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"He Who Runs The Clubs, Runs The City"

An oral history of how a partygoing elite reshaped Manila nightlife into a world-class empire
IMAGE Francisco Guerrero
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Eventologist Tim Yap, Chef Fern Aracama, and DJ Jon Herrera bought into Erik Cua’s vision while everyone else scoffed. Together, they formed Embassy, a game-changing superclub that shaped how Filipinos partied in the mid-noughties and beyond.

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GP REYES: I remember distinctly being in a meeting outside of Nuvo in Greenbelt in 2004. Down the block, I saw Erik sketching something. Back then, I only knew him as the “Temple Guy.” I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I’m going to build this superclub.” I asked him, where? The Fort, he said. And I said, “That’s fucking suicide, man.”

JON HERRERA: If you look at the whole The Fort development, we started it. He who runs the clubs, runs the city.

ERIK CUA: I opened Temple Bar in Greenbelt 2 in 2003. We were among the first tenants. We initially focused on being a restaurant; in Manila it’s hard to be both a restaurant and a bar. People don’t want to party where they eat. Back then, Louie Ysmael, who owned Nuvo just a few steps away, and I didn’t really talk. I was the new kid on the block, and we didn’t have many common friends. Club owners attract their own crowd, so Nuvo’s was more mature and sophisticated. Temple’s was much younger and high energy. And our music was louder.

TIM YAP: Before Embassy, I was throwing parties every other day for all the clubs, bars, brands, products. I would throw a party for Temple Bar, then I would be throwing parties for Venezia, too. People think I’m a party boy—yeah, I am; but more than that, I’m a party observer. I go to a party not to drink and get wasted. I will be there to observe how people consumed, behaved, and flirted.

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LOUIE YSMAEL: Tim would do parties in one of my bars, V- Bar; he had the connections with the models, and the creativity to make those nights work. He would charge me a flat fee, and I would get the funding from sponsors. Also, Stephen Ku, one of our current partners in Opus, used to do “Ebony Grooves” and “Dynamite Tuesday” in V-Bar. He got all the kids in there, and it became the biggest night of the week until the shooting outside the bar in 2005. Then the shit hit the fan. Binay didn’t want cars parked outside anymore, the reason being that anyone could go to his car and grab his gun. By then, smoking was banned inside clubs in Makati. Then Erik put up Embassy in 2005. smoking was allowed in Taguig, and there was lots of parking—people started to gravitate there.


"It’s such a pleasure working with a great group of young and dynamic partners,” says Louie Ysmael who has been in the night clubbing industry for over 35 years now, and is considered a mentor by many of his young partners. “It’s a real trip to have this synergy with them.”

FERN ARACAMA: Being neighbors in Greenbelt 2, Erik and I—he had Temple Bar; I had Uva—would meet to bitch about our Ayala landlord.

STEPHEN KU: I started nightlife after college because I was singing in a band. For six years, professionally. It was called Fat Sessions, a ‘70s band under Wyngard Tracy, the manager of side A. so I was singing in a lot of bars—Strumm’s, Hard Rock, Dish—so I got to know the industry, and eventually I got into events and put up my own events company, Eventscape. From there, I met Louie Y, who was at that time about to close V-Bar because it wasn’t making money. He goes, “I need you to help me promote my bar.” I didn’t hesitate. I had met this DJ—his name is Jon Herrera. We did a kickass party in Boracay. Louie goes, you can have Tuesday nights. I go, sige, let’s give it a try.

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FERN: Out of the blue, I think in 2003, he just blurted out, “Hey, I’m thinking of putting together an entertainment, club, lounge, and restaurant complex in The Fort. I had this perplexed look on my face. The Fort? What’s happening there? “I have this concept. I have this thing in mind. It’s huge,” he said. “But I don’t really know you,” I told him. We both laughed.

TIM: When I was a kid I wanted to be a tourism ambassador. I thought of the name, Embassy, because, for me, everyone is an ambassador. You can see how a country is on the dance floor. You can see when they let their hair down who they really are.

