A Brief History
The Philippine Islands will (I hope) ever be a land of beautiful beaches, sunsets, and people. The Filipino culture is admirably accepting of others and filled with smiles and laughter. At one time, they were an Island peoples living in communal settings and experiencing the paradise of a fruitful land. This tranquil life was disrupted by the catastrophic effects of colonization, war, empire and global economics.
The power of a burgeoning empire to transport men, horses, bridges and weapons of war. The year is 1898
The US 4th Calvary transported their horses and wooden bridges to the Philippines aboard the first metal war ships. They arrived in the Philippines in 1898, a superior force, well equipped and the wholesale slaughter of Filipinoes was begun. The slaughter of Filipinoes was sanctioned by U.S. military leaders, the rampage was particularly vicious on the Island of Samar.
The first expansionist power to grasp at controlling the resources of the Philippines was the Spanish. From 1565 – 1898 the Philippines was a Spanish Colony. When the USS Maine was sunk off the coast of Cuba and 260 men died, America’s war with Spain began. Initially, the U.S. war effort against the Spanish was to remove them from Cuba. However due to the presence of the Spanish fleet in Manila bay the U.S. sent newly constructed steel ships to destroy the Spanish naval fleet of wooden ships. On August 13th 1898, 12,000 American troops had arrived in Manila and the Spanish governor Fermin Jaudenes surrendered the Philippines. The first attack on the Spanish fleet in the Philippines had brought an end to the Spanish rule. American interest in obtaining the Spanish empire’s holding of the Philippines was soon evident. With the defeat of the Spanish, the Philippines were left open to other nations like Britain, France, Japan and Germany. The effort to gain power in Asia by these countries had begun with the acquisition of naval base concessions and business interests with China. The rising U.S. imperial ambitions would not allow for the loss of trade in the Asian region to these contending nations.
The United States and Spain negotiated a peace treaty in Paris on December 10th, 1898. The U.S. purchased the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico from the Spanish government for $20,000,000. A segment of Philippine society sought independence from foreign power and the ensuing conflict with the U.S. military was the beginning of the Philippine American war. This war effort marked America’s movement towards becoming an empire. The Philippine American war began around the 23rd of January 1899 when Philippine leader Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence. The U.S. military rule of the Philippines was declared ‘over’ on July 4th 1901.
A U.S. Army prophylactic station in Manila
Men have not conquered a nation until they conquer the women.
Whenever the military of any nation has stationed troops in a developing nation or conquered peoples, the systemic abuse of women has quickly followed. The unnatural world of males and violence lends to the acceptance of systemic prostitution as a right of ownership over a people. After all we had ‘bought’ the Philippines from Spain. We were supposed to be civilized and Christian, whereas they were poor natives and uncivilized. If warring constitutes civilization then I am sure being civilized is simply a way of justifying violence on a massive scale.
In 1900, U.S. President McKinley condoned the practice of sending troops to the Philippines for ‘R & R’ (rest and relaxation) under regulatory guidelines. This practice led to the development of the sex industry in the Philippines. The Philippines as an R & R destination was considered to be the cheapest place for a soldier to go and spend his money. The decimation of much of the Philippines accomplished during the Philippine American War (1899 – 1902) contributed to the oppressive conditions that facilitated the phenomenon of mass prostitution in the Philippines. Instead of bringing ‘Christianity’ and ‘Civilization’ as President McKinley had claimed, we brought oppression and injustice on a massive scale.
An American Legacy
When the U.S. Military withdrew from the Philippines in 1992 there were 55,000 registered and unregistered ‘hostesses’. There were more than 2,182 entertainment businesses servicing the areas of Olongapo and Angeles City where Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base were located. The U.S. military left and so did the 40,000 jobs they provided and the 83,000,000 dollars a year in salaries for Filipino workers. Also upon the departure of the U.S. military from the Philippines, over 50,000 American/Filipino children were left behind. Over 10,000 of these children lived on the street. It is estimated that for some period of time there were as many as 30,000 children a year born to American military troops and Filipino women.
I have met these forgotten children all over the Philippines. I have been meeting them for years. In 1976 I met a young man named Steven. He was twenty-one years old, his mother had died of cancer and he had lived on the street by his wits since he was twelve.
In 1985 I was on the Island of Biliran and saw a young mother that had just returned from Olongapo holding her newborn Filipino American baby. The same day I was showering outside in my shorts, like everyone else, when I felt someone staring at me. I turned to see a fifteen year old boy with curly hair and blue eyes. I knew he was wondering if I might be his father.
In 1986 I was in So. Leyte walking through the jungle and I spotted an African man. I assumed him to be an American and spoke with him. He told me he was a souvenir of World War II and that he was 40 years old. He had never known or heard from the man who fathered him.
