Interview with the Sex Tourist

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Asia » Philippines » Mindanao
April 9th 2006
Published: April 9th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Standing outside an internet café in the seedy part of town long after Cebu’s respectable citizens are safely tucked up in bed a sleaze ball eyes me from across the street. He flashes me that fraudulent smile common to con-men, pimps and confidence tricksters the world over, and having made ‘contact’ he takes his cue to cross over towards me. Just as he begins his pitch I try to save him the effort with a firm “No!” since it was pretty obvious what he’d be selling in this part of town.

I’m on the defensive since I must look like a potential customer standing here in this squalid street stealing a quick smoke. This knocks him slightly off his game and he decides to stop a respectable distance from me before pitching again “You want girls?” he says smiling, in an attempt win over my skepticism. This time I just give him a look of apathy. “No?” He says “I can get you young girls…virgins” he says with enthusiastic pride. “Mate just (*&$ off!” I reply. He laughs falsely then pauses abruptly in the style of all fake laughter and adds: “You want boys?”
This would have been a good
surfs up?surfs up?surfs up?

Cloud 9, Siargao
way to piss me off if he’d meant to piss me off…unfortunately, as with all good salesman, he has an almost autistic belief in his ability to win me over. This pisses me off even more.

I imagine hitting him across the shins with a Cricket bat and watching him writhe around in the gutter. This thought has a sublime meditative affect on my mood, and a rush of wellbeing pulses through me, manifesting itself in a condescending little smile and a shake of the head. Now he seems self conscious and vulnerable - his macho bravado crushed by the revelation that he sells boys to tourists - he turns and scuttles back from whence he came.

Later that night as I watch a gecko stalk its prey in my sweaty ply board coffin of a room, I play back the incident in my mind - disgusted by the fact that nothing is sacred anymore, anything is for sale. I feel happy I am flying to Palawan in the morning, I feel fortunate that I can, which makes me feel guilty, and so I decided to write this blog…

Even though you are miles away from your friends and family there is social obligation to spend Christmas with other people even though you may not yet have met them, since only a social outcast spends Christmas alone right? In a way, the coming of Christmas was a blessing… traveling hard-n-fast, off-the-beaten-track, you take on a momentum that is difficult to slow down. Becoming content in your own little bubble driven by the desire to see and consume as much as possible. Arriving on Siargao I was surrounded by beauty, I was restless, and I knew why.

I wanted to leave the day after I arrived. The laid-back, almost comatose coolness of the few surfer dudes hanging at Cloud 9 was almost uncomfortable. These guys seemed so in tune to the whims of nature’s seasons, tides, lunar cycles, swells, and wind directions… all of which have to be in perfect harmony to create the perfect wave, giving them an almost fatalistic ability to sit around doing nothing at all. An ability we mere mortals would need a whole truckload of weed to attain. Or maybe it just seemed that way... what with my insatiable restlessness and all?

Some people consider Cloud 9 one of
The breakfast view at my hotelThe breakfast view at my hotelThe breakfast view at my hotel

General Luna, Siargao
the best surf spots in the world. Years ago I had flirted with the surfer’s lifestyle in Barbados and nearly killed myself! But this was the wrong season, apparently, and with no beach to wait around on I headed six kms back down the coast to General Luna, an overgrown village on the sea. And it was there that I met Pete and Derek.

Though they were both in their late 40’s, I had a lot in common with Pete and Derek; they were English. They were the only tourists in General Luna, since this area, although far away from Mindanao’s trouble spots, was still technically Mindanao. We talked a lot that first morning over breakfast and I thought I knew them quite well, so that evening when we met for dinner and they had two young Filipino girlfriends in tow I was quite taken aback.

For the next few days I was privy to their stories and those of their girlfriends. It seemed all four of them were latently trying to defend their ‘actions’. Pete and Derek were both single men. Derek owned a hotel and Pete a house. Due to the inflated housing prices in the UK - Pete’s humble little home in the north of England was worth close to half a million dollars - Pete’s hotel on the isles of Scilly substantially more. In this part of the world that kind of money made them very wealthy indeed. Whether they had come to The Philippines to find romance is debatable; this area certainly isn’t renowned for its sex tourism, though they certainly weren’t shying away from romance.

The girls were in their early twenties, attractive, intelligent and street smart. They would often say they had no money and no jobs, but that having no money was preferable to working in a miserable factory for $100 a month. Both had had unsuccessful relationships with foreigners in the past, but from these relationships it seemed they had both sampled a slice of the good life, traveling around the Philippines as tourists.

