It was about 3 am and time to head back to the hotel after an evening of barhopping. It had been a good evening including visits to many bars and more than a few San Migs. I had set out at about 8 pm with the firm intention of chatting to girls but NOT barfining. This was partly because I had just come from Bangkok where I had, if anything, over-indulged, and partly because it is sometimes more fun just to barhop.
It was the ‘just one more bar and one more drink’ syndrome that began it. So instead of ending up back at the hotel, I ended up in a small bar just around the corner – Lollipop I think it was called. I only wanted another drink and another eyeful, and maybe another chat with a bargirl – but this one was different.
It was the eyes that did it – big, sexy doe-eyes (anybody remember Madeline Smith, the glamour-puss of the Hammer Horror films? Well, eyes like that). But much more than sexy – they shone with intelligence, and that intelligence quickly showed itself in conversation, even though her English was limited. That’s a combination that really does it for me – beauty and intelligence – especially when found in the women of SEA. In the west, sadly, intelligence usually equates with feminist belligerence.
As we headed back to the hotel I reflected that it is usually on nights when I am trying to AVOID barfining that I barfine best girls. I think it’s because when I am over-eager I choose too quickly, but when I am not bothered, I just turn them away one after another until, in the end, I meet a girl who is just too good to turn away.
In the event, things were not that simple, because though she had been touchy-feely in the bar, in bed she was unresponsive – though she didn’t actually say no. Now, if I had been like I was before I discovered the delights of the SEA, in other words, like a man dying of thirst in a desert, I’d have jumped her there and then – but I wasn’t – I was a man who had just spent a satisfying week in Bangkok, so I could afford to be understanding. That said, my first thought was to ask her to leave. However, I decided there was no harm in letting her stay (especially as she had to share a bed with three other girls in small, hot room).
She started telling me about herself. She had only been working for eight days and hated it. She had to work a nine-hour shift from 7 pm to 4 am for which she was paid a grand total of 130 pesos (about $2.80). Of course, she also received half the price of each lady drink and barfine – but there hadn’t been too many of those (the customer/girl ratio is even more heavily stacked against them than in Thailand). She said that she usually told potential customers that she was only available for bar-hopping, but that she had decided to force herself to ‘go through with it this time’. However, she couldn’t face it. When I asked her why, she explained that her only experience was with a Pinoy boyfriend who had taken her virginity and then just dropped her. A bad experience, but many bargirls have suffered the same or worse without it affecting their sexuality, so I wondered if it went deeper than that. Perhaps it’s simply that she didn’t fancy any of her fat, elderly, western customers (me included), and if she met a guy she really liked she would melt into his arms, all her hang-ups forgotten.
She had finished high school a few months earlier and wanted to go to university. As her family couldn’t afford to support her, she hoped to make enough money by working as a bargirl. She now realised that she wasn’t up to it and wanted go back home. She said that she would be quite happy now to make do with an ordinary job, for example, in a shop, that would pay 100 pesos a day. However, she was trapped in the bar for the rest of the month because she owed mamasan for her registration, tax, and first medical check. That, plus her travel costs, would come to about 3,500 pesos (about $75).
In return, I told her about my rocky marriage and admitted to my butterfly tendencies. I was surprised at her response. She said, ‘Thank you for treating me with respect.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘You didn’t force me to have sex, and now you are telling me the truth.’ She went on to tell me that another dream of hers was to get married, and that if she had a husband she would be very devoted to him. She said it sincerely, and I believed her, but wondered how she would cope with a future husband’s sexual needs.
As we chatted I admired her beautiful body and made a mental inventory of her plus and minus points:
- Very beautiful face
- Perfect body with petite waist and full breasts, about 5ft tall and perfectly proportioned
- Highly intelligent with potential for higher education
- Unspoiled as yet by the bar scene – literally, because she had not had sex with any customers
- From Mindanao
- Has some kind of hang up about sex
I thanked my lucky stars for those minus points! Otherwise I would have been a goner, and would at this very moment have been funding her university education and planning our marriage (she made it very clear that that was the only basis on which she would enter a relationship). Of the two minus points, I don’t know which bothered me the most. Mindanao gets a pretty scary write-up on the British Foreign Office website. On the other hand, I’m not interested in having sex with someone who might never get further than lying back and thinking of the Philippines.
However, I liked her enough to keep her for the three nights of my stay. On the last night I offered to pay her account with mamasan so she could get out of the bar straight away. We were in Skytrax disco when I made the offer, and the thought crossed my mind that the 5,000 pesos might act as a powerful aphrodisiac when we got back to the hotel. I hasten to add that I didn’t offer her the money for that reason – on the contrary. Though I would have responded with delight to an offer of passionate sex, I was genuinely concerned that I might fall for her and end up breaking Foreign Office advice (by visiting her in Mindanao).
Was her story true, or was it just a well-rehearsed tale to milk the westerner? Since I only gave her 5,000 pesos (about $107) it doesn’t really matter – it was worth it just to be in her company. But all the signs of the newbie were there – she had no mobile phone, and to my surprise, had no idea how to operate a computer when we went to an internet café. I told her jokingly, that if I saw her in the bar next time I came to Angeles, that she would owe me 5,000 pesos – but I’m pretty sure that by now she is slaving away for 100 pesos a day in some shanty shop in Butuan City.
© Bysshe, 2008. All rights reserved by the author.