Acting Rich

The Myth of the Middle-Class Filipina

Like in most of my wiseassed blog entries, the title here was meant to suck you in with a bit of hyperbole. Of course there is a middle-class in the Philippines, albeit a modest sized one. What I am referring to today is the fact that many Western men go to the Philippines looking for that elusive middle to upper-class Filipina woman and why.

Apparently for many, it isn’t enough that the woman they seek is attractive, youngish, feminine, intelligent and educated, let alone that such a woman would actually consider someone like them (and me) as a partner. No, these guys also are delusionally determined to find someone who is not a poor Filipina, who is part of the Philippines middle-class, or worse still, the upper crust, the Pinay version of a 1 percenter.

This made me consider a couple things: what constitutes middle-class and why would such a distinction be important to some guys?

I’m not a sociologist but it strikes me that in daily practical life there are three types of middle-class: economic, occupational, and social.

Economic’s obvious. In the U.S., does a guy make enough cash to afford a decent place to live, make his car payment, put food on the table, and pay for his booze, dope and gambling debts? If so, then he’s middle-class.

In the U.S., does a guy make enough cash to afford a decent place to live, make his car payment, put food on the table, and pay for his booze, dope and gambling debts? If so, then he’s middle-class.

Occupational’s a bit fuzzier. A guy doesn’t have to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer to be middle-class occupationally, though it helps. He can be a blue collar guy and make good money, yet might be considered just a bit less middle-class than the MD. For that matter, is an unemployed doctor with no income still middle-class? A “sort of” relative of mine lost his medical license for a couple years (ask me about that story sometime); he still told everyone he was a doc, but was he?

Socially middle-class is the murkiest of all. I grew up in a suburban environment. My father was a business executive and we might have been considered middle to upper-middle class. But by 21 I was on my own and spent my 20s in a series of low paying, low class jobs, with a lifestyle that matched. Was I still upper middle-class because my family was? Or was I a hippie bum barely scratching by?

Murkier still is how these categories translate to a developing nation like the Philippines. In the Philippines if a middle-aged man with a decent job makes the equivalent of $1000/month, he’s middle-class. He can afford a simple house, puts food on the table, maybe owns an older car or motorcycle. But is that middle class by American standards? Nope. Here, someone can be on the dole and do all those things.

Just as in the U.S., occupational middle-class in the Philippines is fuzzier. Nursing or teaching would be considered a good, professional job in the Philippines. But since the typical nurse makes maybe $400/month (assuming she can find a gig), while she might have prestige she doesn’t have enough cash to be middle-class, at least economically. Even doctors in the Philippines barely make enough to constitute middle-class in the U.S.

And then there’s the elusive social class. A very small percentage of Filipinos belong to the upper crust social class of a few, monied families. These aren’t people even a rich kano’s likely to interact with in daily life. They are rich and powerful, rarely ride in jeepneys and can buy all the lechon they want.

Janet grew up in a poor, provincial family; no ifs, ands or buts about that. Yet now she lives in the U.S. and since everyone in the Philippines believes Americans are all rich kanos, does this make her middle-class or even upper-class? She doesn’t think it does. She still considers herself to be a poor, simple girl. But is she? She lives in a nice house, rides in a nice car (or at least a car with a nice monthly payment), and eats well. For God’s sake, she shops at Target; how much more middle-class can you be?

And I think this is a key issue. People in the U.S. believe that class distinctions are fluid; you can be born poor, work hard and end up rich; or the other way around if you’re Bernie Madoff. But in the Philippines and most of the developing world, going up or down is pretty rare. Class-wise a person usually remains the way they were born.

Throughout my impoverished 20s, if you’d asked me, I would have told you I was middle class or above, despite the contradiction of my surroundings. After all, if I was ever hard up enough I could have always hit my father up for money.

One other interesting factoid in the U.S. Almost every American considers himself to be middle-class. A guy makes $25k/year and he thinks so; another makes $400k/year and he too thinks so. No one wants to admit that he’s lower or upper class. It’s un-American.

But in the Philippines millions of people acknowledge matter-of-factly that they are poor. Unfortunately, the 1 percenters also readily acknowledge that they are rich. In some weird way they believe that makes them, not only economically superior but morally superior.

