Liar, Liar

Everywhere I turn I see and hear all about lying Filipinos and Filipinas. “They are all liars,” goes the standard expat mantra. It’s taken me a few years of hearing this over and over, but at this point I’m pissed. I know, I know – I’m a bit slow. My kids know it, my wife knows it and now you all know it. I may be slow, but I come from behind and catch up with a vengeance.

Lying in the Philippines takes on all varieties, according to the many expats and tourists. Of course girls online all lie. Their families all lie. Cabbies all lie. Salesman and service providers all lie. And, believe it or not, there are many men who proclaim that their Filipina wives, some of whom have been great wives for decades – all lie. There’s a special term in the Philippines that describes foreign husbands who claim their wives to be less than honest – horny.

My indignation came to a head just this week. Reading my favorite expat forum a question was posed. Seems a well-meaning poster received a massage in the Philippines; no not that kind of massage – get your head out of the gutter. Massage and massage therapy is everywhere in Asia and the price is dirt cheap. It’s easy in the Philippines to get a one hour massage for $5.

Well, in this case it seems that the lady struck up a conversation with the customer and told him her tale of woe about the hardships in her life and with her family. Frankly, this could never happen with me. When I get a massage I start to moan in such a way that – well, she’d know better than to talk to me.

But in this case the customer felt so bad he wondered if he should “help” the poor woman and he posed that question to the assembled wisdom of the forum. Many of the comments were of the “they are all liars and scammers” sort of thing. I came in with what was clearly the most reasonable response; that he had already helped her by paying for a massage and tipping her. In addition, I pointed out that service providers the world over “stretch” the truth; it’s called angling for a tip. Your favorite waiter is not gonna tell you he cleared $60k last year in tips; he’s gonna tell you that his oldest just started college and it’s costing a fortune.

So, the man felt compelled to act but first he investigated the woman’s story. He found that her claims of woe, while not complete lies, were only partial truths. By the end of the thread he was on the side of many of the others; that “they” are mostly liars and scammers. I felt saddened that he’d gone from wanting to help her, to determining that she was a liar, to deciding that many Filipinos are liars.


Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not proclaiming that Filipinos are the most honest people on the planet. My view is simple – to quote House MD, “everybody lies.” Anyone who says he doesn’t – just proved my point.

“Liar, Liar” is my favorite Jim Carrey movie and if you haven’t seen it you should go right out and rent it or illegally download it – I’ll lie to cover your ass. In it, Carrey plays a lawyer; not a bad sort, just a regular guy who has a way of bending the truth beyond recognition. His young son makes a wish that for just one day his dad won’t be able to tell a lie. Hilarity ensues. Carrey, physically incapable of lying, discovers that you simply cannot live in the adult world without lying. “Do you like my hairdo?” asks the secretary with the worst hairdo in Hollywood. He can no longer lie.

In court when the judge greets him and asks how he is, Carrey truthfully tells the judge about a “bad sexual experience,” he’d just had.

He calls a senior partner a “dickhead” because, well – that’s what the man is.

The problem with lying is – it’s easier to see it in others than in ourselves. Surely, in the U.S. when you greet someone and you each ask how the other is and then rapid fire, each says “fine, how about you” – it’s just a social convention. It’s not really a lie – unless you’re Jim Carrey confronted by a fat lawyer asking “What’s up?” Answer, “Your cholesterol, fattie.”

Let’s face it – we lie all the time but justify it because we cannot survive in society without lying. We lie to protect ourselves, to protect our loved ones, to protect feelings. We lie to protect our jobs; anyone want to tell their clients what they really think of them?

We lie in every negotiation. The salesman lies, “this is my lowest possible price.” The buyer lies, “this is the most I can possibly pay.” We all justify that those aren’t really lies; they’re negotiating strategies.

In short, lying is not only universal, it’s cultural. Go to the Philippines and ask that friend “how are you?” and instead of the required lie, “I’m fine,” he is actually liable to tell you how he really is. Or he will turn it around and only want to know how you are.

If you’re anal like me, just take one day out of your life and track what you say and how many lies, white lies and half-truths are involved. The number will astound you – if you are truthful with yourself, which most of you won’t be.

