The Ladyboy Factor – Philippines

ladyboys philippines[Updated 9/21/2015]

When you go browsing for info on what life is like here in the Philippines you are most likely to come across the same general information about the great beaches, the warm climate, the positive exchange on your money, friendly people.. yadda yadda.  What you will rarely come across is the unavoidable reality that you will likely cross paths with more transgender “ladyboys” here than you normally do in your own home country.  Unless of course your home country is Thailand.

(And yes, in case you were wondering, the person in the photo on the left is.. a Ladyboy.  She won the Miss Tiffany beauty crown in 2004.)

philippines survival guide advice expats

Prior to coming to the Philippines, while living my 49 years in the U.S., I think in total I have seen perhaps five transvestites (not the same thing) and perhaps two actual transgendered persons.  I’m from a fairly small town and even though I’ve been to Los Angeles and San Diego plenty of times I was usually too busy either at the beach or shopping to engage anyone of their niche.  Maybe that means I’ve led a somewhat sheltered life in this particular regard.

But all that changed since literally my 2nd day here in the Philippines.  Here, you will cross paths with ladyboys and gays on a regular basis.  They are walking about the same sidewalks, working in the malls and at the same marketplaces and beaches.  On my second day here I went directly to the nearby mall (only 3 blocks away, so I usually walk) and I went upstairs to the food court to try and patch in to the wifi signal while getting myself some breakfast.  As I’ve mentioned before, everybody here already knows who is ‘local’ and who is ‘new to town’.  Even I, being here only 6 months in Basak can spot a new foreigner versus a seasoned one from across the mall in a crowd.  I know who frequents here nearby and I know a new face when one shows up.  So it was little surprise that my second day here as I was having trouble getting the wifi signal that everybody who worked in the food court knew I was fresh off the plane.

It wasn’t even fifteen minutes before several of the food vendors came by to offer assistance.   Without even getting up from my table, in my first 30 minutes I met about 3 or 4 ladyboys, perhaps 3 gays and 4 straight women all of whom were close friends working there in the mall.  It was a bit overwhelming, I will admit.  To be barely getting your feet on the ground and right away have so many people start telling you their names,

Real Lady or Ladyboy? (Ladyboy, Malaybalay, PH)
Real Lady or Ladyboy? (Ladyboy, from Malaybalay, PH)

asking where you’re from, how long you’ll be in the Philippines.. the usual battery of questions I still get when meeting new Fiipinos anywhere in town.

Now, before I get much further into this I should probably give you my working definitions to avoid any confusion.  I’m sure there is a more detailed, politically correct version of these definitions but I’ll just share with you the ballpark definitions I’ve been familiar with.

Straight – Men who prefer women and vice-versa.  Fairly traditional and straightforward, no pun intended.

Gay/Lesbian —  Men who look like men who prefer the same.   Women who look like women who prefer women.  Many gays in the U.S. are indistinguishable from Straights in general society, but here in the Philippines gays for the most part are faily open and obvious about it.  The women, not so much, but I have met and known several ‘butch’ lesbians here.  For the most part though the lesbian women here are not ‘butch’ and in every way appear as if they are straight.  That can be quite a bummer for us single guys since more often than not they are very attractive.

Effeminate – These are still same as gays but here in the Philippines they sort of have their own distinction.  These are men who, while they will wear make-up, carry a purse and maybe even wear women’s shoes or skinny-jeans.. are not trying to look like a woman.  They aren’t exactly trying to look masculine either.  They sort run their appearance on the border between the two.  Between them and the ladyboys, the Effeminates weird me out just a bit more to be honest.  The only good thing is that they are usually a bit more respectful and not so ‘grabby/touchy’ as some of the ladyboys.

Transvestite —  This is a man who spends the majority of his time during the week looking like a man, but then spends his time on the weekend dressed up like a woman.  They seem to be into all sorts of fake boobs and even fake butts and for all I know may be straight or gay or bisexual since they are sometimes married to a woman.  But they are into it on a part-time basis, almost like a costume of some sort that they put away during the week while at work or going about their daily life.  There don’t seem to be very many of these here, but I have seen one on a street in Bohol.  Even during their ‘off-time’ the tight shorts, shaved legs and plucked eyebrows are something of a give-away.  

Transexual/Ladyboy —  This is a man who devotes himself full-time to becoming in every way he can afford to look exactly like a woman.  For them it does not stop at just putting on nice dress and shoes or plucking eyebrows.  Despite the local poverty level many of the ladyboys here find a way to support their need for constant doses of female hormones.  I don’t know if they are the same thing as women’s contraceptives, but seem to be similar.  I asked one ladyboy what sort of changes do the pills make.  ‘She’ said that ever since taking them it changed the texture of his skin, made his body hair less prominent, redistributed fat in such a way as to make him look more ‘feminine’ and.. shrank down his genitals.  To me, the hormone treatment alone is what sets them apart from the transvestite who is just playing dress-up on the weekends.  Ladyboys will work their job as a ladyboy and basically go about their complete routine as a ‘woman’.  Most of them their family eventually accepts it, though not easily.  Ladyboys, if they can afford it, will also get breasts implants and various cosmetic surgeries to make the whole look complete.  That’s dedication.

As a side note, in both the Philippines and Thailand, Ladyboy Beauty pageants are a regular event.  Even some of the smaller cities will have local beauty contests just for

All 3.. Ladyboys in Pageant
All 3.. Ladyboys in Pageant

ladyboys.  When I had to go to the U.S. Consulate office a few months ago I went to their location in Cebu which is on the ground floor of the Waterfront Hotel.  The Waterfront is a large and classy hotel, well known in Cebu and internationally.  As my taxi pulled into this very large and expensive hotel the parking lot was filled with large banners advertising the Ladyboy Pageant they were hosting there the following week.  The banners had the photos of contestants on each one.  To be honest all I really noticed at first glance were lots of images of some very pretty Asian women.  It gets to a point at this level that these guys could easily pass themselves as a woman.  These are not the big shouldered, hairy-backed drag-queens I’ve seen along Los Angeles boulevard or Sunset Strip.  The ladyboys here in Asia are on a whole other level.  And because many –real- Asian women are somewhat small-breasted and slender.. the gray line of distinction gets more and more difficult to see.  From what I hear, Angeles City and Manila (Philippines) and Bangkok (Thailand) are famous for this level of committed transgenders.

So, getting back to me being surrounded by real women, gays and ladyboys at the mall food court.. I suppose imagining yourself in my situation you might think it so overwhelming you’d be running for the exit in a heartbeat.  (Not that it would do you any good, they are outside the mall as well.)  I’ll give you an idea of where I’m coming from with this.  When I was younger I was very dogmatic in my thinking.  Everything was black or white, right or wrong and people were either good or evil.  Over the years I’ve come to the belief that while I still subscribe to an absolute morality, nobody (including myself) is all good or all bad.  Some people are worse than others, some are nicer than others.  But we all have our own issues and dark vices if we’re honest with ourselves.  I happen to enjoy –real- women (a lot) and I’d be lying to say that I married every woman I ever had carnal knowledge with.  I’m not a gambler or a thief, but when it comes to women.. it’d be fair to

Ladyboy or Lady? (From Makati, PH, she is all Lady)
Ladyboy or Lady? (From Makati, PH, she is all Lady)

say that’s my Achilles’ heel.  I won’t go into a full blown theological discourse here, but it’s kinda splitting hairs really to begin arguing the lesser or greater evil between fornication, hatred, gossip, homosexuality, thieving, lying, adultery or any other moral vice.  Yah, the consequences are different.. but they’re all wrong.  A fornicator or adulterer calling a homosexual ‘the greater evil’ (or vice versa) still boils down to the pot calling the kettle black.  That’s just my opinion.

So, there I was.  Brand new in the Philippines and suddenly I have about a dozen new ‘friends’.  All friendly, smiling faces and going very much out of their way to stop and chat with me every time I went to the mall for my groceries and household items I needed for my new studio.  Now, I’ll give you the quick and direct synapsis of how things went with this particular gaggle of ‘new friends’ over the course of the ensuing two months.  What eventually transpired is the same thing that has happened to every other foreigner new to the Philippines.  It was not long before they were hinting they’d not eaten.. so, being a nice guy I treated them to some lunch.  Then that became a daily expectation.  Upon leaving, several of them would hit me up for money.  It was always something different.  They needed money to ride a jeepney home, or lunch money, or cell phone load money, or dinner money.  Then it progressed to ‘loans’.  Loans to get them through the week, loans to pay their utilities, buy diapers, get medicine.  You get the picture.  At first I was still doing rough math in my head on the money exchange rate and told myself, “Well, it’s only a few bucks.. and they’ve been so nice to me.”  Well, that began to add up really fast.  In the end I had to change my cell phone number and make a point to disassociate with them entirely.  I even avoided the mall for a period until I got word that the worst offenders had been fired from their jobs and were no longer there.

