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In the Scene

Awrahan: Going pink in Marikina

Introducing Awrahan, which is actually more a sing-along bar than a restobar, somewhere in Marikina City. Does it live up to its name (that is, a place where one can sense other people’s aura to ascertain if one is interested/interesting)? Outrage Magazine checks out the only LGBT bar in this city.

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Lower your expectations.

That may not be the best way to entice people to check out a place – in this case, a bar – but it definitely is the most honest. That is, if you want to appreciate the possibilities of this place, I’d have to say for you to leave your expectations at home; instead, just keep an open mind. A very open mind, for that matter, about the scene that exists outside Metro Manila, and how it tries not only to exist but to thrive.

Having said this (shall we say, warning?), welcome to Awrahan Resto and Bar (at times only referred to as ARB), the only pink venue in Marikina City. More a sing-along bar than a restobar, this place was so named because it attempts to be a place of “awra” the gay-created word referring to the act of making one open to advances, or doing the advances (as in: sensing one’s aura to ascertain if one is interested/interesting).

Awrahan2WHAT’S THERE

The place is actually small – more akin to an apartment-turned-into-a-bar, the place occupies the ground floor of one of the semi-commercial units along Katipunan St. in Marikina City. You can tell it’s a bar because of the wooden tables placed outside (four of them, each able to seat from four customers).

From outside, you can see the inside because of the glass door and front wall – and even from that, you can see that the place isn’t all that grand. While facing the bar, you can see at your right a small stage. Seven to eight tables (again, each able to seat from four) are scattered; though the number of tables vary as these are often connected to accommodate bigger groups of people. Chairs are wooden; though there were some metal chairs (add-ons to the wooden ones).

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A bar is at the far end of the place; though this isn’t much use to the customers, since there are waiters who move around to take the orders (that is, you need not go to the bar at all).

Yes, there’s a second floor, but this isn’t part of the bar per se; instead, it is used by the place’s owner for accommodation.

The lighting is… basic. Even if you’re on something, and you want to see the lights dance (as you would in, say, Bed Bar), this place isn’t where you’d go for that.

The sound system? Nothing great; at times, even crappy (a friend I was with was actually apprehensive singing, fearing he’d sound worse than he already is, HA HA).

WHY GO THERE

Having said these, though, the question that needs to be asked is if Awrahan is worth even checking.

I’d say there are reasons to do so.

For one, if you’re a Marikina local, and heading out of Marikina isn’t an option, well then Awrahan IS the only place for you to check. Yes, there are other bars in the city (particularly along the riverbank), but this is the only LGBT bar here. Established three years ago, it used to be only one of the two such venues in the city; but with Budoy folding when its owner died, this is the one pink place in Marikina City.

Secondly, if you wanna check out the Marikina crowd, this is arguably a place to consider doing so. I have a friend who wants to have sex at least once with guys from different Metro Manila schools; another who wants to have sex at least once with guys from member States of the UN; and another who wants to have sex at least once with guys from the member countries of EU. In all instances, they wanna know if the guys from these different places have a different/peculiar taste. Now, if you are curious about the taste of a Marikina (gay/’bi) guy, Awrahan is a good place to start your search.

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Thirdly, as is expected in LGBT places outside Metro Manila, the “gay attitude” is almost always nil here. For example, people are… under-dressed (think slippers), so that the snootiness that comes with, say, being wrapped from head to toe by big brands just isn’t here.

Fourthly, there’s a sense of community here. Hear the standup comedienne (i.e. Charmie) call the regulars by their first names, and realize that hey, these people know each other.

Fifthly, the host (see above) Charmie is a… charm. The wit is not so different from the standup comics of Metro Manila’s bars (say, The Library); but it’s refreshing seeing how well the comedic approach is used in a different context.

Sixthly, if you wanna sing for the sake of singing, then head here.

And lastly, the crowd mix is interesting. The bar opens at 5:00PM, and from then until 10:00PM to 11:00PM, it is frequented by breeders (I mean, hets). After then, the LGBT crowd (and their ever-supportive friends, usually female friends) stay until (get this!) 6:00AM. So if you wanna see how a pink place is actually a party place of everyone, this is a good study somewhat.

WHY AVOID IT

Now, you may say that this is such a build-up, so you may as well head there now.