"All the doubters and all the haters, they’re our fans now. Everyone was a hater. I think people weren’t happy for us because they weren’t part of our success."

JON: “I’m thinking of doing this thing at The Fort,” Erik told me when he was conceptualizing Embassy. In 2003, I didn’t really know Fern or Tim. Everyone back then turned Erik down. Every one of his partners now turned him down. There were no visionaries. everyone was too safe. When he brought it up to me, I said, “That’s crazy. That’d be awesome. I’m in. What do I do now?” I never doubted him. I remember I had to raise around three million pesos back then.

FERN: One morning around 2004, probably January, Erik calls asking if I’ve decided. About what, I asked. “The superclub at The Fort,” he answered. By that afternoon, I said, all right, I’m in. It was actually an easy “yes” for me because it just seemed like the right direction for me to take. I’d dug deep enough into Greenbelt to have reinforced my brand there. Time to see what’s coming out in another city. I was especially excited about Embassy Cuisine and Embassy Cafeteria.

ERIK: I’ve designed all my clubs and handled interior design, construction management, and even buying furniture. so I kinda already had the entire concept after I looked at the space and signed a five-year lease.

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JON: All the doubters and all the haters, they’re our fans now. Everyone was a hater. I think people weren’t happy for us because they weren’t part of our success. Humble pie tastes different now.

 
EMBASSY OPENS

LOUIE: There was a need again for something like Euphoria, you know what I mean? The last big clubs aside from Rumors in the late '80s were mine—Stargazer, Louie Y’s, Euphoria. Euphoria went on for 12 years until I sold it, and it continued with its original name, Where Else? But, you know, Marcel [Crespo] bought it, and it was kinda short lived. It became Icon, and was kinda like, well, sleazy.

TIM: I am one of the hardest-working people in nightlife. I made sure I called everyone, gave them flyers for the opening night of Embassy. There was no time to be nervous. Just do everything you can. No drinks...you don’t have your drinks yet? I’m gonna go run to the bar, rush the waiter, get that drink, give it to you, and get you another one again later. The VIP Room already had too many people? I would close the door and lean on it while people were pushing against it. Everything was hands-on learning. We had no bouncers then yet.

ERIK: Within a year of opening Temple Bar, I began thinking of opening a “superclub.” In 2003, all the bars were small, and I felt there was a void. I treated myself as my own target market. At that time, that whole strip at The Fort where Embassy opened was closed. It had been alive at one point, but vacant for three years. When I went here, it was already dilapidated, and rent was cheap. The anti-smoking ordinance in Makati also played a role. You could smoke in Taguig.

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FERN: We only had one door to the VIP Room, and it only opened in one direction. I remember, you couldn’t go in, and you couldn’t get out. I never knew the power of labels until we said: this is the VIP Room. I had the shortest guest-list page. Tim had the longest.

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"Everybody would pitch in during the first few months of Embassy. I was the doorman, the GRO, the waiter—never the DJ, but everything else!"

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GP: Embassy revolutionized everything in the sense that before you would get these small 200-square-meter spaces, then suddenly you have this place that can fit 500 to 1,000 people. It democratized clubbing. It made people come together in one gigantic place. And it also segregated the place! Because then you had the VIP Room, then you had the Champagne Room, then you had the [bottle-service] tables.

FERN: Embassy Cuisine opened in December 2004, and everyone thought it was a lounge instead of a restaurant. Holy crap, I thought, where is everybody coming from? Then, Embassy Cafeteria was supposed to help you load up before you go to the superclub. And when you come down, you take a break, and then take a big bowl of arroz caldo for sobering up before going home. We designed it to be very homegrown and very approachable. And the price must be managed as well. We didn’t want to make it too expensive. So, I think we managed to sell Filipino breakfasts for less than 200 pesos up until we closed.

