When I used to go to Boracay with my family, I would already see this bar. But, I never went. For one thing, my mom wouldn’t have let her teenager mingle with the tatooed, dreaded men who hung out there. The other reason was, I was also a bit intimidated by these people. They looked like they had their own little world, and I would’ve felt like a freaking poseur if I joined them.
Well this time, it was different.
On this particular visit, Ezra and I decided to spend our first night exploring the Boracay nightlife. Unfortunately, the first couple of hours were uneventful.
We spent the early evening watching a disappointing display of dancing titos and titas in Club Paraw. Not willing to give up just yet, we decided to search for a less nauseating hangout. We passed a couple of other bars with the usual big, burly caucasian men sitting with the tiny local women. And just as we were beginning to think that that was all the off season nightlife had to offer us, we heard bonggos…
Lo and behold, Bom Bom Bar.
We were easily seduced by the bar's low wooden chairs and tables, their little lamps, the live reggae music and the warm, easy crowd.
Soon Ezra and I were smiling from ear to ear. We thought we found our happy place. We drank our cocktails, bobbed our heads and “aww-yeahed” to the music that was flowing. Then, one of the musicians approached us. Lloyd, the funny guy, who sang a reggae version of Obladi Oblada, my favorite cover so far, sat down with us and introduced us to the rest of the Bom Bom people.
Why the hell was I so intimidated before? These people are super friendly! They chatted with us, asked about a lot, like where we lived, where we worked, even what computer programs we used at work (see, they’re so friendly, they pretend to be interested). At one point, Lloyd even put on an afro wig to mock Ezra. I have to say, they looked identical. Haha!
Soon, the Bom Bom boys invited us to dance. Apparently, we had perfect timing. Bambi, the owner was celebrating his birthday that same night, and there was a steady flow of Tanduay and Tequila.
Later, almost everyone was on the dance floor, bumping and bouncing, even crawling on the sandy dance floor. Actually, that was just Jun, the guy who was way more wasted than anyone there. I think he scared some of the foreigners with his “stunts.” Try imagining a half-naked man doing a cross between horny monkey and gymnastics on the tent poles.
Needless to say, we had a great time. I think anyone who would hang out in Bom Bom would feel the same. For me, it’s the perfect place for (as my officemate would say it) “chillin’ like a villain.” I mean, why go to a beach to listen to house or R'n’B? That's all you hear in Manila. The raw beats of the Bom Bom drums perfectly complement the feeling of sand between my toes and the cool island breeze blowing from the sea.
Obvioulsy, Bom Bom Bar passes my Happy Test with flying colors. Here are a few more things you might be interested to know:
Bom Bom’s Name
I think most people assume the name comes from the sound of the native drums, I did. But the truth is, the name was given by the old owner Jojo, who christened it after a Taiwanese term for sex. So before you go proclaiming “I love Bom Bom!” check if anyone understands.
Suddenly the phrase “Bom Bom rocks my world!” is juicier than I thought. Wahaha.
Bom Bom Bar shares their stage with their neighbor Pat's Bar. If I remember correctly the owners are related. And since they share the same entertainment the ambience is also the same.
They’re every bit as cool and as friendly as they look. The people you’d see serving and performing in Bom Bom will also most likely be spotted training for sports such as dragonboat, ultimate and skim boarding. They’ve actually won competitions here and abroad too! Their other daily activities are mountain climbing, cliff-diving, beach soccer, volleyball and a lot of other things you probably wish you were doing right now.
The musicians don't seem to have a permanent set-up. They usually come and go or swap instruments during sets. It really is just like one big jamming session. Visitors are also encouraged to join and pound on the drums. You'll notice in some of my photos, a Korean mom and her kid joined the merry music-making.
I was told a drink called Mai Island is their specialty. I wasn’t able to try it though, but I bet it’s good. Whoever can share what it’s like, lemme know.
I keep telling myself, someday, I’m gonna earn enough money, go to Boracay and live like the Bom Bom guys. Wake up in the island everyday, run, jump, swim, train for sports, watch the bar at night, play music, drink, make friends…etc. but I forget that once, these people also came from this crowded and polluted side of the country. They told me they came to Boracay, with almost nothing except for their resolution to give up everything for life on the island.
You mean, no Starbucks?
Well it’s gonna take some time ‘til I have the guts to do that, and until then, (ahem! with my own version of Lloyd’s song)
Obladi Oblada, my-corporate-sellout-life goes on…lalalala life goes on.