“Rosalie” grew up in a comfortable household. Her family owned a bakery and they were well off. She was a ‘daddy’s girl,’ and everything she wanted was given to her by her father—including the privilege of studying in private schools. In high school, Rosalie garnered the top scholarship at her school. Rosalie was smart but also had a strong personality. Because of this, she fought with classmates, a teacher, and even one of the nuns. Distracted, she failed several of her subjects and was held back a year. Rosalie started hanging out with the wrong crowd and began disobeying her parents. Her family’s business was also struggling. At this time, she ran away from home and lived with one of their neighbors. Because she is the oldest of seven, Rosalie’s mother asked her to return home to help care for her siblings after giving birth to Rosalie’s youngest sibling. Rosalie agreed to return home, at which time she completed her secondary education.
Before entering college, Rosalie decided to work for a little while at a small store. Every time she received her salary, she would use the money to buy snacks for her siblings. Rosalie eventually left her job and decided to focus on her studies. Because her education was becoming difficult to sustain financially, Rosalie’s aunt offered to help with tuition and invited Rosalie to live with her. While pursuing her degree in Criminology, Rosalie would help her aunt at home. She would wash her cousins’ clothes, take them to school, and do other household chores. Her aunt gave her a 20 peso allowance every day (about 40 cents). Because Rosalie knew that this was not enough to live on, she would ask her mother for extra money, for which her mother would scold her. Rosalie endured for a little while but later chose to leave her aunt’s household. Rosalie told her aunt that she was returning to her province, but she did not.
In 2010, Rosalie moved to Manila, still pursuing a degree in Criminology. A different aunt who lived in the city helped her. But after a few months of stability, Rosalie learned that her father had passed away due to complications with asthma. She flew home right away. Rosalie was so used to seeing her father waiting for her after travelling, but the moment she landed, Rosalie realized that he would never be there to wait for her again. Rosalie and her family grieved their loss, but eventually they needed to return to life as usual.
Rosalie returned to Manila to continue her studies. Later, she learned that her mother had started seeing another man. She didn’t mind this at first, but her mother became more and more aloof to Rosalie. Eventually, her mother stopped funding her tuition and would not speak to Rosalie. In a moment of anger and distress, Rosalie said, “Forget that you’re my mother!” Her mother replied, “Well, forget that you’re my daughter!” Rosalie stopped studying because of this. Yearning to have somebody to help her and be with her, she entered relationships with men she didn’t really love. Rosalie was twenty when she found out she was pregnant. The father of the child she was carrying did not accept responsibility for his child.
Rosalie went home to her province to be with her family during this sensitive time. After numerous fights, Rosalie and her mother slowly repaired their relationship. She tried to move forward with her life, and even found another man she believed would truly love her and her son. Their love blossomed and produced a beautiful baby girl. At that time, Rosalie worked at a lottery outlet while her husband struggled to find a job and eventually yielded to vices. Rosalie left her husband and decided to raise her children on her own. She was working but had no one to help her care for her children. In a very hard-pressed situation, Rosalie accepted an offer to work in a bar in Manila. Before leaving for Manila, Rosalie was able to find people who would take care of her two children separately. For her first few weeks on the job, she wasn’t “selling”. To help her, the friend that invited Rosalie to Manila gave her 500 pesos a week (around 10 dollars) to send to her youngest child in the province.
One day, Rosalie locked herself in a bathroom and sobbed. She couldn’t understand why and how she got into that situation. She felt dirty and disgusted with herself. But she summoned all of her courage and reminded herself that she was doing this for her children’s sake. As months passed, Rosalie began to accept the state she was in. She then found out that the money she was sending to her children wasn’t being used to care for them. This was painful for her because she would send most of her salary to the families taking care of her children, even when she needed it for healthcare. In frustration, exhaustion, and despair, Rosalie would think of ways to end her life. “Sometimes,” she shared, “I would just bang my head on the wall several times, hoping all the pain and hardships would end.” She felt like she was going crazy worrying about her children. In the midst of her pain, Rosalie would always cry out to God: “Lord, help me, please!”
The Lord was so faithful—He would send people to help redeem her children and move them to her relatives’ care. When Rosalie was offered a job at a bar in Angeles City, Pampanga, she was told that the pay was significantly greater. So she moved to Pampanga and began working at a karaoke bar. When she was able to gather some savings, Rosalie decided to leave that life and go home to take care of her children. She reunited with her husband, but his work as a miner was not enough to feed their family. Rosalie remembers a time when she and her children would just eat rice with water and salt.
Rosalie couldn’t bear to see her children suffering, so she decided to return to working in a bar. Rosalie hated this. She didn’t want that life anymore, but she needed to provide for her children. This difficult decision led to her working at a local bar, where she had to reveal more of herself than before. Though she knew that she was giving up much of herself for customers, she continued this work because she was able to provide more for her children. Rosalie finally had the means to meet her children’s wants and needs. But this job only lasted for a month as the bar was shut down by the local government. Rosalie tried other jobs, but none of them lasted. In early 2017, Rosalie was once again faced with the decision of going back to Angeles to work as a bar girl.
