Expatriates in the Philippines

Monday, January 31, 2005

East Versus West

Yesterday I received an email from a reader. He wrote, “Rik: I appreciate that you are attempting to operate a web blogging site. I would like to ask that you write more, daily if you can, be boring if sometimes life is boring. Just write. I have been to the PI when I was in the Navy many years ago. I loved it there. I am married now with three kids and likely will not return, but I like to read about it. So, this is a letter of encouragement to write more!”
Thanks for writing and for the encouragement. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who reads my Blog. I know that in time more readers will surf into my personal Philippine lagoon of web-mindedness. There are lots of men who are here already, many who plan to, and even more who only dream about living in the Philippines with its endless summer and beautiful Filipina’s.
I too was first introduced to the P.I. while transferring from two good years of shore-duty in Nevada (Nevada? In the Navy? Yes). In early 1966, I was to meet my squadron and the carrier USS Hancock in Subic Bay, Luzon, P.I. The ship never arrived, but stayed on Dixie station off of Vietnam. I spent almost a month at the transient barracks. While I waited I was given the terrific job of driving some eighty miles every morning to Clark Air force base to pick up the fleet mail and return. It took all day – my partner made sure of that. We’d drive through the jungle and start climbing into the mountains, higher and higher. The mountain tops were bare except for the terraced rice ponds. It was truly beautiful. Everything was lush green and filled with sunlight. It was a far different world from what I was used to in the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up and the Nevada desert. It was like waking up in the Twilight Zone.
Olongopo, the town outside the gates of the Subic Bay base was a wild town filled with bars and San Miguel beer, great live Filipino bands that sounded exactly like the American records they were copying and, of course, a thousand Filipina prostitutes.
I was lucky to be able to spend more time than the average 3-4 day R&R port-call most sailors get in foreign ports. The girls were sooo friendly and loving. They made me feel special and truly cared about. Maybe that’s the nature of the work of a prostitute, but it seemed more than that at the time. And I now know why it seemed different. Because Filipina’s are different from most women I’ve met in Asia, throughout the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, and most especially in America.
Outside of the U.S. the girls I met were almost exclusively all prostitutes. Hey, what can a poor sailor do? With anywhere from a few hours to three liberty-days a sailor doesn’t have much time or use for romantic love or courtship. It’s more a matter of raising your flag, dropping your load then running for the ship before midnight passes. So I can’t write much about the nature and character of the more reputable girls of the world. However, with my worldly knowledge of the other kind I can say that they could easily be summed-up as gold-diggers, schemers and scammers. I didn’t get any feelings that the majority of the ladies cared a fig about me; it was all business, and rightly so. Yes, I got the come-hither smiles and the hand massaging my arm, neck or… lower parts as we came to a practical understanding of market-value prices, but I never felt the presence of the lady inside – the spirit or soul, if you will. Most prostitutes are compartmentalized. For the purposes of business, they become a cardboard cut-out caricature of a Sex-Bomb. That always left me feeling somewhat cold while I was busy burning-up with sexual frenzy. We may just be filthy drunken sailors to most people, but we’re somebody’s son, too, and a long way from home.
I needed something more beyond the release of sexual tension, and I would have given almost anything to have a woman hold me in her arms and comfort me with quiet soothing words, a loving smile and a hint of the type of woman with a gentle heart and unconditional acceptance. But that’s not a part of a prostitute’s job description, is it?
Filipina’s, on the other hand, surprised me with their warmth and genuine-seeming affection. Their laughter was free and bright and had a realistic tone. Something rang true in their character that was missing in other women.
I’d noted it in my visits in a casual way, like one does when there are other more pressing things on one’s mind. I went with the flow and had a good time, taking only my thoughts with me when I left a hotel room or squalid crib. In 1967, taking my memories along with me, I returned to “The World” of the United States and the life of a civilian.
Women... American women... You may take them and you may keep them. I pass whatever allotment of them I might have laid claim to you men still on U.S. soil. And most assuredly you will keep them, in the best and highest of fashion that they can squeeze out of you.
They're the Americunt's. It’s a name I created. I don’t think I need to clarify what it means. You already know don’t you? But, you know, anger is one of the primary weapons of the American female. When fully utilized it can be a formidable tool, and can bring virtually any American male to his knees. When combined with a “withholding” action it can be devastating.
In football vernacular, women are offense and men are defense. Which has more power? Neither. When used by persons against other persons, it’s a loss to both sides. Ask yourself, ‘Why is the American divorce rate currently at 50 percent? Here’s what I think: Control is the main issue in marriage. A woman wants to control her man so she can direct him to his best potential (wherever she wants him to go doing whatever she wants him to do). She will usually soon start with being dissatisfied with her new husband and begin dressing him differently, make him stop doing the things he enjoys. The use of, “You don’t really love me,” and/or “If you really loved me” or "Pay attention to me " comes into play, not to get him to do something so much as to train him to follow her directions. Keeping a man off guard and always wondering what his position is is good psychological warfare.
The husband-man is not even remotely as important as his being a doctor or a great bread-winner with plenty of extra cash at the end of the month to play with.
Mostly a man doesn’t want to be controlled, so he will try a ‘faking play,’ which means he’ll pretend to go along with being a good lap dog to get what he wants – usually sex. At a later stage the woman, feeling confident, will try to take total control. But, at some point most men become tired of having to tip-toe around ‘the wife’ or of being controlled and they'll rebel. Open warfare breaks out as the man tries to break free of his bonds and the woman fights desperately to retain control. For men, breaking free usually means walking out of his marriage. For a woman it's finding man to give her somewhere to move on to. But, also for women, losing control is humiliating for her in the eyes of her peers. So punishment is commonly the next step in the form of divorce proceedings and attempts to strip the 'bastard' of all of his possessions.
Like a mad play in the Theater Of The Absurd it goes round and round, escalating out of control. The result is usually one more percentage point in the divorce statistics.
What American man hasn’t found himself in that picture?
What’s the point in pointing out the obvious? That’s the way it is, right? The eternal battle between men and women. Women are women and men are men. Can’t live with them and can’t live without them. Try again… try again… try again…
The point is that what we’re talking about is the way things are in the Western world and mainly in America. America is not the world, it’s only America.
And Filipina’s are a completely different breed of cat.
Now, if you throw money at a Filipina, she’ll be only too happy to spend it. World-wide, spending, buying and showing off wealth is at the core of a woman’s pleasure center. But you don’t have to buy a Filipina’s love. Nor do you need to keep spending money to keep her.
Love means something entirely different in the female Asian mind. And I don’t believe I could ever truly put an explanation to it. But when a Filipina loves you, really loves you, she’ll stick to you like a barnacle on a ship’s hull, and she’ll never let go. She’ll do anything for you, and go anywhere with you.
Here’s an example: Celine was telling me about one if her aunts. Married and with five children, the aunt had her problems with her husband; mostly he didn’t like to work and didn’t provide well for his children who often went hungry. They argued. The husband got tired of being harangued for being worthless – which he was, actually – and decided to quit his wife and family.
“Woman, I’ve had it with you; you make me crazy. I’m leaving and I’m not coming back. Right now, I’m going, and I won’t be back ever again!” He began getting some things together to take with him.
“Fine,” said his wife, “go ahead and leave.” She then called to her children. “Children, go pack your bags! Hurry, now! Your father is leaving and we’re going with him.”
The husband looked at his wife, stunned. “Didn’t you hear me say I was leaving you?”
“I heard you,” she replied. “And where you go we go also!”
He could only stare at his wife for a moment, and then he broke out laughing. They hugged, they kissed and they’ve stayed together to this day.
Does that give you a hint of the difference in the mind of a Filipina?
Imagine what the outcome would have been in, say, California?
‘Fine, go ahead and leave, asshole! Who cares?! I never loved you anyway, you somabitch. Do what you want, you F--ing prick! But I’m going to take you for everything you have, you bastard. When my attorney’s gets done with you, you won’t have a pot to piss in!’

