Saturday, August 18, 2007


Anyone who does a walking tour of Manila's downtown areas -- Quiapo, Santa Cruz and Binondo -- I'm sure, will ultimately notice the ubiquitous presence of the city's hospitality industry. In certain locations alone, such as those within the university belt area, two or three hotels coexist within a 50-meter radius.

I sought refuge in one of these hotels. It was during my early days of exploring the city on my own shortly after moving here from New York; a time when my internal system still hasn't completely acclimated locally that even ices cubes (made from tap water) with a glass of soft drinks could cause serious diarrhea. And what made matters worse was that I am one of those unable to use just any public toilet -- a quirky habit that stemmed from childhood.

So, without any other recourse, lest I wanted to experience something that I would later regret with extreme shame, I checked myself into one of these hotels in great haste; asking the guy at the front desk to also get two bottles of Gatorade to send up to my room immediately.

After a couple of hours, when fully confident that I could at least cab it back home without any further threat of a sudden need to go to the bathroom, I turned off the TV and got ready to leave. Just then the phone rang. It was the guy at the front desk, asking if I were expecting a female guest. I said no and added that I was on way down to check out.

I did make it back home uneventfully.

A week later at some birthday party, I told my cousins about this almost catastrophically shameful experience. They were very much amused by it, especially the part in which I received a call from the front desk. Supposedly, it was a subtle, yet typical way of front desk personnel to ask their lone guests if some female company is desired. Turns out, it was a common practice at hotels of such caliber.

How convenient, I thought. No longer is there a need to roam the streets to search for a temporary partner for some warmth and comfort, especially during those chilly nights that come with the monsoon rains.

Nonetheless, I couldn't help but notice some irony in all this -- that despite the stringent stance of the church on lechery, Manilenyos, for the most part, remain to be a promiscuous lot; keeping the city's hospitality industry thriving in the process.


posted by Señor Enrique at 10:57 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting one Señor...really, any city worth her salt would always have a place for uhhmm carnal fun.

Otherwise it would be a prude.

August 18, 2007 1:04 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I guess it is also a necessity. Many families don't have enough room for privacy. If you need to share your bedroom with a lot of other family members you might have no other alternative than to rent a room for a few hours.

Let's hope our new Mayor will not look into this matter... ;-)

August 18, 2007 1:10 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

How true its, Ivan! All great cities tend to boast a district for such wanton delight :)

Interestingly, I've read that these days, Havana seems to the destination of choice for those with lustful hearts ... hehehe.

August 18, 2007 1:42 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Good point, Sidney. Some houses in Manila have more than one family living under one roof -- grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, borders, and etc.

Yeah, right ... hope this entry doesn't give the mayor any new idea ... hehehe.

August 18, 2007 1:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Passion and Manila seem to go together like hand in glove...maybe it runs in their (Manileños) veins naturally...

August 18, 2007 5:01 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And I bet, Major Tom, that it is that passion that fuels most Manilenyos to persevere and endure the challenges that come their way.

As the old adage goes, behind every successful man, is a woman :)

August 18, 2007 5:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

panandaliang aliw... i guess it's part of human nature, aminin! i remember that hotel with that lady whispering, but forgive me for not remembering the name. that place holds special thought in my head. hahahah!

August 18, 2007 10:02 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

I wonder if you are familiar with the court case involving Mayor Villegas who wanted to round up all of Manila's prostitutes and ship them off to Palawan. Ha ha ha! Of course, the courts stopped him.

We live in an old house in Pasay City (which my siblings and I call "motel city") and since I was a kid, I'd always crane my neck to read all these "cheap room rates" signs. One thing I noticed is that they keep getting wittier and wittier. :)

August 19, 2007 12:52 AM  

Blogger Unknown said...

Mark down the date and time of this post. I predict that next Valentine's Day Mayor Lim will be on the prowl for hotels such as these.

Since he seems intent on being the anti-Atienza, you can be sure no more Loveapalooza either. (Although in years past I personally thought the whole thing an exercise in corniness)

August 19, 2007 1:34 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Your experience with diarrhea and the motel room is amusing indeed:-)

"Na-mamahay" ka rin pala when it comes to your toilet routine.

