Prostitution in the Philippines Illegal
Bargirls are Registered and are available to meet men for companionship. Payment
for sexual services is not legal.
Prostitution is illegal. Women working in
the bars have to be registered and are required to undergo frequent health checks.
Recently, the government has announced measures to battle the country's child
prostitution and sex tourist image.
Bar girls have to be at least 18, are issued ID
tags as GROís (Guest Relations Officers Ė how creative!). They are required
to have weekly health checkups for STDs and monthly be tested for HIV. Many
of the bargirls/dancers wear their ID tags around their necks. A nice women
cab driver in Manila, who used to live in Angeles, confirmed the health check
requirements are both in Angeles and Manila.
Local cities enforce GRO laws differently and within
a city payoffs may be common. One story claims Vixens in Pasay was closed after
the 1998 elections when they refused to pay the new mayor P3million to stay
open. They closed and a new owner reopened it as Axions. These political payoffs
are just part of doing business as I later discuss based on newspaper articles
I read while in Manila.
Barfines are technically illegal. Instead a bar
may charge you 10 ladies drinks to compensate the bar for taking the girl for
the evening. I was charged lady drink prices that ranged from about P125 ($US
3.29) to P265 ($US 6.99) depending on location. Often I had the company of an
attractive young lady for an hour or more on one lady drink. The prices were
the cheapest in Angeles with Makati being the most expensive.
The term barfine was used in the bars however when
I was there in April 1999. In Angeles City I paid barfines of about P950 ($US25)
and only bought one lady drink for the women I took out for the night. Some
Angeles bars have much lower barfines.
The women in the bars can decide whether or not
to be barfined by a customer. A barfine is a fine you pay to the bar for lost
lady drink fees to allow the girl to leave the club early and spend the rest
of the evening with you. Barfining a girl is for companionship and is not a
payment for sex. Consenting adults certainly can share sexually, but that is
not what the barfine is for.
Typically a small tip for her companionship the
next morning is given to the girl as she leaves your room. The Angeles bargirl
also gets about 50% of the barfine and 25-30% of lady drinks. In Manila the
girl doesnít get any of the barfine and you negotiate a separate companion fee,
which typically ranges from about P1000 ($26) in Pasay to a high P3000 ($US
79) in Makati.
The popular Cotton Club in the EDSA Entertainment
Complex in Pasay had a sign hung on the door "Closed by the mayor" From girls
I talked to they said it was because they were caught charging barfines. But
all the other clubs in the Complex do also. It was suggested perhaps Cotton
Club didnít pay off the officials enough.
Angeles City Crackdown in 1997
In April 1997 there was a big crackdown by closing numerous nightclubs by the
police. The crackdown was stimulated by numerous articles in the national newspapers
about Internet Websites promoting Angeles City as a "Sex Capital" and some sites
actually promoting "sex tours" to Angeles.
Local clubs in downtown Angeles that did not cater
to foreign tourists were raided and closed in 1997. This was a maze of houses
and brothels where young women, often under the required age 18, were often
kept against their will.
As Kabayo in the asfo private E-mail list said: "This area is called 'The Area',
and is only a bit cheaper than Santos Street, full of marginal girls of all
ages, many young enough to put you away. They do not get health checkups, are
unlicensed (so you cannot protest your arrest by saying that the gov't had approved
their proof of age), and it is said to be unsafe for foreigners. I think it
is all back to business as usual, except when the newspapers are on a crusade."
In the tourist area, such as along Fields Avenue,
they shut down clubs found to be conducting lewd shows (nudity or sexual exposure),
employing underage girls, or employing unlicensed Guest Relations Officers.
The clubs now are careful not to expose those dirty sexy body parts that seems
so offensive to certain people. Small bikinis were common.
THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER OF UNDER AGE 18 BARGIRLS ANYONE I WENT in
Angeles nor Manila.
The city Mayor, Edgardo Pamintuan, takes a realistic
approach to cleaning up the image of Angeles City. He said the problem of sexual
exploitation of women and children in Angeles City "must be taken within social
and economic contexts, and to some degree, political. The lack of opportunities
in other depressed areas in the country leads women to seek greener pastures
in other urban areas such as Angeles." Pamintuan said. "Many of these opportunity
seekers, for want of any other option, end up in the flesh trade."
As long as the nightclubs operate in compliance
with the rules established by the Angeles City Mayor's Office and the ordinances
of the Angeles City Council there has been no problem as far as Iíve been able
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