Lucia has something to say

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Philippines: Try Before You Buy

If they hadn’t spoken. I would have mistaken them for businessmen. Four in all. Aged 35-60. Sitting in the Manila airport. Waiting for a flight. To Detroit.

The big Southerner started the conversation. The one with the shirt sporting jumping fish. And lures. Lures. “Found her on my first time out!”

“How old is she?” they all ask. “’Bout 32.” And then. He complained. About how much work. It is. To get a new wife out of the Philippines.

“So y'all came for the same thing?” he asks. They all nod their assent.

Yes. Yes, indeed.

And I became quiet. And began. Unabashedly eavesdropping.

A sharp looking guy. In khakis. Who sounded like he was from Boston. Was a big proponent. Although he hadn’t found a wife. His trips sounded. Recreational.

Boston described. Women from the provinces with adjectives. Like “pretty,” “clean,” and “well-dressed.” And, he added, “Humble, humble, humble.” “They’ll chop off the top of a coconut for ya!” he exclaimed. And later. With a wink, wink. He added, “They’re very ‘flexible.’ If ya know what I mean.”

The next question up for discussion: How much is she worth? $5/day? $7? $10? Yeah, they’re cheap over here. Try before you buy.

The quiet one has been listening. He’s been here three times. But there’s no wife. They ask him, “Do you think you’ll be trying again?” “No,” he says softly.

Boston chimes in again, with his view on relationship building. With an analogy. “It’s like cement. It takes the foundation some time to set.”

I feel revulsion. I think how desperate these women must feel. In a country with 40% unemployment. Which is even higher in the provinces. And this. Commodification. Trafficking. Seems like the only way out.

And the men keep coming. To buy. Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. And Sexual. Services. Is it a good trade? Services for life in the U.S.?

I offer my apologies. To any American men. On flight 72. From Manila. Who aren’t coming back from a foray. Because right now. I’m looking at all of you. With sad. Disgust.

5 Comments:

Blogger ThomasLB said...

I knew that "mail order brides" existed, but I had never really thought about it. I always figured it was sadness all around; lonely men who wanted a mate and desperate women who wanted a way out. I always thought of it a variation on an arranged marriage.

Maybe that's what the quiet one wanted.

But that wasn't what the others wanted. And eventually they will find a girl with no other options, and will take advantage of her.

I can't think of anything more evil.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I wonder how many of these 'wives' the men get bored with after a few years and the expense of immigration - and just send them back?

This is awful. I suppose it's my twinkle-toe reaction to have wanted to always believe these things didn't really happen, or at least not as often. And yet, it would seem to be more prevalent than my bleeding heart can stand.

Disgust, most definitely.

3:25 PM  
Blogger jen said...

that makes me absolutely ill.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Citymouse said...

How lucky we are, how sad it is. I know a "mail order" bride from Ukraine who lives in my small town. She is a proud woman, tells us all the time how what she has done is for her famliy. How even being a nurse there, she had no chance, and here all she had to do was fall in love. I wonder if she is bing honest with me, or with herself.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Susan as herself said...

I have read about this in various articles, but I cannot imagine witnessing it first hand. How very sad. I just want to take all those women out to a better life and give them hope so they have choices. Freedom and choices.

And I even feel a bit sorry for the men, who are so twisted and backwards in their thinking. What a world.

10:25 PM  

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