I first went to the Philippines over twenty five years ago, 1988 to be exact. I was in my late twenties, single and thought I had landed in the adult version of Disneyland. Back in those days, Ermita was in full swing and the bars on M.H. Del Pilar and Mabini Streets were an experience I recommend for any single guy to try at least once. Today you have to go to Makati or Angeles to get the same ‘feel’.
I recall I was probably the youngest ‘kano’ (everyone is an Amerikano, or kano to the Filipinos) in the city, or at least it felt like it. Every expat I met was over forty and most were past fifty. Today, I am over fifty myself and so would fit the frame for the ‘average’ expat at last. In the years inbetween I have lost count how many times I have been to the Philippines, not to mention living there for several years after marrying a Cebuana.
Some Home Truths
If you love the Philippines then there is little I can say you wouldn’t disagree with as far as it being a great place for single men to go. Let us not get drawn into the ‘people trafficking’ argument because while there can be no doubt there is exploitation of many Filipinas, there are just as many who ‘exploit’ the status quo to meet their future kano husband and seek a better life, either in the Philippines or back in his country.
There is prostitution in the Philippines; but keep in mind most clients are Filipino, not foreigner, yet of course, the foreigner, the ‘sex-tourist’, is the one the media focus on. While many public figures may denounce such business activities, they too often own bars and brothels and make large sums of money from this trade.
Today the term ‘mail-order bride’ is one used with scorn and derision and labelled against anyone married to a Filipina (or a Russian woman, or a Thai etc). I find the term offensive to both parties, as if anyone could, or would, simply place an order and have a human being delivered by Fed-Ex the next day, ready to live the rest of their lives together. It insults the many happy and mutually beneficial relationships, not to mention their offspring.
So what if a couple met via the internet, or a chat room, or even via a girlie bar? Whose business is it but theirs? Surely what is relevant and important is how they treat each other, the life they make together. The reality is there are many Fil-Am, Fil-Aus and Fil-Somewhere Else couples who have found love and happiness, raised a family and contributed positively to the communities they live in.
Yes, there are gold-digging girls and wife-beating guys who skew the stats, but they are, in my experience, the exception that proves the rule. The thing some find difficult to accept is that people from different age groups and vastly different cultures can achieve what they couldn’t; a happy and sustained marriage. For many it is the second or third time around but most of those people find they have grown and have a far better chance of success with their pretty Filipina than they ever had before. Continued Part 2