Riding around the states on my bike sometimes get's me in situations where I have to do "it" anywhere along the highways and freeway rest stops. Or when really necessary, hide in the bushes and let it go real quick before the state troopers see's your bike on the side of the road and starts investigating the surroundings and finds you in a very awkward position. And hopefully he would understand the agony etched on your face while suffering through the pain of the situation and not cite you for the embarassing offense.

Are the Malate and Pasig short time motels still around?

Funny that you mentioned the relation btween rainy days and the high occupancy rate of short time digs in Manila. That seems to be the tradition among the raging hormones set even then. Umulan lang ng kaunti, pila na sa mga motels sa metro Manila! Lalo na pag suspended ang classes ng high school at college due to heavy rains and flooding..fiesta ang mga motels sa Pasig at metro Manila!

August 19, 2007 2:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"Aliw, sir?" I think is the more popular come-on used by our street comfort providers, Nell ... hehehe

And that would be Victoria's Court, which is a higher priced motel. You can check-in somewhat discreetly since you can drive right into a garage that has a door that leads you right into your room. Now, this is what a friend told me who brings his wife there on special occasion because of the fascinating theme rooms and jaccuzis.

August 19, 2007 7:19 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I must admit, Bugsy, Pinoys are gifted with the skill to play with words so, it'd only be logical for these establishment owners to commission for some witty slogans for their billboards.

And you need not crane your neck when walking around the city because the signs are also getting bolder, bigger and plentiful (check out the bottom photo).

Not familiar with Mayor Villegas' plan, but Palawan has now become an ecotourism destination.

August 19, 2007 7:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, my ... I wouldn't be surprised, Rafael, if you did prove right.

Mayor Lim reminds me of NYC's ex-mayor Gulianni who closed down the clubs in Manhattan during the late 90s. Darn!

Loveapalooza? I agree, the Pinoys can surely come up with something more fun and exciting record-breaking event.

August 19, 2007 7:30 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The 15th and end of the month weekends are the busiest for these hotels, Pete, being they are paydays. I'm sure the Malate area still has its share of these establishments, but Pasig? Not sure about it; rarely visit the area.

I used to dream of getting one of those RVs and just drive all over America. These, at least, have their own bathrooms.

Honestly, I don't have the heart to ride those big bikes. But remember Malcolm Forbes' gang of bikers?

August 19, 2007 7:37 AM  

Blogger joe said...

Love this post Eric! It's now TREN SA MOTEL! Maybe it's too expensive now for those Victoria Court-like places in Pasig or Malate like Noypetes says. Not unless ... you're moneyed ey.

August 19, 2007 8:08 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Metro Manila also has some fine hotels for the moneyed, Joe -- world class talaga!

By the way, a friend emailed me this morning to say that the hotels in my photos are also popular to Pinoy seamen newly-arrived from their overseas assignment, or those working on their papers for another tour of duty; some of which come from the Visayan region.

Although there are more affordable temporary housing facilities for our seamen, some prefer the privacy that these hotels provide.

August 19, 2007 8:27 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lots of hotels is a good thing because there will be more choices for tourists. They can find affordable accommodations when visiting the country and even big families could place some members there if the house is too small to place everyone.


August 19, 2007 10:33 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are many motels along old sta.mesa. ang sama coz some schools are practically a stone's throw away from them.

August 19, 2007 2:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a husband is feeling extra romantic and invites his wife to check in a luxurious hotel, I guess it's better when wife brings in the 'first class hotel ambience' into their bedroom...

Dim lights or scented candles, fresh curtains, fresh sheets, alluring outfit plus 'extra special service' - then wife collects from hubby the money intended for the five star accomodation and go shopping next day. Oops.. hope I don't get censored. hahaha!

