On this day 2 years ago, the erstwhile gay place Sanctum was raided by the NBI at the instigation of GMA Network’s Imbestigador. This directly resulted to the shutting down of Sanctum and the imprisonment of its owner. As far as I know, he is still in jail. I wrote a three-part article series about this raid last year (parts: one, two, three) and I suggest that you read it to get more familiar with the topic before continuing with this post.
For posterity, I’ve decided to write everything I can remember about Sanctum. I’ve visited the place two times and it was just fortunate that I wasn’t there that fateful night it got raided. The first time was on one of their regular nights (when there was no special event) and the second visit was during a night when they had a torohan (live sex show). I was intending to write about the place way, way before as a sort of a guide—similar to what I’ve been doing with bathhouses—but the raid happened and the idea was scrapped.
On hindsight, I wasn’t at all surprised that the place got raided. The first time I went there I noticed that there weren’t any business licenses but the place operated like other bathhouses—complete with registration, membership cards, and safety-keeping of valuables. The excuse I’ve heard for not being a registered business was that this was a private place and that they just ask patrons to help chip in the expenses. It was an extremely flimsy reason since the chipping-in was mandatory and had set rates.
Before Sanctum was established there was Manjobs. This was an exclusive group of men who organized O parties in the Quezon City area. They usually rented a hotel room in Cubao and invited and screened participants through online social networks such as Guys4Men. I must note that I’ve never been to any of their O parties (or anybody else’s O party for that matter).
Then sometime in late 2007, Sanctum came into the gay scene. I wasn’t initially aware of the connection between this new gay place and Manjobs but I pieced it together when I received text messages from Manjobs advertising for O parties at a private residence in Cubao, which turned out to be the same address as Sanctum’s (and it seems they got my number from my Sanctum registration). In short, it appears that instead of renting out hotel rooms, the people behind Manjobs decided to get a permanent place instead.
A blue bar is born
It would have probably been fine had Manjobs just stuck to organizing O parties at this house, but somebody had the brilliant idea of turning it into a PLU hangout without bothering to register as a legal business. The private residence became a discreet blue bar and it occasionally had shows featuring macho dancers and even live sex acts. For these shows, they sometimes hired men that do this for a living, but there were some guys who opted to do this for kicks while getting paid as well.
The house’s veranda was turned into a reception counter while the living room became the show area. The dining area became a bar where they sold alcoholic beverages and some food (complete with laminated menus). The bedrooms were converted into a video room (where M2M porn is shown), a dark maze area, and a dark room with a square bed. Sanctum basically had the elements of a gay bar, bathhouse, and blue bar all in one! I still primarily consider it as a blue bar since the shows happen occasionally, and unlike bathhouses, you do not have to remove your clothes and explore the place wrapped in a towel.
Observations and experiences
As a place to get laid, Sanctum wasn’t much. No condoms were provided and you can’t take a shower if you wanted to. The dark maze and the dark room were really dark and you usually had to grope your way around at least until your eyes got adjusted. The maze had nooks and crannies and some glory holes, while lying on the bed in the dark room is a sure way to get yourself fondled. The M2M porn being shown in the video room was often boring so guys usually stayed there just to kill time. What I really liked was browsing through the foreign gay magazines that they had scattered in the living room.
The live sex show that I saw was quite hot. They had three guys doing a threesome with two top guys and a bottom. Much, much later, I was able to talk to one of them and he told me that they had a hard time since the bottom guy was doing the show for the first time and was so nervous. I also learned that they get paid to do those shows. Well, the guy I was talking to was the sexiest of the three and we eventually made out for a bit in the living room. I guess if I had been willing, we would’ve done another live show then and there.
I wouldn’t say that I miss the place. Sure, going there was a different sort of fun, but I couldn’t shake away the feeling that the whole thing was illicit. Yet, the blue bar concept intrigued me enough that it seems a shame that it got shut down (although deservedly so). I had never been to the old blue bars like Cine Cafe, Mr. Piggy’s or Cine Musika, so Sanctum was definitely my first foray into such venues. These types of bars seem to fill a niche that gay clubs like Bed or bathhouses couldn’t fill in terms of hooking up with fellow patrons.
Anyway, if you want another perspective on visiting Sanctum, then this article by another blogger is an interesting read.