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In the Scene

Palawan 2: Encapsulating Cubao?

Almost all gay men from Metro Manila know about Palawan 2 (sister bar of Palawan 1), one of the oldest MSM venues in these parts of the country. But is this venue frequented even by MSM from nearby Valenzuela, Marikina and Antipolo worth a visit? Outrage Magazine takes a closer look.

In truth, all gay men (let’s clarify and say “Almost all”) from Metro Manila know about Palawan 2 (sister bar of Palawan 1) – it’s one of the oldest MSM venues in these parts of the metro, catering not only to the Quezon City crowd (where it’s at), but even the (relatively more) far-flung areas of Valenzuela, Marikina, Antipolo, et cetera. This place has remained steady even as others have faltered – e.g. Bed Bar closed in Malate, Government closed in Makati, O Bar folded in Malate, and so on…

Thus, this place must have something appealing to offer, right?

At least one would expect so, particularly following a much-publicized renovation.

Palawan 2-2Now, to be honest, beauteous adjectives won’t fit here, as using them would – eventually – prove to be (somewhat) untrue, thereby making a liar out of the writer.

So it may be best to just… spit the words out sans the sugarcoating.

To start, let’s talk “grimy”. This is the word repeated used by a friend whenever Palawan 2 is mentioned – and to get what he means, when you are in the venue, you only have to look above you, at the ceiling, to see the… grime. Seeing is somewhat inevitable, too, since the venue has two floors – with the second level more like a verandah with tables/chairs, allowing for the club-goers to look at the people seated at the ground floor. So every time those at the ground floor look up to see if there are cuties on the upper floor, they’d (most definitely) see the grime.

And with ice boxes by the toilet, the grime is not only left atop you…

This is somewhat… disappointing, considering that the cover charge (which varies according to shows presented) could reach over P200+ on weekends.

Secondly, this place remains jam-packed. At times, too packed for its own good. And when this happens, the place is not at all enticing (this coming from someone who likes crowds!); instead, as another friend worried, “fire hazard” comes to mind.

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Thirdly, Cubao is NOT the safest area to be found drunken out of your mind in Metro Manila. See the people sleeping on the sidewalks to get the point…

Let it be known, however, that these are not attacks on Palawan 2; instead, there are blunt (okay, fine, make that “VERY BLUNT”) observations.

As such, it goes without saying that this place DOES have come-ons worth checking.

Start with the shows. This placed produced the famed Foxy Ladies – the drag act that once dominated the scene (with some of the members eventually forming their own acts/groups). And then there are the… titillating bikini competitions. Meaning, if you’re into MSM (not necessarily gay or bi), then this place could give you desired fruits. And the clan beauty pageants? Palawan 2 has plenty, as it often hosts clan gatherings.

Follow that up with the drinks. For just over P300 for a bucket of five beers, this place is one of the cheapest gay venues in Metro Manila (The cocktails are so-so; so stick with the beer…).

There’s the singing sans the attitude (and sometimes, sans the need for good singing, too). This is also a singalong bar, so that belting out happens (after the hosts in drag pick on you first).

Consider, too, the relative ease to access “traditional” gay bars – i.e. go-go bars – that still abound in Cubao. If you are with people more interested in hetero-identifying MSM (unlike you, who prefer gay or bi men), then you can drop them off at these bars, and then maybe head to Palawan 2 by yourself – at least until it’s time to pick your friends up again after they had fun in these go-go bars.

And yeah, there are (some) hot men in Palawan 2. I’d say for you to forget your yuppie preference – there aren’t many of them going there (and when they do, they’re almost always unavailable). If it’s yuppie you want, Bed Bar and even O Bar are for you. Here in Palawan 2, we have – instead – an abundance of self-identifying “bi” men (even if they exclusively have homosexual relations). Even with the confusion with sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), it’s worth mentioning that there are some (if not many) of them who are, yes, yummy.

So, should you head to Palawan 2?

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If you want to discover scenes that could serve as alternatives to dressier Bed, O Bar, Xroads, et cetera, I’d say yes.
If you want to see a different crowd (MSM from Marikina, Valenzuela, Rizal, et cetera), then yes.
If you want a comparatively cheaper venue, then yes.
And – as my friend said – if you can put up with the grime, then YES!

Palawan 2 is located along Yale Street, Cubao, Quezon City.

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