“What’s going on in the Philippines? Have you noticed a significant change? Is tourism going down? Are expats worried?”
A buddy of mine from Norway me asked these questions recently. I’m sure just about anyone who has friends or family abroad has asked or wondered a bit about the local on goings. It seems that hype in the media of what’s going on domestically is really causing somewhat of a skewed outlook on life in the Philippines.
From an expats perspective everything is going well for the most part, nothing is wrong over here, and things just seem to be getting a little bit tighter (except the fact that the US Dollar just rose to its highest level in 10 years versus the Peso).
It’s typical of the media to do a complete hatchet job on normal life, as evidenced pretty much anywhere in the world – not just the Philippines. Whatever they can grab on to and spin for a story is what they run with. There have been modifications to the rules in the Philippines, as in there is finally some semblance of enforcement, but that’s not to say that regular living folk aren’t just having the time of their lives as usual.
A lot of local businesses expressed concern over this high season that their numbers were lower than ever before – that could be because less people are coming to Angeles City, at the moment, or that things are just in flux. A lot of regular tourists to the area might be trying new destinations, and a few others might not have had the chance to come back this year for personal or economic reasons. You hear all the excuses under the sun for not coming back, but very rarely is it because things aren’t going that good locally. Even when there were raids happening, people came. Guys are looking for alternatives but for my peso this is the place to be. Where else can you go out for less than $10-$20 a day and have a great day or night.
Whatever the reason, Angeles City is getting better and better. The options for leisure have skyrocketed, the new investments in real estate and culinary joints – there’s really a little bit of everything packed into this little half of a city, smack dab on the north side of the province of Pampanga. People complain incessantly there’s nothing to do except get drunk and chase tail – obviously a lot of people are completely disconnected from the likes of Google or are too boxed in to get out and adventure.
Angeles is perfectly situated for staying or day/weekend trips. Go pick up a gun at the gun range and fire off some rounds, buy a bicycle and get off road for a bit, rent a scooter and cruise around, go to the Puning Hot Springs, or try Halla Spa in Korea town for a hot stone massage that will literally melt the skin on your back. Head down to Panduquit for a couple days at the beach – stop off in Subic on the way. Run up to Baguio for the weekend. Try some new restaurants or buffets like the ones out on Clark, hit a couple new bars, see a live band, go to a club, go to the casino, play poker, go golfing, whatever – “there’s nothing to do” – the siren of guys who either a.) Can’t get off the cheap San Mig or b.) Just want to complain regardless.
As for the actual statistics this go around, the Department of Tourism Philippines just released their December Industry For Performance and Travel report earlier in February. There was a drop of about 17.5% in the amount of money spent by foreign nationals in the Philippines when comparing December 2016 to 2015, but an increase in travel by about 4.27%. The actual amount of arrivals increased despite the negative media bias taking place.
If it was ever any wonder why the Korean’s are getting the treatment they get….
I think that the current administration has produced an environment that feels about as safe as say, Tacoma, Washington, or Anaheim, California. Here you might have kids come up to your window at the local McDonald’s drive-thru begging for coins, but in Anaheim some tweaker will roll up on you at a drive-thru and ask you for a few bucks so he can “take the bus,” which seems like the typical line for a guy looking to score his next dime bag or 40-ouncer.
When you’re here, the worst thing you can do is assume that everyone is looking out for your best interest though – when you do arrive, just look out for yourself and all should be ok.
Unfortunately recently a German hostage was beheaded in the Philippines by Abu Sayyef. The thought of terrorism sucks but it’s not for the average guy to pick up arms and go deal with. There has been a lot of Facebook buzz (probably false anyway) about terrorist links and associates in the Philippines; certain direct and veiled threats are being shared amongst Filipino youth. Some people warned me not to go into crowded public places – come on. Paranoia is not worth the hassle. Every day out here is pretty much fine, you just have to watch where you’re going on the roads and take it easy.
The terrorist group Abu Sayyef regime is really only present in the furthest southwest corner of the island of Mindanao, out on the Zamboanga Peninsula on the Sulu Archipelago. Abu Sayyef is said to have 200-400 members in the Philippines. Is it safe down there? Maybe not – but then again, I’m not in a hurry to visit that part of the country. Angeles is on another island some 3-hours away by plane. That’s like traversing the entire west coast of the U.S. to get from Los Angeles to say, Vancouver Canada practically. Take a look at Google Maps sometime if you’re unfamiliar with the lay of the land…
What about the future of tourism in Angeles City itself?
Much rests on the development of Clark and the surrounding infrastructure but that’s the same regurgitated story as ’91. Here’s some info that people might find interesting:
Angeles is actually a fairly segregated town. Angeleños actually look at it as having 2 sides, an “A” and a “B” side. The “A” side is everything south of the Abacan River; basically, downtown Angeles, the bigger universities, the historical and heritage district areas, all the way down to the southern boundary of the town.
The “B” side is everything north of the bridges; which can be summed up as Barangays Anunas, Malabanias, and Balibago. There are 5 other barangays this side of the Abacan River but I’ll spare you their names because quite frankly, the “B” side is the zone designated as mostly “the expat” areas. In other words, there is an abundance of foreign investment, operating and/or otherwise foreign owned businesses specifically in the B-side, not to mention the entertainment areas, which are 99% foreign.
I had lunch at the end of January with one of the Angeles City Tourism Officers to get an idea of what kind of difficulties the tourism department faces when looking to relay important information about investments for upgrades to local infrastructure to the DTI (the governmental branch which heads the DOT for the entire Philippines). One of the biggest problems they are currently facing is trying to ascertain the amount of foreign expats:
- Currently living here
- Visiting here – staying for a short period of time, or in transit as tourists
Most unprofessionally managed hotels in the area (which I would venture a guess is probably hovering around 80% of the total accommodations) do not even track their own guest’s demographics so they can tailor marketing towards them for future stays.
The City of Angeles wants to be promoted as the go to place in Central Luzon. “Coming to the Philippines? Go through Clark, and come to Angeles.” Something like this. They want to plaster Angeles City on the concourse of airport displays and bus terminals wherever they feel they will reach the most people.
What’s the biggest problem? No hotels want to share the demographic of guests that are staying with them, or their current occupancy rates, for fear of being shaken down by the BIR or some other governmental agency. Also, going door to door to do a census is a massive task that few want to take on.
It’s the a crux – you see, it could very easily be handed down from City Hall that in order for hotels to be able to renew their permits the following year, certain information would have to be handed off to the tourism office. At the same time, some individuals want to do what they are accustomed to – pay some peso to make the “problem” go away for a while.
Therein lies the problem, and when I say things are getting tighter in the area it’s not just on a national level, it’s also possible on a local government level as well.
It’s not that the department of tourism is trying to collude with immigration officials or BIR to get people shaken down or busted for working illegally, they really just want to know who is coming to, living in, and staying around Angeles City and for what period of time. Without the cooperation of said establishments, nothing can really be done to help target certain demographics for tourism in the area.
I spoke with a former hotel manager who wishes to remain anonymous because of the years of hard work he put in for the owner only to have it fall apart in the end. Said manager recently resigned from a very well known hotel and bar group, and he mentioned the same thing to me confirming this situation. Of the 200+ accommodation venues in town, only about a dozen are providing this information. Which means that 95% are either resisting it or opposing it altogether.
