Gay Manila - a pink guide

Che'lu is one of Manila's favourite gay venues

Che'lu is one of Manila's favourite gay venues

A fairly liberated city, Manila and the rest of the metropolitan area is generally very gay friendly. You will spot many openly-homosexual individuals everywhere you go – in the streets, the malls, on TV, in bars and clubs and even in church. Manila has an active gay scene, although admittedly not quite as popular as the gay scenes in other Asian cities such as Bangkok. Accommodations, bars, restaurants and other social places are pretty much gay friendly, while others also offer exclusivity to the gay and lesbian community.

The Manila gay and lesbian scene stages lively and glamorous 'pink parties' regularly, and it is usually received well by the public because these parties are highly entertaining, complete with gay beauty pageants. There are also plenty of gay and lesbian establishments catering to the community everywhere in the metro. Everything from gay massage parlors, gay bars where 'macho dancers' perform, as well as more refined restaurants and spas are easy to spot.

Despite religious issues, Filipino society is generally accepting of homosexuality, due largely to media influences, gay celebrities and other contributing factors. Filipinos are used to gay stand-ups and comedians who perform on television and in bars for weekend comedy shows, which are almost always sold-out.

The lesbian scene is a lot more discreet but is not unheard of. Unlike gay men-exclusive places, it can be hard to find all-lesbian social areas. The lesbian community is more known for their pride walks and other cause-related marches, pursuing LGBT rights. Filipino lesbian support groups are online.

Gay friendly venues in Manila

There are four areas in Manila where the gay scene is concentrated, namely Malate (which is considered as the country's gay hub), Makati (where the up market gay crowd is), Fort Bonifacio (dominated by a chic cafe ambiance), and Quezon City (the 'Hollywood' of Manila and also where the lot of comedy bars are located).

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Manila is a very relaxed city

Manila is a very relaxed city

Malate
Known as the 'heart of queer Manila', Malate is home to Orosa Street where many different gay establishments can be found. Wednesday is a great day both for partying and chilling out, although Fridays and Saturdays are also packed with great events, comedy shows and club nights. Special occasions call for drag shows or street celebrations with lively and entertaining go go boys.

There are also several restaurants that are popular among gay people, including the: 3rd X Cafe (82 Tirona Hiway, Mabolo, Bacoor, outside of the metro)Campus Diner (2400 Taft Avenue, near De La Salle University, tel: +63 2 525 5132), Deutsches Haus German Restaurant (Open: 11:00-23:00; 105 Scout Castor Cor. Tomas Morato, Quezon City, tel: +63 2 410 5927) The Library Comedy Club (1739 Ma. Orosa Street, Malate, Manila, tel: +63 2 522 2484, mobile: +63 917 529 6653, email: info@thelibrary.com.ph, website:  www.thelibrary.com.ph) Sala (610 J. Nakpil Street, Manila 1004, tel: +63 2 524 6770, fax: +63 2 525 1115) and Cafe Havana (Open: 12:00-03:00 (daily); 1903 M. Adriatico St., Malate, tel: +63 2 521 8097).

There are also popular gay hangouts around Makati, especially along Makati Avenue, which draws a great mix of crowds from young professionals, tourists, college students and even celebrities. Greenbelt in Makati offers great strips of bars and clubs where the pink crowd usually swarms.

Quezon City, on the other hand, has the best concentration of nightclubs, massage houses and go go bars. The Fort Bonifacio Global City is also the place to be when looking for a more hip and young crowd. Many gay friendly establishments, chic bars, restaurants and clubs are also on site.

