Giving Your Filipina an Allowance


One things that a good number of people who have never been to the Philippines don’t realize is that a large number of the foreigners living here are paying their Filipina significant other a monthly allowance.  The purpose of this blog article is not to question to rightness or wrongness of this practice or to assert moral entrepreneurship on other people’s lives, but instead to simply take a gander at some of the reasons behind it and some of the consequences of having such a practice in one’s relationship.

Note two things:  First, I will be using “Filipina” and “foreigner” in their most traditional terms (female/male), but realize that this applies to any type of foreigner-Filipino relationship of any gender combination.  Finally, we are talking long term relationships here – marriage or other less formal LTRs; we are not talking “dating.”

Sex and Money
Two regularly discussed topics among groups Filipinas going out with foreigners are sex and money – the first being humorous, obtuse observations, the latter in regards to how many pesos they are getting each month for their “allowance.”  When I first discovered this, I was kind of taken aback – not so much about the sex thing but more about the money talk.  (Ah, yes – the SE Asia noob….)  And with that, another scale of the “Philippine Dream” fell from my eyes.  “Dang,” I thought, somewhat sadly, they are with us for the money……”

Is It Part of the Culture?
Allowances are not part of mainstream Filipino culture, so if your Filipina is adamant that it is, she is – at best – misinformed.   It is, however, a part of the Filipina-foreigner subculture and one that prospective expats need to be aware of.  Most married Filipinos are from a somewhat equal social class.  There are exceptions to this, and it is interesting to note that when that occurs it is usually between a poorer Filipina and a wealthier Filipino.  This theme carries over into the Foreigner-Filipina relationships as most there are with a poorer Filipina and a wealthier foreigner.  And although the foreigner might be considered poor in his home country, once he steps off the plane, that small pension or security check that he has suddenly boosts his social financial status way up the local ladder.

Before we move on, let’s talk about “shouldering.”  Shouldering is a Filipino practice in which wealthier family members are expected to assume some of the living costs (medical, rent, food and the like) for their family.  This usually takes place in poorer families that are fortunate enough to have sons and daughter working as OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers – maids in Dubai, workers in the Merchant Marine, etc.), at call centers (Business Process Outsourcing/BPO’s), or those who have secured for themselves a “wealthy” foreign uyab (boyfriend).  It can also happen in middle class families, however, especially in the event of a medical emergency or a death in the family. 

As we have previously mentioned, there is a good deal of pressure on sons and daughters to provide for their families, especially poorer families as their parents finish up their parental duties and move into their 50’s.  Eldest daughters in particular are expected to help raise their younger siblings and later to be the ones to secure a local job to help support the extended family.  Untang na loob (debt of obligation) and the avoidance of hiya (shame) in order to provide for her family can put an unimaginable amount of pressure on a young Filipina.

The Foreign Knight Errant
In order to “keep it real,” let’s just say this:  Generally speaking, there is an unspoken obligation that when a Filipina enters into a relationship with a “wealthy” foreign that he will help provide for her family. 

Dangers of Giving an Allowance
There are basically three concerns we can note when it comes to negative consequences in providing a Filipina with a monthly allowance.
    1.  Transactional Relationship – whether intended or not, providing an allowance assigns a monetary value to the relationship, being in a sense             a sort of social monetization.  At the worst, some might see it as being a sort of “prostitution on the installment plan.” 

  1. Power Imbalance – When one person in a relationship is the only person with access to money, a relational imbalance logically occurs. No surprise there.  Some people are OK with that (“traditional” family values, and all …), but the danger lies in the possibility of mental or even physical abuse being tolerated as a result of this financial leverage.  I have personally seen more than a few examples of Filipina’s being stuck in an abusive or exploitative relationship as they feel powerless and – more importantly – completely dependent upon their foreign partner.  Which leads us to….

  2. Confers Dependent Status – Providing an allowance can bestow a sort of semi-adult status upon your Filipina partner. Relying on a monthly “hand out” does not set the stage for equal status in a relationship and only goes to reinforce the Filipino concept of palabigasan (literally a container for empty husks but referring to a person someone relies on for support). 

Now, some guys might be fine with this.  They may have experienced a devastating divorce (or series of divorces) in their home country and have decided that in the conservative, traditional and Catholic nation of the Philippines, they are going to do things differently.  If so, that’s fine – it’s not other people’s jobs to judge – but just be aware of the imbalances noted above that such an arrangement can make.

What’s the Solution?
To avoid the pitfalls noted above and create a relationship based more on equal footing, folks in Foreigner-Filipina relationships might want to consider opening a joint bank account and working on their monthly budgets as a team, thus providing a certain level of equality (and equanimity) where both members in the relationship can feel as equal stakeholders in the household’s expenses.  Realize also that Filipina’s can actually save you money when it comes to knowing where the “good deals” are and being able to recognize the regular day-to-day transactional hiccups (that is, “kano tax”).

Before we conclude, I just wanted to note yet again that these are not my personal value statements, just a series of observations that I have made on the subject of allowances since I have arrived in the Philippines.

