Love In The Philippines, “What’s It All About, Reekay?”

in #philippines2 years ago (edited)

Back when I was a kid of eight years old, it was 1971.  I lived a pretty sheltered life and had no clue what sex was, much less what this whole “sexual revolution” thing I kept hearing the grown-ups talk about in hushed tones at neighborhood barbecues might be about.  My Dad was in the Marines (4 years) and then Air Force (20 years) so I just hoped this revolution wouldn’t involve my Dad going to war.  That’s pretty much how clueless I was.  Unlike today’s eight year olds.. but don’t get me started on that.

I’ve been nocturnal since even that age and on weekends my parents would let me stay up watching tv until the signal went off the air at around 1a.m.  That’s when they’d play either the Air Force ‘High Flight’ poem or the ‘Crying Indian’ footage and then the signal went to a test pattern along with a long beep-tone that went on until the next morning’s broadcast.

But before that happened, the family would go to bed and I’d be up watching Carl Kolchak chase down vampires and monsters in “The Night Stalker”, a predecessor to the X-Files show or “Men In Black” films.. way ahead of it’s time if you ask me.  Another show that absolutely puzzled me was this show, “Love, American Style”.  Even the title confused me.  Does every nation have it’s own ‘style’ of Love?  I’d watch all the little skits they’d do and could never make heads or tails of why everyone was acting so goofy.  It was a very 70’s type show complete with the bell-bottom pants and polyester shirts with the paisley designs.

So it was around this time that a movie came along one night on the ABC Friday Night Movies which was a seminal turning point in my  whole outlook on love and romance.  It was a movie starring Michael Caine called, “Alfie“.  I got absorbed into that movie.  Back then you couldn’t save it to Tivo or rent the dvd.  If a movie came on television you paid attention because it might be another year before they replayed it.  So there, with a blanket on the sofa I observed this man’s life as a carefree, single bachelor.  (Jumping forward for just a moment, the film was later recreated in 2004, with Jude Law in the starring role, soundtrack by Mick Jagger.  I love both versions of the film.)

In the film the main character, Alfie, is a handsome, young bachelor making his way through life focused on the one pursuit of enjoying as many women as he can fit into his waking hours.  He has the charm, the looks and his carefree philosophy of bringing moments of joy into so many women’s lives is his way of giving back to the universe.  Mind you, having a multitude of lovers is a ‘job’ he takes on with great enthusiasm.  He doesn’t become emotionally attached, he can’t afford it.  Doing so would collapse his lifestyle.  How could he possibly limit himself to one woman when there are simply SO many available  in need of the ray of sunshine he brings to each one?  I will leave it to you to see either version of the film to find out what becomes of Alfie in the end.  I highly recommend seeing the film if you haven’t already.

Which brings me to.. as you can imagine, the lifestyle we single men enjoy upon arrival to the Philippines.  Many of us were no ‘Alfie’ in our home country.  Even the successful bachelors never had it so easy ‘back home‘ as once they set up camp here in the PH.  I had only been off my plane no more than 5 hours and already I could see opportunities all around me.  This.. is the place to be a Single man.  I am still overwhelmed by it all more than a year after arriving.

While walking about the Grand Mall on Mactan one day, I began conversation with an expat by the name of Nile, from midwest America.  He was in his early 60’s and as we began to meet daily at the Chow King for lunch he told me of his travels he’d been on for more than a decade.  When we counted them up, he’d traveled to 18 countries including China, Singapore, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and of course, the Philippines.  He was a confirmed bachelor with no intention of ever getting married.  He’d had several women in every country.  Sometimes switching them every month, other times living with them for up to 8 months before packing his one suitcase and backpack to hit the airport for a new destination.  The last time I saw him he was catching a flight to Singapore with his Filipina girlfriend where he intended to break up with her and move on to another country.

I asked him, “What about when you get too old to travel?  When you need someone for full-time care?”  He just mildly laughed and said, “I’ll pay someone.  I’ll settle into a place have someone paid to take care of me.”

