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Dating in the Philippines

Updated on February 12, 2017

A Little Background

So you want to date a Filipina? You would do well to read this ebook quite carefully and think before just jumping into the dating world of foreign women. But first a little background. I am not a professional writer or even a college English major, but have learned many lessons about dating, traveling and living in the Philippines through years of trial and error. This article will pass on many of the life lessons I learned living in the Philippines. I also want to give credit to my wonderful girlfriend along with our many friends that provided valuable insights into the thinking of Filipina women. This is not meant to be a comprehensive dating guide or “how to” book. Instead, it will give you the background and try to explain cultural differences that are not immediately obvious to someone unfamiliar with the country

About the Ladies

The Phillipines is well known for its beautiful women and as a source of wives and girlfriends for Americans and Europeans. Ever wondered why you do not find nearly as many Thai, Indian, Malay or even Indonesian women on the online dating sites? There are many reasons why the Philippines is uniquely situated to be a source of exporting people? There are three main ones:

1. English is the supposed national language and taught in most schools.

2. The US is still popular here, no matter what the current politicians say, and finding a "foreigner" to date or marry is highly respected.

3. The Philippines is mostly impoverished and people are desperate to improve their standard of living any way they can.

There is one thing that everyone should understand. These ladies looking for foreigners to date are not likely going to highly educated, have good paying jobs or come from elite families. Just as most anywhere, they will be poor, less educated, often provincially (country) raised girls from struggling backgrounds. Yes they may be young and beautiful, but don’t expect anyone that has been to the opera, speaks fluent foreign languages or traveled much. They will have few of the life experiences you have and have issues relating to your way of living and thinking.

So here is the Good and Bad of dating Filipinas...........

Language Issues

There are multiple local “native” languages spoken across the island, Tagalog being the primary one spoken by the majority of people in the northern part of the country with Visayan and Cebuan spoken further south. But the “national” language that is taught to all students is English. You will find that almost all the signs, advertisements and street signs are in English. As English is probably the most international language in the world, this helps tremendously in communicating with new friends. But, the levels of English proficiency vary widely from fluent to non-existent, predicated mainly on education levels, economic status, job and location. The best schools are almost always in urban areas and if you do not grow up in such an area or with parents that speak English around you, it is likely your language skills will be pretty basic. It is rare that any of the ladies you meet online are fluent, most have a basic grasp of the language and will need a little (or lot) of help and patience on your part. But at least you have some chance of communicating with them.

Language Barriers

Language: There are multiple local “native” languages spoken across the island, Tagalog being the primary one spoken by the majority of people. But the “national” language that is taught to all students is English. You will find that almost all the signs, advertisements and street signs are in English. As English is probably the most international language in the world, this helps tremendously in communicating with new friends. But, the levels of English spoken vary widely from fluent to non-existent, predicated mainly on education levels, economic status, job and location. The best schools are almost always in urban areas and if you do not grow up in such an area or with parents that speak English around you, it is likely your language skills will be pretty basic. It is rare that any of the ladies you meet online are fluent, most have a basic grasp of the language and will need a little (or lot) of help and patience on your part. But at least you have some chance of communicating with them. The ability to speak English or any other foreign language may be fare less than the can write it, so just beware of that.

Economic Realty and Who is Using Who?

The Philippines is still a third world country in many (most?) ways and one of the poorest in SE Asia, especially in the outer Island areas. It is decades behind Thailand and Malaysia in commerce and infrastructure, not to mention education. The majority of people there have little economic opportunity and have to leave the country, often to Arab countries, to make even a basic life. Imagine trying to live on $250 a month, when you are lucky enough to even find a job! It is cheaper to live there, but not that much. Unless you want to live 10 people to a small 2 BR house, eat mostly rice, not have any transportation or money to spend, then you can’t have a decent life on $250 a month. Food is surprisingly expensive, especially in the larger cities. Vegetables are practically at US prices and even locally caught fish are not cheap anymore with the rapid depletion of the once rich fishing areas.

