Porn Market in Philippines Rakes in $1B Annually
by Noel Sales Barcelona
The American Chronicle
MANILA — The Philippine porn industry, which thrives in an underground market, rakes in an estimated US$1 billion annually, bringing the country to the eighth spot in the porn-profitability race around the world.
After the sex video of Katrina Halili and Dr. Hayden Kho Jr. was uploaded on YouTube, and counterfeiters in Quiapo downloaded, burned and released it in DVDs and VCDs, pornography once again took center stage.
The Philippine Senate is now investigating how the voyeuristic sex video of Halili and Kho made its way into the Internet, how it is now earning huge profits for bootleggers, and how the Philippine government can prevent this from happening again.
While the senators, the key players in the sex video drama and the public are debating over who´s to blame and to be held accountable in the scandal, investors in trading sex videos of the same kind are going gaga over the huge profits they are reaping from recording, producing and selling such videos.
Philippine´s Profitable Black Market
Because pornography and prostitution are illegal in the Philippines, the sex industry thrives in the underground or black market. Porn has recorded a net profit of $1 billion in 2006; experts predict profits to go higher in the years to come.
The Philippines is tied with Taiwan and Canada at the No. 8 spot in the list of countries profiting from this business, according to the Top TEN REVIEWS website .
The bootlegged DVDs, HD-CDs and VCDs are mainly on sale in Quiapo and Divisoria — both in Manila— and Greenhills, San Juan. Copies are then distributed in stalls all over Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Filmmakers for online porn found "havens" in the cities of Angeles (in Pampanga), Olongapo (in Zambales), Manila, Pasay, Makati, and Quezon City, where they hire prostituted women and men to star in sex films.
Film expert and University of the Philippines Film Institute professor, Dr. Rolando B. Tolentino, said since there is no hardcore porn industry in the Philippines, the films are likely merely subcontracted to local filmmakers.
"Hardcore sex movies are just subcontracted to us, for example, by Korean producers. Most of our sex-themed movies are either soft-porn (from bold films to current gay films) including those which are uploaded to e-sites and the video scandals; uploading and viewing depend on the people´s personal pleasure," Tolentino said.
Eduardo Manzano, chief of Optical Media Board (OMB) agreed. Manzano said, in a news report, that in 2008, an international porn film producer visited the Philippines to film porn featuring adult Filipinos.
Manzano said the porn-film producer is offering up to $1,000 for every sex scene. A porn film costs $10,000 to produce, said the producer.
Almost every month, the OMB confiscates hundreds of thousands of counterfeit VCDs and DVDs. From January to September 2008, the OMB has confiscated 4,807,012 CDs costing P1.4 billion ($29,400,000 based on the prevailing peso-dollar exchange rate in Sept. 17, 2008).
The World Porn Industry
Some 4.2 million or 12 percent of websites are said to be devoted to pornography. This translates to 420 million pages of porn, according to Jerry Ropelato, an associate at Top TEN REVIEWS website who has conducted an extensive research on pornography and the world´s ´consumption´ of pornographic goods.
Ropelato reported that today´s porn business has surpassed the earnings of top technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink, combined. He said US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC—the big three media companies in US.
To date, pornography is a US$57 billion global industry and Asian countries top the chart of countries benefiting from selling and reproducing porn, based on compiled reports published at the Top TEN REVIEWS website.
China led in the porn profit race in 2006, with $27.40 billion in total revenues. South Korea came in second with $25.73 billion, followed by Japan, with $19.99 billion in total revenues, then US with $13.33 billion; Australia, $2.0 billion; UK, $1.97 billion, and Italy $1.40 billion.
In the eighth position are the Philippines, Taiwan and Canada, each with $1 billion profits in 2006.
Profits of the 16 countries listed in the 2006 World Porn Revenues totaled a whopping $97.06 billion.
"Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography; 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography; 372 Internet users are searching sex-related terms in search engines; and every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being created in the United States," reported Ropelato.
Who Benefits from Porn?
There are two schools of thoughts regarding who benefits from and who are harmed in the proliferation of porn. One warns about the harmful effects of porn and its correlation to sex crimes while the other asserts that porn has no harmful effects and could not be linked to rape and abuse.
In the US, the debate still continues even after its Attorney General´s Commission on Pornography, popularly known as the Meese Report, has been released.
The Meese Report concluded that pornography, in general, doesn´t have harmful effects on the American populace and there is no direct link between pornographers and organized crime.
Earlier, in 1969, US President Lyndon B. Johnson´s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, formed to study the effects of porn in the American community, concluded that:
There was no evidence to date that exposure to explicit sexual materials plays a significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behavior among youths or adults.
A majority of American adults believe that adults should be allowed to read or see any sexual materials they wish.
There is no reason to suppose that elimination of governmental prohibitions upon the sexual materials that may be made available to adults would adversely affect the availability to the public of other books, magazines, or films.
There was no evidence that exposure to explicit sexual materials adversely affects character or moral attitudes regarding sex and sexual conduct.
Federal, state, and local legislation prohibiting the sale, exhibition, or distribution of sexual materials to consenting adults should be repealed.
Feminists like Avedon Carol, one of the founders of the UK-based feminist group, Feminists Against Censorship, believes that the demonization of porn — that is, connecting porn with violence against women by some "rightist moralists" — was just another attempt to curtail the freedom being enjoyed by Americans, especially women.
In 1995, she wrote:
"As those among us who have studied child abuse and sexual violence (or experienced it) know all too well, rape and abuses are problems that go deeper and are more intractable than anything that can be blamed on the camera and the printing press. Abusive relationships take many forms and almost anything can be seen as the ´cause´ of abusive behavior. As many husbands have harassed and humiliated their wives over cooking and housework as have done so over sexual issues - and many women have learned, to their chagrin, that abusers are often more likely to try to suppress sexual expression in their wives than they are to try to force such expression. And most abused women - including those who have suffered sexual abuse - have little to say about pornography as a specific problem in their relationships… (The Harm of Porn: Just Another Excuse to Censor; accessed at http://www.fiawol.demon.co.uk/FAC/harm.htm, May 27, 2009).
In the Philippines, debates raged about attempts to legalize not only pornography but also prostitution.
"If they legalize porn, we might as well legalize the others like abortion or marijuana," said Ma. Consuelo G. Cabrera, a filmmaker and a painter, from the Southern Tagalog Exposure Media Collective.
Who´s Benefiting from Pinoy Porn?
"Who else but the foreign producers," Cabrera said.