Monday, March 14, 2005

Subic Pier One

My second time in this place, I was totally disillusioned and I was so ashamed that I had to literally drag a friend to this joint! How did it all happen? Here is the funny story.

It was about 10PM, on a Saturday. My friend and I were deciding on which place in Subic we should visit for dinner. I was quick to suggest and very enthusiastically exclaimed Pier One should be it! So we went there! My friend did not at all tell me, but I can make from his face that he was kind of uncomfortable – even irritated being there on a Saturday night.

Background why I decided to choose and brag about Pier One - Subic
I first visited the place last May 2004. I arrived there 9PM or so with several friends. I was instantly wowed! It was a far cry from Gerry’s Grill on the other side of the strip where I, my family and friends are very used to. Right in front of where we parked was the entrance or what you might call an empty fa├žade devoid of the grand trimmings – except that there was some kind of a podium or lectern where a young crew member stood by with the restaurant/bar’s menu in her hand. Quite a neat “reception” with her genuinely smiling “good evening, sir!, table for eight?”. There was another crew member beside her who would escort us to where we wanted to sit.

The area was well appointed. There were kiosks here and there. There were tables al fresco – meaning only the moon and the stars hovered above them. The whole place was romantically lighted – floodlights amongst the plants and trees, candles lighted on each table and utensils were neatly laid out on table napkins. The only bright spot was this little “cottage” that actually housed the comfort rooms.

For that native touch, the kiosks (roofed with cogon grass) had wooden tables. Then probably to keep a continental touch, the open air tables were of wrought iron topped with clear glass. The chairs that complemented these open air tables were made also of wrought iron – some had arm rests, some had none. Tables were properly spaced from each other. There were even two or three “garden seats” also made of the same wrought iron material for groups or barkada who might have wanted to be more intimate or closer together. Those garden seats together with knee-high glass-topped wrought-iron tables, were tastefully placed by the center walkway that gave an effect of homey-ness in the place. This next one I am not really sure of, but I believe I also saw upholstered stools made of the same wrought iron material that complemented the whole set-up.

Yes there was already a stage for performances but it was simple and constructed low so that the ocean can still be seen, plus, I could see the departing and landing airplanes on the opposite side of the bay which actually gave the view some kind of an added nostalgia.

All told, I felt in love with the place such that every single night I ever was in Subic, I considered it a capital offense not to visit Pier One whether for early evening cocktails, heavy dinners or even night caps. Of course I had to tell, convince and encourage everyone to check the place out! Family, friends, officemates, chat buddies, ex-classmates, foreign guests, balikbayans, new acquaintances and virtually everyone I knew had to know. I told them it was far from the Pier One branches of QC, The Fort, Boracay or anywhere else (including the one that closed in Libis which is actually replicated by that one in QC)! And none of them said I was wrong, for indeed it was such a fine place, the best place actually, in the whole of Subic.

Now, here is what you will find at Pier One - Subic
(as of March 12 2005)
Upon entry, the parking is still the same (no frills), the lectern and staff also still there BUT it will be a miracle if someone escorted you to a table. They are busier these days as even a group of 14 year old out-of-school boys in their expensive “spartan tsinelas” and loud – even lewd manners can afford to have a night-out in this place. Not that I am being so discriminating of the not so well-off. But, this place did not look to me like a public market almost a year back. Sorry.

The kiosks, the lighting, the tables, chairs are still the same. But there is more!

Beyond the usual tables and kiosks (which are at road-level), you go some two or three steps lower to the concreted "sand-area". Instead of the glass-top tables and wrought iron chairs of last year, you will see an ocean of white monobloc chairs skirting around square, round or rectangular monobloc tables! The monobloc chairs and tables, being so light, are strewn all over the place since when the crowds move around, these things do fly off easily! Oh yes, and they are just bare monobloc furnitures! No table cloth, no nothing! Just the plastics in their plastic selves! Oh yes yes, it could be that the kind management of this establishment wanted to accommodate their growing clientele at the least of expenses.

Pier One also spent money to build a roof over this monobloc infested area – which we can aptly call "the monobloc pavilion"! The roofing is of good material! Some people call it fiber-glass. I just want to call it plastic. At least it compliments the monoblocs! The roof is high up and well-built so that you will still have a view of the band. But no more night-sky or airplane views! Plus you can be sure that when it drizzles in this place, the roof will be of little significance towards your keeping dry. It’s so high up. And this being a beach area, thus, windy will naturally blow any raindrop to every nook that this plastic roof might be attempting to cover! Looking at this place from a little distance (like by the comfort rooms), you will feel like looking at a barangay hall or some basketball court donated by a congressman! Get the picture?!

So there you are! You came bragging about a cool hip place and you find nothing different from a Christmas Party of some factory workers or a “Sayawan Sa Barangay” in some far flung province! To complete that "sayawan-sa-kalsada" atmosphere, all that you would need really are just banderitas and some stray dogs. Stray Dogs?! Well, yes, because in this place the cats reign supreme under your tables and seats! One Korean guest even playfully raised one of those cats by its tail! After that, the animal scampered away, but no sooner, it was back to scavenge for food under tables and chairs.

