Top 5 Things Pinoys Say About Marrying a White Guy (or any foreigner)

 

top 5 things.jpgThose staring eyes and some judgmental glimpses can tip you off your “who gives a shit” mode, really. You stroll around the mall, or wait for the taxi like you usually do but people just can’t stop turning around trying to check you out from head to toe. Perhaps because you are standing right next to your Caucasian (or foreign) boyfriend (or husband), you automatically becomes an unwilling specimen for public assessment.

Those stares? I don’t really get it. Have you ever got that uncomfortable feeling?

I bet my fellow Pinays who are on the same boat can attest to the same. Though I generally find it funny, my humanity says it is okay to be pissed or to fight back when I feel violated in any way. Seems to me like being hand in hand with the love of your life (who happens to be a person outside of your race, and this isn’t really your fault) can trigger some attention.

When friends and I see a fellow Pinay with a foreigner strolling around here, of course we look, and that is mostly out of admiration or utmost disbelief (if you know what I am saying. 😉  But, to stare and give a meaningful and  demeaning look is another story.

Yep, we are aware of the points and the possible reasons by which you have your beliefs anchored, but do not compartmentalized all of us in a single, concrete category. This isn’t fair, and you don’t want to hear what we want to say.

Being in a happy relationship and living in a quite judgmental culture can be stressful and challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I never fall short of my self-assurance and confidence but things can just get to you too.

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Here’s the top 5 stupid things Pinoys say about marrying a white guy (or any foreigner for that matter) on this side of the planet:

1) You are only looking for a visa (Escape from hellhole)

When I say hellhole, it doesn’t just mean the corrupt society. Of course, this is an obvious reason many would choose to go somewhere else for a better opportunity, and the Philippines isn’t the only country that suffers this. Anyhow, you could hear people telling you that soon you will leave and go skiing in the Alps or maybe in Colorado or wherever the dollars or Euros keep flowing like water in a river. This river will surely become longer than the Amazon as it will go across continents to fund the “poor” family. And with this, “You are a lucky girl” reverberates often.

2) No local guy likes you (You are ugly as a cursed doll)

Another thing they might associate with you dating or marrying  a white guy (or anyone outside your race) is that you are ugly or quite unacceptable for local men. That no local guy will take you seriously or see you walk towards the altar coz you are “just isn’t worth it”.

This is especially true as a good number of Pinays who marry foreign men have kids out of wedlock.How can this happen?” you might ask. Some local guys will capitalize on the woman’s fragile heart, and after he succeeded in pushing her to “prove her love” to him and she got pregnant, she is left to herself. What a perfect setting to find a girl with a virginity ring!

3) The guy is a sex tourist (A loser in his country)

Okay, let us admit it, many guys we see here dressed quite lousy. How many of us have seen a much older guy in his near-rag- state T-shirt and shorts paired with sneakers with a pair of socks reaching the mid-calf walking hand in hand with a girl just past her teenage years? I bet we’ve seen countless, right?

Now, don’t let this be the mascot of everyone else. Decent white (foreign) men are even ashamed of this too. Not all foreign guys who fly here are out to hunt for a 3-month casual sex partner (though many actually are, too), and not all local women who date these guys are leftovers.

4) You do it for the money (A lazy girl looking for a sugar daddy) doraemon__money_eyes_by_ladywinterwind-d5a28tw.png

There might be countless stories of a foreign guy so deeply in love that he lost his sense of reality because the “exotic-looking” tanned Pinay just two-timed him. And because he couldn’t find a girl back home, he will settle for the one who showed him love, though not the genuine one. Women who do this are great local entrepreneurs; earning money by capitalizing on their continuously depreciating asset (if it really is). I would like to say that if he is a loser or a sex tourist and she is an entrepreneur, then it is but fair if their paths had crossed. Sad enough for those who are caught in such a parasitic exercise though they actually offer genuine affection.

You attract what you exude. A decent person would almost always find someone who is the same; and you know what goes for those who aren’t. This is not rocket science.

5) If he doesn’t give in to financial favors asked, he is frugal or selfish (He must feed the village)

The white guy (foreigner) is rich (and if he doesn’t give a dime, he is too frugal, or worse, selfish). Of course, we’ve all heard this story. When you are dating a foreign guy or maybe married to one, most people would think you have your pockets full of cash coz you hang around with a walking ATM. When you go out to eat and the guy pays for this, some people will find this as “taking advantage”, and not gentlemanliness.

