The Mythic Allure of Westerners in the Philippines, Pt. 1 – Money!


Living, working or studying in the Philippines has its fair share of ups and downs.  Here at myphilippinedreams, we put a good amount of effort into showing both sides – the good AND the bad – so that our viewers can get a better feel for what life here really is like. 

One of the upsides of living here that people will often note (sometimes exclusively) is the ease in which a foreigner can enter into a relationship with a young and lovely Filipina.  They will also usually go on to say that the women that are available in the Philippines would be “out of their league” back in the West, and there is certainly a lot of truth to this.  I mean, even with my own relationship, I am under no delusions as to that – I seriously doubt that I could or would be in a steady, long term relationship with a drop-dead gorgeous 28 year old who is also college educated, sweet, kind and pretty much amazing in every detail.

So, this begs the question:  Why is it so easy for old or older foreigners to be in relationships with younger, stunningly beautiful Filipinas?

In moving to an answer to that query, we’ll have to take a look now at what I like to call (trumpet fanfare)  “The Mythic Allure of Westerners in the Philippines.” And in doing so, we are going to try to separate some facts from fiction.

Please note that we are generalizing here – all relationships are somewhat unique, and there are a number of factors usually in play that contribute to why people are together.  That’s a disclaimer, so try not to get your feathers to ruffled if you take exception to some of this.

So, with that noted, let’s get into it!

1.  Money, money, money – This is the big one, and the rationalization that we are going to spend the most time on, probably dedicating this entire blog entry to it.

It’s pretty much a given that money makes the world go around, and – as such – it’s always going to be an integral part of any relationship.  In order to maintain some level of security and stability, you’ve got to have money, and here in the Philippines (and many, many other nations across the globe) money is in short supply for the vast majority of Filipinos.  If you’ve never seen or experienced it, extreme poverty and the abject desperation that it creates is difficult to fully appreciate.  Compared to the average Filipino, foreigners coming into the country as seen as wealthy, regardless of whether you actually are or not.  Many of the people coming to the Philippines are going there to squeeze the most they can out of their limited Social Security or small state pension programs, taking advantage of strong dollars against weaker pesos.  Many of those folks wouldn’t consider themselves wealthy by any means, but in the eyes of the poor, they indubitably are.

Building on this assumption of wealth (and rumors of “money trees” growing in the West), you might hear Filipinos or Filipinas referring to foreigners in the Philippines as UPS’s (Unlimited Peso Supply) or ATM’s (Automated Tubig Machine).  Other terms that get bandied around are OWM (Old Western Men or Old Wealthy Men).  These everyday acronyms should give some indication of the differences between reality and perception when it comes to foreigners in the Philippines –  the reality of each individual Western who comes to the Philippines to live, work or study and his or her respective financial means (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with the actual perception of limitless wealth that most Filipinos and Filipinas seem to have in regards to the foreign population.

Money represents the ability to maintain some level of stability and security, something that is oftentimes not a luxury to be found in many poorer nations where folks are usually most concerned about where they are getting their next meal. And since foreigners do tend to have more money and/or income than their respective Philippine counterparts, we can never overlook the fact that money is always a part of the equation – more so than it is in Western nations do to the level of poverty that is exists in the Philippines and in other developing nations like it.

Also keep in mind, that in many cases, the young, lovely Filipina will be expecting some assistance when it comes to her family – the pressures placed on young women (especially the oldest daughter in the family) can sometimes be quite severe, and securing a foreign boyfriend or husband can be just as lucrative as sending children to work overseas as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and subsisting off of their remittances.


Michell Adds

Another common acronym that is used in the Philippines in reference to obtaining a rich foreign boyfriend or husband is “4M” – Matandang (Old), Mayamang(Rich) Madaling Mamatay (Someone who is about to die).  And I agree with Ned – a lot of Filipinas are with foreigners because they have (or they think they have!) lot’s of money.  It’s not really a bad thing in and of itself – but when it is the only reason, that’s where the sadness and the tragedy exists.

Ned Follows Up

I really don’t think that Michell is with me because of my money.  I am not stupid enough to think that if I was dirt poor and had no resources or prospects for a better life for myself (and her) that she wouldn’t be rethinking the idea of being with me, but I don’t think it’s the only reason.  How do I know this, you might ask?  Well, it’s pretty simple – I have never given her an allowance like a lot of other expats do and I expect her to pay a percentage into our bills when she is working.  I also live a pretty simple lifestyle and am pretty frugal in my spending.  With those three things in mind – and with her looks, intelligence and charm – she wouldn’t have much difficulty in finding a rich foreigner who would give her a substantial allowance and shower her with new clothes and gadgets on a daily basic.

So, that’s gotta count for something, right?

So there it is.  When it comes to the “mythic allure of Westerners” in the Philippines, one has to always keep money in mind.  And when it comes to a foreigners justifying or rationalizing why there is a beautiful young Filipina by his said, not only is he being surprisingly objective, he’s also right on the mark.

In our next blog entry, we’ll take a look at some other justifications that foreigners utilize in explaining their lovely better halves and try to separate fact from fiction.



