Twelve months of bar raids in Angeles City

Walking Street Angeles City bars

Raids aren’t so welcoming.

The much-fabled Angeles City in the Philippines is no stranger to bar raids, despite a long history of hosting dozens of go gos where commercial sex services are sourced. While it’s nothing new for law enforcement to hit up a bar here and there, the trend does seem to be increasing, with the last twelve months marked by one bust after another. Interestingly there was a big meeting held in town between the mayor and several bar owners right around the time the Year O’ Raids began. I don’t know exactly what was said in that meeting, but rumor has it that warnings were made. There is even some speculation that the male entertainment scene may be changed forever, or even eliminated completely.

While I don’t think the local operators will roll over and allow the huge currency generator that is Walking Street and its environs to be totally shut down, it does seem that there is an air of change in the wind. Anything is possible and such a thing could actually happen if those in power chose to make certain moves. Of course as the history of human civilizations around the world show, such a move would not eliminate the sex industry. It would simply drive it underground where it would be easier for those with the worst of intentions to take control of things.

Margarita Station in Angeles City maintains a website that often posts local news. One of the most useful aspects of this is their running log of bar raids and closures. In the last twelve months we can see that raids, arrests and/or closures occurred at the following places:

Eager Beaver
Club Prada
Candy Bar
Baby Dolls
Candy Bar (Again)
Camelot
Viking Bar
Voodoo
Devilwitch
Angelwitch
D Club
Insomnia
Midnight Rock
Tycoon Bar
Carousel Bar
Atlantis
Lollipop
Shadow Bar
Equus
Angelwitch (Again)
Dento Bar
Night  Moves

This list isn’t even exhaustive, and the attentive reader will notice that some of the places listed here aren’t go go bars at all. Karaoke places and regular old clubs (though frequented by freelancers and semi-pros they surely are) have also been hit up by the powers that be.

One of the most significant raids that I know of was made on the Korean-owned Sisters Bar in mid-April. That event was in a way unique, and to many startling, because along with the management and gals trying to make a few dollars working the bar, several customers were also swept up. According to all sources I could find those customers were doing nothing more than sitting in the bar having some drinks. They were later released without charges, but it’s easy to see why some have been frightened by this event and begin to suggest that the sky may indeed be falling over the city of Angeles.

I don’t have any special insight or information in regards to the continued trend of law enforcement endeavors on and around Walking Street. To me the whole thing seems a bit ridiculous. If the authorities are convinced that the lady bars in Angeles City are breaking the law simply by existing, then why are they allowed to operate openly to begin with? If the problem is individual violations why are so many raids occurring now, and why do so many end without any charges being filed? Sadly, questions like this are difficult to answer in a place with such a lack of transparency.

It seems most likely to me that national and international pressure is being applied to the local authorities in the Balibago to close or at least limit the entertainment district, especially as the “above ground” economy of Angeles City continues to develop. I’m sure big developers don’t want the city they invest in to be most well known for offering sexual services. Most probably local authorities and business people who profit from the existing system are doing their best to fight against that without openly coming into conflict with those more powerful and risking even more problems. This is all just speculation though.

To close I’ll simply link to an earlier post I made on a recent United Nations suggestion that countries like the Philippines legalize sex work and reiterate my heartfelt conviction that prostitution should be legal.

What do you think?

23 Comments

  1. ed says:

    I spent a year there in 2000 and it was a great place, full of charracter. It’s a shame what’s happening. I haven’t been since, but always thought there is nothing there for ordinary tourists.

    • rockit says:

      Unless you’re there on business or an avid golf fan there really isn’t. Doesn’t seem to matter much to the powers that be. The economy is largely based on things like call centers and other industries now from what I can tell. If the US army makes a return as they say maybe something will change. I’m certainly not opposed to poor Filipinos improving their lives. I welcome it. At the same time I agree with the UN and others that prostitution should be legal. Cheers.

  2. bzeisman says:

    short of someone invading, the army isnt going to spend any time there short of some international training. bsides the usa is broke, we cant afford setting up shop someplace else.

  3. Mach says:

    I was just in Angeles for 10 days. During my stay two bars got raided(Shadows and Voodoo). Enough for me to leave for Thailand. Funny thing is I had taken a girl long time from Shadows, she couldn’t go back to work. Poor thing did all she could to stay with me for as long as possible.

    • rockit says:

      Thanks for the report. Seems there’s no end to the trend. Too bad for all those set to be “rescued”. Meanwhile the bars in Manila keep on trucking.

  4. Shawn says:

    This is pretty short sighted on the part of city hall. Fields Ave generates at least 40% of the city’s revenue. Without the nightlife THERE IS NO REASON TO GO TO ANGELES! That huge economic growth every loves to mention, is directly related to the billions of peso’s we pump(no pun intended) into that place each year. No beaches, stupid hot, and a million miles from anything. Whats the point!!!
    Do a better job of keeping out the under aged and punish the shit out of the PEDOs. Leave the rest alone or Angeles is going to be just another dead town.

