I was shocked, when I came to the Philippines first, at the level of discrimination that exists, not between Filipinos and other ethnicities, but between pale-skinned Filipinos and dark-skinned ones.
Filipino ethnicity is essentially built on a Malay base, but with many later additions. This gives rise to both a hierarchy and a whole industry. The paler one’s skin tone, the more beautiful/handsome one is. This is a universal rule. Extremely beautiful women with spectacular bone structures but dark skin are regarded as less attractive than plain, pale women and the same is true of men. This is true across Asia, but in the Philippines it reaches extreme levels.
Until the 1970s, Manila and other cities in the Philippines were famous for the ‘binibaes’, sometimes called ‘bini boys’.
Binibaes were young males aged from about twelve up, sometimes a little younger, who came to the city to work and seduce men. They dressed and lived as women, but most did not take hormones.
The bini boys dress as girls…The…acceptance of bini boys is revealed in popular comic strips, T.V. series, motion pictures and plays in which they appear as characters, usually in a vein of good-natured humor. As an example: in a Philippine series similar to Batman, the Philippine hero is continually obliged to pull his Robin away from attempted amorous passes at other males.
Few of the bini boys engaged in any sexual relations among themselves although many considered themselves homosexual. In (sexual relationships), the majority preferred passive anal relations but all were equally willing to perform fellatio. The custom…is to seek to prolong sexual relationships. 
I have just been to the Bureau of Immigration Visa Extension Office in Makati. I have to do this once every two months, for the economy of the Philippines.
My papers are in and my money has been paid, but for unknown reasons, they’re not handing the passports with the new visas out yet. I have plans for the afternoon so will have to come back on Tuesday. I sigh and decide to get a beer and some food. I had no plans, then, to meet baklas.
Baklas, to let you know, are the local ersion of the ubiquitous ladyboy, the transwomen found all over southeast Asia, under different names. They are highly feminised males who live as women and seek straight men for partners. They are often as beautiful as natal women — or more so.
I head for Market! Market! in Taguig. It’s my favourite mall in Manila by far, partly because half of it is actually outside. Unlike some malls, there are plenty of beer-bars and small restos too, serving a myriad array of meals in price bands to suit any bakla’s pocket, as they say. So I indulge in a taxi — 105 pesos — and, once I’m there, head for the bars at the back, near the van depot. I know from experience that these are good and cheap and so, attract locals — including baklas.
I’m at the local motorcycle repair shop where Sherwyn, a most competent mechanic and pleasant cove, is replacing a brake master cylinder on the Blaze. He first thought to replace only the seals, but he can’t find the right size. A new cylinder is 400 pesos, just under six quid, an unwell encephalopod. I just tell him to get on with it. Sherwyn works in the open space outside a motorcycle parts shop, where he seems to buy most of his stuff, although, as today, sometimes he has to go further afield. While I wait I sit on a wooden bench in the shade and observe the street life. Baklas soon begin to appear; it’s like they’re in the woodwork.