Just thinking about the Filipino Sex Trade…
In the departure lounge of the Taipei airport, waiting for a flight bound for Manila, my girlfriend and travel companion made some mention that the Philippines are a huge sex tourism destination. Not that I’m ignorant of that fact, but I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into it. With sanctimonious eyes I peered sideways at the flock of solo males with whom we share this space. I find myself making assumptions that every one of these men is traveling with some creepy intention. This can’t be anything other than an odious migratory pattern, where the aforementioned flock migrates to its seasonal breeding grounds, drawn by an unknown to me pheromone that drifts across oceans and lets these men know that for the price of a sandwich, petite young women will feign their mating ritual with these bearers of sustenance and cash.
A couple hours after reaching the paradisaical final destination of Boracay, sitting at a beachside open-air bar, my eyes confirm that the judgments levied against the men in the airport waiting lounge weren’t baseless. The couples strolling along the beach resemble an army of soft-serve swirl cones, except in these cones, the chocolate is fresher and firmer while the volume of the vanilla is disproportionately high. It isn’t long before I just accept this scene as the norm, after all, I very much support the notion of “to each their own” and I have a strong belief that what goes on between consenting adults is their own business no matter the premise of the consent, be it loving, recreational or simply a business transaction. After accepting the norm, the abnormal is now free to reveal itself. The far too elderly man holding hands with the far too young girl, followed by what appears to be a mother. “Why?” I wonder aloud. “If the mother is concerned, does she allow it to happen in the first place?”.
Across the bar, a doughy midwestern couple and young Filipina seat themselves. The male element of this ménage à trois appears to lack the ability to form an independent thought. His hat, shirt and flesh of his right shoulder are all adorned with the Michigan logo. The white female’s role in all of this is, at first, unclear. Is she the mother of the representative of all that is awesome in Michigan? Her eyes, skin and wardrobe seem to indicate that is likely the case, but upon further observation of body language and general antics, it becomes clear that she is the prized bride of Michigan’s cultural attaché to Jezebel beach. So, the couple, or more likely the male party of the couple, has decided to explore their wild side and purchased themselves a helping of thinly-sliced human flesh to sandwich between the bread of their own bodies. The white woman appears barely tolerant of the situation. She isn’t as good an actress, or perhaps hasn’t been compensated as well as the lithe Filipina.
The observations continue. A swirl cone (with extra vanilla) strolls by with an entire Filipino family in tow. A white man approaching the end of his life hand-in-hand with a Filipina who has just begun hers. Despite the signs at the airport warning against sex-tourism, it is alive and well. That there is even a term for such activity confuses me a bit. I simply don’t get the appeal.
In trying to answer for myself the question of why would a person travel across oceans for something as basic as sex, I am reminded of my own foray into the seedy world of sex as a business model. On my first trip to New Zealand I encountered a country whose prostitution laws are some of the most liberal in the world. On one particular late night of drinking infused with healthy doses of boredom and curiosity, I endeavored to have sex with a prostitute, instantly adding this feat to my “bucket list”. As I was aimlessly roaming the streets of Christchurch, there it was, the words “girls, girls, girls” and “live sex show nightly” written in neon colored chalk and in the same style and on the same medium as one might witness at a pseudo-European cafe.
Intrigued, I climbed the two flights of stairs only to encounter a bordello with a locked door. Of course, I didn’t know it was locked until after I grabbed the knob and tried to open it. For a moment, I was actually thankful that it was locked, figuring that I had given this adventure everything I had and in failing, I would be able to move forever beyond this and, in all likelihood never revisit the desire to not die without ever having had sex with a hooker. I had made no more than three or four steps towards my whore-free eternity when the locked door opened from inside and I was summoned back. “Well, here goes” I thought. Inside, the brothel was as dingy and dilapidated as a reasonable person might imagine. I was presented a menu with all the services spelled out and clearly priced. No negotiation here, what you see is what you get. After deciding on the next-to-lowest level of service, it was time to pick a girl. The choices were almost sad. Not quite as hideous as the whores seen on the reality-TV series “Cops” but nothing as glamorous what is presented in Hollywood ‘A’ movies. I was in it for the duration now so I might as well make the best of it, right?. Once alone with the choicest of whores, I was asked what I would like. It should be obvious enough that I’m here for the orgasm and I’m not really concerned at this point with how I get there. But, since the question has been asked, it seemed best to explore my options. My first request is denied due to the fact that, apparently, the level of service I purchased didn’t cover that particular proclivity. Second and third choices shot down, too. The common ground we finally settled upon was girl on top, but at this point the alcohol had worn off and anxiety had built, taking me to the absolute precipice. The sex went as agreed and outside of the expected physical release, did absolutely nothing for me. The real horror show began upon completion of the central business. Seems a bit of misunderstanding existed about exactly what I had purchased. My “date” for the evening mentioned that it was now time for my spa (jacuzzi). She washed me off and led me to the jacuzzi room. The damn thing was cold. So, there I was immersed up to my chin in a cold smegma stew. I mentioned my displeasure to my lady of the evening and was assured that it would warm up straight away. By the time it got nearly tolerably warm, it was brought to my attention that I hadn’t paid for a spa and needed to either pony up some more cash or vacate. My business done here and disgusted, I opted for exit. All-in-all, the experience was much more costly and far less fulfilling than masturbation.
Sex, for me, is about two things. One: the conquest. Boy meets girl, boy bangs girl. First-time sex with almost anyone is very exciting and when I find that someone to be irresistibly attractive sex is such a boost to my self-esteem that I am euphoric for days after. Two: Building trust with a partner. Once I’ve shared myself and my deepest desires with a sex partner and once those desires are validated then true emotional fulfillment is reached. Trusting someone on this level, for me, forms the very basis for a healthy and satisfying relationship. If I’m having good sex with someone, I can put up with almost anything else. Call me shallow if you must, but I would disagree heartily. I am defined first and foremost by the quality of sex I am having. My entire self-worth is derived from sex.
So, back to the Philippines and the sex trade. I understand that there’s something built into male human DNA that makes young, lithe bodies sexually attractive. I’m not immune to ogling and appreciating the appearance of a smooth complexion and the look of a firm body. I get the attraction. I can appreciate that to some guys, having sex with a young beautiful woman is a boost to their self-esteem. I suppose there’s a certain appeal to arranging a clandestine sexual encounter and perhaps for some men, having paid for sex is a dis-inhibitor, allowing them to demand that their fantasies are played out. Prostitution is going to exist regardless of society’s view or my own. In a land of “brightling” and “rolox” watches, crocks shoes and iFones should it be any surprise that the relationships are counterfeit also?