Your Filipina Pen Pal!

But seriously, folks: it's all about dialogue...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here is another perspective on international/interracial/interethnic couples. It is not a dating service but it looks like an attempt to create a cybercommunity of international couples. I went to the Germany country site and didn't find a lot of Filipina-German couples. Then I went to the Philippine site; while it looks like there's quite a few penpal marriages, there seem to be equal number of couples who met under different circumstances than penpal (does IM count as penpal?)

What say you?

Monday, February 27, 2006

FROM THE NETHERLANDS

So from the Netherlands, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz blogs on this issue (Feb. 26, 2006)-- I'll just excerpt from her post here as I'd like to add it to the discussion:

FROM ROCHITA:
The issue of the M.O.B. is something I find myself confronted with too. While a lot of Filipinas marry for love, there are an equally good number who do marry out of economical reasons.

I do understand about poverty and how the economic situation in the Philippines leads to this "kapit sa patalim" mentality. As one young girl told me, she came here with a man who was old enough to be her grandfather because she wasn't smart enough to land a job and it was her only way out of poverty. Later on, the grandfather type dumped her for a still younger version and she ended up in a relationship with a man who was closer to her chronological age. Her second man was rather bossy, but he did care for her in his way. It was quite a turbulent relationship and when her second husband passed away, she hopped on to the next relationship wagon.

There is another case, which involves a girl married to man who is old enough to be her father. This man - divorced from a Dutch woman - presented quite a docile face at first. This girl when I first met her was a vivacious figure. Once the marriage papers were signed, the man altered. We saw the other side of him.

A typical evening with them would involve him telling invited guests that his wife was worthless, that she was "bobo" (knew nothing/ uneducated ), that he could find a hundred pretty Filipinas to take her place.

Over time, I watched how this vivacious and energetic filipina transformed into a nervous wreck who jumped at the sound of his voice.

We tried to show her that this relationship was an abusive one, but she insisted that unless he hit her, she could not leave him. Her insistence on staying with him stemming from something he'd said about Filipinas marrying only for money and her belief that if she did separate from him, it would justify what he said.

I still struggle with cases like these, and when I encounter situations where I know economics is one of the issues, I can't help feeling so, so, so frustrated.

In a recent workshop given by Stichting Bayanihan ( a support group for Filipinas in the Netherlands ), one of the subjects raised was that of empowerment.

I wonder what a Rik person (as referred to in the Mutya Power blog) would say if his Celine suddenly stood up, brandished a bolo and declared: "I am an empowered woman, Rik. I'm not the submissive you thought I was."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

XOXOXO RIGHT BACK ATCHA!

COUPLETS AND COUPLINGS
--for the husband who penned the essay “Filipina ladies, Asian penpals and my Philippines penpal experience”


1)
When I first started writing Asian Filipina ladies,
I did not know what it meant to have a penpal.

I happened to see pictures of beautiful Filipina ladies
on a website, and I just got this overwhelming desire

to contact them. There is something about a Filipina,
and Asian lady in general, that is so appealing yet hard

to explain at the same time. Is it the traditional values
of a Filipina, or perhaps their beautiful smiles? Or

maybe it is the beautiful long black hair and sweet
disposition that can only be found in an Asian lady

from the Philippines. Whatever it is, once I saw
this website of Asian penpals looking for partners in life

I knew my destiny.


2)
Is this really about my desire to be with an Asian Filipina
penpal, or is it about my dislike for American women?

This is a sore spot for many ladies in this country and I realize
this. Some of my closest and dearest friends are American women.

If you do not believe me, I am sorry but it is true. It is also not
about likes and dislikes. For me it is about compatibility

as a married couple. I just happen to find Asian women more
traditional and less competitive, and that is what I desire.

I know, the old stereotype that I need someone to push around
comes up all the time. Let’s face it, finding a lady to push

around in the USA is not that difficult. I do not need to travel
10,000 miles to find a Filipina for that. What it is about for me

is being able to admit that men and women are different. I know
there are certain things my wife can do better than me, and that

is just the way it will always be. My wife also realizes that I am
better at handling some things. Filipina ladies understand this,

which means there is no need for this constant 50/50 power struggle.


3)
When I went to the Philippines for the first time I saw traditional
values first hand. Asian women as a general rule are very loyal

to their family, so if you want to make it work you better be nice
to her parents, and especially her father. Your pen pal bond

will evaporate into thin air if you make her choose between you
and her family. If a Filipina is forced to choose, you will lose

95% of the time. And even if you win, your life together might be
a living hell.



*****
Notes on Form:
1) The text is almost directly lifted from this earnestly-written drivel as to why Filipinas should be preferred for pen pals from the site “Melinda’s Pen Pals” at http://www.melindaspenpals.com/filipina-penpal-facts.htm.
2) At one point, during multiculturalism’s earlier stages, it was common to see conservative critics dismiss much free verse by poets of color as mere prose chopped up into verse via line breaks. So, I took this prose drivel and chopped it up into a poem. Isn’t it interesting, though, how the form of a poem vs prose can facilitate a second look at a text to emphasize just how drivel-ish it is?
3) I wanna belabor the obvious because though I know my collaborators can get it, the occasional Peep who comes here via Google may not “get” how the couplet form fails at the end of each section (by lapsing into one line only or how, in 3rd section, it becomes truncated). Obviously -- it’s a metaphor.
4) Wink.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Melinda's Pen Pals

Quite a few pen pal marriages end up starting their own Pen Pal Services. I came across this website.

Some of the more interesting pages from his site (it's mostly the husband that posts on the site):
-Reason for preferring Filipinas
-Various emails they've received
-Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005

The IMBRA law effectively requires all men seeking pen pals to go through a security check before being allowed to contact any women (Section 113 of the Act). Companies that are introductory sites must make sure the men do not have anything on their record regarding domestic violence and a whole long list of other things that may make them prone to creating an abusive relationship.

