Monday, February 25, 2008

Open Skies, Open Flies

So the Philippines is the third fastest growing domestic air travel market in the world. No mean feat in this day and age. I wonder how much of this is fuelled by locals travelling more and tourists flying to various parts of the country from the Manila domestic airport.

Its getting more and more difficult now to police our dating sites, as all sorts of people, interests and agenda converge. There are innocent romantics who truly want to meet partners whether in the Philippines or abroad. There are local women who see a foreign husband as their path to economic salvation. There are lonely overseas Filipinos who want a little piece of home. We are also getting more and more members signing up not only from traditional high income countries but from the Middle East. There are Europeans and North Americans who are shopping for younger, foreign brides (with all the power inequalities that suggests). Recently we are seeing a lot of Arab men looking to hook up with Filipinas in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. The Filipina is truly "in demand" for various reasons.

Back home there are men pretending to be girls to scam unsuspecting old retirees half a world away. There are people who look for sex tourism clients. More and more there are women, boys and ladyboys who strip on a webcam. They trawl our sites looking for customers. Day in, day out they create profiles and spam our members with links or more personal invitations on a third party instant messaging service (Yahoo or MSN). More often than not their "virtual pimps" are men overseas operating a "virtual brothel" with a transglobal market.

A few times while monitoring the chatroom I have seen people have full on sex on cam for everyone to see. I wonder where they are, are they back home in the Philippines? Are they in Norway? In Germany? In Malaysia?

Prostitution is the fourth-largest income generating "industry" in our country. So we prostitute our people overseas to meet the global market's demand of childcare, medical care, home care, and sexual care. All around the world women bear the burden of poverty more then men. Filipinas prove the rule.

3 comments:

Jon Limjap said...

I believe that the prostitution problem is a worldwide problem among poor nations. In Europe, young Eastern European women are treated as commodities, their pimps leasing them to London-based brothels for a hefty sum of money. So sex tourism takes on a totally different form there.

My wife and I are in the travel industry. As far as we know a huge chunk of the market is made up of yuppies, newly empowered with relatively higher incomes in the IT and BPO industries, who use their spoils to travel the country, and splurge in digital cameras. I don't think it's all bad.

sparks said...

Jon,

I am probably just paranoid because of the work I do here. I suppose there needs to be some authoritative study to measure what percentage of foreign tourists go to the Philippines to see the sights, buy some souvenirs and nothing else. I figure we should attract groups of young backpackers or families. Older men travelling alone should raise a red flag.

My boyfriend is based in Cebu (and I note that you were there recently), didn't you notice these white dudes with nubile locals all the time?

Anyway, when I get home I will definitely do some more travelling. My Lakbayan score was a dismal C (from what I remember).

Jon Limjap said...

Yup, I've been to Cebu recently, and yup, I've seen them white men tugging along little brown ladies.

It's a touchy issue for me however. I have an uncle who's white, married to my father's sister, who regularly goes here on his own. The bastard frequents nightclubs when he's here, my father tagging along. For some reason my mother and aunt have developed an indifference for their illicit adventures, which underscores just how dysfunctional both marriages are.

But my point is, whether it's a Filipino man or an American one, there's no way of knowing whether a pig of a man patronizes prostitution or not.

While in Cebu, however, I noticed two kinds of white men towing along a Filipina -- I was surprised that there were fewer of the types you would usually see at the red light districts; burly men with young dolled up ladies. When I was there the more common sight was a white father, a Filipina mother, and a child of racial mix. And I saw various stages of such (e.g., there was even an elderly white guy+elderly Filipina pair on our plane to Manila).


Seeing that, at least on the outside, these families are intact, there is no way for me to know if a white guy is here just for fun or not.

One of my bosses, on the other hand, has a Filipina girlfriend. I'll bet that when they go around people will think that she's a professional prosti, but she's not. I think that's unfair too.

So the question becomes, how do we distinguish one from the other, and even if we had some inkling or clue, who are we to judge, really?

========

My wife told me about this resort island that has been enforcing a zero-prostitution policy and bans single white men from tagging along single Filipina women. But what if they're engaged? But what if they're really dating? Maybe sometime I'll go to that island and find out just how they enforce that rule.