Now, since then what I have found is that even when you get to know and hang around some really cute girl it is almost guaranteed she has either a close friend or relative who is

He's ready if you are.
He’s ready if you are.

a ladyboy.  There are just that many of them here. It gets kinda confusing because Filipinos identify both the gay men and the ladyboys as ‘the gays’.  Every ‘gay’ I’ve run into here is very effeminate in their mannerisms, so there isn’t much confusion as to who is ‘gay’.  It’s not like the U.S. where you find out years later that some masculine co-worker wasn’t straight.  Here, the effeminate men will often wear make-up.. not to look like a woman but to tone down their masculinity.  (As if wearing skinny jeans or micro-shorts wasn’t already doing the job.)  To be honest,  even for a somewhat civil person like myself, it kinda weirds me out to see some guy touching up his foundation while standing in line next to me at the ATM.

Meanwhile, back to the ladyboys.  Over the last six months I’d guess I’ve seen more than a hundred of them as I go about town just doing my usual routine.  In the U.S. you generally won’t see them unless you either live in a gay-oriented city or go to some specific side of town.  But here, you might just want to buy yourself some lumpia or boiled corn and only then realize the person behind the counter is a ladyboy.  The most likely places I’ve seen them working is at barber shops, salons, massage places, food courts, marketplace or malls.  I’ve even seen them at the local Catholic church for Sunday Mass when I was there to shoot some photos or get some shade after the sabong nearby.

But what I’ve shared so far is just an introduction.  Now that you know to expect to see them when you get here.. how does that affect you as you go about your day just living and breathing, walking about the Philippines as a Foreigner?

In the U.S. it doesn’t take much to be anti-social.  In fact, everyone is so busy it takes quite a bit of planning to be social with your friends and neighbors apart from seeing them at work.  But the Philippines is absolutely a social culture.  Complete strangers will think nothing of asking you if you’re married, where you live, what you do for a living.. the whole nine yards the first time they meet you.  They aren’t being rude or purposely intrusive.. it’s just how they interact.  They are a very networked people.  Telling some older woman you are still single might lead to her introducing you to her niece or neighbor.  Mentioning you have an ailment or legal issue may result in them calling up their doctor-friend or attorney in the family to help you out.  That’s just how it is here.  When it comes to being social, I know everybody’s different.  Me, I like to be social.  I probably enjoy meeting strangers too much and have even suffered for it at times.  I’m slowly learning to be a bit more critical of who I meet,  what I hear and who it’s coming from.  Which brings me back to the whole ladyboy issue.

Out of the many ladyboys I’ve seen at a distance in the last six months I have been on

Not sure?? well.. she is.. all lady.
Not sure?? well.. she is.. all lady.

speaking terms with two of them.  I’ve asked my own questions.  I’ve watched their behaviors and tried to make sense of their motives.  It hasn’t done my reputation around town any good at all, believe me.  Around here, everybody notices everything.  Talk to a ladyboy on a public street for more than 10 seconds or be seen sharing a table getting burgers with five or six of them and word starts getting around.  Especially when you are a foreigner that people take notice of to begin with.  Local, older Filipinos (over age 60) pretty much consider ladyboys and gays as the pariah of society.  On a good day most people will ignore them.  On a not so good day a ladyboy or gay may be told they are not welcome in a particular place of business.  Normally, when by myself, I have little trouble getting a cab or tricycle.  However on one occasion when I went with a group of them to a local dance club.. as soon as the drivers saw that I was with them.. they wouldn’t take me.  We got turned down by about 6 or 7 taxis and tricycles before finally jumping on several motorcycles (hubble-hubbles) to get on our way.  But it was worth running around with them for a few months to glean some first-hand observations which I will share with you now.

If you are a somewhat social person, I’d say expect to sooner or later find yourself sitting across the dinner table with a ladyboy.  I know that may sound kinda crazy from the comfort of your own country if you’ve never been here before, but here’s how it may transpire.  You get off the plane and make the Philippines your new home.  Soon you meet the woman of your dreams.  (And yes, she’s a real woman in this scenario.)  You then meet her family, get married, get a home and maybe have a few kids together.  Life is grand.  As time goes by many of the family events will likely be held at your home if it’s larger than anyone else’s.  That’s when you’re asking for someone to pass the lechon and the cousin, or brother or close family friend who happens to be a ladyboy is handing you a plate of roasted pork.  As I mentioned before, dating Filipinas here almost always means they went to school with guys who later became either gay or ladyboy.  You just have to accept it as part of the family when it occurs.

Kristine (yes, very much a real woman) is a really close friend of mine and someone I have an immense amount of respect for.  When we go somewhere we’ll often bring along a friend of hers.  Some of them are gay.  Ok, so her friend is gay.  The three of us catch a tricycle and get a beer in town or go for some swimming at a local pool.  It’s nothing to get over-reactive about.  To her, these are her friends and if they are important to her then I will respect that.  That’s how I look at it.

In another instance, I had run into a foreigner at a local dance club here.  Through him I met his Filipina girlfriend and several of her friends that joined us that night were gays and ladyboys.  It just kinda comes with the territory, literally.  Now, I suppose if you put some effort into it you can find some ‘safe zones’ if all this weirds you out too much.  You can isolate yourself to only meeting certain members of her family, only go to certain restaurants at the mall and never meet anyone new.  That’s a bit dry for me personally, but it can be done and plenty of ex-pats go about their day without so much as noticing the whole gay/ladyboy contingency.  It can be done.  More so in the smaller provinces in the country since ladyboys and gays seem to be more present in the bigger cities.  (but are still present in the province.)

As I mentioned before.. with the first batch of gays and ladyboys, I had to go out of my way to disassociate with them due to the whole gold-digger/leeching mentality.  They were working as a group and I really didn’t like those odds.  allaboutmoneyAs an American, we just do not mix money and friendship.  I’ve had so many friends over the years and it’s just ingrained in our own Western culture that the best way to remain friends is to follow two simple rules.  Rule #1, never borrow money from your friends.  Rule #2, never hang out with your friend’s wife alone.  For a foreigner, nothing will kill a new friendship faster than constantly being hit up for money.  And it’s got little to do with whether we “can afford it” or not.  It has to do with being wanted for WHO you are.. not for WHAT you have.  Now.. at the risk of sounding very stereotypical of a group, I am going to tell you what I have observed directly in my interaction with any ladyboy I spent more than five minutes in conversation with and it is this;

If you don’t set hard boundaries..
bar-girl Ladyboys are VERY aggressive and possessive of you, right away.

I just heard this morning from a Filipina how she took notice the other day of two foreigners who were having a conversation amongst themselves in a mall.  They were approached by two ladyboys who introduced themselves at their table.  The two men responded by being very loud and vocal that these two ladyboys were NOT welcome and that they needed to leave immediately.  Now, some might think that’s kinda rude and over the top, but honestly.. I don’t blame them.  I know that smacks of discrimination and not being politically correct and all that, but here’s what you have to take into account.  Those two guys have probably been here long enough at the bar-scene to know that ‘those’  ladyboys are very aggressive about getting a foreigner boyfriend or ‘date for the night’.  And if a foreigner seems available.. they are all over it.  

I’m a fairly civil and respectful person.  I don’t like to get rude with people unless it’s the only option left.  And for this reason, the mere fact that I would even respond to a ladyboy in a polite, courteous tone, to a ladyboy it’s all that’s needed to for them to feel respected as a person, and not as a stereotype.  

I’ll give you some examples.  Just two days ago I got into a tricycle and found myself sitting next to a ladyboy.  No big deal.  I was only going about a mile.  There was an elderly, Filipina woman in the tricycle with us.  I said, “Hello” and the ladyboy asked me the same questions any other Filipino would ask about my nationality, etc.  Not an involved conversation but we were having civil chit-chat.    But I noticed the looks I kept getting from the older woman in the sidecar with us.  She was completely astounded, and not in a good way, that I would even so much as speak to this outcast of society.  Because as far as the ‘old school’ Catholics go.. these ladyboys are nothing less than the spawn of the devil himself.  They really do not find them amusing in any way at all.  This older Filipina woman gave me this look like, “With all the single Filipinas we have here.. you’re going to talk to ‘that thing’?”.  There is that much of a culture clash here being as how most of the ladyboys I’ve noticed are in their teens or early 20’s.

Now, that was a mild situation compared to what I call the whole, “Elaine Fiasco”.  

At the end of this driveway is where the drama began.

At the end of this driveway is where the drama began.  It was about 8pm and I had decided to take a walk to the mall for a snack.  To leave my small burb of apartments there is only one driveway to get in or out, it’s a side-street that leads to the main road.  At night it is dimly lit only by a few bulbs along the side of the building.  But I’m used to it.  So as I was leaving to go to the mall I was sending a text and focused entirely on that.  When I looked up it was because I nearly bumped right into this really beautiful Filipina who now works at the midwife services office at the end of my driveway.  (This girl is a real woman, by the way.  And very cute.)  She was out there to give some scrap food to the local dogs that hang out at my apartment.  We just exchanged a few words, she went back indoors and I continued on to the mall.    So on my way home as I approached my driveway I kinda looked around hoping to run into her again for a more thoughtful introduction as I had completely been unprepared the first time.  But.. nobody there, so I continued down the dark driveway into my apartment complex.

And then I heard someone calling out from behind me, “Hey!”, so I turned around.  From about a hundred feet away I could see her waving her arms trying to get my attention.  I waved back and said, “Hi!”, but I couldn’t see her that well in the dark to know for sure if it was really her or not.  Seemed the same height and general features.  I could tell she was walking toward me so I stopped and waited.  But as ‘she’ got closer I realized two things.. this was not the cute girl I had just seen an hour ago and this ‘girl’ was in fact a ladyboy.  Talk about awkward.

