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When In Roam

by Ma. Isabel Lopez

The infamous red light district here is not really as shocking if you have witnessed the Pat Phong Street of Thailand and the Mabini Street of the Philippines in the 80s..

This is an older part of Amsterdam known as De Wallen.  There are lots of older buildings. There are many souvenir shops, coffee shops (places where they smoke marijuana), bars, restaurants and hotels. Actually, it’s pretty much like the rest of Amsterdam in that regard; the only exception is the “women in the windows.” It’s relatively safe surrounded by plainclothes policemen.

Starting with the Sex Museum, the Coffee Shops, the Museum of  Prostitution, The Marihuana Museum, the Cannabis Academy and more! My boyfriend Jonathan and I started the Walking Tour beginning at the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, the main strip, right before midnight. The streets are lined up with colorful shops selling all sorts of sexual gadgets, as well as condoms by the wholesale. Streets and alleys with rows and rows of glass windows displaying  the dolled up sex workers of Amsterdam in varying shapes, sizes and colors.

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The women on the main streets, mostly with breast implants, are more Class A-ish resembling  the female lace clad models of Penthouse or Playboy magazines, garter-strapped! A few disguised with wigs, eyeglasses and theatrical makeup.

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The onlookers, mostly intoxicated men , we’re taking snapshots of some women  on display. As a woman I find this disturbing as these women are supposed to do this in private. They are treated as a commodity,  and some people were making fun of them. What is noticeable is that a couple of the women on display were on their cell phones, killing the waiting hours or simply bored.

Passing the canals, in a dark alley is a section of transgendered- European, Hispanic, Asian (wondered if he/she’s Filipino, competing with female prostitutes). I noticed that the further you walk away from the main streets, the quality of the sex workers are degenerating too. Less pretty, more bulges in the body, older too and looking tired.

I decided to inquire about the rates, so my boyfriend and I chose one open door and asked the women, “How much?”  She asked, if it is for me or for my boyfriend.  I replied, “For him.”  “€50 for him, but if you join or watch, that’s €100,” she said.  I politely said thanks. The window is rented out for €150/night and they need to service 3 customers to reach the break-even point.

A blonde with a natural boob tried to lure me by moving her tongue in a fluttering manner, with the alluring Victoria’s Secret Angel kiss.

I felt the equality of the sexes with the rest of the male crowd!

Seeing these women hauling themselves reminds me of the rest of our migrant workers sending hard earned money to their relatives in the Philippines.

In 2011, I visited this place with my daughter, Mara Lopez and an actor friend Pedro Pinduko, a Dutch who is known for opening his home as a ” Bed and Breakfast “for the Filipino independent filmmakers. Pedro now runs his own travel agency. We went to a peep show, very much like the Las Vegas slot machines, where for 2 euros, one can have hilarious experience of viewing a male sex worker with a female compatriot performing for voyeurs. But after one minute, the window shuts closed, and reopened after dropping 2 Euros again.

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After visiting the Stedelijk and Van Gogh museum, the Museum of Prostitution is a breather giving you facts about the sex industry, legalization and the protection the government gives its sex workers and more!

For the past ten years, this has been the case in Amsterdam, where prostitution was legalized in 2000. By lifting the prohibition on brothels, the Dutch government sought to give sex workers more autonomy over their profession, reduce criminal activity and improve their labor conditions. It means,the government itself will profit off the sex trade.

Coming soon…Cannabis and a tour of the Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum, Amsterdam!

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