Aug 30, 2009

Ciento: 100 posts in Discreet Manila

5 comments.

According to the Blogger dashboard, this post is the 100th entry in Discreet Manila. Yay! This milestone comes after the first year anniversary and reaching 200 subscribers so it only means that I was not able to post as frequently as I would’ve liked. A hundred posts since February 11, 2008 comes out to about an entry every 5.7 days. But I do hope that you guys think that the quality of the posts here in Discreet Manila more than make up for the lack of quantity. :-)

Again, I would like to thank everyone for supporting this site! I do hope you all continue to read, to participate (by commenting or sending me tips and ideas and news at discreetmanila [at] gmail.com), and to spread this blog to your friends. It is a pleasure writing about the discreet Manila PLU scene and I hope to continue blogging about it till the 1000th post and beyond!

Aug 29, 2009

Trying out Hilom

16 comments.

Before this year, I had not tried going to a gay massage parlor. But since I see nothing wrong with trying something new that’s relatively harmless (so drugs are a no-no for me), I decided to go to one such place early this year. The lucky spa I chose was Hilom and the choice was because I read the blogs of the two guys that own the place and also because of the heavy promotion by their blogger friends, like Migs, CC and McVie. I was especially sold on the fact that the owners of Hilom tried to position their spa as an upscale version of the seedy places that I see in movies like Masahista.

My verdict? I don’t think I’ll be going back to Hilom anytime soon, or to any other gay massage parlor for that matter. After trying the service, I can tell that gay massage parlors are definitely not for me. If I want to have a massage, I’ll go to the “legitimate” spas instead.

If you’re asking, no, I didn’t avail of the “extra service”. I went to Hilom fully expecting to get a nice massage and maybe just get teased a little bit. The thing is, I find it very uncomfortable mixing money with sex. My personal view of sex is that it is most pleasurable when done between two consenting adults with no contractual obligation of any sort. Payment for sex is an obligation and so, I don’t like that.

My experience in Hilom, at least with the particular masseur I had, was that the massage was rushed and that he was fully expecting to get paid and to do additional service. Instead of haggling for the price of the extra service, we ended up haggling on whether there would be one in the first place with him cajoling me for it and saying that he needed the money among other reasons. I ended up just giving him a very generous tip (considering the forgettable massage that I received).

Furthermore, the managers (I believe they were Derek and Gardo then), performed their duties quite perfunctorily. I didn’t feel as welcome as I would have hoped and this certainly did not help alleviate my discomfort and apprehensions at visiting the place.

As for the facilities, Hilom’s interior decoration was pleasant enough. The shower room though is quite cramped (being under the stairway) and I really don’t like getting a body massage on my belly on a plain mattress: either you tilt your head to one side and possibly strain your neck, or you keep your head straight and suffocate on the pillow.

Have you tried Hilom? I’ve read tons of comments left at Hilom’s website or blog posts about Hilom from people who’ve gone there. The comments are decidedly mixed with some saying they’re looking forward to going back to Hilom after returning to Manila while others criticizing every shortcoming (there’s plenty such negative comments on Migs’ blog post).

Aug 27, 2009

An update to the “Sanctum” mystery and a brand new movie

0 comments.

I now consider the “Sanctum” mystery closed. The “Sanctum” mentioned in the credits of Little Boy/Big Boy really refers to the Sanctum that was in Cubao. But this blue bar hasn’t reopened—the people behind the movie just wanted to thank Sanctum for being the inspiration of the O party scene in the movie. So, all of my speculations were correct, except for the reopening bit.

The mystery was solved when I decided to ask Lex Bonife (the movie’s screenwriter) himself. I left a comment on his blog asking about the “Sanctum” in the credits and he replied via a new blog entry. To quote his answer:

I’m glad you asked about “Sanctum”. It was me who’s personally thanking the former bar “Sanctum”.

If you recall the orgy scene in the film, that scene was inspired by a regular event that happens in Sanctum, an exclusive male bar in Cubao.

Now, the sad thing is, Sanctum has been raided and ordered closed by the NBI courtesy of GMA’s “Imbestigador”. The kind owner, Dennis and his assistant King is still at the city jail.

Sanctum was born out of a private orgy group called “Manjobs”. The group was quite successul that they decided to stop renting hotel rooms and instead open their own bar exclusive to adult gay males in Cubao.

So it’s confirmed that Sanctum still doesn’t have a happy ending. The owner and his assistant are still in jail and I wish there was something that can be done to help them. Staying in jail—especially in this country—is a pretty rotten way to learn one’s lesson.

Anyway, Lex disclosed in that same blog post that he and Joselito Altarejos (the movie’s director) will be starting to shoot their next movie entitled Ang Laro ni Juan in a few days. The movie’s story is inspired by the Sanctum raid and I think that makes for an interesting film. I’m looking forward to seeing it. :-)

Aug 25, 2009

Is Sanctum back somewhere?

6 comments.

As we all know, Sanctum was raided last May 2008 which resulted to its closure. I have no idea what happened to its owner but if the people behind it managed to regroup, I guess that they would have gone underground.