JON: In Embassy, I was mostly involved in the promotional processes. I introduced the bottle service. I introduced the VIP room. Erik didn’t really understand the concept of bottle service. I told him this was what they were doing in Vegas and New York. Our international clients at embassy couldn’t believe we had no bottle service. I told Erik it wasn’t about the bottle, it was about the experience. It’s like buying real estate at the club. How it works is that patrons get a card, get walked to their table by a VIP hostess, and pre-order. I obsessed about the details. If you sell guests a bottle, then give them glasses, ice, a velvet rope, lime, bring girls if they want—don’t wait for them to ask.

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TIM: In our team before, there was no official title, no official duties. It was like a school project. Everybody would pitch in during the first few months of Embassy. I was the doorman, the GRO, the waiter—never the DJ, but everything else!

FERN: I was extremely surprised by the instant success of Embassy. It felt, in a way, powerful. It felt unreal to begin with, and I guess it was just because of the scale. It wasn’t perceived success—it was really there happening in front of us on a daily basis. And I don’t want to say I’m ashamed of it, but at the same time it kind of revealed how unprepared we were for that onslaught, for that sheer pandemonium, for the long lines.


"In terms of going out, I was a late bloomer,” says Erik Cua, who graduated Business Management in De La Salle University at 19. He opened Basement in Eastwood City in 2002, and Temple the following year. 

PUTTING OUT FIRES

ASLIE ASLANIAN: So, I texted Tim. I heard you need a door bitch, I told him. Oh my god, you’re perfect, he answered. I started May 27, 2005. Erik had no idea what was coming! And I was really quite fierce and rude. Like, “What are you wearing? Are you going to the mall?” Erik would be cringing behind me because he’s such a nice guy.

TIM: [When there was trouble], I would be the one who would stop the fight. You know Filipino men, matamaan mo lang ng konti, away na. All of a sudden they’re like snappy, fighting over boundaries, rights of space. so, one of them is a [trained] fighter, and whenever he gets mad at somebody, he becomes possessed. And I remember the bouncer couldn’t stop him. you know that I am very meek, but when it’s required, I can be a super dragon! If you’re tough, I’m tougher. The nice ones...when they get mad, they’re scarier!

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FERN: I think I was the most affected among the four of us about the brawls, etc. I didn’t want us to be a house of ill repute. It was very disheartening for me simply because, beyond the image I guess that you are trying to project, we were actually responsible for the livelihoods of our growing staff. We had to own up to the brawls that happened here. Like I said, we underestimated the club’s popularity. So, security became, if I remember correctly, our biggest investment. In Republiq, we hired a Frenchman, a professional with a stellar resume. He showed us more efficient protocols.

KIM YAO: I remember the stabbing of a politician’s son inside Embassy Cuisine in 2009. That’s what really closed down Embassy. I was there that night, but left to have dinner with my family. The staff called me, not Erik, because they didn’t know what to do. The club was closed for the next three months.

ASLIE: When there’s a fight between two VIPs, both have their bodyguards and private armies. our bouncers are just there, but they’re not gonna stop the tension. I will just automatically go right in, and it cuts the air because I’m trusted by everybody. I grew up with either their aunts’ aunt or uncles or cousins or sisters. My tentacles are everywhere—I know all the subcultures. So, I come in, and it’s like being a respected matriarch. And, like, I’m taller; I have the look. I won’t be aggressive. I’ll see who is the more reasonable and calm them down. The height is definitely an advantage, with heels, though, you know.

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"I remember the stabbing of a politician’s son inside Embassy Cuisine in 2009...The club was closed for the next three months."

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TIM: I remember one time I was in a birthday party of some showbiz person. And I was so tired, and I was sick. Then who do I see in the toilet? Louie Y. And then I go, I’m really tired. I’m really feeling sick, and I’m not in the mood to go out tonight. And he goes, “You know, Tim, our role in life is to be glorified GROs. From then on, that changed my perspective when it comes to being a club owner. I’m there to be of service to people. To make them feel extra at home in whatever establishment I am a part of.