Well, my dear, as was first said, just lower the expectations. Because there are reasons why you may not want to be there, too.

If Marikina sounds… out-of-this-world for you, then heading there to check this one place is obviously not going to please you. Particularly if you don’t even drive, and you have a hard time finding/accessing this place…

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If you want hot Muscle Mary’s, this isn’t the place for you, too. I am sure Marikina has its share of hot queens; but I’m quite certain this is not where they congregate.

If you want a (sound and lighting) system that rocks, then… don’t come over, too.

And if you want a venue where you can “feel” the place’s quality (Do you remember Acquario in Malate in the olden times?), then this place’s somewhat home-y feel isn’t gonna make you have fun.

IN THE END

Again, should you check this out?

The venue isn’t grand. No, it isn’t as dilapidated as, say, Pink Manila or even Starlites; but this is no Bed Bar or O Bar, either.

The drinks are basic (Heck, many even drink Emperador, instead of ordering a bucket of beer or a pitcher of cocktails!).

The food is so-so (e.g. the kropek looked tempting; but it’s just… kropek).

The guys aren’t all laglag-panty (that is, so hot your knickers drop off you).

But let me tell you this: By providing a safer space for LGBT people in these parts of the Philippines, this place is – even conceptually – already a success.

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Awrahan is located at #62 Katipunan Street (corner Rainbow Street), Concepcion II, Marikina City.
How to find Awrahan

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.

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In the Scene

Looking for the southern rainbow charm

Las Piñas is booming, yes. But it still doesn’t have a lot of LGBT places. Ten to One Bar eyes to fill this gap as a “safe space” right in the middle of a still-largely residential location in BF Resorts in Las Piñas.

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When Ten to One Bar and Restaurant opened in February, it was clear on what it intended to achieve: “We wanted to establish a safe space for LGBTQI people in the south of Metro Manila,” said Eunice Roman, co-owner of the venue, who admitted that this is actually “ambitious”, but that it is still “what drives (the existence of venue).”

For Eunice, this is important. A non-scene bi-identifying woman herself, she said it is difficult to make her “come out of my comfort zone”. And she said she knows there are many like her out there. And so – for people like them – there aren’t that many venues to go to if one wants to let one’s hair down (perhaps except for cafés).

WHY GO THERE

1. Design-wise and ambiance-wise, Ten to One eyes to be “a cross between a café and a bar; a “chill” hang-out place. Methinks it’s really more a bar (as emphasized by the offerings); but that it’s a chill place in the middle of a still-largely residential location in BF Resorts in Las Piñas matters. Because there would be suburban LGBTQI people who won’t venture far just to have fun; and this place could – somehow – fill that craving to go out (though not wander to far-off locations).

2. Laid-back peeps. The bar, according to Eunice, wants to create a “community” – i.e. you could come here on your own, and end up finding new friends here. So the approach is pretty laid-back – e.g. Eunice insisted you can always approach her (and her biz partners) even if it’s just to chat.

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3. Unli. LP is (in)famous for everything unlimited – e.g. right beside Ten to One is a rest that offers unli-BBQ. Well, Ten to One has unlimited BBQ, too (for P175, from 7PM to 10PM). The unli choices aren’t a lot; but if this is what tickles your fancy, check this out…

4. Peculiar offerings – e.g. the Chicken Skin Nachos comes to mind, which Eunice said (with a laugh) “could kill you, but you die happy”.

WHY HESITATE

1. Location. If you’re a “mainstream” partygoer, then the fact that this place has to be “sadyain (that is, to intentionally go to)“ may not make you want to go to it at all.

2. As a new bar, the foot traffic tends to be inconsistent – i.e. if you want to party, party, party with a big crowd, then (for now) it’s hard to tell when best to come here to be lost in that crowd.

3. Alone-ness – i.e. some bars work because, if they don’t work, you have that option to go to the bar next door. Ten to One is, currently, by itself here; so if you want to maybe move to a nearby bar, there’s none that’s immediately there. This point – of course – only stresses point #1 above…

IN THE END

LP is booming, yes. But it still doesn’t have a lot of LGBT places. For Ten to One to actually “own up” as such is refreshing.

