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Interesting Info about Sex Workers in AC, Philippines

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Interesting Info about Sex Workers in AC, Philippines

Postby Mr S » Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:09 pm

'Sisters Plus' aids Angeles sex workers

By Tonette Orejas
August 20, 2008

ANGELES CITY - Apple strode in, wearing a blouse printed with Disney cartoon characters. Angel came like she was ready for a volleyball match, while Naomi looked every bit a fashion model bound for the ramp.

"Pusit kami," Apple said casually before plopping into a chair. Rushing to clear the confusion, she added: "I mean we're not squids or octopuses." As it turned out, "pusit" is their abridged term for "positive." They laughed at their naming game.

"We're HIV positive," Apple said, crossing her forefingers in a plus sign. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

Silence lingered. This was their first time to talk to a reporter. They laughed at the thought.

"Are our lives worth a story?" Angel asked.

What they are doing are worth telling.

Apple, 34, Angel, 21, and Naomi, 30, are the first HIV-positive people in Angeles City who have formed themselves into a group. Many others before them - 73 since 1985 - dealt with the ailment alone or with their families, a few close friends or with some doctors at the defunct Social Hygiene Clinic in the city.

Coming out

"Sisters Plus," the name these three women gave themselves in their coming-out event in a recent AIDS Summit in Angeles, signaled what may be the start of organized actions on the part of HIV-positive persons in the city. Although HIV has scarred their lives and may sooner or later develop into AIDS, they continue trying to find purpose in their lives.

They had stopped selling sexual services when tests confirmed them to be HIV-positive - Apple in 1994, Angel in 2006 and Naomi in 2007. But they chose to work right on Fields Avenue and Friendship Road, serving also Area, the poor man's prostitution den, to be near those still active in the flesh trade and help them protect themselves from HIV.

In their reinvented lives, Apple, Angel and Naomi are counselors and peer educators to the commercial sex workers.

For Apple, this is an entirely new approach to the city's battle against HIV/AIDS. "In late 2005, I asked Dr. (Teresita) Esguerra (former chief of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center) to tap me as a peer educator and counselor because HIV/AIDS was about us. We came from the flesh industry. We know the life of a sex worker," Apple said.

She recruited Angel and Naomi after the two were diagnosed to be "pusit." Their hub has been the RHWC where, daily, between 480 and 600 clients come for the routine weekly smear checkup, RHWC chief, Dr. Lucielle Ayuyao, said. "They come confiding what they notice with their discharge or bodies," Naomi said of her less than a year work at the RHWC.

Angel has been two years on the job. Spunky and patient, she helps doctors locate women whose tests showed them to be positive for HIV or sexually transmitted diseases. "Walang katapusang usap (We would have endless conversations)," she said of her encounters with problematic women.

Apple leads the training team that gives seminars on HIV/AIDS. While a janitress at the RHWC, she learned by observing doctors during lectures. In between cleaning duties, she talked to women who looked troubled. Wanting to do more, she took a counseling course with the Pinoy Plus, the first organization of people with HIV/AIDS.

Mercy

Esguerra's trust in her steeled her determination to excel in her work. "I hadn't answered all the questions during the first seminar I gave and I admitted I didn't know all. But I tried to improve myself because I knew the lives of other women were at stake," Apple said.

In idle time during the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, they help in clerical work, Ayuyao said.

Apple said this bouncing back and helping out began with Mercy, an HIV-positive woman. "Mercy chose not to run away or work again in the bars. She worked here (RHWC) as a janitress then became a counselor. It was through her that I got here. But even as she helped other women, she fought with depression. She died of depression, not from AIDS complications. I took care of her until her death [in 2005]. We cremated her," Apple said.

"She's an angel of courage," she said of her friend who inspired her to continue working with other HIV-positive persons.

Apple, Angel and Naomi said they went into peer education and counseling only after they had accepted their situation. Each went through a difficult process of admission, battling with discrimination within their families, seeking cure, changing lifestyles and, best of all, seizing the courage while rattled by an incurable ailment that they would have to confront all their lives.

They migrated to Angeles from Quezon, Negros Occidental and Surigao del Sur. They finished elementary or high school. All entered the flesh trade in their teens to support their younger relatives or their own children, working in bars that catered to foreigners.

Tough work

Tough is their newfound work. So it is for the RHWC, Angeles City AIDS Council, nongovernment organizations and the city government.

