As I am not an American citizen, I did not follow the coverage in the mass media of Lance Corporal Smith who has been convicted to 40 years of imprisonment by a court in the Philippines because of the wrong he was thought to have committed to a lady of that country.
I do not belong to the generation that sprayed "Ami go home" on house walls. When I was young, my country was liberated by American soldiers from fascism, and this I shall never forget. I am well aware that it was not the US Army who declared a war of democratisation on Iraq. I am not biased against American uniforms.
So when I read that the setting of the alleged crime of Corporal Smith, 20 years old, had been in Olongapo City, I had a stroke of enlightenment, that the Corporal might well be innocent and his conviction a major political crime. What happened to him could – with bad luck – also be the fate of simple mongers in Thailand. Police and the judicial system in both countries have appalling similarities.
I have been in Olongapo not as a tourist, but because my company had had business with a nearby radio station.
For many years Olongapo has been – under the name of Subic Bay – an important American Navy base. But their leasing contract was not renewed in 1992, and the Navy withdrew. This left a lot of people jobless, from steelworkers to striptease dancers. Then the mayor – and later his widow – decided that a city without visiting GIs didn't need a naughty nightlife. All gogo bars were closed, causing still greater joblessness among fun workers.
For this ethical cleansing of Olongapo the mayor received from the West the "Konrad-Adenauer-Price", named after a former catholic mayor of Cologne and awarded for good city governance. What surprised me was that the price judges of the Adenauer-Foundation in Europe had at all been able to notice progress in Olongapo, which is not a breakfast name there.
It didn't take me long to discover the missing link. German Catholics sponsor an asylum for abused children in Olongapo, as good Catholics do in many parts of the world. A collateral effect of this charity is that the more the world learns about paedophilia, the more will be donated to the asylum in Olongapo. So this city has become a vanguard in the war against child abuse. BKKSW recently posted a story about three noble ladies that came to Asia to join in this fight. The world press learned that Olongapo was a paradise for paedophiles. A whole TV-crew flew in from Germany to shoot a prime time documentation on child abuse. They engaged guides, scouts and touts, and all they found out was: "We could not film proof, but we were told that child prostitution exists in Olongapo."
The fight against paedophilia has two sides. While a number of abominable criminals has been convicted by an Olongapo court, the verdicts lacked sometimes the proof of guilt. When I was there I heard that a man from down under was convicted in Olongapo to five years of imprisonment. As far as I could research on location, the culprit had been approached by a girl from the Manila slums who showed him her ID-card to prove that she was old enough to be a money earner for her family. At his trial the police produced neither the girl nor the ID-card as evidence, which it probably might not have been. So the man was convicted just on hearsay.
While shit happens everywhere, I am sure that children would have no big chance to earn money by offering themselves in Olongapo, because they would be swept from the streets by legal aged streetwalkers in defence of their turf.
The financial status of most young woman in Olongapo is scary. Many depend on some pocket money from male white visitors. Even if a visitor is heavily imbibed, like Corporal Smith was, it is hard not to find a consensual partner.
One evening in Olongapo when I could not sleep, I left my hotel and walked to the nearby "Midway" bar. Its best attractions were a pool table and darts. I asked for a beer and got a beaker of "Red Horse". It tasted so awful that I had to mix it half and half with local brandy to get it down. I drank three or four big glasses of this mix. Then a woman in a white dress invited me to play pool with her. I still remember that I stretched my left hand to the top of the cue, and then I had a total blackout. It was not that I tumbled down drunken. I felt that my consciousness left me like on the wings of a grey dove, leaving back a golem-like body. I have no memory at all what this golem did in the following hours. When I became awake, I was in my hotel bed, undressed, and in my arms I held a beautiful naked woman.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Alina. Don't you remember?"
"Sleep a little longer."
I caressed her hips and slept on.
What awoke me next time was the sound of church bells, calling for the morning mass. My bed companion rose and dressed. Then she said to me: "Can you please give me eight hundred Peso?"
I gave her the money (which amounted to 600 Baht) and received a kiss on the beck.
Until today I am tormented by the uncertainty of what happened in that night between the golem and Alina. Why slept we both without underwear?
I went to the "Midway" in the afternoon and learned that she was not a regular. I got her cell phone number, but it was silent. It must have been some piece of work for her to lead the golem me back to my hotel room and undress me. What for? I am sure I was not drugged in the bar, because I missed nothing from my belongings.
If I try to reconstruct the case of Corporal Smith, I would assume that he had fun in Olongapo without using force. But then he committed a terrible mistake. He forgot or refused to pay for his pleasure. Not to compensate a fun partner for her trouble, can cause dangerous reactions, in Thailand as well as in the Philippines. I can imagine that the drunken girl, when she realised that she would not receive one Peso (or one thousand), underwent an instant memory change. From what originally might have been soft sex now become in retrospective an act of brutal rape. There is nothing like a free lunch in Asian beds. Unfortunately her accusations fell in Olongapo on the fertile soil of the anti-sex tourist-crusaders there, to which belong local authorities and Western moralists.
Could – I asked – the same happen to Farangs in LOS? My answer is yes and no. Yes, because there exists a certain xenophobia in this country. No, because I assume the CIA would have a greater influence here than in the PIs. But if you come from a country which hopes to get a contract for the building of a brand new airport as replacement for Suvarnabhumi, than you cannot expect in a comparable case that your embassy will do anything for you.
So please, western Adonises, be careful and don't expect to get a free lay because of you looks. Paying the price or making an unsolicited donation is the best insurance money can by.
This is a very good point you make here. A fellow who does not pay, out of choice, or perhaps because he was not in a state to know quite what to do, risks a very harsh lesson. It is always best to compensate people for their services in these parts.