The Death of Korski, and Other Crimes in the Philippines
It happened near Baguio. That’s all I know about his killing.
It happens when you don’t follow the same rule you follow in Thailand. If you marry a Filipina and live in the Philippines, make sure you’re worth more alive than dead. Don’t let your girlfriend or wife know that you have a large insurance policy with her as the beneficiary. If you have retirement or other money coming in monthly, don’t have it come into a joint account. Give your honeyko an allowance and keep your finances a secret. Don’t buy property of any real value that you have to put in her name. Any or all of the above, as in Thailand, is an invitation to get whacked by unknown boyfriends, husbands, relatives, or a dime store contract killer. Any or all of the above are among the best possibilities to explain why an expat living with or married to a Filipina is found dead, with his throat cut or a bullet to the head.
It happens from time to time in Angeles City when you get away from the main bar areas around Fields Avenue and Perimeter Road and it’s early in the morning and you’ve had way too much to drink. You get mugged, or killed. The likelihood of getting mugged or killed is remote, but it happens.
A crime of lesser consequence happens from time to time when you pick up a freelancer in Manila or Cebu or Angeles City and get charged with being with an underage girl, one under eighteen. That it’s a setup and the girl is working with the police doesn’t make it less of a crime in the eyes of the boys in brown who want your money. To get rid of the criminal charge you’ll have to pay, and as in Thailand the longer you wait to pay the more you’re going to have to pay, and the greater the likelihood of going to jail, even doing prison time.
Another kind of crime is the alleged rape of a bargirl. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. It happens because even though a barfine has been paid, the girl gets cold feet and doesn’t want sex. The customer thinks it’s his right to get between her legs, since that’s what he believes he paid for with the barfine. Pay or no pay, it’s rape either way if a man forces himself on a woman when she says no. The reason the girl gives for not wanting sex is irrelevant. This kind of crime occurs infrequently, and even when it does occur it’s rarely reported to anyone other than the mamasan and the bar manager. The mamasan and the bar manager do nothing because they don’t want any kind of trouble with the police.
Another kind of crime that happens from time to time is where a bargirl gets roughed up, pushed around, slapped about. This kind of crime is also reported infrequently, which doesn’t make it less of a crime. The mamasan and the bar manager again do nothing because they don’t want any kind of trouble with the police, a kind of trouble that cannot be avoided if the girl goes directly to those with guns and law behind them.
There’s another kind of crime, not officially recognized, and not even unofficially recognized by more than a handful of people who have the capacity to think through what they are doing. It is a crime that is many times more frequent than all of those above combined that I have drawn attention to. It is a crime with enormous consequences for those directly affected. What I’m referring to is the blatant advantage that customers take of bargirls, particularly in Angeles, where a high proportion of the girls either willingly, or with very little persuasion, go bareback. There may be as much as an order of magnitude more barebacking among bargirls in the Philippines than in Thailand. It is that prevalent.
This difference is accounted for by several factors. One is that there has been much greater attention to informing bargirls in Thailand that it is dangerous if not deadly to have sex without a condom. No such message, or message with any force, has yet been conveyed to bargirls in Angeles or elsewhere in the Philippines. About the only upside of this difference between Thailand and the Philippines is that the HIV rate is much lower in the Philippines, though it is increasing. It is lower because intravenous drug use by bargirls or their boyfriends is so much lower in the Philippines, close to nonexistent in fact among bargirls. It is also lower because a very small proportion of the boyfriends of Angeles City bargirls are bisexual and have become HIV positive through receptive anal intercourse and then pass on the virus to their bargirl girlfriends.
A more important reason for the high proportion of Angeles City bargirls who go bareback is that they have grown up in significantly larger families than is true in Thailand, and having children is seen as part of the way things are done, not just part of the natural cultural order but the expected cultural order. To have children is seen as highly desirable and something to aspire to, a value that has been promoted and encouraged by the Catholic Church since the arrival of the conquistadores. Tradition and cultural expectations are stronger forces than what outsiders might claim to be “good common sense” that all people share. Good common sense, in this instance, meaning not going bareback, with or without being persuaded to do so, because of the enormous consequences of doing so. If there is one single trait for which young and naïve bargirls in Angeles City are notorious it is that of allegedly lacking “common sense,” little or no comprehension of the consequences, however dire, of what they are doing when they have unprotected sex. But all notions of common sense are culturally and historically rooted, and it is quite commonsensical, and in every sense of the word, for a young and naïve girl from the provinces to practice unprotected sex and to want to keep whatever offspring might result from such behavior.
