The Filipina, according to the World Sex Guide, the bible of global prostitution on the Internet, is way up there with the Ukrainians and the Thais—if not Number One, certainly Number Two in ranking among the most desirable women in the world. And with a Filipina, a clean, fragrant, sweet Filipina, you get the whole package, the American muses on his website.
You may be screwed of all your money, lose your shirt and worse, even your heart very often, your heart , he says, but for a while you forget that this encounter in a sleazy room is a barter, a trade between sex and money, a cold, calculated purchase but love.
That is why the most undesirable, probably the sickest men in the world come in droves to the Philippines, egged on by a government that sells its people shamelessly for revenues, to the strip bars of Makati Avenue, to the brothels of Pasay and Sta.
Cruz, and the joints of Angeles for the pleasure of the company of the most desirable woman in the world—her smell, her smile, her charm, her innocence, her heart—even just for a day. According to figures from the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. VF , a nongovernment foundation working for Filipino trafficking victims, they usually come from the poorer provinces of Visayas and Mindanao and are trafficked to the big cities of Manila, Cebu, Davao, Angeles, Bicol, and Batangas.
VF has served more than 10, victims since they operated their halfway houses in Manila, Batangas, Bicol, and Davao. Their case files can give you nightmares. They are usually promised domestic work but instead lured into prostitution. They are deceived and maltreated. Their recruitment agencies pimped them into brothels. Others were employed as domestic workers where they were physically abused by their employers.
They do not ask questions. They believe what they are told. They believe that the world was waiting for them and that it would not hurt them. They are often wrong. Lisa To hear it from foreigners, one of the charms of the Filipina is her laughter and her joy. Go to any airport in the world and if you hear a gaggle of girls breaking out in laughter or a dance, they must surely be Filipinas. They may have gave gone through several bad roads to get where they are, but their faces remain soft and innocent and unmarked by pain.
Then there are those for whom there really is no forgetting, no forgiving, and who are permanently marked, even though they are laughing through their pain. Five of the girls, including Lisa, were minors between the ages of 14 and They were all victims of one of the largest white slavery rings operating in Metro Manila, lured by recruiters from Samar with promises of decent jobs in Manila then turned into sex slaves.
Lisa was sold for P10, on her first night in Manila, the going rate for virgins in the casa. Half of the amount goes to the casa and half goes to the girl, but often, Lisa relates that they receive much less because their fares going to Manila are already deducted from them. Virgins are in such high demand that their virginity is often faked.
In the clinic, a nurse would soak a large portion of cotton in the blood of a dead pigeon and this is inserted in their vaginas to simulate virginity upon penetration. The clinic also takes out the cotton the following day—after the women have sex. The girls are sold in various motels, hotels, and lodging houses for P for short-time arrangements and P1, for overnight customers, but only P to P goes to them.
The amounts are added up so that every month, according to the VF, they receive P5, as their monthly salary. Those who complain or refuse to go with any customer are beaten up or made to pay a fine. When they get pregnant, they are forced to have an abortion. Cherrie Cherrie, 19, who was about to give birth to a son, was left to die in a sex den in Quezon City.
Her pimp told her that he did not care about her or the baby and that they could both die for all he cared. Cherrie labored for three days until a sympathetic neighbor brought her to the hospital where she was given a chance to live. Miraculously, both Cherrie and the baby survived. She reported her pimp and her employer to Police Station 5 in Fairview for white slavery.
What Cherrie did was unusual. One thing many of them think when they unwittingly find themselves in the sex trade is that they are ruined for life. They have stumbled into a dead end. There is no way to turn back so they stay. Because of their apathy and their fear, they allow themselves to be coaxed into a quiet arrangement designed not to upset the apple cart, so to speak. They will not rat on their masters. They will obey their wishes. They will lie on their beds even though they did not make them.
Like other companions who were teenagers like her, Cherrie trusted her pimp to take care of her until she nearly died and she decided she wanted a life on her own terms. She was determined to pursue charges against her former employers.
Cherrie was 17 and recently graduated from high school when a friend took her to Manila from Cebu. Her friend was paid P by the mama-san. She was brought to then Coronet Inn in Sta. Cruz and locked in one of the cubicles. The cubicle had a bed with an aircon, a small closet, and a faucet and basin for washing.
It was dark, dank, and dirty, smelling faintly of urine and pipes and old wood. One of the caretakers made her up, she relates, and made her wear pajamas. It was her pimp haggling with a Japanese, saying she should fetch a higher price because she was a virgin.
Then the Japanese went in and raped her. That night until early morning, eight different men in succession raped her eight more times. Every time she asked to be let out, she says, they beat her up. There was little time for sleeping, she says. When she complained about being tired and sleepy, she was told to drink coffee. Later, she found that her companions had been taking shabu to keep awake. Sometimes, she would just lie adamantly under the bed refusing to be touched.
But the men were always stronger than her. For each man, she got a stub worth P The men paid P to P for her. Part of the sums went to the pimp; the rest went to the mama-san. Usually, she would accumulate an average of stubs at the end of the month. Those were worth P2, After a month, she was allowed to go out to watch a movie or go to the nearest shopping mall, usually with a companion to watch her.
She would be transferred several times to other establishments, thrown here, switched there as the mama-san decided. There were many others like her who were similarly duped and trapped into prostitution. Many of them would rather stay in the casa than get out and face their families and the shame.
Cherrie was not pretty. She had sores all over her body. What charm she had lay in her youth. But even that she seemed to have lost already at Her eyes had become permanently swollen from crying.
Her lips were set in a sullen pout. She says she once sold her baby for P6, Then, she returned the money and got her baby back. She lived only for him, she says, because he made her angry enough to save herself. This year, I am writing about the exact same thing but the trickle of women that I had reported on many years ago has become a desperate tide of impoverished, imperiled women trafficked and sold to a life of violence, bondage, and prostitution.
In any World Wide Web forum on sex, the best sex ever had, or which nationality is infinitely better to have sex with than another, the Filipina is always there. It is her hope, her gratitude, and her strength. Ultimately, all wounds can heal; all memories can be made good.