A Filipina Point of View
( Biscuitz is a Filipina in the Philippines. Old Bill in Cyprus is a Brit now living in the UK).
This is an unusual submission. It is a collaboration between a Filipina and a ‘western’ man, based on exchanges of e-mails following a previous Stickman submission. We hope it might provide an insight into points of view not always apparent on the Stickman site. The points are made in the order they cropped up in the e-mail exchange.
First is the damage done to the image of Filipinas – caused no doubt by the actions of some Filipinas and exacerbated and promulgated by the accounts of those (mainly western men) who have had ‘bad’ experiences with them. Those men have the benefit of a place (i.e. this site) to air their views, recount their experiences, and most importantly, give their side of the story. Generally, their accounts go unchallenged, with some notable exceptions. The Filipinas in the story (and this goes for Thai ladies as well) don’t normally have the chance to explain their side or to put forward their explanation of what happened. The nub is that one shouldn’t judge all Filipinas (or Thais) by what one reads here.
Second, marriage is always an important step, there’s no doubt about that, whether it’s from a cynical legalistic point of view (and make no mistake, it’s an important legal contract) or from a more general point of view that it should be for life, and exclusive. There is no doubt that from a traditional and conservative Filipina viewpoint marriage should be entered into after the appropriate consideration, thought and with a will to make it work through difficulties. This is not so different from the traditional western view of marriage. Western marriages fail at about the rate of 50%. Nobody knows how many Filipina marriages fail, because there’s no divorce, but fail some certainly do. While some Filipinas may marry just to ‘get papers’ or legitimise their position in a foreign country this is far from their ideal.
Third, the Philippines is a ‘poor’ country compared with many in the ‘developed’ world. Many Filipinos/Filipinas have by necessity to travel abroad and take lower-paid and less desirable jobs so that they can send money home to support their family or, crucially, to pay for family members’ education to try and break the cycle of poverty. To many, this would seem a commendable trait (especially to those ‘westerners’ who may despair at the situation in their own countries where the prevailing attitude may be seen as waiting for the welfare state to bail out the terminally lazy and unwilling) and there is no reason to look down on the Filipinas who work as nannies, care-givers or housemaids. They have chosen an (arguably) harder route than Filipinas who turn to prostitution.
Fourth, many Filipinas (and this probably applies to Thais as well) suffer from a generalised judgementalism which labels them as ‘prostitutes’ or (at best) as ‘gold-diggers’. Equally, ‘western’ men may be generalised as ‘wealthy butterflies’. There are many stories on this site of western men walking with their younger (and more attractive) companions and the looks they receive. How does the damage compare? A western man may smile and even be flattered to be considered a ‘wealthy butterfly’, especially when he tells his stories back home. For the woman – unless she moves exclusively in the circles where prostitution, gold-digging and associated behaviour is appreciated – her reputation can be irreparably damaged.
Fifth and final point. Whether Filipina or western man, you need to know who you are, what you are, and be happy with that. Generalisations about Filipinas or western men don’t really help – although there are many cultural differences and issues which one should be aware of. In the Philippines, things are changing. A few couples are deciding to live together rather than marry because if the relationship doesn’t work out it’s easier to part ways and move on. Whether this will make for a long-term change nobody knows, but with ever-increasing globalisation (and US/western influence via television, etc.) one has to ask just how long the Philippines will persist as the only country in the world with no divorce. This is not to say, of course, that western models of marriage and divorce are ideal. The vast majority of Filipinos still believe in the sanctity of marriage and have no interest in pursuing the introduction of divorce laws.
If nothing else, we hope that this submission shows that the Stickman site prompts, allows and encourages exchanges of views from different standpoints and from different continents. There are two sides to every story, or as someone once said, three sides – his side, her side and the truth. Certainly, perceptions differ depending on the point from which one views the situation and for those open-minded enough to appreciate it, viewing a situation from different (or varying) points of view can only broaden their experience and add to their learning.
Feedback is welcomed.
I have always felt that marriages between Westerners and Filipinas are more likely to succeed than marriages between Westerners and Thais which I guess is perception as much as anything.