\n"SEX SELLS" is a saying common among advertisers. And this holds true even for conservative Philippines, where businesses that use sex as the primary selling point are growing.<br rn\/><br rn\/>For example, more and more shops that sell things from racy lingerie to sex toys of various shapes, sizes and color \u2014 items previously sold discreetly or even considered taboo \u2014 can be found in Metro Manila.<br rn\/><br rn\/>In Pasig City, a shop called Pleasure Place has a mannequin dressed in a black and red lacy lingerie looking out of a display window that also features adult toys, suggesting that other goods that can be found inside.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Quezon City has Bare Essentials, whose windows are adorned with underwear in lacy and see-through fabrics including a pink one shaped like a butterfly. Inside the shop, phallus-shaped items made from silicone, glass, and other synthetic materials sit side by side with lubricants that promise different flavors and sensations. The shop is also present in Alabang, Makati, and even Davao.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Jamie Francis J. Dy, who owns a similar shop located in Malate, Manila called the Love Store, said the growth of such businesses shows Filipinos\u2019 changing attitudes towards sex. This, he said, can be attributed to exposure to such items through TV and movies.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"Maybe 10 years ago the business was taboo but now it is a standard, especially when it comes to events such as stag parties or bridal showers," Mr. Dy said.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Competition, in fact, is growing.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"The store was doing better before because there was lesser competition, but now you can walk around Avenida and you can see ... [sex toys] being sold there," he said.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Mr. Dy, who was previously featured in this newspaper in 2006, said he got into the business only by accident.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"I started back in 1999 from my garage; I was originally into buying and selling all sorts gadgets. Then I was able to get hold of penis enlarger documents online worth $40. I posted them on the net in exchange for prepaid load. That day I made up to P5,000, which gave me an idea that there was a market for these sorts of products."<br rn\/><br rn\/>Meanwhile, Bare Essentials President and General Manager Marie Ann J. Topacio said her store was opened to help Filipino women understand that it is alright to be sensual.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"Some women are scared to go in the store but they must understand that it is not a sleazy place. There are no bad people there," ," she said.<br rn\/><br rn\/>" It\u2019s a decent place for women who want to feel good and are curious about these things," she added.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Mr. Dy, for his part, has since expanded his product offerings to include vibrators, dildos and pocket vaginas, which fetches up to P400,000 a month in sales.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Expectedly, the Roman Catholic Church, which holds a considerable sway over morality issues in the Philippines, disapproves.<br rn\/><br rn\/>In telephone interview, Lingayen Bishop Oscar V. Cruz said the Church\u2019s commission on family and life was gathering data about sex toys and may issue a statement in due time.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"These toys are not as prevalent as before. Now these are openly displayed," he said.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Mr. Cruz lamented the growing acceptance of sex toys among Filipinos.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"It is evident that foreign values are not only Americanizing us but also presexualizing Filipinos especially the youth, who are being exposed to these products at an early age," he said.<br rn\/><br rn\/>But Ms. Topacio said it was not right to view their products as obscene.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"It\u2019s only the people that are making these things obscene. Why should an aid be called immoral? The ones they sell in Quiapo are those that are immoral," she said, adding that adult toys should be seen as sensual aids, something that can help middle-aged women and long-married couples achieve satisfaction in their sexual lives.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Ms. Topacio added that sex toys were only adjuncts in the shop, which earns more from sales of lingerie and lubricants.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Mr. Dy also insists that his operation is legitimate.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"The Love Store sells products as novelty items only to persons of legal age," he said, adding that minors are not allowed to enter.<br rn\/><br rn\/>He acknowledged that despite the greater tolerance for their business, Filipinos remain conservative and discreet about sex, noting that 70% of his orders are made online.<br rn\/><br rn\/>For example, Mr. Dy said one customer even asked that an item be mailed despite living only two streets away from the shop.<br rn\/><br rn\/>Filipinos\u2019 relative apprehension about being openly sexual is another reason he does not display wares in his Malate showroom.<br rn\/><br rn\/>"It\u2019s proven that people are more likely to enter these types of shops if you do not openly display your merchandise, because [otherwise] others will immediately conclude that you will be purchasing something naughty when they see you enter."