This is a significant if touchy subject for anyone contemplating moving back to the US with their new and probably much younger Filipina bride. Here is the truth gleaned from many local expats and other Filipinas. In the Philippines, "foreigners" are sort of like rock stars, offering a way out of poverty, much better life, often are kinder and "sweeter" than any men that the ladies could find locally. So obviously that makes them a valuable catch, age non-withstanding. Food and shelter take precedent over age any day. In addition, the ladies know that there is fierce if not blatant competition for the men, so they better take care and behave themselves or lose their golden ticket. The problems start when they move to the US or Europe for that matter and become citizens in those countries. Suddenly the roles are reversed and they become the exotic and sought after objects with their youthfulness and exoticness. That older man that was so sweet and desirable in the Philippines is looking pretty tarnished with all the sudden options, many with far more money and more exciting lifestyles. This is especially true with young girls 25 and under and no kids, for obvious reasons. The stories of fast divorces after moving are unfortunately based on fact. Do the ladies actively plan to dump the guy and are strictly using him? Probably in some cases, though more likely it is a matter of when changing your environment, there will be serious changes to be expected. After all, think about the real reasons why the lady is with you to start with? Could you blame her if the roles were reversed?

Relocation Blues

This is a really tricky one for most people. Many of the ladies say they are happy to or even want to relocate to a western country where they dream of living like a hollywood star. After all, that is what they see on TV. Reality could be quite a shock when they no longer have their favorite foods around, their extended families they are so close to and are in a totally new culture they can’t relate to. Not to mention the large unlikelihood of living like a hollywood star. So you need to be extra sensitive to their needs. They often don’t know enough to comprehend just how different and uncomfortable they will be.

Religious Influences

An estimated 95% of the population is Catholic, and fairly devout Catholic for that matter. The church is still actively against birth control/family planning so families tend to be large, 5 or 6 children being pretty typical. That only makes the situation far worse by creating explosive population growth and practically guaranteeing ongoing poverty. The remainder are a mix of Muslim and assorted Christian faiths. Muslims are rarely found looking for foreigners to date and prefer to stay within their own community so it is safe to assume to you will meeting mostly Catholics of varying religious fervor. The church is active in all stages and parts of their lives and intertwined in government, schools, private businesses and public policy. It is impossible to separate church and state here which has some big effects that you may never have experienced before. Like in most countries, dating generally takes precedent over religion with most of the ladies perfectly willing to date someone that is a non-catholic. But their deeply seated Catholic indoctrination will come back in many ways from marriage concepts, children, guilt and inferiority complexes ( we are all sinners, pray for forgiveness) and even social life.

Children Craziness

Most of the women you will meet looking for foreign partners think quite differently about kids that what you will be used to. Having a light skinned child is considered a wonderful accomplishment, even if the father is not involved. I have personally met multiple women that are perfectly happy getting pregnant just in order to have a "white" baby and although would like to keep the dad around, it is not essential. Many of these dads are not even aware they have kids. Of course there is also the aspect of having a child will create much tighter bonds with the dad to keep them around, that is no different than most any western culture. But with no child support laws or requirements, women do not necessarily expect any support and children are not considered the "financial burden" as in most western countries. Having kids with men in the 60's is just fine also, even though the long term parenting situation is a little dicey. Looking far ahead is not the norm.

So in summary, women here are far more eager to have kids under circumstances that would be inconceivable in most other countries. With the quite lax use of birth control, never trust the women to be taking precautions and be safe!

Age and Cultural Norms

Unlike most cultures, marrying a “foreigner” is considered quite a big accomplishment and highly encouraged for especially poorer and working class girls. Unlike most developed countries, marrying someone 25 years older or more is not just accepted, it is encouraged and the women are brought up with the idea that an older, established and financially secure man is far more preferable than someone their own age. Families welcome these mixed aged and race marriages as a source of status and an opportunity to help them escape poverty.

As in many Asian countries, women over 25 years old are considered “old” and if unmarried by 30, have little chance of ever getting married of finding a good relationship in their native community. If they have kids, that simply magnifies the situation and they are often desperate to find someone to take care of them financially and emotionally. Age differences are far less important to these ladies than in western countries. They can be perfectly happy with men 25 plus years older, but a dose of reality is needed. Do most 65 year old man really “have what it takes” to make a 20 or 30 year old woman happy other than provide a stable and less stressful environment for them?

