By SETH MYDANS, Special to the New York Times
Published: February 05, 1989

Drive into this green and quiet town 40 miles southeast of Manila and groups of men will run alongside your car, banging on the windows, offering a choice of the local attractions: A boat ride to the scenic waterfall or a child prostitute.

Visit the professional historian who lives here, Sonia M. Zaide, and she will spread on her table hundreds of pictures of local boys performing sexual acts with foreign men, as well as neatly typed index cards with the names and detailed records of the boys and their customers.

Talk with the Mayor, Augusto Kamatoy, or with the parents of the children, and they will describe the economic benefits of the local trade in boys and the generosity of the foreigners who have paid for their young lovers' schooling, built a basketball court and funded civic projects.

Citizens Protect Foreigners

When Mrs. Zaide's group, the Council of Citizens for the Protection of Children, pasted up posters warning against prostitution, the citizens of Pagsanjan tore them down. Stones were thrown at the houses of council members.

When the Immigration Commission a year ago arrested 22 foreigners who were engaged in prostitution rings, some parents, the recipients of their largesse, testified in their defense.

''Why do the raids here? They are just creating bad publicity for our town,'' said Cesar Tolentino, an aide to the Mayor. ''It's too bad.''

Miss Zaide herself said that after she began publicizing the problem, she received anonymous death threats and is now being sued for slander and cruelty to children by the parents of four boys whose names are included in the index cards.

''The moral attitude of the town is pro-prostitution,'' said a resident who requested anonymity. ''The attitude is, Everyone's doing it, you're not going to get pregnant, and you get the money.''

Poverty Fuels Prostitution

Prostitution, fueled by poverty, is common in the Philippines, particularly in the towns outside the two major American military bases.

Child prostitution is also widespread, with estimates of 9,000 or more children involved in Manila alone.

Women are an export commodity for the Philippines, where thousands of Filipinas take jobs as servants, workers in the health service industry and entertainers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The entertainment industry often involves prostitution.

The Philippines is also a prime source of what are known as mail-order brides for men around the world.

Church and Aquino Avoid Issue

The powerful Roman Catholic Church has had little to say on the subject of prostitution or the exploitation of women and children, in marked contrast to its aggressive stand against artificial birth control.

President Corazon C. Aquino, a devout Catholic, also has not made an issue of prostitution, while at the same time avoiding the urgent but controversial problem of population control.

Estafania Aldaba-Lim, a former minister of social welfare who has studied the Pagsanjan situation, said local residents discovered the easy money in male prostitution when American filmmakers came to town to shoot scenes for ''Apocalypse Now.''

''I suppose some gays with the crew fell in love with the young macho boatmen,'' she said, ''and then it went to much younger boys, down to 9, 10, 11 years old, and the whole town got in on it.''

Foreign Men Move In

Word spread, and foreign men took up residence, including Andrew Mark Harvey, an American in whose house Miss Zaide recovered more than 600 color pictures of local boys and more than 400 index cards from which he apparently ran a prostitution business.

Mr. Harvey was among those arrested last year, along with six other Americans, five West Germans, three Australians, two Belgians, a Briton, a Canadian, a Dutchman, a Japanese and a Spaniard. Most have since left the country.

But, Miss Zaide said child prostitution continues. One Swiss national, she said, married the sister of his 15-year-old male lover and has applied to return home not with his wife but with his new brother-in-law. ''The family is proud of it,'' Miss Zaide said. It flaunts his gifts, which include one of the better residences in town.

At school, according to another member of Miss Zaide's group, children proudly display the new clothes, pocket money and other gifts that they receive from their patrons, tempting other children to follow their example.

One Third of Boys Are Involved

Miss Zaide estimated that one-third of the youngsters have taken part in the sex trade in this town of 22,000, where 65 percent of the population is below the age of 18.

When teachers confront the parents of these children, she said, the parents ask them, ''What can you give us in exchange? Can you pay for my child's schooling? Can you give him an allowance? Can you build a home for us?''

The photographs and index cards spread out on Miss Zaide's table presented surprises for her group. ''What was so funny was that our drummer boy, the drummer boy in our band, was one of those in the pictures,'' she said.

The cards also indicated that a number of prominent foreigners have patronized the local prostitution industry, including a Western ambassador, a former highly placed Government official and the pastor of a Manila hospital.

Members of Miss Zaide's group described the resident foreign pedophiles, familiar figures in the town, with words like meek, soft-spoken, harmless and grandfatherly.

Group members seemed a little unsure about the possible danger of AIDS, and one of them said, ''We are not even sure where AIDS comes from.''