The Philippines has a well documented reputation for sex.
In many beach resorts, prostitution is as commonplace as white sand and palm trees. Countless stories tell of village girls being sent to cities to entangle western men into marriage. An overarching rhetoric suggests that every foreign man is looking, and every local woman is trying to entice. The women have the looks, the men have the money; a situation epitomized by the overweight pensioner and beautiful teenager walking hand in hand.
How strong is the country’s reputation? Jefferson Taylor went to the Philippines to investigate sex tourism, and within 36 hours, became the subject of his own reporting. This is his very honest account of what happened.
Getting Excited on the Plane
Let’s be honest. Asian women can be beautiful and evocative. Just try taking an Air Asia flight. The principle consideration for choosing an air stewardess appears to be the ability to give every male passenger an erection. Even their in-flight magazine borders on soft porn. It’s enough to make any man flustered and ask for a pillow.
A towering blond Australian approached me at the luggage carousel and offered some simple advice: “remember, wherever you are in the Philippines, any bar you are in, anywhere, if you smile at a girl, any girl, just smile and she will be yours.” In return I inquired about a bus going to Manila. He took his tobacco stained smile over to two young women, and moments later I was boarding a spray painted truck with two sets of legs and hot pants. The Ozzie tried to jump in and was met with an obnoxious middle finger. So much for his infallible advice.
I was unable to shake the belief that every female was a prostitute. So when one of them invited me to go swimming and dancing I immediately thought about my credit card bill. Ronalyn was less forward, and made a more intriguing offer: “you don’t know people in Manila do you, so I will be your guide.”
“Are you crazy! Tonight I sleep with you.”
Ronalyn found me a hotel that screamed of sex. You paid for a room in 12 hour blocks. A line of men waited to check in and a gaggle of bored looking women waited in the lobby. But it was cheap and made me determined not to sleep with her. If it was a trap I wasn’t falling for it.
Her guided tour was a good one; live bands playing in shopping center basements, winding alleys full of chickens and indelible houses, exquisite churches that were hidden in slums. We traveled on local vans that blasted out dance music and not once was there any flirting between us. I’ll admit that she was cute and had an irresistible smile. But that was like most Filipino women. Not once did our bodies or hands touch, and not for a second did I think anything would happen.
“Ronalyn” I said truthfully, “I’ve really enjoyed you showing me around Manila, are you free to guide me tomorrow?”
“Are you crazy!” she responded, “Of course I guide you tomorrow…tonight I sleep with you.”
Timid Sex with the Lights Turned Off
The unexpected offer changed my mood. If you put it like that, what am I supposed to do…? Such a confident offers suggested that she would rip my clothes off and provide a full night of unending pleasure. Yet we still hadn’t kissed. After turning out the light she got into bed fully clothed. I led still, refusing to make a move. Eventually she reached for my hand.
The sex was a disappointment. I was still trying not to be a sex tourist, although my erection was guiding me otherwise. She appeared timid and clueless. She certainly didn’t seem to be this regularly. We fucked. Not for long and not very well. But it happened and when we woke naked I was already full of regret.
Pertinent Mid Sex Remarks
The following day she became explicit in requests for money. Essentially I was paying to hang out with her and her friends. I bought the chicken, the drinks, the cigarettes, the karaoke booth, and for three of them to get their nails done. But why not? It still was a good tour. I saw vibrant local markets and atmospheric side streets. We explored neighborhoods devoid of tourists and then she demanded that we go back to the hotel.
For the second time we had sex. With the lights out. It was better, but nothing to keep in the mind for dry times. As we changed positions she reached forward and placed her hands on my face, passionately exclaiming “I love you.” We had known each other for 28hours. If it was on the street I could have legged it. But this was mid-sex. How can you react when you’re inside her and on the brink of coming? I tried to placate her without committing. She went on top for the first time and said it again. Then I came, and this seemed to be interpreted as a confession of love.
Meeting the Family
Her revelation sparked a change in the Manila tour. We went through the same enchanting neighborhoods, but this time we stopped with cousins and friends. Ronalyn spoke openly about our relationship, except it was in Tagalog, so I couldn’t understand a thing.
I was no longer the random foreigner on the street. She held my hand at all times and it felt like I was being paraded as a local celebrity. At a karaoke bar Ronalyn dedicated a succession of love songs to our relationship. She gave me a present – a local sim card. She took me to meet a cousin who had wifi, and made me enter my facebook details.
Another cousin increased the pressure. “My baby is being christened in one week. Will you be the godfather? Please say you will be the godfather.”
It was time to leave.
Am I a sex tourist?
At 2am I fabricated an email exchange. I made up a story about writing an article about whale sharks, and my boss sending me an urgent message. It was 2am and she took me to a taxi rank. As we stood beside all night barbecue stands she repeated her love innumerable occasions. I. Had. To. Leave. Did they even have flights leaving so early? I didn’t care. It was time to be a coward.
I’d paid and been entertained. Perhaps I had broken her heart. Maybe I had escaped just in time. And what was worse? To run away? Or to create a charade and deceptively suggest that we had a future?
Looking back I feel foolish. Yet when I look back my memories are generally good ones. I had a lot of fun. And the sex did get a little better. In my eyes, there is one question that answers whether I am a sex tourist. Would I do it again? Maybe. Maybe not.
I’ll leave the rest for you to decide.