Another site I ran across was Filipina Wives which is not a pen pal site, but is a gentleman that sells a book regarding Filipina women and Western men relationships. The site includes a pseudo quiz to measure whether seeking a Filipina wife is a good idea or not. His site seemed a bit more balanced in terms of taking on myths.

Some pages there:
-The Problem with "Submission"
-His Mail Order Bride FAQ includes what the INS defines as a "mail order" bride
-Attack on Feminism (men saying they are looking for a Filipina because they are not apt to western Feminist ways

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Con men

"So strong is this pervasive image of the sexually exotic, available Asian woman that, at the time when the fight over Miss Saigon was raging in NY, Christopher Barnes, an African American man in Los Angeles, was scamming thousands of other men by duping them into corresponding with him, under the ruse that he was an Asian woman. In on enine-month period, he conned at least $280,000 from 400 men who thought that he was their Asian pen pal sweetheart....his computer database held over 8,500 men from every state in the nation, from truck drivers to doctors, lawyers, and college professors, who paid money to get letters from his Asian women characters --exchanging letters for more than a year." (Helen Zia, Asian American Dreams, p. 132)

At Ohio State U, Asian women students in the late 1980s were targets of rape by a fraternity in a "game" called "Ethnic sex challenge." (Zia, 133)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Discipline and Punish

Regarding Leny's last post: The thing that bothers me about R's writing is that I feel that it IS written to attract the voyeur in everyone. Using those images, talking about Filipinas, and positioning himself as a white man in the "candy store" is his way of getting attention and feeling powerful. He knows that what he's writing will attract attention, and it probably doesn't matter whether it's positive or negative, so long as he gets the attention.

I'm also thinking now of the voyeurism involved in all the recent scandals about Abu Ghraib, the recent airing of British troops beating protesters, how in all these instances, the need to record and replay these displays of punishment and power (in many cases eroticized in the videos -- even in the British case, the hysterical vocalizations of the narrating soldier were disturbingly orgasmic) have exposed the abuses. In some ways, perhaps what we are seeing on the Expatriots in the Philippines site is a kind of micro version of what's getting played out on a larger scale; in both cases, someone must be "disciplined" so that they can be worthy of the gifts of modernization and democracy.

Certainly, this isn't just about the Philippines, although the Philippines, as a tropical archipelago feeds into a particular type of (Conradian or Melvillian) fantasy.

I think Leny is also right that "the lingguistic turn in the academe and professionalization of Ethnic Studies has severed or widened the gap between our communities and our scholarship."

It's hard to feel compassion for someone like this, but this kind of behavior also seems to suggest that, while money certainly helps people to survive, neither riches nor "democracy" are the answers for all our problems, and they are certainly not the heal-alls for a sick soul.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jean said I should blog this....

Hi, Jean and all -
Actually I started to blog yesterday, Jean, about similar concerns you express here. I felt like a voyeur while skimming through Rik's ramblings..it was very unsettling. Barb's post from Ninotchka and Eileen's post connect the global(political) and the local/personal...but it also made me want to extend this even farther back: Asia, in the Western imagination, has always been feminized.

In spite of global decolonization movements, scholars of Orientalism, Asian American studies, critical cultural studies -- these haven't made a dent on the "reality on the ground" maybe because the lingguistic turn in the academe and professionalization of Ethnic Studies has severed or widened the gap between our communities and our scholarship. Perhaps this exercise is a reminder to us on how to find ways of reconnecting with people who are already addressing these issues in the frontlines. (at least this is what I'm telling myself).

There will be a conference on mail-order brides iN Canada in May. I will ask my sister,Lily, to send us info if anyone is interested. Will also ask her to read the blog and ask if she can also share something from her own research on mail order brides in Arizona.

As for Rik, there are thousands of them in the Philippines -- in Puerto Galera, Boracay, outside of Clark and Subic -- who see the Philippines as nothing but a sex playground. Like Bino, I also feel a bit of compassion for the likes of them -- their woundedness, their unconsciousness-- which unfortunately wreaks havoc and violence on both sides - psychic, emotional, physical. Colonial wars have never ended.

Leny

Friday, February 17, 2006

mortgaging our population

pulling back from viagra superstar rik for a minute, because there is only so much nausea and rage i can handle in a given amount of time. in terms of the IMF/WB context in which the filipina pen pal exists, here's an excerpt from an interview with ninotchka rosca:



[Rosca] believes that prostitution in the Philippines, the sex trafficking of women and the ongoing mail-order bride situation are the responsibility of numerous governments, as well as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

"The Philippines is constantly adjudged credit-worthy - having good credit - and the simple reason for that is because we mortgage our population. We send our workers overseas, and the money that comes back is used to pay the interest on the loans," she said. Rosca explained that the root of this problem is the subservience of the Philippines to the IMF, World Bank and the WTO.

"The IMF/World Bank has been lending money to Philippine presidents, beginning with Marcos, even though it knows full well that a large percentage of that loan is being pocketed - stolen - by government officials. And as we see today, despite $45 billion of loans, the Philippines is still poor. It hasn't advanced an inch!"

Rosca had previously criticized the Ramos administration for encouraging the commodification of Filipino women by tying in a beauty pageant with the Philippine centennial celebration. She is glad that the Philippines is rid of Estrada, but doesn't feel positive about the current Arroyo administration. "From my distant vantage point, I actually see certain government decisions which are extremely dangerous to women. Very notably, the decision of the Arroyo government to allow the United States military to use Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base," said Rosca.

She believes that allowing the U.S. military to come back to use the Philippine bases is extremely perilous because " . . . it took us nearly half a century of struggle to get the United States military out of the country . . . and history and experience have shown us that it is almost impossible to get the U.S. military out once they are in there . . . and now, just on the say-so of one woman president, the U.S. military is going to be back in the Philippines."

