A lot of conversation has gone on in so many of the expat online forums that discuss life in the Philippines about the ‘bad apple’ Filipina. Everyone has their own first-hand account of some gold-digging, lying Filipina who pulled a scam on them at some point (or tried to) whether living here or in an online dating site. But only once in a while is there very much discussion about the Expat ‘bad apples’ who make the rest of us look bad. Today as I started my day at the crack of.. 9a.m. (ish) I came upon an article about this guy who got arrested for allegedly running a sex-slave den in Barangay Labangon in Cebu City.
Now, let me begin by making a few disclosures here. Yes, the guy was arrested and since he has not gone to trial yet he is still presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. In general principle I am all for the assumption of innocence prior to the facts being examined in greater detail. Now, having said this.. I still have a few thoughts of my own personal opinion simply going by the few and as yet unverified bits of information disclosed in the reporter’s article. Regarding his stated innocence, I suppose it’s within the realm of possibility that some disgruntled ex-employee (he claims he was running an online bookkeeping service) could have run to the police with a false allegation of sexual abuse. I have no doubt that’s happened to a lot of truly innocent expats who were blackmailed after a simple hook-up one night.
However, in this case the investigation and surveillance that went on since last year was instigated by a neighbor who noticed lots of teenage girls going in an out of his residence, making a bit of noise as well. According to the article 15 girls were ‘rescued’ and several of them were minors. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to find a 15 year old girl who is a whiz at bookkeeping. That part just doesn’t add up. As for porn on his laptop, that brings up an interesting discussion when living here in the Philippines.
Flying into the country it is not a good idea to be bringing along a porn collection on DVD. I wouldn’t even have it on any laptop or hard-drive either as that could cause problems as well if you were the one unlucky guy singled out for a TSA search. Now, most likely it won’t come to that. But.. if a Filipina even accuses you of having sexually bothered her in some fashion and the police come barging in to see what’s on your laptop or desktop.. having massive amounts of porn on there is not going to help in the least. Just something to keep in mind. If you absolutely must have illicit items on your drive, I would suggest taking an hour or so to learn how to use a free program like Challenger. It uses military-grade encryption that would take thousands of years to crack the code. Combined with a truly secure password you’d be fine. If you forget the password well, then you’re screwed.
So if you are on a small, rural island and don’t live near Manila or a big mall but want to get something to spice things up with your lady you have two options. The first is to just improvise. Can’t find lingerie? Check out the hosiery section of the department store. Need some lube? Check your local pharmacy, and there is one on just about every streetcorner here, they will have the basic stuff but you’re not going to get anything raspberry-flavored like you’re accustomed to. Same with condoms, the pharmacies have them but usually just a modest selection. Your other option is to go online. The problem here is that ordering from a company outside the Philippines is going to charge a LOT for shipping. And just in case you find one that doesn’t, you have to wonder if Customs isn’t going to either confiscate or re-tax it before you’re allowed to pick it up. So your best bet is to order from an adult store that is already within the PH. I won’t recommend any particular one, but you can get a Google Search list.
So.. getting back to this guy with the alleged cybersex den, maybe he’s innocent.. maybe he’s guilty. I have no real idea. But either way it brings up the fact that not every expat coming to the Philippines is a good egg. Some guys come here because they have every intent on doing here what they would get caught much quicker doing in their own country. They see the Philippines as a place ripe with opportunity to exploit young girls for sex. While it’s true the police and judicial system appears less effective and more corrupt than other 1st-world countries, that actually can work against a criminal here. If the police officer responds to one of these human/sex-trafficking cases and it turns out one of the girls is say, close friends with his daughter.. well, I’m sure he’ll do his job and all. But who’s to say a little off-the-books barangay justice doesn’t find this culprit before he ever makes it to trial? I’m not making any accusations.. just saying, in a culture as conservative and lax as it is here, things can happen.
Back around September of 2012, PH President Aquino III introduced a game-changer with his signing into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The wording within the law is very wide and open to much interpretation and application when dealing with anything considered ‘illicit’ online. The following quote sums up a bit about it;
“..it is targeting nearly any cyber activity it can think of, referencing them with some of the vaguest terminology imaginable and thus leaving potential innocent parties open to investigation and action.
“Cybersex crimes, which could result in imprisonment of between six and ten years or a fine of between around £3,000 and £15,000, are defined as: “The wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration”. There are a few problems with the terms used here. This part of the act (which also covers child pornography) is designed to combat the Philippines’ huge problem with people trafficking and individuals being forced into cybersex activities for the profit of a ringleader.”
This makes it a whole lot easier for the police, or any accuser, to have a bit of leeway in deciding what is deemed cybersex activity. To me, that just means a whole new opportunity for the Filipina ‘bad apples’ to threaten/extort for money after what seemed to start out as a quick hook-up at the bar. Same for a maid you had to fire because she was caught either stealing or not doing her job. You let her go and next thing you know, she’s telling the cops to seize your computers. Whether it all turns out fine or not, you’re still inconvenienced and judged by the local gossip. Not a good scene.
