“Farewell Woman, I intend, Henceforth, every night to sit, With my lewd well nature friend, Drinking, to engender wit.” John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester ‘Love a Woman!’
By Alex P. Vidal
Can stall owners maintaining the so-called “Brgy. Monay” inside the Iloilo central market still regain their spaces if the Central Business District revitalization project pushes through?
The answer is yes, if we follow the logic put forward by city hall officials led by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who assured vendors no one would be displaced “as long as they are legitimate.”
Brgy. Monay is not one of the city’s 180 villages. It’s not an official name of any section inside the metropolis’ widest and busiest public market. “Monay” is a colloquial word for vagina. The word “Brgy. Monay” or “Vagina Village” was coined by beer drinkers who frequent a seemingly rambunctious portion inside the Aldeguer Street entrance of the Iloilo central market.
The other gates are on Guanco Street, corner Guanco-Rizal Streets, corner Iznart-Rizal Streets (Maria Clara), corner Aldeguer-Iznart Streets, and a small entrance from Hoskyn’s Compound on J.M. Basa Street. In these gates are easily found the fish, meat, rice, vegetables, fruits, dried fish, kitchen wares, native products, and batchoy sections.
Brgy. Monay started as a cuss remark, a masa joke. And the joke became a by-word — until some parents forbid minors from straying in that area mainly because of its purported pruprient notoriety. The place’s “bad image” did not develop overnight.
Brgy. Monay actually is a veritable open “beer house” hub maintained by different owners in separate stalls catering to off-duty habitues and the hoi polloi. The come-ons include unlimited and cheap pulutan or sumsuman such as bar-b-q pork and chicken, squid, sinugba fish, talaba, and pig intestines. Friendly ladies join the table at the customers’ behest.
There was no evidence though that stall owners tolerated prostitution and the like in Brgy. Monay. However, two former Iloilo City councilors and several city hall officials and employees have confirmed the presence of suspected sex workers who mix in cognito with beer servers and entertain willing customers.
“Pag pungko mo pa lang wala ka pa ka order beer may naga pangilay na nga chicks. May naga pa cute na. Dugay dugay ara na sa lamisa mo (Upon your arrival and before ordering a beer, a lady is already giving you a wink and trying to get your attention. Then she will approach and join your table),” disclosed former city councilor and now lotto results reporter Restituto “Agent Kurantay” Jotes, Jr.
The late former city councilor German Gonzalez observed that when a customer went to the toilet, a “smiling” lady would follow him “and God knows what happened next because they returned to the table after 20 to 30 minutes.”
“Ano may kuwarto dira sa tupad kasilyas? Naga ano sila didto naga rosaryo? (Is there a separate room adjacent the toilet? What were they doing there? Praying the rosary?),” the late alderman once asked Francisco “Ompoy” Pastrana, his former protege in the broadcast media.
Pastrana, who used to frequent the place together with former Bombo Radyo colleague Tony Masculino in early 90’s to relax and discuss events of the day, just smiled and answered “ambot ay” (I don’t know).
Jotes’ plan to pass a council resolution requiring all “pink ladies” loitering in the area to get a health card from the city health office, was nixed when no one was willing to testify in a public hearing that prostitution existed in Brgy. Monay. Stall owners swore they only served beer and pulutan or sumsuman, nothing more.
Adjoining stalls operate a small karaoke or videoke area while serving beer. “They probably called the place Brgy. Monay in reference to the presence of some scantily-clad ladies spotted serving beer to customers,” commented the late city councilor Eduardo Laczi. “So far, we haven’t received reports that minors worked in that place or served beer to customers.”
Former city hall task for on prostitution, lewd shows and anti-drug abuse chairs Toto Espinosa and Dr. Erwin Plagata laughed off rumors that Brgy. Monay is a “temple of small-time prostitution. No evidence of indecency and illegal activities in that place whatsoever, they argued. “Puro kotso-kotso (everything is just a gossip),” Espinosa said.
Former city councilor Rolando Dabao had suspected that Brgy. Monay gained its bad reputation because some rowdy and drunken customers talked about their conquest with hookers.
“Brgy. Monay is a myth,” stressed a retired city prosecutor, who used to go there with lawyer friends. “We have been in that place for several times in the past, and no pink lady or whatever has distracted our happy hour.”
“Kon tuod gid man nga madamu alpot diri, tani nagreklamo na si meyor eh kay permi man siya da (If it is true that the place is a prostitution den the first person to complain should be the mayor because he also frequented this place),” said storekeeper Doming “Boy Bangrus” Agado.
He was referring to former Mayor Mansueto Malabor, who called as “inagi na ya (gayish outburst)” suggestions to clamp down on night clubs and other night spots in the city, including the notorious Brgy. Monay.
“How can we attract tourists to come to our city if there is no night life in Iloilo City?” Malabor sighed. “I don’t think Brgy. Monay is a serious matter. It does not even exist. It’s only an imagination. Hinubog nga istorya ina (It’s a drunken men’s tale).”
“It’s a common knowledge that pick up girls visit the area from time to time hoping to be spotted by drunken customers,” admitted former city hall sergeant-at-arms Tony Frias. “May ara gid ya eh. Ang iban galing naga pa hipokrito pa (Others are just hypocrites),” hissed Leonardo Grande, who calls Malabor “pare Mansing.”
Will the proposed Central Business District revitalization project, which will be handled by private sector, finally erase Brgy. Monay from the map?