Personally, I don’t ever want to be in a relationship where I feel as if the other person is with me solely for my money.  Truth be told, I’d rather be alone.  Or get a dog.  At this point, I much prefer my partner to have her own source of income to use as she see’s fit.  I want a partner who is independent and possessed of the wherewithal to leave me if I ever become (too much of) a jerk.  

And yeah, I can be a real jerk at times….

Especially when the Real Feel temperature hits 110 degrees Fahrenheit ……

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  1. First let me preface my comments by saying, if you weren’t already aware from other comments I have made to your channel, often I question things and play the devil’s advocate. Other times I’m just being a contrarian.

    Thanks for defining some words that my Filipina gf of four years often uses and I have never totally understood. Before I only assumed the meanings, fortunately somewhat correctly for the most part, now I know them.

    I have read comments in various expat blogs in which guys have said not to bring filipina wives or gfs to the US. They state doing so will corrupt the filipina and “westernize” her, making her more like the demanding american women these guys have moved around the world to get away from. The reason I mention this is because a few times in your blog about allowances you refer to equality and balance in a relationship between a filipina and an expat, advocating equality it seemed. I don’t disagree with your premise that giving an allowance to a filipina can create a relationship of inequality but I suggest that is what some guys want They want to be the more powerful, dominant person, the person in control in the relationship. That is why they are in the Philippines looking for a partner. Other men say they want their partner to be an equal in the relationship, perhaps. Are these attitudes the result of or been influenced by the feminist movement in the US? It has always been amazing to me how much the rest of world pays attention to and is influenced by the US. Everything from hiphop music to military prowess, politics, fashion, slang, even skateboarding. So, can a guy ever find a filipina not “westernized”, at least to some degree? One that doesn’t envy the life of an american woman? Maybe.

    I ended up kind of rambling I guess, lol


    1. You – sir – have hit the nail on the head. Many of the foreign men here label themselves as conservative and most of them have been through a number of divorces. I think for some of them, the Philippines becomes a misogynistic dreamscape where they can control their girlfriends through financial leverage. I have also heard many of them say, “Don’t bring them to the US, because they will change!” but you have to keep in mind that liberal and conservative minds work quite differently with conservatives fearing change. Plus, they also fear that they won’t be able to “control” them financially in the West as they can while living in the Philippines. I have seen some dark stuff come of this, and I should probably talk about it at some point……

      Anyways, thanks for taking the time to post all of that – much appreciated.

  2. After becoming a young widower, I started my second marriage to a Pinay. We have been together in the States for 10 years and do not have formal financial sharing system in place…everything is joint. Joint checking, joint savings, and joint credit cards. We make most daily purchases separate without issue. We do have an informal understanding that any major purchases need to be discussed ahead of time by both…actually we consider just about anything over $100 as major (except groceries), so we have a low ceiling for “major.” We don’t send money to the Philippines on a regular basis, but plenty of “family emergencies” come up during the year where we need to send money. I am the one who “xooms” it online, so no secrets there. It probably averages less than our cable bill, so I don’t mind. If I retire early to Dumaguette/Valencia, something we are considering, I wonder if the other filipinas will think it odd she does not receive an allowance. Will she have a different status as a wife instead of a girlfriend? Also, I think we may also have to explain that during my early retirement we are not going to be able to help family members as often.

    1. Thanks, Sir Fat! I like the system you are using, and we basically do the same. I don’t think other Filipinas would think it odd that you are doing everything jointly – it will just give them another reason to be jealous. 🙂 And I think you’re relationship is on more even footing than the Filipina girlfriends that rely on an allowance from their foreigner boyfriends.

  3. Ned,
    Another “Spot On” video blog from you. Very fair and very balanced. Even though I have been married to a filipina for…..26 years, (wow time flies) and live in the U.S.; I really enjoy watching your video’s. You and Michelle seem so right for each other; I hope everything works out the best for the both of you!

  4. I suppose the need for an allowance depends on whether the Filipina has a job or not.
    If she does have a job and you pay her an allowance then you are buying her companionship, the same could also be said if you paid her an allowance and she didn’t have a job. The relationship is warped by the allowance no matter what you do.
    Can I suggest that you give her a budget to cover: – rent, power, water, food, etc, say 50,000 pesos a month, to run the household and tell her any money she saves is hers to spend how she sees fit. Then sit back and see what she does with it. That should tell you a lot about the lady and your relationship with her.

  5. I just finished your book I was thoroughly pleased with my purchase plenty of great information about the Philippines great job I’m definitely moving to the Philippines in a decade or so great job to Ned and friends I also enjoy the you tube channel

  6. There are many ways to skin a cat…and many ways to deal with a filipina relationship. There really is not right or wrong as long as you both agree.

    I have seen many types of arrangements with filipinas and foreigners and most of them work. Some of these arrangements are not for me, that is for sure. But it is not my place to say what works for me should work for someone else and vice versa.

    After having said that, one thing that I see way too much is foreigners buying companionship from filipinas and then wondering later on why things don’t work out. It is not the filipinas fault, it is the foreigners fault.

