Joy Villanueva dropped out of high school when she got pregnant at 14, in seventh grade.
Her boyfriend, four years older, wooed her with afternoons out, buying her fried quail eggs on a stick and paying for rounds on the karaoke machine at a local hangout.
Joy Villanueva, 15, holds her baby. The slums where her family lived had burned down; they hope to build a new shack to replace the home they lost. He was tall and handsome, and she liked that he did chores around the house and washed the dishes for his mother. Soon she was living with him.
For her boyfriend, getting Joy pregnant was a mark of ownership. Joy resisted, but he persuaded her to have sex. By the time she gave birth, he was in jail for theft, and she was raising the baby with help from his mother. The day we met, the three of them were living together in a makeshift home of little more than a tarp supported by planks of wood - they had set it up after their slum had burned down a week before.
At 15, Joy dreamed of finishing high school, going to college and becoming a police officer.
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That was what her late father wanted for her when she was a little girl. She said that any day now, she'll move in with her mother, who will take care of the baby while she goes to class.
Joy Villanueva said she hopes to fulfill her father's dream for her and becoming a police officer - but later admitted that's an impossible dream for a poor teenage mom. If Joy is able to complete her schooling, she said she wants to own a big house made of concrete with air conditioning and glass windows. She wants to have a nanny to take care of her kids so she can wake up every morning, check her uniform in the mirror and go to work. For 20 minutes, she told me about her plans for the future.
But when I said a word of encouragement, Joy went silent, looked away and shook her head. Hindi nashe said. I can't anymore. It was a game of pretend. She shifted Ashley in her arms. Joy confessed that her mother has disowned her. So she can't go to live with her. Her husband's mother earns just enough to feed her and the baby. There's no money for notebooks or uniforms or college.
They're trying to gather enough materials to build a shack so they don't have to continue living under a tarp. Girls like Joy are classified among the poor, a vast category that encompasses 20 percent of Filipinos. Among teenage mothers of all income brackets, the poorest girls are the least likely to be able to finish their high school education after having their first child.
Likhaan's clinic is a mile and a half down the road from where Joy lives. The organization advocates for reproductive health and fills the gap in services the government does not provide, like formal sex education, ready access to free contraception like IUDs and birth control implants. Diane Vere, a community coordinator, leads workshops for teenagers from the surrounding slums. The topic is sex.
Inevitably, when Vere turns to the page in the photo workbook that shows an array of penis sizes and shapes, the teenagers break into peals of laughter. They cover their eyes and hide behind one another. Vere fields their questions: Why are some bigger than others?
Why is that one crooked? She shows them an uncircumcised penis and tries to dispel the myth that a boy in this condition is dirty or incapable of impregnating women.
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Before the reproductive health law, there was no formal sex education in the Philippines, and to this day, the rollout remains patchy, fraught and very limited. Teenagers cobble together information based on what their parents ventured to tell them, sermons from priests and whispers from one another, often gleaned from the Internet or old wives' tales. Was it true, the girls at the clinic class asked, that if you wash your face with a girl's first menstruation, it prevents pimples?
If a girl jumps from the third step of a ladder, would her period only last three days? Does masturbating make boys taller? Can you get pregnant if you have sex only once? While the teenagers were fascinated with the practicalities and hygiene of sex and puberty, they struggled to discuss the process of conception.
Bring up the difficulties and cost of raising a child, Vere said, and the teenagers would shut down or quickly change the subject.
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Teachers often did not fare better. Some teachers had to be excused from a recent training because they couldn't control their laughter when frank discussions about sexual organs came up. Every acceptable word in Tagalog to describe sex or private parts is a euphemism: peanut, flower, junior, eggplant.
Teachers complain that every proper noun in this category is too vulgar to say out loud. With this combination of discomfort and lack of formal training on teaching sex, it is not surprising that 59 percent of Philippine educators said they had difficulty naming body parts, according to a survey by the United Nations Population Fund.
In previous years, sex educators in schools preached abstinence, and anything beyond abstinence was limited to what the teachers knew. Often it didn't extend beyond basic science and was heavily inflected with religious and personal beliefs.
Basiao-Abella said one teacher told her students that condoms were murderers because they killed sperm. She said a pastor told congregants that condoms spread AIDS, a mistaken belief reiterated by a sitting senator as recently as Scientifically proven," Sen. Vicente Sotto III erroneously stated during a public argument with another politician.
Philippines Manila nightlife - Girls, Girls, Girls.
To address gaps in knowledge and uneven information, the Philippine education department is developing a comprehensive sexual education curriculum, which it had begun to roll out in the public school system before schools were closed by the pandemic lockdown.
Much like 's reproductive health law, the process of developing the curriculum has been embattled. Risa Hontiveros believes progress is coming, even if it's in fits and starts. Hontiveros, who sponsored one of the bills to prevent adolescent pregnancy and was at the forefront of the decadelong battle for the law, said the Catholic hierarchy continues to oppose legislation counter to its teaching but with "less of the stridency and less of the hostility than previously demonstrated.
In one of Manila's poor neighborhoods, a midwife prays to her saint, Ina ng Awathe mother of pity or compassion.
The carved wood statue hanging on the wall of her home is oily and chipped from age. A string of dried-out jasmine flowers hang from one outstretched hand, and on the other, the saint cradles a baby.
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The midwife believes Ina ng Awa is the patron saint for the women who come to her asking for abortions. In the Philippines, abortions are illegal in all cases. Perhaps more powerfully, abortion is considered a sin. The midwife understands all this yet will offer abortions. She asked that her name not be used for fear of arrest or reprisal.
