Tag Archives: Cebu

Cebu is Less of a S*ithole – More Tips & Nonsensical Words of Bulls*it

My last blog entry, Manila is a S*ithole and other Words of Wisdom, was a hit! No two ways about it. The first day it was posted I received the most hits I’ve every received on this blog. Hell, the second day I still received more hits than I had ever received in a day.

Clearly you folks like it when I curse! I’ve thrown two bombs in the title here, which ought to ensure a massive readership 🙂

1. Cebu is Less of a Shithole!: There is a reason that Cebu City is often called “Little Manila.” The same reasons I trashed the capital of the Philippines in my last outing are true of Cebu: Traffic congestion, pollution, poverty, kids on the street, crime. All the goodies are there.

But there are some positives. The airport’s not bad and I now always fly into Cebu. Hell, there’s even a decent hotel right across the street, eliminating the need for getting a taxi and risk being ripped off for a couple hundred pesos late at night. Of course you could get taken by scores of guys wanting to carry your bags. Just lip point across the street and tell them you can manage to drag your bags and kano ass yourself.

There’s decent malls for the wife, a few sites to see (Tops is my fave – it overlooks the city and the view is great), some cool churches, and the Magellan Cross. And if you’re single and not a complete lummox you can find an attractive girl or two; hell, you can do that even if you are a complete lummox 🙂

It short, Cebu’s a decent starting off point but I wouldn’t stay there any longer than necessary.

2. Check out the provinces:  There are a certain number of guys who think if the place doesn’t have a major mall, a McDonald’s, and a good supply of hot and cold running bar girls, it’s not a good place to go to. Nonsense!

BTW, there are a hell of a lot of nice cities not named Manila and Cebu. Just in my modest experience I like Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Dumaguete, and Tagbilaran. All those and others have those city amenities you’re jonesing for without some of the qualities I dislike in the two biggest cities.

But further still, you should broaden your horizons and check out other islands and towns; the vast majority of the Philippines, that some expats simply lump together and call “the provinces.”

The beaches, the people, the air, food – frankly just about everything is superior. Even the women are, though you’ll have to do your own comparison shopping!

3. Stop worrying about American foods: I just saw a posting on Facebook from a guy wondering where he could find American groceries in Boracay. No offense to the guy, if he happens to read this, but if you go halfway around the world and are lucky enough to get to a beach like Boracay (or Palawan or Camiguin for that matter) and all you’re worried about is finding your favorite ketchup – there is no hope for you.

OK, ok – you expats who live in the Philippines are different and get a bit of a pass. I get why after a year you might want a non-Skakeys slice of pizza, spaghetti without a sugar laden sauce, or the aforementioned ketchup actually made with tomatoes not bananas; I still don’t get banana ketchup and probably never will. But for the casual or serious visitor, man up and try some adobo, find some lechon (your girl will go gaga), take a gamble with some crap on a stick from a street vendor (ask them to hold the food poisoning 🙂 ), and quaff a San Mig or two. Hey, Oscar Meyer hot dogs and French’s mustard will still be waiting for you when you get back home.

I get why after a year you might want a non-Skakeys slice of pizza, spaghetti without a sugar laden sauce, or the aforementioned ketchup actually made with tomatoes not bananas.

4. Try a trike or jeepney: You haven’t really been to the Philippines unless you occasionally get in a trike or jeepney. I am a short guy but even I have to squeeze into a trike, but hell I’m squeezing next to the wife, so that’s not so bad. I’ve even taken a couple rides in pedal powered trikes at Janet’s home in Alcoy. I felt bad for the driver who had to peddle up a hill carrying my kano keester, no doubt a hell of a lot heavier than the average Filipino.

Jeepney’s are often considered dangerous, and passengers may stare at you like a dog stares at a juicy steak, but my ancient lungs can still yell for the cops, Janet carries pepper spray and is skilled at kicking people. So take a chance and experience the real Philippines.

5. Meet the Family: You’ve met the girl of your dreams, she’s as sweet as you imagined and now she wants to take you to the aforementioned “provinces” to meet her family. Go!

