All you have to do to drive up traffic and controversy on your blog, You Tube vlog, forum, or in expat conversations is state that “Filipinas are scammers” or “they all will take advantage of you.” Others will nod their heads in agreement or sagely advise to “let’s be careful out there.”
Let me state my argument up front. In 90% of the cases it’s a “you problem.”
Now I am not trying to suggest that there are not “bad” women in the Philippines looking for cash, just as there are any place in the world.
But going back to my refrain that you’re gonna read often, so get used to it; generally it’s a “you problem.”
After all, you have all the advantages. You’re typically older (in my case much, much older) with the alleged wisdom that comes with age. You have a 1st worlder’s sophistication and a 1st worlder’s education. And even if you’re poor as a church mouse, by Philippines standards you’re rich – at least a little bit rich 🙂
And the Filipina friend you’ve been cultivating online? Young and inexperienced, unsophisticated, without that 1st world education. And let’s not forget she has no money, nor have her parents. So you have all the advantages, right? Well expect for the fact that she’s cute (or in the case of Janet more than just cute), sweet, treats you great, has a traditional sensibility. And oh, did I mention she’s pretty damn cute?
Barely a day goes by in which I don’t hear a tale of woe about some guy who sent money to a girl online, built her a house, paid the medical expenses for her parents or uncle, etc. Then he found out that she – wait for it – wanted his money.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. This is the easiest problem in the dating world to navigate; don’t send any money to someone you have not met in person and are not in a serious relationship with. And if you choose not to heed that advise – it’s a “you problem.” And BTW, even after you have met and are in a relationship, stick to the common refrain “less is more.”
This is the easiest problem in the dating world to navigate; don’t send any money to someone you have not met in person and are not in a serious relationship with.
That being said, you could consider a “test” with a small amount of money. I did it with one of the women I was chatting with back in the day. She chatted online from an internet cafe, a pretty common occurrence in the Philippines. But she wasn’t online much; money was the obstacle. I finally proposed that I send her the princely sum of $20 on the condition that she use it solely for our chatting; you can chat a long time for 20 bucks in the Philippines. You can guess the outcome. A couple weeks later she finally got online and admitted she spent the money, probably on something foolish like food. For a tiny investment I had my answer and found a much better chat mate in Janet.
When it comes to cash issues, the same is true after you get married. If you choose to shower your new wife with expensive gifts, send her siblings to the most costly university in Manila, buy her parents a yacht (ok, more likely an old pump boat), then you don’t get to complain afterwards that “she was just using me.” Once again – it’s a “you problem.”
Then there’s the refrain you often hear that all foreign women just want a green card. Right – cause every Filipina wants to live in a crazy place where we all just spent the last year arguing over Trump vs. Clinton 🙂
I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen but I know 100+ Fil-Am couples living in my city and none of the women dumped their husbands the moment they got the green card. And believe me, with the exception of yours truly, none of these guys is exactly George Clooney.
And believe me, with the exception of yours truly, none of these guys is exactly George Clooney.
OK, I do know one couple that divorced and the green card was an issue. The guy is bright and successful but complained about the wife from the moment they married. Eventually he proposed they divorce but that he would allow her to get her 10 year green card first. Scammer that she was, she actually wanted to save the marriage; he didn’t. Well at least she got the green card.
Anyone who is an avid reader of this blog knows that I have made a mistake or two in my Philippines journey. I just thought it ridiculous to blame an entire country of women for the mistakes that I made. Well, that and the fact I still had lots of fun making those mistakes.
Now most of us are adults here. By that I mean that what you do is your choice. If you want to send money to a girl you haven’t met, or shower her family with cash and prizes or any of a huge number of foolish things guys do when they’re around women; well, it’s your money and your decision. You have the right to do whatever you want. Just don’t complain afterwards about how “they” are all scammers.
So guys – be careful in dating, whether you begin online or in country. Get to know each other as best as you can. Visit her as often as you can. Take your time. But in the end, you’re the one with the age, sophistication, education and resources. If things don’t go the way you hoped – say it with me – it’s a “you problem.”