According to Rosca, prostitution was de facto legalized while the U.S. military was in the Philippines. "What they did was they invented euphemisms - labels - different names for prostitutes. They called them hospitality girls, entertainment whatever, you know, to hide the fact that there is prostitution going on."

"Now here in the United States," she continued, "if you look at the military bases, they're all rimmed by brothel houses, nightclubs, bars, etc., and you check out who the women are . . . they are women of color: black Americans or Koreans or Filipinas. In fact, 25,000 women from the Philippines and South Korea have been brought to the United States for this particular purpose!"

Rosca is quick to note that the second-most common occupation of women who leave the Philippines is the sex industry.

Since the inception of Gabnet and the Purple Rose Campaign, which educates the world about the sex trafficking of women and children, Rosca's voice has been heard all over the world.


speaking of euphemism: "pen pal."

read the rest here.

and once again, the link to the
gabriela network's purple rose campaign.

POVERTY IMPOVERISHES

and not just financially.  I read through the archives of "Rik"'s site.  I have to say that my read quickly transcended my contempt at Rik.  First, to sadness that it's people like him who can enjoy the Philippines -- it was jarring to read his words juxtaposed against his photos of beautiful images there in the Philippines.  It made me remember my first visit back to the Philippines about 9 years after I immigrated to the U.S. I mentioned to someone as I looked around the mountains and rice fields in the Ilocos, "It's so beautiful here."  And the farmer I was talking to was taken aback -- she just had so many other things to focus on (like how to earn money that day) that she could no longer see the beauty of the landscape.  And it's people like Rik retiring there on his Social Security who can relish such views...

But then as I kept reading through Rik's archives, I kept trying to put myself in his "Honey"'s shoes.  And, how, for someone impoverished with possibly no other means of economic progress, I could see how Rik may not be  a bad alternative (relative to other options).  And I recall how, in a comment to a post below, Barbara used the word "normative" in how these guys like Rik don't seem to see anything disgusting if not aberrant in their behavior.

The mail order bride thing obviously is inextricably linked to poverty and the failure of Philippine governmental policies (whether due to corruption or ineptness) to provide for ways for the general population to advance themselves.  And it's probably useful to take a look at how certain aspects of our culture -- as it flows through the political structure -- that would seem "normal" are things that get in the way of economic development.

If I had to feed a child or an aging parent etc and had no other means to do so, I may just end up being a little brown fucking machine myself.  Between that and having a starving child the decision may be easier than I would think as I sit here in my shoes.  That's what's really degrading about poverty -- how it sets up awful situations to be "normal"...

It's all so complicated and could say more but ... I'm tired.

Well, wait, let me say one more thing as I just remembered it. I remember myself in my early 20s in my first job on Wall Street (pre-writer days). I was a young analyst going up an elevator in a skyscraper in downtown Manhattan (decimated now due to 9/11). I was in the company of various executives, bankers etc -- we were going up to a penthouse restaurant. And riding the elevator was this guy, a messenger for some local restaurant delivering lunch to someone who no doubt would be eating lunch at his desk as s/he continued to work.

In this crowded elevator of mostly men -- hmmm, actually, mayhap I was the only woman in the elevator at the time -- this messenger guy turns to me, leers, looks me up and down and says, "Hey, you Filipina? Maganda!"

All chit chat broke down and deteriorated into Silence. I just looked at him as I didn't know what to say. Asshole continued, "I met many of your sisters when I was stationed in ____[forgot which military air base in the Philippines. They were goooo...oooo...ooood."

Then his stop arrived. He got off. The gentlemen I was with (either diplomatically or because they didn't know how else to respond) pretended the incident didn't happen but I have to assume that incident affected what credibility I might have had at that *business lunch*. And, though it's been about 20 years since that incident, I still dream about it and keep wishing that there had been time for me to reply....

"Oh yeah? So if one of my sisters had to be 'gooooood' to you because she otherwise would starve, or her kid would otherwise starve, or her mother, father, or brother or sister would otherwise starve, do you honestly think her being good to you has anything to do with you? You really think any blow job you got has anything to do with your own dick?!"

Although, of course, I couldn't have said something like that either even if I had had the chance. Because clients were in the elevator with me and I, too, had a job to do and the rent was due.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Filipinas Welcome Your Visits

I just checked the sitemeter, and although we're not way up there yet, and a number of the hits are, well, us; still our outside hits have risen fairly dramatically over the last few days, and we now have a daily average of 71/day. ;-))

rethinking "filipinas defer their men."

*
*
i am still gritting my teeth over the previous post, "
filipinas defer to their men."

let's set the record straight.

the following are my comments to said teeth gritting post:

rik is an asshole and he knows shit.

this is the story of my grandparents (the pulmanos) meeting: already a college graduate and employed registered nurse, my grandmother was taking care of an american family in baguio, where she met a young medical student, working as a gardener during semester break to make enough money for medical school tuition at university of the philippines. after getting to know each other, after falling in love, she said to him: when we get married, i will pay your way through medical school.

and she did.

dr. pulmano is now 93 years old; he retired from medicine in his early-80s. my grandmother passed away when i was 12. when she was still alive, she was an entrepreneur, and then she came to america w/o my grandfather to help my mother raise me and my older sister. she was the love of my grandfather's life. she still is.

oh i should add, with my parents, my mother is the breadwinner, has been for years, and is in charge of all the finances. i'll concede that we are in america and have been for over 30 years. but my father is a filipino man and a filipino husband, and according to rik, my mother ought to be deferring to my father. i'll also add that my mother was raised by the amazing woman i wrote about in my previous comment.

i'm irate.

serious TMJ syndrome over here.
*
*

"Filipinas Defer to Men"

