There are double standards in every facet of life and every society; the Philippines and the Fil-Aus (Fil-Am, Fil-Brit etc) community is no exception. These double standards exist and there is little any of us can do to change that; but we can, of course, change how we react and deal with them. So what do I mean by ‘double standards’?
Filipino or Foreigner? Different standards
First of all it seems a common occurrence for a Filipino to get a Filipina teen pregnant and simply walk off leaving her to deal with the pregnancy, the birth and the upbringing of the child. The Filipino may then openly boast about how big a man he is, how he has fathered so many children, how many sons he has and so on. There is no criticism of the fact he has abandoned the mother who, for the most part, is too often considered to be the baddie. She will be shamed by her barangay and even her own family for being ‘burrikat’, (a mole, whore or slut in Cebuano, depends on the context). We have such a double standard in our western societies, too, but that is changing, at least among the better educated among us. Down at the lower socio-economic level, where it seems to occur most often, it is sadly little different for Australian girls than it is for Filipinas.
Now, were a foreigner to do the same thing and get a Filipina pregnant and walk away; he would be called every name under the sun, and quite rightly in my opinion. If the age difference was sufficient, he might even find himself vulnerable to being charged with one of several laws that make it dicey to even be in company in public with a legal age Filipina who is more than ten years his junior. But most likely if any official action is taken it will be with a view to extorting as much money from him as possible. That’s by the authorities and the family of the mum to be. And that is the core of the problem.
As the foreigner is too often seen as a walking ATM and considered rich, simply because he is a kano, it is not unheard of for him to be set up. He may be assured the girl is of legal age when she isn’t. She may swear she is using contraception, but isn’t and that is on purpose so she can get pregnant by him. Many Filipinas want nothing more than a ‘white baby’ with blue eyes and a long nose and are quite happy to have nothing more to do with the father; but most of course want a proper relationship to go with the new addition to their family.
If we consider a scenario where the foreigner is not set up, but simply does the wrong thing and abandons his pregnant girlfriend, is it because he is perceived as having money that he is looked down upon compared to a Filipino doing the exact same thing? Or, is it because foreigners are held to a higher standard in some kind of post-colonial cultural cringe? The reality is plenty of westerners walk out on their pregnant partners at home, not just when overseas. It is a reflection of the lack of character of the individual, I think, rather than any racial or cultural characteristic. My point here is that there seems to be a different view or value placed on this when it is Filipino to Filipina than when it is Foreigner to Filipina. That such a double standard exists I have no doubt, but feel free to disagree. If nothing else, read this post and then think about it, form your own view and be guided accordingly. Ask yourself if we have different expectations from our Filipinas than we would were we to marry an Aussie girl. Be honest with yourself; it just might be a valuable exercise to undertake.
Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz