Joe the "Amerikano" in the Philippines

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  Officers carefully screening everyone entering a shopping mall...except Joe ang Amerikano A "Joe Nobody" in his country becomes "Joe Somebody" in the Philippines I remember walking down the streets of my wife's barangay alone and everyone would greet me with the expression "hey Joe". Filipinos automatically assume that if you are a Westerner your name is "Joe" and that you are wealthy and "Amerikano" . I also remember all Filipinos and their bags being thoroughly screened at the entrance of each shopping mall I went to. However the officers would just greet me and smile, as you can see in the picture above (that was at the SM in Rosales, Pangasinan), and say to me "welcome Sir". And there is nothing like hearing a Filipino call you "Sir" wherever you go, especially when you come from a country where your neighbor treats you like nothing. Indeed, the Philippines is the place where a Joe Nobody becomes Joe Somebo

How to Love a Filipina

 Few months ago I wrote an article about the role of acceptance in an interracial marriage.

Some Westerners who marry Filipinas (or who otherwise interact long-term with Filipinos for some other reasons) begin to shoot upon the reality that they themselves have willingly chosen to embrace, or as the "Culture Shock Philippines" book puts it, develop a frustrated and antagonistic attitude toward their culture and live "marching to the beat of a different drummer in a place where there are no drums", thereby feeling ill at ease.

The only cure is acceptance and almost all relationship experts talk about it.

Acceptance vs Tolerance

But what does acceptance really entail in an interracial intimate relationship?

Many Westerners who marry a Filipina probably go through the process of getting to know her without seriously weighing their readiness to deal with the inevitable culture shock that is going to show up before long.

What makes things trickier in a relationship with a Filipina is what the above mentioned book says in the introduction: "the elements that produce culture shock for the foreigner...are often extremely subtle and microscopic. Only upon accumulation does the full impact reach the bone".

In other words the real magnitude of culture shock is hard to discern in the early stages of the relationship and so many Westerners go through the relationship underestimating the challenges that lay ahead and perhaps thinking "I'll figure out how to deal with it somewhere down the road" and, sure enough, because it is not quite that simple to "figure it out somewhere down the road", a culture shock that they didn't quite anticipate hits hard and they find themselves ill-equipped for it and many react by putting on an antagonistic attitude.

The Filipino culture is filled with things that create friction in a long-term relationship with a Westerner, and in my blog I have abundantly mentioned many of them, from the bahala-na approach to things, that Westerners view as serious, to the relationship with the extended family and many others.

Yet, a Westerner may seek out relationship advice and stumble upon this nice concept of "acceptance" that may appear a little outlandish at first but it kind of begins to make sense as one dwells on it and tries to figure out why it is important.

Unconditional Love

So a Westerner may go: "I have made my mistake there is nothing I can do to change this situation I don't like but I care about the relationship so I'll find the way to accept the unacceptable and tolerate bahala-na, the role of the extended family etc".

But you see, this is not acceptance: what you are doing here is you are tolerating and showing resignation".

You are no longer "bashing the environment that you have chosen to inhabit" openly but you are still doing it in your thoughts and that is everything but acceptance.

Mere tolerance is a form of resistance: it doesn't matter if you don't broadcast your resistance. Resistance is still resistance even if we keep in our thoughts and don't go around broadcasting it, and when we have thoughts of resistance or mere, and reluctant, tolerance for a behavior of our partner that deep within we struggle to fully accept, that thinking gets in the way of real acceptance which is unconditional love.

If I love my partner unconditionally won't she and her extended family walk all over me?

Let me share a powerful quote from the book "Communication Miracles for Couples" by Jonathan Robinson: "I've noticed that many people are afraid to accept their partner unconditionally. They think that such a shift in attitude would lead to their partner walking all over them. Yet, the opposite is true. When people feel fully accepted, they do their very best to make their partners happy".

The book goes on to say: "We tend to think we'll love someone more once they change in some manner. It's common to think, “If only my mate were nicer, thinner, richer, neater, and so on, then I would really accept him.” The result of this way of being is that your partner never feels fully loved, and therefore never fully accepts you"

And this really what works with a Filipina spouse: in much the same way as a parent (and all the more so if you are a steparent like me) is more likely to get his kids to do the right thing if the kids sense that they are being loved "flaws and all", as kids (and especially stepchildren) become even more set in their ways when their parents come across as frustrated, a spouse (and this particularly applies to a Filipina spouse) is more likely to part with at least some of her "nasty behavior" if she senses that she is being loved unconditionally.

Unconditional Love in a Relationship with a Filipina Requires a Leap of Faith

In the process of learning to love a Filipina unconditionally and successfully deal with the Filipino mentality a Western partner may lose some money or suffer some other kind of damage, as the Filipino mentality doesn't lead to prosperity and, more often than not eats away at it.

So loving a Filipina unconditionally requires a leap of faith.

But, there is no way around loving a Filipina unconditionally if what you really want is a thriving relationship.

Resisting your Filipina's ways or merely trying to tolerance them, while having a lot of resistance inside, is like trying to drive your car with one foot on the accellerator and one on the brake.

This attitude won't get you anywhere and will lead to a lot of frustration in the end.

So the only attitude that works in an interracial marriage, and with a Filipina in particular, is unconditional love.

Having gone through 20 years of dealing with a Filipina what I can say is this: "marrying a Filipina, especially one who has a very deep-seated "Pinoy mentality", is a huge challenge so either you abstain from entering this kind of relationship of you accept the challenge of going through the sacrifices and the trials that are required to love her and her ways unconditionally.

In the long run unconditionally loving her, flaws and all, will pay off immensely and you'll enjoy an amazing relationship.

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