There are a couple of well known Philippines vloggers who have recently had heart issues and of course vlogged about it, because that’s what you do nowadays when you are having tests and open heart surgery. I wish them well, but their experiences have been thought-provoking and scary.
In addition, I am Facebook friends with many of my classmates from high school. Since we graduated 46 years ago, this means that they are all old. You notice I didn’t say I am old; I am married to Janet so how can I be old. But the rest of my classmates are 🙂
Not to be too unkind but they often post about their ailments, their partners’ ailments, their dogs’ ailments, etc. Some are minor and some are quite major. Again, I don’t want to be indelicate, but I wish they would all get better quickly – if only so that I don’t have to be reminded of what lies ahead.
So as we get older, how do we deal with this? For years I could avoid dealing with any of the aging process by saying “I am perfect, no issues, not a broken bone, not a stitch.” I was the guy who went to the doctor’s office and the nurse took my blood pressure and said, “Wow, I wish I had your BP.” A few years ago they stopped saying that. Not that my BP is high, just that the doctor says I should cut down on my salt. “So what would you suggest?” I asked. “Telling them not to put salt on my fries at McD’s?” Ok, it’s a start.
Last month I bought a blood pressure monitor because I figure they might not have those free monitors in super markets in the Philippines. My 20 year old son asked what it was. “The gizmo that’ll tell me what week I’m gonna die.” And of course like most people with BP monitors I have begun to obsess over it and try to figure why yesterday I was 5 points lower than today; knowing that at this rate of increase I have maybe a month to live.
I have a couple other minor physical annoyances. I’m a woodworker and my fingers and thumbs are always stiff and sore. Everything else is sore too but the fingers are sort of important to me. I even bought a pair of cut-resistant gloves because when I was younger and cut myself, the bleeding would stop. Now it stops only after all the blood has completely run out.
But really I’ve been lucky. No major health crisis and nothing’s fallen off. According to our Optometrist I am 20-20 with better vision than Janet. Of course I have to wear reading glasses most of the day because my arms have shrunk.
I have an acupuncturist and every time I go to him he says I am in great shape with no major issues compared to his other patients, who apparently have stuff falling off. So I keep going to him because just like with the BP, I like hearing that I’m OK – until I’m not.
But all this health and aging stuff is an issue for those of us moving abroad. After all I live in a country with the best medical system in the world 🙂 OK, that was said sarcastically, since we all know the U.S. medical system is far from the best; it’s only the most expensive.
So how do I deal with the possibility of getting sick in the Philippines? The same as here – I’ve decided not to get sick. I mean there is no easy or pleasant way around it, is there? Wherever you are, whatever the medical system is like, no matter what the costs or the insurance coverage – no one wants to get sick. And yet someday most of us will. Personally I prefer dying in bed with Janet or getting hit by a jeepney, but what if I don’t?
From a strictly nuts and bolts standpoint there are a few things you should do in the Philippines. Phil Health, the Philippines health care insurance system is a deal that beats all deals in life. It’s about 2400 pesos a year, which is about $50/year. Yeah you heard that right, 50 bucks! And even if you are an expat not married to a Filipina, you are eligible. Now the coverage is modest. It covers hospitalization and depending on the hospital and what’s being done, Phil Health will typically pay between 15 – 40% of your bill. But did I mention it’s $50 a year!
Thanks to President Duterte there is a now a national 911 system in the Philippines. It’s an amazing achievement. However in most of the Philippines calling 911 because you are having a medical crisis has limited benefit because in most places there are no ambulances. So, make sure you or your wife or your trike driver knows how to get to the hospital.
Choose your hospital wisely: Last year we were in Cebu City and I cut myself (I hadn’t brought my cut resistant gloves) and we thought I would need stitches. We grabbed a taxi and Janet told the driver to take us to the emergency room closest to Ayala Mall. Janet is a smart multi-tasker.
