Last week I visited Bataan, here in the Philippines, for the first time. I was amazed by the scenery, which is remarkable; beautiful mountains, beaches and sea views, amongst everything else. What a richness this country has! Anyway, the highlight of the tour was when an old friend suggested going to Las Casas de Acuzar at Bagac.
Bagac is south of Olongapo on Subic Bay and is accessible by bus. Once again, the scenery en route is spectacular.
I was expecting a beach and maybe a nice old village — my friend and guide, Belgie, said ‘There are old houses’. I wasn’t even slightly prepared for what I saw.
There can be no question that actually finding a property is one of the most exciting phases of the whole process of acquiring a house in France.
The doorstep that is two inches too low to prevent the quagmire outside seeping into the house, the drainage system made of two-inch pipe that turns the courtyard into a lake when it blocks, which of course it will do several times every winter, the dripping and split gutters, the multitude of little leaks in the roof, the rising damp and the access road that has turned into a single-lane swamp. All of these delights will provide you and your partner – if you have one – with hours of after-dinner chat.
I have met significantly more than a few Asian autogynephilic transvestites and the majority profile is quite clear.
They tend to have their first ‘feelings’ at around the age of 15-16 and begin HRT, usually in the form of contraceptive pills, very soon after that. While late-transitioning autogynephilic transvestites do exist, they are rarely public. A good recent example would be Ian King, a racing driver and son of a wealthy ‘Fil-Am’ family. Social class and gender are strongly linked, as we shall see.
This individual fits the Western profile of the autogynephilic transvestite exactly, but that appears to be related to his social class. This is interesting, because a similar social divide is found between masculine presenting homosexual males, macho gays locally or the New Gay Man, and the traditional highly feminised type. Here again, the former tends to be rare and found only in higher social strata, while the latter is both much more common and more associated with lower social class.
Ladyboys are like hobbits; they have big feet. Although, and fortunately, not usually hairy.
My dearest and truest friend, my distant confidante and beloved adopted sister, Andie, is sitting on the brown vinyl sofa in my rented condo in Pasig. She has delicately hoisted the hem of her long floral skirt with one hand and with the other she is holding one of her slippers — flipflops in Filipino — against her leg.
‘Ugh,’ she says. ‘You see? My feet are longer than half the length of my shin.’
She drops the slipper and the hem and takes to regarding her feet with evident distaste, elbow on knee, chin cupped in her hand. She wiggles her toes.
‘I could possibly cut them off,’ she muses. ‘I should cut them off.’
Many people seem to think that ladyboys are a recent phenomenon, but this is far from true. It’s hard to find older material but I found this story on a Philippines website, from a publication that is now defunct. The name of the author is not known. It gives insight into the ladyboy pageant scene in the country and across south-east Asia, and also reinforces the observation that the ‘gay’ and transgender scenes are closely intertwined.
A pageant can be a small local affair with a stage set up on the back of a truck, or as grandiose as the Miss Tiffany contests, held in Thailand, or Super Syrena, in the Philippines.
Temporary wives been known for centuries in southeast Asia. In the past, this might have been arranged directly with the girl’s mother. The girl would bring all of her father’s business connections with her and would be the primary contact for the foreigner’s trade with the locals, negotiating on her ‘husband’s’ behalf, keeping accounts, arranging payments and receipts and acting as secretary. Some temporary wives became permanent ones.
The tradition of temporary wives began in what was then the Dutch East Indies, but rapidly caught on. Temporary wives had advantages for everyone; the traders got the benefit of local contacts and knowledge and better prices and terms. The girl’s family profited, since naturally she would channel as much business as she could through it.
The man had a stable domestic life and regular sex, which meant he would not become a denizen of the whorehouses and opium dens; and he would have a presentable, locally-fluent companion who could accompany him on business and official trips and engagements. (It was said that the best language teacher in the world was the pillow!) To make it even better, the costs could be set off as legitimate business expenses, since temporary wives were technically employees.
A fell cauld wind wis sauchin ower the muir as the bonny wumman gart her wey tae tryst her jo. For the necht wis Februar the fowerteen, an aabody kens at’s the necht for luve.
She wis winsome eneuch, tho the first blush o youth, it maun be said, was left ahent her a lang while syne. A body mecht hae speirit at himsel how comes a lass o sic natral attractions hidnae been wad this mony a lang year.
At last she reached the spot ablow an auld aik whaur she an her jo hiv met this necht mony mair years nor either of them wad care tae hink on. Her jo wis aaready there, a puckle fashit, ye mecht hink, wi the wye he wis stridin up an doon, his een flashin faniver he luikit up.
“Ah, here you are, at last,” he intoned, as the lass presented hersel.
Featured Image: Restenneth Priory, Forfar, Angus, Scotland. Pic by Rod Fleming
Maryhill, the poor part of Glasgow’s West End, in 1974, was a different world. Looking back on these pictures, forty-five years later, I am still moved.
When I came to the Philippines first, a kind but unaware French friend told me that I would see poverty such as I had never seen before. I had not the heart to tell him; I had seen worse — in Maryhill, Glasgow, for one.
Yet on the other hand I have so many memories of Maryhill, Glasgow and most of them are good. I was never robbed, beaten up or threatened there. Nobody ever asked if I was a Catholic or a Protestant — a question I would get used to later. People were poor, yes, many had no shoes; but they had community and mutual respect. I see that today in the Philippines. We lost a great deal when we lost that.
The ‘wet market’ or palenke in Pasig City is really huge and spectacular. You can buy anything there, believe me. it’s a fun place too, literally open 24/7/365. Keep your wallet in your pocket and you’ll have no problems.
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