It looks bad on the city to have hotels closing down, no one wants a business to fail – most of the businesses that do fail, fail for the exact same reason any business would – under capitalized, no working capital, poor management, lack of options, lack of value, poor customer service, the list goes on and on.
In order for Angeles City to become a bigger version of itself, and in order to attract more tourist and foreign investment, local businesses will have to find a way to cooperate. Unfortunately, it’s an “every man for him self” mentality town, and furthermore, no one wants to have their business threatened for not conforming to the rules.
If the rules are going to be enforced, expect a few head on collisions in the area. I wouldn’t be surprised if hotel’s who decided to be non-compliant were given an ultimatum at some point; give us the information we need to help the area, or lose your permits.
You can already sense the growth in Angeles – and so many people don’t want it to change. What is it they say about change again? It’s inevitable.
When Clark gets up and running to the tune that it has the potential to, once the new Aero park is done, Visitor Center, these pieces, watch how quickly large chunks of land start getting grabbed up. I heard a rumor about a guy who is actively looking for 50,000 sqm on Clark to begin a sports project. That’s the size of 7 soccer pitches. Someone asked me what would happen if a company like Intel came along and said they wanted to build a massive factory in the area that would provide 10,000+ jobs, do I think they would have the pull to change the landscape of Clark outside the fence? That’s a possibility.
Imagine also the amount of people that are going to be choking the streets of Don Juico between ABC Hotel and Malabanias Road, over to SM Clark, once the Green Frontier project is completed? I hate to keep beating a dead horse but Angeles is on the fast train to becoming something much different than it was, and currently is.
As a guest in someone else’s country I think it is safe to say that we have to respect, not necessarily agree, with the direction the people of the country decide to take. When you travel around the Philippines you see that places like Manila and Cebu have a lot of cranes in the sky – there’s a ton of activity taking place. Angeles City is probably 3rd on this list, not counting Clark. Check it out before it’s too late, some of the small-town feel will probably be gone before too long if it’s not gone already.
Miss Blue Rock Beauty Pageant Is Coming Up
Stop off at Baloy's finest establishment and enjoy the festivities - Miss Blue Rock is one of the best beauty pageants of the year.
New Food Park Opens In Hensonville (reader submission):
One of the areas of Angeles City I never paid much attention to was Hensonville. Why, it was not in the tourist part of town that I liked to visit before I moved to Angeles City. That is changing with the addition of some new hotels and condos on Zeppelin Street. On Friday, February 24, I was invited to the opening of a new Food Court off of Zeppelin Street at the corner of Richthofen St. and Wester Ways Ave, called Muceno Open Food Court. With several housing complexes in the area as well as a far walk off of Zeppelin Street this is a concept that has the potential to be big not only Angeles City but around Central Luzon.
Street vendors have always been an important part of Filipino life. Unfortunately for foreigners there was always a risk of the food if not properly stored until it was good, no matter how good it tasted. Muceno Open Food Court has the solution for this problem. Each stall in the food court is a separate store or food stand with fresh food being properly refrigerated, stored, prepared and served each day. Since the stalls are independent of each other a group of people can go and each person can order the dish or meal they want or even a dish from more than one stall to create their own meal. When a group of us went I ordered Japanese Shrimp Tempura and Salmon Sushi. Both were cook, or raw as appropriate, to perfection. They were so good I went back to get a second order from my wife. My wife on the other hand ordered Bellychon, or BBQ Pig. She ate everything except the rice. We went to a different stall and ordered several glasses of lemonade. This is in addition to the tasting we had from other in the group.
Of course no opening is worth anything without drinks, alcohol. They had a portable bar, facebook.com/EnZoBar, setup which you can rent for your special occasion. If you need a portable bar check out their Facebook page at ENZO Mobile Bar, or call Jolo Velez at 0932 858 3210 or 0927 846 1404. You can find Muceno Open Food Court on Facebook at facebook.com/MucenoFoodPark
I’ve saved a couple of the most crazy "rant" reader submissions for this newsletter that span a couple months. The reader submissions were held back on purpose. Enjoy.
Love where you have taken the newsletter bro. Good stuff. I was wondering do you know any legit yaya service to look after my 3 year old. They can live in and eat from free. 4k a month that is negotiable. Please let me know.
Hey Kevin, finding a good yaya is difficult – you have to look around. Best bet is to ask your lady if she has a cousin or friend that is trustworthy and reliable. I use those terms loosely – reliable is a point of view. Before you shell out for a plane ticket or bus fare just make sure you have your details in order, because family members can sometimes be tricky too. They might expect to be able to go “home” every weekend, even if home is 10 hours away by bus. If anyone has a spare yaya lying around, shoot a message this way so Kevin can relax.
I am sorry, I didn't look carefully enough to find your first name. I have two things , as a long time reader of the blog and huge fan of Jim's and HTH.
I commend you for your energy and fine content the past many months. You have done an outstanding job!
I especially like how you have negotiated the re-set and made this effort "your own." More future success to you. My first trip to Fields was in 1999... which
coincides with Jim's long run.
OK here's the idea, or suggestion I have. I have in mind doing a short documentary on the bars in AC, from a different point of view. I will spare you now all the details, but for posterity I think it would be outstanding to get together four or five long running Filipino staff (mamasans and papasans) who have really seen it all, and do an informal "roundtable."
This would be recorded on film, and a transcript produced. That account could be printed in some form on your site. The video of course could be edited and used on another platform. I have a few staff in mind, some gals have worked in the bars since the 70's, way pre-Pinatubo. Noy at Champagne would be great for this. They have amazing insights on all actors and participants on Fields. Having their account now is very timely I think and functional. I would be willing to help organize and fund this endeavor (they should be compensated.) If you feel this may be of interest, please let me know with any input that I would certainly value.
If you go through the work of doing it all, I’ll gladly post it up for the readers on your behalf. May the force be with you.
So many things in the media are being blown way out of proportion here. To the few people who seem jarred don't let CNN and Faux News get to you. It's politics.
Anywhere in the world when things get way out of control it's an uphill battle to get them back in line. This isn't new to Asia. Imagine what happens when your entire system is wrought with problems from top to bottom right>?
I'll use an elementary school analogy- picture the principal, teachers, staff, and even the janitor are responsible for 1,000 kids. The professional (?) adults take off on a vacation for some extended period of time leaving the kids to do whatever they want with buckets of soda, unlimited snacks and candies, spray paint cans, and whatever else they can afford. Any normal person would realize there would be a mess waiting for them when they got back!
The problems in the Phils are now generational because they have been going on for such a long time. Back to the analogy: what if the school staff were gone for 30-years and the kids didn't change, they just grew up had their own kids, and then replaced their own lives with their kids lives.
What if all the school staff worked for or had invested or otherwise had an interest in the soda, snacks, candies, and spray paint they left with the kids? And for the few working at the school that didn't have anything to gain, well, what if they just didn't care at all either? What if there really were no rules? What if accountability meant nothing? What if there was no way to get in trouble, except to get caught in the act? What if even you got caught in the act you could maybe buy your way out from the person who caught you, call your uncle the mayor of XYZ to help you, or just walk away from it depending on the connections you have?
Furthermore, what if nearly everyone were using the soda, snacks, candies, and spray paint and then LYING about it to everyone, everywhere, 24/7?
