ANGELES CITY NEWS

Dec 2008

MARGARITA STATION NEWS

Margarita Station had our staff Christmas party on December 16th.  This is the one day each year where we close for one shift so the staff and invited guests can have some fun.

More Photos

HOLIDAY DISCOUNT ON AIRPORT PICK-UP SERVICE  The gas prices have dropped at the pumps so we are going to discount all our airport pick-ups and drop-offs from 24 December until the 24th of January.  Regular price for car was P2650....now 2500.  Van price was P3000....now 2850. 

Applies to all booking already confirmed and all new bookings for services prior to 24 January. Trips on Filipino holidays will be reduced P150 off normal holiday rate.

ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT & PERIMETER ROAD NEWS

EXPAT SHOT:  In late November, Ivy,  a well known bar fly who had recently  returned to Angeles was shot two times on his first day back in Angeles.   He was on the way home late at night when thieves grabbed a belt/butt pack he was wearing.  He resisted and he was shot 2-3 times and then they took the belt bag.  This incident occurred late at night near the Tiger Hotel on Narcisso Street. 

From Bob55: I was shot in an attempted robbery in the same area on Nov 1, 2008. Entering the gate to my apartment near Tiger Hotel. Filipino attempted to force his way into the gate as I was closing it. While we struggled at the gate he shot me once through the bars. I was still able to close and lock the gate. Rushed to hospital by neighbor and landlord. Bullet entered my upper right chest and exited right side of back, luckily only soft tissue and the next day I was home. Back bar hopping in 2 days.

Police arrested 8 Filipino suspects on Nov 18. My shooter was positively identified by a female witness that came forward after hearing about the second shooting. Police told me it was a gang living in Clarkview and targeting Filipinos and foreigners in the Narciso Street area. I don't know if the guy who shot Ivy was identified. All 8 are in Angeles City jail.

JCC NOTE: Although violence has been on the rise, these incidents are the first of this type (armed robbery/shooting directed at a foreign "tourist"/bar hopper) in a long time. Sadly, I believe it does mean a significant change in the peace & order situation. We have had several street shootings of foreigners in the last year, but those seemed to be more on the line of paid hits on EXPATS that resided here. Do not walk down dark streets.

POLICE SETUPS

A lot has been said in the last several years about police "set-ups" or "stings."  Now days there is a website devoted to these setups. And, there are articles in the newspapers every few weeks.  Yet these "set-ups"  have continued.

On 15 Dec 2008 I was informed by a manager in one of the bigger hotels of a setup conducted against one of their guests.  I reworded the message from the hotel and sent out this warning to other Angeles businesses:

This week a tourist from Hawaii was on his second night when he stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes from a vendor that was very near the 7-11 store.  He handed the vendor his money and the vendor asked him if he wanted to buy marijuana, showing him a small bag.  He said no, the vendor handed him his change and a "undercover" cop put hand cuffs on him saying he observed him trying to purchase drugs.

They took him to station 4 and charged him with purchasing drugs.  They told him for P200,000 they could make the case go away.  They released him so he could return and get his bank card.  He went back to the hotel and told the desk he needed to change rooms because someone was after him.  The hotel moved him to a new room and 45 minutes later the station 4 police arrived and told the guards they were looking for the guest.  The manager went to his room and he agreed to return to station four with one of the hotel guards.  The hotel manager asked the guard  who was handling the case and he said they all had jackets on that covered their name tags.

The police finally agreed to tear up the report for P100,000 which he got out of a bank machine.

He told the hotel night manager that it was a set-up and he never asked or has used drugs.  The hotel guard saw the bag of evidence and said it didn't look like drugs.  He was very scared and upset.

The hotel manager called him the following morning and asked if he would talk to him and the guy said he was resting and would see him in the afternoon.  About 3 pm the guards told the manager he was at reception.  He was checking out and said he had no time and had to see his friends and would come talk to the manager the next day.  He never showed up.

I'm sure hes back in Hawaii telling all his friends to stay away from our "Friendly" town! 

In the first two weeks of December there were an estimated six new stings. The last was about the 15th and I'll be surprised if there are any more any time soon.