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FERN: I was telling my friends: wow, I have my own club! But I couldn’t really party like everyone else because I was there in an operational position. I couldn’t shit on my own backyard.

JON: I brought in Steve Aoki in 2006. No one knew him. Who’s this weird guy, people asked. He’s just a hipster, they said. Well, he’s now one of the top 10 DJs.

ASLIE: I was this foreign bitch, right? And then three months after I started, I decided to quit smoking after 26 years. I basically gained 35 pounds in six months, and became even more impatient. And I wasn’t really wearing so much makeup at that time, and I looked so fierce. And basically, it took me a year and a half to take the bull by the horns. As long as I was there, people lined up. If I’m not there, you’d see people milling around. And I’m like, “Hey, I want a line! That’s not a line—that’s a gathering. So, people, line up or nobody’s fucking getting in!” I would even stop politicians from going in because, one, I’m fierce-looking; two, I’m a foreigner; and three, I speak Tagalog. The concept is basically it takes a spoiled brat to deal with a spoiled brat.

GP: Stephen and I would handle Saturday Nights, which was called “sleepless.” To my mind, it was the most successful club night in the Embassy mystique. The weekend before we got shut down, we counted with a ticker 1800 people who came in and out.

TIM: Around 2007, when all these [anti-Gucci gang] hate blogs exploded against members of society, people were afraid to go out. But that was like giving in to the online terrorists, so I said, no, you must not be afraid to go out. I never stopped.

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GP: Embassy was this little community where everybody knew everyone. And everybody during that time had something to prove. you know, that’s where people like Tim became who he was...people like Robbie Carmona, Manolet Dario—people from different industries who wanted to excel. We all knew each other, and we all were of a certain accomplishment. And that, I think, was the magic of Embassy. When you would walk into Embassy, you knew that everybody that was there had some sort of accomplishment to brag about. Versus now, because the scene has gotten so big.

ASLIE: Prior to Embassy were the ecstasy years, so everyone was in warehouses. This was a return to glam. you know, the last one was probably Euphoria. Eventually, I didn’t have to be at the door. I’m on standby. But I just walked around the club—Republiq, Opus, and Cabana.


"You know it was amazing because I’ve never seen all of the who’s who that you would think you know,“ says Fernando Aracama. “They really came. When you said VIPs, you can point them all out.”


GP: Members Only was really created as an answer to Embassy getting too packed. It was supposed to work in tandem with Embassy. It was a sanctuary.

FERN: Members Only was a great concept because of the attention to detail. I think Erik was really maturing. You would see that very stately room—taxidermy animals, old books, bric-a-brac, very well appointed, well thought-of cocktail menu. The service was very well trained, very personalized. But its exclusivity was its chink in the armor. Maybe too much snob appeal?

LOUIE: I invested in Opus and Prive Luxury Club. I don’t concern myself with management, but I do join management-committee meetings every so often. My first venture with them was Members Only in 2007. Iñigo Zobel was part of that, although that was only play money for him. Members Only didn’t fly too well. It wasn’t swinging enough because it was too exclusive, and it was a chore collecting dues so we decided to re-conceptualize, and Prive was born.

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CLOSED BOOK

JON: In 2006, Embassy closed down on my birthday, June 15. I needed to rest for a month. In our industry, there’s no such thing as a holiday because holidays are our workdays. Not everyone can keep up with this business, with all the bullshit. Embassy was such a great time because everything was so new. My vision was to put the Philippines on the map. And when people came to the Philippines, they had to go to Embassy. I really wanted the Philippines to be bigger than Singapore in five years.

FERN: We all showed up, with our lawyers, to the municipal meeting. Maamo naman kami; we genuflected. It was a very humbling and surreal experience. These are things you never expect to do when you run a business. While Tim was still fairly flamboyantly dressed for the occasion, it was still a very antiseptic government atmosphere. We knew Mayor Tiñga, but the vice mayor was doing most of the talking. But we knew why we were here—it was to ask what we were willing to do to operate again. I remember wearing white.