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The add-on benefit is that it’s right in the middle of a still-largely residential location in BF Resorts in LP matters. As stated, there would be suburban LGBTQI people who won’t venture far just to have fun. Now this place could – somehow – fill that craving to go out (though not wander to far-off locations).

Ten to One Bar is located at #64 Gloria Diaz St., BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City, Metro Manila. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/TenToOneBar/ or call
0915 707 3753.

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In the Scene

‘Kasarisarian’ LGBTQIA community cultural event slated in Lucena City on July 21-26

To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 in Lucena City.

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To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 at the ESPASYO ART GALLERY, Quezon Avenue corner Trinidad Street, Lucena City in the Quezon Province.

Particularly for this year’s event, “we’re trying to elevate the discussion and the perspective on the current situation of the LGBTQIA people in the country,” said Aaron Bonette, co-organizer of the event. “We want to make Kasarisarian 2 a non-hierarchal exhibition invested in grassroots community organizing, and focused on radical queer narratives, visioning and politics. This means that the curated works will tackle and represent queer lives and struggles based on the current and past experiences of LGBTQIA people that are skeptic – from the looming commercialized cooptation of Pride to the glitter industrial complex to the failed political myth of equality through law, violence against LGBTQIA people and class hierarchy.”

The event will feature 15 artists based in the Quezon Province and two artists based in the Netherlands, including: Lans Lans, Elvira Bvlgari, Aaron Bonette, Syeril Powsa, Catsoup, John Van Vallesterol, Annita Remoroza, Aann Reynales, Jaymar Valdoria, Alliza Beth, Joma Importante, Skimmi Shimmi, Beatriz Rogas, France dela Paz, and Brian van Niehoff. Documentaries from Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT series will also be shown; as will Sunugin ang Aparador by Gio Potes, and Mark & Lenny by Gio Potes.

Outrage Magazine launches #KaraniwangLGBT

Bonette added that the annual Pride month celebration has just ended, and yet – over 20 years since the first such gathering in Metro Manila “the LGBTQIA movement does and spends more on branding rather than coalition building, with the mainstream LGBTQIA movement focusing on soliciting funds from corporation to run our cause; it’s almost like our rights have been bought, paid for and sold to the highest bidder no matter how anti-worker or neoliberal policy upholder that corporation is.”

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In this sense, “the metaphor of being ‘treated like a piece of meat’ is valid, as if our bodies and identities are there to be exploited in the free market of commodification and oppression.”

Bonette said that they are cognizant that “corporate money also do some good for the community”, but that awareness is needed so LGBTQIA people also recognize that “there is something antithetical about a movement for equality and justice funded by the forces in the world that is also most responsible for widespread economic and social inequality.”

In the end, “we’d like to use this event as a venue to ask LGBTQIA people: What’s the future ahead of us? When our community is not yet united as a social movement that addresses the issues facing the most marginalized LGBTQIA people, with those fighting against systemic poverty, are we really making any progress? Or has the LGBTQIA movement, our movement, already hijacked by power elites advocating for their own interests?”

“Kasarisarian” is a term coined from: “Kasarian” which means gender, and (2) “Sari-Sari” for variety and diversity. It aims to provide queer (and straight) artists a non-commercial and an uncompromising space to tackle and explore various queer narratives, identities and politics.

This is a free event (yes, there’s no admission fee); though it is open for donations (during the event). Door will open at 1:00PM on July 21 and the program will start at exactly 6:00PM with a welcome reception, followed by the Artist Talk, film screening and cultural performances. This will run until July 26.

For more information, head to Guni-Guri Collective; or contact Aaron Bonette at aarnmssbntt@gmail.com or 0995-085-3664.

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In the Scene

CAREDIVAS slated for special run from June 24-July 30

PETA and OWWA present a special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

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Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) partnered for the special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

CAREDIVAS – a musical drama about five transgender OFWs in Israel who work as caregivers in the morning and transform into drag queen performers at night – premiered in 2011. That year, the musical dominated the Philstage Gawad Buhay! Awards, bagging seven trophies, including Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Musical Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical.

