What I’m about to share with you comes not only from personal experience but just plain common sense that can be applied to any aspect of life. Namely, “Know what you want.” To use an analogy, most of us graduate high school and for the most part get a job soon afterward. Some decide to go to college, the military or enter the family business. But most take a short break and then get their first job in order to go out and live life on their own. Because at that age that’s the only thing we’re sure we know we want.. our ‘freedom’.
Today I’m going to focus on the issue of Relationships. Specifically, a relationship status here in the Philippines. Because just like many other things in life, where there is no plan we are then left at the whim of fate. Sometimes it is kind and leads us to wonderful avenues we never imagined. But, other times, fate leaves us to go ‘just one more year’ doing something that never did satisfy us because we passively accepted what fell into our laps instead of chasing our goals. Turning around 40 years later too many people say to themselves, “I should have.. I could have…”.
So think of this as a sort of a sit-down with your guidance counselor. My question to you as you plan to live in the Philippines is, “Do you know what you WANT?” when it comes to the type of relationship you are desiring once you get here.
The reason I make a list before I leave the house when going for groceries is because, even if I have it in my mind clearly at home.. upon entering the store and seeing the wide variety of selections on the shelves, it is so easy to get distracted. I end up getting things I didn’t need and forgetting items I did. Same goes for relationships here in the Philippines. Once you get here there are so many options available on a daily basis it’s enough to make your head spin. More on that later.
So, let’s look at a couple of possible scenarios.
ARRIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES.. MARRIED
One option is you are one of the few who is already married, perhaps even to a Filipina, and you are moving here later in life. That’s awesome. In this scenario you’ve already made your life-choice in terms of a relationship so that part is pretty simple and straight-forward. Now, I’m going to speak to you as a man, as only we men understand each other regarding these things. You do yourself a favor to have some quiet time within your own soul and ask yourself just how much temptation you believe you can handle when it comes to being faithful. No need to balk or respond to anyone but your own inner self. This is a private matter for you alone to evaluate. (And no, it’s not a topic for discussion with your wife unless you’re just itching to live dangerously.) Because fact of the matter is that foreign men, married or not, are a hot-ticket item here in the Philippines.
Not all women here are as chaste and honorable as they should be. There are women here who’s response to your line, “No thank you, I’m happily married.” is, “That’s ok.. I just want to be your mistress.”. For a few hundred a month they will be there for you whenever you want them. It is so common-place for men to have mistresses here because the law tends to favor men while not favoring the women who try to do the same. Misogynistic, yes, but.. it’s not going to change anytime soon. In just the last few months I’ve casually heard of at least eight different men who have mistresses on the side while married. Women here console themselves with the phrase, “The mistress only gets the soup, while I get the meat.“, in reference to the security she has financially being the Wife. Now, to a man who is firm in his commitment to his wife, the availability and temptation means nothing. Even if asked five times a month by different women the answer will always be, “No.” And my hat off to you, we need more honorable men like you in this world.
But for some of you, and I think you know who you are, the idea of a hot looking, 20 year old mistress on the other side of town sounds pretty damn intriguing. Well, Cowboy.. I’ve got news for you. If you even THINK you’re going to have a mistress here in the Philippines and not get caught well.. eventually, you will be in for a shock. This is not America, Canada, Europe or Australia where people just stay out of each other’s business. Since getting here I am truly amazed at how quickly information gets passed around here via texting and the ‘gossip’ grapevine. Everybody knows everybody on your island. It’s like that 7 levels of Separation of Kevin Bacon.. except it’s more like 4 levels of separation between your mistress and SOMEBODY who knows your wife. It will happen.. someone you don’t even know will rat you out. It could be the girl who works the counter at the hotel you check into.. who happens to know your mistress.. whose cousin is the waitress at the restaurant where you take your wife. I kid you not.. that is how it works here.
I have so many examples of how this happens it’s astounding. I recently ran into a Frenchman at a club and we got to talking. He needed some ideas on building a website for his jewelry business and I do websites. That night I also met his girlfriend, a beautiful Filipina he lives with. Days later the two of them meet me in town and we went to my studio to show him some of my work on my laptop and we talked for a few hours. By the next day, one of the neighbors mentioned it to my landlord who also knows my (then) girlfriend and I’m being grilled on who this attractive Filipina seen entering my studio is. Somewhere along the grapevine they forgot to mention she was there with her boyfriend. That didn’t help me in the least. (And yes, by the way, my girlfriend and I later broke up. All for the best though, we’re still on good terms.)