Sure, you’ve read all the horror stories about evil families taking advantage of you, the simple, naïve kano. It ain’t always so. If you’re very lucky they will come to view you as part of their family as well.

6. Mussolini was a terrible dictator but the trains ran on time: I chuckle at guys who post about the terrible governmental corruption in the Philippines. My guess is that most of these guys’ political activism in their home country doesn’t extend beyond the barstool or their fave tshirt which declares “Obamacare Sucks!”

Not to suggest that there isn’t plenty of corruption in the Philippines. I read a recent post (and a good one at that) by an expat who has lived in the Philippines over 40 years. He spoke fondly of the Marcos era when policeman were respectful and criminals were dealt with fairly – IOW executed. Of course Marcos was a dictator, no one got to vote for him, but the jeepneys ran on time.

Today the Philippines is a democracy but like with most new democracies, it’s a work in progress. The one central dictator has been replaced by a thousand petty ones. You might want to consider that while arguing with the cop over that traffic light you didn’t blow threw.

7. Tip of the Day: Your wife/gf will talk about ghosts and witches. She ain’t referring to Casper or a scary movie. She believes. You may come to believe also. When Janet says she is going to witch someone, I no longer laugh – I duck!

 

 

Tell Us Where to Go

OK, that title was a great setup line and I am not interested in being literally told where to go. Since you’re not my kids or either of my exes, you don’t get to do that.

However, Janet and I are very excited. Last night we booked our flight to return to the Philippines. We will be there for three weeks  from April to May!

So now I am giving you, dear readers of MarriedaFilipina, an opportunity to tell us “where to go;” your favorite place in the Philippines and why.

Our trip will have 3 pillars: family, travel/fun, and future living. Regarding family, we will spend about one week in Alcoy, Janet’s home town, 3 hours south of Cebu City. I know she misses her family terribly and I look forward to seeing them also. They have always been wonderful to me and the energy surrounding family get togethers makes me soar.

The other couple weeks we want to spend having fun, exploring, and checking out spots to live in in our dotage (coming much faster for me than for Janet).

Other than our plans to be in Alcoy, we also will spend part of our time (perhaps just a few days) re-visiting the Dumaguete area in Negros. I really liked what I saw of Duma and Valencia last year, and would consider it for that for that upcoming period of my dotage, so any other recommendations in that area or surrounding Negros areas would be considered.

Janet of course believes that life in the Philippines starts and ends on Cebu, and so any recommendations on Cebu island would be eagerly appreciated. I am considering a stop in Moalboal for the snorkeling and Janet has talked about the falls in Badian.

Where else? There are over 7100 islands in the Philippines and I am open to exploring any or all of them. Let’s see – if I visit 100 islands a year I can see them all by the time I turn 133. Sounds like a plan and your help is appreciated.

 

 

 

 

The Bad Seed or How I Went from the Outhouse to the Penthouse

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.

 

Stories of Kano Idiocy

I wrote a little while back about “Uneducated and Dumb Filipinas – Really?” attacking some negative stereotypes. I am on several forums where stories of Filipina idiocy are routinely posted. In many cases it strikes me that the idiot is the kano who has no idea how to act in a foreign country. Acting the fool or acting like an Ugly American can only get you in trouble in a developing nation like the Philippines. Here’s my current favorite one:

“When I visited the Philippines two years ago, the first thing I did was head to the mall to buy a cell phone. I thought that it would be a simple matter to pay with my credit card. Boy, was I wrong!

You know that strip on the back of your credit card, where you’re supposed to sign it? Well, instead of signing it, I always write ‘Ask for photo ID.’ This makes it less likely that some thief will be able to use my card.

So I try to pay for my cell phone with my credit card, and the bimbo salesgirl says that my card is no good, because there’s no signature on the back. I tried to explain to her that what I put on the card was even better than a signature, and that if she would just look at my passport, she would see that I really was the owner of the card. She wasn’t buying it, though. I tried explaining to some of her co-workers, and they too insisted that I had to have a signature on it. I thought about asking them to let me speak with their manager, but I thought, “the Hell with it, I’ll just pay cash”. After all, I was a representative of the USA, and I didn’t want to do even more damage to the reputation of Americans among foreigners.”

So the guy in question not only doesn’t sign his credit card, as he’s obligated by the credit card company to do, he puts in a ridiculous amendment and then thinks that the Filipina sales clerk is an idiot for not accepting his card or his explanation.

Anyone else want to share similar stories about themselves or others? I’ve got a story about my own idiocy that will be posted shortly. Stay tuned.

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.

The Age-Gap Rap

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out what people think when they see Janet and I together in public. Now first of all I have to say, that most people have been very nice and respectful to us. We haven’t had some of the big troubles that many Fil-Am couples living in the U.S. with large age gaps report.

OK, there was the one incident we had at a resort. Eating dinner, a 30ish woman sitting with her husband kept turning around to look at us. Apparently she thought if she looked our way often enough I would get younger or Janet would get older. Janet and I were giggling about it. Finally the woman turned around one more time, Janet gave her a little wave and mouthed “hi.” That ended that with me cracking up!

Then there was the grizzled 80+ guy who looked at us, snarling in disgust, though it’s possible that the look he gave us had more to do with his recollection of who he had to go home to than anything Janet and I were doing. It’s also possible that he no longer could remember what Janet and I were doing – and how often.

But other than that, it’s been good. When we go to the mall, sales clerks are very helpful, no doubt thinking that the old husband is gonna spend big time on the young wife. They go away a bit disappointed.

If you’re interested in an excellent article on the whys and wherefores of the May-December relationship, this won’t be it. My friend, Henry Velez, has published a really good one @ May-December Relationship. Check it out – I’ll wait.

I don’t like the May-December stereotype. While I might accept that the bloom on Janet is comparable to the month of May, I refuse to accept that I am a cold, frigid December. At the worst I am November; ok, maybe late November – Thanksgiving time – turkey and pumpkin pie – that’s me. But anyone claiming I am a December is gonna have problems with me. I’ll likely kick his ass, once I’ve taken my medication.

I don’t like the May-December stereotype. While I might accept that the bloom on Janet is comparable to the month of May, I refuse to accept that I am a cold, frigid December. At the worst I am November; ok, maybe late November – Thanksgiving time – turkey and pumpkin pie – that’s me.

Looking at it honestly, why should I be offended? If someones thinks I am interested in Janet because she is young, beautiful, vibrant and sexy, what should I say? “Thank you, she is.” OK, I’ll throw in a wink just to be really annoying.

It’s what they are thinking about Janet that is more egregious. I suppose if someone said something nasty to her I would be offended and have a few choice words. But Janet is a self-assured woman and knows who she is. She’s told me all along about money and marriage, “Money is important, but I would never marry without love.”

And here’s where this whole age-gap thing perplexes me. My grandfather was married to a woman 25 years younger than him and it seemed to be the most natural thing. They were a strikingly attractive couple since not only was there the considerable age gap, there was also a considerable height gap, as my grandfather was no more than 5’4” and my Aunt Ruth loved high heels and towered over him. I don’t think many people asked Aunt Ruth why she was married to my grandfather; it was obvious. He was a powerful, attractive and successful man. His hair was nicely kept and he had most of it. He wore cologne. He drove a Cadillac for God’s sake! And no one would have asked him why he was married to her; that was equally obvious. They were married over 20 years until his death. Contrary to current opinion, for most of history the age-gap in marriage has been a common thing.

Perhaps the age-gap thing is genetic. My cousin, two years older than me, always admired my grandfather. He built an even more successful business and married even more often than my grandfather. I used to tease him that he got older but the age of his wives stayed the same. His current wife is 30 years younger and they have a lovely young child and from what everyone says they are all happy as can be. I doubt anyone wonders what they see in each other; she’s hot and he can buy and sell you.