I’m asking this post’s title question because while reading the ending credits of Little Boy Big Boy, I saw the word “Sanctum” listed among the people and entities that the makers of the movie would like to thank. Is this the same Sanctum that used to be in Cubao?

Of course it’s entirely possible that this “Sanctum” is something else entirely, but given how small the PLU world is, I believe it’s unlikely. Furthermore, I think there is a connection between “Sanctum” and the O party scene in the movie. Before the raided Sanctum came to be, there was Manjobs. Manjobs was this exclusive group that organized O parties in the Quezon City area. My guess is that they put up Sanctum to provide a permanent “residence” to their parties. Unfortunately, Sanctum operated like a business without a business permit and they likely violated various laws, like Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code and RA 9208, by having live sex shows which resulted into the infamous raid.

So, can anyone shed a light on this mysterious “Sanctum”?

Update: Canuto vouches in the comments that Sanctum (Cubao) is really no more.

Update 2: The mystery is now closed.

I didn’t quite enjoy Little Boy Big Boy

1 comment.

I guess I’m still quite conservative, especially when it comes to juxtaposing minors and homosexuality, because I cringed at the scenes in Little Boy Big Boy where the young nephew is exposed to the gay relationship between Paolo Rivero’s and Douglas Robinson’s characters (though not as much as when I saw Dose).

Anyway, I didn’t quite like Little Boy Big Boy as much as I expected. The story was pretty shallow and the ending was too contrived for my taste. And the crying scenes? Ugh, I didn’t feel that all those tears were deserved given the context. If you haven’t seen the movie, then watch the trailer; you can pretty much get the whole story from it.

That said, I’ve always had a minor crush on Paolo Rivero and seeing him making out with cutie Douglas Robinson almost makes the movie worth seeing. The problem is, the film was cut by censors to an inch of its life so I didn’t get to see the extended footage of the torrid kissing shower scene. And pardon me, I find Douglas’ voice a bit distracting.

I found the orgy scene (where Paolo and Douglas’ characters first meet) very intriguing. I haven’t been to an O party and I guess what was shown in the movie is how such a party can go. Can anybody else confirm? :-)

Aug 22, 2009

Pinoy PLU Signal: Masseurs, Not Masseuses

2 comments.

There’s something really sensual about massages. It’s no wonder then that many PLU people would occasionally, if not regularly, have a massage. There’s actually a whole industry that provides massage services that cater specifically to gay men (these gay massage parlors are often named “spas,” even if there are no actual spas in the premises) and there are even a lot of freelancing masseurs that provide home services. Some local gay indie movies that depict the massage industry include Masahista and Heavenly Touch.

Well, here’s one thing I observed: when getting a massage, gay men generally prefer to have a masseur instead of a masseuse while straight men would prefer masseuses if they can help it. Why? well, if you’re going to have somebody else touch your body all over, then one would prefer to have it done by someone you wouldn’t cringe over because of the intimacy. Of course, men, whether gay or straight, can bend this “convention” to suit their needs. For example, I’ve read of straight men asking for a masseur in order to avoid temptation, or the impression that they’re after the “extra service.”

If you happen to peer inside a common room of a spa and see a man getting a massage from a masseur, chances are that that guy is a PLU. I guess this is why I had an encounter at a “legitimate” spa with another customer. I was sleeping after my massage and woke up to find this other client caressing my body. I’ve noticed him before during my massage (in a common room) and I did not give any hint that I was PLU except that I had a masseur. Go figure.

Aug 17, 2009

Interesting McDo store murals

2 comments.

I recently stumbled onto this portfolio photoblog of commercial photographer Jake Verzosa. I also learned then that he was the photographer behind those uber-sexy Bench Blackout ads. Well, I browsed his blog’s recent posts and came across his photos that now grace the walls of McDo stores.

Being a sucker for cute semikal guys, I immediately focused my attention on two such male models on the pictures (among the other good-looking models) and recognized them. One is model Mark Onir and the other is Fil-Am R&B singer DannieBoi (more pictures). Aren’t they cute? :-)

This reminds me that I have yet to know who is the much cuter semikal guy I saw in McDo’s previous store murals. This mural I’m talking about shows three joggers: one is the semikal dude, the other is a good-looking mestizo guy and the last one is a girl. Has anyone seen than mural and possibly know who the guy is? He’s really yummy. Hehehe.

Anyway, if you’re a Bed regular, go back to Jake’s album and try to see if you can spot the male model there that’s often seen in Bed. :-)

Aug 16, 2009

Why are IDs required in bathhouses?

14 comments.

In this year-ago blog post by Trey (aka theTripper), there is an implied side question about the necessity of requiring an ID when going to bathhouses. (That blog post’s main topic is not really about that, but the tangential thought is worth exploring.) I’ve also wondered about that and so I hope this blog post can become a discussion point (especially since a bathhouse owner occasionally reads this blog :-)).

