Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Sketches of a Year Lived Next to a Red Light District

I was heading back up to my apartment when I encountered an old Arab guy and his Filipino girlfriend on the elevator. I was reading a book, so I didn't immediately notice that the old man was speaking to me.

"Korean? Japanese?" he asked.

"I'm Filipino."

He started to laugh, then began pawing my shoulders with his wrinkled hands. He was speaking in this weird language I couldn't understand. I backed away, while the Filipina took his hands and held it against his chest.

"I'm so sorry. He's drunk." The old guy smiled foolishly.

I gave her a half-smile. "No, it's fine. Don't apologize."

His hands wriggled out of hers and touched my shoulder. I backed off. She held him, and apologized again. I just shook my head, and hoped we'd get on my floor soon. She was smiling awkwardly, and I couldn't help but smile awkwardly back. My irritation melted. It turned into something I couldn't put my finger on until I looked at her. I realized then that I pitied them.

And I thought that it was the saddest thing, to be pitied.


One woman in particular broke my heart. She’s this dark-skinned girl who looks like she has Aeta blood, and who’s more than a little loopy in the head. When you pass through my red-light district, it’s almost impossible not to see her. She usually appears like she’s shouting at someone. Her hand gestures are huge, accompanied by facial expressions that would be comical if they weren’t so pitiful. She looked more like a caricature than an actual woman.

2am. I was in line at the 7-11 to purchase a lightbulb since the one in my bathroom conked out and I had to take a shower in complete darkness. Two foreigners were in front of me, while this crazy woman, was dancing, uhm, energetically near the entrance.

One of the guys said, "My friend thinks you're sexy. You should go do your sexy dance for him."

"Buy me a Coke!" she answered.

"Sure, if you do your sexy dance."

The girl shook her breasts and started chanting.

The guys laugh harder. I pay for my lightbulb and walk away, feeling uneasy. Perhaps it reminded me too much of kicking a person who's already down.

I was wearing my Persian-print pajamas. I didn't feel like changing into something more appropriate, and I figured I didn't particularly care if anyone saw me or not.

The bulb I bought wasn't as bright as the one I had before. I'd have changed it, but I figured I'm helping the world fight global warming by using less bright lightbulbs.

Photo taken here.


  1. Pity is a treacherous emotion.

  2. Do get a cool white CFL (compact-fluorescent lamp) or an energy-saving one. Of course, the best would be an LED one, high brilliance and minimal wattage. Pricey though.

    I find it unbearable when foreigners make fun of us, this sense of self-entitlement and false superiority is enraging. It's bad enough our fellowmen hoodwink each other, but to be demeaned into some cheap form entertainment is too lachrymose. And most would not budge thinking it would be erroneous to bite the hand that feeds.

    But isn't decency and humanity a universal right? I'm kind of thankful the woman was a bit lacking. It saves her from the pain of this reality. I see her too, sometimes.

  3. @rudeboy: It can be, yes.

    @red: one of my pet peeves, how some people allow themselves to be treated as second class citizens in their own country by, of all people, tourists.

    doesn't apply in this case (at least for the Aeta girl), I just wanted to say that.

  4. i guess when you're in the sex industry (which i find very abnormal since there shouldn't be one in the first place), the Philippine set-up presents us with the stark reality of women being treated as mindless sex objects.

    if only jobs with livable wages are available back home and we do not suck up to these friggin' white animals (which most of us oh-so-lovingly do), then we do not need to go through this horrible experience.

    babatukan ko ang mga puting yan. mga hayup. HAYUUUP!

  5. Ahaha, hijo de puta, you can't run out of nasty things to say WITH those people. Again, I said WITH on account of they're some of the more interesting people around. Next to smokers, that is.

    Cheers Fickle Cattle!

  6. i like your stories, but i'm still trying to figure out why you call yourself a cattle

  7. @kiks: hahaha. nora aunor FTW.

    @momel: are you referring to prostitutes, foreigners, old arab guys or filipina girlfriends?

    I like smokers. I've already quit, so secondhand smoke is love.


    @boytropolis: hmm. another story for another day I think. :-)

  8. A cattle that will fickle our mind! lol... can't wait to read more of your future blogs...

    I remember the movie "legally blonde" wherein Elle's father said that LAW is for boring people... the movie proves that's wrong, and this blog proves that it is wrong again...

    sorry, out of topic, with regards to that Arab guy, good thing it wasn't me whom he bullied, coz if not, he already knew whats the meaning of double slap attack! lmfao!

  9. maybe il do that too for coke. HAHA.

  10. i know na where you're taking up law. hahahaha

    and i agree, the best law school in the country!

  11. @life: thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. :-)

    @arkin: hahaha. now that I think about it, me too!

    @hoykolokoy: hmmm.

    @narnian: hahaha, I thought it was a dead giveaway when I started posting about the red light district. ;-)

  12. You write real good. No fancy stuff, just straight from the gut.

    Will visit your blog from time to time.

  13. And thanks for the add and compliment too, I almost forgot haha.

    26 followers! Imagine that haha. =P

  14. @mccoy: thanks! :-) and keep on blogging!

  15. I know what you're talking about! I see the loopy aeta lady in Makati too. Like, all the time. I feel sad for her too.

  16. hey johnny cursive! she's almost impossible to miss I think.

  17. love the use of the word "pawed"... that can be very affectionate or creepy, as the case may be

  18. @ (i'm sorry, i can't read your name): thanks!

  19. lol... i know that when i was younger i craved to be pawed but then when it was done by the wrong person, it was really not what I wanted and broadly speaking, creepy.

  20. @ the guy above this: I will call you enil. hahaha. also i think being pawed is only fun if you actually like the person doing it. otherwise it's just super yucky.

  21. don't like people who make fun of other people. : (



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