Angeles City Newsletter

March 2004

This newsletter is written and published by members of Margarita Station, a restaurant located in Angeles City, for the information of visitors to Angeles City and for former & current residents of Angeles City Philippines.  The information is obtained from personal observations, local newspapers and  inputs from our friends and customers.  All individuals and local  businesses are welcome to submit items 

This newsletter is different than most previous one in that I am putting more emphasis on the changes around Angeles in the past few years rather than reporting day to day events about the clubs along Fields Ave. 

Asiana Airlines Flights Direct into Clark:   In one of my last newsletters I announced that Asiana Airlines now has direct flights from Korea into Clark.  I was then flooded with email asking for details on flight times and questions about what other airlines were flying directly into Clark. - - - - If and  when other airlines fly to Clark, I will list them in newsletters and elsewhere on our website. 

Right now Asiana is the only airlines flying into Clark, but their success is obvious because they have more than doubled the number of flights since they started just a few months ago.  Right now they have some great promo prices to Clark and other Asian Cities:

Fly Roundtrip from LA to the following cities for these great prices
LA to CLARK (Angeles City) Philippines $515
LA to Hong Kong $410
LA to Bangkok $425
LA to Hanoi $535

All flights go through Seoul and some have long layovers there. For example the flight from Clark to LA leaves Clark at 1:35 am and gets into Incheon (Seoul) at 6:35 am, but the connection to LA doesn't depart until 4:30 pm. Another draw back is that tickets must be purchased by March 12th and the departure from LA must be before 30 March.  Return flight must be made within 90 days.

If you have more questions, I suggest you check http://us.flyasiana.com/promofebmar2004.asp  or call 1-800-227-4262 and mention the Far East Promotion.

North Expressway between Manila & Angeles City:  Travel times between Manila and Angeles City continue to improve as the construction/rehabilitation of the toll way nears completion.  Right now it looks like it will be 95% completed before the rainy season, so hopefully the days of 6-12 hour trips experienced by some last year will be a thing of the past.  On a run to Manila about a week ago I experienced several short delays, but we made up for these delays when we hit new areas of FOUR lanes of smooth freeway with little traffic.

Comment from one of our regular customers:

I left AC the other day on a Thursday at 03:30 in a rented van from MS..  Arrived at the departure area at NAIA at 05:25.  This is a bit early for the 08:15 departure to NRT and I was moderately surprised that I made the trip so fast. The North Luzon freeway between San Fernando and Manila is again undergoing major construction on the southbound lanes.  There are stretches of what I refer to as “chaotic detours”.—no rhyme or reason on where the traffic is funneled to bypass the construction or if there is a reason, it’s not enforced.  As it has been in the PI for the last 30 years, traffic seems to find the least path of resistance even it involves making a lane against the oncoming traffic.  Anyway this portion of the trip took about 1:20, whereas with no construction it used to take less than 1:00. Where I was pleasantly surprised, was the general flow of the Edsa (freeway??).  At this time of day (around 04:50 to 05:25) there were only a couple of stops (at the traffic lights) where we sat for over 2 minutes. Now I suspect if you leave much later that 03:30 then the traffic problems probably will follow some sort of logarithmic curve.  In other words, if leaving at 04:00, then the Edsa will probably be bumper to bumper and this portion of the trip could take much, much longer.  Hope this helps in your travel plans.

Expressway between Tarlac, Clark & Subic: Holy Cow Batman! Could this really happen???  Sure Robin, remember the promise of the bullet train from Manila to Angeles in the mid-90's, or the thousands of guests that would visit the Expo every day?  Time will tell if this is another great plan with slow or no execution, but a few weeks ago these new signs popped up on Clark:

 

Around the Town: 
  • Black Jack Restaurant has been relocated to the new Swiss Chalet Hotel located on Santos Street where the former Lollipop/Grand Prix/Monroe's Bar was located. The Swiss Chalet Hotel has 12 rooms.  
  • Several local newsletters reported that the owners of Confetti's Nightclub had taken on a new partner.  According to Youngone, they have sold 100% and "no longer have anything to do with the running of it anymore."  They do still own Tom Cats and they are putting all their efforts to make that an even better club. Just this week word has come in that most of the girls working at Confetti's quit and went to work at Tom Cats.  They are now so overloaded with girls that they announced that they will now open at 2 AM.
  • Kangaroo Jack's is under renovation (again).  Word is that when they reopen they will be a restaurant without all the girly-bar distractions.
  • Construction is finally underway on a new Friendship Bridge.  The old bridge was washed away by lahar flows from Mt. Pinatubo during 1991. A temporary fix was made a few years later, but about 5-6 years ago typhoon floods took out a bigger section of the old bridge.  It was again repaired with a one lane temporary span laying on top of the remaining bridge structure.
  • For the last 10 years many people have come to Angeles with the plan to open up a meat store with meat imported from Australia or the USA.  Very few of these new meat stores survive more than six months to a year.  However, one of the biggest success stories to date is Bretto's Fine Meat's & Deli Shop.  If you haven't visited his store lately, I suggest you follow the link for a look at his store located along Perimeter Road.
  • The Swagman Wet T-shirt contests have historically been high times for the tourists.  But, last year the city officials cracked down on the Swagman Hotel & Kokomo's over these contests.  As a result, the format of the last Swagman contest held in the fall of 2003 was drastically changed.  Additionally, one individual purchased the photographic rights to the event and ALL cameras (still & video) were banned from the contest.  As a result, the attendance by both customers and participants dropped significantly.  The next Swagman contest was scheduled for this week--16 Mar, but word today from the Swagman is that it is CANCELLED.
  • A new hotel with a difference will soon open on Fields Avenue.  I recently got a sneak preview at a hotel nearing completion where Stinger & Legs bars were located in the early 90's (Goldcoast in the 80's).  The owners of this hotel have not cut any corners. All the rooms are big with kitchens with gas stoves.  Rooms facing Fields Ave have balconies with great views up and down the street.  The main floor will feature a 7-11, a coffee shop and a money exchange run by the legendary Norma's Store.  The rooftop has an excellent view of Angeles City and will feature a large open air jacuzzi for the hotel guests.  The rates the owner quoted will keep this place full virtually all the time.   