By day four, Pete had yet to sleep with his girlfriend whilst Derek was planning to buy a house in General Luna and get married! Pete and I were shocked - but if the girls also felt this decision was a little hasty they certainly didn’t show it. The next day they had

This was Christmas dinner - and I tell ya...give a hungry man a knife and a roasted pig and the results are horrific;-)
found a potential house for Pete. For $4,000US Pete could buy his very own love nest by the sea, complete with a moat and a few palm trees. In amongst the wooden shacks of his new neighbors dwellings it had ‘Lord of the Manor’ written all over it, he and his future wife seemed delighted.

That evening Derek posed the question “Do you think she really does love me, or is she just after my money?” I answered honestly, that it was impossible for me to tell. Derek was clearly in love, and who was I to piss on his parade?

There is a mutually agreed deception that typically lies at the heart of these relationships. This is not a simple customer-service provider transaction, it’s a love affair. The idea these women charge a certain price for a certain service, just doesn’t happen. In fact, it is very important that payment is never mentioned because if the women demand money then the illusion is shattered. And what illusion is that? That he is a handsome, charming and wealthy man who she has fallen desperately in love with.

Romance tourism is a form of prostitution that dares not speak its name, which leaves the sex worker, who must maintain the charade by marketing herself as some sort of tour guide-interpreter-driver/girlfriend entirely reliant on the goodwill of her patron. If she hits the jackpot, she’ll receive “gifts” of cash or expensive consumer goods and even marriage.

It is not sex for sale; it is love for sale. The majority of western men do not want to marry a prostitute. These girls get guys by courting them, charming them, wooing them. It is a fantasy to meet an exotic stranger on the street who seems to have fallen in love with you at first sight. They target men’s hearts: they’re sensitive, sweet, flattering and funny. And they’re also very clever about going for the Achilles heel. A lonely middle-aged western man could be putty in the hands of an attractive young lady.

The boom in Southeast Asia sex tourism started with the U.S. presence in Vietnam. It was this boom and the resulting slack after the war that was taken up by tourism that introduced prostitution as a large-scale business to the region. In 1947, Filipino President Roxas signed a military agreement granting twenty-two military bases to the United States. In the following year, the two largest U.S. military bases in the Far East were established north of Manila. Angeles City, located near Clark Air Force Base, later became the “Mecca of Sex Trade,” the military adult-entertainment capital of the Philippines, with every variety of prostitution, exotic bars, pornography, and sex tourism conceivable.

A 1989 article in The Economist reported that "around half of America's young, single servicemen leave their posting with a Philippine bride."

Finding a western husband allows the women that are able to take advantage of it the opportunity to live the American dream, to enjoy and extend increased consumerism to their families: Modernization and sophisticated advertisements have also brought new desires for consumer goods to villagers and a shift towards a cash economy. For some Filipino women, an almost religious belief in the Promised Land - America - adds to the attraction of achieving their ultimate dream: marriage to an American or European.

The twentieth century has seen the rise of the world marketplace. In this new world market, the Philippines has become a place to shop for wives.

Modern capitalism is propelled by a frenzy of greed and envy. These human vices are systematically cultivated through the media to encourage people to strive for more and ultimately to consume. These are the very causes of its success. It is the countries with the highest standards of living that pursue greater economic advantage with greatest ruthlessness. Western culture is now based on an appetite for buying, and that appetite is spreading throughout Asia and the world.

But stimulating envy and greed eats at our very fabric; destroying intelligence, happiness, serenity and the peacefulness of mankind. Leaving people feeling oppressed by increasing frustration, alienation, insecurity and loneliness. People want to conform and join the herd ultimately to avoid loneliness, though alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive sexualism and suicide in contemporary society can be seen as symptoms of the failure of herd conformity; for while everybody tries to be as close as possible to the rest, everybody remains utterly alone.

So is it a longing for love and a dread of nothing and separateness that brings men here from lands with greater economic strength to, in affect, shop for Love as the drug to dull the pain of reality; as a refuge from the unbearable sense of aloneness?

Is it so strange when people begin to look at each other in the same way; as commodities? ‘Can I get someone better, richer or more attractive?’ What I saw in Siargao was surely just a result of the free market. Aren’t both Pete/Derek and their girlfriends simply looking for the best object available on the market, considering their own limitations/benefits of their own exchange values - his age/money…her lack of education/youth?