The industry's character is one problem. As a "rest and recreation industry," it catered mainly to the US military at the nearby Clark Air Base until 1991. Since then, the red light district has lived on both the US military soldiers that come for some 30 or so war exercises yearly, and sex tourism, according to Susan Pineda, executive director of the Ing Makababaying Aksyon (Pro-Women Action).

For another, the figures are unsettling. The city has 180 "R & R establishments" as of March 2007, or more than double the 78 "entertainment establishments" that the defunct Social Hygiene Clinic recorded to be the highest in June 1996.

Citing estimates by insiders, Pineda pegged the number of registered sex workers at 12,000. The unregistered ones are more or less that same number.

Ayuyao said that between 6,000 and 7,000 had renewed health licenses as of March to work in entertainment establishments. The number will climb in the next few months, she said.

Monthly consolidated reports by the RHWC showed that 38,312 women and 302 men made "initial visits" to the center in 2007 for tests to show proof of clean health. The RHWC administered 120,402 smear tests, but the figure did not indicate the number of women who repeated the test.

'Most at risk'

The RHWC's "most at risk population" can, in itself, be considered a large group. The number of registered female sex workers starts from a low of 3,509 to a high of 3,738. Men having sex with men number from 957 to 2,871. The clients of female sex workers reach a low of 1,630 to a high of 5,706.

HIV-positive cases have been on the rise. Twenty-three cases were recorded from 1985 to 1993 (the years when the US Naval Medical Research Unit II funded the HIV surveillance program in Angeles); 53 more cases were recorded from 1994 to 2007.

Two more cases were recorded in the first three months of 2008, bringing the total to 78.

STD cases rose five times. The RHWC treated 1,421 cases in 2005, 2,516 cases in 2006 and 6,229 cases in 2007. Most of the afflicted were women; there were only 69 men among the recorded cases.

Conditions encourage women to sell their bodies.

Inquirer sources say the bar fine system, or the sale of sexual services through the bars, is still in practice. From the current rate of P1,350, women get P650 while the mama san (pimp) gets P50 as commission. The rest goes to the bar owner.

Women are drawn to the bar fine system at one point or another. Wages are below the government-set minimum wage of P240 to P260. A dancer is paid P130 nightly and a waitress, P80.

In the recent AIDS summit, regulators dealt with two concerns: How to increase the competency of health providers and regulators to prevent the epidemic rise of HIV/AIDS "which may lead to the downfall of the tourism industry and the economy of the city."

Angeles Mayor Francis Nepomuceno has acknowledged the problem.

"We admit having HIV cases and that prostitution may be flourishing. We're taking decisive actions to protect the people in the red light districts, especially the minors," he said.

Dr. Cheryl Tuazon, the city health officer, said the city government has allotted P3.9 million, or 10 percent of the gender and development fund this year, for "strengthening the delivery of health care services of the RHWC." At least 30 percent of that is appropriated for medicines, she said.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Informative article

Postby WorldTraveler » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:44 pm

Good article. I think they are not regularly checking for AIDS? I think it is just STD. I heard they give blood tests only once every 6 mo. There are oral tests but I doubt they spend the money to do these.

Anyone know what kind of tests they give in AC?
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Postby Mr S » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:17 am

Yes, you're mainly right. From my understanding it's too expensive for the girls to get thorough examinations, so most of the time the doctors just give a quick look over and give them a pass. I highly doubt they check for aids as it's too expensive, a swab test? Forget that, they don't have the technology over there yet! If they get an STD they only find out usually when it gets really bad or the guy they slept with before happens to mention something as woman sometimes don't notice them as fast as men do. Believe me, STD's are quite rampant in the AC bars, especially UTI's, Gonorrhea and Herpes. I've never heard anyone catching warts there or aids yet, but I suppose if you live there long enough and don't use protection that could be a possibility, as condoms are considered optional with most woman there.
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Postby WorldTraveler » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:45 am

Mr. S. do you live in AC or the Phil? I believe the "cleaning" as they refer to them is not much as you have said, just visual. I'm guessing the Dr. or nurse gets paid by the number they do and doesn't give a shit. I know of men not using condoms having gotten STDs from these "inspected" girls. From what I have seen the girls are clueless about the dangers. I was told by a friend who likes to go bareback that only 50% of the girls require him to wear a condom. Pretty amazing since the girls are told to use condoms. If you go to internationalsexguide site, there is a whole section on Phil. and it is amazing how many of the guys do all sorts of things w/o protection, not mention pride themselves on doing oral sex on the girls. AMAZING