Could the superintendent of that school district come in by them selves and get the principal, teachers, staff, and generations of students back in line by his or herself? No way. In a Western country where order and rule exist, maybe. But never without help. In a third world country where you can pay off a traffic enforcer with $4.50 to let you go for some driving violation do the math.
Westerners don’t realize the average waitress in the Phils earns what, about $7-8 a day, and maybe a few bucks in tips. Maybe. Some of them spend 2-3 hours in traffic each morning to get to their $7 a day job. Then 2-3 hours home at night. They have 3/5/7/10 brothers and sisters. The Philippines is a population that is about one-third the size of the United States, in an area roughly as big as the state of Arizona. Scattered out across 7,000 something islands. many of which have their own dialect, their own "local" clans, dynasties, rules, practices, heritage, and policies. That is life in the Phils. It is different than anything resembling first world, mainstream USA. What us New York kids grew up with is so much different than this culturally, that it's almost impossible to imagine. Hell, New York is culturally diverse as a state, much more so than South Dakota, and still it has nothing on the Phils in terms of differences from one province to the next.
The new president is strong and is quite strong willed, which is something that is needed when some massive portion of your population is addicted to, using, or distributing methamphetamine. A couple percent or more of the population, which is something like 3 million or more people. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a good drug, but meth is a really terrible drug from all the research I’ve done.
Many of the elite over there are dollar billionaires with more assets than they know what to do with. If the Philippines fell apart they could go live anywhere else, if they truly desired. It's only when you see something from the inside that you really know what's going on. That's not to say that I have any idea, but I look at the current political situation in the U.S., Russia, Syria, Middle East, North Korea, and the amount of skirmishes the U.S. government has gotten in to since I could even understand what the hell politics were, and wonder what the hell everyone is going on about in the Philippines. Duterte is right, and has the right to do as much as he can to wipe the slate clean – who else is going to try?
I’m still thinking about the snacks in the 4th paragraph. Never trust the U.S. Media, as indicated by this chart:
Sorry for my rant today but I’m so sick and tired of the Filipina mentality that I had to get this off my chest. These simple women drive me crazy. I would be grateful if you could share this.
I want to find a real Filipina Woman. A confident, normal, hardworking, forward thinking woman. It’s like they don’t exist here in Pampanga, and if they do they are already married.
This is a message about foreigners and simple Filipinas, and a lot of differences between us that women may not think about. I understand that Harry The Horse actually has a large Filipina following of sorts, unlike the ban that has occurred on all other forums for safety sake.
To the simple ladies who read Harry The Horse:
Hello. Nice to meet you.
Have a few 3-in-1’s, and plug your brain in. There must be 10 million Filipinas in the Philippines that are 21 to 35 years old. There might be more of you or there might be less.
Whoever you are, this message is for you….
I am a foreigner, and I’m here to talk to you. I’m tired of pretending. I’m not here to be mean, and I’m not here to be nice, I’m just here to talk. This is a guy, a random guy, opening up his mind and pouring it out for you.
I know we aren’t sitting on a couch together, or across the table from one another, that’s ok, because you might not understand me anyway. I might not speak slowly enough, or clearly enough, or I might not use words you know the definition of when we talk in person. I understand. “Nosebleed.” I understand.
But this message, this screen you’re looking at, it’s not going to go away. It’s not like having a chat in person where you could forget what was said. It’s here, right here. I hope this newsletter will be up forever, leaving this message up forever, and if you don’t understand something, learn to understand it. Ask your friends, ask your boyfriend, ask your family, or ask Google. That’s what Google is for!
Find a way to understand something if you really want to know. If something is important, find a way to figure it out. Learning is a good thing, maybe the very best thing, and information is a powerful tool. If your boyfriend isn’t happy with you, find out why. If you’re not happy with your boyfriend, tell him why.
Information is a tool that you can use to get through life. Information is like a map, a key, a smart phone, all combined into one. Information, no matter if it is good or bad, is important. Don’t quit until you’re 100% sure you have gotten the answer you need about anything. Gather information, form your thoughts, make a conclusion, and live your life the way you want to live it with that information in your mind.
You might not understand all the information, I certainly don’t understand everything, but at the very least I try to understand the information that affect my life. I might not be able to control the information that affects my life, but at least I know what it is.
So, who am I?
You might know me. You might not. You might hate me after this. You might not. You might want to know me after this, you might tell me that I’m the worst person ever and that this message was the worst message ever.
As adult human beings we do whatever we want. We get to choose to type out messages, read messages, respond to messages, ignore messages, think about things, or not think about things. Until you are in prison YOU are free.
Now, let’s make one thing very clear here in the beginning of this message:
I do not speak for every foreigner.
Every foreigner has his own style, his own voice, and his own opinion. Every man has his own way. I am speaking generally. What matters is that I’m not lying to you. I am a foreigner, and I know exactly what I’m thinking and feeling, I am not confused about me, in all honesty I’m confused about you. I know exactly what I want to say even if saying it takes an hour of my time, the problem is, will you even understand it?
What is it like to be a foreigner in the Philippines?
I don’t know how to answer that question. There’s nothing special about it. There’s nothing special about us being here in the Philippines. We (foreigners) have some similarities, and I think we can all agree with that. Some guys from this place, or from that place they act the same. Guys from one country or another country might act the same or we might act different. We share a language but that doesn’t make us close.
Being a guy is a biological, cultural and evolutionary thing. Time has taught guys how to be guys, and in our life on this planet we have shared experiences that are similar, even if they aren’t completely the same. As men, and as foreigners, we are all a little bit different or a lot different from one another. We see this, and we understand this about ourselves. Today, I would like to help you understand something about us, about the way we think, and about you, and about the possible connection between us. (I said “possible” because there is a chance that some or most of you don’t even care about foreigners, or have any desire to be with a foreigner.)
Foreigners are not coming to the Philippines because it is the most “fun” place to be.
So why are we here?
You see foreigners all over the Philippines. Some places have more of us than others. Some places, like the provinces, have few of us. But we are still there. We are on a lot of these 7,107 islands, you see us when you’re walking down the street, when you’re working, when you’re headed to the bus terminal, or the airport. You see us, you recognize us because we are foreigners, and you keep going on with your life.
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we are here?
Why are we here?
Why is that guy here? What made him come here? What made him decide to visit? What made him decide to stay? Let’s figure it out.
There are beaches all over the world. There are adventurous places all over the world. There are businesses, and restaurants, and clubs, and hotels all over the world. There are different kinds of foods and drinks, all over the world.
We are not here for any of that stuff. We aren’t here just for your culture, or just for your way of life. It could be that this is a less expensive place to be, it could be that this is a very easy place to be because the weather is nice 6-months straight.
I will tell you why most of us are here. Chances are good, very good, that we are here for you. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t let us fool you. We are probably here for you. One of you is one of the biggest reasons we are here. It might not be the only reason, but it’s probably the number one reason.
We could probably be anywhere in the world right now, but we are here. Why? It wasn’t the plane or the boat we arrived on. It was something else. It might not be because of you, but it is most likely because of one of you. Or two of you. Or five of you.
There are women all over the world. Anyone who says, “oh, there’s lots of pretty girls in America” or “there’s lots of beautiful women in Japan” might as well say this, “There are lots of beautiful and pretty women EVERYWHERE.” In every country there are beautiful people.