Oh, yes, the longest money river in the world, right? How about the cost of living in his country or his monthly income and expenses? He doesn’t eat, yeah?

People, doesn’t matter which race, have their own bills to pay. When a foreign guy flies in, he, of course, will spend a lot of money for this. This doesn’t mean, however, that he is rich. Majority of the guys will have to save up to the last penny for the entire year or two to purchase a ticket. These are hard-earned cash. And yes, the Philippines isn’t a cheap place to travel (check out how much money the foreign guys can save travelling somewhere else in SE Asia).

If you go knocking on his girlfriend’s or wife’s door, asking for money and expecting to receive something to bet on the afternoon gamble by the neighborhood, you are bound for a disappointment, so forget about this.

Money do not grow on trees, much more from white (foreign) guys. How many women who marry for the money ended up jumping from one marriage to another trying to cash on all of them?

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How much patience do you have for upfront stupidity? I bet we all have very different approaches to facing this, and that our humility is definitely that of humanity. You know, we also get tired of being unjustly judged.

I have experienced some stares a couple of times. I would shrug it off often except when the two middle-aged women in a restaurant were staring at me like I am a corpse called back to life. I stared back with a questioning eyebrow, and off they went to a different table.

Are you in a relationship with someone from a different race?

What stereotypes must you face?

How do you deal with it?

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5 Things I Like About Commuting in Hong Kong

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The first thing I can say about public transport in Hong Kong is that it’s excellent! There are, of course, many different modes to choose from. And yep, each is clean, efficient, fast, and most importantly, on time. This efficiency is noticeable the moment someone land in Hong Kong International Airport. Right there and then, access to the Airport Express, bus terminus and taxis are admirably organized.

For someone traveling alone and for the first time in Hong Kong, this is organization is a relief. It is also worth to mention that the entire place is generous with the road signages, so basically, you won’t get lost as long as you read directions. And yeah, it pays to know your routes and where exactly you are going! 😀

So with that in mind, here are the 5 things I believe are the best qualities of public transportation in Hong Kong that makes it worth commuting:

1. The public transport is efficient

The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is certainly one of the most efficient ways to get around, and has a certain number of trips everyday that follows a pre-determined schedule.  It should also be noted that it is made up three different train systems: the underground (subway), overground and light rail. MTR includes the Airport Express.

Buses are also easy to find with the terminus having sufficient signs on where to find the ones going to your destination. There are different buses that caters to passengers to and from the airport during the day (A) or night (N).

Taxis and minibuses are also easy to find.

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2. There is no need to prepare exact change every time

Get acquainted with the Octopus Card. This is a rechargeable smart card that can be used on the MTR and most other public transport. It also allows you to make purchases in various shops, such as supermarkets in the city. It costs HKD150 and can be returned for a HKD37 refund at the airport. And oh, you can have this reloaded at any 7-11 shops around Hong Kong. When getting into the bus or through MTR counters, all you need to do is swipe. There is really no need to keep counting pennies when you commute.

If you prefer to pay with cash, make sure you have exact change as most types of transportation in here don’t hand you the change for fares.

3. It is remarkably convenient

You go out of your hotel, and you can easily find a taxi or wait at the bus stop. The buses and trains also come on time and with a short interval between them. 18818325_10208957529521583_93447055_o

When you live near the MTR stations, going to and fro is easy, and even if you are quite on a distance from these points, the underground pedestrians going to the trains offer shelter from the rain and the sun in the humid Hong Kong weather.

In most cases, despite the crowded trains, you can get a seat. I think it’s not worth the stress to try to fight for a seat since the travel time is swift and commuters get off quite quickly than you expect. Most likely, you only need a short walk when you transfer or get off,  and this is actually the only moment you have to pay attention to where you’re going.

4. The public transport is surprisingly comfortable

When you take the train during the peak hours, expect that it will be crowded to airtight.  Since most people prefer to take the public transportation to go places (work, school, etc) anticipate the flood of people who will compete for space. During this period, most likely, you will stand along with many other commuters that didn’t seem to mind the limited breathing space.  If you happen to take the train when everyone else is still at the office, then it is likely that you will have it for yourself, really. Empty trains can be usual here too.