August 19, 2007 5:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It used to be that motels for " short time bliss " were confined to the Malate and vicinity and subsequently sprung up in the quiet and secluded areas in Pasig and QC. I can't believe they have them in the downtown core now ! What might be the reason ? Just way too much traffic to get to those secluded motels? Heck, 2 hours being stuck in traffic jam would be too much precious time wasted indeed :)

August 19, 2007 11:49 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

I’m surprised no one here mentioned the term “Biglang Liko”. During my younger years, Pasig and Sta Mesa have a lot of those places for the short-time nap and other things done by a tired or fun seeking traveler(s).  hahaha, (para maganda tingnan ang post.) :D

When I went home on vacation long time ago, I took a taxi from Caloocan to visit some of my tennis buddies and told the driver “Boss, sa “Victoria Court tayo”. The driver said, “Boss, saan pong Victoria Court?” Swiiiing! I noticed the naughty smile of the driver and I said, “Sa may Intramuros po”, “ The driver said, “Meron po bang VC dun?, alam ko, meron po ata sa Malate o Ermita pero hindi po ata Victoria ang pangalan”
Hahaha, I finally said, “Victoria Tennis Court po, manong, sa May Plaza Lawton”.
“Kaya pala wala kayong kasama” said the driver. Anyways, before I get off, he handed me some business cards/discounts of different Hotel/Motels with his Nickname and a series of numbers(maybe his code) written at the back and told me I should try some of them while on vacation. I don’t need to name the hotel/motel that my wife and I spend a wonderful evening out of curiosity (on her part).  All I can say is “matindi ang mga lugar na ito ngayon, kaysa nuong araw, with their great service, cleanliness and good food”.

~~ Morality issues? , ano ba yun? :)

August 20, 2007 5:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is surely one way to make use of the city hotels, Kyels, for visiting relatives when the house is too small to accommodate them all, say during a wedding or something.

August 20, 2007 6:37 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I had driven through Sta. Mesa, Carla, and those plentiful hotels you speak of are quite noticeable. And yes, some are located very close to schools.

August 20, 2007 6:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

True, Rhoda, but there are times that a total change of environment can enhance the magic of the moment ... hehehe.

August 20, 2007 6:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, BW, the downtown area of Manila has many of them nowadays. As they say say, convenience os key lest you want to risk losing the magic of the moment in a two-hour traffic jam :)

August 20, 2007 6:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

A friend did suggest that I ought to check out Victoria's Court for its glorious theme rooms, Reyd. And this is why he takes his wife to one. Two of his married children and their young offsprings live with them -- making a not so conducive ambience for a romantic fling.

That experience of yours with the taxi driver is amusing; they oftentimes are the best source of information to know where to go for some fun entertainment.

August 20, 2007 6:50 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Ah, yes, and the two most iconic signs involve the Hush and the Fan. Remember my entry about the one in Pasig? Good times. I'm actually missing it, hahahaha.

August 22, 2007 2:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks for including the link to that entry of yours, Dave; at my age ... hehehe. Ah, that office party in which about 30 of you and your co-workers celebrated in VC. That was really amusing.

August 22, 2007 6:25 AM  

Blogger Watergirl said...

As I grew up, the neighborhood was taken over by motels, springing up next to us as quickly as you could say boo. My dad made it clear that if he ever saw any of us driving out of the motel driveways, we'd be grounded for life. But he caved in when we were constantly hit by brownouts and the only place that had a/c was Anito Lodge.

August 22, 2007 8:10 AM  

Blogger tibo_3rd said...

ola senor,

nice photos and story. is that the same 'Nice Hotel' that i stayed in seoul last march, i wonder.

btw, to bad we missed you at the dinner we (Microtel) hosted for bloggers at Panciteria San Jacinto.

August 23, 2007 3:18 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Perhaps, another time, Tibo, when it's hosted in a more convenient place for me to either drive to or to cab it to.

Trust you had a successful evening.

August 23, 2007 3:54 PM  

Blogger Ching said...


I feel the same way about public restrooms. Once on a road trip to Topeka, I almost talked my husband into getting a room just so I could use the restroom. Unfortunately, there are no short-term hotel/motel options around these parts so we would've had to pay for an entire day. Pragmatism won and I ended up taking refuge in a mall restroom. On the upside, it was around 10:00 AM so there were hardly any people at the mall yet. On the downside, all those people were in the restroom with me.

Such is my luck,

August 26, 2007 1:57 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Goodness! You and me both, Ching, with publich bathroom shyness. By the way, my nephew offered an alternative -- the comfort rooms inside the movie theaters are most often used only before and after the showing of the movie :)

August 27, 2007 7:01 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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