Let’s say you are an African-American man who is interested in finding love in the Philippines. You may be wondering if you have a chance of winning a Filipina’s heart. I’ll do my best to answer that question.
As I’ve mentioned before (see: Filipina Beauty), people in the Philippines tend to prefer Caucasian physical characteristics, such as a pointy nose, blue eyes, and light skin. They avoid sun exposure (for fear of getting darker) and spend a lot of money on “skin whitening” products. Some of the most popular celebrities are half Caucasian. This is simply the way it is right now.
But that doesn’t mean an African-American has no chance. I’ve met quite a few black men who are happily married to Filipina women (almost all the ones I’ve met are retired military guys). One of my readers (a retired black gentleman) recently let me know he’s had a really good response to his profile on a dating website.
So I would never discourage anyone, regardless of skin color, from looking for love in the Philippines. I would offer a few tips:
*Be sure to post your profile picture. You want to know upfront if the one you are chatting with is really open to you.
*This may sound obvious, but I would encourage you to ignore profiles that express a preference for white men only. Don’t waste your time trying to convince someone who is not open-minded.
*Visit the Philippines if at all possible. I think you’ll find that Filipinos are very warm and friendly to all regardless of skin color.
Let’s say you’ve finally made it through all that red tape and brought your wife or fiancee to the USA. How can you make her feel at home and help her adjust? I’ll share some suggestions I believe you’ll find helpful.
Staying in Touch
Your wife will want to stay in touch with her family. The internet, of course, is very helpful for this. There are internet cafes all over the Philippines and it shouldn’t be too hard for family members to get online and chat with your wife. Internet access for smart phones is becoming common as well, so her family may be able to communicate that way.
Texting can be done through a program called Chikka. You can set up an account to send free texts. Just warn the recipients that responding (from their cell phones) will cost money (it cost more than a regular text message if I remember correctly).
Calling is a different story. For some reason calling to the Philippines costs a lot more than calling from the Philippines. You can call a cell phone in the Philippines with Skype if you buy credits but it isn’t cheap (the rate is much higher than calling other countries). You’ll also notice the Philippines isn’t included on most international calling plans. I think there are a few different phone cards out there but I’ve never heard of a definite way to get a really good rate. You may want to keep calling to a minimum because the costs can add up.
I won’t repeat everything I’ve said before about money and sharing, but your wife will probably want to occasionally (or regularly) send money back to her family. I normally use Xoom.com for this and I’ve never had any problems. It works really well for sending money to a bank account in the Philippines. Usually when I send money this way the recipient has it in his/her account in under 24 hours. I think other options are available (picking up the money at a specific location) but I’ve never tried doing it that way.
Your wife will be able to get all kinds of Filipino media through video websites like Youtube. Some cable companies carry channels catering to the Filipino community, especially if you live in a large city or place with a significant Filipino population.
Here’s another option that is available to anyone with an internet connection: The Filipino Channel. You can subscribe to this channel for about 12 bucks a month and watch all kinds of content. This looks like a perfect choice if your local cable provider doesn’t offer some kind of specialty channel for Filipinos. It would also work well for those who don’t want to change their cable service just to get that one channel.
You’ll need to invest in a rice cooker if you haven’t already. She may want to eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner just like she does back home. Larger cities will have at least one Filipino store so she can get some ingredients. Fortunately, some dishes (like adobo) don’t require anything except what can be found at most grocery stores (vinegar, soy sauce, etc).
Your wife will also find it helpful if she can meet some other Filipina friends in your community. One way to go about this is search “Filipino American (name of your city/town/state)” and see what you can find. There are Fil-Am associations all over the place. You’ll eventually discover that people from the Philippines tend to find each other and gather together for social events like birthday parties.
Your spouse or fiancee will not be allowed to leave the Philippines unless her passport has been stamped by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). I’ve met a few people who weren’t aware of this requirement and and had to make this arrangement the day before their flight. I even know of unfortunate incidents where people had to re-schedule their flight and stay an extra day in Manila to complete this step before they could leave.
CFO Stamp on Passport
I’d recommend getting this step done as soon as she has her passport/visa in hand. Maybe she could stay in Manila an extra day if there is no office in her province.
Here’s the abbreviated version: the biggest hassle with getting the CFO stamp is having to go to the nearest office and attend a seminar that lasts over two hours (only the Filipino/Filipina attends–the foreign petitioner will not even be allowed inside). The intent of this seminar is to inform Filipino citizens and protect them from being victims of fraud. My wife said the speaker was friendly and humorous, but she didn’t really learn anything that helpful. Once the seminar is done the future immigrants get a certificate which is used to acquire the actual stamp.
Here’s some extra information about the CFO for those going the spousal visa route: Filipinas who want to change their name on their passport (to their married name) will also have to attend the CFO seminar (regardless of whether or not they have expressed an intention to leave the country).
Ridiculous as this is, I’d still recommend she change her passport to her married name. It is one extra way to document the legitimacy of your marriage.
The downside to this is she’ll still have to go back to CFO once she has the visa to get the actual stamp. The good news is once she goes back she can get the stamp without attending the seminar again or paying any more fees. She can probably avoid the crowd by going mid morning or mid afternoon to get the stamp while others are attending the seminar.
You can download the registration form before going to get the stamp if you want. They are available at the CFO office, but it’s a little more convenient to print it and fill it out ahead of time.
One final tip: there are places around the CFO office where you can make the needed copies for your stamp (copies of your passport, etc.).