Mr S wrote:Yes, you're mainly right. From my understanding it's too expensive for the girls to get thorough examinations, so most of the time the doctors just give a quick look over and give them a pass. I highly doubt they check for aids as it's too expensive, a swab test? Forget that, they don't have the technology over there yet! If they get an STD they only find out usually when it gets really bad or the guy they slept with before happens to mention something as woman sometimes don't notice them as fast as men do. Believe me, STD's are quite rampant in the AC bars, especially UTI's, Gonorrhea and Herpes. I've never heard anyone catching warts there or aids yet, but I suppose if you live there long enough and don't use protection that could be a possibility, as condoms are considered optional with most woman there.
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Postby Mr S » Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:51 am

I live in the Manila area and have gone to AC many times in the past, however I have not been there for over 6 months now as I don't get my rocks off from it as much as when I first visited the Philippines. Once you understand the system, culture and how the girls really are here it's not as interesting. But I understand why westerners visiting can't get enough cause they don't have access to an adult Disney land and cheap sex where they live. I think if western cities had open red-light districts in their cities guys wouldn't have to come to places as much like Thailand or the Philippines. The lack of feminine women and inexpensive, easy sex access drives men overseas for the most part. But I suppose that's how the feminists keep their power over men in the western world. Men want p***y so much they are willing to put up with western woman's bullshit to get nookie, unlike in 3rd world countries where men can call the shots like in the old days.

I believe the doctor's or nurses just give a visual inspection and check the woman off as safe. The girls only get checked if they actually have an actual STD that is showing symptoms. I actually can choose to not wear a condom as I am still young looking and healthy. I think the girls size up the guy they are with and make an educated guess whether he is safe to not wear a condom with. I'm sure older guys are pressured to wear one more than a good looking younger guy would be, as also many girls dream of having a mixed white/Filipino baby. They don't really think about the long term consequences of their actions, just thinking about the present. I've actually been celibate for a while now, by my own volition and for personal reasons. I'm taking a sabbatical from sexual relationships for a while.

After traveling all around Asia and having personal experience with STD's, I would never have oral sex with a girl again, whether she is a bar girl or a regular western girl! I think porn spreads the assumption that it is normal and safe, but actually it's more dangerous than having unprotected sex. Image what would happen if you ate a girl out and she had herpes? You would get herpes in and around your mouth and you would be f***ed! Most girls don't show symptoms like guys do and they wouldn't say anything to begin with if they are working in the bar. They probably wouldn't even know what they have! When I used to go to AC I would talk to girls and they would say some girls are "sick" with "red bumps"! They don't even know what they have!. Remember all the bar girls working in AC are uneducated and you're lucky if you find one that has finished high school. Most haven't and have to send the majority of their money back to the province to their family. Or they already have a baby with a Filipino guy and have to support the kid and her family.

Basically bar girls are mainly for play. Occasionally you may be able to find a good one that hadn't been corrupted yet or been seriously damaged by the scene if you get her usually within the first 3 months of her work. After 3 months they are usually damaged goods beyond repair. Remember also that many customers make the girls do drugs with them when they get bar fined. If they do drugs enough it changes their personalities and are f***ed to deal with like a normal person.

But western guys, especially from America are dying for some real feminine attention from woman and when they go to countries like this and get sucked into thinking the girls are just like American girls, only nicer and better looking, it's is not the case. You can't make a proper judgment call of a girl or culture you are visiting for a only a few days or weeks; it takes months and years to make a proper decision and understand what a culture does to an individual both on a positive and negative point. I understand Filipino's and to a lesser extent Thai's and Koreans. Knowing what I know I would not want to marry or have a GF from Thailand or Korea. Philippines could still be an option, only if you can find a good one and you can only do that by living here more months at a time, not days or weeks. I would still consider Philippines as an option for guys wanting to find love and marriage, just don't rush into anything...
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Postby Winston » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:58 pm

WorldTraveler,

Mr S is my advisor in Manila that I told you about. We had plans to meet him remember, and go bar hopping with him, but you got too distracted in AC. It's a pity cause you would have gotten along very well with him. He is honest, no-nonsense, practical, down to earth, and tells it like it is, yet tries to be helpful and informative at the same time.

Maybe next time you come here we can all hang out together.
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Postby Winston » Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:20 am

Hey guess what? A guy I know here who owns two bars in AC just joined this forum. I hope I can get him to share his knowledge and experience about the bar girls and about this hygiene check question posed in this thread. He's really busy but I'll ask if he can share what he knows.
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