I then asked, “But.. what about that someone being a woman you have some history with?  Someone you can trust, who cares about you?”  His response, “Don’t need it.  You chase it if you want though.”

Now, at the time he told me this it was during my first few months in the Philippines.   I was locked into a complicated relationship with a life of a married woman.  (Yes, I know.. very bad idea in the PH but, it’s over now.)   Listening to his travels and long string of women, ‘Alfie’ came back to my mind in a whole new light.  This man was living it.  Here I was, not really in a relationship and not really single either and meanwhile Nile is running amok in the candy store.  He soon caught his flight to Singapore with the girl he was ready to dump and I’ve yet to see him since.

A lot has happened in the year since meeting him.  I ended my relationship with the married Filipina, moved to Bohol and began working on a new game-plan.  But which direction to take now with my newfound freedom?  Here I am, a single man, 50 years old and surrounded by beautiful, young, eager Filipinas at literally every turn willing.. hoping even, that some ‘rich’ foreigner like me will strike up some conversation with them.  I know this should seem like a no-brainer but.. it hasn’t been.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a “no babies” clause that I simply will not deviate from.  I’ve raised four kids already, it was great.. fantastic and I love them greatly but, I don’t desire to do it again.  It  is a wonderful experience for anyone who desires being a Father again, but it’s not what I personally want.

Perhaps it is because I first married when I was only 19 years old.  And that to the only girlfriend I’d ever had, from high school.  Was married for ten years.  So, for me, there was no period of my life (until now) where I was a single man, living in my own home, on my own recon and living spontaneously.  There was none of that for me in my younger years.  I graduated high school.. got married.. three years later, I was a Father.   That charted my course for me to live a stable, conservative life for my family.  Job, health insurance, vacations, in-laws.. the whole ball of wax, starting at 19 years old.

And so, now that I have my freedom once again.. I will admit that remaining a bachelor in the Philippines, the life of Alfie or Nile does have some appeal to it.  I’ve experienced it and it’s quite intoxicating.  And quite honestly, I’m not ready to give it up just yet.  I will admit that it could ruin a man if he doesn’t manage it properly.  There’s a long list of men who have been destroyed one way or another from enjoying too much of a good thing to keep an eye on his assets or personal safety.  I don’t want to be added to that list.

But where to find a woman who (a) I find attractive, (b) has no kids, wants no kids, (c) has a good heart, (d) is a woman I can trust and adore, and most importantly.. (e) I want her so much I’ll forsake every other woman available to live happily with her.

I’ve perused the online dating profiles.  Among the Filipinas under 25, many of them do not have children.  But the vast majority of them check the box that says, ‘Yes‘ to the question; “Do you want kids?”.  The ones looking to widen their net answer, ‘Unsure‘.  Which to me means, “I’ll tell him I don’t want kids and then maybe change his mind.”  Young women want at least one child.. it’s a force of nature that cannot be dismissed easily.

As for the Filipinas over 25.. it’s hard to find one that doesn’t already have children.  Usually from some boyfriend that took off once she got pregnant.  Sometimes from a marriage where, again, the husband took off to be with his mistress and start yet another family while being paper-married to her since there is no divorce in the Philippines.  That leaves her in this “complicated” situation to say the least when it comes to starting a new relationship, knowing she can’t re-marry and jeopardizes jail-time for having a live-in lover while being paper-married.  It’s only a matter of time before the paper-husband comes sniffing around for blackmail money if she’s hooked up with a ‘rich’ foreigner.

So, whether it’s online or offline.. being a carefree bachelor, unattached and not looking to marry seems to be the way to go if you’re not looking to have more kids.  It’s a slam-dunk finding a woman to marry if you’re willing to raise a new family.  Marrying a Filipina with a child, or having children together.. it all works out great.  There is literally a plethora of beautiful women available for that.. IF you’re open to having a family.  My 2nd wife had a 5 year old daughter who we raised together as our own and it was a wonderful experience.  Any man who is willing to marry a woman with a child or children and raise them as his own is a good man in my book.  A very good man and I tip my hat to you in admiration and respect.

