I haven’t been to Kidapawan for… AGES. I spent a lot of my growing up years there, and I can’t say it was a nice place for someone half as flamboyant as I am (e.g. think of getting shoved against walls). So yes, I haven’t been to this city in North Cotabato for a while.
And so I was a bit surprised upon noting – at a recent visit – how the place has changed. And not only physically at that, but even the “feel” of the place. And I’d dare say that this change may be best felt when you check out the city’s nightlife (or at least its concept of a nightlife).
To start, most of the nightspots of the city are located along the National Highway – a tricycle ride away from each other. Also, as it is in most places, these places turn into hotspots on Fridays and Saturdays; and usually after 10:00PM, with the partying ending around 2:00AM. The key differences are in: 1) the crowd these places attract; 2) the price of the drinks (and sometimes food) there; and 3) the overall ambiance of these places because of the aforementioned two points.
And so let’s check at what Kidapawan City has to offer when the sun sets…
This is actually the café/resto of a newly-opened hotel. At night, this turns into a bar, complete with the in-house duo (and sometimes a band) that cover popular songs.
As the new place to see and be seen, this place attracts the city’s upper crust.
You go here if: 1) you have a vehicle, as this one is quite far from the downtown area (at least the farthest among the bars from downtown Kidapawan); and 2) you have bigger pocket (a bottle costs P50, which is more than the P38 that partygoers here are used to paying).
I’d say visit, too, if you want a quieter place where the Wi-Fi connection is fast(er).
Located between U3 and the downtown area, this place is frequented by people from different circles – e.g. tricycle drivers out for a drink after a day’s work, students hanging out with friends, parlorista types (effeminate gay men working in beauty parlors) out with their young boy toys, transwomen hanging out with their girl friends… You name it, you’d see them here; and almost always at the same time.
I suppose Porticus also highlights how all the crowds (e.g. LGBT, IPs, yuppies, oldies, and so on) have been “integrated” into the scene – everyone’s just one of “them”.
It is worth noting that this place isn’t classy – in fact, it has rusty metal tables and chairs combined with duty plastic tables and chairs; the service is excruciatingly slow (at times you have to get up and get your own drinks since it’s under-staffed); and since it’s an open venue, it can get stuffy.
Let me point out that this place is quite sexist/misogynistic, too – when the performers are on break, a projector comes to life to show images of almost naked women posing for fully-clothed men, women grinding their asses against men’s crotches, et cetera (you get the point).
With a bottle of beer costing P38, this place is the “norm” for Kidapawan, supposedly…
This is a resto (located not that far from Gaisano Mall) that has a band at night, and so becomes a party place when the sun sets in. Exactly because it’s a resto, this place is cleaner – but because it is, it attracts a somewhat older crowd. The beer is still cheap (particularly when ordered by the bucket), but you come here more for eating, not necessarily to party, party, party…
AJ Hotel/AJ Hi-time
Located at Rizal Ave. (off the National Highway), this venue is somewhat similar to U3 – and, worth highlighting, has been in existence far, far longer than U3. Meaning, this is a resto/café that becomes a drinking venue when the sun sets in. And exactly because it’s part of a hotel, this place isn’t… “sleazy”. That is, it attempts to be “classy”, where the older people go to catch up after work, meet with their colleagues, meet clients, and so on and so forth.
Well-lit, this place is more apt for lazy hanging out. Though I wish they can fix that Wi-Fi connection that is almost always D-E-A-D.
Back along the National Highway, right in the middle of the downtown area, is Eigor’s, a bar located inside and behind a building. This place has four parts – when you enter the place, there’s a bar at the left; then in the middle, there are tables with umbrellas (open air space); then on the right, there are tables fronting a stage (this part has a roof); and then there are some tables on this ledge that can be reached via a rusty staircase. Yes, the lay-out is confusing. But it doesn’t seem to stop people from flocking to this place.
Why visit this place? To start, the beer is still under P50 – again, the “norm” in Kidapawan. Secondly, even with the not-that-great sound system, music can be good – and you can jam, too, as the performers open the stage for just about everyone. Thirdly, this place is the one that closes last – meaning, people head here after they’ve already had fun in U3, Porticus, et cetera. And lastly, almost always, this is where you get to pick up (as a companion said: “People are already drunk, so…).
There are other venues, though these are actually more of restos that just happen to also allow people to drink, e.g. Boyaks. And then there are “unconventional” issues worth checking, e.g. the BBQ stands along Quezon Blvd. that are also tambayan (place for hanging out); here, you’d see a lot of GBTs (the L’s are often “invisible”) drinking bottles after bottles of Emperador or Tanduay.
In so many way, Kidapawan City has changed. But in some ways, it hasn’t. For gay men, for instance, you need to understand how “typical” the gay relationships here continue to be (as it was in the past) – i.e. we “pay” for hetero-identifying men to party (or have sex) with us. The pa-mhinta (hetero-looking/acting) is here for sure, but they are almost always invisible (besides, Davao City is less than two hours away, so they almost always just head there to party).
The city still has a lot of catching up to do, yes; but when here and looking for places to get boozed, we definitely have some options now…