The Case of Filipino Women: Digital Love or Continued Commodification in Cyberspace?
One of the most glaring differences between Japanese and Filipino women’s representations in cyberspace is that the latter are not ani- meed. A perfunctory search for Filipino Women in top search engines Google and Yahoo resulted in websites that cater almost exclusively on how to date, chat, meet, and marry Filipino women.
My first keyword Filipina yielded nine out of the ten dating sites in the first page of Google alone. Almost all these sites are similar in their strategy of attracting customers. The second page of the lists of links led me to the Filipino 101 site: http:/filipina101.com.
This site sells an electronic book, How to Meet the Filipina of Your Dreams. It includes tips on online dating and how to distinguish a “genuine” Filipina from a transsexual/gay male “scammer.” The author assures men that this book will help them save money, time, effort and heartache as it provides an in-depth discussion about Filipino women. He boasts about Filipina 101 as a genuine collaboration between himself and his beautiful Asawa (Filipina wife), Amelita. In another page, he gives an overview of what Filipino women expect in a partner, and why they are considered to be the ideal wives. Filip- inas “are looking for a man who acts like a man and treats them like a lady.” Many men “prefer this more traditional relationship to a more egalitarian model demanded by ‘liberated’ Western women.”
The next keywords were “Filipino women.” The first page of Yahoo and Google sites still provide links to online dating. One video result has the title “Filipina Women Seeking Foreign Men” that can be easily accessed through this link: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=fRlViy5Rtps. The video is a slide show of sexually seductive women in swimsuits, alluring underwear, and flirtatious pose. The second page of the lists of links shows a variety of websites on Filipina romance for dating and marriage. This particular site is interesting: http://www.filipinaromance.com/. It prides itself as the premier international introduction and tour service. It offers membership package that includes: fiancee visa kit, an e-book Foreign Bride 101, Round Trip airfare, ongoing one-on-one personal introductions to the 1000s of women who are profiled on the internet, free professional interpreter services during the Socials, etc. This site is an all-in-one dating/marriage service. Also, it encourages or caters to older men. The homepage welcome note reads,
Too old to date Filipina beauties?Don’t worry if you are older or overweight, like half the population of the western world. Filipinos have the highest respect for age and weight is a plus to some here. It is a status symbol. Age is respected. So consider yourself lucky to not be a kid anymore. Age gap should not be a problem. Age difference that ranges from10 to 25 years is regarded as absolutely normal in Philippines.
This site provides persuasive reasons why men are better off with Filipinas than women of other ethnicities. Filipino girls tend to be traditional, respecting family values. Hyper-independence and feminism have not spoiled their belief in these values. Unlike their Western sisters, Filipino wives still put family ahead of career.
Dating and mail-order bride websites specifically cater to Western men. The use of English as default language, the projection of local men as inferior to their Western counterparts and the presentation of Filipino women as looking specifically for Western men are all evidence of this. Men from wealthy countries also travel to the Philippines for tourism purposes, but from the way these sites are constructed and presented, and images of pristine beaches are juxtaposed with images of Filipinas in skimpy bikinis, a different kind of tourism is evoked.
Other keywords I tried are: “Woman in the Philippines.” In Yahoo, this link http://www.whorist.com/philippines-general-info- hookers/ comes with a homepage title “Sex with Hookers: Young Women Escorts.” The site provides an overview of what to expect in planning a trip to the Philippines that includes a description of places to go to (bars, hotels, streets with the most hookers), climate, health precautions, health risks (STD, HIV and AIDS), money advice. The site gives particular advice: “Don’t forget without money you will never taste the honey of the sexy girls and hot women of the Philippines. Unless of course you are particularly young and handsome, then anything is possible, they might even pay you.”
The other popular means of searching and accessing multimedia contents in the internet is through “Torrents” as in torrent or stream or continually flow. The digital version mimics this by continually “seeding,” flowing data from various sources usually from users freely sharing full files for download. In more traditional search engine sites, search results are not ranked according to the amounts of visits or clicks but through “Search Engine Optimization.” In torrent sites, however, one can see what is most relevant from the existing database and also the actual number of users who are sharing.
An investigation in three popular torrent sites—isohunt.com, torrentportal.com, and piratebay.org—yielded the following results, when the keyword Filipina is used. The top results with the most number of “seeds” and “leeches” (a term for users who download files but do not share them) were pornographic movies and sexual scandals involving Filipina teens. The top seeded hit was “Philippine Teen 2 Asian Interracial Porn.” Other top results were videos entitled, “15 year old,” “14 year old,” and “16 year old” (in the order they appeared in the bundle). Other videos were less blatant. One title that caught my eye was “Nasirang Pangarap” (Broken Dreams). The title suggests a deeper and intentional violent message against the woman portrayed in the video. It seems as if the video itself could be some sort of “rape.”
Upon considering the contents of the links that I am directed to from typing innocent keywords such as “Filipina,” “Filipino women,” and “woman in the Philippines,” one sees a negative representation of Filipino women in the internet. Yet, these are the results one gets from Google, Yahoo and torrent sites.