A guy cannot talk about the Philippines without eventually talking about Filipinas- it’s just not possible. On that note, are a number of stereotypes that survive to this day concerning the woman of the Philippines. From mail order brides that were popular in the 80s and 90s to the working girls (or GRO’s – Guest Relations Officers) of Angeles city to overseas maids for Middle Eastern princes, Filipinas have often been portrayed with certain clichés. Now don’t get me wrong, there still are many working girls in Angeles city (but much less, since the US military moved out) but the mail-order bride situation was shut down years ago through government regulations to protect the Filipino people. So today, that stereotypes in particular no longer applies. That said, you will find Filipinas just like any other women in world: Assertive, sharp, and possessed of a strong desire to shop. 🙂
I must admit that I have very limited experience with woman in the Philippines. I am not a player by nature, nor a womanizer, and the whole GRO thing just goes against my grain. I am pretty much one dimensional in that I prefer to have a steady girlfriend. That has pretty much been the modus operandi for most of my adult life. This blog posting is devoted to my Filipina girlfriend, Michell, and here I will talk about my history and where we are at now. Oh, and get yourself ready to groan out loud – there’s gonna be some mushy stuff.
Note the Jackie Onassis sunglasses.
I met Michell on an Internet dating site. I was considering a move to the Philippines and figured a social dating site would be a good way to meet a local Filipina and perhaps learn a little bit of the culture and local language. I wasn’t on the site for more than a day when I spotted her profile. Yes, she was attractive – very attractive- but it was the profile that most intrigued me. Unlike most of the profiles in which the girls merely describe themselves as “simple” or “god-fearing,” Michell had actually put some effort into hers, noting that she enjoyed reading and much preferred to go hiking than to hang around in a mall. Education was also important to me, and I noted that she was attending university (hey, she’s 19 years younger than me – something I don’t hold against her). I expressed interest and we soon started chatting on Yahoo! Messenger and then moved on to video calls in Skype. I told Michell that I was interested in learning bisaya and soon enough she was trying to teach this terrible student. She would coach me on Skype and she even sent an Microsoft Excel documents with some common words and phrases in bisaya (the most common spoken language in the Philippines). We chatted every day, sometimes for hours at a time. Her English was excellent and she was very intelligent (not to mention very attractive) and I soon realized that I liked her very much. Being 12,000 miles away, however, was a bit of an obstacle to the relationship moving any further, so it wasn’t until I met her 18 months later that we were actually able to start seeing each other.
As with many relationships between people from different countries, ours has been fraught with a number of difficulties. The way people approach relationships in the Philippines is totally different than the way we approach relationships in the West. There is no dating, instead they utilize a system that incorporates the concepts of “suitor” and “courting.” In effect, you are either boyfriend girlfriend (“uyab”) or you are not. There is no middle ground. Also, the level of jealousy in the Philippines was not something that I was used to, and this created the greatest problem in our relationship. Jealousy in the West is viewed as a negative thing that tends to bring out the worst in people. Here in the Philippines, is part of the relationship process, and it is a way that its Filipinos express affection towards their significant others. To a Westerner, it just looks like unnecessary drama, and this more than anything caused the most problems in our relationship. There were some misunderstandings and some missteps on both sides, but as of this date things seem to be stabilizing and the relationship seems to be moving forward. Again, the cultural differences between the East and the West are huge and entire books have been written about them. I -in just three months – have gotten the abridged version, and the learning curve has been extremely steep.
Michell is an excellent catch. There are not many woman here that are possessed of such an impressive command of the English language. More importantly, she understands the concepts of irony and sarcasm, which is the sum total of my pathetic sense of humor. She is very intelligent, educated, and is hungry to create a life for herself and not be dependent on any man. She is also beautiful – stunningly beautiful – and a day doesn’t go by in which she doesn’t take my breath away. I don’t know at this point where exactly the relationship is going to go – all I know is that she makes my life a hell of a lot better for being in it.
The effect of my scintillating conversation.
A final note: although Michell had noted in her profile that she stood 5 feet tall it was until I actually first met her that I was shocked at how small she actually was. I think she is actually closer to 4’11” and weighs in at a hefty 85 pounds. I am literally more than twice her size, and it’s taken some getting used to. But, as they say, good things come in small packages – Michell is definitely an example of that.
85 pounds of pure attitude.
Okay enough of the mushy stuff. I am actually starting to make myself sick. I will be posting more about the intricacies of having a relationship in the Philippines in future posts. So, loyal reader, thanks for reading. I hope you didn’t groan out loud on too many occasions as you read this corny mishmash of a blog post.
Until next time, salamat and ingat!
I am the pink guy on the left.