Thursday, February 24, 2011


Having returned from the Philippines only a few days ago, I can’t adequately express what I’ve experienced over the last five weeks. I’m sitting at my desk, looking out the window where open fields and wooded acres replace the pavement and buildings of the city. Clean country fragrance fills the air that I breathe instead of smog and the stench of sewer. The stillness surrounding our home is a welcoming relief from the constant honking of horns, blaring music and chattering marketeers. Ahh, the comforts of home! However, having returned from halfway around the world, the tranquility of home is not capable of erasing the pictures in my mind or the pain in my heart:

• Fields Avenue in Balibago, Angeles City, Philippines: Countless bars line the streets; girls dressed for seduction lure the passersby to enter. Their bodies communicate that sex is not only for sale, but it’s cheap and there’s a lot of it!
• Drugged in order to endure the pain in her heart, her beautiful body dances before the drooling vultures waiting to make their purchase for only 1,200 pesos ($25.00)!
• Old enough to be her grandfather, “the customer” lustfully parades his trophy down the street for others to see before directing her to his hotel room.
• Bus loads of men arriving for their weekend package deals.
• Multiple men leaving the bar together with their new purchase; one girl.
• Fearful of what they might do to her, two of her friends walk with her as far as her “dates” will allow. When she returns, her friends surround her with comfort knowing that her “dates” were likely violent.
• Aware that her job barely provides enough to eat, her precious children have no idea what she endures in order to feed them.
• The threatening glare of the mamasan (female pimp) directed toward the young girl who is too frightened to dance. She’s a virgin, a "cherry girl." Mamasan knows that she will bring in as much as 24,000 pesos ($500)!
• Fear is etched in his face as I interview the father of an “at risk” daughter. His greatest concern; “Will she receive a scholastic scholarship to complete her education or will she have to sell herself in order to survive?
• The little girl on the streets of the Red Light District trying to make money to survive. Selling roses to the men who just purchased their “date,” might feed her today, but it won’t be enough to prevent her from entering into the next generation of “dancers.”

Over 70% of Philippine women live in poverty, thus making them and their children particularly vulnerable to prostitution.

There are an estimated 375,000 women and girls in the sex trade in the Philippines, mostly between the ages of 15 and 20, though some are as young as 10.

Angeles City is one of the largest sex tourist destination in the world with just over 15 thousand women working in its various sex establishments (brothels, bars and videokes).

There are more than 1.5 million street children in the Philippines that may end up in prostitution and drug trafficking. Many will either be stolen from their villages or sold by their families to prostitution recruiters. Poverty stricken children and teenagers are often lured into the industry by promises of money and care, only to be coerced into the sex industry for tourists, kept there by threats, debt bondage and the fear of poverty. Being the country with the fourth greatest number of prostituted children, authorities have identified an increase in pedophiles travelling to the Philippines. Men from around the world use 60,000 to 100,000 children in the Philippines for their sexual pleasure! Notorious for offering sex with children, children as young as ten years old have been rescued from brothels in Angeles City!

Why do the authorities of Angeles City or other cities allow such sordid exploitation of women and children? The business is lucrative! When the international sex mafia moves in and invites sex tourists from all over the world to come and purchase sex to their heart’s desire, the economy of a city flourishes. Exposing and prosecuting sex tourists threatens a valuable revenue source that governments and businesses have come to depend upon, particularly in developing nations like the Philippines.
What do I do with the pictures in my mind and the pain in my heart?
I don’t want to merely go on with life as if this were only an experience to write home about.

I cannot continue in my comfort while millions of women and children around the world have to choose between starving and serving 20-40 lust-filled men per day.

Lord, how do you want me to respond?


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