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balance (2): February 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

my trip to the philippines

what can really be told without my (and my friends) being judged unfairly as debauched! my best friend sure lives a decadent life these days, let's put it that way. it was such good timing that i paid a visit to him. not only had i not seen him for 3 years and i needed to refresh in my mind the fact that i love him like a brother, not a lover (a porch swing companion when we are both in our 80s still appeals), but in the past week i put myself and my life into perspective just by comparing it to his. in the end, as crazy and immoral and empty as a life as a sexpat might seem, i did not find it lacking anything more than mine as a perfectly nice girl.


me and a ladyboy friend

the big debate in angeles city seems to be is it better to be able to go to the brothel or is it better to actually live in it? i am inclined to believe the former, as in the 9 days i was there i saw a few people in the latter group on roller coaster benders, and in fact left just in time to avoid one myself. if you have a lust for decadence, you might slake it non-stop in AC. it was a week of posh restaurants with buff men in dinner jackets, judging the "nice legs" in our elegant glasses of expensive wine... elaborate go-go bars full of sweet, pretty girls who all knew me by name by the time i left, one of whom joined me for a an erotic pool party early one morning... ghastly ladymen in bouffants and heels, lined with tired wrinkles, lip synching with silver teeth to a crowd of 2 (me and 'x')... the achingly hot "hosto" boys doing their choreographed boy band thing in sequined speedos for drinks (and a sexless but thrilling night spent with the hottest of them all whose stomach will be fodder for the next year's fantasies)... giggling and singing at the top of my lungs with bar girls, sexpats, and burnt out mamasans alike. intricate menus of shots and the delirium that followed. midnight trips tottering on a motorbike or careening in a trike driven by curious thugs towards 'jollibee' for fried chicken and stale burgers. the posse of men living in x's luxe condo complex, flexing their tattoos in front of the pool; an off the hook ex-assasin just returned from a tour of kuwait (in which i recognized an instant friend and a sort of twin even if i did end up in tears trying to avoid his aggressions most nights), a robot man whose head had recently been split ear to ear in a motorcycle accident and hastily repaired, leaving him rather vacant... and speaking of vacant, the "prince charming" - beautiful, rich, powerful, but dull and i insist shallow, even if he does own 5 rolexes, a restored mustang, and half the city... the creepy, twitchy man who flinched whenever the topic of pedophilia came up (usually and suspiciously by him), and who worked for a local orphanage (i set the assassin on that one's trail)... the small, smooth, beautiful girls who rolled around in tickle-happy x's attic room with him in front of cartoons. the not so beautiful girls who watched like hawks for opportunistic prey from the corners of rooms, and who let slip their life stories when i in my drunken guilelessness asked too directly and slid them shots to placate. i forgot most nights the girls were half naked, the men were overly crass... think what you will, i am very familiar with the vagaries of exploitation of women for sex, but i love a good circus, and having had a passion for psychoanalysis and human behavior since zero, i was like a kid in a candy store there- or as 'x' said often, almost one of the boys. i was truly mystified at how much happiness and humanity i found in people who are so pitied and vilified the world over.

self explanatory

there are some downsides to the life. the girls, though far from being enslaved into this trade, still want to be saved in the end. i learned a lot from both sides about how to be "hard" (a lesson i am in dire need of). i saw the shabby rooms they slept in, the shocking heels they danced in. there were war stories of STDs and i suspect by the fervent desire to have a white man's baby that the filipino gals profess to, that condom usage is not so prevalent. i in fact met quite a few pregnant working girls. the men, who were happy(!), were funny, solicitous, and kind (as long as they got what they were paying for), but most were not attractive outside their pocketbooks. but the girls were mostly happy too. by the end of the evenings drunken degradation becomes a more pervasive theme, but angeles is overall much more innocent, light, and fun than any red light area i have visited in thailand, or anywhere else. i understand why the men visit or live there. it's an instant life! you never have to be alone! there was enough drama every night, and so many new friends that even i, the anomaly, felt included and loved.

so that part of angeles surprised me, i never would have expected to like the place, but i actually got a bit choked up to leave. aside from the sex scene i found AC to be very livable. it has a great mall on clark airforce base, with american products offered as a legacy from the troops who departed after a volcano explosion years ago. the neighborhoods are quaint, the people so ridiculously friendly, the weather tropical, transportation easy and cheap. it is like a tamer thailand ten years ago. i am tempted to scout out the more "normal" areas of the philippines as a place to move to, as thailand is making ridiculous it's visa laws and thai people have become a constant irritance to me. there are over 7000 islands in the philippines!

the ubiquitous trike

one drawback was that we got robbed, twice in one day- thieves are apparently prevalent. $450 went missing from my room, and after a drama of hot potato accusations directed towards certain girls and the maid (and even me!), we returned to our house to find the $500 'x' had thrown at me in a guilty apology gone as well, and signs of entry on the back door. as people have been tied up and robbed at gunpoint in their homes in AC, 'x' and i did spent one paranoid night with the lights on in the living room wielding knives and baseball bats, and the next day he installed deadbolts and alarms. the police are also quite corrupt, but that's asia. it's up to you to protect yourself on most of this continent, and money helps.

anyway i am glad to have my best pal back in my life and so grateful to him for dispelling what was becoming profound loneliness, at least for a time. we spent the last day together traipsing around the mall of asia in manila, bowling (i kicked his ass), playing pool (he kicked mine), and throwing business ideas back and forth. i left him at his shanghai-themed hotel room with a sad goodbye, krispy kreme donuts in hand, and had a contemplative flight home back to thailand at 3am.

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