, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Another offering for American tourists. In NYC, this is probably a gay bar; in Manila, it's a girlie bar.
Something is lost in the different English accents.
In any case, not that you can't have a gay time here, in a manly way.
Giddy-up partner! Let's ride into Brokeback, sorry...Montana Mountain. Yeehaw!

Filipinos describe their Spanish colonial period as "Living in the Convent",
and their American colonisation "Living in Hollywood". I don't think the population can all fit in here.
You only live twice, or so it seems...

All these American theme is of course no surprise because the Philippines was once an American colony (or as my friend David would say, what do you mean "once"?). Even without the history of American colonialism, as I said in this Pattaya article that many red-light districts in SE Asia, and one in Sydney is created for the American navy boys. Where there're military bases, there're red-light districts. This is closest thing being home away from home with all these American sights. Why would Manila be any different?

Virgin Mary statue, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Quietly stands next to a traffic light opposite Ringside.
She looked at me with the expression, "You don't bring me flowers..."

 To Market, to Market 
Arabs aren't the only large group of tourists here; judging from the Korean businesses, they're by far the biggest group.

South Korea is known for their frontier businessmen. I believe their government encourage them to do so. They tend to develop businesses in less developed markets such as those in the Philippines, Cambodia, etc. The Korean here are both tourists and locals.

Korean Business, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines

Korean Business, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines
Korean business around P.Burgos St

Korean Business, P.Burgos Street, Makati, Manila, Philippines

I didn't walk the whole length of this street. I'd seen enough to get the bittersweet taste of a typical SE Asian red-light district. It touched me in such a funny and unexpected way  (or is it unexpected funny way?).

I'm glad that I visited here despite it was off my radar. Obviously, my radar needs some serious tweaking. Probably an overhaul. My gaydar, on the other hand, works perfectly fine. No, i'm not gay folk ("not that there's anything wrong with that." Especially my gaydar. I'm a pervert, remember?).

Lots to see that give you lots of pauses and rewinds. Play it again, Sam.

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