Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So You Have an American Penpal.

As you may or may not know my wife is from the Philippines. We met the old-fashioned way at the church in the city in which we were living. We dated, got engaged, and then got married. It was bound to happen along those lines since very few single American or British women attended the Church let alone were active participants in Church centered activities.

Since The Empress and I have been together here in the USA and have reached out to others from the Philippines in our locale I have made some general observations and I want to share those with the world. Most of you who regularly read this blog will not be interested in it and I hope to attract Philippinas who have an American penpal and are looking at marrying that American.

The intention is to open their eyes a bit.

Now before I dive into the meat of this let me be perfectly clear. The Empress and I have many friends who met via the penpal/internet route. They are wonderful couples and are in perfectly happy marriages. Both partners in the marriage likewise, are wonderful people and it is a privilege to know them.

However, there is a possibility the person you are corresponding with is dangerous. We saw this situation once. The woman came over with her young sons and the man she was going to hookup with beat her and basically was not looking for a wife but for a sex & house slave.

With the internet/penpal situation it is too easy to convincingly portray yourself as someone you are not. Always remember that.

Some things to note about American life very different from Philippino life.

  • Yes, our incomes are greater so too is our cost of living. When thinking of costs in America go to the nearest Shoemart and price out imported goods that will get you close. For example a pair of jeans (maong) will run you about 2,000 pesos minimum. A quick bite to eat at McDonalds will run roughly 400 pesos. A kilo of chicken will also probably run around 300-350 pesos etc.

  • The climate. In most of the nation the climate is way different from the Philippines. Winters no matter where you are (except for Hawaii and South Florida) are likely to be colder than what you are used to, especially in the northeren regions where they will be like nothing you can imagine (don't worry you can deal with it but be ready for it).

  • Rice is not a common staple in our diets. Go to the in-laws or friends and most likely there will be no rice for you.

  • Forget about having a katulong unless your penpal is extremely wealthy.

  • Families are not so tight as they are in the Philippines. Children are encouraged to leave their parent's house from 18-22 years of age. There are exceptions.

  • There is very little public transportation and taxis are very expensive.

  • You will eventually learn to drive a car.

  • Americans have an independent nature. We are taught to do for ourselves and this independence is in our bones until the day we die.

  • Unless you are moving to a large city (Chicago, LA, New York City) many of the food items you like will be hard or impossible to find in your hometown.

  • Don't expect your penpal to be as religious as you.

  • We are quite a bit more informal when it comes to addressing elders/parents/supreiors etc

I am sure this is not a complete list and I will add to it as I come up with more.

Please recall I am not saying do not pursue your penpal/internet relationship I am saying enter it with your eyes wide open. I would also advise you to have a plan in case the situation is bad, be able to get away and go home in case you penpal/internet partner is bad (and by bad I don't mean that he is not as rich as you thought he was).