Finally, someone with some power has stepped up to the plate.  After a guest at the ABC was hit for a minor sting by the local police, Gerard warned some of the individuals believed to be involved that these operations must stop now or there will be huge consequences.  He has influential friends in high places from his years of doing businesses in the Philippines and he says he will call them if there are any more scams.

If you or anyone you know is involved in a setup, immediately contact the management of your hotel, Margarita Station (892-6548 or 47), or Gerard at ABC.

This does not mean you can buy dope and sleep with underaged girls and expect anyone here to help. But, if you hear of anyone being set up, notify someone that can get a message to an EXPAT Owner/manager that has been here for year. If they get the word to ABC you can expect the cavalry.

Steven Soul has been fighting his setup now for months.  Most guys have just paid and left the country.   For more, also see the first news clipping section below.
These setups are constantly being attacked by an unorganized website called Central Luzon Corruption. Despite the difficulty in finding your way around this website, it is having an impact on some individuals as you can see in the news article on the left.  The link for their update page is http://www.centralluzoncorruption.com/Set-upsAngelesCityStyle.htm

March 2009 Limited Hotel Availability:  I put this notice up before and some people hinted that it was a scam to get people to book rooms.  Boy that would be a stupid one, turning down our reservations so they could get more bookings?  Come on guys, that is just ignorant to suggest it.

So, one more time. Three of the major major hotels have told us they are already fully booked in March 2009.  According to our sources the reason for the mass bookings for March 09 is the Hash House Harriers event, "Pan Asia 2009"  on 6,7, and 8,March.  About 2,500 are expected to participate.  Many from Malaysia have booked for the entire month.  If you are planning a visit to Angeles in March, I recommend you book your rooms ASAP.  So far we not had any of the smaller hotels tell us they are fully booked, but it will happen soon because the number of rooms already booked is way above normal.

Emotions Bar was raided on Monday 8 Dec 2008 during a "Monday Madness" show.  Supposedly several people around town caught word of an impending raid and warned someone at the club.  The warnings were not only ignored, but they let a Filipino male into the club. He managed to shoot some videos of an act he considered lewd with his cellular phone before he called in the raiding team.

In Mid-December a girl applied for a job at the Gentleman's Club. The manager asked if she had a city license. She said it was at her previous employers so they told her to wait downstairs until the mama-san arrived so she could would walk her down and get the permit. Station 4 minor-rescue team showed up and  asked someone who she was. One employee said "maybe a new door-girl."  Cost 120,000 pisos!

Maganda Filipino Beauty Contest at ABC Hotel:  In mid-December I was asked to be a judge for a ongoing beauty contest.  Now, would any guy turn down a opportunity to judge a beauty contest?  Well, neither did I. 

ABC spared no expense in the elaborate stage set up for the event.  This was the second round of competition where the winner will walk away with P250,000 in cash.  The contest involved 3-4 costume changes. It ran a little long (about 4 hours) but, IMO it was a great show. Not sure why the attendance wasn't maxed out when a P1000 entry for guys included a free buffet and free local drinks? 

Gerard is already discussing some more changes in the program which now may have only one more round of competition on the night of March 12th. It is possible the on-line voting may go away completely.  And a push will be made to get the absolute best looking girls around into the final competition (as the 2nd round had some cute girls but not much in the "10" category when compared to what is really out there).

I've put up some of the better photos on a separate page [click here]

For on-line information, see: http://www.magandafilipina.net/index.php

Very nice article on Zapata's Mexican Restaurant on the website Dessert Comes First.    LINK

PHOTO(s) OF THE MONTH

A SIGN OF THE TIMES: The face on the figure on top of Las Vega Club looks as uninterested in being here as many of the staff in some of the Fields Ave bars this holiday season.

OPENINGS - CHANGES - ETC

Chris back at C'Italian. After a short absence (vacation) Chris is again cooking up gastronomical delights at C'Italian between Fire and Ice and Honey Ko's on Perimeter Road.  There are rumors of some an iminent expansion into another city. Time will tell on this rumor, but I give it about a 95% chance of being true.