I have heard so many Filipinas say, “oh, he’s only here because he enjoys chasing girls.” Ok. Maybe yes. Maybe no. Maybe we chased women in our country and then decided it wasn’t fun. Maybe we didn’t chase women in our country because the women in our country weren’t worth chasing? Maybe the women in our country are pretty to LOOK at, but they aren’t pretty to BE WITH?
Stop confusing things. We are here because we choose to be here, and it has nothing to do with just your country, because there are hundreds of countries, with hundreds of adventures, and hundreds of women, and hundreds of EVERYTHING. I realize I am saying hundreds because the concept of thousands gets lost too easily.
The Philippines is no exception to all these other countries. You are a Filipina. You could be mixed Spanish, Chinese, whatever. But you identify as a Filipina. This is your country, and we are visitors in your country. We are not Filipinos, but there is nothing wrong with being foreign.
What you need to understand is that you’re a Filipina. Do you know what that means? Do you know what that means to us? Do you know who you are? I’m not talking about your name, I’m talking about you as a person. Not just you, but all of you. Do you know WHO you are? Do you know WHERE you are in the world? This is a big planet. It’s bigger than most of us realize, and yet, smaller than most of us can comprehend.
Beauty is fun and nice, but in reality something we cannot control, because we cannot control the way people think, and we all give beauty way too much importance or “power,” when it really doesn’t matter. In terms of beauty or attraction or whatever it is we call it, there are beautiful women here to be with. Just like any country. There are tall girls, short girls, fat girls, skinny girls, dark girls, light girls, athletic girls, and awkward girls. Smart girls, dumb girls, funny girls, boring girls, the list goes on and on and on and on. There are girls like that everywhere, not just in the Philippines, everywhere.
But where we come from, getting women to “be with us” is probably not as easy as it is here. What does “be with us mean?” Be with us, to see us, to be around us, to hang out with us, to help us cook food, do laundry, relax, I’m not talking about sexual intimacy.
What makes you different? I’ll tell you.
In most countries, if you are a guy and want to go out and find a woman, you can. It’s not difficult you just open your door and go out. There are 315 million people in the USA, it is the 3rd most populous country in the world, so there’s plenty of women. But if you want to find a woman you can’t just be anyone, and you probably won’t find someone really quickly that day or that week. It takes a lot of time. You can’t just be a regular, ordinary, plain, boring guy and get women. American women want certain things, they demand them, and after they get those things then they will be your girlfriend.
Most American women want a guy who can give them something they want. And more often than not, they want a guy who can give them a lot of things, many things as if the list is endless.
Most Filipinas are different. You just want to be loved. You just want some attention and some time. You want to feel safe and secure. But then again some of you want everything too, some of you want the new motorbike, the condo, the trips, the purse, the shoes, the cellphone. Some of you are like that.
If you were to compare the Philippines to many other countries around the world you would find the difference in women is really the difference between why foreigners are not in their own country looking for a woman to be with. The differences are everywhere. Where we come from, setting up a business can be done in a day. Getting paperwork completed by an agency can be done in a minute or hours. It’s not always like that here.
Where we come from, when people say they are going to be somewhere, they usually arrive on time, or they call you to tell you why they won’t be arriving on time. When people are going to do something, they do it, not always, but usually they do it. It’s not always like that here.
Getting things done in other countries like Australia or Canada or the U.S., usually happens quickly, saves time, makes the day go faster, makes you feel better, and makes us men feel less tired mentally. As humans, we only have so much energy. We have to use our energy wisely, or we will run out of energy. It’s not always like that here.
If I am driving down the road and someone smashes into my car and kills me, something will be done about it. Those are the rules. People are working to make the rules, and enforce the rules. If I die, someone is going to figure out what happened to me, and if it wasn’t my fault, someone will get the blame. When something goes wrong, someone will be accountable. It’s not always like that here.
Where we come from, going to get food and groceries is easy because it should be easy. Where us foreigners come from we can go to one place and get everything in one trip. We know where everything is. We know where the bread is, the fruit, the vegetables, the eggs, and we always get it done quickly and simply. There isn’t a lot of complication. There aren’t a lot of long lines. There aren’t people standing in front of you, beside you, behind you, crowding your personal space. It’s definitely not like that here.
Where we come from there are different rules. Many different rules, rules that you don’t think about, you don’t care about, and even if you thought or cared, you might not understand because you’re just one person, what on earth could you do to make the rules change? Alone you might not be able to change much. Sometimes one person can change the world, but come on, let’s be realistic, BIG changes usually come in groups.
For now, you just have to live with the rules you have been given. Someone, maybe your mother, or your father, or your church, or your government has given you a set of rules and now you’re living life with those rules in your mind. Manny Pacquiao changed the minds of many Filipinos because he is very talented at boxing. He is one person, and he overcame a lot of adversity through boxing, to become a successful athlete, entrepreneur, and politician. What about “People Power?” Are Manny Pacquiao’s boxing talents greater than the movement of a million people and the changing of the country? The answer is simply, no. They are both impressive things, but Manny Pacquiao with boxing is not the same as a million people marching against something.
Where we come from the rules are the rules. When you break the rules and get caught, you get punished. If you don’t get caught, if they figure out you broke the rules, they will punish you later. Those are the rules. But in the Philippines, some of the rules are broken all the time, and some of the rules are enforced differently sometimes, while other rules are always strictly enforced. Not always, but you know, it depends. Some rules are enforced to the maximum, and some are enforced this time, but not that time. It’s a crazy place for us foreign guys. I could be riding my motorbike and see a police checkpoint. They wave at me to stop. So, I stop, and pull my motorbike to the side of the road. A police officer might ask me for my driver’s license and my paperwork. And after 30-seconds, he gives it back to me, and I’m on my way to wherever it is I was going before I stopped. The next day, I see the same police checkpoint, and again, they wave me over so I stop. But on this day, I have a violation for some reason. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, but on this day, I did something wrong. Maybe today my mirrors are too big, or my helmet is too round. I don’t know. But today, I have a violation.
Do you have any idea how strange that is for us? The rules didn’t change over night, but yesterday we had no violation, and today, there’s a new violation. The reason I’m sharing this example because it is more difficult to do things here because of stuff just like this. Which is why most foreign guys have to leave after a while or they begin to become dead in the head.
The reason for my rant is that everything is more difficult for a foreigner, except finding a woman to be with. How is that possible? Well, very simply look at Facebook. Or look at WeChat. Or look at a dating website. Look at the bars. Look at SM. There are girls looking for guys, and guys looking for girls everywhere. It’s really not difficult to understand.
There is an endless amount of girls for chatting, girls for calling, girls for hanging out with, girls for having coffee with, girls for eating with, and girls for short-medium-long-longer term relationships.
Everyone here is talking about their hearts, forget about your heart! Your heart isn’t running the show. Everyone talks about how they love and how they feel, and how they fall in love or get heart broken, or whatever. Your heart doesn’t control anything. Your brain controls it all. Your feelings, your love or your sadness, your happiness or your anger, are all chemicals in your brain. Ladies, start using your brains. It is the most important muscle in your body. Exercise your brain. Learn how to make your brain strong, learn how to allow your mind to stretch, learn new things. Take care of your brain and your brain will take care of you. And when you start taking care of your brain, your brain will start to not only take care of you, but it will take care of the people around you, your kids, your family, your boyfriend, your coworkers, your future asawa. Be headstrong.
