Hey, Steemers! This is the seveth part in a short series that my husband @expatlove wrote on his move from South Florida to the Philippines. The previous installments can be found here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6.
No Ref, No Problem.
After checking out of the hotel we stayed at on our first night together, Marilyn and I were off to see her family in the province of Cavite. A van took us directly to their house for 150 pesos (about $3.25), and once there, it made for a bit of culture shock to see so many people in the barangay (i.e., neighborhood or village) hanging out outside. With U.S. and Miami-Dade neighborhoods relatively empty outdoors (generally speaking), and with American families in general valuing a level of privacy that accords much more with a Western-type mindset than it does with a typical Filipino barangay manner of living, it seemed odd to see so many people outside. They were talking with one another, hand-washing laundry outdoors, and going about their day.
A short distance into a cramped alleyway and to the left was the door to the home that my sexy lover-queen grew up in. Her mom, aunt, cousin, second cousins, cousin's boyfriend/husband, and dog were living there, and all around the neighborhood were friends who later wanted to see the foreigner who had come into town. To my surprise – and it did catch me by surprise, even after all the reading I had done on a traditional Filipino-type mindset – her aunt was soon interrogating me on my intentions.
“What do you want to do with Marilyn?” she asked. The question was quickly followed with, “I’m sorry to ask, but...” Taken aback by the question, I was overwhelmed by the heat that permeated the house, as there was no air conditioning. It was unbearable, even with similar climate conditions permeating all over South Florida. Wiping some sweat off my face, I managed to give a simple response. “Well, I want to be with her.” “Be with her? That’s it?” she responded. “No. I mean, I want to marry her. I love her.” It seemed to satisfy her.
Since then, whereas I was indecisive at first, I’ve come to much more definitive convictions regarding government marriage, and I simply don’t want one. As per the implications of my worldview, civil government isn’t supposed to be in the business of handing out marriage licenses or marrying anyone. (What does a license imply?) Theologically speaking, marriage is a creation ordinance and it’s first found in the book of Genesis. It existed before the State did, and it need not involve much more than the coming together of a man and woman in order to form a family unit, ideally for life (by design).
In a very real sense – and both of us agree on this – Marilyn and I have been married ever since the day we first met at the hotel in Metro Manila. It’s the day that, with her family's approval, she left home to be with me – to form a new family unit with me. While it may make some things easier on us practically speaking, a government marriage wouldn’t make what we have together any more valid than it already is. All of the statist assumptions that say otherwise aren't worthy of much consideration, and if I concede to a government marriage in the future, it will only be a strategic concession made for the purpose of acquiring certain practical benefits.
A couple of hours after meeting with her family, Marilyn and I were on our way to renting our first place together, and very much unlike the way it would have happened in Miami, we found a place right away and moved into it the very same day. It was in the same barangay she grew up in and it had neither "aircon" (air conditioning) nor a "ref" (refrigerator). It was a full two weeks before we had such luxuries, and even then, we only had a wall unit for aircon. It didn't matter; we were together. It's what we had wanted since before we met in person. Living in another house now, and in a different province, we couldn't be happier.