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"We knew Mayor Tiñga, but the vice mayor was doing most of the talking. But we knew why we were here—it was to ask what we were willing to do to operate again."

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ERIK: The curfew imposed [in 2008] wasn’t just for Embassy. In the beerhouses in the other parts of Taguig, people were getting killed in bar fights. When the closure order came [in 2009], we had no rivals—other clubs like Ascend and Establishment had opened, but we were still number one. When the City of Taguig closed down Embassy in 2009, I was in shock. I couldn’t think. I treat all my establishments like my kids. The only saving grace was that I had already been planning to open Republiq soon.

JON: Aside from Republiq, I became part of Aracama, and Prive in the old Members Only. The most bizarre night in Republiq was when I saw the Black Eyed Peas, Ashanti, David Copperfield, and Michael Bolton all in one night. What was Michael Bolton doing in there?

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ERIK: Republiq is much bigger than Embassy, around 2000 square meters in total. Embassy was maybe 900 square meters, if you include the mezzanine. Republiq was still between the four of us—Tim, Fern, John, and me. I was president and head of operations, but once you have good people, it gets easier. In Embassy, I had one marketing person. If you walked into the marketing office in Republiq, you’ll see around 15 girls. Republiq was much easier to do because we knew which key people to hire. From Republiq until today, there has been no major security incident. We made sure the walkways were clear, plus we’re very strict with drugs. Very strict.

KIM: In Republiq, we learned to turn the bottle service into a show, Vegas-style. A pretty girl will walk you to your table, endorse you to a waiter, push a better brand of champagne, which of course is more expensive, plus the sparklers thing. It’s not enough to just sell a table and say, “you guys enjoy. Bye!’”


“It matters very much that I’m a woman,” says Aslie Aslanian, (here with the gang’s two other important muses, Kim and KC) "A Filipino, or a Filipina, cannot do my job in the same fierceness that I do it. They’ll get shot.”

PRIVE

KIM: One day, Erik approached me and said, “Hey, what do you want to do with your life?” It was one of those random conversations, but that’s how I ended up being a partner in Prive. I thought he was joking, but it turned out really well. By then, Republiq was a year-and-a-half old and had lost its novelty for the spending crowd, who started going to Prive?. I believed The Fort was where it was going to be for the next five years. Makati was over because of the whole no-smoking thing.

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LOUIE: In Prive, Erik Cua and his family were the majority owners. Then it’s me, GP Reyes, Inigo Zobel, Tim Yap, JM Rodriguez, Kim Yao, and KC Santi. The partying is the same, but the people had changed. The music and the conversation were more sophisticated before. Like anywhere in the world, everybody wanted to be in the hot spots, which was why you need VIP rooms and tables to separate the spenders from the riffraff. A lot of the music played were remixes from the ‘80s and the ‘90s. There were individuals who ordered 20 bottles of champagne in one night, whereas before that was unheard of. Before, someone would order a bottle of champagne, and they’d value it; now, they would order and it’s like it’s water. It’s more blatant sophistication nowadays, though obviously I’m not complaining.

JM RODRIGUEZ: Erik approached me and said, “We’re changing up Members Only; we wanna make it into a club, and since you have a network because you come out on TV and you go out a lot, would you like to be a partner and invest?” I said, “sure, it’s always been my dream to own a club.” so I became a part of Prive.

KC SANTI: JM and I were like the face of Prive daw. We’re like the partners who have to go up there like three times a week. And all the partners in Prive had like one night each. I handled Wednesdays. JM, Fridays. GP, saturdays. My friends were like early-20s to early-30s. Louie’s friends were much older. They went on my night.

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“Before, someone would order a bottle of champagne, and they’d value it; now, they order and it’s like it’s water. It’s more blatant sophistication nowadays, though obviously I’m not complaining.”

