Posted by: twistsoffeet | April 2, 2010

Another Crazy Night in Manila, Two Stories in One


I do not know why, but some of my wildest adventures come upon me when I am sleeping.

In this episode, I was a close visual witness, thankfully. To be honest, I was to scared to leave my hotel.

I have this favorite hotel in Ermita Philippines.  I chose this hotel for three reasons.  First is price: not cheap or budget accommodations but affordable;  second is security.  It is safe, not so high that I can’t escape a fire but high enough and with good enough security that I feel secure. The third reason is no karaoke, because I try to get sixth to eighth floor rooms.

Those that know me may have heard this before, but for those of you who haven’t, I will tell you what I think. Plain and simple karaoke was invented by the Japanese to punish the western world for loss in World War II.

Now, some of you may be scratching your heads saying, “OK, he has lost it now,” but let me explain my reasoning. Most westerners, having never ventured beyond their state– let alone their country’s borders– have never experienced this, but I have. Throughout south east Asia, karaoke is a rampant epidemic scourge upon civilization.

You don’t believe me?  Let me explain. Anywhere you go, big city or small village karaoke exists. Frequently, upon meeting someone. they will ask “Do you sing?” Meaning, “Do you want to go to the karaoke bar and sing with me?”

If this were just singing I could deal with it, but do you remember in Spinal Tap, where they had the amp that turned up to eleven, not just ten but eleven? Well in south east Asia, the karaoke machines turn up to fifteen!  You think I jest, silly people– I am telling it as I see it. As if this alone would not be enough to drive one insane, compound it with the individuals that are singing. First of all English is, at best, a second language; comprehension of the lyrics is, at best, sketchy. Then consider most south east Asian languages are tonal so they sing in the tonal, diphthong infused sing-song accents that totally destroy the songs they are singing. And– oh yeah– this goes on twenty four hours a day.

In the Philippines, they have entire resorts dedicated to karaoke: some on beaches, some with up to fifty bungalows built on stakes over rivers, each with it’s very own karaoke machine blasting away with the volume cranked all the way to fifteen. Yes, experience it for yourself, and you will agree with my theory on the originations of karaoke.

On this particular night, I was content to have escaped the karaoke onslaught. I believe it was about 1:00 a.m. Basically early to call it a night in Manila, but even I can’t handle life in the darkness of this city every night.

Suddenly, I heard what sounded like a gunshot from a 45 caliber pistol, promptly followed by the bap bap bap bap bap of an M16 then other M16s joined in. Not to be outdone, one side opened up with the staccato chatter of AK47s.

This insanity just kept escalating with AKs and M16s going at it until the M60 let out with a 3 round burst before the gunner decided to burn the barrel up with a 20 plus round burst, shotguns, grenade explosions and automatic weapons fire went on for over an hour somewhere on the docks of Manila harbor.

For those of you who don’t know, you may be asking yourself how I would know what weapons I heard? First of all, I was raised around firearms.  Later, I went to gunsmithing school and I have vast experience in the underbelly of our society. Also, for $150.00, anyone can fire an M60 .30 caliber machine gun or  for $50.00, an AK or M16 in Cambodia; for $300.00, you can fire an M19 grenade launcher, or as my Marine friends call it, a blooper. So, yes, I have the experience to understand and recognize the sounds of the weapons I heard that evening.

There was nothing about this firefight in the newspapers of Manila, at least not the English language newspapers, but later I spoke with several other people, both Philippine nationals and ex-patriots who all expressed concern over what they heard that night.

And they call south central L.A. a crazy place.

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