Why I'll Never Be A Mail Order Bride  

Posted by Laya in ,

I am thinking of putting a Hands Off ! warning on all of my online profiles, including YM, Friendster and MySpace. Just because I'm Filipina I get a lot of messages that go something like "I'm John (or Peter or Dave) and I'm from Australia (the USA, UK, etc). I'll be coming to the Philippines next month and I'm looking for a friend (activity partner, girlfriend, someone special). If you are interested, please IM (or email) me." Wow naman. How other people's perceptions of us Filipinas have sunk so low that they think we are all just ready to jump at the idea that a certain Tom, Dick or Harry is due to come to the islands looking for a bride. So what? I read somewhere that of all the foreign brides in Australia, Filipinas have the highest incidence of casualties or domestic violence victims. No, thank you. I have no intention of becoming another statistic.

I'm not slamming all those Pinays who have married foreigners, especially those who saw a way out from the state of the nation nowadays. Uh-huh. It takes a lot of guts to tie oneself in marriage to a man you barely know, especially one whose only attraction seems to be his dollars. Most especially if the reason is to give one's family a better life. I've got friends who chose that path. Hey, with the low wages and high cost of living (that only rises steadily) in the country nowadays, sometimes it just doesn't seem worth living in. That's why a lot of people leave to find work elsewhere, braving illegal recruiters, poor work safety conditions, and a lot of occupational hazards just to have something to send home. I even heard someone say that Pinoys would venture into war zones when other nationalities won't (especially the ship captains and aircraft pilots who help in evacuation) because the hazard pay is too tempting a prize to pass up. I don't blame them. That's their life. The point is, not everybody does it. There are still a few who would rather stay home and do something here. Who would rather earn without having to leave the country. Who would rather wait for the real thing to come along instead of marry a foreigner just for the money. Never mind that some other people would view it as katangahan and lack of common sense. I'm not saying it's all about the money, of course. A lot of women do have this fantasy of this white knight (and Filipinos are not white) on a white charger rescuing them from a life of slavery and riding off with them into the sunset where they live happily ever after, and a lot of men do feel flattered to be seen as the embodiment of this fantasy.

Besides, according to the materials I've read on the issue, foreigners have this conception of Filipinas as meek homebodies who defer to their husbands in everything. Someone even said they're "old-fashioned girls who put their husbands first and will care for you till death do you part." Ha. Perhaps they should be introduced to Gabriela Silang, my own distant ancestress Teresa Magbanua, and Princess Urduja. Urduja ruled her kingdom in her own right, suborning her husband and sons. Gabriela and Teresa commanded men in battle against the Spaniards. Meek women they certainly weren't. Besides, if those foreign guys look at Pinays that way, and make that the reason why they want Pinay brides, that can't help but reinforce my own opinion that they're chauvinistic a**holes like those long ago colonizers who took over these islands and made women into second-class citizens. Yup, for the enlightenment of all of you poor benighted brideseekers out there, the Filipina was an emancipated woman before the Spaniards came along, made her wear long skirts and punished her for expressing her opinions. Where other women in the world were chattels, the precolonial Filipinas were rulers, priestesses, landowners and entrepreneurs. They had the sole right of naming their children, they were queens in their own homes, and when they walked with their families their husbands and sons walked behind them instead of before them. No wonder that even when the Spaniards thought they had succeeded in putting the Filipina in her place, she still kept breaking out in the most unlikely ways. I suspect that the same thing happens with those meek mail order brides... like holding a sparrow only to find out that it was a hawk.

So why am I never going to be a mail-order bride?

1. If I cook, it will be for my own pleasure. Not at the order of a husband who thinks he can terrify me into submission and criticize my cooking. I have this terrible tendency to put purgative in the food of people who annoy me that way. I'll cook for those people I love cooking for, but if you expect a free cook, hire your own househelp, buster. Your life won't be in danger that way, only your pocket.

2. I'm not a laundress. I will wash my partner's clothes out of love, but not as if my life depended on it. I won't slave over your shirts and tremble in fear that you won't like the way I washed them. If you have any peeves with the way your clothes are washed, buy a washing machine or take your clothes to the laundry. That way, you can always sue the laundry if you're not satisfied with their performance. Or hire a laundress. Then you can sue her.

3. I'm not a domestic helper. I will put the house in order and do the cleaning, but don't expect everything to be so spick and span like it's the only thing I live for doing. If you want your house to look like a hotel, then buy one. Or hire a maid!

4. I have a career. I like my job. Don't expect me to give it up just to cater to your whims, or because it insults your male ego because your wife is a wage earner and might even earn more than you do. If you feel embarrassed about it, then work hard in your own career so you earn more. But don't punish me for having more sense than you do, because I won't stand for your nonsense. Bite me and I'll bite back.

5. I don't need your money. Because I'm a working girl, I earn my own keep. I pay my own way. I'm not dependent on any man. If I wanted dollars, I'd earn them. I don't exist just to be dressed up and shown off like a Barbie doll. I won't expect you to pay for everything that I want or need. I'll even insist on paying for dinner half of the time. When I fall in love, it doesn't matter who he is, if he's rich or poor or elite or peasant. All that I would expect of him is that he be worthy of my love and respect, and that can't be quantified in money.

6. I'm not a baby factory. I like children and would like to have my own someday, but I don't exist just to bear your heirs. And you will be content with whatever I bear you, and not get angry at me for not bearing boys. Incidentally, male children are determined by the Y chromosome which comes from the father, so if a wife bears only girls, it's probably the father's fault anyway.

7. I'm proud of my nationality. Despite all the bad things that happen in my country, despite the turmoil, despite the bad image, I know my people are trying to make the most of life. So if anyone ever puts my country or my people down when I'm around, or try to convince me to repudiate the land of my birth, they better watch it because I'm not just gonna stand meekly by and take it.

8. I'm not a martyr. I will not sit idly by and watch you go around with other women or go out with your friends and smoke and drink yourselves into stupor, then meekly accept your dictum prohibiting me from having any friends of my own, or going out with them, or anything aside from staying at home and being an unpaid househelp/nanny/babymaker/cook. I believe in adherence to wedding vows, and that once you made a promise to a person you should keep it, but don't strain my patience and my respect too far. When it comes to my respect for you and my own self-respect, mine will win over yours anytime.

9. I have a mind of my own. I will not have you putting me down or denigrating me as an ignoramus, because frankly at this point I probably know more about a lot of things than most people.

10. I despise double standards. I detest male chauvinists. Nuff said.

So hands off, buster. Just because I'm a Filipina doesn't mean I'm for sale.

This entry was posted at Wednesday, February 20, 2008 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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