Would you marry someone you've never even met?
I met Beth on a flight from Amsterdam to Cardiff, Wales in June 2005. She was my seatmate on that connecting flight and we got to talking since we both came from Manila. As Beth and I chatted, I discovered she was on her way to meet her "future husband." I asked her how they met and she told me, "through the internet." And just like that, I had my story.
Beth turned out to be a computer programmer at ABS-CBN, no less! She wasn't the typical "take-me-out-of-this-rut" kind of girl actively looking for a foreigner husband. You see, it started out of curiosity. Beth was doing research on graphic design and was looking at the layout of Yahoo Personals. On a whim, she decided to register and voila - men all over the world became instant admirers!
One of them was Andrew, a 32-year old entreprenuer based in Bridgend, Wales (you probably thought he was 50!) When I interviewed him in person he told me it was "love at first sight"... from seven thousand miles away. Beth's simple, no-make-up but pretty picture in her profile did it for him.
Andrew "courted" Beth for almost a year thru chatting and e-mail. Once, he even came to Manila to meet Beth's family and then he proposed... now Beth is Mrs. Andrew, and from the looks of it, she couldn't be any happier.
During my three-month stay in Cardiff, I was surprised to meet many Filipinas married to Welsh men and most of them met -- you guessed it -- through the net! This phenomenon is actually not new, as even before the internet, there was already such a thing as “mail-order brides.” Of course, that's another story. I also met the "older generation" of Filipina women married to Welsh men -- one couple I met had been married for 15 years. They told me they started as "pen pals" and their husbands "met" them thru magazine ads. Very interesting indeed.
So why do these foreigners prefer Filipinas? Based on my interviews, they like Pinays because they see them as beautiful, exotic, subservient, mysterious and easily controlled. While the stereotype of why Filipina women prefer foreigners is because they see them as a means to escape poverty and a chance at (economic) freedom. I'm sure there are a number of studies on the sociological or socio-anthropologal aspects of how the West perceives the East and vice versa, so I won't pretend to be an expert.
What struck me most, however, was the comment of one Welshman who'd been married to a Filipina for twenty years. He told me he liked pinays because they are "better wives and mothers." I thought his wife, who was beside him at that time, would take offense at being portrayed as simply a "domestic goddess." I asked her what she thought of her husband's remark, and her answer was "I'm proud to be a good wife and mother to our children."
Well, I figured if it works for them, then who am I to judge? As in any relationship, there are pluses and minuses. There are a number of horror stories related to "mixed" marriages, but there are also those who will just make you sigh and say, "I'm happy for them." I guess in the end, it's not so much how you met but how much effort you put into the relationship to make it work.If you want to see my report about Beth and online dating, do catch Balitang Europe this Sunday at 11:30 pm on ANC channel 27 and TFC Europe at 2pm (Manila time). You'll be able to catch me on Balitang Europe every Sunday, starting this weekend. I do hope Filipinos in Europe will enjoy the show -- as well as Filipinos who have relatives in Europe -- malay n'yo, ma-feature namin ang kamag-anak ninyo! =)
Tune in on Sunday!