Real life, Real Stories
Boys do cry on the inside: young victims open up about sexual exploitation

“It’s such a shame to admit but it was just really all for the money,” 16-year-old Patrick disclosed to ECPAT’s social worker in an interview. He was one of the 30 boy victims of a foreign sex offender. “I hated it but I was able to buy food for me and my friends,” he added. The boys live in an impoverished barangay belonging to a red-light district.


Their community is a preferred hideout of wanted criminals and other lawless elements. Many foreigners have chosen to live here because of the cheap rent and low cost of living. Some have already bought lands, built houses, and established businesses in the locality. One of them was alias “Tommy”, a British national who lived in their Barangay for 10 years.

Little did the residents know that Tommy was wanted for sexually exploiting children in his homeland. In a span of 2 years, he did the same to Patrick and other boys in the neighborhood. He invited the children to his house and asked them to invite more friends. He enticed them with small things such as 150 pesos per visit, chocolates, briefs, a pair of slippers, to more expensive stuff such s a pair of sneakers, bicycle, mp3 player or cell phone. At times, it could be a treat to the mall where they dined and watched movies. In exchange, Tommy sexually abused the children and took nude photos of them.

Tommy was recently convicted of his crimes - but the boys have continued to live with the horrors of what happened. Many of them got sexually transmitted infections. And while this could be treated in a matter of months, the psychological trauma may take a while longer.


“I was treated like a pig,” said one of the boys, in a seemingly angry but regretful tone. “Sometimes, I just stare into space, trying but failing to forget what happened,” another boy shared. “I’ve been often fearful and angry,” another one added. “He (Tommy) had a gun on his table all the time. I was afraid he’d shot me dead if I refused his advances,” he recounted. “There are times when I just feel like I’m about to go insane.”


The boys have become the constant butt of insults in school since the news spread. They are being called pok-pok, a coined word for prostitute. “I don’t want to go out of the house anymore so I can avoid the endless bullying,” said Patrick. “If only people would stop talking about it and just help us move on,” he hoped.


To help the boys heal and recover, ECPAT has conducted psychosocial activities which allowed them to express their pent-up emotions through recreational activities such acting, drawing and playing. “I am hesitant to talk about what happened but I think these activities help us to be heard,” one participant commented. “I liked the activities because I am learning a lot about how I should protect myself from abuse. I am looking forward to learning more,” said another child.

Many of the boys are in need of support for their educational, psychosocial and medical expenses. Your donations will help them heal and recover.


Story of Maria

Maria was born to a family living in a slum in the Metro – in a community where violence, drug dealing, and prostitution are daily affairs. Affairs in which her mother was highly involved. At the age of 12, so was Maria.

It started when she was given as a “birthday gift” to a man whom she called her uncle. “At first, I was confused as to why uncle came to our house to fetch me for no reason and my mother insisted I come with him,” Maria recalled the first time she was sold for sex. She had been the receiving end of her mother’s frequent tantrums resulting to physical and verbal attacks. Out of fear, Maria obeyed everything her mom asked her - she unwillingly went with her “uncle”.


The uncle who was also a policeman came with two other friends. They brought Maria to a nearby motel. As they entered the room, they asked Maria to undress and take a bath. Maria’s eyes started to tear up. She learned that the man paid her mom 3,500 pesos in exchange for her sexual service. Maria begged them not to touch her, but the man just told her to take drugs so she will be relaxed. Amidst fear and confusion, Maria took the drugs and eventually dozed off as the 3 men sexually abused her.


In the morning, Maria was fetched by her aunt from the motel and brought her back home. When Maria saw her mom, she cried hysterically. Her mother just told her to get used to it. She said Maria was old enough to work and that she needed to help pay the rent, bring food on the table and send her younger brother to school. Since then, it had been the life Maria had to live with.


Every night, her mother got her “customers” either from their neighborhood or from her foreign contacts. There were times when Maria earned as much as 3,000 pesos per customer but there were also times when she would only be given fast food.