Tonight I sent a Friend Request on Facebook to someone who Liked my advertisement for my online store in the Philippines. I had no clue who she was and had never met her before. She accepted the request and replied that she’d already seen me on a specific night I was at that club and was close friends with the bar hostess who also knew who I was. I’ve had waitresses say to me, “Oh.. I saw you with your wife last week, she is very beautiful.” Wife? I’m not married. The woman she saw me with was seen through the cafe’ window where she worked and across the street as I had paused to talk with a mall girl at the end of her shift about her boyfriend whom she’d found out was married. She herself was the mistress and only later found out.. through the grapevine.
Point is.. people will notice you here and it’s almost an Olympic sport for women here to pass “chisme” (gossip) as fast as possible. Not always getting the facts right, but speedy in delivery. So, if you even think the idea of a mistress interests you.. you might as well tell your wife, “Oh.. by the way, got a mistress this afternoon. What’s for dinner?” because she WILL find out. No doubt about it. Another dimension to remember as well is that women here can hire private detectives (dudes with no job willing to make a few pesos following you around with a cell-phone camera all day) for dirt cheap. If she even suspects you are fooling around, some Filipina will get her wise on some guys for hire and your goose is as good as cooked my friend.
ARRIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES.. SINGLE/DIVORCED/WIDOWED
Okay, enough warning for the Married guys. If they screw up, can’t say they weren’t warned. Now, for all you Eligible Bachelors with a plane ticket in your hot little hand.. the world here is your oyster. That’s the fantastic news. Here you are a commodity in high demand. Remember that guy in high school who used to just say, “Hi” to the girls and they were after him? Here, you are that guy. Now, I won’t re-write the different type of Filipinas there are, you can get more on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ girls at my other article on Relationship In The Philippines for Single Men. But in a nutshell.. celebrity has a price.
You already should know now that, even as a single guy, the women will notice you even if you never talk to them. They will know you’re new to the area soon as you show up in the smaller malls. The bigger malls, not so much. But especially in the bigger malls the fact that you are a foreigner don’t be surprised if some lovely Filipina literally walks up behind you, puts her arm in yours and says, “Hi! You should not eat alone.. my name is…”. Think I’m making that up? My very first visit to the Ayala Mall in Cebu I was on the property, not even in the mall yet, no more than 8 minutes and that exact scenario occurred. I kid you not. You go to the bigger malls and just sit on the patio with some iced tea and they will show up as sure as pigeons in the park. These are the predatory girls, working ‘pros’ who target rich foreigners. And in the Philippines.. all foreigners are considered rich simply on the basis they could afford to fly there in the first place.
So, here’s what you gotta decide before the endless waves of opportunity flood upon you when you arrive. What kind of relationship are you looking for? Are you looking for a Wife? If so then my advice is that you get to know some people here, take your time and they will introduce you to good, honorable Filipinas if you seem like a decent man. Network. Know someone who can vouch for this girl that she’s well-grounded in her family and not some party-girl hitting the bars every weekend. There are so many good, loving, chaste, honorable women here with solid values if you just network with families and new friends here first. These are not the type of women who will brazenly walk up to you in public like the ‘pro’ at the mall. Without a proper introduction you might never have known where to find her. Now, you may see her in public and, if you approach her she will be polite. But for more on the whole dating custom here, read that in more detail –HERE- before you make some bad, common mistakes.
So now you’ve met a wonderful Filipina.. probably very beautiful and half your age. No problem, that is totally okay here. Now, find out.. does she have children? How many? Many of these girls have been duped by men, both foreigners and Filipinos, who knocked them up and abandoned them. They trusted the wrong guy and, hey.. it happens. Point is.. are you willing to take on the whole package? Will you love this woman and love her kids as your own? Because that is what she deserves and if that is too much for you, then back out graciously at the beginning and keep on looking for a woman with no kids. These women have been through enough, they don’t need to be jerked around so, don’t be that guy.