Seinfeld Season 8 1996-1997So now this ‘girl’ in a big sweater is holding out her hand all smiles and happy that I waited.  Now, the best way I could describe what he/she looked like is to say that he looked like a miniature, Filipino version of ‘Elaine’ from the Seinfeld show.  Hence, I refer to ‘her’ as ‘Elaine’.  I spoke up right away and said, “Hey.. I thought you were someone else.. I couldn’t see too well in the dark so, .. sorry for the confusion.”  Even from a few feet away I could smell the liquor on her breath.  I made a half-wave and walked away to get home, which was now about fifty feet away.  And here is where I will make my point.  ‘Some’ ladyboys can be VERY aggressive and very persistent (especially if intoxicated).  

So as I’m walking away, ‘Elaine’ starts following me.  So I stopped.  Again I said that it was all a matter of mistaken identity, I thought she was someone else and that I had a lot of work to get busy on.  ‘She’ kept rambling about how she just knew she was in love with me (that didn’t take long) and that only I could “fix her situation”.  As if this wasn’t clear enough, ‘Elaine’ then went into a detailed description of specific acts necessary to alleviate her cravings.  Even from a real woman this kind of situation would freak me out.  So this was pretty much over the top for me.  It was dark nomeansnowhere we were at and again I walked away, more quickly this time.  And.. there she is, right beside me.  At this point the gardener happened to be passing by so I walked over to him and said, “I don’t know who this is, but she’s followed me here.. been drinking and I’ve asked her to leave.”  The gardener told ‘Elaine’ something in Bisayan and right away she was rushing to get outta there.  Maybe he threatened to call the police, I don’t know.  But the moment the two of them started talking I was already making my way quickly into my apartment.

And all this because I waved at the wrong person in the dark.  But my point is.. not ‘all’ ladyboys are so possessive, but some of them are.  The one in the tricycle was very demure, shy and not invasive in the least.   ‘Many’ are quite nice and wishing to behave much like a ‘real-girl’.  I only mention the warning about the possessive ones because it is something you will run into eventually at some KTV or disco.  They are curious whether you are ‘okay’ with being sociable with them or not.  The next most logical step is for them to be curious if you like them in particular.  That’s just how it is here.

A few days later I was riding a tricycle down the main street in town to take care of an errand in Maribago and.. who do I see?  ‘Elaine’ is out on the side of the road waving her hands over her big hair and blowing kisses at me as my tricycle passed by.  It’s a good thing I’m moving to Bohol in a few weeks.  Not sure what’s left of my tattered reputation here could take much more of this overt, over-the-top behavior.

He looks like trouble just waiting to happen.
He looks like trouble just waiting to happen.

So.. getting back to the two ‘rude’ ex-pats; you know that expression, “give an inch and they’ll take a mile”?  Well, what I’ve found out here is that if you so much as are ‘nice’ to a ladyboy, and you are a foreigner.. they will take that as their cue that you are open game.  Some will ‘fall in love’ in the time it takes an eyelash to hit the floor.  You think the bad-girl/Filipina gold-diggers are aggressive?  Double that and you have the resolve of a bargirl-ladyboy.  Only ‘some’ can handle just being an acquaintance or friend.  I suppose in their own mind they are convinced they are ‘in love’ after five minutes but that’s neither here nor there.  Many bio-girls do the same thing.   

We men often times make light of how dramatic (real) women can get compared to us men.  Now, personally, I myself believe in choices.  Some men figure life would be easier as a woman and make the choice to reorient their entire life to that.  I know.. I know, ladyboys don’t see it that way and they are entitled to their own opinion.  But, to me, I believe it comes down more to ‘nurture’ (from the environment and dynamics in play) than the ‘nature’ belief that it’s as inherent as a natural woman’s DNA.  But that’s my own personal belief.  If they see themselves as a woman and want to be treated as a woman, then that’s how I’ll converse with them.  I respect their view even if it’s not my own.

Now, that being said.. if I were in a room full of real women and if someone drops a book on a table with a loud sound.. real women don’t start throwing their hands up and letting out a scream followed with panting and fanning their face for air.  But many ladyboys do.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Not a ‘natural’ reaction, but a perceived male reaction based on what they ‘think’ a woman would do in that situation.  It is that ‘gray’ area between a person’s “sex” and their adult choice in regards to “gender”.

What I do see is more of an economic edge in making that gender transition here in the cinderella-and-prince-charmingPhilippines.  Unemployment here among men is very high unless you want to be working the sugar cane fields, grocery box-boy, construction or driver.  The easier jobs are largely held by Filipina women.. and the prettier ones have an edge in that.  The majority of retail jobs here are held by women.  The big attraction for foreigners here is towards.. women.  Foreigners spend lots of money on.. their girlfriends.  The real women who get a foreigner (ie; ‘rich’) boyfriend end up living the Cinderella story.  So, it’s not that big a stretch to see where a lot of young men take a realistic look at the job market, perhaps their own gay inclinations and come to the conclusion that they stand a much better shot at the Cinderella scenario if they redirected their gender to being a woman via the ladyboy lifestyle.

Again, that’s just my two-peso theory.  You can say I’m totally off-base all you want.  All I know is.. the pieces fit.  (no pun intended.)  The only advantages to being a ladyboy in the Philippines boil down to obtaing a rich foreigner, either for the night or the long haul if that happens.  And statistically, odds are most men are not going to stay in a committed relationship with a ladyboy.  Remember I mentioned that most of them are in their teens and early 20’s?  I olderqueenbelieve there’s a reason you rarely see a forty or fifty year old ladyboy around here.  (Although I have seen one really old ladyboy in town repeatedly, but a friend of mine seems to think he has mental problems.

But in regards to the ‘end game’, the future does not look too well for most ladyboys down the road.  Filipino men are notorious for treating them badly.  Most foreigners just visiting are only here for a week or two.  The ones that stay longer have millions of beautiful, real Filipina women to choose from for a wife and family.  I don’t know if they convert back into regular men later in life or what, but ladyboys seem to just disappear once they get past their late 30’s.  I asked a ladyboy, “What about 20 years from now?”  She just paused a moment and said, “Not worried about it.  Just live for now.”

This indicates, to me, that the end-game Cinderella story of meeting their Prince Charming is just not a viable likelihood and they eventually give up on it.  Now, I know it happens once in a while.  I was at a nice café just a while ago and in walked a large, Norwegian sort of elderly man with his effeminate, 20 year old Filipino boyfriend.  Not a ladyboy, but as I observed them from over my laptop during their dinner, it seemed to me they were live-in companions and not some quick pick-up.  The café I was at is not cheap, not even by American standards.  About three days later I saw the same ‘couple’ in the mall grocery store shopping together so that kinda confirmed my hunch.  You won’t see very many foreigners walking around with a ladyboy as a public relationship.  I also met a friend, whose friend is a ladyboy.  She was very excited that her fiancee’ was coming later that week to take her to German where they planned to get married.  So, it does happen.

And the unemployed Filipino men who I hear of that are dating an employed ladyboy, it is so he can sponge off of her financially.  In fact, many ladyboys have college degrees and are more focused on being employed than a lot of Filipino men.  But the attraction to “having a Foreigner Boyfriend” is a social positive for both ‘real’ girls and ladyboys.  Perhaps even more so with ladyboys since they, in a sense, ‘out-did’ the real-girls by getting an expat.  Other countries, maybe they do it as a lifestyle choice.  But here it appears the motive is often a shortcut to get in on the Cinderella dream come true scene.  Personally, I don’t blame them.  Women want security from a man, so I don’t find any wrong in a ladyboy wanting the same thing.

philippines survival guide advice expats

Take your pick.. they are all genuine Ladyboys.
All genuine Ladyboys.

I remember, while attending Sinulog Festival, despite being surrounded by literally over a thousand people.. two ladyboys found me out of a crowd near Mango Square and latched on to me.  Seriously, one wrapped her arm around me there on the street and wouldn’t let go.  The other one stayed on my other side as I made my way through the crowd.  It only took them about two minutes to suggest the three of us going to a hotel nearby.  I told them I was just there for the festival and they’d be better spending their time finding someone interested inside Mango Square.  Once they realized there was no money to be had.. they disappeared back into the crowd.  I mention this to make the distinction between the “working girl” type of ladyboys you may encounter at a bar versus a ladyboy who just goes to the bar with her friends.  

So, my message I do want to convey here is this.. if and when you see a ladyboy in the Philippines, know that they are already getting the cold-shoulder treatment from their own society for the most part.  You may need to practice finding that balance between being courteous yet aloof.  Just a friend the same way you’d be to a real-girl that you aren’t exactly attracted to.   It is better to immediately be up-front and clear that you’re “not interested” so they can just accept that.  How you handle it is up to you.  But I suggest be courteous and civil the way you would with any other person.  No need to introduce harshness.

