Living with a Filipina

Chapter 2

After my initial article of the series I intend to continue writing about living with a Filipina, some one commented that they would like more specific details of my experiences. I believe that is a good idea, but I do want to caution readers that this series is not intended to critisize my wife, but merely to point out some of the cultural differences that have caused me trouble as well as the solutions that I am trying to implement to make our relationship a loving, lasting one.

I, like every human being on this planet has character flaws, but one thing I am proud of when I look in the mirror at night is that I do have compassion, and I try to act upon it. If I see a person or an animal in need, it hurts me and I honestly do everything within reason to help out. Living in the Philippines now for just over a year, I have seen more of that need need than I have experienced in the other 53 years of my life. Sometimes it is overwhelming, but I refuse to close my heart and ignore that scrawney dog or cat by the side of the road or the seemingly parentless kids that obviously do not know where their next meal is coming from. I will never solve those problems but that does not mean that I cannot help in some very small ways to make this day just a little easier for people or creatures that are less fortunate than me, simply due to the luck of the draw of being born in this country instead of some place like I was.

Problem is, my wife just can’t understand it and when I do try and help, I have to deal with her utter disapproval in various forms. Our office is right on the Boulevard in downtown Dumaguete City so I have got to know all the street kids and rather than just give them a handout, I hold a little class to teach them such simple things as counting to twenty, the days of the week or how to spell the name of the country they live in . While they are learning, they get fed. It costs maybe all of a hundred pesos per day, and though is no cure of their problems, when they leave, they have a full stomach and usually have a smile on their face and some sense of accomplishment. They often come back later in the day hoping for a second round but usually my wife is there by that time and shoos them away with angry words and gives me hell for having opened the door to them in the first place.

Quite honestly, her apparent lack of compassion has come close to being a relationship deal breaker for us several times but I caught a glimpse of why she is the way she is several times and that has always stuck in my mind. The most telling was when I had brought home a small weak, abandoned kitten and tried nursing it to health, but everytime I fed it I would get a look of death and the silent treatment. One day I had had enough and asked her straight out what the big deal was. The answer shocked and humbled me. When she was a small child, her family had been so poor that feeding their pets meant that some of the 8 kids would not get enough food to satisfy their hunger. Coming from a western country in a family who had 4 golden retrievers, I can clearly state that though those pampered dogs ate well, they never took the food out of my mouth. Maybe if I had walked away from the table hungry once or twice, I may have grown up with an attitude a little closer to hers.

The moral of this story to me is that by being blessed to have been born in a first world country, where bluntly put, no one has to go without the basics of life, it is easy for me to afford the luxury of compassion, but to those who have been born to a life where living can be a fight everyday, that compassion can be easily replaced by the need for survival. This to me seem selfish and uncaring at times , but would I have turned out any different if I had had to walk in their shoes?

In regards to our relationship and how this will probably continue to affect it, I now try to walk that thin line. I will not give up trying to help how and when I can because that is who I am and want to be, but neither will I judge my wife for having what I feel are the irrational fears of not having enough for ourselves. Her feelings are just as important as mine and I can never forget that if I expect to have a long and healthy relationship. Living with a Filipina is probaly no different in this fact than living with any other woman.

The Complete Living With a Filipina Series