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Monday, February 01, 2010


i read something recently that said (paraphrasing) a friend is someone who feels comfortable going on about themself to you. people are inherently selfish, and the more you appeal to their egos the more you own them, and vice versa.

'x' and i definitely use each other as sounding boards. but we have a rare friendship that transcends our respective egos, at long last. i love 'x' (more effusively than i can reveal to his stern and prohibitive demeanor), ever since the day i first ran into him in the hallway of our workplace as youngsters, where we had a strange moment of fatalistic recognition that i can replay with startling clarity to this day in my head. i love him because we have had a tumultuous 14 years or so of trying on personalities with each other, auditioning various relationships as if we were robot scientists experimenting impartially with human traits. at times we mesh and it is smooth going. at other times it seems our entire acquaintance is based on sadistically reducing each other to snivelling heaps of doubt, insecurity, and despair, and we purposely lose touch for months at a's been an invaluable education though overall, and i think that finally we are growing up, graduating. we have both passed each others' rigorous tests and shown that despite our defenses (and persistent mental illnesses), we have each others' backs for life. i admit i find it hard to like an integral part of him, which is his lifestyle as a crass "sexpat" in asia. however his being the one person who has endlessly inspired me and cared for me in his sometimes disguised and passive-aggressive way so unwaveringly throughout my life, when everyone else ended up revealing monsters and ineffectual losers behind intricate masks, means i will accept anything he is in the end, however repulsive it can be at times. and he is really complex enough that his abundant generosity and kindness to those who finally get through his obstacle course, balances things out. i worship him unconditionally. i feel so lucky to have someone in my life who is ultimately genuine, and even imagine that he might be acceptable compensation for the fact that my family was mostly a bunch of dim-witted, misdirected narcissists who treated me like an unwanted pet my whole life, until i sprouted wings, dismissed them from my regard, and flew away.

'x' who never lets me sneak pictures

i am happy that i managed to squeeze two trips to see 'x' into the past year (first in scotland/amsterdam and now in asia). this trip to his art compound in the philippines was relaxing, and enlightening in a lot of ways i didn't expect. first of all, i didn't realize the extent to which he had succeeded in his work, and in such an accelerated fashion(!). for years we were on the same level with our similar careers, but somehow he skipped way ahead of me when i wasn't looking (jealous!). he has built an amazing house in his little brothel town- complete with a gorgeous pool, a hot tub, a perfect gym room which i took full advantage of, a fully stocked bar with companion pool table, and 4 bedrooms equipped with elaborate entertainment systems to accommodate his visiting friends. there was really no reason to leave his paradise abode at all! i took a jeepney through the decrepit streets of AC, from my turbulent plane to his barricaded warehouse. he welcomed me from the depths with a bottle of rare wine bought at auction, which we twirled sophisticatedly in stemware (giggling at our pretension) next to his lush garden, with his awkward maid-slave and pet finches eyeing us curiously from the peripheral. aside from the initial catch up, we spent the days idly doing our own thing, existing in friendly silence, until the evenings when we would meet up and ride his motorbike through the drab streets, to a strange korean massage place where tiny women in robes poked at us clumsily while fellow massage recipients moaned in sleepy pleasure from adjacent recliners. to a gun range where i shot a handgun for the 3rd time in my life, but was shocked neverless by it's terrifying force and volume. and to decadent dinners of ostrich steaks and champagne, followed by the requisite touring of the dens of sin which pervade the small steamy town populated mostly by the male gender and those who serve them. i am not ashamed to admit i feel entirely comfortable in whorehouses. the girls who work there have a background i can relate to, a hardness i can empathize with, and they recognize that in me and open up in a way they can't do with their customers. they are definitely more interesting than the average person i meet, and i can chat all night about life with these girls. the filipino ones are so disarmingly sweet compared to their thai counterparts that i leave them intoxicated, in their little bikinis, to their aging patrons in their dim bars blaring cheese pop quite reluctantly, with affectionate embraces, feeling like sisters. 'x' and i also managed a couple trips to the (male) 'hosto' bars, for old times' sake, to watch the 'exotic boys' dance innocently in tighty whiteys with muscles rippling, shooting fetching glances towards wrinkled ladies in sparse wigs who tip glasses in the audience. the transexual counterparts lisp horrid renditions of 70s ballads from underneath garish costumes, and the spurious waiters hustle you constantly for overpriced drinks. ah- asia is home, even these skeletons which should be relegated to deep dark closets of eastern history ironically make me feel safe and accepted and unrestrained and alive.

i left 'x' with a formal pat on the back, gulping down a lump in my throat, as always (we are now grown up enough not to sob openly as we did as kids). him being able to see right through me, he left me with plenty of advice on how to get on track with work so i can one day enjoy the freedom he does. he also suggested professional counseling for the fact that in reaction to trauma in my teens, my development has been stunted and i am frozen in the guise of a puerile, rebellious, antisocial and diffident girl, whose progression is impeded and who is pathetically bottlenecked and repressed. i trust his blunt assessment, because i wouldn't be where i am today (which is on the right path overall) without having taken his advice every time before. and so i left the philippines for thailand with a feeling that i do have some "family" after all whom i can depend on and trust, and to whom i will be thus be thankfully devoted until i die. and that was that.

back in thailand feeling so glad i made this trip.