Let’s say you find instead a woman who is your every heart’s desire, has no kids as you prefer. Taking her Dad’s position for a moment, “What are your intentions?”. Do you want a long-term, exclusive relationship with the intention of entering marriage down the road? Or are you looking more for the sort of casual dating experience you’re accustomed to back home? Back home it’s considered routine to date ‘liberated’ women who date several guys, or date for a while then move on when they’re bored. Back home you’ve got the ‘friends with benefits’ thing going on.
Well, here.. not so much. Culturally, the most valuable possession a good woman has here is her reputation. Don’t be surprised if the first few dates, or even weeks, of dating her you are constantly bringing along a chaperon. Usually it’s an Aunt, older sister or trusted friend. It’s not because their parents are ‘forcing’ it upon her. It’s because one of her greatest concerns is that the community she lives in does not perceive her as some woman who goes out alone with different men. Remember, everybody sees everything around here. The model for my store, a lovely and kind-hearted young lady, always brings along someone to vouch that no ‘funny business’ occurs in her meetings with me. Only twice have we met for business alone and that was in a public mall to share a meal as we talked. At her first photo shoot her Mother sat in the room, directly behind me as I took photos.. monitoring the whole thing And this despite the fact that my model is 20 years old. And she’s just my friend, so you can imagine when courting a young lady and the whole neighborhood knows about it how much more pressure is on a Filipina here.
SINGLE AND LOVING IT..
But.. let’s just say you aren’t in any hurry to give up your bachelor card and not interested in an exclusive relationship. You just want to make the most of as many interactions with as many Filipinas as your imagination, wallet and energy can handle. You want to feel the warmth of the Philippines, so to speak. Fine. If that’s what you want then stay focused and dodge those relationships with girls who are looking for a husband and you’ll be fine. There are tons of Filipina dating sites online and through those alone you can find plenty of young ladies who just want to be taken to nice places with no commitment. Between those and hitting up any local dance-club or karaoke bar you will find plenty of ‘ladies’ who are likewise just out for a good time. Again, sift past the ones looking for a husband or you’ll cause nothing but chaos. Stick with the ones that aren’t looking for love any more than you are and you are good to go. Just don’t go expecting to find a loving, pure Filipina by this method. What you’ll meet are “players” who are in it for the short-term, just like you. They will often hit you up later for money, sad sob stories, etc. If you’re gonna play ‘The Game’, you better be good at it because these bar-girls really know how to turn on the charm (and tears) to get what they want. Sample away and, “play safe”.. know what I’m saying?
Here, due to the whole Catholic influence, women are not encouraged much in the importance of asking their partner to wear a condom. All the more reason why you should wear one. They operate on the whole ‘trust’ method, which is why there are so many Filipinas with babies at a young age and no husband around. In addition, here’s something else to consider. Just like back home, that one-night-stand could end up with you hearing that phrase one day, “I’m pregnant.” Right now I know a fellow American who met a Filipina who was just out for a good time, same as himself and they decided to play house for six months. She’s eight months pregnant now and the shallow ‘good time girl’ novelty wore off a long time ago. Now he’s facing a kid with a girl he really doesn’t like all that much and, unless he becomes a total schmuck, goodbye to his bachelor card.
THE MARRIED-BUT-SEPARATED WOMAN
There is only thing better than learning from your own mistakes.. and it’s to learn from someone else’s mistake. Here is where I share with you my own experience and warn you, “Don’t do as I have done.” I tell you this to save yourself a lot of pain and misery so, listen up.
In most any other first-world country, if you happen to fall in love with a woman who is either Separated or in the process of divorce, it’s no big deal if the two of you start a relationship together. The worst that might happen is you have some harsh words with her ex, that’s about it. But not here in the Philippines. Here, it is against the law.. the LAW and you can open yourself up for deportation (if the paper-husband pushes for it just out of spite) and your Separated but Still Legally Married girlfriend can spend anywhere from 2 to 6 years in prison. Yes, they are that serious about this. This is a Catholic influenced country and they don’t take to Adultery as lightly as other countries do. It’s not just a sin around here.. it’s flat-out illegal. And to top it off, there is no divorce process here. She can only get a divorce if she married a foreigner and the foreigner divorces her in his home country. Without that, even if he abandons her to live separately, he alone can file charges against her if he finds out she is having a sexual relationship with you.
