For a first timer in Manila the midget boxing at Ringside Bar experience will certainly be an eye opener. The combination of culture shock, and the novelty of a venue that would be completely illegal in most, if not all, western countries makes for an interesting introduction to Manila and the Philippines.
The centre piece of the entertainment is the boxing ring. You will be treated to midget boxing, lady boxing and the occasional tag team match of jelly wrestling. You can jump in the ring and referee the fight if you want to, but be prepared to shout all of the participants some expensive drinks for the privilege… If you do step into the ring remember to protect your nuts! The little guys are at the perfect height to strike a painful blow the crown jewels. Always to the amusement of the crowd.
It is a place where almost anything goes. If you tip big enough they will organise anything within reason. The most unusual I have seen so far is one of the punters jumping in the ring to fight three midgets with one arm tied behind his back (I think he lost a bet in a group of rowdy Brits in the bar that night. The only condition being that if he hurt one of the midgets the fight would be over.
Some may see this as a morally questionable form of entertainment. There are arguments that the activities exploit the handicapped and subjects them to suffer indignity. Although it is worth considering what the vertically challenged participants would be doing for work if it was not for this venue. Manila is not the land of opportunity for everyone and while it is not the most pleasant way to make a living, it is still a living.
It is also worth noting that the venue is on the infamous P Burgos St, in the centre of the red light district. Like most venues in the vicinity, it is primarily a bar where the services of the working girls are offered. The dancing girls in the ring between fights and hanging around the bar all have a price…. Or a bar fine as they put it. The boxing is just to get punters in the door. Although I have found that if you do not show any interest in the girls then you will be left alone to have a few drinks and enjoy the spectacle in the ring.
A word of warning – The upstairs venue Mixed Nuts is a lady boy bar. You will have the odd worker join the dancing girls in Ringside attempting to blend in. So unless you are into that, keep an eye out for an Adams apple, or some solid cheek bones. If you are hosting some new comers to the city it is always a good prank to take them upstairs, pretend to go the bathroom, and just leave. Then count how long it takes for them to come running out the door. The lady boys are much more aggressive so it shouldn’t take long.
While this may not be a venue suitable to become your regular hangout, it is still a fun place to knock back a few drinks. The seedy undertones generally get the better of you in a couple of hours and it would be time to move on. Not everyone would go there twice, but an interesting experience for visitors and local Filipinos alike.