A wealthy British banker charged over grisly twin murders in Hong Kong was a regular in a shabby red-light district of the Philippines where he liked to flash his cash and was treated like a king.
The women in skimpy outfits working the short stretch of go-go and hostess bars of Angeles City remember Rurik Jutting fondly.
At the cramped Del Rio bar, workers said he would swig bottles of a local low-calorie beer while handing out cash, buying everyone rounds of drinks and keeping an eye on one of the dancers, who would become his girlfriend.
Women would rush to the door when they saw Jutting arrive and lead him to his favourite spot, a mouldy fake-leather couch that they covered with a pink blanket so he would not get rashes on his legs, said 26-year-old hostess Joy Reyes.
Jutting would pull out a folded wad of cash from his right pocket, and would peel off notes from the bundle to give away, according to bartender Linda Laida, 43.
– Relationship break-up –
The women at the Del Rio said Jutting would spend up to 20,000 pesos ($450) a night at the bar — the equivalent of an annual income for many people in the Philippines.
Jutting had been a regular there since January, and soon began dating one of the hostesses who would later appear in photos with him on his Facebook page, according to her colleagues.
But the two apparently broke up in August after he was seen with a different woman on his arm, they said. That was the last time they saw him there.
The ex-girlfriend, who now works at another Angeles bar, did not return messages from AFP seeking comment. A co-worker said on Wednesday that she had not reported to work for four days.
Jutting was charged with murder this week in Hong Kong, where he worked as a securities trader for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, after police found two dead Indonesian women in his luxury apartment.
– Escape from poverty –
Angeles City, a couple of hours’ drive north of the capital Manila, emerged as a red-light district decades ago when the United States had a major air base nearby.
The bars and love hotels remained after the base closed in 1991, continuing to lure women from the poorest Filipino families.
One of the workers at the Del Rio, Len Alumarde, said she lost her job as a computer saleswoman when Super Typhoon Haiyan hit her hometown last year in the eastern Philippines.
She moved to Angeles two months ago after being unable to find a job at home.
Alumarde said she earned up to 3,000 pesos ($67) a night in tips from Koreans and Australians at the bar.
A drink for the women at the bar costs 250 pesos and they receive 100 pesos of that.
Managers of other bars said it was up to women to negotiate with their clients if they wanted to take them outside of the bar, with a night of sex costing around 1,000 pesos ($22).
– ‘Paradise’ –
At nightfall, the Angeles bars light up and huge speakers blare out pop music while women try to entice customers into the bars.
In the lobby of a hotel where a hostess worker said Jutting once stayed, one clock displays Sydney time, another London time, while a third clock is set to Manila time and labelled “Paradise”.
As Jutting waits in detention for his next Hong Kong court appearance, on Monday, those who remember him in Angeles ponder what went wrong.
The women at Del Rio say he was never a mean drunk and always entertaining when he took them out for dinner and a night of karaoke.