IN THE Philippines, where divorce is impossible and mistresses commonplace, short-stay hotels do brisk business over Valentine's week from cheating husbands.
"We do see a rise in traffic over the period, but of course we never ask who the customers are," said the manager of a short-stay hotel.
But he agreed that some of the extra business expected on the days just before and after Feb 14 come from married men meeting their lovers for a Valentine's tryst.
There are an estimated 80 to 100 such short-stay hotels and motels in Manila.
Realising that some couples find check-in procedures embarrassing, one drive-in motel offers this by hand signal: Two fingers for a standard room, three for deluxe and four for a mini-suite. At the no-frills end of the market, rooms cost just a few hundred pesos - around S$7 - for a stay of a few hours.
Of course, many couples using these places are married and just want to grab a few intimate hours away from the kids in a spicier ambience than home.
The logo of the biggest chain, Victoria Court, has the face of a 1920s flapper with a finger on her lips. Every time I see one, I’m reminded of my one stay in a "motel no-tell".
It was several years ago in Cebu during the city's popular Sinulog festival in January. Hotel rooms were booked out, so I ended up in a "love hotel" on the outskirts of the city - in the Safari Room.
I shared the room with a live python wrapped around part of a tree in a glass cabinet. At the end of the bed was a stuffed hyena in full snarl.
Back to the mistresses. They are said to be such an embedded though hidden part of Philippine society that newspaper columnist Julie Yap Daza wrote a book on how they should behave: Etiquette for Mistresses: And What Wives Can Learn From Them.
"Mistresses in the Philippines are called 'holiday orphans' because their lovers cannot meet them on Valentine’s Day, when they will be at home with their wives," she told me while I was doing research on the subject for a story last year.
Former president Joseph Estrada famously admitted to having children by different mistresses, some of whom were kept in lavish homes.
But even ordinary folk have their "Number Twos". A friend of mine once dated a woman police officer, who told him that not a few of her married male colleagues had mistresses and what she called "second families".
The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where divorce is still banned, a legacy of the political influence of the Catholic church here. The Gabriella women's rights party has a Bill legalising divorce gathering dust in Congress.
Annulments are a lengthy and costly process, open only to the well-heeled. Couples separate here like anywhere else; some, I’m told, just quietly re-marry.
Despite a population of 90 million, there were only 7,753 annulments in 2007, according to the Office of the Solicitor General. Singapore, with a population of 4.8 million, reportedly had 7,061 divorces and annulments in 2006.
Not surprisingly, men and women languishing in loveless marriages stray.
"But for every 500 philandering husbands you will probably only find one married woman doing the same," said Ms Daza, noting that Filipino women have too much to lose in terms of financial security to risk getting caught.
But here's another statistic: Seven out of 10 Filipinos agree with the statement: "If you love someone set him free, if he/she comes back again it was meant to be", according a to poll this week by Social Weather Stations.