But as an expat out and about town, whether married or single.. it is a scenario you will have to handle every so often here in the Philippines.  Especially when in the upscale malls such as Ayala mall in Cebu.  And not just from ladyboys, the real women.. the man-shark pros, they know where to find rich foreigners and they don’t care if you’re married or not.  Some of the real women here are equally aggressive to willing to become a full-time mistress.  In fact, the whole mistress phenomena and how it has culturally become a part of the marriage institution even here in a ‘Catholic’ country is yet another issue I plan to investigate and understand at some other time.  But, for now.. keep your wits about you, believe half of what you see and even less of what you hear and you’ll do fine.

~ . ~
Reekay V.

philippines survival guide advice expats

Author: Reekay

After 49 years living in Southern California, USA, I decided to move to the Philippines despite never having been here before. I spent a year getting all the information I could online and in July, 2012, I took a leap of faith and transplanted myself first to Mactan and then began my trek through Cebu, Bohol, Panglao, Moalboal, Dumaguete, Bacong and now living in Cebu City, here in the amazing Philippines.

Starting in January of 2019, I will begin a slow trek through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and possibly Malaysia, China and Japan. My itinerary is open with no big rush since I hope to share in detail what each place is like as I enjoy it for months at a time.

I am a single man taking an honest look at all that Southeast Asia has to offer, one day at a time. I hope you find my channel informative and/or entertaining. 🙂

I hope you will make use of the links I provide as they help to support some of the costs of making this channel possible. Thanks!


  1. Your flair for running researches is so impressive. Your categorizing of the homo sapiens existing in Phil is real thorough. But one thing I always wonder about the ladyboys, why should a man like to become or look like a woman! What’s the psychology? In our country man is so much in love with his manhood, no matter how ugly he looks, or how impotent he is.

    1. Aside from the theory I proposed in the article (a route to get money the way real women do).. i think in the US it occurs because certain men are so fascinated with women they eventually want to become one. Kind of like people who idolize a celebrity and begin imitating them in their clothing, behavior, etc. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me on a rational level.

      On a less rational level, I think it can be an emotional response to a traumatic childhood experience such as either being orphaned or sexually molested when young. Maybe they find some sort of comfort as a woman that they don’t get as a man who is expected to ‘tough it out’ through a problem. I’m just theorizing. But even this has to be contrasted with the fact that while many rapists suffered sexual trauma as a child, not all sexually traumatized children turn into rapists.

      This is why I keep reverting to the belief that past experiences may influence current decisions, but not altogether. It is still a free-will choice a person makes. I know the popular belief today is that “it’s not a choice” and they can’t help it, but.. I just don’t buy that ideology.

      1. My ladyboy girlfriend said she began experiencing the feeling of being a girl when she was three years old. Her father beat her because she wanted to play with dolls, not boy’s toys. She left her home when she was 12.

        1. Nature vs. Nurture, Destiny or Choice.. either way you slice it, it’s a hard one to really nail down. Trying to figure out a person’s choices, whether they come from volition or surroundings is fuzzy-math at best. In the end, a person changing their gender does less harm to others than some of the bad life-choices other people make to be abusive spouses, criminals, drug-addicts, etc. Just one way to put it into perspective.

          1. I would not put drug addicts in the same category as a criminal or an abusive spouse. In China drug abuse is viewed as a health problem and treatment is mandatory, free and effective. Many drug addicts or alcoholics have inherited depression. (The Brits fought wars to get the opium in and so did the Japanese.) China is smart they punish the seller of drugs. The ex-addicts have got to work. It is not a victimless crime. That is hard to do the Chinese strategy in countries that are run by the mafia. I never saw any lazy Chinese in my life and I spent decades there. Good article, you wrote, as a forewarning to steer clear of certain situations.

  2. Hi Henry, thanks for the lesson on the ladyboy society there heheheheh. I saw many of them while I was in Cebu. They mostly hung out at Ayala Mall.

    I would never look their way or respond to their attempts to “be friends”. They look female but they are men and they will hurt you to get your money.

    I believe they are to be avoided by foreigners, for safety reasons alone.


    1. Bobbie.. that’s definitely the safe route to take. Even with any of the women at Ayala, I’ve found that if they are the ones initiating to ‘break the ice’.. it’s just either a scam or a hooker doing her thing. Ayala is like a feeding ground for those kind of women, and ladyboys, to hunt down foreigners. I’ve only been to Ayala 3 times and 2 of those times was approached by women within 20 minutes. It definitely pays to be VERY skeptical around here.

  3. I don’t know about moving to the Philippines now. Sounds like you are going to be assaulted by ladyboys, maids, frieinds, friends of friends, transportation people, and that is in only the first 8 months lol DAMN !!!
    Thanks for keeping it real Henry. That jungle living might be just what the Dr ordered

    1. Absolutely! Like I find myself saying more often, “The Philippines is fantastic.. but it’s not for everybody.” I love it here and am all the more convinced this is where I will stay. It’s just a matter of coping with the weather, bugs, ladyboys and people asking money. Once a person can deal with that.. the rest is smooth sailing.

      But the way I look at it, it takes ‘coping’ to live in Southern California. Home and car robberies, gang members on the street, over-taxation, high unemployment, rattlesnakes, earthquakes, freezing temps one month.. boiling the next. For me and a lot of ex-pats.. peaceful living is found in the jungle, but still just a short ride from the malls and hospital. ha! To me, ‘paradise’ is where you find it. 🙂

      1. Thanks again Henry for interesting article. Also, interesting comment you made here . . . I tried extending “Normal Courtesies” to homo’s, didn’t work out to well for me . . . decided best to completely stay away from that group.

  4. I don't get out to the big cities much, but we have plenty of ladyboys here in Calbayog. They don't bother me though, maybe because I'm too fat, old and ugly, but maybe because I usually don't pay much attention to them. I'll have to admit that if the ladyboy in the first picture walked by me, I'd be looking. I'm sure that I would figure "him" out soon, but not right away. I heard that all you need to do is look for the adam's apple. If they have one, it's a guy, but sometimes they are hard to see and it would take a lot of looking.

    1. I've heard that 'adams apple' thing and it is no help at all. There have been times where I just can't tell for sure if it's a good looking ladyboy or a not so good looking woman. However I do know that one sure way to tell is when they are 'acting' like a woman instead of simply 'being' a woman. Real women don't have to 'act' anything, it's just natural.

      Another giveaway is the make-up. Unless a real woman is working in the mall, most real Filipinas here don't wear very much make-up. But all ladyboys just love make-up. Some can get by with less, but most really rely on it to give the effect.

      There's also a very slight, subtle 'raspyness'.. kind of a slight rattle to the voice. It's hard to describe but after a while you know it when you hear it, and most real women don't have it unless they are an 80 year old smoker.

      As for them not being attracted to you, it could be that because you live in a smaller village and it's well known you are married they pass you by for a more discreet, single person. Either way, consider yourself lucky to not have to deal with the drama.

      1. While socializing at the Havana Cafe…Manila.
        I introduced myself to a gorgeous shaply young lady with a wonderful curvey bod, short hair and perfect perky breasts. (You get the picture.) Took me about 20 minutes to surmise my initial preseptions were vastly incorrect. Thank goodness alcohol was not involved. I simply question’d her and she matter of factly stated…”yes, I am a biological man.” I excused my forewarnedness and had a very informative conversation with her. She pointed out the other ladyboys in the crowd…very eye opening. If intoxicated, I would have had a lot of explaining to do… Anyway, she was a great conversationalist. The issue is my inability to see beyond the plumbing incadibility.

    1. I’d say that overall it only takes about 2 minutes to figure out “something aint right”. Then it’s just a matter of confirming it’s a ladyboy. So trust your first-instinct. But more specifically, with the voice it has like a raspy roll to it that real women do not have until they are in their 60’s. Also, the absolute “without fail” dead give-away here in the Philippines is that they are VERY forward. Not all, but the majority will think nothing of coming to introduce themselves, make themselves available, ask you to buy them a drink, ask to sit with you, ask to follow you home.. these are NOT the sort of thing real Filipinas do.. unless they are Pros or Bar-Girls.

      A few time’s I simply could not figure it out. Oh, most women here are under 5’4″ at the tallest. Often ladyboys are either taller or more broad-shoulderd. But even physically, as you look at the photos above.. they sometimes can be very convincing in their looks.

      Bottom-line.. ‘real’ ladies here are very reserved, demure and conservative. Ladyboys are usually the exact opposite.. aggressive and not shy at all about breaking the ice with a total stranger.

    2. Sorry, Robert, but there’s only one sure-fire way to tell. It’s demonstrated in the bar scene with the cabby in Crocodile Dundee 😀

  5. Hi Henry: Some of these ladyboys in the pictures look more like women than our women here in the U.S. I was born in the Philippines, but left at a very young age when my father decided to return to the U.S. in Los Angeles. When I returned to visit the Philippines four years ago, I visited Ayala, SM, and Gaisano malls in Cebu but did not notice the ladyboys. I must be dense not to notice! Thanks for a great article.

    1. It takes some effort to spot them in a crowd if you’re not looking. ha! In the States I rarely saw any, and they were usually not very convincing at all. More like drag-queens with big shoulders. But here, they are cashiers, salesladies, beauticians, masseuses, all working in the public sector in the bigger cities. The smaller provinces are more conservative so they keep a low profile and stick together. Since I’ve been here I’ve met many ladyboys since it seems every girl I’ve known knows one she either went to school with or is friends with. I’ve spent time talking to them and.. once you get past the ‘oddness’ of it all.. they are basically people, with hopes and dreams just like anyone else. Maybe even more so since they are still considered pariahs of society by the older generation of Filipinos. But they are generally upbeat and anytime they joined our party at a club.. they are so much fun. ha! But some of them are real con-artists.. worse than the gold-diggers, at times aggressive as I mentioned in the article.

