Friday, March 09, 2007

Pinoy Mail Order Brides

Aside from the brain drain, the Philippines is also experiencing an exodus of young Pinays, and sometimes even old ones, who migrate to First World nations as mail order brides. They come from all walks of life and from anywhere in the Philippines. All have one goal--to get out of the Philippines as soon as possible!
Forget the usual snail mail version. Now, it is more hi-tech. Filipinas who would like to meet a foreigner just sign up as a member of dating websites for free and wait for men to contact them. Sometimes, they are the ones who contact the men themselves. Other Pinays try Yahoo Messenger or any chatrooms to hook up with a potential foreign lover or two. Once successful, both parties proceed from emailing each other to chatting online to phone calls to the inevitable eyeball session. If all goes well, wedding bells will soon be just around the corner.
Before the onslaught of the internet, the usual mail order brides were those poverty-stricken Filipinas who wanted to have a better life by marrying foreigners. Having no access to a good education to be upwardly mobile economically, these Pinays resorted to drastic measures as their way out of poverty. This is not the case today. True, there are still a lot of poverty-stricken Pinays who try the mail-order-bride route, but even Pinays from the middle class are now experimenting on finding love or luck on the internet.
I don't want to sound jaded about this whole mail-order-bride phenomenon because for all I know there might be true love happening via the internet and overseas phone calls. It is just that I can't shake off this feeling that what has motivated Filipinas to seek foreign husbands is more mercenary than romantic. In the Philippines, the mighty US dollar still rules. Hence, the best ways to get one's hands on this currency are to be an overseas worker, to migrate as a skilled worker, and to marry a foreigner from First World nations.
It also doesn't help my cynicism that I see a lot of these Pinays hooking up with any foreigner despite the age difference. I have seen eighteen-year-old girls marrying themselves off to men almost thrice their age.....I mean THRICE! I, myself, can't see myself falling in love with a man twice my age unless he looks like Pierce Brosnan or Jeff Bridges or the other older Hollywood hunks. And these very old foreigners do not even come close to looking like David Letterman, who doesn't look much himself. Where is true love in such a relationship? And please, don't give me that line that looks are not everything and beauty is just skin deep. Physical attraction is needed in a romantic relationship. Why are these old foggies seeking young and attractive Filipinas in the first place if the physical aspect is not that important? Yeah, yeah, I also am aware of that line that Asian women are seen as a lot sweeter than Caucasian women and less materialistic. Well, I might agree with the sweeter aspect at times but not when it comes to being less materialistic. Filipinas are as materialistic as any woman in the world. The difference lies in the fact that Filipinas easily get high on material things that Caucasian women have taken for granted; hence, the former seem more grateful than the latter.
Yes, I also know that there are a lot of Filipinas who like to have mixed-breed offsprings of the Caucasian variety because the tisoy look is lionized in the Philippines and the mothers can cash in on their children's looks via showbiz and commercials. But still, I intuitively know that Filipinas generally won't seek foreigners if the Philippines can provide a better source of income to help them move upward economically.
I really can't blame these women for choosing the mail-order-bride route. Much as I hate seeing this phenomenon becoming a way of life (since it gives my country a bad reputation), I can't give these Filipinas a better option. Marrying a foreigner is the easiest way out of their desperate situations. Educating them would take years and is not an assurance that their lives will become better as a whole, considering the fact that a lot of Filipinos who have a good education are underemployed. These impoverished women instinctively know that they are better off capitalizing on their youth and looks and the perception of Western men that Asian women are better than their Western counterpart.
Since I can't do anything about mail order brides from the Philippines, I just hope that they do get a better life abroad even though I know from experience that successful Pinoys overseas tend to be snooty afterwards.
Just a note, it galls me to death seeing a google ad of a dating website for foreigners seeking Filipina wives on my own blogsite. I am actually advertising a phenomenon that I would like to put a stop to. Talk about IRONY!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Public Toilets...A Disaster in the Philippines