The middle-aged men who come here are lonely and relatively wealthy. Their wealth makes them appealing to young ladies seeking to escape poverty. These women have no economic value if there is no demand for them on the market. Is it too much to say that the very system we live in makes this situation inevitable?

And who is to say they that two people marrying under these circumstances will not live happily, after pooling their common interests and standing alone against the world?

The other ‘memorable’ thing that happened whilst in Siargao was two days after Christmas when some guys convinced me to stay and go on an extra day and go on a little motorbike trip around the island...bad idea!

Wearing just shorts and T-shirt I came off the bike - flew right over the handlebars, and just before I landed on the surface consisting of rocks, gravel and coral I thought ’how did that happen you prat'!?!
I lay on the gravel, feeling as though my knees and elbows had been hit by a mallet and someone had gone to work on them with a cheese grater (incidentally that is almost exactly how they looked!).

I drove home covered in blood feeling utterly stupid and pretty sorry for myself. The thing that pissed me off the most is that I never have accidents, I'm unbreakable; an illusion maybe, but a state of mind that gives me the confidence to go to many stupid places. Maybe those days are over, I thought, maybe this is a sign that I should hang up my traveling boots?

I had to leave the island because my visa expired the following day. Fortunately the women at the hotel phoned the immigration, and they said I could come at a later date. But I was determined not to be stuck on Siargao for New Years so I bandaged myself up and got out anyhow.

I’ll miss Pete and Derek and their other halves and wished them all luck for the future…just before I left Pete still hadn’t slept with his girlfriend and Derek was planning to buy a larger more expensive house ($15,000US) in General Luna.

As I waited for the immigration dude to extend my visa back on the mainland he inquired as to why I was traveling alone and why I didn’t have a Filipino girlfriend? When I told him I wasn’t in the market for one he warned me that people would think I was gay, if I continued traveling without one, he said, since it would be obvious to everyone I’d have no trouble acquiring one, people would just wonder, that’s all…and this was a government official!

I traveled hard that day and just made the last boat over to Camiguin, my volcanic island of choice to spend the New Year. Now I was actively searching out fellow backpackers, instead I found more sexpats. Hobbling along the beach at night with my knees in bandages searching for a place with life I soon realized this wasn’t the party place I had hoped for. I made the decision to leave early the next morning but again the festive season, and the obligation to surround oneself with people during festive periods kept me from straying.

I stayed in the house of a family; a very personable Filipino woman and her teenage kids. She’d married a German some 20 years earlier who had died a few years ago leaving her three kids and a beachside hotel.

This hotel it seemed was the social gathering spot for most of the Western middle-aged men and their wives. The language of choice was German, since they were mostly from Germany, Austria or Switzerland. Most had contempt for their own countries weather and people, a recurring subtext in the testimony of the sexpats I met; I can’t live there anymore; I refuse to work for just 4,000 Swiss francs a month (over $3,000US), said one Swiss. Or “there are far too many foreigners in Switzerland nowadays” complained another Swiss without even a hint of irony.

They spoke of how great their lives were in contrast to how they would be back in Europe. But as the days wore on they opened up to me and grew more pessimistic. They mostly sat around, drank and gossiped about each other. Here they were in paradise with wives 20 years their junior, financially secure, no need to go to work in the morning and yet they were bitterly unhappy. Roger in contrast, was a 68yr old American from the Midwest who had a slightly chubby 19yr old girlfriend, who looked more like his caretaker - they always seemed to be happy;-)

Since there was a curfew on the island, everyone had to be off the streets by 10pm. So I spent a very memorable New Year’s eating Filipino delicacies in front of the TV with my new adopted family - a product if you like - of sex tourism. Who is to judge what people do with their lives as long as nobody is harmed?

Romance tourism certainly isn’t the same as the crass raw practice of prostituting human beings. After all, haven’t people been treating each other as commodities for years back home, with people judging each other by their merits, and selecting the best partner they can from the market place. Isn’t globalization just widening the net?