  6. Many times you said something to the effect of "You can say I’m totally off-base all you want." or similar. Well, you called it, not me. You are totally off base in your ignorant lack of understanding of transgendered people. Your cockamamie theories about people reorienting their whole gender lifestyle to get more money are laughable. You need to do some serious research about the transgender/transsexual phenomenon dude, because you are close to making a fool of yourself here. As for them being very aggressive, I don't doubt your experiences. I just know that your theorizing about their motive for transitioning is from a base of ignorance.

    1. What I’m discussing here are the transgendered people of the Philippines. The motives people have for re-orienting their gender in the US, I believe, are totally different. And even, once again, for different reasons in Europe. If you had a better idea of what life is like here in the Philippines you’d not be so quick to dismiss my position on this. The financial incentives for a man to make himself attractive to a Foreigner (ie; better lifestyle) is huge. Spend a year or more living here and you cannot ignore that motive.

  7. Many times you said something to the effect of “You can say I’m totally off-base all you want…” or similar. Well, you called it, not me. You are totally off base in your ignorant lack of understanding of transgendered people. Your cockamamie theories about people reorienting their whole gender lifestyle to get more money are laughable. You need to do some serious research about the transgender/transsexual phenomenon dude, because you are close to making a fool of yourself here. As for them being very aggressive, I don’t doubt your experiences. I just know that your theorizing about their motive for transitioning is from a base of ignorance.

    1. What I’m discussing here are the transgendered people of the Philippines. The motives people have for re-orienting their gender in the US, I believe, are totally different. And even, once again, for different reasons in Europe. If you had a better idea of what life is like here in the Philippines you’d not be so quick to dismiss my position on this. The financial incentives for a man to make himself attractive to a Foreigner (ie; better lifestyle) is huge. Spend a year or more living here and you cannot ignore that motive.

    1. Thanks. I try to be as fair as possible. Some of my friends here in PH are ladyboy. But some give all ladyboy a bad reputation, but some are very nice people and the most fun to go out for a dance club and fiestas. And despite what many might guess, this article is actually the most-Googled article on my entire site, equal to the one, “So What’s The Big Deal About Filipinas?” Both get lots of interest every day.

  8. Thanks. I try to be as fair as possible. Some of my friends here in PH are ladyboy. But some give all ladyboy a bad reputation, but some are very nice people and the most fun to go out for a dance club and fiestas. And despite what many might guess, this article is actually the most-Googled article on my entire site, equal to the one, “So What’s The Big Deal About Filipinas?” Both get lots of interest every day.

  9. Henry Velez So to risk scorn and possible attacks only for money. You are clueless. I know pinyo/pinya in the US who have money and are ladyboys

    1. Lamont Cranston.. You are over-simplifying what I said. I was speaking of a general motive, not an all-inclusive mandate. I guess you don’t understand the difference. I never said there aren’t ladyboys without money. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon that a Filipino man is sponging off an employed Filipina ladyboy.

      Work on your reading comprehension skills before making false assumptions as to what you ‘think’ I said. It is you who is clueless. I’m guessing you didn’t even read the whole article and just skimmed it looking for something to nit-pick. This is an article about ladyboys “in the Philippines”, so your comment about ladyboys in the US is irrelevant. Nice job, you totally missed what I was saying.

  10. You are over-simplifying what I said. I was speaking of a general motive, not an all-inclusive mandate. I guess you don’t understand the difference. I never said there aren’t ladyboys without money. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon that a Filipino man is sponging off an employed Filipina ladyboy.

    Work on your reading comprehension before making false assumptions as to what you ‘think’ I said. It is you who is clueless. I’m guessing you didn’t even read the whole article and just skimmed it looking for something to nit-pick. This is an article about ladyboys “in the Philippines”, so your comment about ladyboys in the US is irrelevant. Nice job, you totally missed what I was saying.

  11. Wow. What a wonderful piece of writing–balanced, nuanced, non-judgemental and insightful. As an American living in South Korea for more than four years and dating a ladyboy from Angeles, I can testify to a lot of what you have to say–both good and bad. Lol. I will look forward to reading more of your posts.

  12. Thanks, Lynn. I try to be as balanced and look at all sides as possible. I have no agenda apart from observing my surroundings and sharing what I see. I'm not biased against ladyboys but I'm not an GLTG advocate either. After a year here in the PH, I have met quite a few and see them all the time simply as I go about my business at the malls here. Like any other group, some are really great people, some are not so nice to deal with. Same could be said of any group. Hope to see you at the site more often.

  13. I think the ones in the United States fit what you were saying too. I've met a lot of them here with those aggressive persona's, though the problem here in the United States is a lot of them have extreme narcissistic attitudes and behavior problems sometimes a lot worse than genetic women. Now that's what pisses me off..But I guess once these people get older and realize reality. They can't get away with these annoyances forever. I'm not against aggressive girls at all, but if someone is just chasing me for status or money purposes, I say f*ck them. Their a sack of sh*t to me.

  14. Good and fair article. I lived in manila for a year and had a ladyboy girlfriend whom I met working in an SM mall. She was both kind and considerate and very lovely and always there for me. She had a few ladyboy friends who were just as nice and lovely that we invited over quite often and we all got along very well. Then there were the one or two ladyboy friends she had that were super jealous of her for having an American boy friend and would constantly hit on me and talk bad about her, so we never invited them back to our place. All in all the Filipina ladyboy is just like everyone else in life, looking for love and companionship. Keep up the good work and passing along that most ladyboy’s are really good people.


    1. It could be in many cases you receive a response based on a cultural thing. When something is awry, you blame someone or something else, anyone, except yourself. It’s a lot easier to blame God, society or biology than to explain the real truth. No doubt some feel they were born in the wrong body. There are countless homosexual men who have no desire to be a woman; they want to be homosexual men. There are heterosexual men who want to dress like a woman. What is the cause of all this? I say God only knows for sure, and some of the people with deviated sexual traits may know why they themselves are that way, but probably not. I suspect much of it has to do with a childhood trauma, real or perceived.

      There was a little “girl,” a toddler, who frequently begged at a popular open air hangout. He was a cute little thing with beautiful long hair. No one knew he wasn’t a girl. My supervisor at that time, “Buzzard,” adopted him and he dressed like a boy every since. His parents had been making him dress like a girl for a higher income. I wonder what that effect had on the kid when he grew up. I think Buzzard adopted about 10 beggars. One had a leg cut off at the knee, and he insisted on returning to the open air bar to beg even after adoption. He was probably 7 or 8 YO at that time. Sadly, Buzzard went to Guam with his wife and huge family, and he went to jail for pulling a gun on his wife’s BF in a bar, and I never heard anything about him since. We only knew, because it made the Navy newspaper, the Stars and Stripes. We told our Division Chief, Senior Chief Petty Officer whose name I an not recall, and he just said, “Yup, Buzzard’s still F!@#ing up.” We told him he didn’t pull the trigger and Senior said sternly, “Like I said, Buzzard’s still F!@#ing up.”

    2. I am aware that is what they ‘believe’. But believing it is not the same as reality. They’re entitled to believe whatever they want. Same as me. I believe it’s a choice that is affected by the local incentives. Think about it, if it’s truly just a matter of “being born in the wrong body”.. they you have to ask the question, “Why is it there are far more ladyboys in Thailand or Brazil than there are in say Germany or Russia?” If it’s just a biological mishap, it would be equally random and expressed all over the globe. But it’s not. It’s most prevalent in some places more than others. It’s geographical, it’s a choice. But.. you can ignore that obvious fact and believe what you want, just as they can. Remember, just because I believe I’m a red fire truck does not make me one.

      1. First I want to say ‘great article’ @Henry. But in your post above you are missing a valid ‘point.’ You said: “if it’s truly a matter of being born in the wrong body…why are there far MORE in Thailand or Brazil than in Germany or Russia?” – You said: “if a biological mishap it would be ‘equally random and expressed all over the globe.”

        Here is where you are incorrect. You HAVE to take into account that there are far MORE in Thailand, The Philippines or Brazil – simply because it is more ACCEPTABLE in those regions! I can see people even moving to those locations because it’s easier to be accepted there! No concentration of any group is going to stay somewhere they are not welcomed so this ‘point’ should make you re-evaluate your determination on this culture. Again, love your articles but in this case I have to respectfully disagree with your perception 😉

  15. Great article, ‘kept me reading for quite long lol! but it’s very informative and of great help for foreigners visiting the Philippines esp. the first time… 😉

  16. I have to admit, this was the ONLY reason why I wanted to travel there is because of the ladyboys, and I've got no shame in admitting this like most men would. Because when I was 14 that's when I developed an interest in the third gender, and the vast majority of the people that talk to me, already knew I was into those type of women. The thing that I like about the Filipina ladyboys is the fact, they are not sensitive about being called a ladyboy, shemale, etc. The American ones and what not will bitch and whine if you call them any of those words because they feel insulted that it's related to the adult industry or whatever reason. At any rate, the Asian ones always look ten times better than genetic females do. The thing is, I'm not crazy about the ones with their dicks removed, that aspect is a little weird and awkward. So I've been called "Bisexual" but most people, and I don't deny it. Most guys are insecure about dating one because they are afraid of being slapped with the Gay Label. Not me, shit anyone that looks like a woman is pretty much a woman if they act and behave like one. And if they look good to me, I'd talk to em. But that's just me, worrying about what people say or how they feel about me I could care less. I don't see anyone doing shit for me enough to give a damn how they think of my choices.

