Angeles, Angels or Not?

This holiday season I have stayed in Angeles City, largely to meet some of the expatriate US veterans and attend meetings here. Angeles is the largest concentration of US veterans in the Philippines. It used to be the site of Clark Air Force Base, the largest in SE Asia at its peak during the Viet Nam war. Prior to my visit I found that the reputation of Angeles City was poor, it is a city of "girlie bars", where employers hire women to urge men to buy them drinks. The girls are paid little but hope to meet someone to help them with their own dilemma because many if not most of them are single mothers. Few of the women want to work in bars or drink.

What I found at the meetings of veterans and expats was that the men attending the meeting often brought their wives or girlfriends, who sat outside the meeting. Filipinas have a low tolerance for being alone. Most of the men and their partners were in long term relationships,many married, and many of the men were supporting children that were not their own but had been abandoned by Filipino men. This is relevant to the fact that the Philippines has the largest population of single mothers in the world and that although there is law that would require fathers to be responsible there is no enforcement due to the cost of paternity testing.

My impression, formed admittedly by only interviewing ex pats and their wives,and mostly ones that do not drink and are working a spiritual program, is that Angeles City is filling a void for single moms that the government is not addressing, and that the problem lies not with the expats but with a system that does not hold fathers responsible for their offspring.

Rowland Lane Anderson Veterans For Peace

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