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.