The Philippine Family

The dreaded Philippine family. How many times have I heard male foreigners bitching and complaining about their girls family. Complaints such as “shit I just bought them a new house what more do they want” or what do you mean your cousin just died and you need help I thought your cousin died last month” or “why can’t your brother or father get a job instead of relying on my money”. These questions and thousands like them are an everyday occurrence amongst foreigners who are supporting a Filipina and as such directly or indirectly supporting her family.

Before getting involved with a Filipina I think it is important to realize the obligation she feels towards her family. The simple truth is if you get involved with a Filipina then 99.9 % of the time you will also inherit her obligations to her family and trust me when I say these obligations normally take the form of financial support and they are never ending. From day one the Filipina has it drummed into her that it is her obligation to support her family and this is a stigma that will generally last most of her lifetime and she will instill the same beliefs in her offspring.

As the old saying goes the best place to start is the beginning and the beginning in this case is why the Filipina feels the need to support her family in the first place. Like in India the concept of the extended family is alive and well in the Philippines and the logic is have as many kids as you can which increases the chances of one of your kids growing up to become affluent and therefore able to support the family. As has been shown in both India and the Philippines this logic is severely flawed as it results in rapid population growth without the ability to sustain it however far from seeing it as worsening the situation the average Filipinos simply look at it as their lot in life and carry on striving to have big families. Another reason for the large families is the Catholic belief that abortion and contraception are bad and thirdly because of simple boredom. As my Filipina wife once said to me hey martin do you know why they have so many kids in the province and when I answered no she replied it’s because there is nothing else to do.

As I stated in my opening premise the pressure on the supposedly affluent child to support the family is non relenting and it is passed down from generation to generation. From a very early age it is instilled into the children especially the females that when they grow up they will support the family financially. This belief is effectively instilled into the girls in a multitude of different ways throughout their developing years. The end result of this is that the girls learn the economic realities of life, they will go to extreme measures to get money and they will even feel a strong sense of guilt when they cannot supply money for the family. This is part and parcel of the Filipinas psychological makeup and when she cannot supply the financial support she will feel guilty because she is not meeting her cultural obligations.

For most foreigners this way of thinking is exactly the opposite to the way they are bought up and as such they will have trouble understanding it but for the Filipina it is totally natural and this is how the world is. I remember when I took my wife to Australia and she could not come to terms with the fact that I never sent money back to them in Australia. I explained to her that my culture was the opposite to hers and that they did not need money from their offspring and certainly did not expect it. I went on to explain that the parents support their children for most of their lives. This was a totally alien concept to her and it took her three days to come to terms with it, at which time she said, “mahal you are so lucky to have family like this, in Philippines we don‘t have. In Philippines it is our job to look after the family not family look after you.”

I also remember my first long term girl friend in the Philippines named Lisa whom I met in Rosies Diner in M.H.DelPilar Manila. At the time I had been schooled by veterans who had impressed upon me the fact that if you got involved with a Filipina you would inadvertently inherit the responsibility for her family as well and as such I was weary and determined not to get trapped. I started off with resolute promises to myself but within 1 month I had Lisa living with me then 1 month later I had her mother as a maid then 2 months after that I had her two sisters living in the house as well and Lisa was sending money down to Samar for her father and two brothers on a monthly basis. When I asked Lisa “how come your brothers or father cannot get a job I was curtly told “don’t be stupid there are no job in Samar”. In response I grimaced and thought to myself , welcome to the Philippines Martin”.

Throughout my years of living in the Philippines I have heard Lisa’s statement expressed in thousands of different ways and coming from girls with totally different social backgrounds and the sad truth of the matter is that she is absolutely correct there are very few decently paid jobs in the Philippines and this is especially the case in the province. I have often heard foreigners complaining about the lazy brothers or idle father who just sit back and wait for the money to come in while playing cards and drinking alcohol. Many foreigners grow up with the so called “protestant work ethic” so for them they see the non working, support dependant family members as lazy unmotivated bums and to an extent they are correct however the sad fact is throughout the Philippines there are very few decent paying jobs and in the remoter provincial areas there is often no job at all. As a result of the lack of opportunity to work and earn a decent wage the Filipinos have developed a sort of support dependant culture where the more affluent members support the remainder of the family.

I have often heard people say it is human nature to take the easy way and this is certainly true when it comes to Filipinos and this is a very influential aspect of the support mentality. Filipinos can very easily become dependant on the support and after a period of time they begin to expect it, they see it as their money and regard it as their right to receive it.

When it comes to support it is important to remember an old truism, “the more money you have the more ways you find to spend it“. This logic is certainly true when it comes to money and just as applicable in terms of support. What is seen as a decent amount initially will in a short period of time become inadequate and the demands for more money and pressure on the girl to provide it will increase exponentially. When it comes to support there is no such thing as enough, as the old saying goes “enough is never enough” and the more money you send the more the dependant family expect it and find ways to spend it.

Support can take many forms and it isn’t always a direct infusion of cash. For example when you live in the Philippines you can bet your bottom dollar your girls family will try to move in with you. Most Filipinos believe that foreigners are rich and therefore must have a better lifestyle with many benefits that they would not normally have. Secondly the Filipino family is a close knit unit so for them it is totally natural that they should all live together since this is what they have always done and it may as well be in as good as conditions as possible.

There are many downsides to letting the family move in with you but the two most prominent are the lack of privacy and the fact that you as the foreigner will be expected to pay for just about everything. You will become the support mechanism or the proverbial “cash cow” for the entire family. Having said that, there are also definite advantages to becoming part of the Filipino family and I have met many foreigners who regard themselves as a member of the extended Filipino family and they can often be heard extolling the benefits of this situation.

When it comes to the girls working the bar the support mentality actually becomes a justification for what they are doing. They can often be heard saying they are sacrificing themselves for their family which in turn makes their chosen occupation of working the bar morally acceptable. This is a classic case of the ends justifying the means.

Many people will claim they are supporting the girl but not the girls family however the simple fact is 99% of the time the girl you are giving money too will in turn use that money to support her family so indirectly you are indeed supporting the family. When it comes to support it will always be a balancing act with you on the one hand trying to minimize the amounts sent and them on the other hand trying to maximize the amount sent.

In summation the bottom line is that the Filipina will nearly always be tied to her family and will see it as her duty to support them. This is instilled in her from a very early age and handed down from generation to generation and has become so entrenched in Philippine society that a whole culture of support has developed. Secondly Filipinos see all foreigners as being rich and as an extension to that they see it as the foreigners duty to share some of his wealth with the Filipinos who are less fortunate than him. Thirdly there are several psychological aspects to the support culture including the fact that those receiving it often come to expect it and see it as their money. The Filipino family will often see it as their right to receive the money and your obligation to provide it. In their world this is the way things have always been and they can see nothing wrong with it. Fourthly, there is no such thing as enough, the more money you send the more ways they will find to spend it. Lastly support can take many different forms but in the end it is to some extent inevitable and no foreigner who becomes involved with a Filipina can avoid it.

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