Malate seems to undergo a transformation every ten years. There was a time when it was where all the art-related happenings took place. Then it became a red light district. Then it got cleaned up. Then it became a red light district again, albeit softened to a considerable degree.
I mean, If I were to go back to my college days at UP Manila, I don't think I will ever see these:
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. These are little boys running around The Library, which used to be a popular gay comedy bar when I was a collegiala in the late 90s. I also remember that the patrons of the bar were predominantly gay. Now they're a mixture of gay, straight, foreigners, families...
I also noticed how the drag queens seemed to have diffused their once overly colorful language. Oh, they're still very good at dishing out insults, but they've become a whole lot tamer.
Since this particular Communication Behavior class trip was courtesy of Chitchat, I had to ask her if The Library had transferred location. I don't recall it being this huge. The old bar was cramped, sweaty and horribly dark. This new place is more comfortable. Notice how high that ceiling is? There's a nice second floor where you can dine and enjoy the show to your heart's content. We were seated right in front of the stage, though.
Since the place is well-lit, I noticed that it really does look like a library. There were real books on top of those very real shelves. There were paintings hanging on walls. It definitely looked like an artsy-fartsy place.
I wondered about the foreigners that went to this joint. They don't understand Tagalog. They obviously can't get the in-jokes even if we translate the exchanges into English. The humor is cultural. When you go up the stage, like that dude at the bottom left of the above photo, you are practically asking to be made fun of. So I don't get why foreigners would even dare come here. Maybe they wanted to experience Malate and be verbally abused by a bunch of funny men in women's dresses?
Oh, and there's this. Click the photo for a better view. Lovely, isn't she?
Or I should say, Lovely, isn't he?
Chitchat and I kept asking each other if this gorgeous creature were male or female. She had hips, a bosom, could hit notes worthy of Carrie Underwood. She could walk in killer heels. It wasn't until she spoke that we finally had our answer. Oh, but she spoke fluent Japanese, although her Japanese accent is atrocious.
I couldn't stop staring at her. Ah, such beauty! And I noticed that our professor, Doc Joey, had the same reaction. Haha!
Ok, those two glasses of Long Island Iced Tea have a story. I ordered one glass because I wanted something alcoholic but I wanted it mild. Apparently, The Library's Long Island Iced Tea is a powerful concoction; it tastes like alcohol with a teaspoonful of cola. I diluted it with a 500mL bottle of Coke and it was still too strong. You can actually smell its strength from a mile away. So I was left with two glasses of diluted Long Island Iced Tea that I didn't even get to finish.
I wish I had ordered the regular iced tea instead. Yeah, sissy is me.
After hanging around for an hour or so, we decided to settle into O-Bar. The place isn't for kids, but you get to see the weirdest things: fake blind people serenading you, peddlers selling snakes, uh...15-year-olds getting shooed by bouncers?
If you go up to their second floor, you'll observe certain uhm..."non-verbal discourses" going on. Let's just say that the bar itself is being cautious for a reason:
Here, we processed the two activities we did for the day, my Metro Comic Con 2010 event and Chitchat's Malate trip. Chitchat gave us a brief but riveting history of Malate, after which I lamented the fact that my beloved arts-centered establishment, Penguin Café, no longer resides in this area. Sadness.
And this is the only decent pic of O-Bar that I was able to take. Now that I realize it, I should've taken photos of the snake peddler, the fake blind serenader, and the scrawny teenagers that the bouncers were shooing away. Those photos would actually be safer compared to the other goings-on.
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