9th April 2006

Intelligent Views
I apprecıated the blog as ıt was well-wrıtten. I've also seen the romance tourısm you speak of and had my own smaller versıon ın Thaıland. I also thınk some of Western guys seekıng women ın SE Asıa do not have the patıence for many of the females back home, especıally for men who have had faıled marrıages or other relatıonshıps. There ıs also the 'exotıc' element that spıces thıngs up between the two people and provıdes somethıng they may have been mıssıng before.
9th April 2006

Very nice !
Interesting page. Reminded me of a book I read a while ago: "Travels in the Skin Trade: Tourism and the Sex Industry" by Jeremy Seabrook. This issue is not as clear cut and easy as it seems. Of course there are many horrible cases of exploitation but the "forty something western guy + twenty something asian girlfriend" story has many hidden sides. Happy travels Jason. Stay safe. w.
9th April 2006

Great Blog!
Your blog was very interesting. It is amazing what people will do not to be lonely. I read a story the other day about the Vietnam War, the guy who wrote it fell in love with a Vietnamese woman. His explanation was that war makes you want someone right that second. Many of his war buddies took these women and ended up leaving their wives. Enough rambling on my part! Enjoy your traveling. I miss it! Julie
10th April 2006

"This moral decay, weakens our resistence, to the onslaught of the communist masters of deceit." George Putnam (1965)
A great read that touches on thoughts that cross my mind from time to time. Disregarding prostitution and abuse, and focusing on what you so eloquently termed "romance tourism", I have not yet managed to decide on what my thoughts are on the subject. Every time I see a young local woman on the back of a motorbike driven by a considerable older westerner, or when I see an ill-matched couple walking hand in hand, there is a part inside of me that immediately expresses displeasure. Interestingly, when my brain is reconnected I realise that it all boils down to my own prejudice. I blame the society in which I grew up. As for travelling solo, fifteen minutes after I first set my foot in Cebu the taxi driver asked me if I wanted girls. It made me feel offended, not necessarily because of his inquiry, but by the prejudice that was being directed towards me the westerner. All I do know is that soon I will be that middle-aged, single, well-off man. We'll see what happens then.
10th April 2006

your blog
Just to let you know that this one of the best written blog I've read so far. Nothing to do with the subject of your article but it is very interesting taken from your perspective. Stay safe.
10th April 2006

When will the Sufferings Stop !
It deeply saddens me knowing that such human degradation and exploitation is happening in our country. It breaks my heart to know that some Filipino women’s only means of crawling out of poverty is to marry a foreigner. When will the sufferings of the Filipino people stop. Since the Spaniards landed in the Philippines in 1521 and placed a stake on our land, our people have suffered from slavery, been robbed of liberty and natural resources. When the Americans took over Philippines from the hands of Spaniards, Filipinos perceived the Americans as our knight in shining armour as they freed our people from slavery and introduced education to the country. Little we know that Uncle Sam has his own agenda to use the Philippines for his own interest. Then, Japanese invaded our country for 2 years and used Filipino women as sex slaves for their soldiers. Up to this day, Filipinos are at the mercy of people from other land. Kind-hearted and open-minded people will not judge, but will try to understand & have pity/mercy on the current situation of the Filipino people. I’ve read the other comments to Jason’s article and I’m pleased to say that such open-mindedness is very much appreciated…..thanks, Johanna
10th April 2006

Good Blog
Well thought out entry, no less so that it took you about three months to articulate your thoughts and your experiences. I was born and raised in the Philippines and thus, probably carry some of the prejudice of my countrymen about middle aged Westerners who may or may not be on a sex or "Romance Tour" in my country. I noticed with passivity several middle aged Westerners with young Filipina wives on my last visit back to Southern Leyte.
10th April 2006

10th April 2006

It's very interesting perspective that I've never really thought of before. Well done.
11th April 2006

