I remember Angel well. I was walking along a backstreet in Cubao on my way to the Baliwag Transport depot. As I approach it I hear the familiar call: ‘Hey Joe!’
Usually I just wave my hand and smile but this time it’s a girl standing in a doorway across the street. She’s pretty, fake blonde, so I cross over. The reaction of teenage Filipinas to an approaching foreigner — even one they have just saluted — is too delicious to miss and, as predicted, the girl collapses into hysterical giggles.
This means that a young man, standing close by, has to introduce himself. ‘Hi, I’m Eugene,’ he says and I hold out my hand; he could be twenty-five but it’s hard to tell. Here, men look younger than their age.
‘Hi, I’m Rod,’ I reply, shaking his hand. I nod to the girl, who is trying to recover composure. ‘Who’s she?’ I ask.
He doesn’t get to finish. This girl is not about to be talked over; she has decided to seize the opportunity and is attempting to hook a mate. ‘I’m Angel,’ she completes, breathlessly.
I smile. She is missing several front teeth but is extremely pretty. And very young. She is wrapped in a towel and I can see her bra straps. The pervasion of sexuality is powerful, it’s like a sensuous miasma surrounding her. Filipinas are the cleanest women on the planet and her allure is considerable.
‘And are you an angel?’
She giggles. ‘Yes, of course. Can I have your phone number?’ This hardly seems entirely angelic to me, but hey.
‘Umm, how old are you,’ I ask. Absent-mindedly I chuckle her under the chin and I can see the frisson run through her body. It’s not fear or, my goodness, outrage at being so treated. Instead it is a purely sexual response. Her eyes widen and go dewy. Angel is very turned on.
‘How old are you?’ I ask again. As I say, guessing age is tricky.
‘Seventeen,’ she chirps, as about a dozen ways this could all go terribly wrong flash before my mind’s eye. But she has her phone out. ‘Give me your number.’ She is insistent, her voice serious. She’s not a giggling girl any more, she is a sexually potent young woman in a state of arousal.
I glance at Eugene, who is grinning, a little bashfully. He doesn’t seem to be a pimp and for all her sexual brazenness, Angel is not a prostitute; it’s 11:30 in the morning, she’s just taken a bath and she has no make-up on. Just a girl chatting to her friends.
I nod and give her the number.
Angel is enthusiastic
‘I’ll text you later,’ she says, then I chuckle her under the chin again and head off towards the terminus.
By the time I get on the bus, she has texted me several times.
‘When are you coming back to Manila?’
‘Do you have a Valentine’s date?’
‘Treat me a meal.’
The quid pro quo is unstated but patent: treat me a meal and you can fuck me. It’s not because she’s desperate to eat; Angel’s curves tell me she is not starving.
‘When is your birthday?’ I counter. Even for a reprobate like me, seventeen is dodgy. I shake my head…delightful though the prospect is…
‘December the 5th,’ she replies. I nod to myself; I’ll be back by then. Caution is so often the better part of valour and my chivalrous desire to deflower her is countered by what I know of the inside of Filipino jails. While strictly, there is no ‘age of consent’ here (the Philippines having been colonised by the less Puritanical Spanish,) the ‘sex trafficking’ laws are vicious.
Plenty of foreign men have found themselves on the end of eye-watering extortion demands for perfectly legally porking a girl under eighteen. These laws, of course, do not apply to Filipino men because in the first place, they don’t have any money to extort and in the second, they know they can’t be touched: we, however, could find ourselves deported. Just for screwing a girl who was practically waving her pussy at our cocks.
My advice there, if you like them that young, find a nice bakla, a ladyboy. Nobody cares if they get fucked so the blackmail potential — and the risk of an unexpected flight — diminishes.
I chose the path of wisdom. ‘Okay, I’ll treat you for your birthday,’ I text back.
I did hear from her, about a month later. She had started work as a bar-girl, a retained sex worker and was promoting her services. So much for that sex-trafficking rule, then.