After experiencing a slice of life in some First World nations, I must say that I have grown to appreciate more what I have in the Philippines like the fair weather I enjoy almost every day, fresh seafood, a variety of colors for 12 months, youthful-looking skin, more approachable people, and lighter clothes to name a few. However, I am still disgusted with the deplorable state of our public toilets. Being a Third World nation should not be an excuse for having such vomit-inducing washrooms, especially since the government has been trying to win over tourists who prefer Thailand over the Philippines.
When I was abroad, I would seldom have much of a problem if I suddenly get a bout of loose bowel movement ( LBM) or needed to pee. The toilets were usually clean and there was an available roll of toilet paper for public use. Usually, I saw several rolls of tissue inside one cubicle. Running water was also existent and toilets could be flushed. Of course, there was also the complimentary liquid soap, paper towels and hand dryer. Trains also had toilets that I could use with ease. Sometimes, I needed to pay a bit to use a public toilet in Europe but it was a small price to pay for being able to use a clean toilet to relieve myself.
That is not the case in the Philippines. The most decent public toilets available are usually situated inside five-star hotels and posh restaurants, which are shunned by the masses. Some respectable places do maintain clean washrooms but in other venues, people will encounter several problems. One major problem is the lack of running water so toilets cannot be flushed. Another one is the lack of toilet paper. Sometimes one can find liquid soap, but more often than not, this necessity is unavailable. I can accept the lack of paper towels or hand dryers, and even the lack of liquid soap. I just have an issue with the lack of water in a country surrounded by water, albeit saltwater. No wonder public toilets in the Philippines generally stink!
Unclean toilets seem to be one of those perennial problems in this country. Most government buildings have no decent toilet. Heck, most buildings in the cities have a problem with running water so this affects the washrooms. Even most schools do not have decent toilets, unless they are the private schools for the rich. It is even worse in the provinces...uggh! I cringe at the thought of my own out-of-town experiences.
Never mind the fact that toilets in the Philippines are outmoded. What is important is that it is relatively clean. But with the city-wide (not to mention nationwide) water problem, I doubt if public toilets can be truly maintained. There are some places that charge people a few pesos to use a semi-decent public toilet. The payment goes to the maintenance of the toilets. However, unlike in Europe, this is more of an exception than the rule. Hence, public restrooms that can be used for free will usually give you an eyeful of poo and concentrated pee, and the stench of a pigsty (Yuck!) Yes, people actually have toilets at their disposal but they should be ready to be grossed out.
Though it would be a dream come true for me when the Philippines finally has decent public toilets, I just have this gut feeling that I would probably not witness it in my lifetime. I don't know. I just get this feeling that both civilians and the government couldn't care less.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Kris Aquino....Yet Again?

Oh no! Not again. All this brouhaha about the domestic woes of Kris Aquino has shown me once again that most Filipinos would rather focus on melodrama than put their energies on something more pro-active.
I can't say I truly blame my fellow countrymen/women for doing so. I can understand the need to escape from the horrid day to day existence most Filipinos are subjected to. This escapism comes in the form of feasting on the life of a very well-known personality, who in this case is the infamous Kris Aquino. And if it points to all is not well for this personality, so much the better, I guess. I have a strong suspicion that despite her many fans, a lot would like to see the downfall of this gorgeous lass. Filipinos are famous for having crab mentality and tend to be envious and unhappy about the success of other Pinoys, it seems to me.
Now, I am not defending Kris Aquino. Though she is both bright and beautiful (not to mention, successful), she is also tactless, full of herself and bratty. She is definitely a newsmaker and people can't seem to get enough of her. She seems unable to keep her mouth shut about her life and has to give people a glimpse of it directly or indirectly every time she opens her mouth. This poor lass can't help being an exhibitionist and seems to revel in the constant attention of the media. I thought that after the Joey Marquez fiasco, her bowing out from the public eye was going to be permanent. I was wrong. She just couldn't stand not being the center of attention.
Well, she is a somebody and she knows it. Being the daughter of a former president and a national hero is enough to gain the spotlight. It also helps that she is also extraordinarily beautiful and gregarious. I remember the first time I saw her on TV after the assassination of her father. She was so smart-looking with her glasses on. She was also well-spoken and did not use the singsong twang she is famous for today. I thought she would follow in the footsteps of her dad and try to do something worthwhile to change the Philippines for the better. Again, I was wrong. It is such a pity since Kris Aquino would have been such a great politician had she chosen politics and not showbiz.
Because of her choice, the besotted public had been fed a series of scandals that must have given Cory Aquino nightmares. The first controversy was getting pregnant with Phillip Salvador's child. As everyone knew then, Phillip was a married man who was with his mistress when he got involved with Kris. After Kris left Phillip, she had an affair with yet another married man, Joey Marquez. The country was rocked when she revealed on national TV how she was physically abused by Joey and how he had given her STD. Yikes, I still cringe from this memory! As of this writing, Kris is in another fix. She is trying to save a marriage that has been shattered by a supposedly affair of her husband James Yap with a receptionist. If you ask me, this latest controversy is not so shocking as her former affairs but the public is lapping it up. Well, what goes around comes around eventually, my dear Kris. And, it seems to me that you are psychologically attracted to philanderers.
I really wish Kris would retire from showbiz and do something more worthy of her lineage. She doesn't really need the money showbiz is throwing her way. She has enough product endorsements. She has Hacienda Luisita. She has more than enough.
I am sick and tired of her tumultuous love relationships and lavish lifestyle. Why can't she just use her popularity to make life better in the Philippines? As I said before she has the makings of a politician. Being one like her father can still provide her the limelight she craves so much and at the same time provide her the power to transform the entire country and not just a few lives through her game show.
It such a pity indeed since Kris shows no signs of going beyond herself. Her life is such a soap opera. Mark my words, this is not the end of her troubled life. There is more to come and the public will feast on her next issue or controversy yet again. Good grief!