My aghast does not end there. You look front to immediately think that the management of Pier One wants oh so dearly to have any view of the bay disappear from your sights. They have raised the outsized stage such that if you are seated in any of the monobloc chairs, you’ll have to strain your neck watching the band. And that is not all! They put up wide-screens on either side of the stage! I mean really wide screens that I think these could each be 20 feet wide. So they do cover the whole sea view. And you thought Pier One wanted to take advantage of the sea-breeze & sea-view, which is probably why they erected such a place there?! No they don’t. Now I wonder why they didn’t instead erect this branch on Olongapo’s main strip! For indeed, this place is better located there.

Just what do you expect to see in those wide-screens anyway? Well, sosyal ito! They had the money to spend on a camera and a crew member to keep an all-night trailing of video shots on the people eating, drinking or trying to have fun in this place! No, I would not even talk about privacy since this is a public place! Once in this place, you will surely be caught by that camera!

As you would have thought, except for the band and the stage (which sits right in between the two screens anyway) any other shot (therefore displayed on the wide video screens) are very poor night shots! If you are a video buff, and I am happy I have my DCR-PC115, a night-shot is a setting on your video cam to make the most out of a dark subject. Yes you can see the subject but instead of the usual colors it will appear as “black-and-green”. Any dark color becomes black and light colors become different shades of green – from milky green to emerald green to dark green to black! Not to mention that your view of the subject seems infested with a million flies or mosquitoes! Not only that, on a night-shot, due to inability of the camera to distinguish colors (its only concern in this mode is light versus dark and not yellow versus blue or red) the eyes of anyone caught on cam tends to look like that of an owl or a pussycat!

The food. Oh the food! Your appetite does go with your surroundings, right?! Here is what my friend ordered for dinner: pancit! And I had SanMigLight! I don’t even remember if this place had noodles in their menu back in May ‘04. Oh yes, after four follow-ups, the pancit did arrive in a dripping-wet plastic plate (from Divisoria, no less)! And how did the pancit come to us? Well, we watched the waiter with our pancit in hand first go bring the bill of another monobloc table, and after talking to them proceeded to drop the pancit on our table and disappeared lightning fast! I stood up to get tissue (ok ok, kung napkin ang tawag dun e di napkin) from another table!

Let’s try finishing my distaste of this place with the “new” crowd. Sorry if I may trod right smack on the faces of some people reading this, but the crowd that frequents Pier One is not anymore like they were less than a year ago. Common are street kids in their exaggerated low-waist outfits where those “definitely fake” Bench or Tommy H briefs already show. Of course these are complemented by equally escha-peyk bench or mossimo shirts. And what more, in this place where the management does not seem to want to have anything to do with the beach or the ocean, the “must-wear footwear” are fake Islander sandals and its myriad varieties – including, but not limited to Spartan and Bantex! Here’s a fact more that I do wish is temporary: many of those you’ll find sitting in those monobloc chairs are themselves the carpenters and helpers from those construction works that are in progress beside Pier One and sprouting along this strip! And it seemed to me like a rule that everyone’s sentence must either start or end with “tangina pare” or “putangina talaga”!

Let me cap it with my final observation. All you would need is for Pier One to: 1) remove the remaining tables and chairs that are not made of monobloc; 2) dump their menu in a series of kalderos each, and line those calderos by the counter at what used to be a “bar”! Then, you will have the biggest turo-turo carinderia in the country! I SWEAR!

You guessed it right! While still trying to stomach the pancit, we asked for the bill which we knew would be coming after a decade, then without bothering to get our change which could have been just a few pesos anyway, we stood and hurried to Sibil right beside!

Sibil?! Oh it’s a different grand lovely story altogether – which I should be writing about too! The place is really, really coolest cool! I think, this will become my new tambayan in Subic. But then again, am still a fan of Gerry’s Grill.

BY THE WAY (and I always finish my topics on this tune), while trying to eat our pancit, some filthy little boys (probably 14 or 15) were having fun elbowing us by purpose or blowing their smoke towards us – since the monobloc tables are cramped too close together. As this act kept going, I noticed they were trying to strike a conversation. One of them winked and threw a hungry tongue around his lips as another of their companions said: “Welcome to Philippines”! Napagkamalan pa akong pedophile!

Bottomline, nowadays, this place is really CHEAP, how so ever you want to define that word, Pier One in Subic is really truly CHEAP!


  1. pathetic. go kill yourself.

  2. ^^^ sa fellow anonymous "commenter". i am aware 2005 pa ang article na ito, but the details comparing 2004 and 2005 are very specific. could you please site specifics as to why you want the author to kill himself? or did you mean "pathetic" ang pier one and not the author? anything misplaced in the writer's descriptions? we going there in December, so I want to know. actually i have read a similar review of the place. baka naman nagbago na. please tell us

  3. Not only their food is garbage and the prices are through the roof, the servers should be trained to be hospitable and not argue with the customers. I will never go back to this place nor recommend it.