The Filipino Woman

I am writing this post from the perspective of a foreigner married to a Filipina.

What does the quote-unquote "typical" Filipina look like and what does marrying the stereotype Filipina entail? (Obviously there is a lot of Filipinas whom I know who have little to do with this "stereotype", but many definitely fall into the category I will be discussing in this article).


Traditionally a Filipina is raised with the idea that she shoud lean toward becoming like the stereotype known as ‘Maria Clara’, the image of a woman who is defined as follows: "shy, demure, modest, self-effacing and loyal to the end. The openly provocative, sexually aggressive female who is frequently associated with the American female image is still comparatively rare in the Filipino culture".

There are some Filipinas who join Facebook groups for Westerners looking for a potential Filipino wife who do post sexually provocative selfies, but, by and large, those are exceptions.

Actually there are Filipinas whom I know who wouldn't even go to a beach without wearing a t shirt on top of their swimsuit and my wife and others don't like public displays of affection, not even with their husbands.

Filipina wearing a t-shirt on a beach in the One Hundred Islands National Park, Pangasinan

But as for "shy and submissive", well, I am not too sure:  this may appear to be the case on the surface because, while Filipino men play the macho, they drive, often aggressively, while their wives don't even have a driving license, they drink alcohol while women rarely drink, their wives seem to be somewhere in the shadow or in a corner.

But they are not in the shadow or in a corner to just sit back and be dominated by their husbands. They are in the shadows to run the family, to do the actual work and make up for the negligence of way too many Filipino husbands who are engaged in "inuman", "kwentuan" and who are often less educated or professionally qualified than their husbands.

So the man often ends up being economically, culturally and socially outsmarted by his wife, and this is quite a thing because, under some aspects the Philippines is even more "evolved" than those countries where women enjoy equal footing with men: in the Philippines it is often the man who is submissive to his wife (at least socio-economically) and this is something that really blows my mind.


To understand your Filipina, if you marry one, you must view her not just as your wife but someone who has been playing different roles imposed upon her by society because the Philippines is a highly family oriented community.

On top of being your wife she is: daughter, sister or ate and mother.


If she is the mother of your kids, she is likely going to try to raise them not as those ambitious Western kids who are raised with the idea that they should be achieving something in life, but rather as an integral part of the kin-group who, rather than focusing on achieving some personal goals or ambitions, are expected to provide for the extended family.

And this may create a friction because, while the Western husband might be trying to inculcate into his child the value of setting personal goals, his wife and the "byenan", or in-laws, are definitely going to program the child with the idea that he should be focused on paying back his "utang na loob" of debt of gratitude to the whole kin-group, rather than pursuing his own independence and ambition.


As daughters Filipinas are closely tied to their mothers or "nanay".

All Filipino children grow up with the idea that they will never become fully independent of their parents and that they will basically become the financial providers for their aging parents, but the daughter is generally the one who is particularly tied to her mother and she is the one who is expected to become the chief source of support for the aging mother.

The reason is because the mother is viewed by a Filipina daughter as the main source of advice, and in many cases this is understandable because in way too many Filipino families the mother is the actual head of the family.

As I said, one of the things that really impresses me about the Philippines is that there are many families in which the wife has higher education and a good job, while their husbands are like tricycle drivers, farmers or something like that and, when it comes to providing a cultural and moral example to their children they are often difficult to look up to because many are heavy drinkers and spend long hours idly chit-chatting with their fellow lalaki while their wives are much more "masipag" and busy trying to juggle work and child rearing.

But apart from those extreme cases where the father is a "macho machinurin" (a play of words for macho "masunurin" or submissive, a macho who is only such on the surface but, in reality, is being henpecked by his more socially and culturally evolved wife), even in those families in which the father is hardworking and sets an excellent example the mother is still viewed as the primary source of advice for the daughter and, therefore, as the one who is primarily responsible to care for the aging mother.

Because Filipinas are so attached to their nanay or mother, when the nanay becomes your "byenan" (mother in law) she might heavyhandedly dole out advice.


As ate, or older sister her siblings rely upon her basically for life. This is particularly true in those families where the parents work abroad or in those families where the children are orphans.

In such cases the ate is the one who basically raises her siblings and, even when those grow older, she is the one who is primarily expected to provide financial and emotional support to them.

And this is precisely the role that my wife is playing with her younger brother whom she helped to come to Italy and whom she is still helping under many aspects.

So, yes, if you are interested in marrying a Filipina, there are many things you have to take into account.

Many Westerners naively assume that they are going to marry this pretty Asian woman who will primarily be focused on taking care of her husband.

Well, it doesn't quite work like that. If you marry a Filipina you have to be aware of the intricate set of relationships that she will be trying to juggle and this will definitely have a profound impact on your marriage.


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