Are You Sure
A Multi Cultural Relationship. This post deals specifically with Australia and Philippines, however, it is also applicable to other Western and Eastern countries. You just need to change the word Australia to USA, England etc. Also change the Philippines to Thailand, Vietnam etc. We are going to attempt to write a bit of a series on Multi Cultural relationships, with more information in each post. When I first started writing this post, I thought that I would give all the information in just the one post. Then I realised how much information there really was. That’s when we realised that it was going to be achieved over several posts.
So you have decided that you might like to consider having a relationship with a lady from the Philippines. Are you really sure? Don’t worry, you are in the right place, we can give you lots of free advice to help you decide if this is the direction that you really want to go.
In the course of this post, we will discuss many of the obstacles that you will possibly be confronted with. We will discuss and show you some of the various options available, giving you the good points and the not so good points for each option. As a man from Australia (or any other Western country) there will be things to consider that you had never even thought existed. I know that I personally forgot about an important item when Beth arrived here. More about that later I promise.
Okay, so the idea of an East meets West type of relationship appeals to you. I’m not going to question why you like the idea, there are as many reasons as there are relationships, every one of them different. I will say though, that if you want a caring and loving partner, who will be forever concerned about your personal and emotional well being, it is difficult not to love a Pinay. In saying that, if you want a lady that will inflict bodily harm on you if you cheat on her, a Pinay will do that too. The Filipina lady seems to be naturally instilled with a desire to care for others. Look close next time you visit a hospital, you will notice that there are many Filipinas working in the hospitals caring for people.
Another consideration that you might need to take into account, is the negative input from some so called concerned friends. There are those among us that can be a little ill informed, and possibly negative. If you are the type of person that gets concerned about the opinions of others, this really might not be the type of relationship for you. If the opinion of other people in your family is important to you, be sure to carefully do some subtle research prior to starting a relationship with a Filipina (or any lady from another culture). You really do not want to inflict the snide comments onto her from within your own family. Believe me, racism is alive and well here in Australia, no matter what the media try to make the majority believe.
For now, we will assume that you are, or have recently started communicating with a Filipina who is currently still in the Philippines. We will also assume that you are doing the vast majority of your communications online. You may have already met your Filipina lady in a face to face situation, or you might be currently planning your visit to the Philippines so that you can meet face to face for the first time.
Whatever your situation, you are sitting here reading this, you are getting advice from a couple that has been where you are. We have also helped several other couples that were in a similar situation, we gave them advice, guided them with some options that they would helpful.
It can be a challenge to separate areas of culture for discussion when taking about the Philippines. So much of the traditions are interwoven though out their daily life. When we began to write about this, we discussed at some length the fact that they were so interwoven. It is almost impossible to start and end at any given point, for they all weave such a fascinating tangled web.
A tradition of respect is everywhere in the Philippines. It is sad that we do not have this level of respect for others, to the same or even similar level that the people of the Philippines have (I might add, that it is similar in Thailand). An example of this is when the younger people of the household come home. As they enter the home they greet the older members, gently grasp the right hand of the older person, and place the back of the hand against their forehead. This is a type of blessing known as Mano Po / Amen
Another example is that until they become familiar with you (or you ask) they will continue to address you as Sir. You are an older person, so they feel that they must show respect. Older ladies are known as Ma’am. It would be very unusual for any Filipina to address you by your given name at the first meeting, unless you have asked them to do so (possibly several times)
Every country has its own unique sporting traditions. India has a cricket pitch on any available area of ground. Thailand will play soccer (football) almost anywhere, the people of the USA will always find an area to have a baseball diamond. In the Philippines, they will always find an area to install a basketball ring, even if it is nailed to the branch of a handy tree.