This is nothing to toy with. I know. You can’t sneak around thinking you won’t get caught. People talk and people text. And the paper-Husband is not your only problem either. Because the two of you can’t be seen in public together without risking getting followed by some cheap ‘private eye’.. you will be lucky if you even get to see your Filipina Love more than 4 days a month.. and maybe for just a few hours in some clandestine manner. I used to pass her a movie ticket in a crowded mall like we were handing off spy-papers. Then we would text which movie theater to meet in, sitting next to each other in the dark and leaving at different times when the film was over. We pushed our luck here in the Philippines for three months but we knew all along our luck would soon run out.
Meanwhile, guess what happens the other 27 days of the month that you CAN’T spend time together?
Well, if there’s a Filipina out here that is NOT the jealous type.. National Geographic needs to come out and tag her as an endangered species or something. Filipina women are culturally very faithful, devoted and very protective of their Man. Those other 27 days you are talking on the phone with her, about five times a day so she knows what you’re doing, you will be asked ever so nicely (but persistently) for every detail regarding any woman you have even passing contact with.
Did you talk to any women today?
What’s her name?
Do you like her?
Is she pretty?
When was the last time you saw her?
Did you sleep with her?
Are you sure?
How do I know?
Your Filipina’s mind will be going nuts if she can’t be with you those other 27 days of the month you can’t be seen together. She’s not a bad person for it. Put yourself in her shoes.. let’s say you are the married man with a mistress you only see four days a month. The mistress you love calls and says she had lunch with some guy. Admit it, you wouldn’t like it one bit. Especially if she’s saying she misses you and gets so lonely without you she just needs someone to talk to.. some companionship. That would drive you even more nuts that some guy is moving in on your territory. Well, that’s the situation you’d be setting yourself up with if you get involved with a Married Filipina. If she’s married to a Filipino that is roughly her age.. they will remain married in the eyes of the Court until he dies. And that could be a while. Leaving her unavailable to you. If her husband is some really old foreigner.. all you can do is hope he has a weak heart and really loves having bacon every morning until he finally slips into the Big Sleep. Until then, co-habitation or not.. she’s off-limits.
So, don’t make the same mistake I did. I love(d) my girlfriend but not being able to go to the next level in our relationship without her risking prison was killing both of us. We just had to go our own separate ways to stop the inevitable pain we were causing each other. If you meet someone, do yourself a favor and be sure to know from the get-go if she’s legally Single. ‘Separated’ doesn’t mean anything out here in the islands. I knew from the start but I didn’t think it would be that big a deal since I was living in the States and she was here in the Philippines. For too many reasons she couldn’t and didn’t want to live in the U.S., not even for me. So I made the move only to learn my lesson the hard way. Again, don’t let this happen to you.
THE ‘EXOTIC BEAUTY’ SCENARIO..
So, as you plan to make the move here to the Philippines.. ask yourself, “What do you really want?”. Really. Deep down in your soul, what kind of life do you want here? It’s all here to lay hold of, just depends where your focus is. Without a plan I’ll tell you what the most likely default scenario is. My (now ex)-girlfriend and I used to call it the ‘Exotic Beauty’ scenario.
Here’s how it goes down: Day One – Foreigner gets off the plane. Two weeks later, has his heart melted by the first 20 year old Filipina who fawns all over him. The following week, he’s meeting her parents and extended family. Lots of food and genuine warmth going around. He’s blown away. Three Months Later: He’s married. One year from when he first arrived, having their first child together. Overwhelmed by the first Exotic Beauty he laid his eyes on.
Now, it’s not necessarily a bad scenario. He gets a loving wife. She gets a husband who provides security.. and love. Her family has someone to borrow money from. (by ‘borrow’ I really mean ‘get money from’) And everybody happy ever after. It’s not a bad route to go. IF being married with a child one year after arriving is what you had in mind. If that’s what you want.. it is very do-able here.
Which is why I say.. dig through your inner being and come to a solid grasp of what you truly want. That way you don’t lose focus like a kid arriving in a candy store. By knowing what sort of life you want here you won’t find yourself railroaded by circumstance or hurting others with your indecisiveness. Take the time to “know thyself” and when you get off the plane here you will be the ‘Man With A Plan’ and can make the absolute most of your new life here.
Henry “Reekay” V.
Author: Reekay V.
Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.
Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.