Chris says they will add an additional 60 seats in their new aircon dining area just before Christmas to keep up with the demand.  This will bring their total dining capacity to close to 200.

Also, for planning purposes C'Italian will be closed December 24 and 25 as well as on December 31 and January 1, 2009

Click on Chris's picture on the left and see a nice write up from the in-flight magazine from Cebu Pacific in November.

The "Reef Girls" are known for their hand shaken margaritas.

TEQUILA REEF     Construction continues on the new Tequila Reef building on the corner of Santos & Real Streets.  The owners are shooting for a mid-February opening.  This month they have been testing their recipes with a mixture of local ingredients and imported Mexican dried chilies, pinto beans, etc. These samples have been given away at various clubs. This month the taste testings were done at Gecko's, Lollipop's and La Bamba. They have already hired most of their staff, but they are still looking for the right female manager (with F&B experience) and a few more kitchen staff and waitresses.  Interested individuals should apply daily between 2 and 6 pm at Margarita Station.

ROADHOUSE:  Fred is back as a manager at Roadhouse!
Coyote Ugly was reported to have been SOLD. No further details are available.
BYRD CAGE was also SOLD recently.  Bill was heard to mumble something about a "getting real job."  Bill has confirmed the "job" but not the sale. And as of 24 December Elsa was still running the place.  May be worth stopping in, having a drink and trying to get the real story?

STUDEBAKERS  is temporarily closed. Word on the street is it is a dispute between two of the owners.

CHEERS near the VFW now has dancers.  If you stop here, I recommend ordering food from Willie Pig's next door.

MIDNIGHT RODEO & PATTAYALAND have seen better days. Both places have been dead for years, producing very little revenue for a prime location. Hopefully whatever replaces them will have a more universal interest to the tourists in Angeles.

MAGIC HILL opened it's doors in December 2007 with several big name entertainers from Manila in concert.  Sadly, that was probably the best week for this Korean carnival. The small rollercoaster and the flying boat were just a little too scary for the average Filipino and it never drew any decent crowds. In Mid-December 2008 the cranes were taking down the rides to be shipped to some place where I'm sure they will get more customers.

CEBU PACIFIC: I have now taken the Cebu Pacific flight from Clark to Bangkok twice. For me it's great. Cuts out the trip to Manila. Additionally there is no real reason to check in 2 hours prior to the flight.  A little over one hour is more than early enough.  Airport tax is P600 vs P750.  The flights are not full and the aircraft (A-320's) appear to be in good condition. At just over $200 for a round trip it is excellent value.

On my first trip I had the misfortune of trying to exit Thailand when demonstrators had closed the airport. Very few travel agents had any information about Cebu Pacific, but my agent, Noemi (see below) managed to get me information on flights. And surprisingly, Cebu Pacific came through with some aircraft from U-tapao to Manila.  However, I would not have got out as early as I did if it was not for the highly efficient Cebu Pacific Bangkok Airport Station Manager, Tess Ruktapurana. She was outstanding under pressure and was able to maximize available seats while handling some real irate passengers.

Many travelers complain about little problems when they travel.  If you want to read more about what it is like to get out of a country when the main airport is closed, click here for a diary & photos of the "evacuation"

Cebu Pacific Booking Problems:  With the advent of direct flights between Clark (Angeles) and Bangkok many people including me have tried to book flights through their website. People from most countries report problems trying to use their credit cards on the website.  Unless you have a Philippine VISA card with "verified by VISA," don't waste your time trying to book through the Cebu Pacific website. The website will not accept any credit cards from that don't have "verified by Visa," which means virtually all non-Philippine VISA cards will be denied.  I've been trying to get a local travel agent that can assist with booking these flights, but so far I haven't found a good one in Angeles that understands the problem.  If you need one on the Bangkok end, you can try Noemi @ Dinero Tours (email: dinero@loxinfo.co.th ).  She is a Filipino lady that I have used for may years and I've never had a problem with a ticket I bought through her agency.

I have had several people tell me they haven't had problems, but many more said all their credit cards were also denied.  I contacted Cebu Pacific and got the response below. Seems pretty clear to me.

