A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky

The issue I would like to discuss here is the definition of a “good girl”. Keep in mind that a good girl in to you might not be a good girl in the Philippines. The concept of good is culturally defined. I realize that feminists reading this will be abhorred by what I am describing, but this is not a liberated country and what I am describing is the way it is in the local culture.

So how is a “good girl” is defined in the local culture. I have asked this question numerous times to men, women, family members in the Philippines. A good girl, that is a girl eligible for marriage in this culture, is one who “stays at home”. I have heard that time and again. Why is that? The obvious reason is that the girl who goes to the disco or who goes out by herself, away from home and family is not to be trusted. Indeed my own wife, who is a “good girl” would never think to even go downtown alone. She need a “companion”.

Now this brings me to another aspect of Filipino culture. The concept of internalized guilt is culturally dependent. What am I getting at here? The Westerner has an internal sense of guilt in that his mother and father are in the back of his head or on his shoulder telling him not to lie, not to cheat, what kind of morality to uphold. Not so with the Filipino. Their sense of guilt or morality is established within and by the community. Most Filipinos here are part of a larger community often consisting of hundreds of relatives. Even in the cities once you travel to the individual neighbourhoods you will find that the people are very neighbourhood centric. Another odd thing about Filipinos is their constant staring. They are always hanging around and watching. What this translates to in the small community is that everyone is under the microscope all the time. The neighbours and auntie is watching and talking about you, about everyone.

Let me give you one pointed example. I was working in Hong Kong for many months. There are thousands of Filipinas in Hong Kong. They go there to work as domestic helpers, a program sanctioned by the government. Many of these ladies are more educated then their employers, but at $400/month for a live-in maid, they are often making more then 10 times what they could make in the Philippines. As an aside, I am give to understand that some 80% of the income from the Philippine emanated from outside the country. Often from people like these ladies sacrificing and sending money home. I had a Filipino female friend and a Filipino girlfriend in Hong Kong. The female friend approached me about being my second girlfriend. I thought that was very odd and I called her on it. Why would any girl accept such a situation? Her reply is very appropriate to this issue. She replied to me that it did not matter what she did in Hong Kong because the people “back home”, i.e. in her community, would never know.

This has very significant implications for the man searching for a “good girl”. What I have seen is that the young lady who goes away to college in the city or the young lady who goes to work in the city to send money back to her family, well at the risk of seeming crude or prejudiced, is questionable because she is away from her community and if no one is watching she has perhaps too much freedom. My own rule of thumb

when I was searching for the perfect wife here was to steer away from city girls. Unless… Unless she had only been in the city a short time. Unless she was living with family members in the city. Unless she was a virgin and even that should be qualified. Virgins here, as in the US, sometimes are virgins in name only. One guy I met in Angeles City told me about a bar girl, read prostitute, who was a virgin. He claimed to have spent the night with her. She was capable of anything except intercourse. That is a trend in the US as well according to my reading. The children in the US are afraid of AIDs and figure as long as there is no intercourse they are safe. They are willing to engage in other “risky’ sexual behaviour, but not intercourse. Perhaps that is why the local Filipino guys always say a good girl “stays at home”.

Often the foreigner comes here and will bypass the good girls because they are not readily available. What they meet are the easy to meet girls. Girls who are on their own in the city, for example. Bar girls. Girls who are liberated. To find the “good girl” you have to look beyond these places and that takes a bit of work. For sure the best way to approach this is through an intermediary, a friend, if he/she is a trusted friend. But even here, beware. I’ll never forget my experience with one man. He was of the very vocal opinion that the foreigner, me, at that time. Should only mate or marry someone who he would never consider. In other words, (I can see the hackles being raised on the feminist necks) a Filipina “left over”. That is a girl who has a child already, who is separated from her husband or worse. You don’t want someone like that as your intermediary. You want someone to help you find a good girl. One problem with these good girls is that they are often not very worldly. When I started to live with my wife she had never been to a mall or a big city, had never been outside her small island. She knew nothing of the world. That can be somewhat disconcerting for the educated, worldly foreigner. Another way to look at it is a wonderful opportunity to introduce your lady to the world and all it has to offer. I enjoyed very much taking my wife to her first mall in Cebu. Having her go down the up escalator. Taking her for her first elevator ride. Lots of fun introducing a lady from the outskirts to the big world.

EVERY girl here I have ever met wants to help her family. That’s part of the culture. Does that mean you have to build mom and dad a house as do many of the foreign husbands. Absolutely not. You have to manage the girl’s and the family’s expectations. Imagine a school teacher earns $200 per month. That is a great salary here. Many of the uneducated people here are subsistence workers via fishing and farming. Many live here on their fish, their produce and less then $40 per month. Imagine when the foreigner comes here to “wine and dine” his honey. He takes the family to the city to McDonald’s. McDonald’s is a 5 star restaurant to these people. The trip to the city is an expense they cannot possible imagine for such a frivolous adventure. Sure they are extremely happy for this and as the foreigner doles out the family comes to expect more. I was a social worker for the Welfare Department. That’s what happens when you dole out money. People become used to getting that money. Gratitude is a short lived emotion. After a while this money becomes an entitlement. Wait, it gets worse. If you are the foreigner giving money to your wife’s or your fiancée’s family, all well and good. If for some reason you should stop the entitlement, for example, you are tired of seeing your father-in-law drinking your money or you see the family laying back and no longer fishing or farming because you are buying the food.

Well if for some reason you decide to stop the support money, you are the bad guy. That’s what the dole turned to entitlement becomes. There was one Danish gentleman I met in Cebu. He came here to marry his lady. The girl had one child already. He actually gave her his credit card. Then he went to her house for Christmas and bought a colour TV and bicycles for the family and lots of other gifts. When I saw him again at Christmas time he was drinking at Kukuk’s. He told me he left the family before Christmas because he was tired of everyone drinking on his dime. Of course I told him it was his fault for not managing the situation better. He complained that his disability pension was depleted. He messed up. To his family he was an incredibly rich foreigner. They don’t understand his money or his limitations. They only see the dollars. So, once again, my advice, manage the situation closely. Help the family, but figure out a way to do it that first off does not emasculate the father. That allows them to help themselves. I do this in a different way. I have told my family that I would help them with interest free loans to capitalize a business. Problem is one loan was repaid and one was not. I would think am now off the hook to provide more money until the loan is repaid. Also, use your common sense when giving money. A poor farmer or fisherman has no idea of a business plan. Go over the numbers with the family for any venture. Show them how to check out the quality of any venture.

4 comments for “A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky

  1. TropicalPenpals
    October 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    [New Post] A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky .

  2. TropicalPenpals
    October 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    [New Post] A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky .

  3. TropicalPenpals
    October 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    [New Post] A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky .

  4. TropicalPenpals
    October 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    [New Post] A good girl defined in Filipino culture – guest writer – Allen Moretsky .