    1. Good for you Johnny. You are honest. Nothing wrong with that! It’s no one else’s business what you like or do in my opinion, unless you bring it up for discussion, even then it’s not open to hate, anger, name calling, or judgement.

  17. Hello Mr. Henry!
    Thank you so much for your article! I appreciate it so much… I’ am not a ladyboy or even a bisexual guy, but I respect people with third gender. I never thought that a foreigner like you would appreciate and respect my country men like this?
    I was so surprised when I read your article about Filipina woman, Titled What’s the big deal about Filipinas? It was overwhelming to read the article about our ladies here in the Philippines. Great article and thank you so much for appreciating Filipina womens.
    More power to you Mr. Henry 🙂

      1. Wow! that was a good video Mr. Henry! You know, I have always been fascinated with bloggers like you. If I may ask, how did you come up with this idea?
        You were the first blogger who appreciated Filipinos. Actually I was in teary eyes while reading your positive feeds about Filipinos. There are some foreign bloggers who used to mocked us insult us and discriminate us.
        Despite of the things that we have here in the Philippines your were still positive about your blog towards us!
        Thank you so much! I wish you could come up with more positive feeds about us Filipinos.
        I wish you more health and good things in life!
        KUDOS to you Mr. Henry & more power.
        GOD BLESS YOU.

        1. Thanks. Originally I came up with the blog simply as a way to keep in touch with my family back home.. to let them know my adventures and that I was fine here. But it quickly mushroomed into a site that so many people, foreigners and Filipinos, have taken an interest in and just kept growing from there. There is pro/con to any country or group of people, so it’s wrong in my opinion to blacklist ‘all’ of some people due to a minority who are bad people. The Philippines has some of the most amazingly beautiful countrysides I’ve seen in my life.

          In general the people are very friendly, the food is good and for the foreigner with income the exchange rate makes for a comfortable lifestyle here easily within reach. Meanwhile, our money spent in the PH contributes to the local economy for our island so, it’s good for both. All in all, I’m very happy living in the PH and can see now why so many of my Filipino friends in the USA would use their vacation time to re-visit home and family here every year.

          1. “the food is good”

            Brother Reekay, Gustamo Balut at Adidas?

            One of the big positives of the PH we don’t always recognise or realise, is the fact that the PH is unique in that it is the only Asian country that is Christian. The US is also Christian country and this is why Americans and most Westerners have a feeling of warmth almost as soon as they get off the plane in Manila or Cebu. By calling our countries “Christian,” I don’t mean each and every person is a Christian, I mean the countries were founded on, and the culture is embedded with Judao/Christian morals. We all (almost all anyway) have the same basic ideas of what is right and wrong, truth, honesty, being nice and respectful to others, etc. Our beliefs may be more pronounced in Christians, but the view of right and wrong is shared by atheists and members of other religions. Sadly, in the US, I think these values are fading away as the progressives chip away at our constitution, schools, media, and the like. I travelled to many Asian countries over the years, and while I always felt more or less welcome as a visitor, no where else is that warmth. The closest I experienced, was probably in Malaysia, where at that time, it was about 1/3 Malay (Christians), 1/3 Chinese (Christians and Buddhists) and 1/3 Islamic.

            An example of the difference it makes, the aligned morals and beliefs, I visited Malaysia twice, about 7 weeks all together, and the English newspaper, Salamat Pagi (means good morning), was delivered to our hotel room daily. Almost every Saturday, there would be an announcement of the public hanging to take place. Then, like clock work, Sunday’s paper had the hangings as the front page story with graphic images, almost always foreigners for trafficking drugs. Large, close up images of the execution and the large audience. This would not go over very well in the US or PH. In fact, executions in the US are pretty rare, and reserved for murderers, usually mass murderers. The exception would be treason, but not enforced for over 60 years. I guess to the majority of Malaysians, it was not shocking or negative; perhaps it was entertainment or witnessing it part of closure of justice served? I always wondered.

            1. Several times I’ve been in the mall and suddenly.. everyone in the mall (except clueless expats like me) is still. Over the intercom of the mall a prayer is done. That I know of, around 3pm and 6pm, depending on the day. Many malls here also have a room or atrium made up for performing Mass before the start of the shift on Sundays. Also, during the Christmas season they play classic Christmas, Contemporary Christmas music (English/Tagolog), Hymns and Contemporary Christian worship music.

              This would never happen in the US, but that’s a whole other issue. My point being, while not everone may be a practicing Catholic in the PH, the influence and acceptance of a moral absolute does have a positive effect on the culture as a whole. Meanwhile, with religion slowly becoming ‘the enemy’ in the US, morals continue to slide down the gutter each day.

              Just one more reason I prefer the culture here in the PH.

              1. You are right Henry…I visit there often, (I live half the year there and half in the US) and once I was in the Guisano mall market in Cebu pushing the shopping cart and over the sound system they were saying the Hail Mary. I was very impressed how everyone just stopped and were attentive.

        2. Hi Christian. Like anywhere in the world, the Philippines has both positives and negatives. You have to face the negatives, but focus on the positives. Some people go through life focused on negatives, which is a loosing formula. They may be able to get ahead financially if they are lucky enough to live in a good economy, but they will never be happy. People like myself and Reekay study the negatives, understand them, but focus on the positives. The Philippines has many, many positive attributes, and mostly because of you, the Pinoy. Without the Pinoy, the Philippines would just be another group of tropical islands, which we already have here in the US (Key West, FL and HI) and within one hour flight from the US (all those famous Caribbean Isles). The difference is the people. We do have Pinoy here of course, AND EVEN JOLYBEEs (!!!!), but it is not a Pinoy country.

          When you hire a worker, you have to understand their strengths and weaknesses, then try to improve the weaknesses, but focus on and exploit the strengths. I say exploit for lack of a better word coming to mind, but by that I don’t mean to take advantage of the person; I mean to leverage their abilities in way way the benefits all. I view companies, corporations and countries as organisms, made up of people united for a cause. All people, companies and countries have tumours, some have tumours that have grown into advanced stages of cancer and will die.

          It amazes me how many people here in the US make it through life without ever learning this most basic concept. I think a lot of it is the progressive’s (over the last 100 + years, slowly but surely) attempts to drive God out of our lives and have us worship them and their system. My belief stems from the fact that without faith, when life drops a big dookey (tae) on your head, it’s very hard to be positive, and nearly impossible to lift yourself up, resulting in depression, anger and if it is financial, permanent government dependence. Not to focus on the negative LOL 😀

          And CJ, welcome to LBTSea, and I hope you continue visiting and sharing your insights. I would love to see a Pinoy more active on the forums, maybe starting some new threads teaching us culture or some language, or just addressing some of the questions (hint, hint, hint, nudge, nudge, no pressure Sir, link at the top of the pages here or click 😀 ). And may you also be Blessed by Him.

  18. Rumor is that nana plaza in Bangkok is turning into a 100% transgendered red light district, because the LB bars are the one’s who make the most money. TS girls are a very undervalued resource worldwide. Ask any Thai webmaster and the #1 search term referrals they get are for ‘Thai ladyboys’.

    Here in the west, TS girls have similar problems as girls in Philippines and Asia. Every single guy wants to have sex with them and promises them relationships then disappear. So naturally these girls sell their services because it helps them pay for surgeries and hormones and because guys are just going to play them anyways, so might as well get paid. In Brazil a ‘travesti’ knows she has until age 35 or so to make as much money as possible before she can’t escort anymore (though, seldom do any travestis live beyond 35 due to illegal sillicon injections and street violence against them). These girls will save all their money and usually buy a salon with it. They are well known for having a lot of income so tons of so-called suitcase pimps latch on to them as well to try and drain their money. Philippines is apparently full of these local guys who are deadbeats and siphon money from their TS girlfriends in exchange for affection, which is why they prefer foreigners from the west or Japan/Singapore instead, as those guys are more financially stable and unlikely to totally exploit their girlfriends.

    If you want to make a lot of money, start opening transgender/ladyboy bars in Makati and other popular tourist destinations. They are exploding in Thailand Cascade now has 200+ TS girls working for them full-time and they are always hiring more. Beside them is 5 other ladyboy bars! As long as you don’t over exploit the girls and share revenues with them farily they will be happy to work there. Indonesia and Malaysia also have huge ladyboy populations and you’d never guess they aren’t genetic girls.

    If you want examples of what the pros in Philippines look like go on Manila Craigslist, click casual encounters and search t4m. Some of them look like pro models like ‘TS AKIRA’ or ‘TS Margareth’. Those kinds of girls would be getting 5-6,000 Euros per month in Italy or London it’s surprising so many have a hard life in the Philippines when if they could get out of there they’d be setting their family back home up for life.