In his July 15 post, this man attempts to spread a ridiculous myth/lie about Filipino women: "The family structure in the Philippines is and has always been patriarchal; for the most part, men run things. Women defer to men. It’s the man who will almost always have the final say in matters requiring a decision. Women are taught from birth to seek the blessings of, and to obey men. A Filipina wife will not go anywhere without first getting permission from her husband. She won’t go to the nearby sari-sari (small, general) store, to town, to the neighbor’s house - nowhere. Even when she has permission she will rarely go without a ‘companion.’ It may be you or her mother, her child, a neighbor or friend. If her husband isn’t at home, in all likelihood, she’ll wait for him to return before going anywhere, unless it’s absolutely necessary for something like timely food preparation. She may still wait anyway. A married Filipina may stay inside the house and not ever leave it, other than to go outside to get water, gather wood, tend to animals, or care for her plants, unless it’s in the company of her husband. Celine was advised by no fewer than her mother, father, grandparents, aunties and other women relatives and friends to “Stay inside the house and take care of your husband. Don’t go outside to chika-chika (gossip) or go off anywhere without your husband’s permission.”

Well, all you Filipino ladies and men, has this been your experience in the Philippines?

I have a large family that lives in "the boondocks" (by Manila standards) in Mindanao. My male cousin is considered the "head" of the family, and often "lays down the line" on certain issues. However, while he operates as a figurehead, his wife is anything but deferential or submissive. She teaches volleyball, swimming, basketball and tennis. She's constantly out in town running errands, or driving out into the jungle to remote schools to administer tests, and everyone in town knows and respects her, male and female alike. It's true that she usually goes with a companion, but this has nothing to do with submission, it's simply a survival strategy in an area where violence is a daily occurence and kidnapping is a possibility. Yet this fetishized submission that Rik refers to is not at the spirit of this. She and her husband have taught all their daughters to shoot handguns and rifles, and one of them is a champion sharpshooter, and can take care of herself, thankyou. Dependency is not encouraged. Most the women in my extremely large, extended family have active lives (most of them teach) out in the community, and most of them are outspoken, and have no problem arguing politics, religion, or what have you, with their husbands or other males in company. And that's just one example from my family. While men often maintain a figurehead position, and their opinions are certainly valued, anyone who pays attention for a period of time can see that, in many ways, the woman is running the show. I mean, for Chrissake, the Philippines has had two Filipina presidents! How blind do you have to be?

How does it go in your family? Whether you agree with me or not, let's set the record straight.

This guy is obviously just sick and living in fantasyland, and I'd like to say it's not worth my notice. But it does make me wonder how many more people like this are out there, ingratiating themselves into Filipino families, and passing these myths off as the truth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Awardee

So soon, I have found a new candidate for this week's _____ award (This one deserves a special title, you just fill in the blank). This guy is just chock full of advice on how to pick the best little Filipina wife. Click on his name above to read more. High up on his list: find yourself an "uneducated" "forest girl." Uh huh. Gee, I'm kind of speechless at the moment. Now, scuse me while I go get a stick...

…can't say enough times that you - or any Western man - should just come here and taste of the exotic fruits (so to speak) and enjoy yourself for awhile. Get to know the ways of the people and the ladies. We Westerner's often feel the need to have something 'waiting' for us in advance before we come here. I plead guilty of doing that, myself. But I've long since learned that you don't need to. Very quickly after setting up house here the jungle drums will start beating, and before you know what's happened you'll have mother's bringing their daughters, aunties bringing nieces, sisters bringing sisters, men bringing groups of women to your door to offer them to you.
You won't be lonely for more than a few days or weeks - if that long. But know that if you let a girl through your door on some sort of permanent basis, it can be very hard to get them out again when you discover they lie, deceive or steal from you.

And:

…As for Celine and giving you advice about "exotic fruits"; Celine is private in the most extreme sense of the word. She wouldn't even consider advising you. She talks to almost no one, and completely shuns the pinay habit of chika-chika (gossip) - which you'll soon learn about to your regret. She won't talk to the neighbors, and will hardly talk to her own sisters. She stays in the house and does needle work and other crafts, and listens to the TV while I sit at the PC. She works outside in the garden daily - eschews jewelry and showing-off, and goes nowhere unless I send her. She's as about as perfect a partner as a man could hope for.

….On chika-chika: You will have to be very careful about what you do and say to anyone. I call the compound's maids and house-keepers, “The Maid Mafia” - and for good reason. Everyone is in a conspiracy of chika-chika about each other's "bosses." You will always be called "boss" here. It's best to say nothing you don't want anyone - everyone - else to know. And, believe me, they'll all know.
Find yourself a girl who hates chika-chika and doesn't want friends, and you find yourself to be a much happier man.
As to being the "boss": You can be as much of a boss as you wish. Here, your word is law. Tell your woman how she is to obey you - right away - and that breaking your rules will get her kicked out the door. Use the words 'training,' 'discipline' and 'punishment' often. Tell her that you're going to train her how to behave. It won't faze her. Discipline your woman how you wish. Filipina's are designed to obey and defer to men. You can spank her, tie her up, **** her until the cows come home, and she'll take what you give her as a matter of course. Training is everything, so you should have a plan on what you want and how you want it... then implement it.
Filipina's, as you probably know, are known by the term LBFM's (little brown ****ing machines), and they deserve the title. You can *** your Filipina as much as you want.


…By the way, the more highly educated Filipina's can be far more dangerous and deleterious to you than a simple girl. A 'forest girl' as they're known as here can be the best. They live simply and are already well trained in obedience and submissiveness by their father and mother, relatives and neighbors.
Celine, for your edification, has a third grade education, has worked more or less steadily since she was eight years old. She's a forest girl. But, she is one of the smartest Filipina's I've met so far - certainly the most trustworthy, faithful, obedient, loyal and hard working. She's unassuming and satisfied with what I give her. City girls - college educated girls want MORE, and expect to get it. They know the ways of the Western world and want their piece of it. Forest girls are happy if they have electricity and a fan.

