WHAT OF the "red light district" in the Clark zone in Pampanga? Days pass. It is as red as ever, the haunt of bully soldiers and ugly women who have already repeated a short red basic dress. If you're here to be entertained, this is the perfect joint. It is happening, like in Starbucks. Come at the right time in an era when coffee drinking is as sophisticated as tea drinking and prostitution exists because there is a necessity for man to uphold one sole thing and, with effort, ascribe to it the stature of a gentleman's club. The "business" peaks from 5:00 p.m. until two in the morning, although I have seen men come out looking as though they had just discovered a new toy within the premises and they want to share the experience, as if the red light district were called "red" because it describes love and not its illicit context.
In my defense, my personal opposition to the trade is that because there are stories within such haunts that bespeak of a false, inferior love set in the context of free bodily trade between the participants—men who interest me notsoever and the common brown whore who has found it her vocation to repeatedly damn herself and then affect the exclusive godlike childlike attitude of a dancing slave of destiny, avoiding the copper fires beneath her feet, as these would jolt her out of her illusion that she is a muse she knows nothing about, possessing none of the qualities of the inimitable "black lady" or the common concubine who is attractive only within certain parameters and occasions. Well, just leave them at it.
It thrives at nighttime when cars speed upon SM Clark and the streets are heady with charged light under the canopy of large leaves spilling into the asphalt, inviting some sort of attraction. The prostitution affects me for reasons already mentioned. See through the well-kept secret of covert, underhanded racism under the belt, watch the exchange bereft of affection. So they sell themselves to the devil and at the altar, ready for the final "Ido's," the ground erupts beneath their feet, they are consumed by a memory-devouring site, they enact the experience deadened by how rapidly it occurs, moments, with the woman gyrating too far out from the entrance, in an eponymous red dress. By the time you leave them, in the hope that goodwill may come of it, that the red light might mean love, however safe, and brave, despite their self-remonstration. And that, in the end, let the sentence be not overwrought but passionate, and the judgment impartial. No crime was committed, but the streets are prowled on by many monsters. You can tell by their faces, they all come out languishing.
I have wondered about the burgis for a time. Because I am one by birth. And because it is interesting weeding out so swiftly the burgis from the intellectual, as though the population contained only of philistines and whatever else is left. Can you really be openly loved, sans consequence, by a burgis? She is positioned near stage right, an expectant mother braced to hurl expletives at some unfortunate husband—an ill-starred couple drawing love from bedsheets. I watch from a distance, later constructing the temerity of it all within an audacious saucy thought that they are far from each other. I stay away.
They exist as there is no light without darkness. There is a necessary combination defining each of their virtues. The thin thread that draws the line between the burgis and the intellectual is, achingly so, power. You can set men apart from each other—there is a sly camaraderie of non-shyness and an instructed hatred of those against the others who have not achieved greatness and are mostly slurred in a lifetime of devotion. This is not so dualistic a world, but an instructive one. Men are revealed when the lights come up and, hissing, and their arms shield their faces.