As a foreigner, we are most likely thinking with our heads (our brains, to clarify.) As a Filipina, you are most likely thinking with your heart (your emotions). Although, we do some times think with other parts of our bodies, at the end of the day, we are just a bunch of animals, animals that are really smart and can do things other animals cannot. Kill your emotions.
You can “feel” anything you want, go ahead. You are free. You can feel whatever you want, whenever you want. But that feeling is coming from your brain, and your brain is in control of you. Your ideas come from your brain. The way you act, brain. The way you think, brain. The way you love, brain. That muscle in between your two ears, it needs you. Like any muscle that does not get exercise, if you do not exercise your brain, you might as well shut the damn thing off. Shut your brain off completely, but remember to tell us guys that you have decided not to use it anymore. While we are looking at you we think you’re using your brain, and sometimes we witness these moments where you’re thinking, you’re working, you’re using your brain. We love it. And we think to ourselves, “wow, she’s doing it.” And then later that day, or that night, or that weekend, we say, “sh*t, she’s back to abnormal again.”
Ladies, you will always have problems with foreigners and foreigners will have problems with you. It is going to happen. It always happens. Guys can be brainless, mindless, idiots too. We can be, and we are. We don’t think sometimes. Sometimes we just do things and later we deal with the consequences of our actions. That’s true. So, what matters? Time is the only thing that matters. Time matters because it’s the only thing, the ONLY THING you cannot get back. Time has a way of making things amazing, exciting, great, and fun. Time also has a way of making things harsh, hard, terrible, and sad. You will have friends, and then they will be gone one day. You’ll have a family, and they too will be gone one day. You might have a child, and lose that child. That child might die from sickness or through some accident. And it will be terrible. It will feel so very terrible. It will break you apart for a while. But one day, years later, you won’t be thinking about it every second of every minute in a negative way. One day, years later, you might have another child, and although you will never forget the child you lost, you won’t sit around for years, and years, for the rest of your life, thinking about the child you lost. You will always think about the child you lost in one of the spaces in your mind, and the child you have will become the focal point of your attention.
You’ll have a lot of money one day, and the next you might not. You could be SO HAPPY, you could feel like you’re in heaven, and 3-weeks later you could be SO SAD, and feel like you want to kill yourself.
Time. Time girls. Are you listening? Time. Time is what matters. Now, if you can, please think of that word: time. What does it mean? What does it do? Why should we care about time? Well, I don’t want keep saying it over and over and over again, but time is the only thing that matters. What you do with your time matters. And some Filipinas are, I’m sorry to say, not very good with time.
You are beautiful, you’re kind, you’re simple, you’re friendly, you’re happy, you’re nurturing, you’re cute, you’re caring, you’re charming, you’re lovely, you’re loving, you’re lots of things, but you are not good with time. For us foreigners, unfortunately, we feel that there is a lot of wasted time, and we wish we could do something about it. We might be the reason why time is wasted, but you girls also get to control whether or not the time was worth it.
If your guy screws up and hurts you (when he screws up and when he hurts you, which he most likely will because that’s life), you get to choose the amount of time that will pass before things will be finished, or fixed. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s a choice and you have to deal with it. You are with a guy, and your relationship is going well. After a year, everything is still going well until one day you have an argument. It doesn’t matter what the argument is about, the topic of the argument is irrelevant. It could be that you caught him cheating on you, or you saw his FB and there were girls commenting on his pictures, or his phone, or whatever. It could be that he was having a bad day, or you were having a bad day, and you just ended up having an argument because of having a long, tiring, bad day. Maybe you miscommunicated, and then you had an argument.
Do you want to know what matters? Getting past the argument. Getting past it, and leaving it behind. As a foreigner, some of us – including me, are capable of arguing quickly, and forgiving the argument quickly, in order to go back to being happy (normal) again. But you don’t realize that we need your help to do that.
We are right there, next to each other, but we cannot help you realize what needs to happen in that moment. We try to tell you what we need, but it’s up to you to help us get there. You can always tell us what you need, and chances are we will try to help you with it. If you mean something to us, when you come to us with your needs, we will try to figure it out. If you don’t matter to us, you will realize it when we do nothing good for you. When we are basically not supporting anything you need anymore. No more food in the fridge, no more apartment, no more groceries, going out, no more nothing. Tapos na.
Ladies, if you go to a guy with a list of things that you need for your relationship and he doesn’t DO those things, it’s time to leave that guy and find another one. Just be realistic. If we don’t make you happy, then don’t stay with us. If you don’t think your time is worth sharing with us, then leave. Plain and simple. We might ask you to leave or we might beg you to stay, but you get to make a choice. So what is your time worth? The real answer is that your time has no value. It is priceless. Even if some people would sell themselves, there’s no amount of money that can buy back time. Traveling back in time is impossible, but preparing for the future is very possible, and we could be doing it right this very second. That means that your time is worth whatever you believe your life is worth. If you think your life is worthless, then you probably think your time doesn’t matter. We feel sorry for you if you feel that way, but there isn’t anything we can do to make you realize what time means.
So why do so many guys cheat on girls? Is it because of something as small as an argument?
No. That’s usually not why guys cheat on you. They cheat on you because:
- You drive them a little bit crazy, and they think you aren’t listening when they tell you what the want.
- You bore them, because you have nothing valuable to say to them or the information that they want to hear.
- You’re too emotional over small things, and those emotions don’t work well because guys aren’t very emotional.
- You don’t consider your boyfriends past, where they came from, what’s happened to them before you met them.
- You allow them to cheat by not paying attention to the signs of a relationship that is on the verge of failure.
- You allow them to cheat (again) by not leaving them the first time they do it.
- You believe the lies and bullsh*t they feed you because you don’t even realize the difference between the truth and a lie, and that empowers guys to just walk right on over you.
A guy who cheats has to make the decision to cheat, and as a guy, I can tell you that we do care SOMETIMES about cheating. But most of the time we don’t. The girl that we are cheating on you with, to us, she’s just another one of you. Different name, different face, different attitude, voice, whatever, but she’s not as unique as you think she is. To us, she’s kind of like you. We probably care about you, especially if you’re our girlfriend, and we don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Us cheating on you is not bad to us, sorry, because we are animals. We cheat, it feels good physically, our brains get those happy chemicals, and then it’s over. It doesn’t mean we care or love the woman we cheated on you with. Usually, it means we don’t care at all. Whoever you get cheated on with, chances are she means very little to us, that’s why we cheat. But after we cheat, you make it seem like she is the important one, and you’re the unimportant one. The truth is, the REAL truth is, that you’re both unimportant.
Would you like to know why? As a foreigner, I will tell you why. Here’s the real reason. You are both unimportant because there are 10, 20, 50, 100, 1,000 other Filipina women that might want to be with us. The next woman is not the same, you’re all a little bit different, but the fact that there are women out there on Facebook, and WeChat, and dating sites, and bars, makes it easy to find someone else. We realize that if we break up today, in this country, based on the way people act, based on the way people think, based on the way people LIVE, that there is going to be another woman who wants to be with us. It might be tonight, or it might be next year. It doesn’t matter when, all that matters is that we believe that there is a 100% chance that your place can be replaced with someone else.
Does that make sense? Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, this guy is very suplado to be saying that.” “This guy is an assh*le.” “This guy is super mayabang.” “This guy is a piece of sh*t.” You can think whatever you want about these words. You get to choose how you think. You get to choose what you think. You get to choose who you will be with, what you will eat for lunch, and who you will hang out with later today.
