The Thrilla in Manila

I can finally check “referee a foxy boxing match” off of my bucket list. It’s about time!

I’m going to try to recap my first night in Manila, but I’m still in a haze, my mind fogged over from Boracay rum and 10 cent beers. 

The Pink Manila hostel in Makati is the jump off point. A hostel with an essence of Scarface, a full bar, and full of young travelers that like to party. But this is a rather boring part of the night…The usual meet and greet travel questions, “Where are you from,” “Where have you been,” etc. over some large beers we bought from the larger man in the gym downstairs.

Lets move to Ringside. A strip club? Maybe a boxing arena? Maybe both. I’m not sure what to classify this place as. All I know is that there is a boxing ring in the middle of the room, surrounded by private tables occupied by older white men and younger scantily clad local girls, and mostly unused stripper poles shining in their oily glory. 

We grab some beers, and stand ringside, waiting for the next match to happen. While we wait, there are three girls in the ring, I guess they are supposed to entertain in between matches, but they more or less sway like zombies to the music. I’m losing interest pretty fast, wondering what good could possibly come from being in a place like this for too long….when all of the sudden the fighters emerge from the back room! These pint sized badasses were ready to go! Snarling and playing it up like they finally got called up to the WWE big leagues, they slid in the ring and squared up. 

Call me crazy, but little person boxing made me forget those feelings of wanting to leave. 

They were fierce, dodging and ducking, diving and dodging. Oh wait, wrong sport. They were going at it for two rounds, and if I had to call it the dude in blue won, but really, we all won. 

Up next were the ladies. But there was an issue….we needed a referee in order to ensure a fair match! Well, I thought, I’m keen on fairness in sports, so I decided to offer my services purely in the name of honesty and decency. 

I don’t know if these girls thought there would be breaks during the fight. Not while I was in charge! No rest for the weary, or whatever that saying is. Two rounds of rock em sock em foxy boxing, and it was epic. I was the one dodging every punch thrown, bodies flailing towards me, all the while holding my beer and trying not to spill. These girls weren’t tactful in their approach, clearly more training is needed.

After this bar we split up, and I was later ditched by another hostel goer after some rum shots, which was fine, but I didn’t know where the hell I was. I found myself being poked quite often by begging children, asking for handouts the whole night. Something I am used to in Malaysia, but after all the drinks I had I guess I felt the need to let this little girl know something — That she can use her brain, and get educated and find her way out of this situation. I had good intentions, and had a lady translate for me to her, but I was drunk and am not sure it was the movie moment I thought was happening.

I did win over some admirers however, even if they were unwanted. A working girl happened to hear what I said, and offered her services free of charge. I declined, but she kept following me, walking by my side telling me how good of a man I was and all that. I kept trying to shake her off, but then two police officers rolled up to us. Not sure if this was a scam these girls run all the time, or just cops looking for a bribe, but I booked it. I didn’t say a word, just realized my opportunity to get away from the girl, so I ran around the corner to my other admirer. The lady selling roses, who translated for me earlier was still there. She was my ticket back to the hostel, seeing as no taxi driver knows where it is. She got in the cab with me and gave the guy directions from where we were. I got there, paid the cab, gave the rose vendor some pesos for her help, and stumbled upstairs. 

That’s what I remember. First night of a long weekend ahead in Manila! 


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