OK, I’ve gushed about Janet often enough that you can tell that I like her pretty well and think she’s a great wife. But lest you think that all Filipinas are like Janet – well “it ain’t necessarily so.”
Janet wasn’t the first girl I met in the Philippines. Actually she flat out wouldn’t meet me when I first planned visiting the country. “I’m not interested in being part of your collect and select,” she declared when I suggested that we could meet in Cebu, where I was planning on meeting a couple of other candidates. No problem, I thought. There are plenty of the proverbial fish in the lush seas in and around the Philippines.
Naive guys go to the Philippines thinking getting around ought to be as easy as renting a car and taking off. But again, “it ain’t necessarily so.” The country’s made up of 7107 islands; the biggest ones are reached by ferry, not car. And if you are a brave enough soul to rent a car and drive in the Philippines, just let me know and we’ll alert the ambulance services and morgue, though not necessarily in that order.
I had scheduled a flight from Manila to Cebu and booked a hotel for a few days. One very compelling girl I was chatting with lived in Mindanao. I looked it up on the map. Only one island over from Cebu – how far could it be? She lived in the southern portion of the island. I didn’t know or care at the time that that was a dangerous area, filled with rebels – allegedly. All I knew was that there was a cute girl there who wanted to meet me – how dangerous could it be? The next thing I knew we decided to meet in Davao (she took a long bus ride to get there which impressed me) for a day and then fly to Cebu the next day.
The three days went by in a blur, a pretty hot blur I have to admit. After parting, I traveled a bit more around Manila and then spent a week in Vietnam, before returning to the U.S. We chatted every day online and by the time I returned I was pretty hooked.
While in Cebu, Kathy (name changed to protect the guilty) asked, “When are you coming back?” I hadn’t thought about that at all but instinctively said, “Spring break – April.”
The four months whizzed by. We chatted online every day. It was fun, exciting, sexy; just like relationships with most Filipinas. I decided to go all in so to speak, so in April I took her for a week to Boracay. Now for those who don’t know, Boracay is the most famous tourist destination in the Philippines. The long, white sand beach is spectacular. Parties happen up and down the beach. Each night tables magically appear for dinner on the beach. It’s fun, sexy and romantic – and hot as hell in April.
The place is filled with tourists from the U.S., Europe, China and Korea. Less so Filipinas (except for the staff) for whom it’s generally too expensive. Cebu Pacific Airlines flies to Boracay but the normally inexpensive commuter airline is for some odd reason damn expensive if you want to go to Boracay. Add the costs of upscale hotels and meals and it’s just not a place the average Filipina has visited, without a “rich kano” boyfriend or husband.
Personal Note of Guilt: I haven’t yet taken Janet to Boracay and it is – well, a bit of an issue 🙂 Don’t worry baby – it’s gonna happen!
The week was exciting, sweet and sexy and by the end we decided to officially be in a relationship, meaning we declared it on Facebook, which has replaced the silly formality of a wedding as the only modern way to make relationships official. My friends were excited for me; that is those that weren’t appalled. Her friends friended me and chatted online, happy to meet Kathy’s boyfriend.
The week was exciting, sweet and sexy and by the end we decided to officially be in a relationship, meaning we declared it on Facebook, which has replaced the silly formality of a wedding as the only way nowadays to make relationships official.
Yet despite all the excitement, I remained cautious. The hairs on the back of my neck tingled enough that I told myself and her that I would visit the Philippines a few more times, before I got really serious. She agreed entirely, not wanting to rush into marriage. That in and of itself should have been a red flag.
A month later, chatting and talking started happening a bit less; the excuses made sense, but nevertheless I worried. Eventually she laid the boom on me. Her father was seriously against our relationship and wanted her to cut it off. She and her dad weren’t speaking but they were fighting. I wrote her dad a serious and impassioned note and asked her to give it to him. She assured me it wouldn’t matter – that his mind was made up – but I was equally insistent that she try.
Why was he against the relationship? Because I was a foreigner, much older than Kathy, and because I was not a Mormon. Oh, yes, I failed to mention that Kathy was not the standard Catholic Filipina; she was Mormon. At one point I had spoken to Kathy’s brother and he asked me if I understood just how important it was for a Mormon to marry in the temple and this would be impossible if Kathy were not marrying another Mormon. I began to investigate the ins and outs of Mormon and non-Mormon relationships and assured Kathy that I would in no way interfere with her religious beliefs.