The leg room and seats for both the taxis and the buses are what I like the most. Nothing beats the happiness of a commuter than being able to stretch his/her legs and lean on the comfortable seat while in transit, right? Buses going to and from the airport also have their own luggage storage by the entrance, so when you decide to take a good look of the city on the upper deck of the bus, you need not carry the heavy bags with you. And yeah, don’t worry, there is a monitor upstairs that lets you see if your bag is still in place 😉

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5. Trains and buses are generally on time

It can really be easy to complain about trains that are late by five minutes, but the Hong Kong trains are worth calling the marvels in motion. So basically, you can calculate how much time you exactly need to reach your destination. The public address system in the MTR stations also enables the commuters to adjust their pace going to the train doors. I mean, yeah, they literally run from their drop-off point to the pick up area when they have to change trains.

Buses don’t get to halt at every bus stop unless you press the “STOP” button to signal the driver you are to get off at the next point. So, basically, there is less waste of time.

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Every tourist’s commutes in Hong Kong vary. Some are shorter and easier, but quite challenging for others. In my case, for example, I love the almost “umbrella-free” (though I always carry my umbrella) commutes made possible by the covered walkways into and out of the MTR stations and offices. For others, having to take the crowded lines and change trains to get to there destination can be something they have to deal with the entire time. Of course, no two commutes are the same. 😉

What do you like about the public transportation in Hong Kong?

What do you like less?

Places to Go in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

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While in Hong Kong, we loved the idea to walk around a bit  in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, which is where our hotel is located. Since we stayed just in front of Kowloon Park, it has been our favorite place to stroll, if we were not exploring the lengths of Nathan Road or of the Temple Street Night Market and the nearby blocks.

Most things we’ve done in Hong Kong are free yet very enjoyable nonetheless. Rather than going to the malls or hanging out in expensive places, we wanted to go local.

Kowloon Park

Kowloon Park is just across our hotel;  it’s close enough, we can see it from our window. Situated near the harbour of Tsim Sha Tsui, remains of British presence, like some old cannons, are still in the park. But, this pagoda reminds me that I am in Hong Kong.

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Several museums, including Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre can be found there too. It was closed when we tried to check it out, though.

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Several ponds can also be found throughout the park, and the one that is particularly nice one is where the flamingos, ducks and pigeons thrive.

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How can I forget to mention about the flowers? I particularly love this one, though I don’t know the name. 

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The park looks quite old, but it’s still a good place to hangout. It also offers a view that contrasts nature with modernity.

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Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

This, perhaps, is the best spot to get an unobstructed view of the Central skyline.

By day…

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By night…

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Unfortunately, the Avenue of the Stars was closed for renovation. And it seems like many other spots are under construction, too! 

Hong Kong Space Museum

The exhibits in this predominantly interactive museum, enable the visitors to learn through the entertaining and educational experiences available like the moon walk, glider flying, and rocket launching. Part of it is also under renovation when we were in Hong Kong.

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Clock Tower

A remnant of the site of the former Kowloon Station on the Kowloon-Canton Railway, it is made of red bricks and granite, 44 metres high, with a 7-metre lightning rod on top.

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Star Ferry Pier

Located adjacent to the Clock Tower, Star Ferry Pier is full of vintage white-and-green boats known as Star Ferries. A sense of Hong Kong’s history and the influence of the British can be seen on the decks of these boats which also happens to offer low fares to and from the Hong Kong Island.

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Nathan Road:

The most important road of Kowloon and known as the Golden Mile, it is lined with shops and restaurants and throngs of tourists.

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You will be stopped by many Indians here who will try to sell you the fake watches and suit, especially if you are white (imagine how annoyed my husband was!) 

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Nathan Road is also famous for its neon glowing signboards of countless brands, especially jewellery shops.

How about you? Which areas in Tsim Sha Tsui do you like to see?

Have you been to Hong Kong? What are you favorite places?

The Real Cost of Education in the Philippines

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It’s the start of classes again, and I could feel that the downtown area gets crowded as we approach the month of June, the time of the year when most schools start the school year. What can I expect, this is the city that houses eight universities, more than 30 colleges, 200 secondary schools, and about 1100 primary schools.

I think this post is also quite timely as I am back in the classroom scene in the university. It’s not that I don’t like the previous administrative post I held at the kindergarten, but rather, I always think the classroom is my favorite workplace (as of the moment, I supposed). And this is something I would like to take advantage of, while I still can.

Mein Mann and I would talked about the cost of education in the Philippines as we are looking into the possibility of raising our family here in the tropics. He has read from a variety of topics written by Germans that most public schools, especially at the lower levels, would involved the kids mainly in singing and dancing. I have been working in the private academic institutions for a good number of years, and I PARTLY agree on this thought. I have seen it myself. I can’t blame the Germans as I personally admire their educational system.