Let’s face it, the real reason modern Americans are put off by the age-gap is our refusal to admit that in this modern, enlightened, 21st century – men are still shallow. We unabashedly love younger, attractive women. Their youth, their energy, their excitement, their beauty; it’s all good. American women want us all to grow up and mature. For what? I’m just like my grandfather, except the Caddy has turned into a Bimmer.

Jack Nicholson said it best, “If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.”

Filipina women, like their American counterparts a generation or two ago, want a man who is mature, worldly, knows how to get things done, knows how to deal with emotional ups and downs, and has enough cash to pay for a decent, if not luxurious, life with the aforementioned Bimmer or Caddy. (OK, the Caddy and Bimmer line’s a joke!) What’s wrong with that? I have heard many people say, “Filipina women want to marry older Western men for a better life.” Gee that sounds terrible. What woman in her right mind wants to marry a man to produce a worse life? For that matter what man wants to marry a woman for a worse life, although those of us who are divorced feel like we did.

So what’s the real reason some people object to age-gap relations between an American and a foreign woman? It’s the same reason that not too long ago many objected to inter-racial marriages. It’s the same reason until very recently many people objected to homosexual relationships and marriage. It’s not political, it’s not social, and it’s not religious. It’s completely about sex. Most of us (certainly most Americans) are more than a little bit squeamish about where and who a man puts his thing into. For some bizarre reason we feel absolutely justified in judging “you can’t put that in there.” Really and truly – I am not joking here. Humans are very judgmental about who and where you put your goodies.

I remember being 19 years old; a mature college man. I came home for spring break and somehow my younger sister and I got into a serious discussion with our mother about sex. My mother, who at the time must have been all of 39, was telling us that she and our father still had a very active sex life, thank you very much. I was nearly made apoplectic by the image. Despite what I realize now (that they were still quite young) they were my parents and I didn’t want to know what they were doing to each other. Moreover, like most young people, I didn’t want to know that older people still had sex. How dare they? Their job was to get old and set up the rocking chair, not get old and get busy!

The biggest problem I had when I first went to the Philippines and realized that younger women might be interested in me was my own attitude. I had to convince myself that it was OK. I had had a couple years already to deal with the issue. Like most divorced men today I sought my next partner through technology. I joined Match.com and began a year of intense self-reflection and frustration. By the end of the first year I estimated I’d gone on 70 first/coffee dates. I’d had less than ten second dates and only a handful of 3rd or 4th dates. But I was drinking a lot of coffee. All the women were close to my age. I was getting nowhere and I was surprised. Here I had finally grown up; great job, a bit of money, nice house, good kids, a working car; and very little interest. Truth be told, I wasn’t interested in the women either. Oh, I tried to be but mostly I was bored.

I then made the fortuitous and desperate decision to contact a woman 20 years younger than me. Blond with tattoos (full sleeves I later learned they were called). We began talking and then dating and then – well, you know. I was enthralled to connect with anyone, let alone someone younger. She had energy and enthusiasm for life and for me. But I felt guilty. Something must be wrong with me I assumed. I couldn’t connect with women my own age yet was having a blast with the young hottie. What was wrong with that picture? Unfortunately it became her job to remind me that I was OK and we were OK and that she preferred me. Foolishly, it took a long time for me to accept.

I spent that year finally allowing myself to enjoy being a man with a younger woman. Once I realized that I was following in the footsteps of my grandfather and cousin, then I was ready for the Philippines, where the women have no idea why a May-December (or November) relationship is supposed to be so bad.

So guys – get over it. Don’t worry about what others say. Despite appearances to the contrary, no one really wants to know where and who you’re sticking your thing into anyway.

The Philippines is Just the Same as the U.S.

Now I know the theory in the title seems like an oxymoron (or maybe I’m the oxy-moron) but bare with me – it’s brilliant 🙂

I’m on a couple forums where guys say they’ve been to the Philippines and it’s terrible. Now, tastes are different, no place is for everyone, etc. But what really shocks me are assertions that Filipina women are unattractive, unavailable to Western men, dumb, and most egregious of all – not sexy. I have been to the Philippines six times and started thinking I’d accidentally gotten off the plane in the wrong country – six times.