Find a good doctor: This seems obvious to me but I know guys who live in the Philippines who have not signed up for Phil Health and don’t have a doctor. So we will do our research and try to find a doctor we can mesh with. This is not so easy even in the US, with our best medical system in the world 🙂 I have at times struggled to find a doctor here I like, even with nothing wrong with me. A few years ago I was advised by my then doctor to have a minor surgical procedure and referred to a surgeon. I went to the consultation and while the surgeon made it clear he’d be happy to cut me open, he indicated I didn’t really have to do it. So I didn’t. My primary care provider was pissed at me; perhaps he gets a kick back. I found another doctor.
So in the Philippines I will find a doctor I can work with, a dentist, and an acupuncturist to tell me I’m in great shape. I will tend to give them the benefit of the doubt because – they are dirt cheap. Oh, did I not mention that before? When I went to the ER last year for the stitches that I actually didn’t need, the doctor and nurse dressed my wound, and gave me a tetinis shot. ER cost? $9.
One of the vloggers I referenced at the beginning of this piece ended up needing quadruple bypass surgery. He used Phil Health Z, a special program for particularly major health issues. He posted that his quadruple bypass cost the equivalent of $5100. For that amount it’s almost worth having the blockages.
And BTW, in the US with our greatest medical system in the world 🙂 , you’re not going to see doctors jump for joy like in the Philippines (see picture above). So the Philippines has a big advantage in the jumping up and down for joy medical category.
I was talking to a friend recently who happens to be a health professional in this, the greatest medical system in the world 🙂 We agreed completely; quality vs. quantity is where it’s at. His other advise? That we should all tattoo “No CPR” on our chests.
So here for me, as I age and prepare to retire and move is the issue: do I want to park my keester near a hospital in the country with the greatest medical system in the world 🙂 or do I want to live out my life with joy and happiness, even if it’s farther from a hospital and there are no $600 ambulance rides to be had?
Now if only I can convince Filipino restaurants to cook with less salt I can have both quality and quantity.
I’ve debated about writing about this subject for the last week or so, but knew I would ultimately do it, because I found the following discussion with Janet odd and it cracked me up. That being said, as always, if you are offended, I apologize.
I don’t remember how the discussion began or how it morphed into the topic of ladyboys and sex, but Janet told me that “gays (or ladyboys) in the Philippines have to pay for sex with men.”
Now for the uninitiated, ladyboy is a term for men who like to dress and make themselves up to look like women. In the West we certainly have many men who dress this way, and while there is still a stigma surrounding them, I suspect the stigma is fading, albeit slowly. However, in the Philippines and much of Asia, there is far more acceptance, far less stigma, and frankly far more ladyboys. While I have no idea of what the numbers or percentages are there is no doubt it’s quite a significant percentage. Even in small town, provincial Philippines there are many ladyboys.
Some Westerners come to Asia and are shocked, others amused, a few attracted, and still others (like me) are curious. For example, I have written before about how it seems that all the firedancers in the Philippines seem to be ladyboys, and wondered why. I’ve still gotten no real answer to that question.
After Janet made her pronouncement that “ladyboys pay for sex with men” – well I disagreed with her, sure that this was an area where perhaps she was not well versed or worldly.
“There are many gay men and ladyboys in the Philippines,” I responded. “Surely there are more than enough that they don’t have to pay for sex.”
“Yes they do,” she assured me.
“But why would a ladyboy need to pay for sex with another ladyboy?”
“No. A ladyboy needs to pay for sex with a man,” she replied.
I scratched my head, thought about it and finally understood. “You mean that a ladyboy has to pay for sex with a straight man,” I said.
“Oh, no. He’s probably gay too,” she said. “But he’s a man.”
Now I was completely baffled.
“So if the other man is gay why would the ladyboy have to pay for sex?”
Janet looked at me, perplexed. “Because he’s a man.”
“You mean he’s male and he’s gay but he’s not a ladyboy?”
“Then why,” I asked, “doesn’t the ladyboy just have sex with another ladyboy?”
Janet shook her head at her idiot of a husband. “Because the ladyboy’s female and the female always wants to have sex with a male, not another female.”
“And the man has more power in the relationship than the woman and so he gets paid.”
“Correct,” she replied, seeing that I finally understood.
“Then why don’t you pay me for sex?” I asked giggling. Janet was not amused.