The average Filipina is very family orientated. The average Filipina will speak with as many of their family members as possible on any given day. They can’t imagine any day without being able to have some contact with any or all of their family. For those of us that come from the average Australian family of 2.3 children, this might not seem like a big deal. The average Filipina comes from a family with five siblings. In our case, Beth is the youngest child from a family of nine children. All of the siblings want to be regularly updated on the welfare of the “Baby” of the family.
Birthdays are an event that the whole family celebrates. Important birthdays for the parents will warrant an occasion for Lechon Baboy. This is basically a roasted Pig on a spit over the hot coals of a BBQ. The cavity of the pig is filled with Lemon Grass, and sometimes also has a chicken too. The pig is usually purchased several months in advance, and looked after until the event to ensure that he grows large enough to feed all of the family.
Food is used in every celebration. Every event is celebrated. Many events are given religious significance. An example is what in Australia is known as a house warming, in the Philippines is known as a house blessing. Differences, not that many really. Sure, they will have a priest (father) from the local church to do the actual blessing. After the blessing and the prayers, the food is consumed by all comers. There will be a lot of people at a house blessing. Everyone from extended family, through the neighbors and their extended family, plus the father (priest) and his family.
Family is important to every Filipina. Without family, a Filipina will feel as if they are dead inside. We can’t stress the importance of family to a Filipina enough. If you intend at any point to possibly have a Filipina as a life partner, possibly moving her to Australia, her family will be your biggest issue. This is not being pointed out as a bad point, it is simply a FACT. Your Filipina will get very homesick, and will miss her family. Importantly, her family will also miss her. This is at the end of the first month. Trust us when we say that it doesn’t get any easier for them with time. Modern technology and the internet make life a little bit easier in some ways. In other ways, it makes your Pinay homesick faster. So there are methods of communication that are open to them to make it easier such as Skype and Facebook. Video calls are wonderful, you get to watch them both crying when previously with an old fashioned telephone you only had to try to calm the lady on your end of the line. See, we did say that there were good points and not so good points. Family has the same level of importance to those from other South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia.
Christmas and New Year celebrations in the Philippines are like nothing that you have ever experienced here in Australia. The Philippines has a unique way of having one of the biggest street parties while at the same time being solemn and going to church to pray at Christmas time.
Ah, it wouldn’t be the Philippines without religion. A point of interest, it is the largest population of Catholics in the Asian Continent and one of the only Asian countries visited by the Pope. Christianity is the largest faith that is followed in the islands of the Philippines, with the largest group of the Christian faiths being Roman Catholics, they are followed very closely by the various born again churches, of which there are several. Surprisingly one of the most followed of these is our own Hill Song Church movement from right here in Australia.
In the Southern parts of the Philippine Islands there is a minority population of Muslims, among them there are a few small groups that are known to possibly have terrorist type contacts, but most just want to live in peace. These are not the radicals that are known from other parts of the world.
Religion affects everything in the Philippines. For anyone that has never before visited the Philippines, it might seem a little confronting at first. A great example of how much religion affects daily life is at 3pm every afternoon. If you happen to be in any major store / shopping center / movie theater at 3pm, everything will stop. There is suddenly total silence, a bell is rung, a prayer is spoken on a public address system. A few minutes later, life once again resumes at its normal frantic pace.
Religion is currently undergoing some major challenges in the Philippines. The country has some major economic challenges, with several large issues surrounding the problems with the growing population. The Catholic Church has some very strict views on the subject of Birth Control, yet the country seriously needs to do something about Birth Control and educating its people about family planning.
If you ever get the opportunity, take a walk through some of the poorer areas of any of the major cities in the Philippines. It is a little sad to witness a level of poverty that we are not familiar with here in Australia. It is a little sad to realise that many of the people that are living in such poverty are in families with so many children, they seem to struggle to feed the mouths that they have, yet are often expecting another at the same time. Teenage pregnancies are sadly very common.
The English language, she is a strange language. Depending on where you live, depends which version of this strange language that you speak. I will use an example of here in Australia. In most of this country we call the large poles that carry the power wires, telephone wires etc, Power poles or Telegraph poles. In South Australia, the same pole is known as a Stovey pole.
