General Santos is better known as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” – obviously thanks to the city’s seas’ abundant (at least for now) tuna yields. If pigging out on everything fishy is your goal, then this is – indeed – a great place to do that.
However, considering that even for tuna enthusiasts, a fish is still just a fish, and you may want to check out what the city south of Davao City may also be able to offer, fear not. Yes, it somewhat mirrors the nearby Davao City (since it’s the most… “advance” in these parts of Mindanao); but the place has a character all its own.
And to check this “character”, a good place to study is Xplore.
By any standard (even the locals’), this isn’t fancy. Instead, it’s a glorified “tambayan” (hangout place).
You enter the place via an “eskinita” (small passage) at the right side of a not-too-shabby building. Before going inside, there’s a “window” at the left where you pay cover charge (though most nights, the entry fee is waived).
Inside, there are two “floors”. The ground floor has the stage at the left (where bands perform), complete with a runway that has a pole for dancing at the edge. Scattered everywhere are plastic, metal or wooden tables with similar seats. At the right side is a bar, where the bottles of the drinks available are on display (think Emperador). Toilets are beside the bar.
The second “floor” is more like a “verandah”. There are tables there, too, but they afford those who are there view of the happenings on the ground floor.
What stays in the mind after a visit? The roughly cemented floors, the old tables, a smell of… being overused, and numerous waitresses who were horridly dressed in all red or all blue that made them look more like remnants of some Christmas promo than anything else…
WHY GO THERE
Yes, that preceding paragraph sounds H.A.R.S.H. But better to set the expectations low than be disappointed.
This is NOT to say that this place isn’t fun because, really, it can be a not-that-bad place.
First, the crowd can get… yummy. If you’re into twinks, the college students frequent this place. If you like WSW, check the beauties who brave the pole. This gets PACKED closer to the weekend, which shows you how popular this place is. Everyone’s underdressed, by the way…
Second, particularly if you drink in groups, the offerings here can be cheap – a few hundreds for a bucket of Red Horse; or a few hundreds for a bottle of Emperador (with the accompanying Tang fruit powder). This means you can get drunk here quite easily…
Third, General Santos City is somewhat “peculiar” re sexual practices in my observation. At least as far as MSM is concerned. “Peculiar” in the sense that many hetero-identifying men do not have hang-ups re being with homo-identifying men. Yeah, yeah, I could be wrong; I must have been too wasted to have known the difference (LOL); but the thing is, using Xplore as an example, hetero customers actually “table” with openly gay guys. You’d yell at me: “TRANSACTIONAL!”, and I’d say yes and no – there were those who had their “papa” with them, but many others just “mingle”, even with the knowledge that the “mingling” could lead into something “more” (thus the “no hang-ups” claim). But since this is an off-the-head observation, not a “scientific” conclusion, don’t hold it against me if you failed picking up when visiting the place…
Fourth, you can let your hair down here – e.g. sing out of tune with the band. Everyone’s just having fun (or maybe already too drunk to notice) anyway…
And fifth, the people are friendly – e.g. the third observation above, as well as the waitresses who go out of their way to make the visit fun through quips about what happens in the place the moment too many people get drunk.
WHY AVOID THE PLACE
Now, if you want a fancy place, then avoid this place. Nothing is fancy here (well, maybe some of the cute customers, LOL).
If you are familiar with Ozone and fear something akin to that happening while you’re partying, then avoid this place.
If you don’t like noise (complete with overuse of the smoke machine), then this place isn’t for you.
And if you easily over-heat, this place isn’t cool, either – i.e. the airconditioning system more often fails, so that “sweating like a pig” while drinking is the norm.
Would I recommend the place?
If there are other choices, it’s easy to say… not really.
But while in General Santos City, with so many people saying “see you at Xplore” after they partied somewhere (they end the night here), it’s hard not to at least check out the place. Because the place may look dilapidated, but if you wanna follow the crowd, you’re sure to end up here. And when you do, you might as well stop nitpicking (on the shabby aspects) and start enjoying yourself losing yourself in the arms of intoxication…
Xplore is located at Honorio Arriola Street, General Santos City.