The same can be said for the “they’re all scammers” crowd. I mean, after all, you arrived in Cebu and got beat by a cabbie out of an extra 100 pesos ($2.50). The girl you thought you liked asked you for 1000 pesos ($25) for medicine for her mother. Mom doesn’t need the medicine and you feel cheated.

Of course, you don’t feel cheated in the U.S. when that plumber or electrical guy came to your house and charged you $400 for 1 1/2 hours worth of work. He didn’t cheat you; he told you straight up it was gonna cost you an arm and a leg and you’d best fork it over or call someone else who’ll charge even more.

Today I read a financial story that said that over the past 10 years U.S. Corporations had spent over 54% of their corporate profits on what? Investing? Nope. R&D? Nope. They spend over 50% of their profits buying back their own stock. Why do they buy their own stock? So that the stock price goes up. Who benefits? The CEOs, boards of directors, and general fat cats who own tens of millions in stock options. But that’s not scamming because, hey, you have a couple grand in your 401k, so you benefited, right? It’s certainly not a scam as egregious as that damn Filipino cabbie who beat you out of the 100 pesos.

So when it comes to being married to a Filipina, which is supposedly the theme of this blog, what’s the point. Once again I’ll make a movie reference. I re-watched “A beautiful Mind” last week. The Oscar winning story of John Nash, Nobel prize willing economist and schizophrenic. There’s a great scene (hopefully not a lie – I sure would like to trust director, Ron Howard; he was “Opie” after all) in which Nash discovers the theorem for which he won the Nobel.

He’s in a bar, where all great discoveries are made, checking out girls (don’t you love this guy). He and his friends all want “the blonde.” Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, 200 years before postulated that group dynamics work best when each member of the group does what benefits himself, which in this case would have meant that everyone goes for the blonde. Nash realized that Adam Smith was wrong; that the best outcome occurs when each individual works for himself plus the group as a whole. In this case, ignore the blonde, and hit on all her brunette friends.

How does this relate to a Fil-Am marriage? For thousands of years men and women have lied to each other to get their own way in relationships. If I believe Nash, the best outcome happens if each person does what’s best for him/her as well as what’s best for the couple. So you’re heard it here first – the secret to a successful marriage; from a guy twice divorced and a mentally ill economist.

12 thoughts on “Liar, Liar”

  1. Dave, very interesting and conseptual view. I like it. Yes we all lie and fib our way through life to varying degrees. I enjoy your comments about the masseuse regarding her hard luck life and (believe it or not), I supported you on that (also a member there) stating…
    “Even though this is typical and creative of her to use her position of striking while the iron is hot, pulling at one’s heart strings seems perfectly ok, given the challenges sometimes for these women that struggle. She’s just being creative in her approach for a bigger tip, I guess”.
    Ironically your questioning me about being from Kansas by using the word “schpeil” in that same thread kind of made me wonder-Why would that be something I would lie about…just the irony hit me (in just a lightly amusing way) when I read response on that thread . Respectfully though, I really like this blog and see myself and my Filipina in a similar life as soon as I’m off this hamster wheel. Thanks again Dave.

    1. Hi Steve – Glad you’re liking the blog.

      I figured that sooner or later someone would be familiar with that story. I found it interesting on many levels and sad because the OP went from wanting to help her to assuming Filipinas are liars.

      You ought to realize (and you will as you read this blog) that my comment about the use of the word “schpeil” was sarcastic and not genuinely questioning you.

      And yes hamster wheel is exactly right and I too can’t wait to be off of mine, although I suspect in life I will just replace it with a different set of dramas.


      1. Dave, I’m not taken back whatsoever, no worries there. I’m so laid back I make the Philippines look like the East Coast rat race-lol. Gen San will be my new home in a couple years. Annie’s got nice property there (complete with a banana farm her brothers maintain). They get a cut of the harvest money for that-her trees though so her royalty. Anyway, I’m not kidding about my new location in the Phl either (to stay on topic)-lol. I’m sure we’ll be at it again…cussin’ and discussin’ Take care my friend.

        1. When you say “they ask for money” who are you referring to: street beggars, girls you meet. Might be time to shave more 🙂

  2. I would not say ” most ” but there are a lot lies going there in the Philippines as well as in Thailands when the locals dealing with foreigners.

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