So now we get back to our tourist or expat in the Philippines. He may be young, living in mommy’s basement or old living on a small pension – but since all Americans are middle-class he thinks he is too and damn it, he deserves a middle-class woman. He’s drunk the koolaid and believes that more money makes a better woman.

And here’s where I really get annoyed. After all, he thinks, poor people are all crooks and scammers; it’s in their nature. Surely, he reasons, a woman from a richer family or with enough money to afford some extras (like the ability to go Dutch on a date) is morally superior to those poor people in the provinces.

It’s true in the U.S. also, right? Crime is strictly committed by poor people. OK, there are a few exceptions; the aforementioned Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street guys who brought the entire Western world into ruin in 2008, the crooked politicians (an oxymoron), phone scammers, email scammers, texting scammers. There’s also door to door con artists who call themselves salesman. And don’t get me started on those douche bags at the cable or cell phone companies. But despite these “exceptions” most crime is committed by the poor who are just born that way, right? Hmmm…wrong!

Some men travel to the Philippines and want to be more than they are. We men are competitive; it’s in our nature. Since finding a Filipina who’s pretty, sweet, sexy, loving and will take good care of you isn’t that difficult, some men need to find a challenge. They think it proves something about their own skills, manhood, and just plain animal sex appeal that they met and conquered a Filipina woman who’s not poor.

Janet comes from a poor family. Her family’s hard working and ethical, as is she. She put herself through college, working for five years, alone, far from her family, to get it done. Let those other expats brag about the middle-class women they met. I’ll brag about Janet!

Addendum: As always, my primary intention is to be a bit of a jerk and somewhat humorous. Whatever class your wife or gf is, I am sure she is a lovely ethical woman and you, stud that you are, completely deserved getting her. Me – I’m just very, very lucky.

16 thoughts on “The Myth of the Middle-Class Filipina”

  1. You nailed it baby. My nose is bleeding again !
    Anyway , thank you for being proud of your wife as I do . I am proud of my Family as well.

    And yes, we are not one of some other Filipinas/Filipinos who claimed that they are rich because we are not.

    We are not living in a mud , begging for food nor ‘me’ marrying Dave to have a better life , therefore we are happy & satisfied.

    Some people brag and say ‘ I am rich Pinay’ or ‘ middle class pinay’ but if you ask her/him, really? Well ,,, my Family have this & my Family have that. So, she/he thinks that it’s hers/his coz they are Family & though not his/her own hardwork.

    Ah ah ..Well,nothing wrong . The hell I care ? I have lots of richness too .

    In Philippines you’ll be judge first based on the looks of your house & yes ,here in US maybe, but by the end of the month they’re broke .How about that?

    I have my dreams & everybody does.
    I’ll just play with it & if I can’t ? I’ll dance & it’s worth it !
    Nothing richer than living a happy life with the people who truly love & care .

    Life is precious . Embrace it !!

  2. When comparing incomes, please do not use dollars to describe the Philippine economy. The country runs on pesos.

    A manager making $44000 pesos a month is not the same as an American making $1000. It would be more like an American making $4,400 a month.

    Most things are way cheaper in the Philippines. Often 3-4 times cheaper. If you live like a local.

    Roughly, you can figure out the purchasing power of the peso ( inside the Philippines) by lopping off one zero. 100 pesos is like 10 dollars (inside the PH economy).

    Likewise, a nurse making $400 a month does not earn dollars. She earns pesos, Again x 4.

    It’s, basically, like making $1760 a month in the US.

    Also remember that taxes are not 22- 26% in the Philippines.
    More like 15%. They’ll keep more money.

    1. You are absolutely correct that financially it’s comparing apples and oranges which was my primary point. Of course a man making the equivalent of $1000 or a nurse $400 could hardly live in the U.S. The man as I stated would be living at a middle class level in the Philippines, but what constitutes middle class is totally different – again my point. At $400 the nurse can survive in the Philippines but certain not in a middle class lifestyle.

      As to why I used USD equivalents, that seems obvious – most readers don’t know from pesos.

