Trip to Angeles and Farewell Olongapo

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What can I say about last week? Rather, what should I talk about first. Most of the team has shifted into a new gear with the book - it's incredible to see the effort being put into it and the motivation that's appeared. We have got a lot of the writing and layout done and we're about a day away from a rough draft of all the pages - that's content, layout, colours, pictures, the works.

I feel alright now but the book has been very draining. There have been times where all I've wanted to do is sleep and I perhaps pushed a bit far when I started getting a tiredness headache. Thankfully I've been able to get to bed earlier this week.

It has also been really nice having Sharee and Megan here this week on a pastoral visit. Sharee is one of the DTS leaders and Megan is her friend. They are here just to hang out, see how we are doing and be an encouragement, which they have been. Megan also works for a magazine and has been giving input into the book and rewriting bits of our work, which I'm thankful for too.

We also went back and did street kids ministry again. I played basketball and my t-shirt was soaked afterwards. Sarah dropped the news on us at the last minute that not only were we attending, but we were teaching the bible studies they have after the games, split up by ages. Sarah and I got the oldest guys and we tag teamed. Sarah had maybe 10-15 minutes prepared and she would cover a bit, then I got something to share then it went back and forth - we actually went longer than we needed and hopefully spoke to these guys hearts about walking in the Holy Spirit.

We also went back to the orphanage I spent time with the kids again. This time I didn't see April - I hope she's gone back to her parents. Instead I tried to get close to a girl who cried whenever she saw a white person looking at her. I had a little success, but not much - I got to pray for her though.

And if all that wasn't enough to keep us busy, last night we took a 1 hour Jeepney ride to Angeles - the prostitution capital of the Philippines to do bar ministry. We arrived in Angeles and once we rounded the corner of the street we were on we got to see how prostitution looks here. Neon signs illuminate young girls wearing too much makeup and not enough clothes. They stand outside the bars shouting into the street for customers to go in and enjoy the sights and company.

Our group went into one of the bars and sat down to what can only be described as a meat market. The girls were standing in the middle of the room "dancing" to the music. Some of the girls were enjoying it but most of them were just moving with the music, not wanting to make eye contact, looking like they'd rather be anywhere else but here. The guys were just sitting and watching, usually with a drink or smoke in their hand. Most of the guys also had a 'girlfriend' with them, who also didn't look like she wanted to be there - one was more interested in her phone than her 'boyfriend' and who could blame her, this man was 30 years older than her.

I still remember one of the girls serving a drink to a guy who gestured that he wanted a kiss too - after she has kissed his cheek and walked behind him (where I was) she made a gesture to me that left me in no doubt that she was not happy having to serve him. I laughed a little and agreed. That may have been the only honest thing I saw from the girls there all evening, the rest is just show.

While the girls are on show a customer can talk to mama-san and choose the one he likes the look of and she will come over and sit with him. Once he's happy with his choice he pays for her for the night. One bar charged between 1500 and 3000 pesos, which is about US$33-66 or NZ$50-100 and the girl only gets half of the cost, the other half goes to the bar.

Most of the customers were older, 30's and up guys, some were even pushing 60 and these (supposedly) 18 year old and up girls are put on show for them each night. Kayla shared one story in our debrief that really hit me. She saw a girl who was trying to get away from a customer dragged up the stairs to the rooms by her hair while she was screaming. If that wasn't enough the other girls in the bar helped the customer get the girl into the stairwell and closed the door behind them like everything was fine.

This place is also impacting the next generation. I talked to a 13 year old girl who is selling plastic roses for 100 pesos each to pay for her schooling. What's to stop this girl starting in the industry when she's 18?

Our time in Angeles has given us a better idea about prostitution here and we've used that in the book - which is now a rough draft, awaiting review. We will need financial support to get it printed but once that happens we can be putting it in the hands of people with power to change the situation. If you want to help then once we have a channel for donations I'll post it here.

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This page contains a single entry by crimson published on August 5, 2010 3:12 PM.

Olongapo Lightning was the previous entry in this blog.

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