Most women with foreign boyfriends here in the Philippines, I noticed, submit themselves to certain requisites: that they should be wearing skimpy outfits, that they should be covered in heavy make-ups, that they should be weak, simple-minded and predictable and that they should be passive and agreeable all the time.
As if only by satisfying these requirements could they be loved — if love is what they’re after.
In an isawan a while ago, a couple arrived — a local and, based on his accent, I guess an American. She was wearing some leggings and rubber shoes; he was topless, sweaty and tattooed. Both of them looked sporty and the way they presented themselves suggests that they’ve been exercising. Jogging, in particular.
Well, since I’m addicted to people-watching I looked at the girl and studied her features. Hair in pigtails. Sando. Dangling earrings. Make-ups. I looked again. Danging earrings. Leaves hanging on the stem. Make-ups. Some bluish eye-shadows and linings.
By the time I was engrossed wondering about the impossible relationship of her make-ups and jogging in this tropical environment, he left her in the clouds of smoke and went to the other side of the street. The task of waiting for their BBQ order fell unto her.
To have a better view of them, I adjusted my position and went behind her. Her head kept moving, restlessly, following his trail as if he’d get lost though his movement was full of certainty.
It went on like that — I, watching them; her, watching him — for some time, until the vendor handed her the BBQ. He came back, then they left together. Him in tattoo. Her in melting make-ups and eye-liners. Both of them quite young, early to mid twenties, and I wonder if they have sex.
I wonder if after the present conditions and requisites have successfully commodified her, he would still take her entirely. Or if in the end, he would be like the other passing foreigners in this country — say, the GIs in Olongapo, Subic or Clark — snatching only the meaty portions of the market and forgetting the rest. Including their babies.
Until now, actually, I am still wondering how we could arrive at this point when human lives are being reduced to products for sale — labour, women, even happiness and love. And when we would finally break these shelves and liberate ourselves from these shadows of conformity and expectations.