      Where I would disagree with you is in your x4 ratio pesos vs. USD living. While the Philippines is cheaper to live in, I don’t think too many expats feel they are living comparably for 1/4 of the money in the Philippines vs. the US.

      But even if that x4 ratio were true, not too many American nurses would be happy earning 1760/month. For that matter $1760 in the U.S. barely gets you over the poverty line – not middle class.

      But the numbers are not really my point, which was what constitutes our notions of middle class and why it’s important to some men.

  3. Middle class and rich people everywhere are more likely to act spoiled and start judging others, just like the American men mentioned here. I have observed similar things for middle class or rich Filipinas. I find modesty and kindness very appealing. in working class women there and here.

  4. Man, the last thing I want is a high maintenance Filipina! They can keep their middle class women ha ha. I will stick with my province girl any day 🙂

    1. I suppose there are high maintenance women in all classes and I agree that’s not what I wanted in a partner. I too am happy with my provincial wife.

  5. A middle-upper class Pinay will not be interested in an older foreigner anyway – unless he is very wealthy. She moves in her own professional circles and will choose a Pinoy of the same social status. While provincial Pinay might marry a Kano for ‘love’…they are also extremely practical women. An older Kano offers a better quality of life than her other options might offer, as it is highly unlikely she will find a middle-upper class Pinoy who will accept her.

  6. Addendum to my preceding comment. My ex Pinay live-in GF always said that she loved me so much, I was the love of her life, there would never be another and so on. One night in a moment when I was desirous of a little ego-stroking, I asked her why she was with me when she could be with a young, handsome Pinoy. I was expecting some sweet words…what she said was: Why would I be with a Pinoy who could only put dried fish and rice on my plate. …there it was…the cold cruel truth. Anyone who thinks their Pinay is with them for other reasons is delusional.

  7. Hello. This blog made me think of something and could be the reason why my american guy (i don’t know now what was our status 🙁 because he just started not to message me) left me with no reason.. 🙁

    While we were together here in the philippines he used to read this blog site and he told me that he’s learning alot of things about filipina and the philippine culture because if this site. Now, this is the story, i can say that im from a middle class family, finished my degree in one of the best university, have a high paying job and i can afford to travel around the philippines and also to other country. Im staying in a very comfortable condo and i can say that i dont need someone to support me. Well, i was so honest to my american guy about it, that everytime he asked me if i need monet for taxi or etc i always say, “no i have enough money”. He knows about my work, my family background and my status, and honestly people says that im very matured and independent at my age coz im just 23yrs old but im living on my own now. So, since i have my own money, i never asked anything from him even though he is offering. Well it is because im not used to be dependent to anyone. But i keep on asking him before if it’s bad that im too matured and independent at my age and if he wants me to change, but he said no, he loves me the way i am. Most people i’ve met told me, im not a filipina because of my attitude and views in life, that i am more like a western girl, maybe..

    What happened was, it wasn’t just the 2 of us, but he was with his friend and i introduced my girl friend to his friend. But this is the thing, my friend is very different from me, she is a real filipina, the attitude and a poor filipina (sorry to say that), i am very matured but my friend is so childish though she is a year older than me, she is a girl who needs the support of his bf, so my friend and his friend got along and they became very intimate. They liked each other.

    My american guy’s friend obviously doesnt like me because he told my friend that im too independent and matured so im more likely an american chick and He doesnt like that. But i never minded it. What matters to me is my american guy and we loved each other, right?? I can say that i still have the filipina heart who knows how to love and willing to change and sacrifice for my love. Oh by the way he is only 27yrs old.. A successful young american.

    So to make it shorter, my american guy went to bacolod for 3days for business and we agreed to meet again in manila after, we were very ok during his first 2days in bacolod, we were chatting on fb and txting. Then on the third day he just suddenly stopped txting and messaging me on either ways. He ignored all my calls. He didnt showed up and he blocked me on fb and on viber after he came back to LA. He never cleared anything about us, and never sent me atleast one message. And my girl friend told me that my guy’s friend doesnt like me and said alot of bad comments about me and we think that influence him to stop contacting me. 🙁

    My question is, is it really bad to be in the middle class family? Is it bad that im too indepedent and matured? Is it also bad that i never allows him to pay for my taxi? I dont know the answers. 🙁 🙁 if someone could help me to talk to him and asked him whats the real reason behind it, pls help me. I need closure. Im so depressed now, thinking what i have done wrong. I tried to send him email but he never answered back, i tried to call him on his US number but i think he blocked my number too. So i dont have any ways to talk to him and asked for the explaination.