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LOUIE: I introduced the privilege card concept at Stargazer and up to now it’s a fixture in every club. Harley and Big Boy Sy used to bring their dad, Henry, to Stargazer at Silahis Hotel in the 1980s. Harley once told me this story: Henry Sy and John Gokongwei were talking one day, and John was telling Henry about all the things he owned. Ito, meron ka ba?” asked Henry, whipping out his Stargazer membership card. For years, according to Harley, Henry kept that card on his desk. That card thing was a monster. People just had to have it. Eventually, it evolved into: “Can I be on the guest list?”

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KC: I really liked my Wednesdays in Prive because people went so crazy. Parang everyone knew everyone. They were all comfy. We always ended up like having a champagne shower, as in basaan ng champagne, like everyone was wet and screaming, like everyone was having a good time, everyone was on the couches and dancing. But not naman every Wednesday.

THE PROBLEMS AND PROMISE OF PROMOTERS

JON: I handled Friday nights in Embassy with Ivan Zalameda. Back then it was like, how do you do a million bucks a night? We had to mold promoters to continue our success. There would be promotions were the DJ was playing, and the dance floor would be empty. Erik would get so pissed. You have to be well rounded to be a good promoter. you should understand music and other aspects of promotion. It shouldn’t be about you. It should be about the customer.


"When I was in my early 30s, I think at that age you’re at your peak in terms of social life. You still know people in college, and then you know people who are working, and then the older people. And you still have the energy to be there every night, to drink and then recuperate. We really enjoyed it every night we were there. I think that was the secret,” says GP Reyes.

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JON: There should be a Reality TV show about who will succeed the Kings of Clubs! Actually, it might be a queen. The girls know how to manage themselves. They don’t get into the drugs. They’re more business-centric. The boys around just wanna find girls. Eighty to 90 percent of our staff is female. I’ve had male promoters who just focused on impressing women. They end up hanging with the wrong crowd and getting used. The girls are all business.

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ERIK: It’s getting harder to find the right people, the right promoters. With so much competition, we basically have to go to Ateneo and find two promoters there, go to La Salle and find two promoters there. My marketing people will ask around about who’s the most popular kid in a campus. We pay them to bring people into a specific club on certain nights. There are promoters who are out of school and therefore bring in a different crowd. Right now, there are only probably 10 outstanding promoters in the country. In Opus, for example, a promoter would think of a concept for the night, the music, hire DJs, and other sub-promoters—and typically get from five to 10 percent of the bar sales. A promoter also got a flat fee that he or she uses to pay the people under him or her. If a promoter doesn’t meet sales targets, we switch to someone else. My partners like Stephen, GP, and Jon were really the top promoters before.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR: ERIK, FERN, TIM, and JON

KIM: I used to do events when I was in Ateneo. I did an Ateneo Management Association event in the NBC Tent at The Fort one Saturday some years ago. I was the president of that organization. That night, Erik was in embassy, wondering why no one was in his club. He walked over to the Tent around 1 a.m., sees it packed, and asks who organized this party. Erik gave me his number, and told me to call him the next day so we could sit down and talk. He was also so young then.

LOUIE: Erik is the head honcho. He delegates to people he believes have certain fortes.

ERIK: At 21, I opened Jack’s Loft, a dessert bar. After that, I opened Basement, a bar, in 2002. our family had a land lease in Eastwood, and below Pho Hoa and Jack’s Loft was a basement that cost us nothing. so I asked my dad if we could try a bar out. Basement ran for seven years—[it was] successful, considering the club lifespan nowadays is three years before you have to reinvent.

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KIM: When I met Erik, he said maybe I should try promoting, meaning give him my inputs about getting people to go to his club. He wanted to expand his market. He wanted me to bring in girls 18-and-above to Embassy. I did this on weekends because I was still a junior in college. Erik was my mentor, and we became really good friends. Being both Chinese, we had the same traditional upbringing. And we both didn’t go the traditional way. He was always the one pushing me to do something else. Like him, I was never into the family business.

