I’m not a sex tourist, so I never had any desire to go to Angeles City. When I landed at Clark Airfield on my way into the Philippines, I bailed on Angeles and went straight to Manila. On my return, I decided to head to Angeles for a night before my flight, mainly because I like to sleep in the same town as the airport the night before an international flight. It turned out to be far easier to get to Angeles from Manila than I expected, and in hindsight I really should have stayed in the big city and bused up to Clark the next day.
Angeles is almost certainly the seediest city in the Philippines. I would venture to guess that it has more prostitutes than Bangkok, even though Bangkok is at least 20 times larger. There were help wanted signs on a lot of the bars, saying things like “Mamasan wanted – must have at least 10 dancers.” It was a weird place for me to be. In Dumaguete, there are a few classic sex tourists – 52 year old guys with mustaches and pot bellies with a 19 year old on their arms. They always felt a bit out of place though, like they were infringing on my turf. However, in Angeles, I was clearly the fish out of water. This place was the mother ship for these dudes.
I stayed at the Niagara, which was a filthy, dingy dump that was run by extremely nice people that let me check out hours late for free. Plus, it was the cheapest place I could find with air conditioning and wifi. The Niagara also had an attached dive bar, which is always a plus.
I sat down at the bar for a beer shortly after checking in. I planned on having one before catching a nap. It had been a long day – I’d woken up early in Dumaguete, flown to Manila, gotten a bullshit taxi to downtown Manila (when I wanted to go to the burbs. Asshole.), ridden the train to Quezon City, eaten Taco Bell, searched out and taken a bus to Dau Bus Terminal, and taken a tricycle to central Angeles.
There were a couple old men sitting by me at the bar, and they offered me a shot of Jack Daniels. I’m never one to turn down decent (or rotgut) whiskey, so I joined them. One of them asked me if it was my first day in Angeles. First and only, I replied. I asked how he knew that I was a n00b in town, since I’ve been to the Philippines as a whole several times before. He told me he could see it in peoples’ faces, how long they’ve been in this town. He’d been here since 1974.
We drank more, and I told them that I was living in Korea the last few years. Pretty funny sexpat worldview response “Oh, Korean girls are beautiful, but they’re so expensive!”
I ended up plowing through a ton of this free whiskey, and at 8 p.m. I headed to my room for what I thought would be a brief nap, but actually lasted until 3 a.m. I went out for some food and the check out the tail end of the bar scene, but went back home to sleep before long.
The next day, I planned on checking out a nearby mountain, or maybe at least a nearby mall, but I ended up doing no such thing. It rained all day, didn’t let up at all, so I pretty much spent the day watching The Daily Show and Colbert on my iPad and cable news on the hotel TV. At around mid-afternoon, I decided I would be better off leaving my dark and dingy room to hang out at the dark and dingy bar. Once again, the bartenders and hotel staff were very kind, and I ended getting about half of my all-important pre-airport beers for free.
I have virtually no pics of Angeles. I didn’t see anybody else taking pictures. It felt like the kind of place where I could have gotten punched in the face for taking a picture, so I abstained. Here’s all I got.