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The ‘Feeling pogi’ syndrome in HK

15 March 2018

By George Manalansan

Our columnist for this issue is George Manalansan, a regular contributor of The SUN. When not busy composing and poring over his stories, George, a true-blue Capampangan, spends his time helping out with the financial literacy training of CARD HK Foundation, where he is one of the trainors, or attending other self-improvement activities, like the recent one held for those who joined the marathon CPR that earned a mention in the Guinness World Records. George, who has been working as a driver since 1994 and is among the less than 10% male OFWs in Hong Kong, wants it known that he is not among those bitten by the “feeling pogi” syndrome. He remains happily married to wife Rose, with whom he has three grown-up children: Euro Jerome, Jerico and Abigael. – ed

Out of the nearly 200,000 Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong, more than 90% are women, and because of this, the less than 10% male members of this sector often do not lack for attention. The common joke in the community is that, the gender imbalance has made many men, young and old, married or unmarried, feel more “pogi” here than they would normally do when they are back in the Philippines.

Many tend to behave like this for a multitude of reasons. First, being men, they are more prone to straying than women. Quite a number come here with their spouses and work for the same employer, but the men somehow still find the time to date other women.

One of them is Eduard, who at 55, still feels he is “pogi” because women still run after him. “Palay na ang lumalapit sa manok, hindi pa tutukain?" he nonchalantly says.

He confesses to having a regular girlfriend despite working for the same household as his wife.

Edward says men are not solely to blame for the indiscretion. Many women OFWs here are desperate to find love so that even if they know that the man is already married they’d still go after him. If men feel pogi, it’s because some women are ok to play the playgirl role, he said.

Those who try to stay on the straight and narrow would advise these philandering men that they should maintain a high moral standard even while they are physically separated from their wives. Decent couples are not meant to throw these values to the wind just because they found someone new to love. Meaning, once they are married or committed to someone else, they could forget about that oft-repeated line from the famous Filipino novel, Florante at Laura: “O pagsintang labis na kapangyarihan, sampung mag-aama’y iyong nasasaklaw! Pag ika’y nasok sa puso ninuman, hahamaking lahat masunod ka lamang.”

But the “feeling pogi” men in the community are not about to be thrown off by such advice. Many know, and meet, many Filipinas who come to Hong Kong straight out of school and with no experience being in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Others are in a bad relationship back home and are lonely for love. That’s when our “pogi” guy steps in and offers to be the companion that these women are seeking.

A good “pogi” guy would treat a girlfriend right, meaning the relationship is still built on trust and genuine affection; however, a bad one would exploit the woman’s vulnerability by expecting some sort of a financial reward, or string her along with several other women. Unfortunately, many of the guys around who get into extramarital affairs are of the second type.

Quite a few years back, a story came out in The SUN about a  “Romeo” who promised marriage to several OFW women, and then disappeared after somehow extracting money from each of them. This Romeo, a driver who was not exactly a looker, won the trust of the women he courted because he was soft-spoken and introduced himself as a former pastor. It was only by a stroke of luck that his disgruntled girlfriends found out about each other, and exposed him for what he was.

And yet, how does one exact justice in a failed relationship? How does one go after a former lover who turns out to be nothing more than scum? Many of the women in such relationships would probably just count themselves lucky if they didn’t get pregnant in the process, because that is another reality faced by some who get into such illicit relationships.

Arthur is one of those who admit to having strayed. He says being away from home also made him feel lonely. Part of him was weak, and needed attention, so he ended up getting into an extramarital affair. But he reckons, it’s the same with many women OFWs. They, too are lonely, and need someone to be with. “We need each other,” he reckons.

For Abel, a quiet man who can be coaxed to talk about personal things only when drunk, having a girlfriend while abroad comes with the territory. Still, he is careful not to let this secret out, lest his wife throws him out of the marital house.

Nowadays, these men say, the women tend to be as equally guilty as them. They have become more aggressive in pursuing the men who catch their eye, the consequences be damned. The only difference is, the statistics are tilted in the men’s favor, so they get to choose from among several prospects, and if they are so inclined, end up with more than just one partner.

But the pogi men in this community should realize that they are in Hong Kong for the same reasons as their female counterparts. They are here to work, save, and provide a better future for the family they left behind. If they go astray and lose sight of that goal, there will be a price to pay.

“Nasa huli ang pagsisi,” as we Pinoys are wont to say.

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