But what’s really going on behind the face of Philippine education? 

By the school year 2011-2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) expressed that 6.38% of elementary school students dropped out of school. In the same year, the drop out rate is even higher among high school students, with 7.82% deciding to quit in the middle of the school year or not enroll for the next.

But, why do students drop out even when public education is free? 

Dropping out of the school is dictated by several factors. In a 2012 paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, it was revealed that the most critical factors that determine a child’s schooling include

  1. Parental and teacher perceptions on school readiness
  2. Educational attainment of the child’s parents
  3. Varying expectations on boys and girls
  4. The most common problem, poverty

Despite the fact that the Philippine public schools do not charge tuition fees, it’s not the only financial consideration for families. There are other things the family has to spend for which includes but not limited to

  1. School supplies and uniform costs
  2. Meals and transportation
  3. Sick family member needing medical care
  4. Parent/s becoming jobless

And, when they say it’s FREE, it doesn’t mean ZERO payment.

In 2015, the following estimation reflects the cost of public education in Manila, which is not really far from that of bigger cities outside the capital. 

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Starting this school year, 2017-2018, public universities will also observe the “no  tuition fee” rule. This, however, isn’t applicable with “other fees”.

Equally important, it should also be noted that state universities with subsidized tuition fees are also SELECTIVE. Simply stated, if the student’s college preparation is weak, he might as well lose the chance to enjoy the free public university education.

Here’s what my university’s website said about it:

wvsu

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What about the private schools, you might ask. Well, I guess it is safe to say that fees for private education ranges from P25,000.00 and above for a semester, and we are only talking about a basic private school, not the elite private academic institutions. So, when a poor kid goes to a private school, it would basically means being funded by a scholarship, may it be academic or sports.

Take a look, for example, at the tuition fee of a mid-range private kindergarten in Iloilo City:

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So, going back to the question of whether the kids at the kindergarten or primary level mainly focus on dancing and singing… I believe the figures are enough to understand that parents will not spend the minimum amount reflected above just so the kids can sing and dance. The monthly tuition fee alone is equivalent to a year of spending for the public school kids, and it only gets expensive every year.

Often times, I told my husband that one of the best ways to avoid paying for the expensive cost of education in the Philippines is for me to stay in the academe. This, do not only give us the access to the “right people and networks” but also almost guarantee that our kids can study for free at whichever school I am employed. Does that sound practical enough?

So, what now? 

Given the fact that a good number of students dropped out of school every year (mainly due to poverty and lack of determination and guidance), and that the private schools are also expensive, the following might as well explain how this vicious cycle perpetuates. 

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I hope it gives you the mental picture of how challenging it would be for an unfortunate kid to get his/her “right to education” in this country where the best you can be is defined, in most cases, by the privilege you were born with.

I personally believe poverty in material things is not a hindrance to get an education . For me, it had always been the parental support and the academic opportunities that made a huge difference. Read here, should you need a proof. 😉

What do you think are the factors that affect educational success?

Do you think paying for the private schools can make a difference?

Please share your thoughts. 🙂

German-Pinay Talks: Differing Communication Styles

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How are you? 

I’m okay. 

I mean, how are you? What’s up with you? 

I am okay. Nothing’s new with me.

Have you ever felt frustrated trying to get your meaning across? I bet we all have this going-nuts experience.

Not even two people belonging to the same culture are guaranteed to respond in exactly the same way. Let’s make it more complicated by involving a person from another culture.  I bet for now, we get the mental picture, yeah?

Communicating across cultures is CHALLENGING as each has set rules, coupled with its own cultural biases introduced to us from a very early age. While some of our culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs and values are explicitly taught, most of the information is absorbed subconsciously, which makes it even more difficult to diffuse. Enough with this lines. I think I could really get serious talking about this. 😀 and yes, I can talk about this for hours.

I have a degree in communication and language teaching but I am not spared. 😀

Let’s see how it goes with us:

My high-context Asian style vs Mein Mann’s low-context European style. It is not even about the issue of industrialization or something to that effect, but instead, of the use of contexts.

To beat around the bushes or not? Be gentle or upfront?

As a Pinays, (and perhaps Asians in general), we were taught early in life that confrontation is a “no go”. That if you confront someone, you might as well be seen as a trouble maker, or an attention seeker. And, that “people should be wise enough to read between the lines”. Let’s add to this the countless nonverbal cues and gestures available at our disposal. Take tsk tsk tsk as a way to express disbelief or disagreement. That’s just really one of it.