Obedience is a commonly used word in the Philippines. A Filipina is expected to follow her husband and obey him.
Women know how to work. This isn’t the Pepsi generation of fun in the sun and electronic gadgets doing all the work. The house gets swept by hand, the clothes washed by hand or in what passes for a washing machine here (it’s more like a plastic toy) which means it's still done by hand. Celine doesn’t ask me for help, nor does she expect it. It’s her job, by her own standards, to do the chores and to take care of me. She washes the clothes, washes the dishes, sweeps and wipes and mops, cleans the C.R. (Comfort Room = bathroom), irons the clothes, waters the many dozens of plants, goes shopping, runs the business and anything else that might need doing. And never once has she complained or shown irritation. Celine is always in a good mood. Her happiness comes from being with someone she loves and the joy in taking care of that person. That's me, fortunately.
Meanwhile I lie on the couch and watch TV or work at the computer or read a book or play my guitar while she works around me. The only way she bothers me is to come over and kiss me and to tell me she misses me even though we’ve both been in the house all day, or to ask me if I want her to make me some coffee or food. During Celine’s ‘time of the month’ she’s as sweet and loving as ever. She doesn’t lie on the bed moaning, she doesn’t get angry, and she doesn’t try to make me suffer along with her as her American counterparts do. If I’m horny and she’s having cramps, or has a cold and sore throat, or a headache or any other problem; it doesn’t matter to her. She makes sure to please me and to keep me satisfied even though I tell her it’s not necessary. It is nesessary, and important – to her.
Celine doesn’t ask for anything; not clothes, not jewelry, not money – nothing. If I buy her something she’s happy and appreciative. If I don’t buy her anything, she doesn’t mind. There’s no control issues, no fighting for dominance, no mind-games, no manipulations. I’m Celine’s husband and I’m the boss, and she’d follow me unasked into Hell if that was where I was headed. She’s in love with me (and I’m in love with her). Nothing else matters.
Show me one American woman that fits that description.

