Latest Stories

Thomas: It’s more fun in the Philippines


On November 11 last year, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. cited the “unparalleled service and sacrifice” of both American and Philippine war veterans.

NEW YORK—United States Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. reiterated what he said in a recent forum with Filipino-American students in San Francisco: “As they say, it’s more fun in the Philippines!”

He made the statement during a town hall meeting sponsored by the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA Region 1) held Tuesday, March 20 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.

The ambassador, in a free-flowing chat with community leaders, talked about how his “Filipino-sized” family members (his father is one of 10 siblings, his mother one of eight) have been visiting him in the Philippines and how they have been enjoying the country as tourists.

“I make them eat the best Filipino dishes and drink lambanog and San Miguel Beer,” he said.

In the same breath, the ambassador also talked about the rising number of men who visit the Philippines for sex, Americans included.

Last year, Mr. Thomas got embroiled in a controversy when he was quoted that 40 percent of men who travel to the Philippines go there for sex. He later apologized for his remarks.

During Tuesday’s town hall meeting, he said that the issue of sex tourism is something that needs to be looked at seriously.

“The numbers didn’t come from me. It came from ECPAT, from Visayan Forum. They say it’s between 40 percent to 62 percent. People are afraid to speak up. But when you go to Malate and Ermita, you see it, you know it is true,” he said.

According to an ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) report citing UNICEF, the Philippines ranks fourth in the world in terms of countries with the highest number of prostituted children (behind Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia). The Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development estimates that there are up to 200,000 on the streets of Manila, and that at least one tenth are victims of trafficking.

“Everyone of those children deserve the same opportunity as our own children. Let’s get past the emotions and look at this challenge seriously,” Thomas added.

He also mentioned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is working with Filipino authorities in order to curb the issue.

“Taking advantage of these poor children is a crime against humanity. There are Americans who go to the Philippines and get children to have sex with them. They record it on their laptops and some upload it online. It definitely exists, do we just ignore it? It must be stopped,” he said.

For community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis, the issue boils down to local governance.

“It is up to the mayor or barangay captain or the local officials to make sure that the children and young girls are safe in their neighborhood. The responsibility should be there, they should be vigilant,” she said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Crime , Diplomacy , Foreign affairs , Harry K. Thomas , Philippines , Sex tourism

  • INQ_reader

    I better wait for the Wikileaks version of this news. The last time a girlish diplomat praised the Philippines, was the same time she was sneaking rumors to her HQ in the US.

  • nizon

    Malate and Ermita.  Wake up Mayor Lim!

  • kilabot

    sex tourism and medical tourism (for mentally-challenged people like pnoy) are the attractions that are promising as per statistics of Fools Asia.

    • dgboy

       tototong nakakakilabot ka. Nakakakilabot pagiisip mo.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • No noise, partying in Boracay on Good Friday
  • More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  • NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat
  • DOH issues official statement on confirmed case of MERS-CoV
  • Aquino to stay at home during Lenten holidays
  • Sports

  • Tenacious Iran frustrates Qatar to retain Asian Club volleyball crown
  • Floyd Mayweather is ESPN’s top-paid athlete
  • Pistorius trial: Judge sets 2-week adjournment
  • China, Taiwan rout foes for 3rd, 5th places in Asian Club volleyball
  • Ginebra’s new import Freeman arrives, makes PBA return vs ROS
  • Lifestyle

  • Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Entertainment

  • Filipino rock icons to hold silent concert
  • Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao’s greatest hits
  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • Business

  • Russian economy hit by Ukraine turmoil
  • PSEi firms up ahead of Lenten break
  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • Netizens welcome Japan’s visa-free travel plan
  • Visa-free travel by Filipinos to Japan still a proposal
  • Visa-free travel to Japan could boost tourism
  • 2 PCG men ordered arrested over Balintang Channel shooting
  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Marketplace