Gay Philippines - January 2007

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Mabuhay (Hello)

The Philippine Islands are a large group of over 7,100 islands lying about 500 miles (805 km) off the southeast coast of China. The overall land area is comparable to that of the UK or state of Florida in America. Only about 7% of the islands are larger than one square mile, and only one-third have names. The largest are Luzon in the north, where Manila lies (the capital city of the Philippines), which has been expanded into what is now called Metro Manila. The Philippines has a population of around 90 million. Filipinos are famous not only for their warm hospitality, but also for their courtesy, gentle, friendly, and cheerful people. Philippines are blessed with tropical climate with hot and humid weather all year round. The best time to visit Philippines, obviously is the summer months, for all you sun seekers which run from March through to May which can go to as high as 35ºC, that’s very hot especially as the humidity level is quite high. We decided to go in December for the New Year celebrations, its one of the coolest months, with daytime temperature of around 25ºC.


The Philippines is a nation of many languages and dialects, as it consist of many islands, there are 55 native languages and 142 dialects in the country, apart from English and Spanish. Filipino is the national language. Much of Filipino is derived from the language Tagalog spoken here in Manila and nearby provinces. English is the most widely used language in the country, in fact, the Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. Significantly, the country has two official languages – Filipino and English.


The currency in the Philippines is the Philippine peso (or piso), divided into 100 centavos (or centimo) . The U.S. dollar is worth about 48 pesos, euro about 46 pesos and 1 British Sterling £ is around 100 pesos. So this is a good news for all you boys hunting for a bargain, this is a place to shop, dine and drink alcohol, as you get more out of your money.

Getting around town

Metro Manila comprises several cities and municipalities. Getting around town is a least thing you should worry about; there are many modes of transportation available.  Buses, Jeepneys, LRT and taxis are readily available for use in getting around the city.

  • Buses are available with air-conditioning or without.  The price for riding in air-conditioned bus start from P10, while you would pay about P8 for riding without air-conditioning.
  • The most popular mode of transportation in Manila is the Jeepney.  As the name implies, it is basically a colourful jeep that looks like those used by the Americans during World War II. This elongated jeep that seats about 12-14 people all have regular routes, but no regular stops - they stop anywhere, even at no-unloading zones! The way to know where they are going is to look in the front window as they will have the destination sticking up on a small sign. And you also have tricycles and pedicabs, but leave them to the locals. If you want to try one just to get a taste of local flavour, make sure you have a local with you.
  • Taxis are air-conditioned and can be found practically anywhere in Manila. On occasion a driver will say his meter is broken, if so, travellers beware!  It is time to get out and find another taxi, as you will probably get very much overcharged by this scam.
  • The LRT (Light Rail Transit) or MRT is the best way to get downtown and get around in Manila.  It's relatively inexpensive and is very fast.

If you are confident about driving in the Philippines, then renting a car is a great way to get you around the country. With a valid foreign or international driver's license and a map in hand, you are set for an interesting trip. But be aware once outside the city road signs are not that common and maps can be unreliable. They drive on the right-hand side of the road and are notorious for bad driving. As our friend told us “It has been said that once you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere in the world, even NYC. :) Filipinos may be warm and friendly on the outside, but once they are in their cars, they are arrogant and undisciplined.”

Where to stay

Makati is Manila’s Central Business District where there are a lot of top notch hotels, here you’ll find numbers of choices of five star hotel to chose from literally next to each other It’s all walking distance from many of the hip, stylish, gay-friendly bars and restaurants like Giraffe, Venezia, Hard Rock Café, and the hippest, trendiest mall in the city, Glorietta 4.

Shangri-La Hotel Manila is the hotel where we decided to stay and it’s our second time we stayed in this chic, fabulous, five star hotel. Located in Manila’s Central Business District, Makati. It offers a complete range of services and amenities. With its luxury room, a huge outdoor swimming pool and fully equipped gymnasium along, with some hunky trainers in hand. Just only 20 minutes away form the airport and 10 minutes by taxi to the gay village of Malate.

Gay Scene

Manila, Philippines is one of the few major Asian cities with an overt gay scene that openly contradicts the conservative culture of the country. Being in a predominantly Roman Catholic society, homosexuals are generally well accepted in Philippine society.

The heart of Manila gay scene is Malate, just a 20 minute drive from Makati (where we were staying).

The intersection of Maria Orosa Street and Julio Nakpil Street is lined with various gay establishments.



Address: Orosa Nakpil Courtyard, Maria Orosa Street (corner Julio Nakpil Street), Malate, Metro Manila

Dine al fresco at the ground level or at the (100% car free) outdoor area. One can also choose to wine and lounge at the upper level with the most laid back set up ever conceived in Manila, wines at affordable prices, an exciting range of cocktails and a yummy set of coffees mixed with liquors. Completely gay-owned, gay-operated, and gay-friendly, The Rainbow Project is a proud affiliate of BED Bar and Club, its next door neighbour. Business hours are from Wednesday to Saturday, 8.00 PM till late or rather early enough for you to enjoy breakfast after a night of frenzied clubbing!