So, why does one need to present an ID when going to a local bathhouse? And why does one need to sign for a membership? Every bathhouse that I know of in Metro Manila requires membership. Why is that? In Club Bath’s FAQ we have the following Q&As providing clues:

Can I visit The Club anonymously?

No. In order to comply with city ordinances for private clubs we cannot allow our customers to purchase memberships without identifying themselves.

What do you do with the personal information I give you when I purchase a membership to The Club? Will I receive anything in the mail?

The Club is highly respectful of member privacy and we understand the need for discretion. The information you give us is for our records only and is never shared with third parties. You will never receive anything in the mail.

That actually leaves me with more questions. Why does having to visit a bathhouse be in a form of club membership wherein you have to disclose your personal information (as required by the supposed city ordinances)? Local gay dance clubs, gay bars, and gay massage parlors don’t require membership, so what’s so special about bathhouses? I’ve been to a bathhouse outside the country (I’ll talk about that in a future post) and the only requirement was the entrance fee. For ultra-discreet guys, such form of membership is a big turn-off. What does membership really accomplish?

The first possible answer that comes to mind is that the membership is for security purposes. The problem is, I have no idea what the bathhouse needs to be secure about. Does it ensure that the place doesn’t get raided or that prostitution (which is illegal) is avoided? Well, the incident at QP shows that raids are possible, even if ultimately the reason for the raid (suspected prostitution in the case of QP) is baseless.

So what do you think? Does the thought that you have to show your ID and have your personal details stored in the bathhouse’s database scare you?

Update: Check out rudeboy's comment below. It practically answered everything you need to know! And a clarification: I personally have no issues with the ID requirement but I figured that asking it would benefit those who are apprehensive about such things. :-)

Aug 13, 2009

PinoyG4M is down

10 comments.

PinoyG4M.com is one of the sites that came about as a result of the demise of Guys4Men. While I think most G4M refugees were contented to continue on at the conquering site PlanetRomeo (aka GayRomeo), there’s a sizable number of people who hated the PlanetRomeo interface. Thus we have PinoyG4M.com (and other new social networking sites, most of which are based on Ning).

It seems that PinoyG4M managed to capture a good amount of the local PLU audience because they recently ran into hosting problems. Their hosting provided complained because the traffic on the site is causing problems on the server (most sites are usually hosted on shared servers). Their host is suggesting that they go with a dedicated hosting solution. Read the message from Bananafish, the current owner of PinoyG4M, below.

I thank you for your continued support of PinoyG4M.com. It is because of you that PG4M has become the fastest growing GBT community site in the Philippines with almost fourteen thousand registered members.

However, because of the amount of activity the PG4M website generated, our hosting company was no longer able to accommodate hosting the website. I regret to inform you that the site will be on hiatus until we are able to move to a dedicated hosting service. Rest assured all the data in the site will be kept and all member information, photos, forum posts, and messages will not be lost once we transfer to a better hosting server.

The site relaunch will also feature better features and site upgrades, as well as more activities for the site members.

In the meantime, please add PinoyG4M in Facebook and follow @PinoyG4M on Twitter for updates and news on the relaunch of the site.

Again, I apologize for the temporary closing of PinoyG4M.com. The PG4M admins and mods thank you for your continued support for the site and hope to see you again when we open a better PinoyG4M.

—Bananafish, site owner

I got an account at PG4M a few months ago and while it doesn’t fit the particular uses I had with Guys4Men before, I must say that they managed to replicate (in a fashion) most of the features of G4M. The section that I often lurk in is the PG4M forums. :-)

To help raise funds to bring PG4M back up, the admins and owner of PinoyG4M will be holding a fund-raising event this Saturday, August 15 at the Harbour Square at CCP. Check out the event in Facebook. You might also want to read this interview of Retrogod, one of the administrators of PG4M, to learn just a bit more about this fledging PLU social networking site.

Aug 11, 2009

Have you ever been to the "first circuit party" in Manila?

5 comments.

Back in mid-2004, this upstart group called Kokun Productions organized what they billed as the “first circuit party” in Manila. The party was called “Flesh” and it was held at an events hall in Greenbelt 1 in Makati. Do you remember that party and have you attended it? (Kokun Productions eventually put up Government and the club will be celebrating would have celebrated its 5th year this October.)

Well, I have been to this party and I now only recall vague details about it. I was somewhat new to the gay clubbing scene in 2004 and my good friend from college encouraged me to accompany him to “Flesh.” Well, the party turned out to be a whizzed-up club party not much different from your usual Malate White Parties in June. It certainly didn’t feel anything at all like the infamous circuit parties of North America such as the White Party in Miami and the Black and Blue Festival in Montreal.

Looking back at “Flesh” got me wondering, are circuit parties—as they exist in America—something that can be emulated here in the Philippines? Despite the marketing, “Flesh” is definitely not a circuit party (it was just a simple party). Well, given how our culture is still pretty much conservative, I seriously doubt that the circuit parties and their decadent impression will succeed here in this country. More than that, is unbridled merrymaking a healthy way to promote gay culture?

Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud here guys. But I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts. :-)