While issues like food, weather, beaches, culture, friendliness might be subject to personal tastes and interpretation, sexy Filipinas and their availability to Americans surely cannot be.

As my friend, Dave DeWall, says, “even a poor sap can have a face like a dog’s butt and still seem attractive to many of the cute Filipinas residing in the Philippines.” You can’t get much more definitive than that!

As my friend, Dave DeWall, says, “even a poor sap can have a face like a dog’s butt and still seem attractive to many of the cute Filipinas residing in the Philippines.”

The first time my friend, Pete, arrived in the Philippines, he couldn’t even get out of the airport before getting hit on. Now I will admit that Pete is a pretty tall, decent looking middle-aged guy; he’s also pale with a long nose, a big plus with Filipinas. Going through immigration, the immigration lady smiled, stamped his passport and said, “Welcome to the Philippines, Mr. Guapo.” Guapo means handsome, for the uninitiated.

I started to wonder, how could I have had such a different experience than the naysayers? Granted, my face is a little better looking than a dog’s butt, but not by that much.

After years of intensive sociological research, I think I have come up with an answer. And here’s why the Philippines is just like the U.S. – at least regarding “meeting” women.

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The United States has always been known as the “land of opportunity.” Ask anyone who’s never been here. Every single day an American sees ads for high-end merchandise, luxury cars being driven by men with attractive wives and 2.5 kids. He drives through neighborhoods with million dollar houses, and reads about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And many of us go home and moan “why not me?” It’s one of the great frustrations and cause of much angst and anger in the U.S. How can an idiot like Donald Trump with that monstrosity on top of his head have so much, and we have so little? Life sucks and the portions are so small.

When it comes to meeting women, the Philippines is the “land of opportunity.” In a future post I will detail my further sociological theories on why Filipinas love men in general, often love foreign men, even with the aforementioned dog’s butt face. But for now, let’s just assume I’m right. If you need further proof, just look at the pictures of me and Janet. I’ll wait.

OK, you’re back and I proved my point, right?

So a guy saves his pennies and heads for the Philippines. He is not accosted in the airport or anywhere else. He is shocked to see few attractive women; perhaps he’s fond of blonds with big boobs and finds to his surprise that there are very few blonds with big boobs in the Philippines!

Of course there was the girl he met in EDSA, but turns out she was expensive and in fact not totally a girl.

So now our frustrated tourist or expat becomes angry. “False advertising!” he yells. It’s not enough for him to say that he didn’t enjoy his experience or lick his wounds and acknowledge he hadn’t found the right girl for him, although truth be told, he was still texting with that cute EDSA ladyboy.

No, he must claim that no one can find a decent woman in the Philippines. He screams that the guys who claim success either need glasses or their women are, dare I say it – poor. Yes, “alert the media,” most people in a developing nation are poor. The guy in question wants a blond with big boobs and disposable cash. Add to the fact that he wants a girl conversant in all aspects of his Western culture, who will sleep with him on the first date, and screw like a porn star. So, he concludes, Filipinas suck, and not in a good way.

But what’s his true frustration? He walks around Manila, Cebu or even ventures into small provincial Philippines, sees Western men with their Filipina girlfriends or wives, and kids too, and doesn’t get it. The guys he sees have the proverbial dog’s butt face, plus Trump’s hair, but with wives half their age, and they’re not half bad. Therefore it must be that the guys have money and spread it around and that the girls are bad and “only” interested in the guys’ money.” That’s it – that must be the reason! After all, our naysayer in question is probably a bit younger; too young to admit his face is also in dog butt territory.

So, like the American, angry about the money all around him that he can’t get for himself, our tourist is angry about all the seemingly available women he can’t get in bed. And thus I have proven that for some, the frustration in the Philippines is the same as in the U.S.