As you perhaps know we are downsizing in anticipation of our move. While most of our furniture is far from expensive, one area that I spent money on in the past is audio-video equipment.
Years ago I bought my main speakers, and eventually got a center speaker and surrounds from the same company. I considered the main pair of speakers in particular to be valuable and was determined to get my price for them. But because they were a bit high end and from a small company that’s not named Bose, I thought it might take a while to find the right person willing to buy them.
So Janet encouraged me to list them on Craigslist now, in case it took some months to sell. Over the years when it comes to money matters I more and more listen to Janet; her judgment is usually sound. So I listed the speakers and in the listing said the price was “firm.” As usual on Craigslist, I had a few “tire kickers” or people who wanted to buy them if I would drop the price. Finally I got an email from a man in Seattle (a 3 hour drive) who told me from the get go that he was “60 years old. Korean,” and wanted the speakers and could he come Saturday and get them.
I thought it was curious that he defined his age and nationality. Perhaps he was assuring me he was an old and non-threatening geezer, like me. I agreed. I assumed that he was a fan of the small speaker manufacturer and therefore was willing to drive 6 hours round trip to buy them. This is not a pair of speakers you are likely to see listed very often on Craigslist.
Saturday morning arrived and I texted him to confirm that he was actually coming, since I figured it was 50-50 that he would cancel or was flat out a bull shit artist. I got a one word text back, “Yes.” I replied whether he was coming at the time we agreed to. Again just, “Yes.”
So, I dropped off Janet to meet friends for lunch and rushed back home to meet the guy who had driven 3 hours just to look at and presumably buy my speakers. I turned on my system and chose a jazz album that I thought did justice to the quality of the speakers.
My new Korean friend arrived and came in. I pointed to the speakers and the jazz they were playing. I had encouraged him to bring his own fave CD or DVD to demo but he had nothing in hand. I asked him whether he had a fave type of music he would like me to play. He shrugged. I went to change the style of music. He didn’t seem to care. I began talking about the speakers. He didn’t seem much interested in them. He barely looked that them. I remember when I purchased them, I examined every square inch and demoed them for at least a half hour before convincing myself that they were the best sounding speakers that I would likely every own.
It became increasingly obvious that my potential Korean customer spoke little English. “Have you heard Gallos before,” I asked. He shrugged and shook his head no.
“Have Altecs in my van,” he said. That’s nice, I thought.
No discussion about high end audio as I anticipated, no extended demoing, no examining every inch of the merchandise as I would have done. Just a comment as he lifted one of the speakers. “Heavy.”
“Yeah, they’re kinda heavy,” I agreed.
Finally, there was nothing more to say and I asked him did he want them? He nodded and left to go back to his van where he had the money. He may not have spoken any English, but he knew how not to get ripped off.
He came back into the house, laid the money out on the table and we were done. We carried the speakers to his van, which was already filled with speakers, including the aforementioned huge Altecs. Either this guy was some kind of dealer or his wife loved karaoke.
This is from our YouTube Channel. Please subscribe!
Note: We’ve got a shiny new (ok, not so new) YouTube Channel, called, Married a Filipina. Please check it out and subscribe as I post more videos! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_1lUo3tR9-JQK3gXLRkYag
I spent part of this morning reading some of my old blog postings. I know, I know – spending time reading my old scribblings proves I have a thrilling life! My readings included a piece called, Meet the Parents. Feel free to go back and read it; it’s a good ‘un.
I described the first time I met Janet’s family and her fear of my reaction to the home she grew up in, her “old” parents (who were younger than me). She also warned me about the lack of indoor plumbing in their home, and here I’ll quote what I wrote a couple years ago about the experience. “Of course there was no indoor plumbing and I was told by Janet to avoid using the outhouse. Thanks goodness that at my advanced age bladder retention is still – well, retained.”
