Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Goodbye, Valentino Gay Bar

Dear Mr. Valentine,


I only got to meet you once after years of knowing about you. Though I wasn't fully happy with our first meeting, my mind was not closed on returning. Now, you've already closed down.

And I was shocked to see this when I visited your place yesterday:

What the site of the former Mr. Valentine / Valentino Gay Bar in Manila has now become

I thought you'll just close shop and leave the building structure. But your whole building was not only demolished, you've even destroyed the Mini-Stop Convenience Store beside you. And you left the motorcycles still parked there. Are those the macho dancers'?

Did you close down because of poor business? The bars nearest to you in the Pasay-Paranaque areas also had very poor sales during the July-Sept season. But to really cease operations and get demolished, while the others still remain?

Or was it because of the demolition job against you? "Full of male prostitutes who spread veneral diseases and possibly HIV among their gay and older women customers" was what one tabloid writer claimed in his article a few years back. The news bit had a very negative slant, as if someone paid them to write about this. From the article, the bar's customers apparently have filed complaints against the city government, which prompted the city mayor to "investigate the operations of Mr. Valentine and eventually shut it down." 

Or maybe of poor handling of the business? Not paying its share of amusement tax, as the tabloid article mentioned? Not giving enough under-the-table deals with the local government?    

Or the government just wanting to "clean" the city up? Your "Dirty Harry" mayor seems bent on acting on his vow of eliminating all bars or massage parlors which are prostitution fronts, as seen on news articles about other popular girlie bars closing down. Even Baywalk has been cleaned of the side restaurants that used to line that long stretch, which they say is also littered with call girls and hustlers. And it seems that you were also an easy target, being the lone, most popular gay bar in the area.

Too bad. I really thought you were one of the top bars in Metro Manila, almost always filled with the richest clientele in the gay bar industry. Even a local movie had a scene shoot inside your premises half a decade ago. It can even be found on youtube.

I am not sure if we'll meet each other again soon, via a re-launch or re-birth. But for sure, I'll meet your previous employees, both gay floor managers and male model macho dancers, in some gay bar somewhere in Manila. I've met a few of them already.


[UPDATE as of April 2011]
According to the grapevine: There was an apparent problem with the land where the bar once stood. If I remember the story, the owner of the bar wanted to buy the land, but the land owners didn't want to sell. Instead, the land owners even wanted the long-standing bar removed so they can build their own bar. They may have realized how lucrative the gay bar business is.

GB Goer
Learn more: Lessons from Gay Bars in Manila
email:; Follow at twitter: @gbgoer

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