There are no backpacker bars in Metro Manila, but there are bars I would like to hang out in if I was a backpacker. The first one I would choose would be in the heart of the backpacker district in Malate, called Oarhouse. Oarhouse seems to have a multi-storied history at par with the legendary Penguin Café (which is now called Bar 1951, search for an earlier post). Owned originally by someone else, Oarhouse has moved to the corner of Malvar and Bocobo St (but more on the Bocobo side), and is now owned by Ben Razon. Got to meet the guy last night and he is a warm and intelligent individual. It is quite clear in his mind that he would like to continue the legacy of Oarhouse in Manila and wants that Malate vibe to thrive.
In Quezon City, there is the decade old Big Sky Mind, originally planned as a venue for art installations and other exhibits, Big Sky Mind has settled into the role of that friendly neighborhood bar. Hard to find if you’re not from Metro Manila, just tell the taxi driver to bring you to the corner of E. Rodriguez and Broadway in Quezon City. It’s just across McDonalds. There is no sign, but just look through the glass window to see the cheerful sight of people having a good time. Terran and owner, Cindy, will be the happy bartenders waiting to give you a drink.
In Makati, the classic place to go to for rock is SaGuijo on Guijo St. This place is hard to find, but I guess I’ll just have to refer you to the SaGuijo website to find it. The last stronghold of Filipino rock that I know of, go here if you want to watch the latest in the Filipino rock scene.
There are other bars: Handlebar for barbecues, Republiq, URBN, and Haze for clubbing, Cubao-X for art, The Collective on Malugay St. for hiphop, Murphy’s the Irish pub, all three Distillerys and Drafts for for the beer, Global Beer Exchange for the beer, Beers Paradise also for the beer, Cable Car for the nostalgia (and Cable Car rice and sisig rice) but the three on top are the ones I would recommend because personally, I’d hang out there.