'They are easy to do business with,'' 36-year-old Denize Oliveira, who has been earning a living offering sex services to foreign sailors for 15 years, says of Filipino seafarers.
Indeed, Filipino sailors are the favorite clients of the Brazilian prostitutes plying their trade at Maua square near the port of Rio de Janeiro.
They told IPS that Filipinos -- many of whom stop by Brazil's ports because they make up one-fifth of all the world's seafarers -- were the most pleasant and the least inclined to haggle over prices.
''The 'whites' are the worst. They won't give us cigarettes, and they treat us like whores. The Filipinos don't. They treat us as equals and share everything,'' said Oliveira.
In Maua square, which is eternally packed with people, buses and street stalls, the ''whites'' are Europeans, U.S. citizens, and some Latin Americans.
The prostitutes split up into groups that cater to sailors of different nationalities.
Seeking Filipino clients
A majority of the sex workers seek clients from the Philippines. Sometimes that preference even translates into pregnancy and children.
Early this year, M, who has been working in Maua square for three years, gave birth to a babywhose father is a Filipino sailor.
''He always called me before he arrived at a port in Brazil, and he paid for my plane or bus ticket so we could get together. We lived that way for nearly a year,'' said M.
Today, her Filipino sailor is working on ships plying the oceans in other parts of the world, although she says he telephones her frequently.
The preference is mutual. ''Brazilian women are more affectionate,'' said a 49-year-old Filipino who used to serve in the armed forces in his country and who has been a seaman for 14 years.
The sailor, who chose to call himself Vicente Perez for this interview, said: ''In the five Brazilian ports I've visited, the girls speak Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines). You don't find that anywhere else in the world,'' he added, underlying that it made things much easier for sailors who spoke just a smattering of Portuguese and English.
A 25-year-old sailor who chose to call himself Elmer Cabante, still shy on his first trip abroad, said Brazilian women were ''pretty, friendly'' and highly sociable.
Filipino sailors criticized
However, the Maua square sex workers' preference for Filipinos does not mean the sailors get off without criticism. The women agreed that many of them refused to use condoms. ''If you insist, you can convince them to use one, but you lose a client who will choose someone else next time,'' said Oliveira.
Cultural resistance to condoms is aggravated by fears of not being able to perform properly, said Antonio Carlos Sousa, a doctor who has attended to sailors in the Rio de Janeiro port for 14 years.