Friday, February 01, 2008

my trip to the philippines

what can really be told without my (and my friends) being judged unfairly as debauched! my best friend sure lives a decadent life these days, let's put it that way. it was such good timing that i paid a visit to him. not only had i not seen him for 3 years and i needed to refresh in my mind the fact that i love him like a brother, not a lover (a porch swing companion when we are both in our 80s still appeals), but in the past week i put myself and my life into perspective just by comparing it to his. in the end, as crazy and immoral and empty as a life as a sexpat might seem, i did not find it lacking anything more than mine as a perfectly nice girl.


me and a ladyboy friend

the big debate in angeles city seems to be is it better to be able to go to the brothel or is it better to actually live in it? i am inclined to believe the former, as in the 9 days i was there i saw a few people in the latter group on roller coaster benders, and in fact left just in time to avoid one myself. if you have a lust for decadence, you might slake it non-stop in AC. it was a week of posh restaurants with buff men in dinner jackets, judging the "nice legs" in our elegant glasses of expensive wine... elaborate go-go bars full of sweet, pretty girls who all knew me by name by the time i left, one of whom joined me for a an erotic pool party early one morning... ghastly ladymen in bouffants and heels, lined with tired wrinkles, lip synching with silver teeth to a crowd of 2 (me and 'x')... the achingly hot "hosto" boys doing their choreographed boy band thing in sequined speedos for drinks (and a sexless but thrilling night spent with the hottest of them all whose stomach will be fodder for the next year's fantasies)... giggling and singing at the top of my lungs with bar girls, sexpats, and burnt out mamasans alike. intricate menus of shots and the delirium that followed. midnight trips tottering on a motorbike or careening in a trike driven by curious thugs towards 'jollibee' for fried chicken and stale burgers. the posse of men living in x's luxe condo complex, flexing their tattoos in front of the pool; an off the hook ex-assasin just returned from a tour of kuwait (in which i recognized an instant friend and a sort of twin even if i did end up in tears trying to avoid his aggressions most nights), a robot man whose head had recently been split ear to ear in a motorcycle accident and hastily repaired, leaving him rather vacant... and speaking of vacant, the "prince charming" - beautiful, rich, powerful, but dull and i insist shallow, even if he does own 5 rolexes, a restored mustang, and half the city... the creepy, twitchy man who flinched whenever the topic of pedophilia came up (usually and suspiciously by him), and who worked for a local orphanage (i set the assassin on that one's trail)... the small, smooth, beautiful girls who rolled around in tickle-happy x's attic room with him in front of cartoons. the not so beautiful girls who watched like hawks for opportunistic prey from the corners of rooms, and who let slip their life stories when i in my drunken guilelessness asked too directly and slid them shots to placate. i forgot most nights the girls were half naked, the men were overly crass... think what you will, i am very familiar with the vagaries of exploitation of women for sex, but i love a good circus, and having had a passion for psychoanalysis and human behavior since zero, i was like a kid in a candy store there- or as 'x' said often, almost one of the boys. i was truly mystified at how much happiness and humanity i found in people who are so pitied and vilified the world over.

self explanatory

there are some downsides to the life. the girls, though far from being enslaved into this trade, still want to be saved in the end. i learned a lot from both sides about how to be "hard" (a lesson i am in dire need of). i saw the shabby rooms they slept in, the shocking heels they danced in. there were war stories of STDs and i suspect by the fervent desire to have a white man's baby that the filipino gals profess to, that condom usage is not so prevalent. i in fact met quite a few pregnant working girls. the men, who were happy(!), were funny, solicitous, and kind (as long as they got what they were paying for), but most were not attractive outside their pocketbooks. but the girls were mostly happy too. by the end of the evenings drunken degradation becomes a more pervasive theme, but angeles is overall much more innocent, light, and fun than any red light area i have visited in thailand, or anywhere else. i understand why the men visit or live there. it's an instant life! you never have to be alone! there was enough drama every night, and so many new friends that even i, the anomaly, felt included and loved.

so that part of angeles surprised me, i never would have expected to like the place, but i actually got a bit choked up to leave. aside from the sex scene i found AC to be very livable. it has a great mall on clark airforce base, with american products offered as a legacy from the troops who departed after a volcano explosion years ago. the neighborhoods are quaint, the people so ridiculously friendly, the weather tropical, transportation easy and cheap. it is like a tamer thailand ten years ago. i am tempted to scout out the more "normal" areas of the philippines as a place to move to, as thailand is making ridiculous it's visa laws and thai people have become a constant irritance to me. there are over 7000 islands in the philippines!

the ubiquitous trike

one drawback was that we got robbed, twice in one day- thieves are apparently prevalent. $450 went missing from my room, and after a drama of hot potato accusations directed towards certain girls and the maid (and even me!), we returned to our house to find the $500 'x' had thrown at me in a guilty apology gone as well, and signs of entry on the back door. as people have been tied up and robbed at gunpoint in their homes in AC, 'x' and i did spent one paranoid night with the lights on in the living room wielding knives and baseball bats, and the next day he installed deadbolts and alarms. the police are also quite corrupt, but that's asia. it's up to you to protect yourself on most of this continent, and money helps.

anyway i am glad to have my best pal back in my life and so grateful to him for dispelling what was becoming profound loneliness, at least for a time. we spent the last day together traipsing around the mall of asia in manila, bowling (i kicked his ass), playing pool (he kicked mine), and throwing business ideas back and forth. i left him at his shanghai-themed hotel room with a sad goodbye, krispy kreme donuts in hand, and had a contemplative flight home back to thailand at 3am.

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