    1. As I mentioned in the article, I’ve often thought about the long-term plan for them. I just don’t see many over the age of 35 anywhere in Cebu or Bohol. I do see them in the barber shops and salons, but even then it’s about 50/50 between younger and older ones. I do know a few that have gotten married outside the PH and ‘settled down’ with a foreigner so.. it does happen. I guess that’s the brass-ring they’re hoping for in the later years. It’s a shame the leeches/pimps latch on to them in the meanwhile.

  19. As I see it, we all have to individually find our own path. And if we're not hurting other people in the process, then it's really not someone else's job to begin hating or judging other people. If I had to launch a cause against a gay, lesbian or ladyboy versus some straight-man who beats his wife every weekend.. I'd say it's better to focus on dealing with that wife-beater.

  20. I appreciate the article because, yes, as one who reads up on what to expect in travel destinations, I have gotten more than enough morsels of information on this ladyboy issue and I have to say it does not speak well of the Philippines. So much for that allegedly Christian/Catholic country. It is a problem now out of control. The author is trying his best to be “fair” in an oversensitive PC world where no one can now speak from a clear mind and hold to traditional values – how God made us and made life.

    As to the foundational issues of these ladyboys’ problems, yes, the financial aspect can be part of it. I would submit that it has a lot more to do with the utter failure and breakdown of the family. Unwed mothers everywhere one looks. Males impregnating very young women and abandoning them, just moving on to the next young woman and then the next. Males married to several different women (you read about it every week), creating children with each of them. Add to this the epidemic of mistresses. (Please tell me the long in office Manila, Cebu, and Davao politician that does not have one, two, three?) This author is doing his homework fast in his newfound land. He has given recent videos on the problem and abundance of mistresses in the Philippines, particularly the larger cities. It is horrid to hear of the aggressive, unabashed approaches they make on married men in public places with no scruples. Just as it is horrid to hear how many males succumb to the folly of a mistress or two or very willingly partake. Lest one think I am singling out ladyboys as the only sure sign of the broken Filipino family, I would also cite the number of Filipina women working in Angeles, Subic, and everywhere in central Manila, giving it up for money and with pimps and organized crime behind it all. The K-bars everywhere? What man hasn’t been approached at an airport, bus terminal, on the street at night, in the mall, in the hotel lobby – with the hotel personnel looking on and doing nothing? How can any real father look on that and not take up action to save, protect, and yes retrieve to safety his daughter(s)? I don’t want to hear the cockamamie arguments of how poverty can justify any of that. What bar girl does not come home with more diseases, her lost femininity, her lost soul and maybe another pregnancy? Quite possibly also now coming home a serious alcoholic, perhaps smoking and an indifference or even acquiesence to the drug culture.

    Lives ruined. And someone wants to tell me there are fathers there?

    I have written too much above. Suffice it to say that the Filipino family seems a misnomer. Men who won’t work (it is not just that they cannot find work). Let’s face that fact. Men who let women take too much the leadership role in a home. Males who are outright lazy even when home and with their wives. Males who abandon their families. And OFW Filipinos (both women and men) who do all manner of extra marital affairs while working abroad. (that is another subject I look for Mr. Velez to tackle if he has not already)

    Yes, that is what gives you the supply of young girls for Angeles. It is also what leads to young males who are so confused growing up in these utterly broken situations, as they are upset, angry, unsure, and insecure. So they look to something other, in this case messing with and altering their God given gender.

    It is males not being men. It is males not leading their families. It is males abandoning their wives and pregnant girlfriends. It is males still thinking themselves as Casanovas, abandoning all moral behavior as they live as unrepentant adolescents. Just as they have abandoned any semblance of living the Christian faith.

    There is the answer.

    Not a very complimentary picture of the evolving Philippines.

    Just a hint to the author (though he knows it) and everyone else: As more societal normalcy is lent to these shemales, the aggressiveness, rudeness, and trickery of the ladyboys will only be on the increase. You will see and experience the trend.

    1. Very well written and good points you make. It is the non-PC position, which I commend you for, btw. Societies, whether they be 1st, 2nd or 3rd world nations, do not show signs of erosion for no reason. There are reasons and it’s my likewise belief that the erosion of the nuclear family is the beginning of the end more often than not. It’s interesting that many people have no hesitation in stating that ‘society’ is the responsible culprit for producing criminals.. while at the same time insisting the core family unit can be modified willy-nilly with no after effects.

      Will positive change come to the PH, or the US for that matter? The law of entropy says odds are against it, sad to say. But as it has often been quoted, “Evil succeeds where good men do nothing.” Or say nothing. If ‘tolerance’ is the new rule, then it applies to the protection of those with conservative values as well, not just those of a ‘progressive’ (ie’ liberal) agenda.

    2. Thank You for the very well written article. Yeah, possibly not much of a future for the Philippines.
      And i think the situation you describe has actually been going on for quite some time.

    3. I have not even been there yet but I cannot help but agree. I have met one online, in my attempts to meet and know a few people before I go there, and on every level I give them credit, they only disappoint me. On 3 occasions I have sent 2 perfumes (because she said no one has ever given her that and it is too expensive for her), and sent her money because she said her personal house fan stopped working (and I know how hot it gets). Oh, I also gave her money for cellphone ‘load’ because she “claimed” that we would not be able to speak daily and I already knew how much a load cost (from another female filipino who also tried to get money from me), but the shemalye IMO was lying about the price because she said it costed almost $40 when it should have been like $5 (american). She was soo grateful and happy and I thought: “We can be good friends or something!”. But then I mention simply that as my time to visit the Philippines approaches and I am not going have any money (meaning, “so don’t ask me for anything or tell me how much you see something you like but cannot afford it!”), and even though I had said I was going to help her take a trip after I leave the Philippines to see her family in the ‘country-part’ of were she grew up – she STILL brought up some plastic shoes that she wanted for the typhoons because she had no good shoes to prevent from getting wet! – That really pissed me off and to be honest, I am feeling like I don’t even want to visit. I have enough that in the states but in the states people do not beg you over and over for it. It just seems like once I am there everyone is just going to keep asking me for things and try to use me and single me from other people there so that ‘they’ can have their very own piggy bank. So now I have seen this with women, men (my female friend allowed her tattoo friend to promise me a drawing of which he got money from me through her and never sent me a drawing!), and now even this ladyboy. I’m like: “Damn, can a brother get a break?” – So this is that countries own demise, only poor and lonely old men are ever going to respect people like that as I see it. Sorry but I am showing a record of 4 out of 4 people (all types) and the results are the same. What hope do I have? None and I was going to give it a try, because of ‘Henry’ ;(

  21. You may not be able to love them like a woman, but you can’t help but admire and respect them for their struggles to try to be accepted by society. I have some “LadyBoy” friends; they’re good people.

    1. Same here. They are people, no different in what they want out of life from anyone else. They want to meet their daily needs, be accepted, love and be loved.. just like any of us. I probably ‘see’ about 4 ladyboys (bakla) a week in the PH, I’ve probably spoken with at least 20, and I know one as a friend online. In the US, many assumptions are made to either encounter or know that many ladyboys. But in the PH, when dating a Filipina, chances are very high that someone in her family/friends is a ladyboy, gay or lesbian. That’s just how life is here.

      1. Very true Henry!

        Being a younger american straight guy, in our culture, we frown upon it most of the time but after being to the philippines and encountering the scene. It’s somewhat entertaining and I’m not quick to judge like in the States. You just have to experience it to understand it.

  22. I agree to the being quick to judge in the States about one’s sexual orientation. In my opinion there are a lot of people in the States who are trying to “get out of the closet,” and all the pretention to keep the “straight” image creates more problems than solutions, like mental depression and sexual deviation. I wrote an article for a blog a few years ago titled, “The Lack of Expression Creates Frustration.” In that article I explained that the lack of being able to express one’s individuality and neglect from society often lead to deviant behavior. For what the article is worth, it at least addressed the issue of widespread neglect and rigidity of the status quo among Western societies causes many social problems.

  23. I am a 21 year old filipina ladyboy, and I was just starting my life being like this. I have to agree of some facts there, but we must always consider the fact that being like us, being a ladyboy is a long fight. We must consider the individual differences. Thank you

    1. Yes. And whenever speaking of large groups, whether it be a race or country or male, female, transgender.. it is always wise to keep in mind that not ALL of any group are the same. I have met ladyboys in the PH and speak with one often enough online that I consider as a friend. I’ve run into some who were just after money or a b/f. But the same can be said of real-girl Filipinas. I’ve met some good ones and some bad ones.

      Each person deserves to stand or fall based on how they treat other people. Not every is either good or bad.

  24. Hi Henry, First I must be straight forward with you that I am disappointed with how you refer transgender women or ladyboys as “MEN”. Though I like your article specially that you aren’t saying any BS about your experiences in the Philippines. And I agree in some of the sad reality that is existing in the Philippines hat you have personally encountered, specially the money issues ( Really disappointing )

    My name is Maki I am from Cebu and I am a a transgender woman. I also have been part of the Queen pageant, which you also stated on your article. ( And I thank you for that) I am also a blogger and working on a transgender dating site .

