As mentioned in the previous post, Viva Young was a tiny joint about a block or two off Magsaysay Boulevard.
Upon entering, immediately on the left was ‘Mama San’s ‘Office,’ which was simply an enclosed counter with an ancient cash register, a small table lamp, a perpetually over-flowing ashtray, and a counter sign which read: “No Credit.”
Every bar or club had a ‘Mama San’—‘Manager’ to put it into Western Parlance. I had a bit of a history with this Mama San.
(Yeah we were ‘Fuck Buddies’)
We were roughly the same age and found each other mutually attractive. She did volunteer work for the mayor of Olongapo and was quite astute. She wanted a career in government. But first, she had a bar to run and girls to manage. In this regard she was all cold business.
When on liberty in Olongapo I generally spent the night with Mama San. She lived with her mother and a sister and a brother and a few children in a fairly decent (though small) house about a mile from Viva Young.
She was supporting the entire family and was never ‘hesitate’ to hit me up for contributions to her domicile. I knew ‘the score’ and happily donated to her cause.
What did I need money for anyway? We had a convenient relationship and genuinely liked each other. And to my mind, she was doing good work.
Running the length of the bar was the ‘stage’ or ‘cat walk’. Or picture a runway, similar to what one might find in a very low-rent fashion show.
Bordering this runway on three sides was a narrow counter top: narrow-minded and horse-shoe-shaped. The open end faced the door and Mama San’s watchful eye.
Bar stools (ancient and uncomfortable) finished the Spartan scene.
The bar girls would line up on the runway and dance to the music from the equally ancient jukebox. Yes, this was best unflatteringly described as a ‘Meat Market’.
But then, that was Olongapo in 1989. Matt, Rogers, and I knew all the girls. (Just not in the Biblical sense). I suspect some were under age. If you’d ask one hundred bar girls in Olongapo where they were from, you’d get one hundred same pat answers:
“I from da Pra’bince (Province). I make money so go to college.”
I never met a single gal (see how easily I throw in some Texan vernacular to cover up the horrible reality?) who told me she wasn’t actually from Olongapo.
Nope, these were all ‘country gals’ with aspirations–from ‘The Province–the true aspiration was to marry a U.S. Serviceman and get the hell out of the Philippines.
And who could blame them? Many a young Sailor or Marine, after having his first sexual encounter fell in love with a Filipina and did fulfill her dream.
They would marry and the new bride would move to San Diego. Within a few months the rest of the family would be sent for. This was called the ‘Filipino Pipeline’.
Sadly, more often than not, once secured with U.S. Citizenship and the rescue of her family, the new bride would divorce her Sailor or Marine and make her way into the American Dream, leaving the husband wondering what the hell had gone wrong.
I never felt sorry for the cuckolds. I was a cruel son of a bitch back then, and secretly, as a perpetual con and huckster, I was always for the Filipinas.
Actually everything always went wrong with such agreements.
Part One Here:
Part Three Here.
I have a deadline.
Bobbie Gentry Captivates Me
Upon sober (mine) reflection, I must concur.
Bobbie G. was a unique talent and much like Madonna, she was very savvy and worked the system brilliantly.
I will still profess that she was vastly underrated.
The Woman had Talent!
🙂 🙂 🙂
But isn’t that the point of the song? I don’t think she was condoning it so much as shining a light on it. How many people in the audience got the message, I don’t know.
Women have been using their bodies as a weapon and a means for as long as humanity has existed, ’cause it’s like you said: in a society that doesn’t often value anything else you might have or be, you do what you gotta do.
And before you go thinking I clicked “Like” without reading, I neglected to click the first two ’cause I was anxious to go on to the next and had to come back and do the clicky thing. So there.
Please stay tuned…..
Thank you Teela, for reading and commenting.
Thanks for the history, I was a little young to know the in’s and outs of the whole thang.
Knowing something about Bobbie Gentry and how intelligent she was, and how she bucked the system, I do cringe at this performance. She was just playing the game. But I just had to co-op it for my post. Realizing how much she surely hated this.
We do what we have to do…