JON: Fern’s a Scorpio, I’m a Gemini. We get along so well. Tim is a butterfly. Erik is sometimes too nervous. But we need that balance. We all remain friends. We’ve never fought about money.


Tim Yap used to deliver all the anniversary speeches at Embassy. “I don’t remember exactly but it was something like, We now have a stamp for our generation,” he says about the first speech. “And everyone’s visas are approved at Embassy.”


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WHAT COMPETITION?

JON: The competition now knows how to crack the code, but that was the old safe.

ERIK: Every time we perceived a threat from the competition, we would expand or do something new. For example, we were dominating The Fort and the whole AB market, and I hear Club Ascend was opening. Their owners asked me out for dinner, and we talked. Basically, what I did was acquire the old MTV building and expanded Embassy. The week before they opened, we opened.

JM: Look at Singapore, it’s so small, but there are so many bars doing well. so I think if you kill the notion that there’s only this much percentage of people that are going to the bars, and just open your mind to all these other people that actually go out and ll all the other bars, there’s a space for everything. And I think the success of one bar in one certain area is the success of every bar because people love to barhop. And I’m not scared of other people opening up clubs in the same area because Filipinos love to hop—they won’t stay in one place.

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KIM: Anyone with money can open a club. It’s one thing to open it, and another to make it work. There are people who spend 80 to 90 million to open a club, but they don’t know what they’re doing. We obviously have a formula that works, but the formula changes all the time.

ERIK: Even with new clubs coming up, our revenues are bigger than ever. Competition worries us, but it makes us think of ways to stay on top.


As Louie did before him, Erik has learned to appreciate the merits of working with a younger generation. “We’re getting older and maybe losing touch with the younger crowd. To keep in touch with the youth, we look for people who really go out every night and partner with them. I realize that to keep growing, I needed different partners who could bring different things to the table.”

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LOUIE: A lot of people have now learned how to work this industry. It’s no longer an owned-by-hotel/run-by-Louie Y thing, like my first venture with my initial set of partners at Euphoria. I’ve been doing this for 32 years and counting. Most of the frontliners in other clubs aside from ours have at one point or another worked for or with me. I’m semi-retired, or as I like to say, “semi-retarded.” But I still go to meetings and visit the clubs, and give my inputs for what they’re worth. You always have to be ready for the competition. We have to maintain our standards. We should never accept a lousy crowd just to have a full place—it’s better to have a few good people than a full house of shit. You have to have good crowd control and experienced people at the door. Like in Prive?...Rolly, who has been with me since Euphoria, knows practically everyone who goes out, including their fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends and so on.

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GP: I mean, I’m very romantic in a sense that I believe that true friendships and relationships can be cultivated in this kind of scene. It’s not just about having a drink and banging the hottest chick there. It’s about making true friendship, making business relationships, and that’s what I think can still be recaptured. I mean, someone actually got married there in embassy. It’s not just about the women or the booze or the drugs or the fights. It’s really a lot of our friends now that we’ve met there that we’ve kept tight with.

JON: I can still walk out of the game because I’m so happy I did my part, like with the music, and breaking new DJs and the global sound. At 40, I don’t wanna be at the club. I want to enjoy my life, build businesses. I’m 31, and I’ve been doing this since I was 18. Your health could be used for better things. It’s not about partying for me.

FERN: When does it all end? Jon and Erik answered, “When we decide we don’t want to do it anymore.” We had a naive and optimistic spirit during the Embassy days. We had to grow up fast. When we were closing down, I was so sad. I even still have the old “passport” you needed to go to Embassy!

KIM: I got a call before. Republiq was in the Top 100 Clubs list by DJ Mag. It’s the only list that really matters. They announced it in London—after Zouk in singapore, we’re the second club in Asia, and it only took us two years while it took Zouk 12 years to get on that list. It’s something to be really proud of—Erik was crying!

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The full article was originally published in the April 2013 issue of Esquire Philippines. This version has been shortened and minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Audrey N. Carpio
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