Choice of perspective
Actually, your last paragraph summs it all up. There is nothing new to the phenomena of people wanting to find a partner who can offer them better living standards (although it could be argued as more common among ladies). This has been happening for many years just in front of our own western eyes. The only difference seems to be that western women invest more in the ways to make themselves attractive to men (lipos, duck-lips, implants, designer bags, brand-clothes etc...). In heart I think these women seek men who can offer them better (material) lives than they are willing to provide for themselves. Maybe they disbelieve their own ability to put efforts in education or advancing jobs in a way to reach what they crave. Maybe GENDER is the issue as society does not provide women the same opportunities as men (Sweden is on a good equal path). The gender issue is especially true in developing countries. There are two things to consider before judging the women in cultures that are exotic for westerners. First and most importantly, what you see as a tourist is just a fraction of the women in these countries. I would even go as far as stating that the proportions (compare to "Gold diggers") are the same, if not less, as in our own 'civilized' society. Secondly, there is a social aspect which is profoundly rooted in culture, economy and legal security. Knowledge of the present, history of the country as well as conversation with the habitants is essential for learning about the social state. At the most, poverty for a westerner means being homeless because of addictions and other social problems. In these countries, poverty is much more severe. Not being able to feed your children, seeing them die (doesn´t happen much in west thanks to social structure), lacking funds for medicine and clothes is just the the starting point for poverty in these countries. Being slaved, killed, sold or have their organs removed is some of the ways poor people are treated in certain places. When you are that poor I think it is hard to share western values of what is right and wrong. I think one sees things differently and grasps any opportunity offered to escape a miserable situation. Ask any of these girls that are 'on the market' what kind of family they come from. Which part of the country. How much does their families own? Or ask them when and who they were sold to as a child or when they were abused for the first time. That way you will find half of the root to the problem. The other half is of course the 'demand' on the market. I am against abuse of women. Personally sex tourism is disgusting to me. BUT, there is a grey-zone as well to note. First, there is the aspect of the choice some women actually make to prosititute themselves (no matter what reasons). Also, some of the couples that meet spend a longer time together than a transactional meeting. Sometimes they even end up marrying each other. I don´t want to pass any judgements here. What I´m interested in is what would happen to these girls if they couldn´t grasp the opportunity a rich visitor can offer them. In contrary to the gold diggers at home - who moslty end up marrying a second-best alternative and get a job at a parfume or make-up store - I´m afraid these girls would be doomed to poverty becuase of the social injustice that exists in their countries. To properly address the problems and solve them we need globalization indeed. We need global awareness, global spread of knowledge and global aid and efforts. We need to solve problems at a grass-root level not only because they disturb us in our vacations or differ from our view on how things can/should be. But because these are the ways people have to live their lives because they don´t have much options. Further we have to accept our role in the imbalance that exist between the rich and the poor. Exploitation, colonisation, wars, missionary campaigns and plagues are just some explanatory factors to the injuries inflicted by west to developing countries. That raises a few questions for me. Would you/we/me be prepared to settle for less in order to give more to the poor? Would you let immigrants come to your country for a chance of better lives? Would you accept lower wages and competition from foreign labor? Would you pay more for your good and services just to help the poor country? For example, would you pay as much for a pair of Prada shoes as for a similar Vietnamese copy? Would you donate half of the money that you in reality don´t need just to help another person get a minimum living standard? Or maybe we are naive enough to think that all 6 billion of us can live the way we do in west using global resources? Would we stop striving up and help others reach our level before continuing? Sorry about this mate. I didn´t mean to write a comment this long. These were just spontaneous thoughts that emerged from my own perspective and experience. Have fun on your travels all of you and spread the love!
11th April 2006

A thinker
I am now the middle aged, ex military American you describe, minus the part of being a sextourist. You write well and its evident you think alot when traveling. All I can say, is the world is made up of one person or group of persons trying to manipulate or subjugate another. We all make our choices, some are made for us. Some people will never have the freedom to choose. I found the people of the PI like any other group. Simply trying to get by. Before you write off all Western men over there now, remember a man from the past, my uncle, who died in the Bataan Death march defending the PI. Life,,,its full of choices. stay safe. No ill will intended, just a thought.
17th April 2006

Excellent blog
Superb blog well written. I am 26 and had many experiences in SE Asia with romance tourism. It got to the stage where I became sceptical of local girls being friendly, which is terrible really. Everytime someone is nice it has the opposite effect.
17th April 2006

Look at the divorce rate
You hit the nail on the head. This is issue should not be viewed from one angle only - as age difference - racial, upbringing, morals and the future of this family. From the few sample - that I am familiar with - most of these middle aged men - once they return home with their newly wed bride in tow - the love starts to deteriorate - by that time he already has a child - the final scenario the old man gets a divorce. It is also the girls expectation in Philippines - going to US is like hitting the jackpot, who would not like that. Sex is a conduit.
18th April 2006

Great Blog
Just finished reading your blog from start to finish or at least latest. You have areal talent for writing overall I thought it was very insightful ocassionally arrogant and sometimes ignorant but always leaving me wanting to hear more on more than one level, why did you and your GF break up? etc. Good travelling.
18th April 2006

I know of what you speak...
Great blog, but very sad... I saw some of what you describe when I was in Thailand. I didn't do a commentary on it at all, but it was one of those things that has been permanently imprinted in my mind. Glad you wrote this - it's good for those of us in more developed (read: sheltered) and comfortable western cultures to be reminded that it is not like this everywhere... We should all be more thankful and stop taking the little (and big) things for granted.
27th April 2006

