Being a couple in the Philippines

Matt and April Wilkie 2007 Basilica Cebu - Photo by Matt Wilkie and Copyright by Matt Wilkie

I found out quite quickly that being a 5ft 8? white guy in Cebu doesn’t exactly help me to blend in. Before I headed to the uk for work I purchased a lot of Bench clothing from Gaisano and the clerks were discussing amongst themselves that the clothes are “for the garden not for general wear” finding it odd that I bought so many. Most of the time you will find you end up paying for restaurant bills or taxi fares because you are the “rich kano”. Which is fine.. but the line crosses when it goes from accepted to being expected.
I know this happens with most people and is difficult to deal with. But will get there in
the end.

Generally you will find a lot of people saying “Gwapo” (which means handsome) and you will attract a lot of female attention. Even when married and state that fact. My barber was a prime example although very friendly and introduced his brothers,mother,father and several children. The fact come down to women while getting my hair cut. When I said I was married the joke made was “1 wife but lots of girlfriends..” and the next thing he is trying to hook me up with his sister. So when your girlfriend/wife is worried about you going out on your own you can understand why, it’s not being paranoid but a true fact there are a lot of women available and looking for a foreign husband/boyfriend.

So whats different? Well the general day-to-day things are completely different to what im used to. You will find your wife is not only keen to do things for you and the general routine household things but is happy to do it. In fact I used to do my own ironing and putting my clothes away but after April keeps taking it out and redoing.. i gave up. She likes it a certain way and if April’s happy to do that its fine. Breakfast is always cooked before I get out of bed and generally you can’t do anything round the house because it’s already done. Not only that you find things like spending time together so important, we would sit and hold hands while eating breakfast together, enjoying the warmth of the sun through the window and listening to the kids playing outside.

Spending evenings with family and generally more of a laid back attitude to life. Everything sounds Utopian? Well most of the time it is. But when it gets nasty it gets really nasty. First thing is you’ve changed your sweet loving girlfriend who was a Pinay going through the routine of normal life to “the rich Kano’s wife”. Which can and does cause more problems than you will expect. You will find enemies where you least expect them
and a lot of the issues come down to Envy and the big status changes that you have brought into the fold. While writing this article I was in chat with my friend Daisy who pointed out a discussion on a forum where a foreigner who’s wife died (After 25yrs) has been descended on like a pack of wolves by the family of his deceased wife,laying claim to the land that Max and his wife had built up over time. A court case headed by his mother in-law
to try to take at least 50% of his and his deceased wifes assets. A guy that not only built this up overtime with his wife but also helped a lot of the community around him. So easy how people forget what people do for them.. so be warned.
The thing with this side of the story is to get everything organised asap. You never know
what is round the next corner and you definitely don’t know who to trust. Only advice I can give on this subject is plan for the future and plan wisely. Your ideal world in paradise
can be robbed from you and difficult to replace or control.

You may be a factory worker from Leeds or a lottery winner from Texas but in the Philippines you are the same.. a “Rich Kano”. Just be aware of that fact and the implications it brings to you and your wife. Things can be very peaceful and relaxing in your new-found dream, but can also be your worst nightmare with the risk of losing everything that took a life time to build.

There is a lot of positives in the Philippines and the life CAN be great as a married couple but advise keeping in your own circles. People below your wealth have envy and the ones above you got there with reasons and it wasn’t being nice most of the time. Just keep
your financial status low-key not only for the amount of people who expect a hand out but
to save things such as kidnappings, robberies and many other factors that can change your life. Ideally you want to be doing business off the islands where there is little knowledge of what really goes on in your life and keep money facts to yourself. Literally
to yourself and setup a will etc. to make sure if anything does happen its all clear-cut as
to what happens after your gone.

Just some of my advice.. and a bit of experience which seems to be getting bigger lately.