125 passengers on a recent Tiger Airways flight from Bangkok to Clark air base (budget airport 2.5 hours north of Manila):
3 families (5 kids total)
18 total female travelers (2 older teenage backpackers, 3 white female travelers, 15 Filipinas)
~20 Filipino men (including a group of about 10 adorable, 30-something gay men)
85 (the rest): bald spots, sunburns, oversized, overwhelmingly middle-aged to older white men
During the flight, on the bus ride across the Tarmac and in the immigration line I search the foreigners’ hands for wedding rings, or even the hint of a tan line across the left ring finger. I find none. Literally zero…
I can’t help but wonder about the intentions of these men as they jollily chat in all number of western accents. Though I can’t make out many of their words, from my days taxiing drunk frat boys and college football fans around to bars in Eugene I recognize the energy of giddy, salivating, unbridled macho lust about to break free in salacious release. That is the feeling I get standing as a lone female amidst these men.
One man gesticulates to his comrades and loudly proclaims the spoils of the coming bounty. He speaks in an Eastern European language but I can easily understand “big orgasm!” and the indulgent laughter that follows.
These men can’t all be here for the same purpose, certainly some work and (I hope) are devoted to their families… An hour later I’m sitting in the back of a jeepney riding thought the neon lit streets of Angeles City.
Angeles City, as a former US Air Base it is synonymous with seedy night life and blatant sex trade. I have been warned repeatedly by other travelers to avoid it, period.
The streets are packed, pretty Filipino girls, a few done-up girlie boys and then a sea of red faces a top polo shirts and khakis weaving and stumbling through the crowd, propped up by relatively tiny women.
The bars have names like “Purple Clove” and “Sinners Palace.” The hotels proclaim flexible rate schedules, varying from half-hours to 12-hour blocks and thematic rooms (casino, Indian jones, pirate, yacht captain). I recognize a group of men from my flight wandering the streets with open beers blithely oblivious to the traffic or much else besides the rows and rows of human showcases.
My skin crawls, I’m getting out of this town as fast as I can… It’s not soon enough.