So I am aware, as a foreigner, as a guy, that you - whoever you are, you will read this and you will be disappointed, or angry, or you will be upset with me. I understand. I am not here to control your thoughts. I am not here to make you think a certain way, I’m just here to empty my thoughts out on to a screen. You can think about them or you can throw them away, it’s your choice.
Now, you might be thinking that every guy wants to have sex with every girl he can. You can think that way too if you want, after all, opinions are meant for everyone. I have my opinion, you have yours. And when we compare our opinions, you can tell me how terrible guys are. How they used you, cheated on you, lied to you, and made you feel sad, lonely, and broken. And we can tell you how crazy we think women are, how small minded, how thoughtless, irresponsible, lazy, boring, uninteresting, b*tchy, bratty, or emotional we think they are.
The biggest problems with foreigners in the Philippines isn’t that we are butterlies, bad guys, pieces of sh*t, a**holes, liars, cheaters, or whatever, the biggest problem is that you don’t understand who we are, and you don’t understand where we are from, what our lives have been like, and what our backgrounds are. You might not care about any of that stuff! Ok, but that starts us off with a problem because we are not going to see things the same.
Of course we share this information with you. We tell you who we are, where we came from, what we did, what we do, we tell you about what we like and what we don’t like, etc. Even after we tell you everything, even if we tell you everything 100 times, you still don’t understand. Why? Women are not on this planet just to please men. And men are not on this planet just to please women. It’s not like we can take a ship to space and find some other “being” to be with. Even now as you’re reading this message you DO not understand. You think that you understand, but you really don’t. And you’re ashamed to admit that you don’t understand because you don’t want us to think “less” of you.
“Oh, I better not ask him to explain it again because he’s going to think that I don’t understand.” “If I ask him to help me understand, he might think that I’m stupid.”
Whatever those thoughts are, all of you need to get over it. There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there are such things as stupid people. Stupid because they choose not to fully understand. Stupid because they quit easy. Stupid because learning requires too much thinking. Stupid because they don’t want to think, they would rather just eat Jollibee and play on Facebook for 8 hours. Filipinas. You look at us with your teary eyes, you don’t even realize what we are thinking. And we do not realize what you’re thinking. All we wonder is, “why are you acting this way?” You’re sweet today, you’re sad tomorrow. You’re mean today, you’re friendly tomorrow. You’re upset today, you’re happy tomorrow. And yet you don’t even realize that your emotions are on a roller coaster, and that roller coaster is not a ride that us guys want to be on.
You might think that this foreigner, this guy – the guy who is writing this message, is picking on you. Picking on you, like being mean to you. Picking on you like, saying you’re “not good.” I am not saying you’re not good. Look at this entire message again and you will see that I have not written “you’re not good.”
I am not implying you’re not good. I really am not saying anything bad about you. I am just telling you what it feels like for US to be with you. Sometimes hearing things can hurt, sometimes they can help.
Why can’t we just have a normal relationship? You make the choice, we are trying.
Mr. Ian (The Brat)
Ian, you stress choice and options, but you’ve either wasted your time with the wrong women, or you’re not looking hard enough. Change the settings on your apps, or raise you standards until you find what you’re looking for.
To the editor,
So what's the vibe like in Angeles City in the wake of the kidnap and murder of that Korean businessman? I'm a Korean American who's been to the Phils numerous times and know of both its beauty and danger, but wow, this incident was a real wake-up call. I have a friend who has a biz in AC and he says (off the record) 99 percent of the Koreans killed there had it coming to them, either because they screwed over a business partner or didn't repay money owed or loaned. Put it simply, AC tends to attract the lowest of the low from Korea like people who couldn't get into a good college, owe big money to people, doing nothing with or trying to sort out their lives and the like. Not saying AC people are bad -- I'm sure most are not -- just that city, given what it offers, can attract bad types. Still, the victim of the murder-kidnap seemed to not have been involved in bad stuff and even wanted to open a charity with his wife to help Filipino youths. And the masterminds of the crime being the Philippine cops, now that was the killer (no pun intended).
Life hasn’t skipped a beat. This isn’t the first time a Korean has been kidnapped or murdered and probably won’t be the last. Just a few years back a Korean and his Filipina partner were buried alive in the yard of their home in one of the nicer subdivisions in town. The President came down on the police force hard for this recent snafu, offered a sincere apology to South Korea, and did what was right – held those accountable for such lawlessness.
Hi Harry and J.C.,
I enjoyed reading last month's newsletter....it was entertaining plus had a lot of good info.
I just completed my latest annual trip to A.C. There have been a lot of changes since my last visit but it's still a great place to hang out. I thought I'd give other visitors as well as the ex-pats there a warning about a scam artist posing as a massage girl who hangs out at the intersection of Teodora and Oak Streets, about 50 meters before Norma's Money Changer.
One of my fellow Perimeter Road hotel guests was enjoying his very first night in A.C. last month. He struck up a conversation with this slightly taller than average girl at that intersection and agreed to pay her 500p for a one hour massage in his room. After performing a satisfactory massage on him, the girl suddenly demanded 7,000p and threatened to trash his room if he didn't pay. Wisely, he yelled for the armed security guard and had her thrown out. The next morning, she returned to the hotel with a policeman and told the hotel manager one of his guests had assaulted her in his room and the guest owes her 7,000p for sex. The police were clearly not complicit in this scam attempt and appeared to be there there only because she demanded they go with her. Anyway, she demanded they file a report and the guest/victim finally agreed to pay a lesser sum (4,000p) just to settle the whole mess.
So, beware of this scammer. She's usually standing at that intersection with a few other girls and/or ladyboys, although their actual place of business is a small office on Oak Street, about 50 meters west of the intersection. She's about 5'6", and has somewhat short light brown hair. The hotel security guard who threw her out said he thinks she's actually a ladyboy!
Josh from Big D
These ladyboys are getting more and more bold. Some guys talk about having their pockets picked when they come up on you and get to grabbing. You'll always play with fire when you don't go into a spa and have a regular massage or hire from the front desk of your hotel, which usually vouches for the service being provided. These street spa girls are not working in a spa for a reason - freelancing allows them to opportunity to prey on people at will without being affiliated with any one particular place. If a girl working in a spa tries to fleece a customer, the customer can go to the spa. If a girl working on a corner as a massage therapist takes someone for a few thousand peso, she can just stop working for awhile or move to a different corner. By the way, anyone who pays more than P250 to P350 per hour for a massage is already getting fleeced. A P500 ladyboy massage sounds like an awful night. Check out our newspaper Word On The Street for some of the more reputable massage joints in town.
I have been a long time reader of the Horse when Jimmy D was writing and continue to do so now as well. I recently moved to Angeles City and love your paper Word on the Street as you expand your outlook and show there is more to the area than the adult entertainment area. In my travels I recently had the pleasure of vising the Subic area where I met some local expats and business persons.
A business women I met pointed out the difference between the different travelers to the area. She pointed out most Europeans visited Subic for two or three days than move on. Americans on the other hand usually stay in the Subic area for two to three weeks. Since the last national election here in the Philippines the international press has been making a big deal about how the Philippines are unsafe due to the crack down on drug dealers and corruption. The reality is many expats living in the area feel safer under the current situation, well, unless they are drug dealers or engages in major criminal activity. I took an informal survey and everyone, expats and locals alike, told me they feel as safe or safer now than before the last elections. Think about this for a minute, drug usage is associated with thefts and violent crimes to support the drug habit, reduce the drug usage than the violent crime rate will go down.