I found, as I described in that previous blog, that her modest home was perfectly nice and her parents were not old looking or acting, or at least not as geriatric as the guy she was going to marry 🙂
But I avoided the “outhouse” and continued to avoid it for years and the many times I visited the family home. And Janet continued to mention over the years that I should avoid the bathroom. This led to a curious, though effective scheduling scenario every time we went to their home based on the fact that I was confident that bladder retention could be retained for perhaps half a day. So, if a late afternoon dinner was planned, we might arrive in the early afternoon and leave in the early evening, just in time for me to get back to our hotel, the famous BBB (Bodos Bamboo Bar) so that I could do my best imitation of Tom Hanks in the Green Mile.
I suppose that if asked I would admit that I was afraid of what I might find or what I might smell in that large concrete structure. Honestly, images of the kid hiding in the outhouse in Schindler’s List came to mind. And no, I will not post a video of that scene; no need to thank me. That image kept me far away from the bathroom. It also kept me from drinking too many San Miguels at Janet’s ancestral home, which disappointed the men in the family, who might have wanted to see the kano get hammered.
But over the years I had my doubts. After all, I was now married to Janet and knew her to be a very meticulous, cleanly person. I had been around her sisters enough to know that they were the same way. So how, I wondered, could they stand it? Poverty forces difficult sacrifices, I told myself as I forced the Schindler’s List image out of my mind for the hundredth time.
This past April, we spent a week in Alcoy. The last day lunch was scheduled at the ancestral home with the required lechon. I had always expressed a desire to see how they did it and Janet asked if I wanted to go early and see what the lechon guy did. So, we arrived around 10:30 and watched the lechon guy perform his magic. You can see a video of that and some other Alcoy fun here. By 12:00 the happy barangay was being fed.
After lunch, I proceeded to consume 3 glasses of Red Horse with my father in law and Lolo; a bit more than would normally be prudent, but it was my last day in Alcoy. Games happened, talk happened. 4:00 arrived and Janet and I actually took a mini nap. Upon awakening at 4:30 I knew I was in trouble and woke up Janet quickly and said “we have to go.” Janet awoke and slowly complied but of course, since this was our last day in Alcoy we had to say our goodbyes – to everyone. I felt embarrassed by how quickly I was saying goodbye to the family.
Now you might be wondering, this being the Philippines, and deep in the provinces, why I didn’t just head off and find a place to do my business. I mean that’s certainly culturally appropriate in the Philippines.
The reason is that my mother in law and everyone else in the family keeps an eye on me like a hawk. Just the day before I was going to go back to the BBB and Janet was going to stay for dinner. I got up to leave. My MIL insisted that I have the kids accompany me to the main road where I would get a trike. I assured her that I knew the way and had been successfully walking on my own since my 30s. No dice. Ten kids accompanied me.
So I knew I could not just sneak off to find a place to pee. I rushed Janet, we quickly said our goodbyes, hit the trail toward the main road, accompanied by the kids, and grabbed a trike. A little bit after 5:00 I was back at the BBB again pulling my Tom Hanks impression. OK, “pulling” is a bit inappropriate 🙂
But Janet was upset. “Why did you have to rush us,” she demanded to know.
“Because I had to pee – badly!” I said.
“So why didn’t you just use the bathroom?”
“What!” I yelled. “Because you’ve told me for years that I should never never use it – that it was awful.”
“It’s perfectly fine,” she shot back, surprised.
“It doesn’t stink?”
“It’s not like, you know – Schindler’s List?” I asked.
So, first I insisted that Janet acknowledge that she in fact had repeatedly told me over the years that I should never use it. She finally laughed and admitted she had said that. I then screwed up my courage and asked her to describe the environment.
Turns out my image of splintery planks with crude holes in them was not quite accurate. In fact there were standard toilets and no smell. The only adjustment you’d have to make is that, as in many places in the Philippines, including a couple of hotel rooms we’ve stayed in, a bucket of water and a ladle sits next to the toilet and that’s what’s used to get it to flush.
There was no sense in busting Janet too much for her deception. I understood that just as she had described her home as poor and terrible and her parents as old and poor, this was her way to protect me from the reality of her upbringing.
Next time I go to Alcoy I’m going to overdo the San Miguel and do my best Tom Hanks impression right there. Just don’t expect a video 🙂