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The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia situated in the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 7,107 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila while its most populous city is Quezon City; both are part of Metro Manila. The age of consent in the Philippines is 12 (18 for money, profit or other consideration under the influence of an adult).

The Philippines is currently the only Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member that explicitly mentions sex tourism in its legislation. Trafficking in children attracts a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of two to five million pesos. Some migrants from countries such as Australia who seek to have sex with children assume employment as teachers, tutors and other occupations. They may also infiltrate more isolated communities, rent houses, employ local domestic staff, and build the trust of local community members.[1] According to the Anti-Rape Law (Republic Act 8353), statutory rape is committed against a girl under 12 years of age. There is no such provision covering boys.

Sexual arrangements in informal markets may see children performing both sex labor and non-sex labor for patrons. Alternatively, tourists may integrate into communities and obtain child sex through systematic gift giving.

The Philippines justice system allows for entrapment.[2]

Travel restrictions

In 2014, the Bureau of Immigration announced, "Foreign nationals who are registered sex offenders in other countries are not welcome to visit the Philippines."[3] The Philippines Immigration Act excludes aliens from entry who are persons "who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude" or are "coming for any immoral purposes".[4]

Following from:

Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

The Republic of the Philippines comprises over seven thousand tropical islands off the mainland of southeast Asia, settled by approximately fifty million predominantly Roman Catholic people; a Muslim minority is found in the South.


Colonized by Spain in the mid-sixteenth century, the islands passed into American control as a result of the Spanish-American War (1898). A three- year armed revolt against the new American colonial power was crushed in 1901. During World War II, Japan occupied the islands between 1942 and 1944—45. Following the war, the United States granted the Philippines independence in 1946. The post-independence history of the Republic has featured a series of guerrilla wars and considerable civil strife.

Homosexuality and Transvestism

The Philippines enjoys a reputation as one of the contemporary societies most tolerant of homosexuality. Philippine criminal law is silent on the subject of consenting same-sex relations and there is little or no prosecution under other statutes. Filipinos tend to hold benign attitudes toward homosexuals and in certain areas of the country transvestic (cross-dressed) homosexuals even are accorded special status. In Bacolod, for example, a sugar-cane capital of some 300,000 inhabitants, cross-dressed homosexuals traditionally participate as dancers in the main social event of the town, the Christmas Eve pageant, held in the city's principal hotel. The queen of the Christmas pageant is usually a cross-dressed male homosexual.

Transvestic homosexuals are well-known for their fashion shows or beauty pageants which are presented in all parts of the Philippines for the general public and frequently sponsored by civic clubs such as Rotary or Kiwanis. Such drag presentations are regarded as family entertainment and are popular with children as well as adults. Philippine children are socialized to regard homosexuals as interesting and amusing people. Many Tagalog movies contain homosexual comic characters often portrayed as friends of the leading men. The appearance of homosexual characters in Philippine movies inevitably elicits claps and shouts of approval from the many children in the audience.


While it is the cross-dressed male homosexuals in the Philippines who are most conspicuous, masculine male homosexuals and masculine and feminine lesbians are also found. Because of the rather complex language usage patterns in the Philippines it is somewhat difficult to generalize about terminology referring to homosexuals. While Tagalog is the official language, English is widely used in the universities and among educated Filipinos as a second language. Several other major regional languages are commonly used. The most widely known terms for male homosexuals probably are bakla (Tagalog) and bayot (Cebuano). These terms may be used as general terms for male homosexuals and may apply to masculine, non-transvestic homosexuals or may refer to effeminate or cross-dressed homosexuals.

While the Cebuano term lakin-on is sometimes used to refer to lesbians, the more universally understood term in most parts of the Philippines is the English-derived term tomboy. As the term implies, some lesbians are viewed as mannish and some cross-dress and hold traditionally male occupations. Like male homosexuals, they are well-treated. Lesbians, for example, may flirt with neighborhood girls, sending them small presents and love notes without provoking the hostility of parents and neighbors, who are likely to joke and tease about such "crushes." Lesbians tend to lead more private lives than male homosexuals and have no developed social organizations such as bars, networks, coffee shops, or clubs. They tend to pair off relatively early sometimes with a partner, usually a heterosexual female, called a "live-in." Because of widespread crowding, unmarried homosexuals—both male and female—usually (***Page_981***) are not able to set up households independent of extended families unless they are affluent.