    I need the explaination to make things clear about everything. I love him very much and i felt it that he loves me too, he showed much respect and love to me while we were together. 🙁

    1. First of all I am very sorry to hear your story. I would hope that if your bf is reading this blog and sees this posting that he has the courtesy and courage to at least contact you and tell you what is going on. It’s hard to believe that he changed his mind solely based on his friend’s opinion, but I guess it is possible. But not contacting you and telling you why shows a certain amount of immaturity on his part. That is unless there is something that occurred that you are not saying here.

      As to your question: there is nothing bad or wrong about being from a middle class family. My blog piece was an attempt to respond to some American guys who go to the Philippines and think they should ONLY date middle or upper class Filipinas; that poor Filipinas were beneath them. As for you, I have to assume that you and your parents worked hard to get to the place you are. This is very respectworthy and you should absolutely look at it as totally positive.

      As far as maturity and independence, those are characteristics that most men ought to be interested in when it comes to a potential wife. My wife, Janet, is 26 yet far more mature than most Americans of that age. She worked hard (and alone) to put herself through school. Life was hard for her and she learned a lot from those experiences.

      Independent? I suppose that for some men independence in a woman is something they don’t like. For me it depends on what the word means. A confident woman who has her own view of life is very attractive. OTOH, in America some (not all) but some women use their freedom and independence as a way to battle with their men. That is an attitude that many American men try to avoid and perhaps is one of the reasons that some of us look abroad for a wife.

      I am thinking of you and hoping for the best for you. You are smart enough to know all the clichés, but if you read this blog you will see that both Janet and I were with others before we were fortunate to discover each other. Good luck and I hope you will let us know what happened.

      1. Thanks for ur response.. There’s no other story behind this. That was everything with all my knowledge, yeah maybe something happened in bacolod that i didnt know because until now he is not answering my messages. 🙁

        I still trying to reach him out because i really love him. I just wish he can read my comment here because im pretty sure he is always reading this blog all the time.

        Yeah, you guys are u lucky to find the love of ur life and also more than lucky enough to be with the one u love. I wish and pray to God that he will have the courage to tell me what happened and why he did that to me. Im still waiting for his answers.

        And for sure, i will let u guys know any update about my search for an answer. Thanks and Godbless to u and janet.

  8. Just thought I’d revive this discussion, as the subject has been on my mind for a while. I desire to relocate to the Philippines because of the Filipinos I have met here, in the USA. Most were middle-to-upper class, young, vibrant, and very accepting of me. At the time, I was making very little money. However, I am well-spoken, accepting, and open to new ideas.

    I’ve been made aware (by a Westerner that runs a business in the Philippines) that well-to-do Kanos, who wish to engage in casual sex with many women in the Philippines, usually have an easier time with middle-to-upper class women. These women have less of a problem with the social pressure to be faithful, virginal, brides-to-be, that exists in the Provinces. It’s also a matter of learning the culture and judging each person locally, rather than bringing a Western mindset into the equation.

    As for finding the marrying kind of Filipina, that’s also a matter of learning the culture and judging locally. However, the matter of class distinctions is less important (according to the same source). What’s most important is character, intelligence, and flexibility, for both of you.

    As for the young lady above, who was deserted by her ‘boyfriend’, I don’t feel her background was the impediment. The guy’s an Ass. That’s always a problem, no matter the culture!

    1. Well thought out comment, Vince. As I tried to make clear in the piece, I think that even defining such class categories is difficult in the Philippines. Hell, it’s tough in the West. Sure I knew several rich and successful guys, but I’m not sure I know anyone I would define as upper class. It’s even tougher to negotiate in the Philippines, although I know several guys who claim they run with such crowds. In the end I think that some Western men come to the Philippines and get too hung up in the class distinctions. Just my opinion.

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