You kick ass.
30th April 2006

Thanks, that explains last night.
One of the best articles I've read for a long while, anywhere. Also explains the barrage of stares I was getting sitting drinking beer on my own in a Thai nightclub last night, which quite honestly made me feel uncomfortable, not desirable. I knew of the concept of 'romance tourism' but was very surprised at the extent of the 'need' shown by these girls. On a separate note, I've also have shared the feeling of the need for continual motion - something I've experienced and had to fight off when travelling alone.
30th April 2006

You don't want girls!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nicely written mate, you words are concise and balanced. I just got back from Palawan. The sight of 350 lb men walking around shopping malls with extremely attractive girls is nauseating. I also travelled alone and had no problem other than the poverty I witnessed in Malate which I find (as a Westerner) truly unacceptable). I was approached repeatedly by pimps and girls alike but simply used a friendly smile and a few stern looks to make myself understood. I do find it very embarassing to be tarred with the same brush, as people automatically assume I am here to find girls. I just had a free week and wanted to see a new country. But we have to blame ourseleves for the countries who will sell their souls for a dollar, if we (so called ) first world countries made a more commited attempt to reduce third world debt then perhaps we could save the suffering of both the boys and girls of these countries and 350 lb men would have to stay home with their money and be unable to abuse people who have no real options (I include myself in the problem and am not finger pointing). Good luck with your travels.
27th June 2006

Very interesting article - I like being able to read your thought processes so clearly! Take care.
7th July 2006

Party Place?
Interesting and well written blog! BTW, you mentioned about looking for a party island? Have you been to Boracay? That is the best! a long stretch of white sand beach with bars, restos, lounge alongside... During the Philippine Summer MOnths (March-May).. This is the place to be! To be seen and to party!
11th July 2006

Great Blog
My heart bleed in tears.
29th November 2006

nothing new
I don't see anything new. Realistically speaking, isn't that what's happening around ages ago? Have you read Pride and Prejudice? English sisters are on a mad-dash to look for an eligible mate (read: wealthy). It's been happening in your country. The difference here is that the girls are of different race. Which could be the reason for leaving a bad taste in the mouth. This is just my perspective. Anyways, great blog though. Happy traveling and keep writing!
4th January 2007

loved ur travel blog
You are a fantastic writer. Enjoyed your article alot. I married a filipina back in 88 after graduating from the US Navy and having my heart broken by my Thai gf in Pattaya! After 12 long years, i finally divorced her, but it cost me half of all my assets - word to the wise fellows! However, since my divorce in 2000, I have been to thailand and the Phils at least twice a year for sex and romance - which i cannot find in the USA. Several folks commented on the reason poor girls want middle aged and old foreigners as husbands - to escape poverty. But no one has mentioned the reason western men flock AWAY FROM their own country women. How unattractive, both looks and attitude wise, do the women in American and Europe and Australia have to be for us elible bachelors to fly clear around the world and put up with noise, pollution and poverty in order to try and find that feeling of being desired again? Answer: Very unattractive. The result of feminism, I believe. Westerm women love to put men down. Third world women treasure a good man in their life, as they should. It is really that simple. Hey, I am continuing to search for my dream girl. I am aware that there is more to living joyfully with someone than good sex and good chemistry. To be a good match, the couple needs common interests, common goals and values. Yet age and culture differences are no barrier to matching on these levels. otherwise, children and grandparents could never love or live with one another - and yet they do. I am making close friends along the way, friends meet my need for belonging and love. Even if we never go all the way to marriage, what we build is good and worth the effort. Blessings to all my fellow travellers out there. Ingat ka, mga gwapa...hahaha
20th January 2007

I heard about your accident
Hi. I met Pete and Derek. Derek did by the cheaper house and Pete went on to travel to Indonesia. I arrived on Siargao on New Years Eve and heard about your motorcycle accident. It didn´t put me off to go on a ride myself and thoroughly enjoy it. Anyway, I loved your report, mainly because i have had a great time in Siargao (even without romance) and it briefly put me back into that atmosphere.
14th March 2007

Great Blog
Another thoughtful, meaningful, and well-written entry that is very informative
22nd March 2007

If the shoe fits
_Any_ woman is better than an American woman.
3rd July 2007

Ehi mate, in my last journal ([diary=176201]) I make reference to this one of you, I thought it was correct to let you know. Marco
19th July 2007