Note:

To bloggers on this site; I'm going to be fiddling around with some of the posts on this site to figure out what's knocking the sidebar to the bottom of the page. If your post disappears, it will only be temporary!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

the husbands

The Mail Order Bride market seems to be highly concentrated in Cebu. When I travelled there and to Mindanao, the planes I rode in held considerable numbers of single men. The malls were filled with mixed couples, probably pen pals just meeting each other. The men were from many countries, not just the US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe.

I went to a party in Mindanao with several ex-patriots of different countries there. There were a few older white guys there, American from their accents. I wondered if they had met their wives through MOB market. I had wanted to talk to them, but I wasn't sure how to ask. For most of the party, they struggled to find a place to be comfortable. While their wives congregated together and tsismised in Visayan, which their husbands didn't understand.

A friend travelled to New Zealand once and came across a Filipino community there, the wives of New Zealand farmers. New Zealanders lived isolated lives often miles from the nearest neighbor. However, the wives had created a community structure that held parties at each other's houses nearly every weekend. Their husbands formed the outer circle of these social gatherings, unable to fully participate, yet almost grateful to be dragged along to it, as they would not have any kind of social gathering.

When they start they start with various stereotypes of who they think the other is, but whether it's a bad marriage, a good marriage or somewhere in between, how do their views of each other change? When reality hits, what happens to those stereotypes?

Do any of these pen pal sites track the relationships created by their services? What kind of accountability to they have? Is there a way to be able to locate, then help women who find themselves in a bad situation (ie abusive)?

the children of mail order brides

Now I remember when Prof. Rhacel Parrenas was at I believe the University of Wisconsin. She mentioned that when she was teaching her class was filled with all these Hapa-Filipinos, who were mostly children of Mail Order Bride marriages.

I wonder, what the children think of their parent's marriages. And how do other Filipinos react to them and their parents? Many of them too live in places where they are the only Filipinos. How do they view their Filipino identities?

You may be married to a Filipina if....

Hello all! Thanks for your comments and insights. Absolutely interesting stuff. So right now, I'm working on what will be a pretty mediocre presentation on Filipinas and Fat for the conference this Saturday. I dunno what to say... I'm completely STUMPED! If you thought the search results for "filipina" were bad, try googling "filipina" and "fat." Disturbing. Absolutely disturbing.

Anyway, in the midst of this awful google search, I ran into this. It's a list that was apparently written by, "an American guy who loves his Filipina wife in spite of the numerous irregularities." Knowing where it came from, I don't find it funny at all. Here it goes:

You may be married to a Filipina if...

While this has circulated on the internet for quite some time, I have no idea who originally wrote it, though there can be NO doubt that the fella has a Filipina wife...by the way, this is all in good fun, so I hope no one is offended by some of the broader generalizations here. Some of these items I didn't understand myself, but most struck a familiar chord, and my wife enjoyed it (well, most of it), so I figure it's safe for public consumption.

You may be married to a Filipina If... (written by an American guy who loves his Filipina wife in spite of the numerous irregularities):

* Your refrigerator is always full but you cannot find any food that you recognize

* Instead of a dowry, you got the whole bill for the wedding and honeymoon

* Most of the decorations in your house are made of wicker

* You are expected to be able to read her mind just by watching her eyebrows move up and down and by the way her lips are pointed

* All her relatives think your name is "Joe"

* The instant you are married you have 3,000 new close relatives that you can't tell apart

* Your house isn't really on fire, you've just got a very charred fish on top of the stove burner

* All the desserts are sticky and all the snacks are salty

* She eats her fruit with giant salt crystals and her fried chicken with ketchup

* Even the ketchup tastes weird...very weird

* You throw a party and everyone is fighting to chop the leathery skin off a dead pig

* All your kids have 4-5 middle names

* Your in-laws take 10 years to acknowledge your existence and to call you by something other than "that white guy"

* You try to call her up on the phone and someone tells you "for a while" and you want to know "for a while, what??"

* You are trying to go to sleep and she keeps asking for the comFORT'r, and you ain't got a clue what she's talking about

* Your first Christmas present is some funny looking, baggy, see-thru shirt made out of leftover lace doilies

* Your phone bills are composed mostly of international and calls that average 3 hours each

* She sweeps with something that witches usually fly around on

* Her idea of classy, expensive champagne is Asti Spumante

* The rice cooker is on 24 hours a day and uses up 50% of your electricity and food budget

* On your first trip to the Philippines, you have 18 giant boxes that weigh 1000 pounds each and your "carry on" luggage requires a small forklift truck

* The same luggage is over filled with things that cost an average of 15 cents each like old magazines and M&Ms -- the worst part is when you get off the plane, the same stuff you've been hauling around half way around the world is available in every store in the airport for half the price!

* All her pajamas look like they were worn by the Dalai Lama until they got too faded and he discarded them

* The first time she's pregnant you have to go out at 4:00 in the morning looking for some weird type of greasy sausages, green mangoes and bagoong

* You buy a new $500 freezer so she can store 200 pounds of SPAM and CORNED BEEF that was on sale

* Everything in your house was bought on sale, even if you don't need it ... that it was a "bargain" is all that matters

* She gets really excited by sucking the fat out of pig knees

* Your daughter gets her ears pierced when she's 2 minutes old but your sons are not circumcised until they turn 21

* All your postage bills instantly double

* You hire a Ya-Ya because your wife ckeabs mirrors with soap and a sponge and the Ya-Ya seems cheaper than a divorce

* The only "white meat" she likes is YOU. And that's if you're lucky...