Common Scams

This is a big one. By now you are probably aware of the legions of scammers out there simply looking for money. The wide variety of ways they try to “work”, “hook” or “guilt trip” you are pretty predictable but keep on working. Of course this happens all over the world and some of the schemes are hilariously bad. But just the idea is off putting and creates bad feelings. Being prepared and using a few common sense rules go a long way in keeping you out of that trap. If a woman you just met asks for money, walk away. It is that simple. Always keep your financials separate. Expect her family to start wanting "loans" and make it clear that you are not a bank. Of course the smarter ones know to wait a while on looking for money until you are "hooked", so never let your guard down. The cultures are totally different and when desperation is thrown in, anything can happen and does. Not to say most of the ladies are scam artists, far from it, but there are just enough to be wary. Even the Filipinas will agree with that and are mad at those scammers for causing so many problems.

The Nitty Gritty Details

Ok Guys. It is time to be brutally honest with yourself, what are you really looking for here? For young men, it is probably a few weeks of fun and excitement with an exotic woman. Looking to marry one? Not likely. For older men for whom this book really is aimed ( do young men even read anymore?), try to think about the reasons you are considering these ladies. It is for a radical midlife change? Perhaps someone that appreciates and pays more attention to you? Trying to feel young again with an adoring lady your daughter’s age? Looking to move overseas and want all the above and a local guide? Probably it is combination of all the above. So with that in mind, how does the lady fit into your plans? Young and pretty? That is easy to accomplish and usually the first step. There is a seemingly limitless supply of beautiful ladies in the 20’s looking for men between 50 and 65. Even the ladies are worried that you will be stolen away by someone younger and prettier and are constantly vigilant and very possessive. But young and pretty only goes so far. You may be sick of the ex wife that never stopped talking or complaining, so finding someone that can’t speak much English is a good thing. But when you can’t talk about what you would like to do that day, your feelings or even small talk over a meal, how happy will you stay? Are you willing to take the time to teach her English? Maybe learn some Tagalog or Visayan with her? Try to understand her background and who she really is beyond the front she wants you to see. It will take time and effort with the language barrier and she may be shy about her past. It is likely one you have never experienced before. Take time to learn about her family, meet them and vice versa. Family is all important in the Philippines and not being accepted could be the end of the relationship, or at a minimum, put the lady into a difficult position.

The vast majority of ladies you are going to find will have relatively poor public education degrees, perhaps a little technical college training and some job experience. Many never finished high school or even middle school. They probably have never left the Philippines, know little about the outside world other than some often humorous idea of how wealthy all foreigners are, and no cultural exposure other than singing Karakoke. Sounds pretty scary right? Well, it is. But that does not mean they are not intelligent, caring, interesting and wanting to learn more. People are the same everywhere and finding someone with the same intelligence level, similar long term goals and commitments is just as important here as back home. Imagine dating your daughters friends and you get the idea. Not quite so immature perhaps since people in tough circumstances tend to mature faster, but most things are similar. You may want to consider sending them to school to get a college degree and feel better about themselves in the process. It would certainly make you a hero in their eyes.

Here is the tricky part, the ladies usually say that all they want is someone that will treat them with respect, be nice to them and support them. And for the most part, that is true. But part of that is because they are often in pretty dire straits and anything beyond eating, shelter and safety is almost beyond their comprehension. Many have never been exposed to even things we consider basic living such as going to a movie in a theater, staying in a nice hotel, swimming in a pool or owned a car. Even the more wealthy ones have probably never left the country, ever had much spending money or lived on their own. How can they be expected to converse about religions, art, different foods or even sports? Their focus is making you happy and wanting then enough to marry or at least move in together. They do that in the ways they know best like sex, perhaps being very attentive to your needs, give you massages, cooking meals and just trying their best to be good company. Perhaps they will have you meet the family, their kids and try to make you feel welcome. It is hardly a bad thing and perhaps what you are even looking for but never knew. Being respected and becoming a member of a large family can be very rewarding and satisfying. But be prepared for some “drama” also, frequently the norm in struggling families. There are always a few problem relatives or kids causing problems and needing money, in jail or having emotional issues. In fact you should expect to have relatives wanting to “ borrow” money. It is a difficult situation since most “loans” never get paid back and then those relatives can “lose face” with you and no longer feel comfortable in family settings. Talk seriously with your Philipina and see what she thinks. Many times she will let them know simply not to ask or risk her wrath.