Isn't it Ironic how guys from Eastern Europe go elsewhere to find love, and Americans go on romance tours to Eastern Europe to do the same thing? Everybody has their hand in someone else's pot. I spent 3 years in west africa, where I had a few relationships. I didn't marry because none of the women had enough education, and I am not financially stable enough to support two. In the US in takes two incomes to make it today. I think a woman is attractive not only physically but in the way she needs you. You really would be saving her life by marrying her. That is an attractive prospect to any male. Even other animals operate in that way. American women give you the impression they don't need anyone. Their independence has cut them off emotionally from their men.
28th August 2007

I miss you blogs!!!!
19th September 2007

What are you waiting for?
HI! What are you waiting for to add blogs? I miss them terribly! You were born to write...
21st September 2007

He's been too busy preparing for his wedding! But I'm sure that we'll soon get a long blog from that, with lot's of pictures and details. And maybe even some shots of the new baby? You can only hope!:)
7th November 2007

sad but true
Long time ago before tourism, the ideal habitation was when filipino girls were only for filipino boys. In that way the pinoys retain their stock and all. In the advent of world interaction, of which tourism is one, the eyes of most of filipino women have been diverted to these white visitors..big stature, tall, handsome, different and most especially with bulging pockets. No longer do pinoy fathers willingly give their daughters' hands to locals but prefer to yield them to some white foreigner who promises them freedom from poverty. The old pinoy culture is somewhat chipped away slowly and lost forever. If the culture of poverty persists in this island republic, more and more pinoy moral and cultural values would be lost.
21st November 2007

Life After Love At First Sight
To the author..I wish you know whats going on with the life of Derek and his "wife" now so does what happened to properties he invested millions of pesos with...poor derek...sighh
27th November 2007

Great read...
You aren't a moral hair splitter, others make reductionist arguments about this issue. I've never understood why these unions are any different from a western woman improve her station through marriage. Filipinas aren't as desperate as we often believe.
19th February 2008

The grounds of morality
Interesting, in this blog you push the moral superiority of single Western males who are not involved in the sex trade. There are a couple of points though. 1. Tourism, including your jaunts to exotic locations helps make commodities out of local people and places (where they live). 2. The exchange of sex, or romance, or marraige as a socioeconomic transaction is a part of Western culture just as much as the places you visited. I will not argue the point but will point out that expensive flashy cars are supposssed to get the gal in western countries ahahahhaha..sure
20th July 2008

First I would like to congratulate the author on a good story and a good read. I can relate alot to what you are saying as in my heart I have come up against the same conflicting issues relative to our westen society and theirs. I know many 20 something backpackers later return in middle age and become what they once pretended to despise. A well trodden path. Lets face its not just the exotic locations you find attractive but also their women. But you dont need to feel ashamed. But like I said alot of what you say is true and overlaps with things I have also felt. I confess to falling in love with one of these girls a few years back and some would call me a sex tourist. If you would like to get into the mind of a monger, you can...
24th March 2009

Romance and Sex
This is a good topic, Romance and sex is so important these days, I'm a more kick back guy. When it comes to sex I travel to the caribbean at this place called Charlisangels Exotic Resort. A paradise with babes all around, great sex vacation. When it comes to romance I go to Venice with my wife and enjoy this lovely culture full of good vibes.
3rd April 2009

Nicely written, mate. Echoes a lot of my thoughts on the Philippines...and your attitude to the STs mirrors my own. I'll read a bit more when I get a minute. Good stuff, mate. Warren
21st April 2009

Dear broke-back backpacker, I admire your "hands off my penis" approach to the Philippines, it's important to have standards. Prostitution is common in SE Asia and places in Europe so why not just write about that problem? You know, many Asian women marry older rich guys even from their own race. Why is it necessary to target outmarriages in the Philippines involving Caucasians in particular? Why do you want to stick your nose where it doesn't belong? Does it make you feel like a bigger person to take pity on the Philippines or to blame white guys who marry Filipinas (a.k.a "sexpats")? Go back to broke-back mountain and go back to talking about your boyfriend's ass.
21st April 2009

Hmmm good post but don't forget that the Philippines is still a part of Asia with the exception that they have been a lot more exposed to Western culture and people compared to most areas. From my experience, there is the economical element of finding a Western partner, but there's also a fetish for Western guys just like there is a fetish for Asian women in the US. Ignoring all filipinas is pretty much saying that they are all the same. It's ridiculous to assume all of them want to use you for money or that all foreigners in a relationship are exploiting somehow. It's just another attempt to paint the world white and black, good and evil. Sex is only one aspect of a relationship.
23rd April 2009

