Just as Super Typhoon Megi moves on, a tropical depression is making its way into the region. This means copious amounts of rain all weekend. Given that this weekend is a 3-day weekend, it means staying indoors. I plan on doing some bowling, which I have not done in 25 days now (yes - you read this right. I bowled with my wife on our last hours together before I got on a plane). I'm also going to start some programming, something that I also wanted to do.
Thanks to @ashamim for recommending the usage of VirtualBox in place of VMWare Fusion. I can now successfully run Rosetta Stone virtualized, and I am on my way to learning Tagalog (albeit slowly). I know the difference between a male and a female, and young and old. That's about it. Several 30 minute chunks later I'm sure I'll be better.
I have to admit, I went back and forth a few times debating internally whether to post what happened to me yesterday. However, it's a rather amusing story in my mind, and it's certainly part of my experience here thus far. In the end, I'm posting a toned down version of what happened.
I was advised yesterday by one of my local co-workers that I should unconditionally take a cab home every night. No questions.
I wrote a few nights ago about having to find new ways to go home since I am working a swing shift - half of my working day is on local Philippine time and the other half is on local US time. My (work) day begins around 2-3PM and goes through 12-1AM. This helps me stay in better touch with both sides of the fence - driving work over here, and still able to participate in work happening in the states. Best of both worlds, right?
The problem is that at night, there are significantly less people outside, significantly less light to guide my path, and fewer ways to get home if I want to remain somewhat safe. I counted yesterday on the way to work - the path that I take to/from work has 18 guards with guns located on the 1km walk. That's a guard every 16 feet - easily within eye shot. The same path on the way home contains 3-4 guards (one on patrol - I've run into this guy one time in the last four nights). Different atmosphere.
Trying to stay on major streets and lit areas, I found myself walking by a local bar. Kept walking, but after about 100m, I heard someone behind me saying Excuse me, sir. Kept walking.
Excuse me, sir.
Sir, Excuse me.
I hit an area where I have to climb some stairs, and immediately the woman is on my left. Defensive action: Insert own hand in pocket. She's about 4'11", dyed blond hair, tons of makeup, skimpy clothing, late 20's/early 30's. 6.5/10. Maybe.
Woman: Excuse me, sir. Would you like a Massage? Me: No, thank you. Woman: I can do Shiatsu, Thai, and Swedish. Me: I am good, thank you. Woman: I can also do special massage - you know, happy ending?
All men entertain the though - I think it's natural. Some men would smile, engage the woman and have a good night. Some men would ignore and keep walking. Some men would flash their wedding ring, attempt to politely decline, and keep walking. Any number of factors is going to go into what the response is - maybe taboos, religion, morals, whatever. Something is going to happen. My response?
12:30AM, walking home with a prostitute walking along side me, and I'm laughing uncontrollably. A little nervous - absolutely. More realistic - I'm also just amused that this random woman comes up to me, and starts offering me a happy ending massage.
Suddenly on my right, another woman approaches. 5'4", jet black hair, modest makeup, modest clothing, 9/10. Defensive action again: right hand now in own pocket. This woman begins pouting and telling me it's her birthday, and that I should show her a good time. At this gesture, the first woman starts goading me on. Apparently, I should take them both home. This is when it gets graphic.
Both women start explaining to me what they would do to me. Slowly. Trying to find the one fantasy that would make me say Ok.
I'm still walking, laughing, and occasionally taking breaths to say 'No, thank you'. The response - 'Yes, thank you. We're coming home with you'. The next point of the conversation goes something like this.
Girls: Why won't you talk to us? You know you want us to go home with you. Me: <chuckling/laughing> Girls: If you're worried about being nervous, just tell us what hotel you are at and what room you are in. We'll come by and show up after you get home. We're discrete.
Apparently, my response isn't as abnormal as I might have thought, because these ladies of the night have a tactic to continue to attempt to entice me - beyond the graphic descriptions of what they would do to me. My response: No, I am not interested. Thank you.
Did they stop following me? Of course not. The entire walk home consisted of this. At one point, one of them asked what I was was worried about and why I wasn't interested. Somehow, in my infinite wisdom, I thought that if I only directly explained with reason why I wasn't interested, then they would go away.
Me: Well, for starters, you're not clean - I don't know where you have been. Secondly, you don't want me, you only really want my money. Third, I'm married. I am not interested. Women: <chuckle>. We have that covered. We are like an army of preparedness! (pulls out condom pack). See! We're clean. We also don't care if you have money, we just want to f*** you for free and show you a good time! Also, where is your wife, anyway?
Reason doesn't work with two prostitutes following you along the street at 12:45AM in the Philippines.
The part that really floors me is the cost of these women. On average, they cost (each) between PHP 1500 - 2000 for a whole night of fun, as it was described to me. That's about $40-$45 (depending on exchange rates for the day). A typical maid working 9-10 hour shifts 7 days a week makes that in about a month. I know I've posted before about the poverty that exists out here... so one night of fun is a month's worth of wages. They only have to get lucky 1 night out of 30. Given this area is full of foreign travelers with no wives/girlfriends/whatever, and the poverty level is what it is... there you go.
Eventually, I made it back to the apartment, and motioned behind to the guards at the door not to let these two women in. They did their job and stopped them, and I was able to get home without further incident.
Now, I'm not allowed to sleep with prostitutes for a few reasons. First off, my dad explicitly told me not to come home with herpes. Wise wisdom from my father. That's a promise I intend to keep. Second, my wife told me not to cheat on her, and also not get herpes. That's two for avoiding herpes, and one for not cheating on my wife. Finally, on principle, I'd like to have sex with some emotion attached to it - not just sex for sex. (as nice as that might have been when I was a young pubescent male, it's not what I enjoy). I kinda like my wife, after-all.
I don't tell this story for any reason other than to document what happened to me, and to act as some sort of catharsis. Frankly, it's an interesting story, but it could have gone several ways south. First off, I could have invited them in, and ruined my marriage. On top of that, there are plenty of rackets where a prostitute who looks underage comes up to your hotel, and is in cahoots with the local law enforcement to extort you for between PHP 50,000 - 100,000 ($1-2K). Child prostitution is punishable by death here. Likewise, I could have just as easily been mugged or beaten up for the cash and goodies that I had on hand. (Laptop/iPad/PHP 10000/iPhone). I'm a walking target of about $2-3k on the black market.
Lesson learned: take a cab.