Courtship patterns of male homosexuals are characterized by the "callboy" system, wherein heterosexual males usually between 15 and 25 engage in sexual relations or in more permanent relationships with homosexuals in exchange for money and sustenance paid by the homosexual. Callboys may be found in all parts of the Philippines and it is estimated that as many as 80 percent of the young males from the working and lower middle classes at some point in their youths work as "callboys." In some areas the callboy system has become institutionalized. In Pagsanjan, for example, a resort town of 3,000, practically all of the heterosexual males between 15 and 25 work as "callboys." Male homosexuals have few sexual relationships with other homosexuals. Most sexual relations of homosexual men are with bisexual or heterosexual youths.

The Roots of Tolerance

Despite its many social and economic problems the Philippines has been able to develop a society which is relatively democratic in terms of sex and gender. Filipinos often say "We don't need women's liberation; we have had it for years." There is considerable truth in this statement. The Philippines has a long tradition of egalitarianism with regard to the sexes. Many women hold positions regarded as traditionally male occupations. For example, 60 percent of accountants, 67 percent of chemical engineers, 70 percent of dentists, and 52 percent of physicians in the Philippines are estimated to be women. Tolerance for homosexuals may well be related to these more general patterns of gender equality.

Philippine attitudes are part of the benign system of attitudes prevailing in [[southeast Asia]] and the South Pacific and may well be a long-standing aspect of Philippine society as suggested by the pervasive presence of such attitudes in rural areas and small towns as well as in the cities. That homosexuals were indigenous to the Philippines before the the arrival of the Europeans is suggested by the observations of Father Juan de Plascencia, who wrote in 1589 that the native Filipinos had among their priests, "bayoguin... a man whose nature inclined toward that of a woman." In a list of "ministers of the devil" of the pre-Spanish religion practiced by the natives, the Spanish friar Juan Francisco de San Antonio, writing in 1738, includes the bayoguin, who was "an effeminate man... inclined to being a woman and to all the matters of this feminine sex." These scant passages suggest that effeminate homosexuals held places of honor in pre-literate, pre-Hispanic Philippines, a fact which may be related to widespread attitudes of tolerance accorded contemporary Philippine homosexuals.

Crackdowns on Prostitution

By the spring of 1988, two crackdowns occurred to compromise the picture of idyllic tolerance, although both applied only to prostitution: widespread raids on bars in the tourist district of Manila (the capital), and the arrest and deportation of homosexual pedophiles in Pagsanjan. The spring and summer of 1988 saw the emergence of a moral crusade against prostitution, pornography, and live sex shows (both heterosexual and homosexual) in Manila's famous Ermita tourist belt. The most highly publicized aspect of this crusade was a series of raids led by Manila police chief Brigadier General Alfredo Lim against nearly 300 bars which allegedly were operating as fronts for prostitution. Some two thousand prostitutes, including some male prostitutes catering to homosexuals, were involved in the raids. While most establishments remained open during this period, one of Manila's most famous homosexual establishments "the Retiro 690 Club," a disco with male prostitutes and sex shows, was closed. By May, 1988, a power struggle developed between police chief Lim and Manila Mayor Mel Lopez, who opposed the raids. President Corazon Aquino, who,approved the raids, (***Page_982***) stepped in and called Lim and Lopez to Malacanang Palace to mediate the dispute. While homosexual establishments were not singled out, they were conspicuously included in the generalized attack on "vice" in Manila.

For years the town of Pagsan jan in the province of Laguna has been a favorite of both tourists who visit Pagsanjan Falls and foreign pedophiles who form liaisons with the many boys in that town who readily (and usually with the knowledge and approval of their parents and townspeople) make themselves available for money. In late February, 1988, a surprise raid on Pagsanjan was conducted by constabulary agents, police, and immigration officials, and 22 foreign pedophiles were arrested. The raiding team left Manila early in the morning, arrived in Pagsanjan at 7 A.M., entered the Pagsanjan Lodge and eight private houses without warning or warrants, finding those arrested sleeping with or in other compromising positions with pre-pubertal Filipino boys. Those arrested (from the United States, Germany, Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and Canada) were fined 1,000 pesos ($50) each and deported. Four of them remained to contest their deportation on the grounds that they had done nothing illegal in view of the absence of an "age of consent" for males in Philippine criminal law.

These events are probably related directly or indirectly to the threat of AIDS, coupled with a new government characterized by a growing sense of xenophobia fed by unfavorable international publicity describing the Philippines as a sexual marketplace.


Donn V. Hart, "Homosexuality and Transvestism in the Philippines," Behavior Science Notes, 3 (1968), 211-48, Frederick L. Whitam and Robin M. Mathy, Male Homosexuality in Four Societies: Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines, and the United States; New York: Praeger, 1986.