Filipino Fever – August 04, 2007

Philippine IslandsMany readers have asked about security in the Philippines. Overall, it is quite safe. There are places in most cities of the world that are not safe – same for Manila, Angeles City and the Subic area. Tourist destinations are particularly vulnerable. In the past year, there has been one questionable death in Angeles City and none in Subic. Tourists are more likely to be scammed than anything else. The most common is the, “Let’s play cards scam.”

A well-dressed Filipino will approach a tourist and start a casual conversation that will eventually lead to an invitation to join in a friendly card game. Many tourists feel the need to be loved and wanted by the locals or want to experience the native way of living and doing things. When the scammers find one of those they have a field day. Once an invitation is accepted, the host will take the tourist to a nice place somewhere in the bowels of town and the games begin. The tourist wins several low stake hands and starts feeling lucky. If he decides to leave, they put not so gentle pressure on him to stay and give them a chance to get their money back. The stakes are raised and the tourist looses. Big time. He will not have enough to pay the debt and these people take him to an ATM force him to withdraw the funds and pay off. Unless the person has a great memory and can find the house, there is little the police can do.

Kokomos Beach Resort 

Violence against tourists is rare. I have heard of three armed robberies in the last year and those were in those parts of town where nobody should venture anyway. Prudence is the key. Stay alert, stay out of unlit areas, stick to bars that cater to tourists (no need to sit around and drink with the locals – the only thing you will end up with is the bill) and use taxis and trikes (sort of like tuk tuks) at night.  I do not know how it is in the rest of Thailand or if things have changed since I had my share in the bars in Nana Plaza, but I am amazed how well the business owners cooperate in Subic. The Mayor recently asked me to start an international businesspersons association to help promote the tourist industry and form a close working relationship with his office. One of the active business people distributed some invitations and, at our first meeting, had 34 people attend. The meeting was brief but productive. I was involved in a similar organization in Angeles, attended three meetings, and gave up. The organizers’ ego meant that items they wanted discussed were on the agenda and everything else was superfluous. Subic seems so much easier than Angeles City. Maybe it is because of the size or maybe it is the laid-back beach attitude. There is no doubt that licenses, permits and other official formalities are a breeze. My experiences with government agencies have made a skeptic out of me so I wonder when/if the smell of foreign money will eventually corrupt City Hall in Olongapo? Let us hope not. 

In a positive development, the largest hotel developer in Angeles City, the Orchid Group (www.orchid-inn.com) is also venturing into the Subic area. They recently purchased a five storey white elephant on Baloy Beach and are converting it into a hotel, shopping, entertainment, condominium complex. It will also have 17 beach bungalows. The hotel should be open by November and the bungalows sometime in the next month. They are building the most unusual swimming pool I have ever seen. It traverses the length and width of the entire building. It is huge.

Kokomos - Phillipines 

A couple of days ago, I decided to make my annual visit back to the United States. There is not a lot for me there, but it is nice to see my sister and brother-in-law and pay my respects to my parents and grandparents. Then, of course, are the obligatory trips to the “big boy’s toys” shops; Circuit City, Comp USA and Best Buy. All this takes around 3 days, which is fine.

It is a long trip, but I get an annual home leave ticket which is a use it or lose it proposition. What is the point? Well, getting space is next to impossible. At least on NWA (North West Airlines). Not that I have any affection for North West Airlines, they offer the best connection back to Cincinnati. Taking any of the Asian airlines adds something like 8 hours each way. As bad as NWA’s service is, those 16 hours come in handy.  I have been burning frequent flyer miles for years and have been using them to upgrade from business to first. There is absolutely nothing on earth as nice as first class service on Thai, Singapore, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. Besides delicious food and impeccable service, the wines served are some of the best I have ever had.  It is too bad that Boeing dropped their in-flight Internet service. For $20 US, you could have a broadband connection during the entire flight. The caveat for using mileage is that the airlines have only one seat in first allocated for mileage passengers. Four years ago, the staff at the American Airlines office in Manila mentioned that seats are available 10 months before the departure so if you are planning on upgrading or trying to get a full trip, start very very early.

It is still hard to believe we are in the middle of the rainy season. Our usual daily showers are more like twice weekly and last for minutes. That has been great for business as our rain time usually starts around 7 and many guys decide to stay home with their honeyko (telac) and watch a movie.  That is it for this week. If you have any questions, ideas or specific items you would like to hear more about, please let me know. My email is – kokomos@gmail.com  

Till next time.     

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11 Responses to “Filipino Fever – August 04, 2007”

  1. Paul Williams says:

    One point you do miss is that the PI is suffering more and more from the Thai disease… that is the insistence of the b-gals on having a local boyfriend whilst working the go-go’s. Unfortunately, it is actually in the interest of the bar owners to employ gals who have Thai or Filipino boyfriends because they are much more likely to keep on working than run off with a farang. The most obvious indication of this, gals not willing to do more than the most perfunctory short-time but sometimes, perhaps quite often, the older gals with local husbands will go to extreme lengths to outwit their farang amour (info on the internet a two-way thing, the gals now know what farang check up on so can counter bluff them!) whilst keeping up with their local men. Disaster and even death the most unlikely scenario when things, as they almost always do, begin to unravel!

