Ok time to get back to it. I opted for a busy spot with plenty of foot traffic, receptionist at the MNL boutique hostel suggested the main shopping area. I had all my gear with me as I was heading to the airport immediately after. So it began, the usual 30 - 45 min scout around of the proposed busking area. The first thing, besides the humid weather, that offered a spot of bother was the security in the shopping mall. This was not the smartest place to do a busking slot I suddenly realised. It was open plan, pretty quiet and there was a security guard standing on eitherside of the courtyard every let's say 100 m. It wasn't looking good but I'll b damned if I was going to try after coming all this way!
Ok, enough walking around was done. I decided, for some strange reason, to ask one of the security guards could I play for an hour on the sidewalk and that I was a professional musician from Ireland. Although a friendly chat ensued ,the outcome was as expected, i.e. no, you need a license here. With a cheeky smile, I told him I'd keep walking knowing that I'd probably set up further up, he followed me a few yards but then gave up. In hindsight that was a stupid thing to do, drawing attention to yourself before actually doing anything. The only place I could find out of sight of any security was a boarded alleyway at one side of the shopping center, there was construction going on. It was relatively quiet, had some foot traffic and was shrouded from the guards as much as I could see.
So it began, I left my backpack down and started tuning up. I had no guitar pick either, making it uncomfortable for my fingernails when strumming and lacking on volume from the guitar itself. I wasn't a few songs in when a security guard came over in a tightly fitted white shirt and told me that I could not busk here for money without a license. I pleaded that I would put away my money hat and just play normally. He surprisingly agreed and I was happy to do this and so continued playing. They guards often walked past to check, with a slight nod of assurance. I don't think they really cared but liked to feel like they had the power to do it!
And so I played for about and hour and a half. I had two kids that stayed by me for the whole session! Happiest kids ever, they would often break into dance and request songs, most which I had never heard of. They were content to stand around watching people stop and just take in the general atmosphere created. All kinds of people stopped, many taking my music business cards, one guy even giving me his property card in the city center! One guy managed to give me a large bottle of water and a chocolate bar, which I gave to the kids. They were delighted with it. Despite having no hat out, people still threw money on the cloth I had lying on the ground and in the end I made 216 peso, which got me a taxi ride to the airport and prob something to eat, so not to shabby at all considering I had no real hat out to collect money.
The security guards were actually listening to the music and were actually watching people put money on the rag I had laid out yet they turned a blind eye. However an army type officer swung by in a navy uniform and holding a serious looking machine gun. Although he loitered around and appeared to be listening also for a while, it wasn't long before he approached. He seemed friendly and smiled quite a lot but his message was clear, I needed to get a license and I would need to come with him to administration. There was even a mention, I'm pretty sure of a fee to be paid. I instantly fluffed the situation by saying I had an immediate flight to catch out of the Philippines (which I kind of did) and so I needed to leave. This excuse along with the super happy kids holding the bar of chocolate actually worked favourably, he had no choice, plus there was other people still hanging about wanting to hear more music. I even had the cheek to ask them for a picture, the army dude was hesitant but the security in the white shirt persuaded him! After that he helped me flag down a taxi for me. I waved to them both and the kids as the taxi pulled away, headed to airport departures!
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