    • rockit says:

      Hi Shawn. Thanks for the comment. I don’t know how much city hall has to do with it. The local government apparently met with bar owners before the big increase in raids. I don’t know what was said. There are a lot of rumors floating around. It may be that they’re tired of the scene or it may be that pressure is coming down from federal and international agencies. Obviously the bars are a big draw for tourism to Angeles as like you said there’s not much else around. But I don’t know how much tourism plays into local growth these days. It seems that less and less flights are going to Clark and bars are getting hit left and right. At the same time call centers and other large businesses are emerging at the center of the economy. The obvious answer for the Fields Ave area would be the legalization of the sex trade as the UN has suggested but I doubt that will happen anytime soon. Cheers.

  5. smoothie says:

    ” At the same time call centers and other large businesses are emerging at the center of the economy.”

    hmm…I would look to the money spent by those businesses cropping up for leads on why so many bar raids and shutdowns are taking place. You know, whether it is a call center, a shoe factory or an auto parts facility, the corporations looking to set up shop and hire the cheapest possible labor to work on their assembly lines generally don’t want to compete with a bar scene that allows young ladies to earn 10 times in one day what they’d rather pay them per week. They might couch it in BS about how, “Our investors are god-fearing folk who don’t want to open their factory in an area where poor girls are exploited for sexual favors”. But what they really mean is, “We don’t want local girls to have the option of making much, much more money in far more fun conditions than our sweat shop business model, so here’s a few million pesos..SHUT ‘EM DOWN!”

    The local economy would still take a serious hit, of course. But whoever it is in authority getting his palms greased can come out of it quite well.

    • rockit says:

      Interesting view smoothie. That sounds very reasonable and may very well be a factor. Other possibilities are outside interference either from the federal government (trying to woo investors and military help to the country to help in the China Sea disputes) or the US government which plans to return soon. It seems that NGO types have been involved in many of the raids and they are mostly staffed by foreigners. It’s also interesting to note that photo spreads and documentaries about the open secret of Angeles City and Fields Avenue started appearing three or four years ago. It may all be tied in. Cheers.

  6. Bucky says:

    Don’t be too surprised if this happens in Thaiand too in the next year of two. It will not be due to external pressures as you suggest in the Philippines, but an attempt to concentrate power in the hands of the military by shutting down mafia-based revenue engines. It does nof hurt that fhe junta leader is the equivalent of a Buddhist fundamentalist who believes alcohol and bar girls are bad for society. Cambodia just extended workers rights to the sex industry this month, so you may see a shift in tourism in that direction. Not that both Thailand and Cambodia are within China’s sphere of influence now and are not subject to the same US pressures as the Philippines.

    • rockit says:

      There be occasional issues but the Thai scene is so large and spread out I don’t think it’ll be closed Siem anytime soon. The Philippines is still loaded with venues after all. Thanks for the comment. Cheers.

  7. Dan says:

    Hi I’m a newbie and will be going to angeles in dec. Any advice. scared about these raids. worst case what happens if you are caught in a bar during a raid. my flight lands in manila and have been doing some research. i’ll take a taxi to swagmans and the take airbus to angeles. good idea? also is kokomos a good hotel to stay at? will be there for about 6 days

    • rockit says:

      It seems the only foreign men detained in these raids were either wanted by police, taking part in running the bars, or in one case not carrying identification. I can’t say what is or isn’t a good idea. I don’t suggest that anyone do anything. This site is for entertainment only. The Rockit Recommends site says Kokomos is the worst hotel in Angeles City. Cheers.

  8. matt says:

    So with these raids can anyone comment if it is better to just stay in Manila or dies angel city still have more, and better Walt, to offer then manila?

    • rockit says:

      I don’t give advice or advocate anything. I simply report for the entertainment of readers. Cheers.

  9. Vegas says:

    Rockit, Have enjoyed reading your reviews, keep up the good work. After reading about Angeles City had thought about planning a trip there. Do you have any updated information on the ‘bar raid’ issues? I read on another web site (do not know how accurate info was) that the Police are looking at anyone (I assume mostly foreign) that appears to be in the company of a girl more than 10 years their junior. Seems like a pretty wild statement considering that normally would be the case for most men in the bar area’s. Your thoughts sir. Thanks! Again, very interesting reading.

    • rockit says:

      I haven’t been to Angeles City in years. The climate isn’t very inviting. Since there isn’t much to do outside of the bars it hasn’t been a place I’ve wanted to head back to. I do try to keep up on the news though. I haven’t heard anything about a 10 year age difference law. I do know that the term trafficking is sometimes very oddly applied in the Philippines though. Cheers.

    • Pablo says:

      I hope that’s not true about the police looking at anyone with a woman more than 10 years younger. My wife is 30 years younger than me – and has been for the decade we’ve been married. I spent a year in Angeles, from February 2012. My (then) 1 year old daughter used to make me stop outside the bars because the door girls loved to make a fuss of her and she was fascinated by the bright lights and balloons!

  10. KOJ says:

    lets say you are in a bar and fucking a girl(over 18years old).then police raid to the bar,now did you a criminal act?police will arrest you?

    • rockit says:

      I don’t know what would happen to someone in that position or indeed if it has ever even happened. From what I can tell most of the in bar action has ended. When bar raids are made the customers are usually let go after being checked. In some cases I have heard of customers being held. I haven’t heard of anyone being arrested for being in a bar but people caught in bars who were already wanted or found with drugs have been. Cheers.

  11. Photon says:

    I’ve been going to/associated with Angeles City for the past 19 years, and, while the scene had dramatically changed (not particularly for the better), it shows no signs of collapsing.

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