23 Jan 2013

Old guys and young girls in Philippines

Addendum (25 Jan 2018): This post is about relationships but it can also describe dynamics present in prostitution, sex trafficking and sex tourism. Learn more on those issues here and here. Report suspicious situations here.

Addendum (26 Aug 2016): I'm locking comments on this post, as most of the new comments are spam for love wizards (!). Enjoy reading the existing 100+ comments!

Addendum (17 March 2016): This post has received lots of outside attention and has very little to do with water (although it does have a LOT to do with "market failure," i.e., foreign men with relatively more economic power than they have at home). I approve most comments (no more "get my husband back services") as it seems fair to allow this complex conversation to continue in public. -- David


Not her dad
I just visited Philippines for the first time and loved the country and its people. One thing that stood out (vs., e.g, Malaysia, Vietnam, et al.) was the visibility of "couples" composed of (usually) old white foreign guys and young Filippinas.

I asked a friend who had lived in Philippines what he thought, and his answer is worth sharing:

"Rather than one single explanation, I will throw out several:

Long colonial history, including long acceptance of international relationships, e.g., Macarthur and his mistress.

English proficiency and Catholic background equals desirability for many Western guys, who find them easier to relate to than Thai or Vietnamese or Indo or other Asian girlfriends

Many websites, both free and pay, that cater to Filipinas and foreign hookups of all kinds. These include a huge mix of people -- some maybe in it for the money, some for love, some to try something new.

Overpopulation + Poverty equals families eager to gain some extra financial support from their daughters' boyfriends/husbands, and hence encouraging of hookups of all kinds.

An entrenched and tolerated, if challenged sex industry. The biggest center was Angeles City, now apparently a scary ghost town of struggling prostitutes following the closure of US military bases in the 90s. But Manila, Cebu, and other cities all have many sex districts, and you've probably seen hourly hotel (SOGO) ads everywhere.

Early-age sexual activity, poor sex ed, and the political grip of the Catholic Church means low condom use. I suppose some guys like this kind of thing. It does mean that young single mothers are prevalent in all social classes, as abortion is outlawed in the Constitution, while dodgy black market pharmaceutical abortifacients and dangerous magical-herbal concoctions are sold in kiosks outside of churches.

Retirement haven: a lot of older expats want to settle down again, start a new family or small business (ex: dive shop), and buy some land. Only Phil nationals can legally own land. Of course there are ways around this (lawyers can arrange partnerships controlled by foreigners, with partners on paper who don't know each other), but some guys prefer to simply use their wives names. Of course this has its own dangers...

When I first traveled to the Phils as a mid-20s single male, everywhere I went in Palawan, locals of all ages and genders asked me why I was traveling alone, when I could just go pick up a college girl who was looking for extra cash during her winter break. I met a lot of couples like that -- their arrangements seemed pretty flex. Guy paid for everything, bought small gifts and maybe some gear, and likely made a cash gift at the end. Sounds like a lot of marriages really, just briefer... They usually looked really bored during dinner, with nothing to talk about.

When I lived in Manila, I dated interesting, articulate, beautiful, well-educated women. We met the same way people meet in the US -- through friends, at legit bars, online, in the supermarket, etc. In general, women were far easier to approach than in the US, and I usually felt welcome when traveling with them. Although, when I traveled with my ex (an upper class, college-educated Manileno who I was with for 2 years) I'd occasionally see holier-than-thou tourists turning up their noses at us in silly judgment. Taught me to be more tolerant myself."