, July 18, 2024

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Arms and Loins: The Human Toll of Our Greatest 'Assets'

  •   4 min reads
Arms and Loins: The Human Toll of Our Greatest 'Assets'
ART by the author
By Vincent R. Pozon

The scarring of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol reminded me of the harmful effects of tourism, prompting the article.

Our strength lies in the people, which is why minds, arms and legs are our biggest export. We are a large English-speaking people, notoriously obedient, subservient even; the default career goal of the young graduating from college is to leave the country. 

I was once invited to speak about love for country at PUP, today's center of student radicalism. Before the lecture, I asked, "Who among you would prefer to leave the country, live abroad?" The sea of hands was painful to see. I no longer ask that question whenever I do that lecture.

We do not have natural attractions of the scale of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, or man-made landmarks like the Giza pyramids, Great Wall, Ankor Wat, the Taj Mahal, or the Roman Colosseum.

We are told, incessantly, that our biggest tourist attraction is the people. 

Skills export and tourism are the national streams of revenue I wish we could deprioritize, for they cause pain, the sort that scars for generations.

One divides families, the other invites the worst of the world to our shores.

If we're trying for 10 million visitors, we're trying for 4 million sex tourists. Yearly. 

According to Harry Thomas, former US ambassador to the Philippines, 40 percent of all visitors are sex tourists. He withdrew what he said after getting flak, but really, you can’t take back what the heart knows. Angeles City is the “supermarket of sex”, and that was writ with quotation marks, meaning it's not mine, but an epithet known to the merchandise, to the trade and to the customers. 

Apparently you don’t need US bases to have a wildly flourishing sex industry. They come from all over the world and “flock to the bars and clubs of Fields Avenue - and to the impoverished young women who work there,” reported Al Jazeera. Macau may be the gambling capital in this part of the world, but "Angeles City is now a centre for international sex tourism,” second to Thailand. “It is a place where 'you can’t help but get laid', says an article in the Guardian.

‘Do you ever think about me?’: the children sex tourists leave behind
Their fathers visited the Philippines to buy sex: now a generation of children want to track them down

The World Sex Guide is exuberant in their review of the sex industry in the country. "The majority of Filipinas speak English well and offer a great girlfriend experience. It means that men can find sex, friendship, and intimacy. Communication is not an issue as in other Southeast Asian countries... Prostitution in the Philippines is great for having the best night of your life."

Sex Tourism in the Philippines - A Comprehensive Guide - World Sex Guide
There’s nothing like a little travel and exploration to recharge our batteries. We’ve all heard about the Philippines for decades, but have never really given it much thought. However, with its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture, it’s become one of the hottest spots in Southeast Asia, not only for international…

The Guide proceeds to giddily describe the opportunities for the interested reader, always with superlatives.

"The country has the hottest nightlife in the whole world. The girls are gorgeous and the nightclubs are filled with lots of action. If you go to the Philippines, you will never go home disappointed. You will have fun in the Philippines and have lots of women ready to sleep with you". 

On the news a while back was a raid on a house where young children were sexually abused at the behest of Westerners watching via webcams. Our young are preferred by the pedophiles of the world because — according to the police – the tots can speak in English after the third grade.

We export talent, we import pain. 

Our strength is our weakness. Diversifying our economy through local industries, innovation, and value-added production could create more dignified opportunities at home, reducing our dependence on problematic sectors. However, our presidential form of government, with its short-term focus, often hinders investment in longer-term economic solutions.

But rejoice – there's good news! There's a silver lining to our crumbling education system: it might inadvertently help solve these two national crises - by producing a generation neither fit for export nor fluent enough for exploitation.

Vincent R. Pozon

After a year of college, Koyang entered advertising, and there he stayed for more than half a century, in various agencies, multinational and local. He is known for aberrant strategic successes (e.g., Clusivol’s ‘Bawal Magkasakit’, Promil’s ‘The Gifted Child’, RiteMED’s ‘May RiteMED ba nito?', VP Binay's 'Ganito Kami sa Makati', JV Ejercito's 'The Good One'). He is chairman of Estima, an ad agency dedicated to helping local industrialists, causes and candidates. He is co-founder and counselor for advertising, public relations, and crisis management of Caucus, Inc., a multi-discipline consultancy firm. He can be reached through vpozon@me.com.

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