    If you want true love, then don’t base your relationship on money! It really is that simple. I have a lot of experience in the Philippines and I have many friends married to filipinas. Those that are doing great are the guys that made it CLEAR that they were not just there, or there at all, to be an ATM machine. The rules have to be set very early on…if the filipina doesn’t like it, then move on.

    I have NEVER once met what I would consider a good filipina ask for money. EVER. My fiance is amazing, like most filipinas she comes from a lot of poverty. She has NEVER once asked for money, although she does know I will help her. She is totally willing to work and works her butt off.

    The guys that get into trouble in the Philippines do TWO things wrong. They think with the wrong head and they think they can BUY love. They think they have to spend money in the Philippines like they do in their countries. Americana are really bad about this.

    EVERY relationship has financial issues, and there are many ways to work around these issues. But if you meet a filipina that seems very interested in your money…walk away. Truly good filipinas look for love first and money, while it is important, is farther down the list.

    I have met about every type of filipina you can imagine. Bar girls, massage girls, filipinas from the big cities and filipinas from the smallest of cities way out in the province. A VAST majority are looking for love and a guy that treats them with respect and respects their family and culture.

    If you want to “pay” for love…that is your choice….but it is not needed to find a good filipina. And, I agree that money decisions should be mutual. I truly believe that by including the filipina in financial decisions and not holding her hostage to your allowance you will have a much better relationship.

    1. Todd’s comments are so on target, I felt I had to say, “Sound advice, indeed.”
      After bouncing all over the Philippines and having relationships with Filipinas from Manila to Davao, I finally settled in Bacolod. The love of my life is from Compostela Valley, Mindanao.
      Once you find that good Filipina lady and she’s loving you, you’ll know there is no better woman on earth.

  7. Anna did not want any money from me. She was working for $300.00 a month for some guy from India when we first met. (Cook and she is the best…yummy, food is pretty good too…) , anyway, she worked 29 days a month in a compound and was not allowed to leave until her days off. Which was one day a month. She has a 12 year old daughter at home being cared for by Mom. We talked it over and I decided to pay that so she could stay at home with Nica ( daughter) and also gives us more time to visit when I am over there and while we navigate this annulment.Actually I usually send $400.00 to help with extra stuff and the wifi connection. Sometimes I send extra for Christmas gifts for the family and help with the doctor if someone gets sick. Bottom line is it is ok with me because that is MY FAMILY. Some may have a tighter budget. IOf you find love you will find the right solution. Good article Ned and very true from my experience.

    1. It all depends. Some give 5,000 a month, some 10,000 a month. Some really older guys with really hawt young Filipinas are paying 20-30,000 p per month. I prefer to be in a relationship with someone who is working. Allowances are not my kind of thing.

  8. Interesting. If an allowance is required for the person to stay with you, it sounds like a paid relationship.

    When my wife (a Pinay) and I were dating, she had a job, and I never gave her any money. She is from a middle class background and an engineer, so she had a long history of working and supporting herself.

    Now that we are married and living in the USA, we have a joint account and she is in charge of paying all bills etc. She is generally more disciplined and better at budgeting than me. We each have an allowance for ‘personal’ spending: shopping, etc. It is nice to know that we are both keeping our spending in check.

    Although we rarely send money to her family (they don’t need it), I would be happy to help in an emergency as they are my family too now. Having said that, I have a couple of friends who are married to Pinays. They both really resent the fact that their wife sends money to her family. One wife earns her own money in order to have money to send. The other couple has not resolved the conflict.

    Anyway, thanks for the blog. I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thanks for the personal feedback, Stephen. Circumstances are different for everyone but generally guys here are paying an allowance to their better halves – especially if it is a big age gap/sping-winter type relationship.

  9. I decided to pay my Filipino BF an allowance. Not so he would stay with me, but to enable him to pay for items if he wants to. His income is very low. A better payed job hard to find, and I just want him to have a little extra financial freedom, without him depending on me. We do manage finances together, but this way he can be more self sufficiant in the relationship and take better care of his private matters.

    Like I said i do not pay him to stay with me, i do not need to.
    And it is my choice to do this.
    It took some time to convince him to accept it.
    Next step is that We will open a bank account for him, so he can manage his finances better and maybe even safe some money.

  10. Married to a filipina, same age and we met when both working overseas. One thing I find crazy is how guys seem to separate filipinas from other women. Yes I give my wife an allowance since she stopped working and she spends every cent of it no matter how much it is but that is not exclusive to filipna women ask any married man where his money goes lol. An allowance/budget allows her the independance of not having to explain what the money was spent on because I don’t ask and still ensures we have investments and savings.

  11. I laugh at these ridiculous and dishonest posts I see about what it’s like to live in the Philippines.
    I will help you understand the Filipina mindset: You are a FOREIGNER. She has no reason to be around you if you cannot put money in her pocket. So I’ll make it clear again, NO MONEY, NO HONEY. That’s how it works here. If you can accept that, there is fun to be had here, these girls can be really sexy if you’re not a total loser back home and can generate some real chemistry with these chicks. Just don’t listen to these people who try to convince you their culture is something different than what it really is.

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