  2. Mo says:

    Paul,

    Good point. I don’t think the local boyfriend senario is as prevelant here as it is in Thailand. 20 years ago the short time thing was, I think, about 20%, 15 years ago 50% – maybe more. Over here, I’d say 20% want to do short times. Ten years ago, nearly everyone expected to stay all night. This will be a good topic for an upcoming piece.

  3. Khun Leigh says:

    As far as the gals having local boyfriends, they are working in the bars and I don’t see why they cannot have a private life outside of work just as the rest of us do. Yes, this will make them less willing to give the GFE(girlfriend experience) but I feel it is every person’s right to have a private life outside of work. The customers just need to be a little more choosy about who they party with.

  4. Khun Leigh, I totally agree. I don’t find it at all unusual that a Thai bargirl has a Thai boyfriend, or any other Asian bargirl for that matter. Why shouldn’t they have local boyfriends? From my experience over many years, some people do not realise how essential some stability is for these working girls. A local guy offers some sense of security, companionship, they communicate in the same language, live and understand the same culture, and the local guys are not all bad guys. That would be like saying, all foreign visitors are bad people. However, I see both sides of the equation and some bargirls are treated very badly by foreigners. Some foreigners do not give the bargirls any consideration whatsoever, and it is only natural that they seek a relationship with a fellow native. Ultimately, if a guy is seeking “real” girlfriend experience, then get a “real” girlfriend, and remain loyal to her. Some guys just want everything their way and this will not happen.

  5. Kan Thip says:

    The point surely is that the bargirls will never, under any circumstances, admit to foreigners that they have a local boyfriend and that Thais in particular take this ethos to absurd lengths – such as having an upstairs Thai gigolo bar in the heart of Soi Cowboy. Farang first timers have a sort of idealised concept of a submissive Oriental gal who doesn’t even exist in local circumstances, and they are milked left, right and centre. And to get back to the original thread, safety, when some farang susses what is happening and fights back, he is potentially likely to be killed, as a matter of face even if he is the injured party. So exactly what incentive do bar owners have to employ girls who DON’T have local boyfriends – who are likely to run off with the first nice foreigner they meet? None, I would guess. There is an ethos of face in the bars that mandates customers have no face, whether from bill padding all the way through to passing off Thai husbands as a brother in need of immediate assistance or, hey, meet this new country gal who has only been working for five minutes. Yes, farang sort of know the cons, but do they know that Thais know they know this and up the ante accordingly? So the PI is better than Thailand, with only approx twenty percent gals with local men rather than 99.99 percent here – but I have yet to meet anyone who came to Thailand first who wants to live in the PI!

  6. Kan Thip: You mentioned “an upstairs Thai gigolo bar in the heart of Soi Cowboy”. I’ve never come across one. Where is it?

  7. Like Bangkok Bad Boy says, “an upstairs Thai gigolo bar in the heart of Soi Cowboy.”  This has me scratching my head too!  Perhaps Kan Thip saw Bangkok Bad Boy with his mini harem of bargirls one evening LOL!

  8. My harem is anything but “mini” 🙂

  9. Being the “Bad Boy” around here I guess I expected that reply!

    I’m not sure if Kan Thip has merely mistaken a Cowboy go go bar with an upstairs facility. Beats me!

  10. Kan Thip, I was forced to edit your AIDS comment because I deemed it a malicious accusation, and the reference to a young age was extremely controversial too.  I agree with some of your comments but your dislike for Thailand and Thai girls really shows.  Bars that pad bills (clipjoints), were synonymous with Patpong’s infamous upstairs bars.  Nowadays, bars trying to pad bills in Soi Cowboy, or Nana Plaza will VERY quickly earn themselves a bad name.  Exactly where and how long ago are you talking about bill padding?

    Your last comment proves that Thailand is still the most popular destination in South East Asia.  However, the Philippine Islands is right up there in second place.  In comparison to Thailand the Philippines is such a poor country.  I feel great pity for the way the Filipino people are treated by their own, it is nothing short of deprived poverty.

  11. Khan Thip says:

    Hi Dave, did Cowboy last night… managed to confuse Midnight Bar with Tilac bar in my previous comment but anyway the gigolo bar is above Sam 2000 and Five Star was the other bar with a concentration of Thai men upstairs for some reason. Hope that helps. BTW anyone complaining about the cost of beer in Soi Cowboy should switch to draugh Chang, quite reasonable at 70-80 baht a glass all night long (except Doll’s House where it was 110 baht)