Some gay-friendly accommodations in Manila include: Baywatch Luxury Condos (MH Del Pilar St., Malate... book here), Rodello's B&B (126 Armstrong Ave, Lovell St., Moonwalk Village Paranaque City... book here), Stonehouse Hotel (1315 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City... book here), Stone House Manila (1529 A. Manini St., Malate, Manila, tel: +63 2 524 0302, fax: +63 2 524 0248, email: stonehousemanila@gmail.com), Rainbow Pacific Suites (1766 M. Adriatico St., Malate, tel: +63 2 302 2222, fax: +63 2 302 4499), Century Park Hotel (599 P. Ocampo St., Malate... book here) and Tropicana Apartment/Hotel (1630 Luis Ma. Guerrero St., Malate, tel: +63 2 525 5555, fax: +63 2 525 5577, email: reservations@tropicanasuites.com.ph, website: www.tropicanasuites.com.ph). 

Gay bars in Manila

There are plenty of fun gay bars in Manila including Che'lu (1802 Ma. Orosa cor. J. Nakpil St., Malate, tel: +63 2 536 5610, email: cerealiciouscafe@yahoo.com) which is a gay-friendly venue for private parties and sing-alongs, Clarke Quay Comedy Bar (Open: 10:00-04:00 (daily); 405 Lopes St., San Joaquin, tel: +63 917 821 6858) which is gay and lesbian friendly and boast top gay entertainers, good food and great music and El Norte (1810 Orosa St., Malate, tel: +63 929 296 6937) which a great venue popular for its acoustic gigs.

The Library is a famous comedy bar on Orosa Street while O Bar (Open: 19:00-04:00 (Monday-Thursday), 19:00-06:00 (Friday-Saturday), 20:00-03:00 (Sunday); cor. Of Nakpil and Orosa Streets in Malate, tel: +63 2 522 2796) is often crowded on weekends. Mr Piggy is right next to the Library while Jefz Cafe (Open: 18:00-04:00 (daily); 1811 Leon Guinto St., Malate, tel: +63 2 524 8641, mobile: +63 927 443 6361, email: Jefz_cafe_1010@yahoo.com) is a 24 hour bar popular with a mixed crowd.

Gay saunas and massage parlours around Manila

Amanjaya Spa (103A Hillcrest Condominium, E. Rodriguez, Ave., tel: +63 2 386 5401, mobile: +63 917 554 4774) is a gay-owned spa house perfect for reflexology, turkish baths, and body scrubs while Farenheit (Open: 19:00-02:00 (Monday–Thursday), 19:00-03:00 (Friday–Sunday); E. Rodriquez Avenue. tel: +63 2 474 6457, mobile: +63 918 900 8008, website: www.fahrenheitcafe.com) is a popular café and fitness centre.

Equanimity Spa (45B J.Jimenez Street corner Kamuning, Quezon City, Metro Manila, tel: +63 2 415 8099, mobile: +63 917 349 7249) is open 24 hours, while Rondalle Spa (E. Rodriquez Avenue, 2F Don Graciano Bldg, tel: +63 2 411 8290, mobile: +63 921 510 3307, email: ron_dallemahinay@yahoo.com) is a relaxing Manila spa near Farenheit.

Lesbian Friendly Venues around Manila

There are also some interesting lesbian-friendly venues to visit around the metropolis, including Raia Wellness Center (646-C Severina 18 Village, Km.18 West Service Rd., tel: +63 2 497 7818which is a cozy and relaxing therapy and wellness centre and Komiks Café (Open: 18:00-06:00; Maria Orosa Street, Malate, tel: +63 2 526 2547which is lesbian friendly restaurant.

New York Cafe is another lesbian friendly restaurant right next to Komiks while People’s Place (Open: 11:00 to midnight (Monday-Thursday, Sunday), 11:00-02:00 (Friday, Saturday); G/F Greenbelt 3-Garden Side, Esperanza St., Ayala Center, Makati, tel: +63 2 729 2888, email: reservations@peoplespalacethai.com) is a lesbian-friendly Thai restaurant. Pride Exchange (Orosa and Nakpil Street Courtyard in Malate, tel: +63 2 522 9429) is a specific gay and lesbian shop.

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