As for me, I know what I want.  I want what I never had, a mate to be with.. just the two of us.  I want the ’empty nest’ relationship.  Just my wife and I, my partner in crime to go off on whatever adventure we feel like exploring together at our own pace with just a backpack each and not a diaper bag to be found.  I’ve enjoyed this before, for wine on the beach, brief weekends here and there with my previous relationship (the married woman) and it was fantastic.   Not that we even planned to do that all the time.  Sometimes we just sat and drank wine on a terrace and talked for hours beneath the stars.  No interruptions from kids who need a drink of water.  Just the two of us enjoying a wonderful night together.

But where to find this woman?.. this partner in crime who will run amok with me as my very best and closest friend on the planet, with me to the end??  It’s not enough that she doesn’t have kids.  It’s not enough that she isn’t able to bear children. She has to be firmly settled in her mind that she won’t be adopting any in the future with me.   Or possibly her child is nearly ready to leave the house.  It’s a good thing I’m in a sea of women here because what I’m looking for is a one in a million rarity in a Catholic country where a woman’s identity is largely attached to her producing some children with her husband combined with a social stigma that discourages the use of birth control.   As for me, I’ve been shooting blanks for 20 years so, after much field testing and a repeat cauterization for good measure, there will be no more little Reekays.

There is one glimmer of hope on the horizon currently.  I did meet a woman only 2 weeks ago who, so far, seems to meet what I’m searching for.  I am very attracted to her.  She has no children.  She is 37 and had already considered not having children so late in her life due to losing her last pregnancy during the 3rd month.  She is widowed, so she is available and single.  She is from the province, takes care of her parents and is a hard working woman with a cheerful outlook on life and her own small business.  She’s adventurous and, she makes me laugh.  

But.. I’ve only known her 2 weeks.  I told her up front that I am not ready to commit to a relationship for another six to nine months, once she and I take some time to get to know each other better.  Even this she is fine with.  She is in zero hurry.  Her husband seems to have been a good man and passed away only ten months ago.  She was not looking for a relationship.  Like me she’d been tossing herself into her work as a productive way to cope and spend her time.

Frankly, the whole idea of starting a relationship scares me out of my mind.  It scares me that it might end in some terrible fashion like the Greek tragedy of relationships past.  It also scares me that perhaps I actually found what I’m looking for so quickly and effortlessly.  Can it possibly be providence has smiled upon my undeserving soul yet once again?  I have no idea.

I think once again to the lifestyle of Nile.. how much safer that is, emotionally.  No commitments.  No heartbreaks.  No dashed hopes or mangled expectations.  Just bounce freely along, skimming the surface from one woman to the next.. a new beginning, over and over again.  The perpetual honeymoon phase and then off to the next one.  Like having the icing off the cupcake and moving on.  This lifestyle calls my name like a siren late at night when even the roosters have fallen asleep and the crickets have stopped chirping.  The late hours between midnight and 4a.m. is when I hear that life calling me like a voice in the ocean late at night.. offering me safety from the heartaches that may come with pursuing a lasting relationship.  Just have fun.  No expectations, no disappointments.

I look at that life.  And then I look at her photo on my phone.  I lay back against my pillow under the mosquito net and I ask myself, “What it’s all about?”

Update: (2018)

I originally wrote this article in 2013.  At the time I had just met the woman I mentioned.  Here is how it played out..

She was 37 and, being childless, had told me that she had lost all interest in having a child at this point in her life.  So we dated and I figured I had found the perfect woman for my circumstances and future lifestyle.  We dated for 2 months and then I took my annual holiday to the USA for December.  I then returned in January and she was there to meet me at the airport.  Full of affection and glad to see me back.

It took me two months, but I finally found out that (without a doubt) she had been cheating on me while I was gone with two different men.  Her goal was to get pregnant from either of them since she knew I myself had already gotten a vasectomy.  She just wanted them to get her pregnant and go away.  Then her plan was to keep me and hope I would take on this baby she had procured in my absence.

Well, upon finding this out.. I was 'done'.  Even though she failed to get pregnant, the intent was there along with the effort so I packed my things and left on a road-trip and never looked back.