Thanks for the comment 50%
You´ve really made me think; perhaps I should write a blog about suspiciously defensive homophobes who leave sad anonymous little comments on travel blog websites (they inadvertently stumble across whilst googling their favourite pastime) don´t happen to know anyone like that do you? Anyway, you seem like a pretty deep philosophical kinda guy, so I´ll cut you a deal; you send me a valid email address and when I get a boyfriend, I´ll send you a picture of his ass!
23rd April 2009

Hi Travis
I think I know what you are trying to say, but having lived and travelled in Asia for many years seeing Asian women as "fetish" is a little ethnocentric. Are Turkish women the same as Japanese women; Indians, Chinese, Saudi, Thai, Sri Lankan, Korean...? Asia makes up 60% of the worlds population - as such would it be fair to say a "fetish" for Asian women is a fetish for women? And would me calling white North American women a "fetish" be painting the world in black and white?
6th September 2009

too true
every thing you say is true more or less, haveing maried 1 filipina and 2 thais over the years, the first marriage we were both 20, the second i was 10 years older, and the third 20 yuears older, and I say so what, mt aussie mates all who married aussie woman ,all got divorced to, and my wives were at least resonaby to quite attractive, compared to the over weight and dominating aussie wives , also I alway felt that I was the man , in our relationships, not a hen pecked wimp, on top of the bull shit my mates had to go through to (win) their brides, practally made to jump through hoops, for the privalage of liveing in missery,,, they asian girls have been with at least played the role of the femminine and sexy woman, better many failed marriages to lovely asian woman ,then 1 (succsesfull) but miserable relationship with a white political correct contrlling and sexless mistresss,,,,,,,,,,,,,
23rd September 2009

great article
First this wasn't a blog post. This was a full-blown, well thought out and executed article. Great job. I'm an American living in the PI and I see the subject of your article almost daily. While only 34 I just married a Filipina. Had NO plans to do so when I moved here 5 years ago (moved my company here from Atlanta for inexpensive programmers/designers). Unlike the norm, my wife has a college education and a steady job in outdoor advertising (billboards and the like). Still the "pinay's take great care of their men" thing is dead on accurate. I'm a fiercely independent bloke but I must admit it's damn nice to have someone who really likes to take care of me.
18th October 2009

Local Tour Guides and Sex Workers
Would you kindly explain the distinction between the eal local tour guides and sex workers posing as tour guides/interpreters as it is blurred to me. Will a real Filipino local tour guide who got slept off her feet by a western tourist still fall under your notion of Romance Tourism ?
23rd December 2009

I was reading with great anticipation to hear you talk about how the waves were. Forget about the other stuff, how was the surf????
23rd December 2009

3rd January 2010

On the money about Money
Your observation abt money shattering the illusion is absolutely true! Those who sell love are more far-sighted than those who trade in flesh. Why bill by the hour when you can get on retianer?
11th June 2010

thanks for that
im in australia i got married in philoppines ,stayed 3 weeks came back shes still there,visa costs , im thinking of living there and retire, but income ? getting a job , any idears, im a christian and would like to be part of revival there, miricles etc , how do westerners suport themselves there?
20th June 2010

happiness is not the easy life
Although it is nice to visit the Philippines and relax on our powerful dollar, simply living there, doing nothing and having a beautiful wife is not enough to make one happy. On the outside of things, it seems like the perfect life, but honestly, it's our work and accomplishments which should actually make us happy. Achieving a good family is one of them, but you need more than that. You need a real challenge. I will not settle for anything unless I work for it myself. I have to fix my own car; I have to build my own projects. The worst thing about working on something is when it's finished. So running away from your problems (not having a wife, not wanting to work so much, etc...) is not going to make you happy. Some may think they are happy, but those intelligent as I realize that one must keep very busy to actually feel happy, to feel satisfaction in what I'm doing.
26th June 2010

25th August 2010

It's pretty simple!
If their goverment was not so corrupt an greedy they would have better ways to make money like so many places in the world. I have lived here Angeles city,Philippines the last 7 yrs an nothing has changed an never will.Most friends here are 10 or 15 yrs older than me an their gfs or wives 10 or 15 yrs younger than my wife.We go Thailand every 2 yrs for few weeks pretty much same there.
30th August 2010

A Need to Dominate
I'll be the first to admit that I find Filipinas sexy, but I'm blown away at how many guys flat out stated that they couldn't feel dominant in a relationship with ladies from their own country. Marriage is about equality. No wonder you guys went through tw0, three marrriages.
21st July 2011

I read every bit of your blog.. you should be a writer well done!
27th November 2011

Good website
I support your website

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