One very touchy (pardon the pun) aspect of any highly mixed relationship around the world, is physical needs compatibility. Or to put it more bluntly, can you satisfy your partner's needs? This is not a theoretical question anymore when we are talking a 25 year age difference. As we age, our body chemistry and physical abilities change, usually not for the better. A 55 year old rarely has the youthful stamina and sexual drives that a 25 year old does and why should they? 25 year olds are supposed to be having families and starting their lives, at middle age, it is time to relax and enjoy the finer points off life. Talk to most of these Filipina ladies and they will vehemently argue against feeling that they desire the attributes of a young man, but is that really true or are they just saying what you want to hear? Well, it is probably some of both. They are more concerned with being secure financially than filling their physical needs, that is a normal human hierarchy. But once they do have more free time and less stress in their lives, that will change. Most of these girls probably want to be happy and satisfied with their older men, but the stories abound of these same ladies having younger and secret boyfriends. Can you really blame them? There is a cost to everything, it works both ways and some things we just have to reasonable and upfront about. If our idea of a good time is a nice dinner followed by a few beers watching a movie on Netflix then going to bed at 11, then there are going to be some issues to work out. It does not have to be a deal breaker, but women need to feel appreciated in both mental and physical contexts, not doing so will have serious ramifications. On a more positive side for the guys, be prepared for more physical excitement than you have had in quite a while. Probably more than you will want in fact. These ladies are out to make you want them and sex is their primary and instinctively biggest tool.

Coming from the US, Australia or Great Britain, we are used to pretty much everyone speaking the same language. Perhaps there is some Spanish in some areas or touches of other ethnic languages from time to time, but 99% or more of the people will speak English fairly fluently. That all changes in the Philippines. Although English is supposed to be the national language, the majority of people have just a rudimentary grasp of it, especially in more rural areas. It is rarely spoken among family members and used mostly for business. It seems strange then to see almost all the street signs, bill boards and other advertising almost exclusively in English, of which so many people cannot ready. Welcome to just one of the many odd ways of life here. This situation will cause major problems though. In general, the poorer the person is, the less English they will speak. As most of the ladies you will be meeting are poor, then it stands to reason that they communication abilities will be likewise very limiting. A quick browse through any of the online dating sites will quickly corroborate this with incredibly poor grammar being the norm.

So what happens when you can’t talk to each other other than some basic phrases and gesturing? That is a good question and really depends on how flexibly and patient you are. The first step is to talk far more slowly, repeat things and make sure they really understand. Many people will act like they do but really are catching just a small part of what you are saying. That is sure to create some major conflicts eventually. Get a language translator, there are some free apps for smart phones that work ok as do pocket dictionaries. Be prepared to simplify your speaking and not use so large or complicated words. Nobody likes to feel stupid so the more you can modify your speaking habits to be easier for her to understand, the more appreciative she will be. Smile a lot, that always helps and in general be prepared for lots of miscommunications and questions. They have probably been through it before too and know the rules. Everyone’s language skills will improve with time and practice. In some cases, the lack of communication will doom the relationship. It is not anyone’s fault, just time to move on.

To Summarize

As with most anything in life, there is no clear cut rule or definition of what is right and wrong when dating Filipinas. As long as you are honest with each other, spend plenty of time getting to know the ins and outs of intercultural relationships, understand and appreciate the risks and rewards and are willing to be patient and understanding, then there is a good chance it can work. Just remember that things are not always as they seem and be sure to protect yourself from both emotional and financial disaster if things do go south!

Beautiful Beaches in the Philippines

A good reason why people like to move here.
A good reason why people like to move here.

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