I also brought home to play with my children a little girl named Jean from Siren in Tacloban City. She looked like one of my kids with her curly brown hair and lighter skin. Jean lived with her grandmother in a small shanty over some black water on the edge of a mountain. She was lucky her mother married an African American who adopted her. At around 12 Jean left to live with her mom and adopted father in California.
At the present there are still children being born to soldiers in the American Military, because the visiting armed forces agreement allows for U.S. Ships to port in Subic Bay and service men receive rest and relaxation time amidst the sex industry that thrives now on both military presence and sex tourists. Although the American military presence made way for the new phenomenon of international sex tourism, the U.S. Military remains a driving force in the continuation of the abuse of young women. Filipinas are also trafficked to service the sexual needs of American soldiers outside of Camp Casey in Korea.
The Plight of the Filipina Hostess
In 1976, Ferdinand Marcos was the ruling dictator of the Philippines. Marcos had declared martial law and no one was allowed on the street after midnight. I was twenty years old and handing out Bibles on the streets of Olongapo. At midnight the dash back to the base by U.S. soldiers was accomplished by pushing past literally thousands of girls. The bars closed at 11:30 and the masses of people filled the street and the sidewalks. At 4:00 in the morning the curfew was lifted and young soldiers ran down the street and across the bridge to catch an early morning bus and make ‘muster’. These soldiers often wore no shirt and had no shoes because they had left them as payment for their night with a young Filipina.
The girls of Olongapo and Barrio Barreto came from poor families all over the Philippines. Some had come with the dream of marrying an American and never intended to live the life that captured them in Olongapo or Barreto or Angeles City. Some had gone to government agencies to seek employment and were sent to Olongapo to be held there in fear. They were threatened with both debt and imprisonment. Some were raped and pacified into cooperating with the sex industry that serviced the American Military. Most of these girls had not gone beyond the sixth grade in an educational system that had inadequate resources.
The first bars to line the streets of Philippine cities were placed near the U.S. military bases. This practice dates back to the Philippine American war as early as 1900. Military officials who sought to keep subservient and disease free women through a process of elimination governed the practice. The complicity of the U.S. military involved the practice of R & R. The military needed a way to maintain morale and the Filipina was the agent of choice. In 1976 a military chaplain told me no one could live a Christian life in Olongapo. His advice to us was “Do not get any girls pregnant or get too drunk.”
There are entire villages where some of the women once abused by the American Military all live together in poverty. One such place where the former ‘Magsaysay Girls’ live is at the end of Water Dam Road block 27 of Gordon Heights. Magsaysay Dr. is the name of the street in Olongapo that was lined with bars and girls.
A Moment of Hope
I remember when the bases in Subic Bay and Clark Air Force base shut down. My personal feelings were that the Philippines might become free of the abuse and oppression of their youth by the presence of empire. Unfortunately I was somewhat naïve to the blossoming sex industry brought about by the ease of travel via the airline industry. I was surprised to find that sex tourism is an entrepreneurial effort by retired American males seeking to make money. The Internet has provided the ability for these types of people to gather in locked, members-only sites and plan their abuse of young uneducated poverty-ridden girls. Retired U.S. military men living on their pensions are still fathering children with Filipinas in Olongapo and Angeles City and Barrio Barreto.
Most of the men that go on sex tours to the Philippines are old and fat and exhibit their youthful memories with old tattoos. Some are younger and are part of the new sex tourist phenomenon born of global travel and excessive wealth.
I have witnessed the resurgence of the sex industry in the Philippines. The participants are now older and the girls are still young. The men are American, Irish, German, Australian, Japanese, and Korean. Government officials are complicit through money laundering schemes with foreign bar owners. Young women and even young girls die as a result of abuse. The exploitation of these girls by the US military also continues due to the visiting armed forces agreement and our government needs challenged to stop these rest and relaxation visits for purposes of letting our boys engage in this system of sex abuse. At the time of this posting there are six U.S. ships in Subic Bay Philippines.
As of the year 2017 the sex industry in the Philippines still thrives around former U.S. bases. However, sex tourism is no longer limited to the areas around U.S. military bases. The sex tourism industry is now a nation wide business. Australian, Korean, Japanese, German, American, British and Irish males travel to the Philippines to stay in luxury hotels where nearby bars provide women for sale. Sex tour businesses rent entire hotels to provide sexual liaisons with Filipina women. The sex tourism industry is a scourge on the landscape of Philippine life.
Young Filipinas all lined up for sale to sex tourists from around the world. This bar is located in Angeles City outside of the former U.S. Clark Air Base.
For over a century American complicity has contributed to this evil of bars and sex slavery. It is an industry that is a result of American military practices and the continuing realities of injustice due to global economics. The U.S. began currency production in the Philippines after defeating the Spanish. In order to control a nation it is essential that you control the economy.
A Twenty Centavo coin bearing both Philippine and U.S. identity.
View a great collection of Pictures from the Philippine / American War at: http://www.freewebs.com/philippineamericanwar/thephilippinearmy.ht