The same is true of corruption. The word has come down from Manila to the local governments to clean up the corruption or corrective action will be taken. I recently heard about several police officers in different areas of Central Luzon who were called to Manila and given a choice, transfer to Mindanao to fight the ISIS movement or resign. Many did not even show up for the meeting. No, nothing will ever be perfect for there will always be problems in even the most progressive socially conscience countries in the world, but right now all I can say is “Life is better in the Philippines, especially Central Luzon.”
And with the Philippines Airlines now adding flights out of Clark in addition to Cebu Pacific Airlines, Angeles City is a great location to make your home base as you travel through the safer areas of the Philippines.
I tend to agree. While digging around on the tourism statistics I noticed the spending habits of the demographics traveling into the Philippines during 2016 (pasted below). With all the new roads connecting things, better flight/route choices, new businesses opening up left and right, no to mention the rising US Dollar, it's a great time to be in the Philippines.
Word On The Street – March 2017 – Vol. 015
The bulk of the writing this month was handled by Bruce Curran, featuring stories from all over the Philippines. Ted Lerner also contributed a great piece on his Clark Airport travels, and I’ve decided to include that below rather than linking it.
HTH is adjusting to the market by trying to allow the paper to grow gradually, rather than blasting the page count out of the water. March was slated to be a 52-page edition, but at the last minute some adjustments were made for the sake of printer.
We introduced a new section for the Community. Please take the time to check it out on Page 40. The basic jist is that we are inviting anyone from charitable organizations, affiliations, and clubs to announce their activities and events in the paper.
Thanks to all of our advertisers who make the newspaper possible. Be sure to read next month’s edition where we take the gloves off and get a little messier than usual.
Here are all the links for the stories in this month's edition if you did not download a copy:
All OK With CRK
By Ted Lerner
When the Philippine Senate and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo forced the Americans to hightail it out of Clark and Angeles City in 1991 -- 78 years after ostensibly stopping in to just rest their horses and suckle a few cold drinks -- the locals were left in utter shock. Overnight, 50,000 well-paying jobs and over $1 million dollars a day pumped into the local economy had vanished. Lahar and ash from the volcano inundated the entire region, while some vandals finished the job, gleefully looting Clark of all its American household and hardware goodies. In the blink of a bloodshot eye, the area went from one of the country’s few economic bright spots to seemingly having no reason to exist.
But like a bedraggled soldier at war longing for the comforts of home, this area not only shouldered on, but also dreamed high. Ever since I first visited Angeles in the mid 1990’s, I’ve noticed there has always been no shortage of seemingly irrational exuberance about the future, even when progress was clearly a fanciful mirage appearing out of the ever-present dust. And after living here for 17 years now, I truly believe that unlike many places in the Philippines, there is a certain energy in Angeles and Clark, a freewheeling, anything-goes vibrancy that makes every day a new day; a place where dreams are made and lost, or where you can reinvent yourself every few hours.
Perhaps one reason I say this is because, as a foreigner, I’m privy to plenty of irrational exuberance of many fast talking foreigners who arrive here with golden dreams, roll the dice with their last dollars or euros, and walk away empty handed, their dreams of greatness having vanished in a storm of alcohol, intrigue, and mismanagement. Yeah, in these expat circles, talk is definitely cheap, and total nonsense walks in the door each and every happy hour. Still more eager punters arrive each and every day.
Amongst the locals, however, this exuberance for the future of this area has been a mainstay of my almost two decades here. And I know there’s always been two very solid overriding reasons why locals have always seen a very bright future for this region; those two massive slabs of concrete baking in the scorching Pampanga sun out on Clark Field.
I’m referring, of course, to the two world-class runways sitting parallel to each other, built by the Americans when they ran the base. It is said the deep, reinforced concrete is some of the finest ever installed anywhere in the world. People in these parts always liked to boast that these runways were one of only three in the world where you could land the Space Shuttle.
Even in the mid-1990s, despite the ongoing disaster of Pinatubo and the rampaging lahar inundating towns throughout the region, those runways were all anyone could talk about. Despite no noticeable progress on the base, many locals in the 1990’s were telling me the airport would soon be as busy as Hong Kong.
Of course that dream never quite materialized but in theory it made some sense. The Americans had left behind a not so small slice of perfect American infrastructure. The rest of Asia was only a few short hours away. Unlike Manila, there was plenty of space here. And unlike other towns and municipalities in this region, Angeles and Clark didn’t flood during rainy season.
Now, however, over two decades on and after several fitful starts, those seemingly grandiose dreams may just be becoming a reality. I’m not saying Clark is about to become the next Hong Kong. But surely the folks that run Clark airport are doing something right because the options now on offer are seriously amazing and seem to be expanding weekly.
Before I regal you with my experiences as a regular user of Clark Airport, I feel it’s important to compliment the folks who run the airport. Despite a lot of resistance over the years from the powers that be in Manila, they have persisted with the dream of turning Clark Airport into a major international travel gateway and the results are finally starting to show. The refurbished terminal won’t make Clark another Hong Kong, but it’s shiny and practical for now. And it works. There are rarely crowds at the airport. There’s plenty of parking. The people who work at the airport are friendly and relaxed. There’s hardly any hassle when moving through the terminal. If you travel often enough, the immigration and customs people greet you personally.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Clark Airport and my recent experiences only continue to bolster my admiration for what is quickly becoming one of my favorite travel hubs. I had long dreamed of not having to brave the traffic hell of Manila for international travel but for years, even with several budget airlines operating out of Clark in the mid-2000’s, the options were limited, especially for onward travel to all corners of the globe. But then, in 2015, Qatar Airways began offering daily flights out of Clark to Doha. This was a major milestone not just because nearly 200,000 Filipinos live and work in Doha, it was a big deal because Qatar Air literally flies all over the world from its base in Doha.
That first trip to Europe out of Clark was truly a mind blower. I was at my gate at Clark 25 minutes after leaving home. After a nice flight to Doha, and a two-hour layover at Qatar’s beautiful, brand new Hamed Airport, I was on my way to London, where my bags were waiting for me when I landed at Heathrow. The return trip was just as easy with a 90-minute layover in Doha included. When I landed at Clark I was out of the airport and headed home within 20 minutes.
Now here we are two years later - the options have seriously expanded at Clark, and so has my use of the airport. These days I find I rarely have to go to Manila for travel overseas. I’ve flown Emirates and Qatar to Europe several times and the trip has been hassle free. Last month I pulled a first time trip; Cathay Dragon, the budget carrier of Cathay Pacific, flies 5 times weekly from Clark to Hong Kong. On this trip I flew Cathay Dragon from Clark to Hong Kong and then transferred to Cathay Pacific for a non-stop flight to JFK in New York City. That’s just 21 hours door-to-door to the east coast of the USA. I pulled off the return in 20 hours and was home in bed 35 minutes after landing!
Just recently Philippine Airlines, which had long resisted using Clark, heeded the call of the President and has started offering flights from Clark to Boracay, Cebu, Busuanga, Davao, and even Korea. My friends at the airport tell me that AirAsia may be coming back in soon. One of the big dreams, I’m told, is to get an American carrier to offer a non-stop flight from Clark to the US.