    Now let me help you understand why I am pissed. I always expect that people who wright about ladyboys and transgender women have enough or should I say basic knowledge about transgender people, trans women to be specific. I truly got irritated (maybe because of my hormones) with your definition of transsexual or transgender women or ladyboys. The definition is right but you miss the point that we were not a man and never been a man! It could have better if you say transgender women are women who were born with male genitalia but regarded and identify themselves as a woman at very early age. You must understand that it is the society labeled us as a man. (And you could have made a research or copy pasted a link the defines transsexuals from a reliable to make it even safe). Further while you are describing ladyboys you were using male pronouns, That is truly unacceptable because as a blogger we take our time in researching to make sure not to offend people. Yes we cannot please everybody, that is for sure and maybe transgender women who read this haven’t had the courage nor they do not have proper knowledge or basis to argue on such topic. But since we are in proper position (blogger, site owner) to educate our community then let us take our part in educating our community properly about transgender women.

    I hope your getting my point here. No hard feelings, but as what I have said we bloggers should research on a topic that we wanted to talk about to avoid hurting people’s feelings. Let me share this article I have on my recent personal blog. About me not considering my self as a man. Thank you : )

    1. Hi Maki, thanks for your response. I hear and understand what you are saying. I realize that within the transgender community they refer to themselves with female pronouns and consider themselves as ‘never being men’, but rather born in the wrong body. Those are accepted ideas ‘within’ the transgender circles. In my last 2 years here in the PH, I have not just ‘seen’, but taken the time to get to converse with several ladyboys both online and in person. They are good people, the ones I know, and I consider them friends.

      But in regards to the idea that transgenders were born in the wrong body, I do not see anything other than ‘belief’ to support it. I’ve heard of ‘theories’ about it, but nothing that actual science has brought forward to prove it. And that is okay, that’s fine. It is much like politics or religion.. a person has to choose for themselves what they will believe and that is all there is to it. I respect that ladyboys consider themselves women and when I’m speaking with them that is how I view them and converse with them. I respect that, while I am not a ladyboy.. I can understand and accept the choice they make for themselves. Now, I know that even in that statement your position is that it is not a choice. That’s okay that we differ. Because at the end of the day you will believe what is good for your life and you don’t need my approval or agreement. It is fine that we “agree to disagree”. If you like chocolate and I like strawberry, it does not mean one of us is in the wrong. We are simply different. And accepting difference is what true tolerance is all about.

      Lastly, I do hope you can see that my intention is to somewhat bridge the gap of understanding. While there are part-time ‘cross-dressers’ and some full-time ‘she-males’ in our Western culture, for the most part our U.S. society is very unfamiliar with transgendered on a daily basis. It is a new experience to encounter them daily when we expats come here. I am against those who treat them badly or rudely, there is no need for that. I believe that so long as a person is not hurting others, they should be free to live as they please and given the same courtesy and respect as given to all people. Even if we don’t agree, I still believe people everywhere have the right to be Free.

  25. Hi Henry, a quick question. How are people of African descent treated in the Philippines? In regards to women, ladyboys and society in general. Thanks.

  26. I really appreciate the way Henry goes in to great detail about what one can expect when coming to this culture. Rather than having to struggle through these situations on my own it is great to know what things to anticipate. Henry does this con
    sistently. His personal beliefs regarding the reasons for the Ladyboy are obviously from a very conservative mind set. His point of view is his and while I don’t agree with everything he believes I do respect that he gives every subject his best. Who could ask for more than that? I have learned so much from his blog and videos. Whether I ever make my way to the Philippines or not following Henry’s journey is something I continue to look forward to. So I’m an avid “Life Beyond The Sea” follower and I’m hanging in there because I want to know when he finally decides to tie the knot and with whom. I have a feeling Henry will continue to have a great future ahead.

  27. You are an intolerant. Most transsexuals, for wherever reason, had effeminate desires and even personalities from an early age. It’s not a choice. Some are nice some cruel. Yes,some exaggerate effeminacy as they did not learn how to behave as a child. And in Catholic Philippines, most expect better treatment from a foreign man. And in such a poor country many people, including trans, are on the make. But hey, would you describe all black Americans as “loud” “aggressive” and “doing drugs”. You should get out more.

  28. hi henry .,.by the way im charlotte from phil. and im young ladyboy .,.i just saw youre forum and articles and i do reviews and thats all true and correct ,.,.. im so thankful for introducing us .,.life we have and what things we have ., i just want to say that .,not all ladyboys here in the philippines are same as what some foreign people say about bad things in us.,. i guess its depends also individually.,.,because i believe all people in the whole world are having differences .,." its depends also in foreign people like you .,.to meet ladyboys like us.,"., good luck and more power to do more articles and informations about us.,"

    thank u so much

  29. Henry,

    I have been with dozens of ladyboys in Thailand and the Philippines and am currently in a relationship with a Thai one. The vast majority of my experiences have been great. Most ladyboys I know have wanted to be a girl since they were young and have faced much discrimination from family and potential employers. Dealing with this discrimination gives them a certain resilience and brutal honesty that I personally like. I find that many ladyboys are more feminine in character than a lot of western women I know. As you state many have been on hormones for many years so they are essentially women in every way other than down below (a small number do have the full operation).

  30. I'm so impressed with the articles that you posted, which serves as an eye opener to all fellow filipinos who are so close minded. I'm a ladyboy from philippines and I'm proud to be a ladyboy. Thanx Henry for all those beautiful experiences and words you stated. I salute you…

  31. Brilliant article Henry. On my latest visit to Cebu, I had eaten my lunch in Ayala and was heading back to my nearby hotel. The usual promo girls were handing out leaflets for condos. One attractive girl approached me and I accepted the leaflet, her slightly deep voice was kind of sexy. Later, I sent her a text enquiring further about condos. We agreed to meet later and I would pay for dinner if she answered my questions. She was polite, intelligent and amusing. As I was leaving Cebu the next day, I suggested she come to my hotel for breakfast to finish our conversation. I had alerted the doorman at the hotel that a guest would be joining me soon. When she was walking up the steps, the doorman enquired as to my liking ladyboys. I was taken aback, I really hadn't expected that. Anyway, we ate breakfast and she attended her head office meeting at 9.00am. I started thinking about things and decided to ask point blank. She replied that yes, she was a ladyboy, and that she assumed I knew by her voice. Well, my only previous interaction with ladyboys was to resisit them picking my pockets, so I admit to being completely naive on this subject. Anyway, I explained that I am only looking for a female partner, no hard feelings. She said fine, no problem, I have a cousin 🙂 I accepted her friend request on Facebook, mostly because I think it a simple way to find out more about her cousin. I have had no direct request for money, yet, but she always ends her messages with "don't forget to bring a gift, hehe". Four weeks later and still no contact with the cousin. Fortunately, Facebook have the block and delete option.

  32. Hi Henry,

    Thanks for your article. Although i love lb and have been to both Phily and Thailand (and Vietnam and Cambodia where they r as well) many times your ‘vision’ is still an eyeopener.
    I have met a lb at the datingsite lbk (u probably know it) and have a lb-girlfriend. I sometimes transfer money to her. One of the reasons i do is that – how contrary that may sound – she initially never asked for it at first. Although the money i transfer i can easily miss i just lately asked how much her dad – she still lives with her family – earned it turned out to be less then i transferred to her the last three months.
    At that time i concluded that i had to be a very big economic factor fot the whole family. What also bothered me is that she had not notified me what she did with it. After she send me a photo of a big familydinner she had i asked her why and when she had this dinner she told me that she paid it from my ‘contribution’.
    Your article put a lot of knots together (dutch proverb). Thanks.

  33. And another thing: being on a LB-datingsite is a very funnt experience. Almost all the LB there have in there profile the same phrase: “i am a simple ladyboy”.
    I am not talking about a few lb, not i am talking about 95% of all the profiles! Always the word ‘simple’.
    For me it raised two question: Why do they say that and why do they ALL say that.
    My conclusion is that with ‘simple’ they mean that they are not cunning or artfull to ask for money. The fact that they do it almost all makes me thing that they know that they are all up to that, i mean ask money.
    You agree? Furthermore, i travel to Cebu in 3 weeks where u advise me to stay?

  34. Really great article. Need to agree with Patrick but not 100%. Used to talk to many lbs online some are real gold diggers but had that pleasure to talk to ones who are not looking for money or wealth, they have good established business or higher positions in foreign companies. But ofcourse are not teenagers.

  35. My god what's this world coming to,why don't all these ladyboys grow up and cut out the nonsense.
    It's just damn ridiculous to wanting to be something you can never be.god bless you all.

      1. I suppose you could say I’m something of a “practical libertarian”. Unlike many who ‘claim’ to be open-minded and liberal..yet are the first to hate anyone who disagrees with them.. I believe people should have the inalienable right to choose their own lifestyle, so long as it does not harm or intrude on another person’s lifestyle. If no laws are being broken.. what’s the issue? As my Mom always told me, “To each their own, just don’t hurt anyone.” Or as I learned after years of frustration arguing with people in my younger years.., “Hey.. it’s no skin off my back. Let them do what they want.”

        Because, really.. at the end of the day, so long as someone else’s lifestyle isn’t intruding on my rights or livelihood.. what does it matter? And as for morality, hey.. some people want it, some don’t. That’s their choice. It’s the moment people try to force their own morality on others that the violence begins.

        So, “Live and let live.”, is what I say.

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