It remains to be seen how, or if, they will deal with the popular Filipina Dating sites and Craigslist ads. While most are women looking to date, many are not. And those ads about in-home, ‘happy’, full-massage easily fall into the suspicion of sex-for-money illicit activity. Probably not something to really get alarmed about. I mean, it’s not like they’re going to shut down the entire city of Angeles in order to enforce the cybersex or human-trafficking laws. Much like Mexico, the law gets applied when and where it seems to be the most convenient, or profitable.
Meanwhile, these guys who come here and exploit the girls for their own profit aren’t doing any of us decent foreigners any good. Just like the A-hole expat who goes ape-sh*t on a cashier because there was no cheese on his Champ burger.. it stinks things up for the rest of us who just want to enjoy the Philippines in a legal, leisurely manner. I’m all for whatever adult fun any two legally-aged, consenting adults want to do in their own privacy. But like any other right-minded Expat I draw the line at exploiting an underage girl. We gotta draw the line somewhere or else all chaos breaks loose.
Now, there’s been a longstanding debate over whether or not prostitution should be legalized or not. On the one side, it’s said that it leads to exploitation, forced sex-slavery, racketeering and STD’s aside from the whole moral argument on the issue. However, on the other side of the argument is the position that it is a ‘victim-less crime’, payment for a service rendered and that if it were legalized women could choose to enter it at their own discretion, fully licensed, taxable and with regular health screenings in order to remain licensed. That deals with the whole forced-slavery, STD issue right there. The counter-argument is that it will lead to a decay in moral values. My response to that is, “Well, keeping it illegal isn’t exactly preventing it from occurring.“
But, it’s kind of a non-issue in a sense the way I see it. Especially here in the Philippines. While I would like to see it legalized (probably never happen here) in order to get a hold on the whole STD/AIDS issue, the fact of the matter is there’s really no reason a guy should ever have to pay for sex here. I mean, come on.. let’s face it; going to a strip bar and paying a girl to give you a thrill is about the laziest, easiest thing to do. Where’s the fun and adventure in that? It’s like hiring someone to wax your car. So to speak. Meanwhile there are plenty of wonderful women who are a bit on the wild side who simply enjoy having sex with foreigners. It may take a little more finesse to single out these girls and make sure it’s a “for fun” proposition, but therein lies the chase.. and the fun.
What about AIDS/HIV? What’s the Story there?
I did a bit of looking around to get some representative data on the Philippines, the USA and Thailand for comparison. The data ranges from 2009, reported for 2013 Demographics reports on each country. Here’s what I found;
- HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate — .1%
- People living with HIV/AIDS — 8,700
- HIV/AIDS Deaths — less than 200
- HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate — .6%
- People living with HIV/AIDS — 1,200,000
- HIV/AIDS Deaths — 17,000
- HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate — 1.3%
- People living with HIV/AIDS — 530,000
- HIV/AIDS Deaths — 28,000
Now, there are a few things to consider when looking at this data. One factor is population size. But the percentage for Prevalence Rate already takes that into account. On that note, you actually stand a higher chance of running into someone with AIDS/HIV in Thailand or the US than you would in the Philippines. Interesting. Another thing to notice is that while Thailand has only a small fraction of the population as the USA.. it still manages to host more than half the number of people infected in numbers as the US. Even on a percentage basis, you’re 13 times more likely to encounter someone infected in Thailand than with a person in the Philippines.
Another thing to consider is proximity. While the Prevalence Rate is low for Philippines and so-so for the US while being highest of the three in Thailand.. in all three countries likelihood goes way UP when you’re talking about the Sexually Active Crowd. AIDS doesn’t make any note of whether anyone is getting paid or not. It’s not like you have less chance of contracting based on whether the girl is doing it for fun or for a modest fee. The likeliness of infection is based on how active a person you’re with is. So.. chances are very good that you’ll be fine looking for a new love with one of the simple, local girls who has never seen the inside of a bar.. while your odds start rising as you move towards the Pros, bar-girls, ladyboys and party-girls.
Finally, on a percentage basis.. you’re simply safer in the Philippines than you would be in the US, statistically speaking. Thailand or Africa.. well, forgetaboutit. That’s some dicey odds there.
I’d say if you take a wide-angle shot of the situation it boils down to this: Use some good sense, be particular about who you sex it up with and once you get married.. just call it a day and be faithful to her and you’ll be fine. As for the ‘bad apple’ expats that come to exploit underage or naive girls for their own profit.. well, this is not the place to be when justice finally comes knocking on your door. Prison followed up with deportation is not a good way to go. And that’s the best-case scenario. Pull that crap out in the province areas and, well.. good luck with that.
For the rest of us.. there’s plenty to enjoy in a safe, legal manner. Take the usual precautions, be selective, know when it’s time to settle down and it’s all good.