When she turned 14, Maria was made to work at a Karaoke bar where she was taken out every night by paying customers. She worked there until she was 16 – until a relative learned about what was happening. Through the relative’s help, Maria was able to report her case to the police and the local social welfare office.  For her security, Maria was referred to ECPAT Philippines as it shelters child victims of prostitution, sex trafficking, and pornography.


With ECPAT’s assistance, Maria filed a child prostitution and trafficking case against her mother. It had not been an easy thing for Maria to do but she knew she needed to.


During the first time she saw her mother on trial since she was rescued, Maria disclosed her feelings to a social worker. “Deep in my heart, I wanted very much to embrace her and tell her, Mama, I still love you despite what you did to me.  I am doing this so you can put a stop to your addiction and change your life.  I also do not want to have a life like yours.  And even if I win this case, I will still get hurt to see you handcuffed or behind bars.”


After 3 years of legal and court proceedings, Maria’s mother was arrested and currently waiting for the final court order.


Maria is now back to school and eager to finish her studies. She is determined to have a good future so she can provide for her younger brother.

Story of Andoy

Andoy, 15 and an out-of-school youth, thought he was only going to work at the British man’s house for a few hours. He was invited by his male cousin who was then working for the foreigner staying in their community. Wanting to earn money to buy food and play computer games in internet rentals, Andoy accepted the invitation and went to the house with his cousin and some friends. Little did he know that he was about to land in the hands of a pedophile.


Upon getting into the house, Andoy and friends were first asked by the foreigner to watch television and eat. Afterwards, they were asked to undress themselves and enter the bedroom where the already-naked foreigner awaited. They were instructed by the predator to do different sexual activities with him while CCTVs in the living room, bathroom and bedroom were used to record the abuses. Guns were also placed conspicuously on top of tables. The main door and gate were also locked once the children were inside the house, making Andoy and his friends extremely fearful to refuse the sexual advances. Once the abuse was done, they were each given Php 150.00 and chocolates. Though Andoy didn’t like what they did and knew that it wasn’t right, he was pleased to receive ‘rewards.’ For two months, Andoy frequented the predator’s house in exchange for money and candies.


One day, Andoy woke up with a fever and suddenly felt difficulty urinating. The pain had become more and more excruciating by the day that he decided to tell his parents about his condition. He was then brought to the doctor and was found to have a sexually transmitted infection. This made him confess to his parents the whole truth about the foreign man. Upon learning the truth, his parents filed a case against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, it was dismissed at the fiscal’s level until the foreigner was able to escape out of the country. Meanwhile, Andoy's disease worsened that he became very thin.


The news of the case spread throughout the community, reaching Andoy's peers. His schoolmates teased him by calling him "Dhouglas," the nickname of his perpetrator. "I hate it when they call me that," Andoy expressed in an interview made by ECPAT. "I blame myself for what happened to me. I should've never gone to that house," he regrettably said.


Andoy has now completed the 5-month treatment for his disease. Wanting to move on from his devastating experience, he attended two psychosocial activities conducted by ECPAT Philippines. This helped him express some of his fears and other pent-up emotions. Now, Andoy is willing to join campaigns and advocacy work to prevent other children in their community from being cajoled into sexual abuse.


Commercial sexual exploitation gravely damages the overall wellbeing of a child. Aside from the sexual abuse, victims are also subject to serious health risks, long term traumatization and stigmatization from family, peers, and society at large.


There are numerous disadvantaged Filipino children like Andoy who are lured into sex by ill-willed adults in exchange for some kind of payment or service. This is never acceptable because minors are in no position to give consent to matters they don’t understand. Research show that teen brains are still incapable of recognizing harmful consequences of their actions. In this case, consent from young people is always a result of manipulation or coercion by adults. Sex with children is a crime.


To help CSEC survivors get back on their feet and reach their full potential in life, ECPAT Philippines provides them with direct services such as shelter, educational, health, legal and psychosocial assistance, as well as meaningful activities that seek to empower them to uphold their own rights.