The women who come to her are too poor to raise another child or unwed and ashamed or so young, she said. She demonstrates her technique for massaging a woman's womb: a scooping motion to lift the uterus, then she grinds down with her fingers to crush the fetus, pressing into a woman's belly until her hands start to cramp.
She gathers bitter melon leaves from her garden, which she steeps into an acrid tea and tells the woman to drink. She says these methods usually will end a pregnancy. A Filipino abortionist holds up the flowers of the bitter gourd. Abortions are against the law in the Philippines, but some midwives and others will use bitter gourd - believed to cause a miscarriage when ingested - and other methods to terminate a pregnancy.
If the woman was a few months pregnant, they bury the blood from the aborted fetus in the dirt. If she was five or six months along, they put the fetus in a box and bury it like a child. One year-old girl, who asked not to be named because of the stigma of abortion, took a handful of pills her mother bought from one of the illicit nighttime markets under the bridges and in the backlots of Manila.
Her mother was told it was Cytotec, the abortion pill. When the girl started bleeding in clots, her mother rushed her to the hospital. She spent a week in the recovery ward, where she mostly slept and imagined herself "flying in the sky," unable to think about what she had done. But three months later, she was grateful.
Her boyfriend was her first love, until he started beating her. He locked her in his house to keep her from running away and yanked her back in when she tried to escape.
Her mother had to rescue her. If she had the baby, she would never be rid of him. Walking through her crowded slum, she passes small children playing on mounds of torn plastic stained with leachate, the black sludge that seeps from the neighborhood's cottage industry of sorting through the city's trash.
She points out to one girl and says she's one of many people who have had an abortion. But it's the pregnant girls, thin and tilting back against the weight of their growing bellies, that brings her voice to a whisper.
Their lives will be painful, she said. Ralyn Ramirez, 19, had her daughter when she was 16 years old. She and her boyfriend, John Michael Torre, 19, looked at other girls holding babies and longed for their own. In leftRalyn Ramirez, then 17, had just given birth to her first child, a baby girl. She'd tell other teenagers that becoming a teen mom was not wonderful.
But in rightRamirez became pregnant a second time. She says she blames herself for not finishing high school and for having a baby so young. When other girls ask her if it's wonderful to have a baby, she tells them "no. In at age 17, Ralyn Ramirez, her partner and their first child rest in a mausoleum at the Manila North Cemetery, where several thousand people live.
In Novemberyear-old Ralyn Ramirez curls up with her second child, a boy.
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In between giving birth, she had warned other teens about having a baby. Sitting at small sundries shop in Manila North Cemetery, where she lives as thousands of people do in one of the mausoleums, Ralyn chats with Margie, a year-old who is seven months pregnant. In front of the shop, another young girl sits on a bench, her dress stretched over her belly.
Ralyn points out a teenager walking down the path and says she was a child mother, too. Margie says she knows an even younger girl who gave birth when she was just 12 years old. Transcript for Alleged Underage Prostitution in Philippines. For those who plan their vacations or - laws or theme parks and might bring a queasy shocked to realize an alarming number of Americans plan their vacations.
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Every day young girls are bought and sold in developing countries. Where the grim economics provide - cheap and vast selection. For the average sex tourists and after a six month investigation we found that Americans are not only buying some are also selling.
But little - - know the authorities are also watching even over there tonight Nightline producer Alex water field. The right. Tonight in the - long part of the Philippines. Are there Benjamin isn't a good move yeah.
Which he says he owns this is your life.
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Benjamin is a 49 year old American suspected of having sex with underage girls. And selling sex out of this bar called crowbar. And as he drinks Benjamin had no idea at that very moment the first started didn't improve our. Filipino and American authorities are just a few miles away. Crashing down. This is the story of mark their Benjamin. We traveled to Subic Bay beautiful part of the western Philippines Benjamin has been living for 25 years.
But our journey went deeper past Benjamin into the dark and disturbing world of underage prostitution. Discovering how all too easy it is.
To buy sex with underage girls how old - you. The Philippines quietly emerged as the top destination for Americans not just looking to have sex - - - - there - cared.
But to sell sex as well. On the Americans want to come here because they perceive it's easier to operate here.
Agent with the immigration and customs enforcement agency investigating Americans who may be committing crimes here in the Philippines. For the Benjamin case he recently teamed up with a local nochurchinnorthgower.comofit organization called Prado.
We want to meet Benjamin.
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And see for ourselves what's going on inside that - red light according to producer Alex water field and - put on these tiny hidden cameras and looked like shirt buttons.
We hop on the local GP head down to a rundown part of town conventions bar. Don't know what to expect. Looting this one's listening. Princess is one of the most popular girls in the bar. Just sixteen years old. And it's not long before princess and another girl.
Our offer to - pesos just under forty dollars. We declined her offer but she called Benjamin to come meet us. What are they need.
The bargaining. Within minutes the six foot six Texan tells us about his sex life and his business. Which leads to this shocking and frank statement. Oblivious to our hidden cameras. Benjamin tells us he has a sixteen year old girlfriend lives in - house - back. And after texting her to come over.
She walks in.
She's so young we're - her face to protect her identity. Benjamin's declarations so stunning. Following morning we felt we had to alert special agent Eric McLaughlin.
But he says building a case against Benjamin requires more evidence so this guy saying on tape I've had sex with underage girls repeatedly. That's not enough to arrest and no it's it's a very strong indication but we have to as investigators we have to prove - actual acts occurred to me just saying that that's not enough.