May 7, 2010

Revisiting Sanctum

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.

Background

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.

11 comments:

rudeboy wrote on May 7, 2010 at 8:22 PM:

Bizarre.

And I was just watching that infamous Imbestigador raid on Sanctum last night on YouTube.

 
Anonymous wrote on May 8, 2010 at 8:49 PM:

My experience with Sanctum is very similar to yours (except for the part about making out with one of the performers, hehe). I was there twice, one on a regular day with not a lot of people and one on a weekend where the place was literally packed. Your description of the place is really accurate and I can't help but say that you have a very good memory. The thing though I remember most about this place is meeting several nice/interesting people including the proprietors of the place. They did not strike me as greedy businessmen. They seem to be genuinely concerned about PLU's and their need to have a space of their own where they will feel safe and comfortable. Sadly, all your criticisms about the business aspect of this place are true in hindsight. I guess I miss this place more than you do. Every time I go home, I still hope to find a similar setting for meeting people. I did meet a really nice guy there who I still remember to this day. It's really a shame that Sanctum had to end like that. Nice to know that someone still remembers aside from myself.

 
Vince (Discreet Manila) wrote on May 9, 2010 at 1:06 AM:

@rudeboy, Twilight Zone ba ito? :-P

@anon, thanks for the kind words! I'm just quite observant and that's why I remember details. :-) I like the idea of Sanctum and I hope something like it (that's legal) would turn up soon. :-)

 
Tony wrote on May 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM:

one can hope *wink*
hehe

 
Vince (Discreet Manila) wrote on May 9, 2010 at 12:11 PM:

@Tony, ah, but the question is, would the new gay place be yet-another bathhouse or a blue bar? ;-)

 
Tony wrote on May 9, 2010 at 3:09 PM:

a happy marriage of both would be even better yeah?

There are still bluebars around btw... birdcage (previously cinecafe) is still around).

 
Vince (Discreet Manila) wrote on May 11, 2010 at 12:04 AM:

@Tony, a bathhouse/blue bar? I wonder how that can be pulled off? ;-)

 
Anonymous wrote on February 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM:

Sana mag open ulit ang sanctum. I miss the times that theres toro show.

 
Anonymous wrote on March 6, 2013 at 9:14 PM:

Ayaw ko na ng big event like shows ng sanvtum hrap ma raid hihihi...kakakhiya..pag labas muh daming uzi :-)

 
Anonymous wrote on April 10, 2013 at 10:53 PM:

Pwede po malaman kung paano pumunta sa CINE MUSIKA Aurora cubao kasi di ko po siya makita sa location sa Corner J. Ruiz Street beside shell station daw at front ng allied bank wala po talaga siya sa location wala po ba siyang signages para makita agad... two time na po ako pumunta di ko talaga makita? please help me to find na location of Cine Musika bathhouse.. kindly send the exact address at 09287006382

 
Anonymous wrote on December 18, 2013 at 10:22 PM:

Hello gud eve ask ko lng sana kng bukas pb ung cine musika at san exact plce nya po,kng sarado na meron pb ibang bathhouse in cubao area po ,jeff fr taytay 09066096758