Caregivers, also known as home health or personal care aides, give assistance to people who are sick, injured, mentally or physically disabled, or the elderly and fragile. Their job description includes bathing and bathroom functions, walking and light exercise, plan and prepare meals, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework like making beds and change linens, dusting and vacuuming, laundry and ironing. Caregivers also make and keep appointments with doctors, provide or arrange transportation and serve as a companion for their clients. Caregivers might need to lift clients into the bathtub, cars and into bed, and need strength. They help their clients engage in activities (games, memory books) and most of all, companionship.

CAREDIVAS revolves around the lives of kind and loving Chelsea, often-sarcastic group leader Shai, ditzy Thalia, bubbly Kayla, and the ill-tempered Jonee. While desperate to make ends meet, they also struggle to search for acceptance in a foreign land.

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This time around, giving life to the major roles will be Melvin Lee (Chelsea), Vincent De Jesus and Ron Alfonso (Shai), Dudz Teraña and Jason Barcial (Thalia), Gio Gahol, Jerald Napoles and Ricci Chan (Kayla), Thou Reyes and Phil Noble (Jonee).

Supporting them will be Myke Salomon (Faraj, David, Daniel), Paul Holme and Leo Rialp (Isaac, Moshe, Yaakov, Club owner), Joan Bugcat and Gold Villar (Nonah), Eric Dela Cruz and Dom Miclat-Janssen (Avi, Aryeh, Pulis), Sherry Lara (Sarah, Adara), Eko Baquial and Joseph Madriaga (ensemble).

The artistic team of CAREDIVAS include: Maribel Legarda (director), Liza Magtoto (playwright), Vincent De Jesus (lyricist, composer, arranger, musical director), Leo Abaya (set designer), Jonjon Villareal (lighting designer), John Abul (costume designer), Carlo Pagunaling (assistant costume designer), Carlon Matobato (choreographer) and Gimbey dela Cruz (vocal coach).

CAREDIVAS will play every Friday (8:00PM), Saturday and Sunday (3:00PMand 8:00PM).

The restaging of CAREDIVAS is part of OWWA’s 35th anniversary celebration, “renew(ing its) commitment in promoting and protecting the welfares of OFWs”. Aside from this, OWWA is also “providing social, education and training, workers welfare assistance and reintegration program attuned to the needs of OFWs and their families”.

For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA at (+632) 7256244 or email petatheater@gmail.com; or TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.





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In the Scene

Getting the LGBT vibe at Laguna’s only MSM venue…

Outrage Magazine heads out of Metro Manila to check out the LGBT scene in Biñan, Laguna via Pepper Haus.

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A hooded guy nodded at us when we got off the car. And then, while I was taking photos of the façade of the venue, that same guy tried to grab the phablet of Josh, a close friend who was with us. Failing to get the gadget, the guy then rushed across the street, where an accomplice of his was waiting on a motorcycle. They immediately sped off.

That was how we were introduced to Pepper Haus, perhaps the ONLY LGBT-specific (though mostly MSM-centric) venue in Biñan, Laguna.

That occurrence may highlight: 1. The pending danger that may meet those who’d visit the place (or how unsafe it may be), or 2) How criminals profile LGBT partygoers as easy prey, so they wait where we gather so they can try to victimize us.

It was, therefore, with gladness that we stepped inside to be surrounded by… yes… people like us.

WHAT’S THERE

According to Dennis Lucero, co-owner of the venue, Pepper Haus was established on June 2012 by Katherine Fajardo. It was only later when Lucero came onboard as a shareholder.

The place is, in a word, simple. Boxy/box-like, it is divided into three “parts” – i.e. 1. A stage is in front; 2. The tables for the guests occupy the entire space between the main door and the stage; and 3. At the right is the bar/kitchen/DJ booth/path to the dressing area for the performers.

There’s nothing fancy about the place – e.g. expect to see monoblocs, and well-used tables, arranged so closely together so that passing through (to go to pee, for instance) can be tricky at times.

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The offerings are somewhat varied; and – this has to be said – priced a la bars in Metro Manila. For instance, nachos sell for P180; lomi for P120; squid balls for P100; crispy pata from P350 to P450; and peanuts for P70.

NOT that people come here for the cuisines; instead, it is (often) to spend time with other LGBT people (friends or not) while enjoying alcohol. And the prices of the drinks are sorta high too – e.g. Emperador from P320 to P420 (depending on freebies). At least the beers are… affordable – e.g. Red Horse from P60 to P120; San Miguel Light for P60; and beer bucket for P350.