* Her favorite sauce is called "patis." Americans call it turpentine

* She actually thinks that bowling and golf and billiards are real sports and are more important than baseball and football

* You were married 5 years before she explained to you that "ARAY!" doesn't mean "ooh, baby!"

* She prefers bistek to beef steak

* Her idea of new upholstery is rinsing the bagoong stains out of the slip covers

* She can eat and talk at the same time; in fact that's her specialty!

* Her favorite meal is leftovers, her favorite fancy dessert is Jell-O mold and for something REALLY romantic, she'll offer you a halo-halo with 2 straws

* You still don't know the difference between manong and manok

* She and the kids are always saying "Daddy made utot" and you still don't know what it means, but they think it's pretty funny

* Other than eyebrow raising and lip puckering, her next most expressive form of communication is grunts and pssst's

* She goes to the movies just for the AC

* Her homeland has more Megamalls than islands

* Before every holiday and visit, her sisters fax you a 10 page "bilins" list which says "suggestion only"

* Your kitchen table has a merry-go-round in the middle

* All the vegetables she buys at the Filipino store look like they were grown at Chernobyl

* Her friends are named Chinky, Girlie, Boy and Bimbo and NO, you are not allowed to smirk

* Her home economics course only taught shopping, eating and siesta; cooking, cleaning and sewing were not electives

* Her idea of edifying reading is gossip magazines

* All your place settings have the silverware backwards and there are no knives

* She washes her hair with a bucket and her car with a broom

* Her favorite book (she has 3 copies) is "1001 New Recipes for Pig Parts You Were Gunna Throw Out"

* You are the only family in a 200 mile radius with 2 Betamaxes, 3 televisions

* She's done her best job planning a surprise party for you if she manages not to tell you about it until a week or two before

* She "cleans" her closet by throwing all the crap into your closet



I seriously think we should start a list callled, "YOU KNOW YOU'RE AN OLD, WRINKLY ASSHOLE WITH A FILIPINA FETISH IF..." I'll even start with the first item:

Your "perfect wife" looks more like she's your adopted grandchild.

Here it goes... add away people!!!

googly again [ page one ]

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i clicked on one of the photos at the top of page one of google search on "filipina", and found this site with a warning.
WARNING: Do not scroll down should you find photos of dancers wearing a bikini offensive. Also included are website links to help you explore the best night life in the Philippines, obtain addresses to contact penpals meant to pursue lasting elationships with friendly but often conservative Filipinas and other cultural attractions. Although this page was created with foreign male tourists in mind for any visiting females interested please FEEL FREE to ask questions about Filipino men or request adding some photos. Filipino men being very romantic often make single female tourists feel VERY SPECIAL like a PRINCESS.
http://pages.zdnet.com/AsiaBill/id14.html

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Monday, February 13, 2006

I'M NOT A MAIL ORDER BRIDE, OR WE ARE ALL M.O.B.'s

Leny's article below on how she could have been a mail order bride reminds me of Moi article "'Suite Nothing' May Sound the Same But is Not the Same as 'Sweet Nothing'" at OurOwnVoice -- a meditation on Identity that I wrote using as a springboard an exhibition by the performance arts group Mail Order Brides:

M.O.B. is a performance art group comprised of Filipinas Reanne Estrada, Eliza Barrios and Jenifer Wolford. The M.O.B. specializes in dressing up and acting out often over-the-top scenes of Filipino-American life. Their performances are memorialized through photographs, installations, sculptures, film, video and performances. As a collective, M.O.B was born after its three members saw a "Frasier" television episode wherein a character referred to women from the Philippines as mail-order brides. The context implied that Filipinas are subservient or victims, a portrayal M.O.B. subverts with edgy portrayals that are often, in Estrada's words, "kick ass."

INS report on the mail-order bride industry

THE "MAIL-ORDER BRIDE" INDUSTRY AND ITS IMPACT ON U.S. IMMIGRATION

by Robert J. Scholes, PhD with the assistance of Anchalee Phataralaoha, MA (last modified 1/20/06)

[some excerpts]

The Women

An analysis of the listings in recent issues of five popular catalogs featuring 1,400 Asian women found that 70 percent were Filipino (despite the fact that Republic Act No. 6955 makes such listings illegal), many of whom are "in-service" as domestic workers in other countries, 16 percent Indonesian, 8 percent Thai, 2 percent Malaysian and Japanese, and 1 percent Chinese and Korean. In terms of age, 20 percent are 16-20 years of age, 41 percent are 21-25, 24 percent are 26-30, 11 percent 31-35, and just 4 percent are over the age of 35. That is, for the Asian women, 61 percent are under the age of 25. There is a large difference in ages between these Asian women and their counterparts from the former Soviet Union. For the 1,700 Soviet women listed currently by Cherry Blossoms, just 8 percent are under 20, 23 percent between 21 and 25, 25 percent between 26 and 30, 20 percent from 31 to 35, 14 percent from 36 to 40, 7 percent aged 41 to 45, and 3 percent over 45. That is, just 31 percent are under 25 compared to the 61 percent of Asian women.

Why do foreign women want American husbands? Many sources suggest that these women are searching for a "better life" in terms of socio-economic factors--they do, for the most part, come from places in which jobs and educational opportunities for women are scarce and wages are low. However, when the women themselves are asked this question, the answer generally indicates an attraction to American men (they look like movie stars) and an aversion to native men. Americans, they say, make good husbands while Filipino (Thai/Indonesian/Russian/etc.) men do not. Americans are thought to be faithful to their wives, while the native men are cruel and run around with other women. True or not, this is the perception.