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So where’s the disconnect here and what’s the solution? Contrary to some beliefs, Filipinas do have standards. You just need to understand what they are looking for. Most are not interested in being your “vacation girlfriend.” I have already told the story of my asking Janet to meet me the first time I went to the Philippines. She knew I was meeting others and was not interested in my “collecting and selecting.” It wasn’t until almost a year later that we finally met.

However, Filipinas might be interested in you if you:

1. Are interested in a long-term or permanent relationship. While there are exceptions, most Filipinas will not volunteer to be part of your Asian sex tour. But if you express an interest in a genuine relationship that “might” lead to marriage – you’ve satisfied qualification one.

2. You have your shit together! If I have to explain what this means, then you probably don’t. You’re unmarried, employed, have a decent place to live. You’re mature and have life knowledge. If you have kids, you take care of them. In short – you’re not a bum. This disqualifies a lot of the guys who visit the Philippines.

3. You are at least willing to try to learn about her country, culture and family. While you don’t need to run out immediately and learn Tagalog or Visayan, show an interest in the country and in her family. Just referring to everyone as the “locals” might not be adequate.

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So these are some of my basic recommendations for a foreigner visiting the Philippines. One other thought: if you’re actually handsome, genuinely guapo, with a face not remotely in dog’s butt territory, you might consider passing up the Philippines. You’ll never get out alive.

Say it Loud – I’m a Foreigner and Proud

A lot of expats and visitors to the Philippines get pissed off that many Filipinos refer to them as a “foreigner.” I have never completely understood the beef – we are foreigners. Most of us are not Filipinos culturally, ethnically, via language or by citizenship. So I have no problem being referred to as a foreigner – except when my wife calls me “that foreigner”:)

So I have no problem being referred to as a foreigner – except when my wife calls me “that foreigner”:)

The other clichéd name you get called in the Philippines is “Joe”. Walking down the street I have occasionally heard calls of, “Hey Joe.” I turn around expecting someone to start in on the old Jimi Hendrix tune, but no, they’re calling to (or at) me. Some “foreigners” are very offended by this, as if every street kid ought to know their real name, or come up to them and respectfully say, “Excuse me, Sir. Are you a foreigner? Is your name actually Joe? If not, can you tell me your true name so that my friends and I can yell your correct name as you and your inappropriately young and quite guapa wife, saunter by?”

For that matter the name I am most often called and that puts me off the most is “Sir.” In the Philippines seemingly everyone calls foreigners “Sir or Ma’am” or even “Madam.” “Good morning, Sir.” “Here’s your coffee, Sir.” “Would you like a date, Sir?” (ok, that’s a joke, Janet).

Equally sweet but odd, they call Janet “Ma’am,” at least when she is with me. I suspect, at 26, she is not called “Ma’am” when conversing in Visayan.

The whole thing would lead to giggle fests between me and Janet, with our calling everyone “Sir and Ma’am” all day long. Calling a 20-year old waitress “madam” illicits some odd looks.

On a related, though reversed note, Janet and I were in Thailand last April. Virtually everyone we encountered assumed she was Thai. They’d walk up to her and begin to speak Thai and she would look at them, speechless, like a deer in the headlines. Or they would come up and ask “what part of Thailand are you from?” I would have to be the one to say, “She’s Filipino.” They were all shocked and my wife hated it and never wants to return to Thailand because they refuse to recognize the fact that she is a foreigner.

And frankly I am no better when it comes to identifying nationalities. I worked for ten years with a woman and had no idea until I began to travel to the Philippines that she was a Filipina-American. To me she was just “the cute, small Asian woman” I worked with. Nor did I realize that the Starbucks barista I’d been getting coffee from and talking to for a couple years was Filipina. She’s now good friends with my wife and me.

Few of us are very culturally or geographically knowledgeable. Ask the average Amerikano high school kid to identify the Philippines on a map and they can’t. Hell, most probably couldn’t point out Washington, DC on a map either. For that matter, my son can’t find home without GPS assistance.

So Amerikanos – be proud of your foreigner heritage. There’s a lot worse things I’ve been called in life than “Joe the foreigner.”