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The City of Angels – or how minor girls end up in the Preda girl's home

September 16, 2014 · 

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by Moritz Weinbeer – September, 10th 2014

A weekend in August, two of us volunteers at Preda, Larissa and me, went on a short trip to explore the Mount Pinatubo, the volcano that erupted in 1991. Due to a problem along the way no traffic would go there, thus we decided to hike another nearby volcano, the Mount Arayat. Around in this area we found settlers, poor farmers who try to get some livelihood out of the stony, rocky soil and their hands’ own work. They will be happy, if at the end of the year they made a little earning.

Pinatubo

Fig.1: Clark US air base covered with ash from Pinatubo eruption (source: wikipedia.com).

In the evening we decided to pay the place a visit where the heart of the sex industry beats inside Angeles City. It is the pedestrian zone (Fig.2) where the name of a Filipino supermarket chain “Free Options Express Meat Shop” is the very program of every day’s evening: Thousands of young Filipino girls are the sex targets of predominantly retired foreign men (Fig.3). Pairs of cuddling, hugging, snuggling and nuzzling foreigners with young, even minor (Fig.4) Filipinas give the Fields Avenue its characteristic nocturnal scenery. Once in a while one can also find rather overweight, tattooed men as well as young backpackers searching for or walking with their girl friend companion.

ANGELES FIG 2

Fig.2: View of the entrance to the Fields Avenue at Angeles City – the main street of sex bars.

Closely spaced sex bars edge both sides of the avenue along some 300 m, the largest among all being the “Dollhouse” (Fig.5). The rather shy public of foreigners – disliking to be documented on photo or video – hangs around in liquor hops or eventually steals into one of the sex bars. When by chance the heavy black curtains of such a bar divide and the curious eye of the observer catches a view of a bar interior, it will see tens of scarcely clothed girls dancing around poles. It said that within the several rooms of the “Dollhouse” alone hundred fifty girls do their job. If any of them leaves the place, the streets are still full of “fresh replacement girls”.

Once a foreigner has chosen his preferred go-go-girl and has paid the bar owner the appropriate amount of money, he can take her to whatever place he likes. No wonder that in the surrounding suburbs massage and spa stores accumulate – besides the many nice and expensive hotels. The ransom to get a girl out of a bar is shamefully cheap for any foreigner from industrialized countries; of this sum again the girl will receive only a small part – the rest goes to the bar owner. and most bars are themselves run by foreigners!

FIG 3 ANGELES

Fig.3: An old foreign man with his young Filipino girl friend outside of a bar. Fig.4: Foreigner with presumably minor girl.

Nobody could answer us whether there exist any rights for the go-go-girls once they are outside the sex bars and in the  hands of their suitor… In any case, for us it was a humiliating and sickening sight watching all the foreigners with young Filipinas. At least there is one right – written on all bar doors: No minors allowed!

However, who in this business really proves there are no minors inside and who checks for fake birth documents, e.g. the certificate of the elder, similar looking sister? It is well known – and many have been rescued – that over decades minors have been employed in such sex bars. When one carefully observes the girls’ faces, quite some did not seem to be of full age; even their entire body seemed in many cases to just be developing its maturity. So, where do all the girls come from?
There are widespread human trafficking networks around in the Philippines.

They have advanced contacts to poor and rural areas where families hardly make their income. When traffickers lie their story promising well paid jobs in the main cities of the Philippines – or even abroad -, who can honestly blame a poor father who always wants the best for his children, believing the lie and “selling” his daughters for a small sum to the trafficker? How about the slum areas in the Manila peripheries? An even easier “source” for the traffickers are the areas devastated by the terrible typhoon Yolanda last autumn: In these areas traffickers have not even to convince a father, as there are so many minor aged orphans in search of help by adults. Whom should these children trust? Which story sounds true for them? Once, Preda, a child protection and legal action organization, has any hint or even evidence of a minor being employed in the sex bars, the organization tries to get the girl out of the bar. Likewise, they try the bar operator or the bar owner charged with the crime of human trafficking to trial in the court and to be judged for violating Filipino law (see “The Raid” of ABC at the video gallery section on this page).

FIG 6

Fig.6: Preda’s therapeutic girls’ home in the peaceful countryside.

When the minor is finally freed from a bar, the girl is relocated to the Preda Foundation’s special therapeutic girls’ home in the peaceful countryside(Fig.6). There she is given a welcome in the “childhood for children” through acceptance, respect, dignity, affirmation and healing from the abuse. She will live a program of new life with protection and therapy including a regular day schedule, weekend outgoing activities, as well as a good moral values and formal education. When the girl’s trauma has been healed and is not too strong, she will be able to visit a public school. Otherwise she is being educated in home teaching. If ever necessary, the girl receives an appropriate trauma therapy. As soon as the girl’s physical and psychological status is reestablished, Preda is trying to find an adequate place for her, such as returning her to her family or to a place of employment. As most girls receive a public education during the week, in this time there is effectively no extensive work to be done by the female volunteers until 5 pm when all the children are back in the Preda girls’ home. However, on weekends volunteers regularly accompany the girls in group activities both inside and outside the girls’ home. Observing the joy of life of the girls’ home inhabitants, it is sometimes hard to believe for us that they are all in some way traumatized. Having actually experienced just the mood of the sex bar industry in Angeles City, it seems even more incredible that a minor girl originating from such background will ever be able to overcome her history and her soul be restored so she can live a regular life.

FIG 7

Fig.7: Commercial for beauty contest.

Is there hope for the circumstances to change? Yes, there is! Among others, Preda has campaigned against the sex
industry at Olangapo, the town neighboring the Subic military base. After decades of fighting and lobbying, the sex business in Olongapo drastically dropped. However, the local government is not dismissing to promote the beauty of its women, even though in a somehow different form of beauty contests (Fig.7). So, there will still some way to be gone… And after all, we must remember: Each sex bar can only be run as long as the local government awards it the operating permit.

 

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