New Swiss Chalet Hotel on Santos Street

Photos of bretto's Fine Meat's & Deli Shop

Photos of new hotel under construction on Fields Ave.

Rooftop Photos from new hotel

Friendship Area: In the days of Clark Air Base the Friendship area was one of the most popular areas for dependent wives to go shopping for home furnishings, baskets, etc.  Since many of the subscribers to our newsletter are former Clark warriors I though this would be a good time to show how the area has transformed into a little Koreatown.  Photos of Friendship Area
Mac Arthur Highway: 

The newly remodeled casino is quite a site for new visitors driving along Mac Arthur Highway.

And the new Robinson's Mall is hiring employees and will open in the near future.

Although it isn't new, many people that have been away from Angeles for years have not seen Savers Mall

Hospital Controversy: Last month I published a lengthy article about a foreigner that died in a local hospital and complications/problems associated with one of the hospitals where the individual had been admitted  for treatment.  Several weeks later I received a rebuttal from the hospital administrator to that article.  But, before I could respond to that rebuttal or decide if I should publish it here, a local bar owner took it upon himself to publish a copy of the rebuttal on a local bulletin board.  Then recently Jimmy Dale, aka Harry the Horse, also decided to publish the rebuttal in his newsletter with a side comment that he had sent me a email that I mysteriously never received.  

Obviously  those two individuals know much more than I do about the situation.  Since I obviously don't know as much about this situation as the two guys that had nothing to do with it and for several other reasons I've decided not to publish the rebuttal in my newsletter.  First, in almost any event where controversy is possible, the customer is going to see things differently than the business.  Secondly, from my point of view there were several inaccuracies in the rebuttal that I would feel compelled to further rebut.  Furthermore, it I was going to fully explain my opinion on this medical facility  I would also feel compelled to publish numerous first hand complaints sent to me by well respected expat residents after my last newsletter.   Obviously there is no future in this type of exchange in this forum.

I believe that for Angeles City this hospital offers a good level of care for individuals with TRICARE, other insurance policies that would be accepted there, or an unlimited budget .  However, average Filipino citizens and foreigners on a limited income will find they can get as good or better treatment for a fraction of the cost at other health care facilities in Angeles & neighboring San Fernando.

My final word on health care in Angeles is  I still recommend that all foreigners living overseas have their personal desires for healthcare and handling of their finances spelled out as clear & concisely as possible in a legal format that will be accepted by their host country.  Additionally, despite comments to the contrary, a "Living Will" will be honored by virtually all hospitals in the Philippines whether or not a individual has been put on life support.

TAPS: This is a section of my newsletters that I wish was always blank, but sadly, in the last few months we have lost several foreigners and several local girls.

Long-term resident Don Jones passed away in his sleep on the 19th of Feb.  Don was a great man that always had a smile and the time for a drink and a story.  He worked on Clark for several years in the early to mid 90's supervising much of the construction on the Holiday Inn and the golf course for Mimosa.  

Last month it was reported in the local papers that a Korean semi-pro golfer had died in a Korean restaurant near Friendship. The newspaper report said the golfer was having a heated argument/ fight with the Korean owner of the establishment when the security guard fired a warning shot to break up the fight.  But, as sometimes happens in the PI,  the warning shot hit & killed the golfer.  Case closed until the Korean embassy demanded an autopsy.  The results of the autopsy however showed that the individual had sustained multiple stab wounds, but no gunshots.  According to the latest newspaper articles, the death is under investigation by the Korean Embassy (no mention if the PNP is also conducting an investigation).

In late January Bruce Hendrickson, a local resident for a number of years died from complications associated with cancer. Bruce was a quiet guy that worked as a computer programmer for a European company.

In the Philippines there is a phrase that is frequently heard in the clubs that says "Age doesn't matter."  Unfortunately that was the case for two young ladies that worked in the Angeles Entertainment district that were way too young to loose their lives.  A former dancer from the King of Diamonds know to many simply as "Lovely" died last month in Manila after a battle with meningitis.  And on the 29th of January, a beautiful young girl nicknamed "Angel"  that worked for Honeydoll's Chat room died from injuries suffered when the motorcycle she was riding on was hit by a car.