"We are temporarily not accepting VISA credit cards issued from the United States. The site is also unable to process certain US-issued Mastercard cards and UK-issued Visa and Mastercard credit cards. Please try using other credit cards or call (632) 70-20-888 if you encounter any problems during payment."

MORE FEEDBACK  I read in your recent newsletter on the Cebu Pacific booking problems with the "Verified by Visa" issue.   This is also the case with PAL, as we had recently tried to book online a flight from  Singapore to Manila with PAL using a non-Philippine Visa card, and it was denied. We were able to purchase over the counter the following day using the same card. Both sites may be using some of the same services.  Regards, Randy Deeds

I haven't had any problems (yet) with Cebu Pacific, but I sure got some feedback on this airlines.  Several people commented on cancelled flights and no luck getting rescheduled or refunded.  Local Angeles resident Bob Laing sent me this email which was typical of many I read. I guess BUYER BEWARE.

Still another suggestion about buying tickets on PAL and Cebu Pacific from a reader:

Tourists at home who wish to buy tickets on PAL should give up on the online site, and just call the PAL office in their home country to buy e-tickets. For example, one tourist here bought tickets from Manila to Beijing back in August by calling the PAL office in Los Angeles. The tickets were emailed to him, and he was able to board the PAL flight in Manila the day after his arrival in the Philippines.

Tourists outside the Philippines who wish to buy tickets on Cebu Pacific should consider calling Beeline here in AC for reservations, and then send the payment to directly to the Beeline representative via Western Union. The Beeline employee will then buy your ticket for you in the Philippines. You'll need to send your payment in the name of the particular Beeline representative you will pick up the cash at Western Union in order to buy your tickets. "Ha?" you say. Yup, says, Panchai, who posts on Go2Phil, "Those ladies have been buying me tickets that way since 2004, and I've never had any problems. In fact, when I've had problems with connections, they've gone out of their way to adjust all my reservations so my trip proceeds smoothly."

- Panchai@go 2 phil
MORE CHRISTMAS IDEAS: In addition to the Gecko's calendar (which is still on sale in Margarita Station & Gecko's), the La Pasha Group has a couple of great stocking stuffers.  They also have a calendar (which was published before the Gecko's calendar) and a DVD.  Items are on sale in all La Pasha clubs (La Pasha, Carousel, and Typhoon).
An article on changes to Clark/Angeles with a little about the reasons for the increasing Korean population.
WILCON BUILDERS SUPPLY  A few years ago we finally got a WILCON Builders Supply in San Fernando. They have great prices on a variety of building materials.  Now a huge one is going up behind Mc Donald's in Dau.  This store is going to have a huge impact on some of the mom & pop hardware's in Angeles that have been ripping people off for years.  And I predict it won't help Ace Hardware in the mall too much either.

Want to read more about Angeles City?  Check out the current issue of City of Angeles magazine.  Click on the photo for a direct link.
Another popular monthly magazine on Angeles City is the Blue Book.  Click on the magazine on the left for a direct link to their website.

 news clippings

Clark workers now 57T

By Reynaldo G. Navales

CLARK FREEPORT -- The number of employees inside this Freeport has reached 57,000 as of October 2008, according to the Clark Development Corporation (CDC). It stated that the number of employees increased by about 5,000 from October 2007 to October 2008.

The increment in the number of employees was gleaned on the report submitted by 347 locators over the past 12 months, CDC president Benigno Ricafort said.  As of February this year, the CDC has recorded 54,748 employees inside the Freeport.  CDC Public Relations Department manager Angelo Lopez Jr. said the number of workers exceeds almost thrice the number of employees when the Freeport was still a US Air Force base.  The US facility employed more than 21,000 before, Lopez added.

There are more than 640 registered locators in Clark at present. But only 347 firms have submitted their number of employees. The other locators, Lopez said, have yet to submit their employment report to the CDC. The Customer Service Department reported to Ricafort that sectors that hire many workers are industrial electronics, garments, crafts, furniture and other manufacturing sectors where some 28,452 are presently employed.  Information Technology and Telecommunications on the other hand have 8,759 employees. A total of 6,835 workers have been hired for tourism-related projects in Clark. The increase of employment opportunities inside the Freeport may also be attributed to the influx of investments here. There are 87 new lease agreements with over P2 billion investment commitments for the next five years.

