Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Rise Of Kandong Girls In Abatan, Buguias And Lollipop Girls In La Trinidad, Benguet

A few months ago, social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and operatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group swooped into four suspected prostitution dens in the burgeoning town of Buguias in Benguet. When the dusts of the operations had settled, the combined forces of the two agencies nabbed a total of 21 women; 17 were working as bar girls and the other four were either managers, handlers or cashiers. Here's the saddening part: 10 of the 17 bar girls were minors.

When stories about the operations finally found their way to news outlets, they painted a rather different picture of Benguet. A picture that is dark, bleak, even shocking to some. To an outsider, Benguet is a place where you'll find the sweetest strawberries, the most luscious cabbages, and the most vivid mountains that seem to roll into eternity. In short, the province is commonly thought of as a place where you can go to unwind from the rigors of urban life.

A story about the operations from the Manila Standard Today had the headline, "Cops Raid Sex Dens, Nab 21 Women". The Philippine Star was more reserved with its headline, "17 Bar Girls Rescued In Benguet Town". 

A reader's reaction to the stories would depend on the level of his/her knowledge regarding the existence of these dens in Abatan, Buguias. To the uninitiated, the stories may be shocking. But the fact is that the trade has been around in Abatan for years now. Many people are aware of it, the type of people who would say "Nabayag met nga ada agilaklako ti bagi da dita."

Photo from
The obvious question now is how did it come to this? Are the authorities doing anything about it? Are the cases decreasing? Are they increasing? Well, it seems that they are increasing. A recent report from Bombo Radyo Baguio said that there's a perceived higher risk of sexually-transmitted diseases spreading in some Benguet towns because of the proliferation of sex-based trades. A heightened risk means only one thing - more people have entered the picture. Women plying their trades in Abatan have been dubbed as the kandong girls.

The trade is also reportedly on the rise in La Trinidad. According to rumors, there are women with lollipops plying their trade in the streets (especially in the main highway) of the town. A lady with a lollipop is supposedly a signal that she is offering short-time services. That's why they are being referred to as lollipop girls. However, these rumors are yet to be confirmed.