Yes, they sell cigarettes for (Marlboro 20s) for P100.

The original bar actually burned in October 2016, taken down by the same fire that started from an adjacent bar. But after 2.5 months, the new bar that is there now came to be.

WHY GO THERE

Now, even if the prices of the goods may be a source of worry for some (note that the present minimum wage in CALABARZON, where Laguna is located, only ranges from P267.00 to P349.50 per day), Pepper Haus is a must-check for various reasons.

First, it IS the only MSM-centric bar in Biñan, Laguna, so if one wants to be surrounded by PLUs, this is the place to go to there.

“Right from the start, we envisioned our bar to be dominated by members of the LGBT community,” Lucero said. This is also why the name of the place is “Pepper Haus”, poking fun at “pepper” or “paminta” in Filipino, which is the same word used in gay lingo to refer to “straight-acting/looking gay men”. “We saw the potential in investing in a place where LGBT members can freely express themselves and socialize with one another,” Lucero added.

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Second, the venue is aware of its role in the cohesively gathering LGBT community members. For instance, to “give back to the LGBT community”, Pepper Haus hosts HIV testing for its customers. Better yet, to help promote safer sex, “we also give out free condoms as a way of reminding everyone to have safer sex at all times,” Lucero said.

Third, Pepper Haus has long become a “community center” of sorts. There are instances when the venue is used to raise funds “for needy LGBT members, especially those who became our regular patrons,” Lucero said.

And then, of course, there’s the fun that can be had while there – e.g. some performers coming all the way from Metro Manila flock to perform; and Laguna’s cuties may be seen to gather here.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

It goes without saying that this won’t be a place for everyone (no place ever is, hello!). If you’re not from the area and you don’t have a car and commuting isn’t for you, then coming over may be out of the question. If you’re easily scared by risks (READ: the intro to this article) that may be encountered when in a new/strange place, you may have second thoughts coming over. And if you have budget issues, you may not necessarily have fun here, too.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, though, Pepper Haus is definitely a must-check out venue because – in a world that continues to push LGBT people into the fringes – this is one place at least in Biñan, Laguna where you can let your hair down and may actually be celebrated for it. Pink heaven knows we don’t have enough of those places, so that every one that exists – no matter their limitations – is worth highlighting…

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So head to Biñan, Laguna and find the rainbow explosion at Pepper Haus.

Pepper Haus is located along the National Highway, Biñan, Laguna, five minutes away from McDonalds Olivares. Landmarks: IETI, Yamaha showroom and Olivarez Complex (very near the crossing).





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In the Scene

Beach House: Gathering place for MSM in the south

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. But if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party.

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Yes, there was a time when pink partying was somewhat centralized – just about everyone knew that to party with the pink crowd, one only had to check one of the multiple venues located in Malate in the city of Manila (particularly along J. Nakpil and Ma. Orosa). But those days are long gone. For good or bad, nowadays, partying in Metro Manila means the need to discover party venues at just about every city within Metro Manila; and the venues differ oh-so-grandly, meaning that partygoers need to adjust to be able to truly enjoy the contexts of these party venues…

This leads us to Beach House (BH), currently the one must-visit venue for so many MSM – if not necessarily LGBT – in Las Pinas.

WHAT’S THERE

BH is – in not so many words – one big inuman (drinking) place that is not similar to Western-influenced dance bars. Here, forget the dance floor; instead, there are just tables after tables where locals gather to spend hours with each other.

There are actually two “sections” for BH – one is the “outside” section, where the seats/tables are mostly wooden, and where there’s no airconditioning. The “inside” venue is enclosed (thus airconditioned, though this doesn’t function as well as it should); and while the place still has wooden furniture, this venue is where some shows (usually standup comedy, or beauty pageants of local clans) take place.

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Both sections have karaoke – inside, you have to go through the comedians first before you can sing (typical of standup comedy bars, though here, some of the jokes are already stale and have already been used in similar venues elsewhere in Metro Manila); while outside, you just have to insert a five-peso coin in the machine, punch the number of the song you want to belt out, and then wait for your turn.