The Men

David Jedlicka (1988, cited in Glodava and Onizuka, 1994) surveyed 607 American men seeking mail-order brides and received 206 responses. He found that the men were generally white (94 percent); highly educated (50 percent with two or more years of college, 6 percent with M.D.'s or Ph.D.'s, only five did not complete high school); politically and ideologically conservative; and generally economically and professionally successful (64 percent earned more than $20,000 a year; 42 were in professional or managerial positions). Their median age was 37. The men came from 44 states, with 22 percent from California, and 84 percent lived in metropolitan areas. Fifty-seven percent had been married at least once; most had been divorced after an average of seven years of marriage, 35 percent had at least one child, and 75 percent wished to father additional children. When asked about their religious affiliations, 48 percent of the men identified themselves as Protestant, 23 percent as Catholic, 15 percent as belonging to other religions, and 14 percent as having no religious affiliation.

Why do American men want foreign wives? Most of the personal reports from American men who have married women through these agencies talk about "traditional values." That is, American women are thought not content to be wives and mothers but seek personal satisfaction through their own careers and interests, while the foreign woman is happy to be the homemaker and asks for nothing more than husband, home, and family. Again, true or not, this is the perception.

Although Jedlicka states in his conclusions that his research shows the men who choose the mail-order methods for mate selection appear ". . . above average . . . certainly in their communication skills," and "exceptional in the sense that they are trying cross-cultural marriage to improve their chances for loving and enduring relationships," he cautions that such conclusions are thin at best and such interpretations from these data are not warranted. His experience and the observations of others show that, contrary to responses in questionnaires, those who have used the mail-order bride route to find a mate have control in mind more than a loving, enduring relationship. [my emphasis]

[For those reading this who are American men looking for a Filipina bride, is this true? Is it really about control for you?]


Of the 30 mail-order bride couples Mila Glodava (Glodava and Onizuka, 1994) encountered between 1986 and 1993, only two were close in age (4 -6 years difference). In the other 28 there was a 20 to 50 year difference in age. Older men, says Glodava, often want women "they can mold" and therefore do not want those who are too educated. "They would just become like any other American woman," they said. She concludes that, "It is apparent that power and control are critical for the men."

[Why such large age differences? I guess they would make sense if it is about control....]

[Click for full version of the report here.]

I could have been a m-o-b....

PAST: A loooong time ago, as a young single woman in Manila, I, too, became curious about those two-line ads in the newspaper: Wanted penpal...So I wrote to the address and soon I got a letter from someone in Dubuque, Iowa introducing himself as a college professor with a degree from Sorbonne. In the passport photo he enclosed he looked like someone in his late 50s. I remember writing him back indicating that I was only interested in friendship and not in matrimony. He wrote back and asked if I could introduce him to another girlfriend who might be willing to marry him. I laughed.

The other close encounter I had with the penpal business was when I found out that my domestic helper was corresponding with someone in Germany. How she got his letters translated, I will never know; this was shortly before she left my employ and she kept this a closely-guarded secret.

PRESENT: Now I am older and more aware of the politics of love and race. As part of my decolonization, I decided that I will not dis-identify with my Filipina sisters no matter what the differences between us might be. I am very critical of patriarchy, racial privilege, and the lack of balance of power in many penpal marriages but I am slower to render a judgment on my sisters. I was also young once and terribly misinformed and miseducated.

"Say I do" a film on mail-order brides by Arlene Ami

(Please pass on far and wide. Apologies for cross-posting.)

GABRIELA NETWORK PRESENTS...
a screening of

SAY I DO
A FILM ON MAIL-ORDER BRIDES
by Arlene Ami

"…I need to find myself a nice submissive young lady who wants and needs to have me control and direct her life. I am age 52, divorced after a long marriage. There is nothing so pleasurable to me as teaching a young woman to submit fully to my wishes… If my wife does not obey me, then I am perfectly willing to punish her in whatever way I think is right..." -from a letter received by a young Filipina from a mail-order bride agency customer.

When: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 6:30PM

Where: Imaginasian Theater, 239 E. 59th Street
(btwn. 2nd & 3rd ave.), Manhattan, NYC

How Much: $10.00
(Tickets available online or at Imaginasian's box office, or by contacting GABNet at (212) 592-3507 or nynj@gabnet.org.)

While February is a month of heart-shaped chocolates and cards, GABRIELA Network--the largest and oldest US-Philippine women's organization--looks at intimate affairs and the power dynamics that ensue when love is for sale. In commemoration of the 7th anniversary of the Purple Rose Campaign Against Sex Trafficking, GABNet presents a screening of Arlene Ami's award-winning film "Say I Do," a documentary chronicling the journey of four women, from their lives in the Philippines through the mail-order bride system to their experiences as wives, mothers, and women in a foreign land. A panel discussion on sex trafficking will follow the screening.

Tickets are available online at www.theimaginasian.com or at Imaginasian's box office, or by contacting GABNet at (212) 592-3507 or nynj@gabnet.org.

Directions: F to Lexington Ave./63 St.; or 4, 5, 6, N, R, W to Lexington/59th. St; Buses include M57 - E. 57 St / Lexington Avenue, M31 - 57 St. / 2 Avenue, Q32 - 60 St. / 2 Avenue, X63 - 57 St. / Park Avenue.

.............
The Purple Rose Campaign is an international campaign against the sex trafficking of Filipino women and children.
It was launched in 1999 in New York by GABRIELA Network, a Philippine-US women's solidarity mass organization, and is now in 11 countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Australia.

For more info on "Say I Do" and filmmaker Arlene Ami: http://www.redstorm.ca/sayido/synop1.htm


GABRIELA Network
A Philippine-US Women's Solidarity Mass Organization
PO Box 403, Times Square Station
New York, New York 10036
Tel: 1212.592.3507
Email:
nynj@gabnet.org
Web: www.gabnet.org

speaking of googly

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happy early v-day, folks! on this day o' love, i'd like to turn your attention to this google search: filipina wife. and since i've been obsessing over global perception, i shall also turn your attention here, to my thoughts on becoming a filipina wife within a global context.