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Comments 28

  1. Do not forget to add in there that Filipinas are not as materialistic as western woman they just want a better life where food is not a day to day struggle and when you find a good one they are loyal . there are many ways to spoil a woman with out a lot or for that matter any money . and by the way you are a very lucky man your Michell is a very maganda woman .


    Maricel and Gary

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  2. Great article and thinking it all loud as it can be! Thanks for sharing! I am a subscriber of your Philippine Dreams channel in YouTube and really do find your relationship and channel as beautiful and true as me and my wife have had it for more than 8 years different but equal in our marriage.

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  3. Michele,
    Can one ever find true love without somewhat of an eye on money or opportunity of a significant other??

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  4. Well done with your discussion about the Philippines. Followed you for sometimes now. I think 50% true. Considering I’m here in Australia I discovered that we Filipinos are bit arrogant in some ways. Me myself is embarrass because our reputation outside Philippines is not good, embarrassing to the fullest especially for women who married white men. I came across women who married white men then find someone else. Australian women has no reservation discussing in front of me the attitudes of Filipinos. I think there so many factors, many to identify. And no one can resolve this except us. To those who are materialistic so pathetic. Thankfully I’m not one of those women. I live within my means. The only pride we have is we are hard working people and thanks god we can speak English, and we are understood by employers. We are thankful for Americans who ruled the Philippines tho it helps a lot our education. What I think is the mean root of all these is corruption in the government. If government well spent the money where the collected from taxes etc and spend wisely for the benefit of Filipino people well not be like this. Here, when government collect taxes 99% they will spent improving the country and its people. We are 85% Catholics there but boy the attitudes is greedy and evil. All I can say that I’m so thankful of my parents who left us a little piece of land where we can build house and sent us to uni. That’s it. Anyway keep doing it and happily watch your you tube. Made me smile all the time Ned and Michel. Ned you are so many expat there who are doing you tube about the Philippines and hopefully some women follow this, so they are more aware to behave in future. Teres.

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      Thanks for taking the time to contribute all of that. And I agree on many points. I love the Philippines and am frustrated by all of the structural issues that are in place holding it back from its true potential. If they were ever cleared up, though, the Philippines would truly be the Tiger of SE Asia and us foreigners could not probably afford to live here anymore. 🙂 Thanks again, Teres!

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      Thanks Brian. We have no definite answers on anything here – we just thought we’d do a video poking around at some of the justifications we as foreigners use for why a lovely Filipina is by our side. 🙂

  5. My wife of 17 years is a philipino we have a home in albiga (near) siaton we go to the philippines very often
    Here in usa we live in arkansas
    What state are you from??

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  6. I have watched a few of your you tube clips and liked them. I have also seen most of the other guys you tube clips.

    You are the only one with a filipinas doing the show together which gives a better picture of reality. It is kinda funny that nobody says what island they are on. I did a google on the Philippines and there are a lot of islands. Shhh…its a secret!

    I watched the Whale shark show yesterday that was really cool.
    I am PADI certified but I have never scuba dived in warm water before. I live in Sacramento, CA. I did a lot of scuba diving along hwy 1 Mendocino county. You need a 7mm wetsuit to stay warmish.

    I have not been to the Philippines before but it sounds like a nice fun place to visit.
    What island is a good place to visit and how long does it take to get a good grasp of where everything is at?
    Do all the islands have medical facilities?
    Such as blood testing and medications?

    The British show said he lived in the Philippines for 1 month for $367.00 US.
    I imagine that was rent, electricity, phone, internet, food, beer and what nots!

    The rabbi show said something about the Muslim and criminal gangs on certain islands and said those would be good to avoid?

    I would rather communicate through email because “facebook is the devil”! hehe


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      The Philippines is a great place to dive and pretty inexpensive as a vacation destination. Palawan has some great diving spots in particular. We live in the city of Dumaguete on Negros Oriental – it’s a convenient hub to many other islands around the Visayas. Most cities have adequate medical facilities. I have had to use them on a few occasions and have always been satisfied. $367 is a very low monthly budget, and I would not want to live under those constraints. We do about $1,200 a month and are comfortable – $2K a month and you are living very nicely. There are some areas in Mindanao that are dangerous to foreigners and Filipinos alike due to Muslim separatist groups, and it’s best to avoid them.

  7. Oh shoot I forgot to ask this question!

    Why does every house need bars on the windows?
    Why did the new house that was built have spikes on its block walls surrounding thier property?


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      The bars and spikes are used to keep would-be burglars out. Since the Philippines is a bit impoverished, there is a good amount of opportunistic crime here. They also have big walls around their house compounds, yappy dogs in little cages and big steel entry gates. Thanks for swinging by, James.