When living in Angeles City, Rosalie told her friend, “I’m here because I’m looking for a man to sponsor me. I want to go back to school and finish my studies.” In June of 2017, Rosalie met the missionaries from Wipe Every Tear. Because of her yearning to go back to school, she wanted to believe their offer of help. But one of her colleagues said, “Don’t believe them. They’re going to take you to a house and sell you.” Yet something was still stirring within her. Rosalie prayed, “God, please give me 500 hundred pesos. I really want to see if Wipe Every Tear is real. If you give me this, I will have money to visit their home.” The following day, God gave her 500 pesos. God heard her prayer and He answered! Rosalie went to work that night knowing that she would leave for Manila in the morning to visit Wipe Every Tear.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to visit. A week passed and Rosalie forgot about her plan until one day, another group of missionaries from Wipe Every Tear returned to Angeles City. Rosalie knew who they were and sat beside one of the missionaries. “I want to study too!” she exclaimed. She met with the team the following day for lunch and that was when she knew it was all real. She realized, “This is even better than a male sponsor. These people actually care about me and will give me the best they can give.”
Rosalie entered Wipe Every Tear’s care with a spirit determined to finish her college degree. She dreams of joining the Philippine National Police. When Rosalie went to the mall with Wipe Every Tear Staff to buy school shoes, a school bag, and to pay for her tuition, she was in shock. She wondered, “Is this real? I can’t believe this is actually happening. I’m finally able to reach my dreams and not worry about my children’s welfare.”
Currently, Rosalie is working hard to finish her degree in Criminology. Her goal is to take the Philippine National Police board exam and enter the service. “I know I am going to pass because I really want to serve in the PNP,” she says. Though she is struggling in school, this doesn’t discourage her. It makes her even more determined to do better and be better. “I actually started becoming more interested in law. Maybe, one day, when God blesses me with financial provision, I might even enter law school.”
Right now, Rosalie is focusing on becoming a policewoman to provide resources and education for her siblings and children. She knows it is difficult but she says, “I don’t want them to experience what I had to go through, especially my children. I also promised my father that when I graduate, I will help put my siblings through school. I want to fulfill that promise.” When asked how she is feeling right now, Rosalie shared, “Sometimes I cry and feel pain, but when I remember that God is here with me, I feel His peace. For many years, I tried to commit suicide. But every single time I would try, I would hear an angel’s voice say, ‘Don’t do it. Remember your children. They need you. Your life is valuable. You are valuable.’”
Rosalie can laugh and smile now like never before! She is free from the bondages of the sex trade and poverty. She says, “My life is amazing now, unlike before. There would be days when problems were just drowning me and it felt like the world was going collapse. But now, I’m so happy and thankful. I’m free from all of that. It’s all because of Jesus. He became my sponsor and He doesn’t ask for anything in return. That’s how much He loves me.”
*Janet shares her experience of growing up as a child of the sex trade. She and her six siblings all faced a fate similar to their mother: a freelance sex worker in the Philippines. But God had a different plan for their lives and the lives of their children.
Third-world poverty fuels the cycle of uneducated families, continuing to push women towards the sex trade. Read about how college education opens doors that provide real, gainful, dignified employment opportunities!
'When the mamasan saw Clara and her cousin, she yelled at them and said, “Stop standing there!” She threw several“uniforms” and heels at them to choose from. Clara was crying when she saw the reality of her situation. She was not used to that lifestyle or wearing that type of clothing; she was just a simple girl from the province. Clara begged the mamasan, “Oh no—can I just be a waitress instead?” The mamasan refused and exclaimed “No! Your looks qualify you to be dancer. So go and be a dancer!”'
Jona was unaware of what was about to happen, but she trusted that everything would be alright since her mother knew the truth behind it all. When she arrived, Jona was in complete shock. She saw almost naked women walking around to earn a living. When Jona met the volunteers with Wipe Every Tear, she was in complete disbelief. She kept wondering, “Who would put girls like us through school? Do these kinds of people still exist? Are there still people in this world who won’t see us as dirty women?”
In June of 2017, Rosalie met the missionaries from Wipe Every Tear. Because of her yearning to go back to school, she wanted to believe their offer of help. But one of her colleagues said, “Don’t believe them. They’re going to take you to a house and sell you.” Yet something was still stirring within her. Rosalie prayed, “God, please give me 500 hundred pesos. I really want to see if Wipe Every Tear is real. If you give me this, I will have money to visit their home.” The following day, God gave her 500 pesos. God heard her prayer and He answered! Rosalie went to work that night knowing that she would leave for Manila in the morning to visit Wipe Every Tear.
But when I close my eyes, I remember the sights and sounds of Manila in July of 2018. I see color and cathedrals and tropical flowers spilling over fences and cracked walls. I hear dogs barking and chickens clucking and moped motors roaring outside my window. I feel the upbeat rhythm of music from dance videos and see women laughing together as they follow along. I hear the voices of women and men lifted together as one, singing and worshiping the God of the oppressed and brokenhearted...