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Valentine's Day signals recovery of Philippine motels

With Covid restrictions easing, business is picking up to show that extramarital affairs are still going strong

Valentine's Day signals recovery of Philippine motels

A vendor displays a flower bouquet decorated with face masks for sale on Valentine's Day at a flower market in Manila. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 14, 2022 05:32 AM GMT

Updated: February 14, 2022 06:35 AM GMT

“Yes, walk-in clients have been continuously coming since Feb. 13,” said Sallie Perez, manager of Marle Hotel in Cavite. “Business is picking up,” she added.

As part of the motel industry, Marle Hotel specializes in "private" walk-in customers and discreet reservations, especially during February or “the lovers’ month.”

Anyhow, in the Philippines, the word "motel" carries a bad connotation. In the United States, where the word originated, it was coined from “motor hotel,” which is a type of hotel without a central lobby designed for motorists, usually having each room entered directly from the parking area for vehicles.

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In this predominantly Catholic nation, Valentine’s Day is spent with married couples and legitimate partners. But the days before and the day after are reserved for “other lovers,” paramours and concubines. This situation makes February sizzling for the motel industry.

Love songs top the music charts as most Filipinos celebrate Valentine’s Day in a pink, red and white rampage of roses and hearts, with a heavy emphasis on marriage, family and having babies.

But despite 500 years of Christianity and the deep Catholic devotion to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, extramarital affairs are widespread in the Philippines, where a macho culture still dominates that tolerates men being fathers to several families and where there is no divorce law.

As the government eases the health alert level and as the bookings drive up during the 'lover’s month,' he is now optimistic that the motel industry will transition into full recovery

Sociologists say extramarital involvement refers to a wide range of behavior practiced outside of the traditional marriage that could range from one-time actual intercourse to a long-term concubine relationship.

In general, many Filipinos celebrate Valentine’s Day in the most discreet way in motels, such as at Marle in Cavite and at Victoria Court in Manila and Pampanga. The 10 Victoria Court drive-in hotels depict a classy but mysterious-looking lady with a finger over her lips on a background of black and silver. The logo is aimed to embody a secret.

This year Valentine's Day signals the recovery of the motel business when thousands of rooms of all sizes are all occupied by legit couples, young lovers and what Filipinos jokingly refer to as clients with “number two or number three.”

Since the middle of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented level of disruption to the hotel-motel-hospitality industry worldwide. The combination of local lockdowns, strict health protocols and travel restrictions forced the motel operations to go dark.

Victoria Court owner and operator Atticus King said that at least three of its branches in Metro Manila were shut down as the business took a blow from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, King admitted that some employees had to be let go as the business cannot operate as usual amid the health crisis, describing the move as “deep retrenchment.”

As the government eases the health alert level and as the bookings drive up during the “lover’s month” this year, he is now optimistic that the motel industry will transition into full recovery. And, sadly, extramarital affairs continue.

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