Cool! You’re thinking you’ll take a dozen of that kind of woman. You’ll take her home to Swaller-Holler, Kansas or wherever and live in domestic harmony and sexual bliss forever.
Don’t bet on it.
If you take your Filipina honey back to the States, within four years you’ll just have a short, brown version of the American female nightmare. Your Honey Ko will almost always adapt to the new lifestyle and act out what she sees around her. Most ‘take-home’ marriages wind-up in divorce, and even murder, because a Filipina in America has to show off to her relatives back home by sending a steady stream of money and presents to every living relative she’s ever heard of. Begging, demanding or ordering, or threatening her to get her to stop draining your bank accounts will usually fall on deaf ears. It’s the American Dream, isn’t it? Streets paved with gold - everyone rich beyond measure - big houses - big cars - consumption up the ying-yang.
Your Filipina honey can become your worst nightmare; far worse than any relationship you ever had with any Americunt.
But if for some reason she stays the same sweet-thang and caters to you hand-and-foot, you’ll be hated and ostracized by every American female within 100 square miles. Your friend’s wives won’t allow you to visit their homes or their husbands to visit yours. They won’t want their husbands to realize that there’s any kind of relationship other than what’s offered as standard fare in the States.
A typical male statement would be, “Gee, darlin’, why can’t you behave like JimBob’s Honey Ko does?”
Those girls will eventually smarten-up and do what they do best – they’ll team-up and go over to Honey Ko’s house while hubby is at work and will be all sweetness and light. Just-as-nice-as-you-please. They’ll tell that poor thing that she needs to learn how to live the ‘merican way, and, with broad smiles they’ll tell Honey Ko “We’re here to help, sweety.” Before JimBob knows what hit him Honey Ko will have been laid-up on Frankenstein’s work bench and cloned into a first-class bitch with a serious credit card ‘Jones.’
No, boys, don’t try to take Honey Ko home – you come here and live within the Pinoy culture. Retirement is closer than you think. Yeah, you’re probably lonely and wishing you had a woman laying beside you tonight, and that one particular gal down at the roadhouse is starting to look better than nothing. But when capitulation starts to cross your mind – think again. Then get on the Internet, have a beer while you massage that mouse, and start doing your research and homework. Don’t start typing to the ladies and falling in love again. Save that for later. Read real information on the Philippines and Filipina’s culture and society. Knowledge is power, as they say. Learn all you can… be smart about what you’re doing.
If you just can't wait, know clearly that there's a high probability that the cute Filipina who writes to say she’s a college graduate in computer science and a real good girl is, in all likelihood, a bar-girl/dancer/prostitute in Manila or Angeles City. There are a million scams on the Internet. If she asks you for money because she’s so poor, and paper, envelope and stamp money isn’t enough, click the disconnect button and look elsewhere.
If you fall in lust, um, love with some Filipina on the Internet and things are getting serious you should give very serious consideration to hiring a Filipino private investigator to do a background check on her before you buy your plane ticket. An investigator is quite cheap, as most things are here. Flying here and spending thousands of dollars only to find out you've been conned isn't.
Read, read, and read even more and search out as many Internet sites like this one as you can. Contact American’s living in the Philippines. There’s always contact information on every website. Contact people. Believe me; they won’t mind helping a fellow 4NR. There are about 3000 Americans living in Angeles City.
We’ve all been through the wringer at least once. And we all have stories to tell.
I’ll tell you more of mine in a later chapter.