The other side of the coin, and where criminal behavior so clearly comes into play, even when there is no official recognition of a crime, is what men or customers of bargirls are up to. They don’t want to use a condom, they’re not greatly worried about getting a disease or giving one to the girl, and they give little or no thought to the great price of getting a bargirl pregnant. They are men at best indifferent to the consequences of their behavior, at worst little more than despicable criminals with a true caveman mentality. It never occurs to them that by going bareback they could be committing a quite serious crime. A crime that measured in terms of the number of people affected and the length of time over which the consequences are remorselessly played out is, arguably, the most serious crime committed by foreigners in the Philippines. Certainly the most serious in terms of frequency of occurrence.
No one has done the survey work to find out just how many children Angeles City bargirls are having as a result of unprotected sex with their customers. But my snooping on the matter, initiated by some ideas given to me by Korski on the one time I met him in an Angles City bar by the name of Lancelot, has produced some startling anecdotal evidence. I have talked to more than a dozen Angeles City mamasans and bargirls about the number of bargirls who are pregnant at any one time. In a bar that has upwards of fifty girls, and there are a considerable number of this size in Angeles City, it is not uncommon for there to be anywhere between three and six or seven pregnant bargirls at any one time, all of them made pregnant by customers. Only a small proportion of these girls will do what is illegal in the Philippines, get an abortion.
The men who commit these crimes represent all nationalities, but those who seem to be more culpable than most at present are the Koreans, followed by the Japanese. More insistently than others, Koreans don’t want to wear a condom, and it’s not because they’re older and have what is euphemistically referred to as problems of erectile dysfunction. By the second or third time they have gone with a bargirl they have convinced her to go bareback. Or they have gone bareback the very first time with the girl, either because she doesn’t care, as so many don’t, and can’t see the consequences, or because she innocently and naively accepts at face value the claim by the Korean or Japanese customer that he is clean, cleanliness a more important matter in their minds than getting pregnant, it seems. Once the girl is made pregnant, the Koreans and the Japanese, and even other men from the U.S. and England and Australia, are, on the whole, not much different than the prototypic Filipino boyfriends who got the overwhelming majority of bargirls pregnant in the Visayas or Mindanao or Manila, or in other provinces. In the first instance, it is the irresponsible Filipino boyfriends who can be blamed for the young girls turning to prostitution, doing so because they were abandoned and without any means of support for themselves and their child or children. Foreign men are, in a sense, the second wave, the multipliers, the men who compound or make worse the problem by giving the young women another child, and in most cases behaving no different than the young Filipinos who created the problems for the young girls. The foreigners don’t run to another barangay or town, they just go back home to Seoul or Tokyo or Sydney or Seattle.
The crime is considerable. The customer, who had his feel-good skin-on-skin shot or two or three pays no price for giving the bargirl the very last she needed, another child to support. Much more often than not, the only price he pays for his crime is perhaps a sense of guilt for his errant behavior, a guilt easily forgotten or brushed aside, little different than the guilt felt after stealing from the candy jar when mom wasn’t looking. Some of the girls who get pregnant in Angles City get an abortion, one that costs 6,000 to 7,000 pesos, the equivalent of a good five or six barfines. A great many of the bargirls who are going bareback are not even getting half a dozen barfines a month. And then there is the cost of not working while recovering from the abortion, and for some the post-abortion problems of bleeding and a botched job that lead to one or more trips to the hospital, and plenty of down time away from a fucking and sucking job that pays little no matter how calculated.
In short, then, the real crime, the crime that matters in Angeles City and elsewhere in the Philippines because it is so common and with such obvious consequences, is all about the irresponsible mongers who take advantage of young and naïve Filipinas who are wedded to tradition, and the high value placed on having lots of children, learned from peasant fathers who had the intelligence and “good common sense” of adrenalin-high rabbits.
Crimes are crimes whether or no they are part of the legal code. We often forget about or give short shrift to those that really matter. We often do so because we don’t like to think about why they matter.
(The idea and the basic argument for this essay belong to Korski. I don’t mind admitting that I have imitated his style. I am not only an unrepentant rake but an equally unrepentant thief. But I always wear a condom when I fuck a bargirl.)
Angeles City may be the capital of South-East Asia for Westerners boning bargirls sheathless, but I reckon it is pretty bad in Thailand too. Numerous surveys online suggest that the vats majority of customers and the vast majority of bargirls have, at some time, done the deed without protection. There is also a percentage, which might be as high as 20%, who will never use a condom unless the other party absolutely insists.
"Crimes are crimes whether or no they are part of the legal code" – Your quote or Korski's I do not know, but this is absolutely on the money.