There’s talk of a new and bigger terminal to be completed by 2021, which will be able to handle up to 8 million passengers a year. We’re still hearing about the proposed fast train to and from Manila, which would certainly be a game changer if it ever materializes. Certainly the upgraded highway infrastructure surrounding Clark will bring in travelers from the north and even Quezon City looking for easier options.
Whatever happens going forward, Clark International Airport has already won me over. So much so that now when I need to travel, I find myself going online and typing in CRK instead of MNL and finding plenty of options at affordable rates. In fact my next two trips overseas are already booked out of Clark.
I’m more than OK using CRK as my go to airport in the Philippines. I call it the friendly, easy, and civilized airport. They even greet me by name whenever I travel there now. That in itself is certainly worth something.
And it’s also nice to see those two amazing slabs of high grade, reinforced concrete that my parents tax money helped pay for finally being put to proper use.
*Ted Lerner is the author of the timeless book “Hey, Joe—a slice of the city, an American in Manila,” as well as the book of Asian travel essays, “The Traveler and the Gate Checkers.” Both books are available in hard cover and e-book on Amazon.com. He also works in professional boxing as a writer and ring announcer, and professional billiards as a writer and TV commentator. He has lived in the Philippines for 21 years. Visit his website at tedlerner.com
March's Featured Business: Cool Breeze Hotel in Friendship
If you’re looking for a quaint place to get away, or have a drink and relax while enjoying a unique view of the Angeles City skyline, Cool Breeze Hotel in Friendship is one of the best options in town.
It’s not the easiest place to find, but once you arrive you’ll feel right at home. You might wonder why a retired US serviceman and his Filipina wife decided to build their establishment in the heart of Korea town of all places. Brian and Vangie Pipkin saw a lot of potential in this particular piece of land and decided to create a nice, clean, affordable, quiet accommodation with all the amenities of a top-notch hotel.
Cool Breeze offers a rooftop bar that faces the Zambales Mountains on one side and a bit of Don Juico Avenue, Macarthur Highway, and Mount Arayat on the other. It’s actually a pretty tremendous view day or night, sunrise or sunset. They have an extensive drink menu, shisha, darts, billiards, and as the name suggests, a nice cool breeze that flows past you while you’re up in the bar.
On the ground level, you’ll find a living room style lounge, a swimming pool, and a roadside bar area. All of their rooms come with full cable, split aircon units, and electric fans. Rates start as low as Php 350 per 3 hours extendable by hour for just Php 100, or overnight stays for as low as Php 1,200.
They are currently involved in a very interesting aquaponics set up using pumice stone and a fish aquarium to grow organic crops on the rooftop of the hotel. When it takes off just about every establishment in town with a bit of flat space may want to utilize this technology in order to grow their own vegetables.
Stop by for a visit. See the ad below for more details or contact them through their website: coolbreezehotel.ph
Next Month's featured business: Hannah Modular and Hannah Mouldings. Did you know you could deck out your house, apartment, or condo with a local expat owned and operated company? Drop in a new entertainment center, new cabinets, new kitchen, bathroom, modular anything. Buy it in bulk and ship it home to your other place, or tell your friends about it so they can save on their interiors. Learn more about upgrading your crappy little place next month - we'll give you the full low down on what Hannah does.
Anyone Checked Out Rob's Gastropub Lately?:
Rob's used to be a ghost town, but on nights, especially on the weekends, there is a line out the door. This is a prime example of what happens when you combine good management with a quality chef who cares about the consitency of his kitchen.
Jerry Echter and his management team have done a complete overhaul of the place and it's running like a Swiss watch. If you haven't had a chance to try the food produced by German Chef Arne, who was one of the finalist in Masterchef UK's 2000 television series and spent time in Argentina as a chef and culinary guru, head down to Rob's and check it out. Arne is an affable guy, and you can tell that he is passionate about the quality of food he creates. I hate squid, but he convinced me to give it a try and for once in my life I am glad that I did.
This March, Rob's Gastropub will also play host to a few of the best comedians on tour here in Asia. Check out this press release and get a hold of tickets before it is too late:
This March the 20th get ready to laugh until you cry as we prepare to welcome three fantastic comedians to Angeles city for the first time ever! The Magners International Comedy Festival will be touring Asia stopping off in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and of course the Philippines!
Rob’s Gastropub in Angeles City will play host to the likes of Aidan Killian, described as “Ireland's hottest comedian”, Dan LaMorte, host of Gotham live in New York and the awesome Kelly Taylor who was shortlisted in Canada’s top comic 2016. This brilliant line up will produce the biggest and best night of comedy ever seen this side of Manila!
The new Rob’s Gastropub, managed by the successful H&J Management group with their extensive experience in the bar industry, have successfully turned this bar around and it is now considered THE place to go in Angeles City! With it’s amazing new German Chef “Arne”, who made his name on UK Masterchef cooking up a wide range of delicious dishes from around the world, this evening of International Stand Up Comedy is most definitely worth a visit!
Early bird tickets are available from Rob’s Gastropub so get down there soon to make sure you don’t miss out!
For reservations please text your name to 0917 853 2888
Tickets 500 php early bird, 800 on the door.
Full info: www.comedyfest.com.sg
About the comedians...
Aidan Killian, Irish comedian tries to become enlightened. He explores yoga, tantra, meditation, A Course In Miracles but yet Aidan still jerks off. Laugh along with Aidan as he explores the truth within himself and also takes a look at his shadow side who is a complete shithead. "You'll see nothing else like this" - Chortle ★★★★
Dan LaMorte is a NYC based stand up comedian, comedy writer, and sports writer. His comedy has been seen on FOX's Red Eye, AXS TV's Gotham Comedy Live, and his debut album "Not Enough Pieces" coming January of 2017. Sports wise, Dan is a former college baseball player and covers both MMA and Baseball.
Kelly Taylor - From the first time stepping on stage it was only 9 short months later that Kelly was headlining. In just his second year of comedy, Kelly Taylor shocked the comedy industry by placing second in the prestigious Just for Laughs Homegrown competition. Competing against comics who have been in the business for ten plus years, Kelly Taylor firmly made his mark at JFL. His performance did not go unnoticed as creative heads from NBC Universal, Happy Gilmore Productions and Jimmy Kimmel quickly approached with interest. Later that year Kelly did a tour of the Canadian Colleges, and was Named Canadian College Comedian of the year.
Already conquering Canada he has now moved on to being one the busiest comedians on the American college scene. Kelly Also starred as the lead role in the movie Sure Shot Dombrowski. Kellys ability to headline clubs, corporate and college events at just three years into his budding career is evidence that this kid is the real deal. Aside from Just for Laughs, he has already appeared at The Vancouver and Halfax Comedy Festivals. Kelly has performed all across the country including LA and New York City at some of the most well respected clubs in the industry.
Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2017
This could be the last airshow and balloon festival for Clark as the pressure from airlines to keep to their regular flight schedules and the growing passenger demand at the airport have event organizers looking for alternative locations next year.
These photos were taken from the roofdeck of Horizon Tower One Condominiums, and yes, the Philippine Flag balloon was only a balloon length from the building when it went over head.
This month's featured image is sunrise over Mount Arayat, also taken from the top of Horizon.
We will include more news as time goes by, these past couple months have been a transition for HTH. I love being an Editor only - doing all the content before was taxing. Thank you to all those who contributed and look forward to what's next to come.