While we Australians were taught (one would assume) the basic British style of English Language, the people of the Philippines were (mostly) taught the American style of English. At first thought, this might not seem like a big problem, until you understand that we Aussies seem to have totally butchered a normal language until it only slightly resembles the original. We use so much slang in our everyday speech that it is now accepted as normal, we seem to have a challenge with the original English language. Normally this is not a problem for us as we all speak the same language, but for a newcomer it is confusing and frustrating. Naturally to really confuse the issue, the English made many minor changes to “Their” language after Northern America was colonised. So, many words and phrases used by the Northern Americans were originally correct, but then the British adjusted the language, so now they are not quite correct. So this is briefly why the English language is different between the UK and the USA. Several hundred years later we Aussies decided to adjust it a little more.
To give a few examples that Beth had challenges with when she first arrived here. Chook, we know it means Chicken, but try explaining why we call it a Chook. The same can be said for Spuds rather than Potatoes. Beth complains that it took her a couple of weeks to learn that Maccas and McDonald’s were one and the same place, and don’t get her started on the subject of breakfast versus brekkie.
On the second day that Beth was in this country she asked me quite politely to please try to use real English as she was having challenges understanding most of the things that I was saying. I questioned her a little, and was informed that although each word kind of sounded like English, they were all put together in a fashion that resembled no other language that she was familiar with. It should be noted here that she is capable of communicating in five different languages that I’m aware of. Beth can now add Australian to her list of languages that she is now capable of communicating with.
So, some friendly advice, try not to abbreviate when communicating with your Pinay lady. It will only confuse them. Try to remember the original (correct) word or name for any item or subject. If you struggle to try to remember the correct word, think how difficult it will be for the lady. On a positive note, that is usually a great method to start the education of your Filipina lady. Have a chat with them about the challenge that you had trying to remember that the correct word for spuds were potatoes. Believe us when we say that chatting about the English language leads to some very interesting conversations.
The humble mobile phone has progressed so much in just the last few years. It seems that it was only a few years ago that we wouldn’t have dreamed of using a mobile phone to make an international call. If we had done so, it would have meant signing over the birth rights of our first born child to be able to pay for the resultant bill that would be sure to follow the call. These days, fortunately things have changed a lot. We don’t need to actually phone the lady in the Philippines, we just use any one of several different methods to contact her. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the internet, Skype, Facebook, Whats App, and Viber to name only a few, almost anyone is able to be contacted.
There are several things that we must keep in mind when thinking of phones for contacting and communicating in the Philippines. Concentrating primarily on the Philippines, there are many areas that simply have very bad (or none at all) signal strength. Most (not all) use a pre-paid system for their phones (cell phones), so often need to go to buy more LOAD for their cell phone. This can get expensive for them. There is very little opportunity to use free WiFi as we do here at almost any Café. Cell Phones are purchased with access to a network (Globe or Smart usually) which then offers the user free access to selected apps (IE: Facebook and/or Messenger). So just because your Filipina lady friend can chat with you sometimes on FB, doesn’t automatically mean that she can see anything and everything on the internet. Be aware that if you decide to send her links, she just might not be able to open the link that you send to her because her phone simply doesn’t have access to it.
The cost of load is expensive when consideration is given to the average wage. The people of the Philippines have become expert in methods of communicating with a phone, without actually making a traditional phone call. They will send text messages (quick and simple), they will send messages via Facebook, Skype, Messenger, Whats App, the list goes on. They will use any method that they can to get communication, as cheaply as possible in any given situation. If a Pinay says that she must use a phone to actually call a person, you can believe that it is a last resort and that there really is no other option available.
Until the next Post when we will discuss some more details of of life in a Multicultural relationship, have a browse around the site. Check out the video of our wedding (proves we really did succeed in this), have a look at a few books that you might like for your loved one.