BED NIGHTCLUB (the main gay nightclub of Manila/Philippines)

Address: Orosa Nakpil Courtyard, Maria Orosa Street (corner Julio Nakpil Street), Malate, Metro Manila

Located in Manila's old world neighbourhood, at the corner of gay and gayer in Queer Central Malate, Bed has been for two years now, the only party stop for local gay men and women and foreigners. It is constantly praised for its fantastic lighting and sound system as well as the best music in Asia. Recently, the club underwent a major facelift and is now twice it's size, fulfilling the requirements of any size queen!


Address: Orosa Nakpil Courtyard, Maria Orosa Street (corner Julio Nakpil Street), Malate, Metro Manila

Any self-respecting gay ghetto has got to have an x-rated shop. Get your fill of the naughtiest shirts, the sexiest swimwear, the gay-est music CDs, the kitsch-est accessories, the most ingenious devices, and other stuff too risqué to mention. For most people, meaning straight clueless mortals, this toy store is an oddity, or a museum of novelty items best gawked at but not bought. For us gay gods and goddesses, this shop fulfils very real and basic needs. Open nightly


Address: At the corner of Nakpil and Orosa, Malate, Metro Manila

A small yet very busy, lively gay bar (just across the road from the above venues). The owners were very friendly and welcoming giving us some free drinks and food. They had a DJ playing music outside on the road for the New Year celebrations. Above this venue is a gay x-rated shop called Top & Bottom.

GOVERNMENT (the second largest gay nightclub) &

Address: 7840 Makati Avenue, Makati City 

The club's chic industrial interior prepares you for the journey that you are about to undertake. On the dance floor, a dazzling display of laser lights and incredible lighting effects pierce the darkness to lift your spirit. Also, a few walks up the stairs lead you to a richly textured lounge area where you can chill and enjoy the music.


Address: 1204 East Rodriguez Avenue, New Manila. Quezon City, in front of Tri-Palace Hotel 

Fahrenheit is currently the most popular bathhouse in Metro Manila. The peak hours start AFTER midnight till about 3am, 7 days a week. Decent facilities, popular with young guys. 20 minutes taxi from Makati if no traffic jam. Facilities include a steam, library, audio visual room, karaoke, bars, jacuzzi, labyrinth with glory holes, mirror maze, and resting rooms. The club also conducts special shows and events with male strippers, drag, modeling and contests for Mr. Fahrenheit, Miss F Universe and Miss Earth Fahrenheit.


Address: 2456 F.B. Harrison Blvd, corner Valhalla Street, Pasay City, Metro Manila (near Pasay City Sports Complex, Cuneta Astrodome and Holiday Plaza, Libertad.) 

Club Bath Philippines is the oldest and the first gay bath house in Manila, Philippines. It is a good place to go to BEFORE midnight and has provided men with a clean, comfortable place to meet other men, to relax and play. Soak up and sweat in the “Steam Room”, Work-out in the "mini-gym" and then Relax in the “TV Lounge”. A yearly membership fee is P250. Membership club and photo ID must always be presented upon registration. Club bath rates for lockers stands at P150 (Mon – Thurs) and P250 (Fri to Sun). Private rooms cost P350 (Mon to Thurs) and P400 (Friday to Sunday). To get there, tell the cab driver: "Harrison street, Pasay City Hall". The club is less than 100m away from Pasay City Hall.


Address: 1922 Leon Guinto St (near Remedios St, off Taff Ave), Malate.

A newer gay sauna located 5 minutes by taxi from the Malate gay area at Orosa St. Epitome is open daily from 10:30pm-4am. This 2-storey establishment features a dark maze, individual cubicles, steam room, 2 bars, video room, jacuzzi, large common shower area. Epitome is a private club and visitors have to buy a membership card which is valid for 12 months. Entrance fee includes a free drink. The crowd is foreign-friendly and very cruisy.


Better cite Temple, Absinthe and Ice Bar in Greenbelt 3 are gay-friendly bars. Embassy in The Fort is the trendiest dance club with a mixed crowd. The Library Karaoke bar (Remedios Circle, Adriatico St). The hippest, trendiest mall is Greenbelt 3, although the SM Mall of Asia is the biggest and is becoming a happening mall for gay boys to hang out.


Tourist attraction

The Philippines is an archipelago blessed with a wealth of natural resources, a rich history and unique culture. Its attractions are as many as they are diverse, with each island offering something different, something special to the most discerning visitor. White sand beaches, lush green forests, majestic mountain peaks, age-old structures, modern cities, and rustic countryside's - the list goes on and on.


Right in the heart of Manila is found the "Walled City" - Intramuros. Constructed in 1571, during the period of Spain's colonization of the Philippines, it comprised of European buildings and churches.


The 58-hectare (143 acre) Rizal Park is named for Dr Jose Rizal, renowned Philippine anti-colonialist, writer and philosopher. The park is one of the largest in South East Asia, and it’s a perfect oasis by the residents of Manila for recreation and entertainment.


The name of this Palace, now the seat of government and official residence of the Philippines head of state, comes from the vernacular ‘May Lakan Diyan’, which means ‘there lives a noble man’.


