I must confess that when a writer I regularly bash prepares a thought-provoking article, I need to step to the candor plate and offer up a compliment.
Ilda wrote such an article the other day posing the daring challenge: "Filipinas are Forced to Look for Real Men from Overseas". Interesting topic, provocatively presented. You can't read this article and NOT think for it touches everyone, man, woman, Filipino, and foreigner.
Now for background, understand that Ilda and I have personalities that clash. I argue that we disagree so violently because we are fundamentally the same (sly, conniving, wordy escape artists), but she argues we are very different (I am the conniver; she is pure). (I'm the whore, she is the virgin.) Plus she thinks I am gender biased and don't like women writers.
So there you go. But we subsist in the general same space, writing about Philippine culture and people and events, in agreement 80% of the time and arguing a little unkindly the rest of the time.
In this article, she did not come down with clear conclusions, being satisfied to bat about some ideas and letting her readers bat some more. Which they did.
The walk-away questions I was left with were:
- What is love between a young Filipina and an older Westerner? Is it (a) sexual love, (b) romantic love, (c ) loyalty love, (d) practicality love, (e) or money love? Or (f) all of the above or (g) none of the above?
- Are Filipinas submissive or dominant in a relationship?
- Why do some Filipinas turn their romantic eyes toward Westerners, and away from Filipino men?
Well, of course, we can't let these questions walk away without an opinion attached.
What is love between a young Filipina and an older Westerner?
I rather think it is hard to put all the fish in the same bucket. There are too many different kinds. The two variants that distinguish white/Filipina relationships from Filipino/Filipina are, more often than not: (1) age, and (2) culture.
It seems to me not many people have the key to everlasting fealty and adoration, anywhere. Filipino dead-beat dads must number in the hundreds of thousands. Filipino husbands with mistresses, well, a big bunch. So I ask, with that as the moral framework, what do we care what a handful of old white guys and young Filipinas do?
I suspect these "odd couple" relationships start the way boy-girl relationships always do, with electricity, which turns to passion that either is long-lasting and respectful or blows up. Any love relationship is also bound in practicality, so if security and material wealth are important to the Filipina what's really new with that? Only missionaries and others who enjoy self-sacrifice don't seek material security.
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The only near-certainty is that the Filipina will be widowed young, and will need to find long-lasting fulfillment alone, or with her family, or with someone else.
Sounds like the kind of thing we all wrestle with during this phase of life or that. So for myself, I don't care about why other people are getting together. Everyone rows his own boat.
Are Filipinas submissive or dominant in a relationship?
Well, in the Philippines the Catholic Church has for several hundred years imposed a value of feminine submission. Westerners are also steeped in Christian values, but over the past 100 years they have achieved the "scientific" and practical enlightenment that women are downright competent in many jobs. Gender equality is a big deal in the States, the place where racial and gender bias was rampant until only 50 years ago. Divorce is common in America. About 50 percent of all marriages don't make it until death do the partners part.
In the Philippines, one of the last places in the world where divorce is not possible, wives are bound to, and therefore subservient to men for life. Even when the man is abusive or a deadbeat who has the heartlessness to abandon his kids, fathered in the heat of the moment, no care attached. Many poor women are also deprived of the education and methods that could allow them to build more fulfilling lives for themselves and more fruitful lives for their children. By producing fewer than a dozen kids, and treating them as something other than laborers.
Divorce and HR Bills are acts of law. Therefore, the LACK OF ENLIGHTENMENT in the Philippines rests with the LAWMAKERS not the citizens. This backward bondage of women in the Philippines is a gross failure of government.
The only thing that stuns me more than the backwardness of legislators is the passiveness of women.
Yet, in their hearts and minds and work efforts, Filipinas stand equal to men. Poverty does that. Exactly 50% of the past four presidents have been women. None had 14 kids, I observe with a wry smirk on my face.
Filipinas are neither submissive nor dominant, as a GENERALIZED rule, as far as I can tell. Filipinas are quick of mind and hard-working, although not particularly well-read.
Why do some Filipinas turn their romantic eyes toward Westerners, and away from Filipino men?
The operative phrase is "away from Filipino men". The intimation in Ilda's article is that Filipino men are bound in a macho culture that lacks tenderness or courtesy toward women. The suggestion is they are lazy and don't bring home much upward progress. So Western men look attractive by comparison.
I personally have mixed feelings about this. I see Filipino men working extraordinarily hard doing the laboring of the nation. But I also know they will not stick with a job if there is a reason not to. Money comes in from an Uncle or they have a hangover from last night's loud karaoke bash. They simply don't show up for work, not comprehending that they leave the employer in a bind.
Among educated young Filipino men, I often see humor and . . . yes, charm. But they are not the mainstream of manhood here.
To some extent, I see Philippine gender roles as a cultural remnant of the feudal age. The Philippine workplace has largely not adopted the modern management techniques of Western nations. Workers are offered few incentives, no counseling, no promotional opportunities, no place to go. The nation is locked into favors and has not injected into the workplace a passion for productivity and profit and healthy motivation, or aspiration for advancement. So the workplace is a big, boring, un- inspiring pit of stagnation.
Men just work there. And the women are stuck with the men.
And in conclusion, folks . . .
This is a nation whose people lack a broad view of a way to build riches by exerting willful, upright, manly or womanly dedication, humor and talent. It lacks the motivation, the drive, of self-fulfillment through work. Through self-improvement.
Government doesn't get it. Bosses don't get it. Ergo, people don't get it.
Women just make the best of what they have to work with.