Many here drink as groups – i.e. forget the buckets of six beer bottles since people instead order the per-liter bottle (e.g. one liter of Red Horse costs P100) or long neck bottles of Emperador (P250 per bottle). And I’d say somewhat typical of the drinking venues in, say, Cebu City, many here are to be self-served (e.g. make your own juice).

A friend who goes to the place told me that “wala naman ibang mapupuntahan (there are no other venues we can go to)”, so this place can get quite busy (particularly the outdoor section). So expect to see some cuties… though most partygoers here are dressed-down (e.g. slippers-wearing).

AND WHY GO THERE

If you follow that friend’s logic, then you really don’t have a choice if you wanna party in LP but to go here.

If you wanna check the LP crowd, too, this is a good place to start that.

It helps, of course, that it’s conveniently accessible (right across SM Southmall), so…

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WHY AVOID

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. So that aside from drinking and singing (or listening to others do some wailing), not much can be done here (e.g. dancing).

Even when there are special events (e.g. pageants), these are obviously not on a par with other Metro Manila-organized events – e.g. the airconditioning fails, hosts recycle old skits from other bars, et cetera. So if you’ve no patience for this, you’ve been warned.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party. Some are laid back (e.g. you can come as you are, slippers and all), some pretentious (e.g. hear some clubbers belittle those who aren’t “classy enough”, delivered in thick English accent), some couldn’t care less (e.g. there are some who fall asleep drunk on their tables), some are wild (e.g. PDAs happen near the toilet), some are looking for a fight (e.g. fisticuffs right outside the bar), and so on…

This place makes you realize that not too far from “imperial Manila” (i.e. City of Manila, Makati City, Taguig City and Quezon City), it’s a completely different world already. And yes, it’s a world that is worth checking now and then..

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Beach House is located right across SM Southmall (which is along Alabang-Zapote Road).





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In the Scene

Dragon Mart: Partying a la pobre

If it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad. Particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

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Remember the Valkyrie issue? When some transwomen complained because they were barred from the venue because they were supposedly “crossdressing”? And do you remember how the issue sort of divided the LGBT community, with some supporting the complaining because it supposedly represented the issue of accessing establishments/services particularly of transwomen; while others seeing it as nothing but raising a ruckus over the elitist issue of not being able to party/social climb/hobnob with the wealthy/social climbers (packaged as LGBT discrimination)?

If you head out of metropolitan cities and see how local LGBT people party there, one may sort of see the “anti” position on the issue. Because there, they have more urgent issues, such as the abuses experienced by LGBT people at home – e.g. THIS and THIS – or their daily sustenance – e.g. THIS). And when they party at all, they don’t do it in self-proclaimed “exclusive” clubs that charge a regular employee’s salary for two or more days as cover charge. They’re content with doing it in… “common” places. Such as beside a gas station.

Enter the likes of Dragon Mart in General Santos City.

WHAT’S THERE

Dragon Mart is actually a chain of gas stations. So for the one at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City (where the members of the LGBT community gather now and then), there’s nothing fancy there at all. Instead, what people do is – when you arrive – grab some drinks from inside the convenience store of the gas station, and then bring what you bought to any of the tables right beside the gas pumps.

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The rows of tables are divided into two – closer to the gas pumps are plastic tables and chairs, while (places on an elevated ramp) are wooden benches and wooden tables. The wooden ones are the “classier” ones, if they can considered that; while the plastic ones are the “less classy” ones. Though this segregation is somewhat unnecessary (and may just be based on appearances – e.g. the plastics are well-worn/used, so they appear dirty) since the place is a first-come-first-served basis (meaning, if you arrive earlier, you get to choose where you want to sit).

WHY GO THERE

Perhaps because General Santos City does not have that many party places to go to, many drop by Dragon Mart. But the appeal of the place also include: 1) less (if any) pretentiousness there (e.g. you drink with the tricycle drivers, as well as the yuppies of the city); and 2) the possibilities that can happen there (e.g. buy balot right across the street, and someone is bound to chat with you, get your number, or schedule… whatever.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

Sans the pretentions, this is not for those who want to be deemed sosyal. This may not be ideal for those who have lung-related health issues, too (the fumes, duh!). And when it rains, the area with the plastic tables/chairs can become oh-so-wet.

IN CONCLUSION

Nonetheless, if it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad.

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Again particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

Dragon Mart is at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City.

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