Earlier, the Marketing Department of the state-owned corporation reported to Ricafort that 55 projects were signed in the last 10 months bringing to 781 the total number of investments inside this Freeport. The new investment has an aggregate amount of P14 billion. More than P2.18 billion worth of investments will be put up inside the zone in the next five years. These include 33 IT-related projects that have signed lease and sub-lease agreements.

Clark interchange to open before Christmas

CLARK FREEPORT -- The nearing completion of Panday Pira road that connects to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) will be an early Christmas treat for motorists.  Officials of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), builder of the 94-kilometer SCTEx, told a press conference Thursday that the opening of the Panday Pira stretch would pave the way for the full operation of the Clark North Interchange.

The 3.8-kilometer long road serves as the main access to Clark for motorists coming from the towns of Tarlac and Mabalacat. According to Gen. Robert Gervacio, BCDA spokesperson, the road is already 66.10 percent complete. "The Clark North Interchange could be accessed through the Panday Pira Road just before Christmas day," Gervacio told reporters during the briefing.

Along with the Clark North Interchange, Gervacio said construction and developments are also being done on the Floridablanca and Porac Interchanges in the north of the province.  The three interchanges, reportedly constructed at a cost of P1.1 billion, are expected to spur enough vehicular volume for BCDA to recover the principal cost of constructing SCTEx as well as subsequent operation expenses.

Gervacio said that SCTEx currently makes around P1.3 million on normal days. "The most that we could raise is P2.5 million during long weekends," Gervacio added.  Despite the encouraging income, Gervacio said it would not be prudent to light the entire stretch of SCTEx as this would entail a higher toll for motorists.  "The lighting of the entire stretch would cost us P2.2 billion for civil works alone," Gervacio said, adding that P6 million would be the day-to-day cost to light the SCTEx from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.  The BCDA said there is enough lighting available along tollbooths and plazas with added reflector paints to aid motorists traveling at night. Gervacio also assured that security inside the SCTex is tight and there is enough paramedic support in case of accidents.

Winston S. Cruz, program manager of SCTEx operational support services, pointed out that BCDA strictly adheres to a continuing road improvement program not only to prolong the roadway's lifespan but also to ensure public safety and comfort.

Safe driving at SCTEX, NLEX sought

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Tollways Management Corp. (TMC) has asked motorists to drive safely along Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to prevent loss of lives and injuries. "We are advising motorists to drive within the allowable speed limits and be extra careful when overtaking other vehicles," said Betty Jose, spokesperson for the TMC, which operates and maintains the two expressways. Jose made the call after four people died, including a doctor and two soldiers, when a sports utility vehicle (SUV) rammed into a 6x6 military vehicle along SCTEX last week.

She said that SCTEX was built for the safety and comfort of motorists and follows "international road safety standards." The road, she said, is equipped with reflectorized lane markings and guardrails for additional safety. The fatal accident took place along the dark section of the expressway in Barangay Manuali, Porac last November 25. Police said soldier Mayolito Calaquian died on the spot while his colleagues Jayson Fajardo, Lorenzo Gazzingan and Alex Franco were brought to St. Raphael Hospital in Mabalacat town for treatment. However, Fajardo died while undergoing treatment.  According to Gazzingan, their group came from Porac town and was heading to Bataan Province when they were suddenly hit by a Mitsubishi Outlander from behind. He added that they were cruising in the right speed when the accident happened.  The SUV was being driven by Apolinario Bernabe with her lone passenger identified as Dr. Maria Teresita Bernabe of Bustos, Bulacan. Investigators believed that over-speeding had caused the fatal road accident. Meanwhile, Major Segundo Mitran of the 3rd Infantry Battalion said the relatives of the dead soldiers will receive necessary benefits as they died in the "line of duty."

