Beers, Guns, Bars and More Beers in Manila

Some more info of my latest chill trip in the Philippines. Check the Makati map at the bottom for the rough location of bars mentioned in this post.

Getting your buzz on in Manila
One thing I LOVE about being in the Philippines is the beer. It’s just so damned cheap. Here’s a menu from a relatively expensive place I was at in Cebu…50 pesos for a beer — about $1.15. You gotta love a country where beer is cheaper than foofy coffee, and about the same price as a coke.

One thing you need to know about Filipino people is that they almost never drink alone. I can’t remember ever seeing a Pinoy guy just sitting reading over a beer. Drinking and eating are definitely group sports in the Phils. Which suits me just fine, because the product of this mentality is beer buckets. You get a bucket of usually 6 beers for crazy cheap prices. You usually have to ask for ice in the bucket. The result is the coldest, cheapest beer experience in Asia. And San Miguel Light / Pils are awesome beers.

One of my favorite places for beers was the WG Diner. It was just on the corner near my condo and it was a place where I could read and do a bit of writing at night. The staff there were so friendly…and a bucket of SIX ICE COLD San Miguel Light beers…a whopping 180 pesos….about $4.20. I have to admit though — when I was there in 2012, the clientele had changed and tended toward tables full of aging Arab dudes not really drinking just taking up space. So it kind of sucks a bit now, but I still went there a few times.

The only problem with WG is that there’s no Wifi. When I needed that, I’d go to the HandleBar, Bar and Grill.

The HandleBar has western pricing like all the sports bars and restaurants in the general Burgos area, ie, it’s a bit of a rip off…but it’s got outdoor seating and fast Wifi. Outdoor is good if you’re a non-smoker because in The Philippines pretty much everybody smokes — and indoor smoking is allowed in bars. This is also a great place to watch sports on the big screens if you like soccer, rugby or cricket. It’s near the end of Polaris Street (see the map). One good thing I liked on the menu was the Hawaiian pizza which is actually loaded with ground beef. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Guns! Guns! Guns!
Yes, as in the immortal words of Robocop‘s Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). Guns are everywhere in the Philippines.

Get used to shotgun toting guards like this guy, particularly in front of banks, shopping centers or major building entrances. They look scary as hell, but they’re all pretty much just regular Pinoy dudes — which means they’re really friendly, they smile if you say hi, and they’ll help you if you need directions.

Armed guard must knock 20% points off the unemployment stats in the Phils. Even the guards in Starbucks and Macdonalds carry sidearms. In some ways, I like the security in a country where there are a few Muslim extremists who like to bomb innocent people. But it also freaks me out to see a gun in my face as the guard walks by me in Starbucks.

But there are also reminders that YOU aren’t supposed to be packing!

I was, however, surprised to see where this sign was obtained…

And of course the music…
Incredible live music is one thing you can find in the Philippines more than any other country in the world. You just have to walk around and sooner or later you’ll find an amazing band playing. Like, f’rinstance, at the Kuwagos Grill — my favorite live music place in Makati.

Picture a place, very no-frills, open 24/7, where they offer an ice bucket of 6 beers for 220 pesos, the food is good and cheap, there’s a fun and rowdy crowd every night of the week…and the live music is always amazing. Like, f’rinstance, this brother-sister team of a girl with a guitar and a dude using the box he’s sitting on as a drum. In fact, they were my favorite band there. Pardon my failed attempt at a 360 degree view of the bar and road near the end of the video…I was actually on my second bucket of beer by that time.

Listening to these guys live put the biggest smile of contentment I’ve had in ages on my face…sitting there by the open balcony with the rain pouring down outside, some masarap BBQ chicken on my plate and an ice cold beer in one of my favorite countries in the world…And people ask me why I love the Philippines.

Fuck it, I’m going to finish here and go buy me a ticket back to Manila!

And finally, here’s the map.