A comfortable two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Manila, Villa Escudero, a former sugarcane plantation, is toured aboard a rustic carabao-drawn carriage. A highlight of a tour is visit to the museum where an eclectic collection of religious icons, rare coins, costumes, furniture and dioramas of Philippine wildlife can be viewed. The other unique feature is a native buffet lunch by a waterfall where you listen to the cascades and cool your feet in the running water while feasting on native delicacies.


Manila Bay or ‘Bay Walk’ called by locals is one of the finest natural harbours in the world which serves the port of Manila, it’s a beautiful place to chill out and escape out of the busy life in the city. It’s a nice and friendly place for people to meet, eat and drink. The streets are well lit and packed with people from all walks of life, there are bands playing music, singer playing acoustic guitar while having a nice dinner in good food stalls/restaurants.  And what these people really come here for, its beautiful sunset.


This fascinating region in northern Luzon is known for being largely untouched by Western civilisation and gives a glimpse of the true Philippines.

The main attraction in the area is the Banaue Rice terraces, dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and One of the great icons of the Philippines Constructed about 3,000 years ago, the terraces start from the base of the Cordillero Mountains and extend upwards for thousands of feet, cleverly irrigated by channelled streams and springs. They were hewn from the land 2000 years ago by Ifugao tribes people using primitive tools, an achievement in engineering terms that ranks alongside the building of the pyramids. Called the "Stairway to Heaven" by the Ifugaos, the terraces would stretch 20,000km if laid out end to end.


Baguio City is approximately 250 kilometres north of Manila, situated in the Province of Benguet. From Manila, the City of Baguio can be accessed either by land or air transportation. By bus it takes an average of five hours to travel between Manila and Baguio  or you can always get a flight that runs daily, with a local airline, Asian Spirit which only take just under an hour. The city’s main attraction is still its natural bounties of cool climate, panoramic vistas, its pine forests and generally clean environments. Baguio is 8 degrees cooler on the average than any place in lowlands. When Manila sweats at 35 degrees centigrade or above, Baguio seldom exceeds 26 degrees centigrade at its warmest, and drops to as low as 15 degrees Celsius in the colder months. Tourist Attraction in Bagiuo:


Burnham Park is centred on a man-made lake located at the heart of the city. It was named after the city's planner, Daniel Burnham. The park is a favourite place of local residents and visitors alike.


From the observation deck of the park a breathtaking panoramic view of Benguet's gold and copper mines and the surrounding mountains unfolds before you. It is a spectacular sight to behold and should not be missed when visiting Baguio.


Wright Park, which is located at the eastern part of the city and fronting the main gate of the Mansion, is one of the many scenic parks in Baguio City.


The Lion's Head Park along Kennon Road is the undisputed landmark that is synonymous to Baguio City.


The park was erected in honour of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines.


Also known as the Igorot Village, the Botanical Garden features native huts typical of the type of Igorot dwellings found in the Cordilleras.


The Mansion is located on the eastern part of the city along the Leonard Wood Road and right across from Wright Park. It was built in 1908 for U.S. governor-generals and was destroyed in 1945 during the battle for the liberation of the Philippines. The elaborate main gate of the Mansion is said to be a replica of that at Buckingham Palace in London.


The Bell Church is located north of the downtown area of Baguio along the road leading to the town of La Trinidad, Benguet. Within its compound are intricately designed arches and buildings adorned with flags, bells and dragons. It has a pagoda, and beautifully landscaped gardens. There are some artefacts about Buddhism that you will find at the Bell Church as well as some literature about the history of China.


The world-famous island of Boracay is located in Aklan province 345 kms. South of Manila. The island is accessible by air from Manila or Cebu through two principal gateways : Caticlan airport or Kalibo airport. From Manila, take the 50-minute Philippine Airlines flight to Kalibo in the province of Aklan; from where you travel another two hours inland ( via bus or jeepney ) to Caticlan, Then, it's off to Boracay via outrigger boats.

Boracay is the perfect island getaway, with its warm blue waters, powder-fine white sand, and a palm fringed 4-kilometer beach. Besides  from its beautiful beach, Boracay serves as a good home for a fine selection of restaurants, going from tiny, native fast-food places to gourmet cuisine.

There are numerous of activities to do, with the majority of it geared around the ocean and water sports.  Some activities include Windsurfing and Kite surfing, Scuba Diving, Sailing, Kayaking/Canoeing, Horse Riding and there’s some golf places around.


60km SSE of Manila. One of the most visited tourist spots in the Philippines, this geological phenomenon is actually a volcano within a lake within a volcano. Taal is the world's smallest volcano, but do not let appearances deceive you--it can be quite deadly when it erupts. A 45-minute ride on a banca (wooden boat) will take you to the volcano; a 15-minute trek will take you to the top of the crater.



Manila, Philippines is truly cosmopolitan city in Asia. Manila has so much diversity in terms of culture, tradition and most of its entire people. Filipinos is what makes up Manila with their undying spirit, friendliness and world renowned hospitality.