  8. Hi Ned and Michele,
    Almost four months ago I met the most wonderful woman that I’ve ever known. Like you guys, she is from the Philippines and I’m from the USA. Our relationship is very much like yours , so I’ve enjoyed your informative videos. Currently I’m in the planning stages of making my own Philippine dreams a reality.
    Your videos have inspired me, challenged me, and have been a great help in understanding the pros and cons of the types of transitions that will take place when I eventually move there.
    I’m sure that I will experience many different challenges and blessings on my journey. But to see someone else living their dreams let’s me know that I’m not alone. I wish you continued success and keep up the good work. ~ Danny

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      Thanks so much, Danny. Just keep in mind that it is not “Hawaii on the Cheap!” The Philippines has some very real challenges, and most foreigners end up not staying. I don’t know how long I will be here – I still love it, but the heat is too much this year (El Nino), and the blush is off the bloom when it is that bad. Thanks again though – I appreciate it!


  9. So those are the main attractions of foreigners for filipinas.
    May be you could do a video on the main detractions of foreigners for filipinas – fat, lazy, smelly, petty, mean, rude, self-centred – then may be some of us foreigners will learn and may be improve ourselves before getting into a relationship with a filipina and hopefully the relationship will be long lasting and 99% loving and happy. There is no relationship without tears somewhere.
    Then may be a video on the attractions and detractions of filipinas for foreigners. Asking the obvious you might think but some of the answers may surprise both you and l.

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  10. Hi Ned and Michell; I love your YouTube videos. They are wonderful and informative. I fell deeply in love with a beautiful Filipina woman and she cares deeply for me and although I’m not an old man; I am middle aged; I do all that I can to help her and her family financially. I make a good living and even though I do well; I want to relocate to the Philippines to be with her and her wonderful family and I have so many questions about doing that for another time. Until I move there, even though she works really hard, I send her money to help her family. Is that a wrong thing to do; I know she uses the money for them and she and her family are good and wonderful people; but I worry that her family and friends will resent her; Do you think I am doing the right thing? She told me what I send her a week is more than she makes in a month and I am worried that this will cause her problems; Please help

    In Love With Jhen

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      Well, it’s your money, and as long as you are both communicating honestly about it, it is yours to use as you see fit. Just be aware that they will probably expect this amount of support money for the rest of their lives and will probably want more at times. The money/allowance/support topic is a slippery one, and there are no set right or wrongs as long as the giver knows that monetary support will be expected even after you are here, and you will be the go-to financial source for many family emergencies. Also, I wouldn’t personally send any money to any woman that I haven’t met. There are a lot of scammers here working the internet for family support.

  11. Hi Ned and Michell.

    I enjoy watching your youtube videos. The two of you seem to enjoy each other’s company and you look cute together so well wishes to both of you. Your blogs and videos are informative. I appreciate them because you talk about your perspectives and also provide insight about Michell’s good traits, thereby helping debunk stereotypes about Filipinas. NOT all Filipinas are gold-diggers who enter into relationships to financially sustain their families. Like Michell, there are many Filipinas who obtain college degrees, secure jobs with their own merits, and make financial contributions in relationships. They are hard-working, compassionate, and family-oriented; so much so, many work overseas to help their families get out of poverty. I don’t deny that there are opportunists but that exists in every culture. As a California resident for nearly 30 years, I’ve observed that both women (and men) can be opportunistic regardless of race, age, creed, gender, or education. The Philippines has no monopoly on opportunists; there are plenty of them here in California.
    I also would like to add that NOT all Filipinas in the U.S. abandon their spouses or lose all family values once entrenched in the western culture. Case in point, I was 14 when my family moved to California from the Philippines. We came to the U.S. wearing nothing but the shirts on our backs and relied on the generosity of relatives during our first year of residency. Through hard work, my family moved out on our own in less than a year and my sisters and I also proceeded to earn our college degrees (I graduated from UCLA, my middle sister from Duke University, and the oldest obtained a Master’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology). We all put ourselves through college (yes, we all worked while attending school), and like Michell, our strong desire to get an education was cultivated in the Philippines.

    As for sending money to family, my siblings and I voluntarily send our parents money (they retired to the Philippines almost a decade ago). We do it sporadically and out of gratitude for all of their hard work. We don’t feel obliged to support them as they rarely ask for money (except for the occasional medical emergency). That’s why it made me smile when Michelle mentioned in one of your videos that Filipinos provide financial support to family members to express appreciation. I am aware that in many instances, the eldest child assumes the responsibility of caring for their parents at old age, however, this is inextricably linked to the lack of sound retirement program in the Philippines. Combine that with limited employment opportunities and rampant corruption, and you end up with a serious social challenge.

    Anyway, this letter is getting too long so I’ll end with a comment on Ned’s observation that older foreigners seem to easily form relationships with younger Filipinas in the Philippines, who would otherwise be “out of their league” in their home countries. Ned – my (younger, white) ex-boyfriend said that same thing to me. It wasn’t true but unfortunately, his need for reassurance far outweighed my ability comfort him.

    Rooting for you and Michell – Dee

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      Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that, Dee, and I will probably use your experiences in a future video. Foreigners trying to figure things out here have a hard time doing so, and actual real-life experiences from those who are extremely well versed with the culture and society are worth their weight in gold. Salamat po, Dee. Amping!!

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