Mitran observed that a long portion of the expressway is still bereft of lights resulting in difficulty traveling among most motorists.  He said since other SCTEX interchanges have not been completed, rescuers had to route victims through the Dinalupihan Interchange before they were brought to the hospital in Mabalacat. (IOF)

Carjackers strike anew

By Chris Navarro

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Less than a week after forcibly taking two vehicles here and in nearby Angeles City, carjackers struck again in this city in broad daylight last Saturday. A couple who parked their Toyota van in front of the City Central Terminal here to buy snacks and bottled water found themselves at the mercy of two armed men around 3 p.m. Senior Superintendent Keith Ernald Singian, officer-in-charge of the Pampanga Provincial Police, identified the victims as Albert Carino and his wife, residents of Barangay Quebiawan here. Singian said the victims had just alighted from the van when the armed men got off from a still undetermined silver car and immediately poked a caliber .45 pistol at Carino and asked him to turn over the key of his vehicle. When the victim refused, he was pistol-whipped on the head by one of the suspects who grabbed the key and immediately fled on board the van, which was followed by the suspects' car towards a still unknown direction.

Barely a week ago, a Hyundai Starex van was carjacked by heavily armed men at Villa Victory Subdivision in this city, while a pick-up truck was also stolen in front of the Chevalier School in Angeles City. Singian said a flash alarm was made to all Community Police Assistance Center (Compac), Kambilan and police stations in the province. The information was also relayed to the Highway Patrol Group-Region 3 (HPG-3) but the suspects were still able to escape. Singian said he has directed the city police here to form a "tracker team." He has also coordinated with the HPG-3 for the establishment of 24/7 checkpoints along all major roads and strategic locations in the province.

Authorities here are keeping their eyes open against the "Dominguez Group" and other groups allegedly involved in carnapping and carjacking operations in Central Luzon. Residents and second-hand car dealers here are asking the Congress to pass a law that will impose stiffer penalties against carnappers and carjackers. A car buy-and-sell trader here said the P100,000 bail for carnapping suspects is just "chicken feed" for car thieves compared to the millions of pesos they earn in selling stolen cars.

Hotel Security for your Valuables:  For the second time in recent months I have had a visitor tell me that he had money removed from his hotel safe.  This one was in an in-room safe and another was from a safe in the hotel lobby.  In both cases they took only a percentage of the cash, not all of it.  Many guys might not notice if their pile of pisos isn't quite as big as it was yesterday.  You can prevent this by buying a locking cash bag. They are available at all major office supply stores in America, Australia, England, etc.  I use one when I'm on the road even with an in-room safe.

WANT A JOB IN ANGELES?   Knowing that your site gets visited by a lot of expats, would you know where and how we can post announcements for expats who are native English speakers who may be available for part-time tutoring jobs within Pampanga? The job will mean conducting practice English speaking sessions with foreign students. We are looking for those who can speak Korean or Chinese aside from English. For details, pls. contact Ms. Edna at mobile # 0921-6283165.

BOTOLAN WILDLIFE FARM in San Juan Zambales is now within reach of a daytrip out of Angeles City.  I'll bet lots of the girls in Angeles have never seen any of the animals they have there.  For more information see http://www.botolanwildlifefarm.com/

SURFING SCHOOL:  Here is another one I didn't know about until Maria Yokohama dropped me an email.  She runs Yokohama Surfing School in Manila. Looks like the classes are taught at the surfing sites, so this may interest a few of our readers.  Prices are reasonable. Click on YSS logo for more info.
FINAL SALUTE

Richard Short, age 43, former owner of Klub Klass and long time resident in AC died December 10th in England. Initial reports say cause of death was a heart attack.   He was also known for installing  many of the Fields Avenue sound systems. He leaves a Wife and young baby.

It is doubtful that Jim Adams ever though of going to Angeles City.  But, after reading his story I think he would have fit in with the Angeles crowd pretty good.  RIP Jim.

SERVICED HOUSE FOR RENT    We only have one,  so book early.   You can rent one bedroom and have the entire house to yourself, or a group of 3 guys can have a party house much cheaper than 3 hotel rooms.    For more details see http://www.margarita-station.com/house.html

Margarita Station Website

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