The result? A clueless German husband trying to figure out what is wrong and why are we arguing in the first place; dealing with the furious wife on the verge of losing sanity thinking her words and reactions didn’t mean a thing!

Then goes the explicit, direct and specific language of mein Mann (and of those English or Germanic speaking dudes). Not leaving any gaps for interpretation, saying the exact words that tells the message upfront regardless of how blunt it can be for me.

Result? The Pinay wife feeling underestimated or scolded who would then retort in a quite “arrogant” way. More of recalling the previous arguments that involved the same subject or asking of the specific events that will prove his statement. Kinda like, he said, “you are not listening”, and so she would retort with a smirk, “ah, you did the same last time, remember?”

The start of a long discussion commences.

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Sequential European  vs. Synchronic Asian

One after another or all at once? Yeah, we will see.

Mein Mann, as his culture dictates, would think of time sequentially. I mean, as far as I have noticed, time is something as a linear commodity one can either “spend,” “save,” or “waste.” Simply stated, we need to talk about one topic at a time, doesn’t matter if it overlaps with another thing. Let’s talk about this thing first. First things first.

The synchronic Asian wife, however, would love to see time as something that flows constantly, and thus, it is okay to be experienced in the moment. You know, time is a force that cannot be contained or controlled. Let’s live by the moment and see  time as it flows around a circle with the past, present, and future all interrelated. So, ah yes, love, this is also related to that thing we talked about last time, right?

The result?  Chaos in making or discussing the “long-term” plans. Chaotic in the sense that all elements are scrutinized with both views present. Take for example the discussion on living in the Philippines and with me pursuing my professorship. The husband would ask, “but, with a family, are you sure you can balance everything?” which I would often retort with “yes, it is possible”. This would later drive him nuts, as “possible” means “yes, I can really do it” for him, yet I mean, “yes, I can with the help of other people”. Since we both agree that one of us should at least be present at home with the kids every day regardless of where we work, of course, “it is possible” only fans the flame of “yeah, maybe, but I won’t be home at for at least 8 hours in a day even when you are in Europe for some months”.

Boom! It is really possible? Yes, those endless possibilities defined the Asian way.

If there is ONE THING though that we both strongly agree on, that would be with the thought that the individual is the one responsible for himself as he influence the future by personal effort. But, given the multitude of variables that might derail the way to the projected future, a short-term view can be a good thing. Talking about reality and not ideals. And oh, that it is also important to think it is not really a good idea to do business with friends or family members.

Affective Asian vs. Neutral European

As with any type of relationship, reason and emotion both play a role. But, who readily shows emotions like laughing, smiling, smirking, and sometimes crying, shouting, or walking out of the room? You got it right! The affective Asian wife does. And what about the Neutral husband, you ask? Hell yeah, he rarely telegraphs his feelings and keep them carefully controlled and subdued no matter what the situation is.

The result? The husband has to deal with being told cold or unfeeling, and the wife being poked fun at for getting out of control and doing the unthinkable in the West- “tampo”. The problem, however, is the fact that many non-Filipinos define “tampo” in a way which encompasses all the expression of emotions and not with the specific “cold treatment until I get what I want” style. So, when we walk out or keep quiet for a while, it means with don’t want confrontations and that we are taming the beast within so it won’t break free to eat you alive. 😀 Affective and low-context, yeah??

With planning things, the Asian wife, eaten by excitement or worry, would drive the neutral husband, who are more inclined with whether the idea works or not, nuts.    He could say, “I agree with your thoughts on this” rather than “I feel the same way.” Seems like the wife can’t get the confirmation of feelings. You know, this rationality can be totally irrelevant for her. This is personal, me and myself think so. 😀 And the husband feeling that it is just right to say so, as it is rational doesn’t matter how emotional this affective wife can get.

Reason and emotion, when will you get married?

Is this enough to buy everything you need?

Ah, that’s cool, I can get by with this.

Is this enough?

Maybe.

Is it enough? Yes or no.

No, not really.

Ah…. I hate this.

The next discussion begins.

Of course, there is no single best approach to communicating perfectly with one another. I believe the key to cross-cultural success is to develop an understanding of, and a deep respect for, the differences.

Are you married to a person outside of your culture? What are the struggles (or fun) you have in communicating? Share your thoughts! 🙂