Another week passed and Kathy sadly informed me that her father was adamant and that in the Philippines not obeying the wishes of her father regarding marriage, particularly as a Mormon, was impossible; so sadly we would not be able to see each other again.
It seemed so ironic. Here I was nearly 60 years old and for the first time in my life the parents didn’t like me. In the past the parents, particularly the mothers, always liked me. It was their daughters who were a bit less enthusiastic.
By then I had already booked my next trip to the Philippines which we had been planning. What should I do? I licked my wounds but wasn’t down for long. I had discovered that I liked the Philippines very much and Filipinas even more. Perhaps there was another one out there for me; Kathy had been magnanimous enough to encourage me to go find another.
Of course I had been chatting with Janet for about a year and she was the person I wanted to meet (and that bit of drama will get written up eventually). I had been telling her of the struggles with “my girlfriend” and Janet was sympathetic though disinterested when the subject of said girlfriend came up. Truth be told, Janet was pissed as hell that I had “chosen” another girl. But something was to happen first to change everything.
A week went by after our forced break up. We made it official – by removing the “in a relationship” status on Facebook, via a sad click of the mouse. Then, one Saturday morning I was checking FB. I was still friends with several of Kathy’s friends. And there posted on one of her friends walls were pictures of Kathy in white wedding dress. A full blown set of wedding pictures, party and all followed.
I was incensed! The guy was another American, and while not as ancient as me, he was no spring chicken either. For all I knew he wasn’t even a Mormon!
I wrote Kathy a furious email telling her in no uncertain terms that I didn’t give a damn that she had another boyfriend who she decided to marry, but that at the very least she should have told me the truth instead of the fairy tale about her dad not approving.
Two days after the wedding Kathy and I were back chatting on Facebook and she told me the whole truth – finally. Seems that the man in question was a friend of the family and had supported the family (aka given money). She told me she didn’t love him and loved me but “I am obligated.”
Worse yet, the man was ill, terminally ill with cancer. I remarked that he “looked pretty damn healthy to me.” He traveled with his nurse, she replied. His dying wish was to marry her and between the man and her family, she felt stuck.
“I love you,” she said. “Not him. But I will do my best to be a good wife.”
Back on my end of the chat, nervous laughter became hysterical laughter at the depth and lunacy of the whopper I was being told. I calmly reminded her that with the lengthy Visa process there was little chance that she would be able to enter the United States before her poor husband passed away. “He has connections to speed it up,” she said. She had a line for everything; damn, she was good.
Fortunately, the depth and nuttiness of the lies made it easy for me to move on and to move on up.
A couple months later, unexpectedly, I heard from Kathy again. “Are you still planning to come to the Philippines in October?” she asked. By this time Janet and I had decided to meet.
“I’ll be in Cebu,” I said and I told her the date.
“I will be in Cebu then too,” she replied, “getting my passport.”
“Are you implying that we meet?” I asked, stunned at her gall.
“No, no, of course not. I am sure by now you have a new girlfriend,” she sneered.
“And I am sure you are still married, right? By the way, how is your husband doing. Must be hard not being with him in his dying days.” I threw in an “lol,” one of the rare times it seemed totally appropriate.
“He is fine. I will take care of him. Maybe he will get well, God willing.”
I heard from her one more time. I was packing on the October morning I was going to fly to Cebu to meet Janet. She obviously remembered the date and thought she’d needle me one more time and hint that we ought to meet, except she knew that I was “already taken.”
Over the months I had received a few bits and pieces of information from friends of Kathy’s. The new husband had asked her to marry him several weeks before I met her in April and she’d accepted, meaning that entire trip I was sleeping with an engaged woman. I’m such a slut!
Her parents had not known of my existence, but at some point prior to the wedding her father found out. A religious man, her father hit the ceiling at the notion of his engaged daughter playing around with another guy and forbade her from contacting me. So I suppose in a weird way her story about his opposition did have a kernel of truth. I truly believe that in her twisted mind she figured she would get married and while the Visa process was happening meet me in October for fun, games and prizes.
So what’s the point here, other than to tell a funny story at my own expense? What did I learn? I went halfway around the world to the Philippines and got f-ed over, but good. But I must admit I sure as hell enjoyed the f-ing.
This is my cautionary tale – we all must be careful when it comes to any type of relationship – but by learning and remaining confident and true to my goal, I ended up a hell of a lot better off, going from the outhouse to the penthouse.