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.
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.
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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This was my fifth visit to the Philippines and again, I arrived before Christmas, on the 8th of December. I had rented an apartment in Plaridel, Bulacan, which was to be my base for the next four months.
Plaridel is a market and manufacturing town about 30 miles north of Manila. In 2015 it had a population of 107,000. It has an airport.
I’ll let the pictures and captions speak for themselves in this photo diary of the trip. This section goes from my arrival up to New Year. I’ll do another section for the latter part.
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I am not ashamed to say that I love the Philippines. Nowhere else that I have ever visited manages to capture so much of humanity’s amazing variety. It’s an incredible place and I am so lucky to have found it. This is a selection of pictures from that trip. I’ll let them speak for themselves.
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Pasig River ferries from Maybunga to downtown Manila.
Not many people know about the Pasig River ferries — which are really like floating buses. They’re not very fast but given that Manila road traffic is gridlocked most of the day, the river ferries represent an efficient transport alternative. There are numerous jetties along the river where passengers can alight and the cost was minimal. This journey took just over an hour but I have known the same one take over three in a taxi!
Poor Jelly was suffering. She was recovering from an accident and the seats on the ferries are basic, making her back injury hurt, But as always she just grinned and carried on. Smashing girl. We had a lot of fun.
The Terminus is at Escolta, on the other side of the river from the famous Intramuros, the old walled city. The day was very hot and Jelly was clearly in pain so we took a calesa ride and made like tourists. She had never been to Intramuros before and despite her sore back, really enjoyed herself.
The last ferry back to Pasig was at 1630, because the service only operates in daylight – there are no navigation lights! It was a fine day out though.
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