Pampalibog: Chemsex, Desire and Pleasure in the Philippines

Document Type


Publication Date



This article draws from qualitative interviews to provide the first in-depth exploration of reasons for engaging in chemsex in the Philippines. It articulates the many forms that drugs assume as pampalibog; or enhancers of libido; demonstrating the multidimensional pleasures of chemsex along overlapping sensorial and affective planes. By showing the inextricability of the corporeal to the affective; and of the emotional to the erotic; we contend that chemsex also involves the embodied and performed attainment of pleasure. As such; chemsex is both central to modern sexual scripts yet also a negotiable aspect of any sexual encounter. In constructing this rare account of drug use in settings of pleasure in the Philippines; we situate chemsex within a historical pattern of bodily tinkering and; more significantly; demystify people who use drugs by departing not only from global public health’s pathologising approach to chemsex; but also from the scholarly tendency to locate drug use in the country within scenes of hardship and marginalisation.