Help us sustain our programs and help more CSEC survivors.


Story of Lovely

Lovely comes from an island community that is part of a major tourist destination in the Philippines. Her father is a fisherman and her mother is employed as a laundry woman for a major resort on the island. The family consists of four other siblings with Lovely being second to the youngest.

In 2004, when she was only 9 years old, Lovely's family was introduced to a foreign man, a tourist staying at a nearby resort. The foreign man contacted the community to announce that he wanted to offer scholarships to all elementary-aged children to support their education. The man rented an apartment where he provided young children private computer lessons. Lovely’s parents were excited about this opportunity and sent all their young children to have private tutoring with the foreign man. After some months, the man requested that all young children be able to sleep in his home overnight. The community trusted this man as he had offered to financially assist their children and so entrusted them in his care. However, it was during these overnight visits that the man molested 24 children from the same community over a year-long period; this included the 9 year old Lovely and her siblings.

Lovely informed a teacher at their school of what has been happening during the private lessons. The parents and community were informed and acted to apprehend the man but when they reached the apartment, the foreign man, together with his Filipina wife, managed to escape and flee the country. In a police raid in the foreign man’s apartment, many home videos and photographs were found in his computer featuring girls and boys from the community.

ECPAT has been referred to assist the individual victims and their families during this time as ECPAT has been working against child sex tourism in the area. With the assistance provided by ECPAT, Lovely and her siblings, together with the rest of the 24 victims, were supported to resume schooling. ECPAT supported Lovely with educational assistance so that she remained in school until she had completed high school. Despite all that she had experienced, she was able to focus and study hard and become a successful student. ECPAT provided continued support to her family and community through the years.

In partnership with ECPAT and a highly reputable university in Manila, Lovely is now enrolled in a scholarship program taking up Human Resources Management although her first course is Social Work since she says she is inspired by those who assisted her throughout her ordeal and she wishes to return the same support and assistance to other young children who fall victims of sexual exploitation.

Story of Kaye

Kaye comes from a family of 8 siblings. She grew up in a depressed community in the Metro Manila area. When she was 17 years old, she was recruited during summer while staying with her cousin on vacation in another community. The neighbour and friend of the cousin offered her a job to work in Singapore. Kaye accepted the offer as she was promised a high paying position as a waitress. She dreamed of being able to support her family so Kaye and her family agreed and were happy for the opportunity to earn. The recruiter promised to look after her and she was escorted to Singapore. In order to arrive in Singapore, all the expenses were taken care of including her passport, ticket and new clothing. Kaye and her family were informed that this was a natural part of obtaining work in Singapore and they were all thankful of this opportunity.

Upon arrival in Singapore, she was not offered a job as a waitress but was taken to work in a brothel. She lived in an apartment where seven other young girls were residing. In the evening,she was sent to servicemen, foreign and local. She was sold to a Chinese businessman for 400$ and then serviced at least 2 or more in a day. Although they were not locked away, it was very difficult for her to leave the situation as she was new to the place and always monitored by another girl or pimp so it was difficult to run away. Kaye was told that she owed a large amount of money for the expenses, passport, ticket, food and clothes and that she was not to leave until she paid the money. Kaye was threatened by the man who escorted her that he would harm her family if she was to leave and inform people.

Kaye managed to escape through support of some of the older girls working in the brothel. She boarded a plane and arrived in Manila and immediately contacted her family that assisted her in filling a trafficking case. At this time, Kaye was referred to ECPAT for legal assistance. ECPAT provided Kaye a private lawyer.  The ECPAT social worker attended to Kaye’s case.  She and her family were provided with case-management, counselling and necessary medical and psychological assistance to support  Kaye and her family come through the traumatic incident.

Kaye finished university with ECPAT’s support. An extremely resilient young woman, she is hopeful that her case filed in the court will prosper. Today, Kaye is back with her family and working for a multi-national company.