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googly

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been writing about this issue, but as always, am taking fooooorever. blame it on the blizzard. or valentine's day. this issue is very close to my heart cuz gay asians have also somewhat faced a similar predicament as asian women. same predators, same ethnic preys (different gender), same perceptions and stereotypes that fuel the predatorial mind. the end result is also the same--->sex trafficking and abuse. but let me not go into gayness. googling "filipina" turns my stomach. an excerpt from what i have been writing. gasp.

first, let's google the word filipina. at the gut level, many of us filipinos know what may show up. but, i think there is this strange sense of hope that it would turn out differently. the results are no surprising, but dizzying nonetheless. see here.

when i made cover of filipinas magazine, a friend of mine went to look for it in a mag store in new york city and asked a middle eastern sales clerk, "do you have filipinas magazine?" the man directed him to the end of the store, where the pornographic magazines were. and he wasn't kidding. he was, of course, your regular joe schmoe muhammad, who like his american counterparts, see filipino women as sexual commodities nary a second thought.

will try to finish this and post...

thanks for the invite/e-vite/evitaperon/dontcryformefilipinos

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Judge Judy

I happned to be watching one of those small claims judge shows on tv, Judge Judy.

The plaintiff is a middle aged African American man suing his Filipina bride wife for phone expenses to the Philippines. It was revealed that they had met through a pen pal service and that they had decided to open a pen pal serivce of their own with the help of the woman's mother in the Philippines.

For whatever reason, it didn't go through and the marriage fell apart and he wanted the Filipina to pay off the thousands of dollars in long distance phone charges.

Judge Judy looks over the case. Asked the girl how old she was. I believe she said something like 19 or 20. Then Judge Judy tells the guy, "what did you expect? She's just a baby! You married a baby! You bring her here and you don't want her to speak to her mother? A baby has to be able to call her mother!" Ruling for the defendent.

on the other side

[this is Michelle]

A friend of mine is tall, white, American married to a Filipina, and lives in the Philippines. If I stopped there, he'd be a typical American going to get a Filipina bride. But he wasn't. He worked and lived in the Philippines on and off for numerous years.

When they decided to get married, they had to take the government regulated marriage counseling classes. The teacher would "accommodate" him by speaking English, even though that he replied to her in Tagalog that "matagal ko dito", but she still treated him like one of those "Americans" in town to pick up his bride.

After a couple of years of marriage and living in the Philippines, they wanted to visit the US. OK no problem, she's married to a US citizen, easy to get a visa. Every time they went to the Embassy, they kept sending him to the long term visa department and he would repeatedly explain to them, "No, they are not immigrating to the US and just need a visitor's visa." It seemed that no matter what he said to them in English or Tagalog that they couldn't understand why they were not immigrating to the US, even though he told them, no, we live in the Philippines, I just want to visit my brother for a few weeks and bring my wife, and then we want to come back home to the Philippines.

It took them months of going back and forth to the embassy until finally they met the guy in charge of the visitor's visas and he managed to push their paperwork through for a visitor's visa.

There are "systems" in place on both sides of the ocean that filters everyone who fits the mold into the equation of wife buying.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

introduction and some song lyrics

hi all, this is barbara jane, and i thought i'd introduce myself by sharing some lyrics to this song:

"My Filipino Baby"
by Charles K. Harris
circa 1900

When the warships left Manila
Sailing proudly o'er the sea,
All the sailors’ hearts were filled with fond regret.
Looking backward to this island,
Where they spent such happy hours
Making love to every pretty girl they met.
When up stepped a little sailor with his bright eyes all aglow
Sayin', "Take a look at my gal's photograph."
Then the sailors gathered round him just to look upon her face,
Her smiling face.
And he said, "I love my Filipino Baby."
She's my Filipino baby,
She's my treasure and my pet.
Her teeth are bright and pearly
And her hair is black as jet.
Oh, her lips are sweet as honey
And her heart is true I know.
She's my darlin' little Filipino Baby.
In a little rustic cottage in the far off Philippines,
Dwells a pretty little maiden all alone.
She is thinking of her true love, though he's far across the sea,
And her heart beats true for him and him alone.
Then one day he whispered,
"Darlin' I've come back from Caroline
I've come back to claim the only girl I love."
Then that night there was a wedding while the ship's crew gathered 'round.
And he wed his little Filipino Baby.

Our Weekly Award Goes To...

Jason, of Jason's Beach Resort gets my bid for this week's Pen Pal Award. Jason has done a lot to further truthful communications between Filipinas and American men. For one thing, he reveals that Pen Pal marriages don't always work out! In fact, it turns out that his ex-wife is an "offspring of Satan"! Now that's hard to believe; we know that most Filipinas are beautiful, home-loving, loyal women, right? But Jason found out that Filipino women don't always stay in love with their foreign husbands. And then she pretty much reamed out his bank account. Why would she do that? He's American, for Godssake! Could Filipinas have other reasons for getting married, besides love? What might those reasons be?

~~let's think about that~~

How about poverty? Well, Jason thinks she might've been "mentally ill," or "hanging out with the wrong crowd." No problem, though; he managed to get a divorce (well, a pre-divorce, as it were) and sent "Imelda" packing. Now he can get back to watching football.

The fact that Jason is as blue as a democrat can be, that he is highly critical of America's invasion of Iraq and the Bush Administration in general just goes to show that the PenPal phenomenon crosses political, as well as geographical lines. So what's it all about, Alfie? Why is Jason planning to return to the Philippines?

Welcome!

Welcome to your Filipina Pen Pal! This is a collaborative blog, written by Gladys, Barbara Jane, Jean and Leny, with more contributors to come. Visit us often to find out more about Filipino women... Learn about our culture, hobbies, food, family life, our likes and dislikes. We hope that this blog will help you decide whether or not you want to get together with that special someone from the Philippines...