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Pink Manila: The Cubao alternative

Outrage Magazine pays a visit to Pink Manila Comedy Bar, helmed by the people behind the now-closed Palawan 1 and Palawan 2 in Cubao, Quezon City. Quite crass, this place is not for everyone. And yet, it still manages to grab a sizable market because of its various offerings, from the man-candies during MSM beauty pageants to the Babylon-like spot. Check to see for yourself is the dare.

UPDATE (AS OF APRIL 23, 2015): As per the information received by Outrage Magazine, the management of Pink Manila decided to move the bar inside F Club, with the space reviewed here – while still open – now a still unnamed bar. Due to the change of hands of the people running the venue, changes were also noted inside during the April 23 visit – e.g. jacking up of prices, closure of the “dark room”, et cetera. Outrage Magazine will come up with more extensive reviews of the “new” Pink Manila; and the club that took over its old space when all the changes are finalized.

Pink Manila

Cubao’s Palawan 1 used to be THE gay bar of Quezon City. To be completely blunt, it wasn’t much of anything. Looking at it, it was almost rundown, complete with – among others – uneven floors, stinky non-airconditioned area, and a claustrophobic airconditioned area. The prices of the goods were cheap – but this is to be expected, considering that the beers served were (almost always) warm, ice used were akin to those used in fish markets, and the food… well, let’s just say let’s not go there.

But since the area did not have any other bars for a while except Palawan 1, the place thrived – it was actually one of the earlier gay bars that was able to stay open the entire week. And it was almost always full, too. The let-downs serving to its advantage, as it was considered unpretentious (compared to, say, Bed Bar or O Bar). The place got so big that a Palawan 2 was opened a few blocks away from Palawan 1.

Last year, both closed. At that point, the nearby Starlites reigned supreme – another not-that-classy venue that so many flocked to because… well, it’s there.

It seemed that the Palawan age has ended. That is, until the people behind it opened a “new” (putting that in quotation to qualify that while the gay bar is somewhat new, everything about it isn’t so) bar. Enter the Pink Pink Manila Comedy Bar.

WHAT’S IN IT

This place is actually reminiscent of Palawan 2 – there are two floors, connected by the steel staircase on the stage, and the winding staircase at the right side when you enter the venue. From the second floor, you can look down to see who’s performing, or for that matter, some of the people seated at the ground floor.

The ground floor has rows of tables at the right part, with the elevated concrete stage at the left. A dilapidated bar is at the very end; near the bar is a TV monitor (for the karaoke lyrics, or to show the ads of the events of the venue). There are two toilets – one for men, another for women.

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Onstage, there are two poles (yes, for pole dancing) at the stage. The stage is also very… empty. By empty, I mean, there’s nowhere else to hide everything – so you see the wires, dusts, cobwebs, et cetera.

The second floor has wooden flooring. And the wood seemed… unable to carry the weight of the people there. You’d actually see plywood “pasted” atop parts of the area, so it seemed like the place isn’t even finished. I did some hopping, though, to get some sense of how sturdy the flooring is, and – thankfully – no creaking was heard; meaning, the place should hold.

Pink ManilaThere are two toilets on the second floor, too – one for men, another for women. But since there’s a urinal in the “FOR FEMALES ONLY” toilet, males flocked there, too.

The biggest “lure” of the second floor is the “kainan” or “karinderya” – literally, and in English, places where one can eat. By this I mean the “Babylon” of Queer As Folk; and I shouldn’t have to elaborate…

WHY GO THERE

The cover charge is affordable. On weekends, Bed Bar and O Bar could charge as much as P400 (and these places aren’t perfect, too); but here, P150 suffices. Not cheap, considering Starlites across it only charges P50, but that’s still cheaper than P400.

The aforementioned “kainan” is – by and large – a big attraction (for many). Particularly if you want to check out the goodies that these parts of Metro Manila offer.

Perving can be good – that is, depending on certain days, some of the cuties in these parts of Metro Manila surface.

If you’re challenged by hetero-identifying men, well… Heck, the repetitive Bikini Opens showcase cutie MSM. Put simply: If O Bar or Bed Bar have go-go boys you ogle at, here, they have MSM contestants in beauty pageants, stripping to almost nothing for the chance to win P3,000 or so.

A change of crowd can be good. That is, if you are not into the kids of Starlites; want to avoid the hierarchical community of O Bar (i.e. the VIPs versus the “common bakla”); or too lazy to dress up to be in Bed Bar, then this place may be worth checking.

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The drinks are cheap. To be honest, though, the beers aren’t even cold; and the ice used still seemed akin to the ice used in fish markets (chipped, not tubed). But for a couple of hundred pesos for a bucket containing six bottles, who are we to complain? The same amount of money pays just one beer or cocktail in the higher end gay bars/clubs.

WHY AVOID IT

No, this place isn’t hip. In fact, it is almost rundown. So if you’re not into crass venues, don’t even think of this one.

The sound system sucks. There were times I couldn’t even understand what the hosts were talking (make that mumbling) about.

The music isn’t all that great either. Well, they don’t have the DJs that the higher end bars boast having…

The performers weren’t all that great. Only 1 ½ did well – one big boned drag performer who did everything to perfection, and another (rated here only as a half) who flip-flopped from being good to being bad to being good and so on. So if you want to see jaw-dropping performances, this isn’t the place for you, either.

The area still remains scary (for lack of a better word) – try walking from West Point Ave. to The Rapture, and see the people sleeping on the streets, the sex workers being peddled, fights breaking out among drunk people heading wherever, occasional drug peddlers, and so on. Yes, I know that these people are not necessarily dangerous. But just go there and get a feel of the area to know what I mean.

Now, in closing, would I recommend this place?

After having been in the scene for years and years, I have long accepted that “may market ang lahat (everyone/everything has a market)”. So this place didn’t necessarily tickle my fancy; but it could tickle yours. And what better way to know if it does than by checking it out for yourself?

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Pink Manila

Pink Manila Comedy Bar is located at West Point Ave., Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila – right across Starlites.

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