Last Monday, April 28, 2008 the Hooters chain opened its first Philippine outlet at the Mall of Asia (MOA ) at the edge of Manila Bay. It would be interesting to see how the purveyor of a peculiarly American concept of commercial sexuality, combining the wholesome winsomeness of the girl-next-door with the blatant sexual commercialism of an admitted fantasy flesh market, would do in a conservative Catholic country like the Philippines.
Are the girls pretty, or would it be worth going out of your way, and driving all the way to MOA, for the “Hooters experience” ? The honest answer: No.
Most of the girls are shockingly plain-looking , despite the presence of Hooters girls from all over the U.S, part of the opening team intended to jump-start the Manila operations. Hooters took pains to bring together women of Filipino origin as part of its management and service training team, possibly to attract the local market and give Pinoy males something to relate to. But it’s like bringing coals to Newcastle, to use a dated analogy. The common reaction from our group: “Huh?”
The Manila Hooters girls can most charitably be described as “exotic”.
The food was passable, the prices comparable to Friday’s or Chili’s.
The owners remain mysterious, variously said to be Japanese, Americans from Guam or scions of the Philippines’ top entrepreneurial families, take your pick.
To Hooters’ credit, they pay decent wages to their waitresses, P75.00 per hour, or approximately U.S. $ 1.50 an hour, which adds up to about U.S. $12.00 per eight hour workday, excluding tips. With tips, a friendly Hooters girl can easily earn up to U.S. $ 35.00 a day, or more than four times the minimum wage earner in the Philippines.
The best thing that can be said about Hooters is it delivers on its promise:
Delightfully Tacky, Yet Unrefined.
We ended up listening to the sentimental soundtrack of the musical “South Pacific” at a friend’s house, played on vinyl, using an old-fashioned, well-maintained turntable. Vacuum tubes too. Am I getting old or what ?
Frank Rich of the NYT writes about the Broadway revival of “South Pacific” and its contemporary overtones.