People have weird opinion about women who work in bars and pubs. Their job description, either singing or waitressing, somehow triggers the public’s wild imagination. But mind you, maybe what you think is right, but that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. A lot of women still prefer to earn clean. Even if others look down at singing in a pub as an occupation, these women simply shrug it off. They know better.
But things come worse, if that bar singer is a Filipina and those people being entertained are Americans. Just imagine what his pals would think, if one American guy falls in love with her. “Take it easy buddy; she’s just after your money.”
You can’t really blame them; they have reasons to think that some Filipinas marry Americans only for money or visa. However, stereotyping all Filipino women as such isn’t right. Just like not all Americans are fat, not all Filipinas are hustlers.
The Offbeat Couple
Married for eight months and are still new to this extra-challenging club we call interracial marriage, Nabi and Jake already learned enough how to make it work. Thanks to the complicated visa procedures, they’re happily living apart, one in the Philippines, and the other in the States. Before she gets reunited with her US army husband, Nabi joggles two jobs – freelancing online selling and sharing about their adventure as an interracial couple at A Filipina US army wife.
What makes your marriage offbeat?
I’m a Filipina, born and raised in Manila, Philippines, and my husband was born in the US. I met my husband back when I was in Korea working as a bar singer in a bar/restaurant located near where my husband was stationed at the time. At first I was really not interested with and was a little scared of Americans considering the fact that I was a bar singer. Some “not so good” Americans scared the hell out of me. Most of them were disrespectful. At first I found it unfair that some Americans are rude towards Filipinas like me who work in a bar. However, I learned later that Filipinas have a bad reputation when it comes to being involved in a relationship with Americans. I’ve heard stories about how some Filipinas use American men only for money or to be able to get to the US. Sadly, some Filipinas indeed do so but not all Filipinas are the same.
What made you end up in an interracial marriage? What was your motivation in deciding to marry someone of different culture?
Well at first I had apprehensions if our relationship would actually work out because most of the time we were separated from each other. There were always like 5 hours difference between us (me in the Phil. and he in Korea, me in the Phil. and he in the US, me in Korea and he in Iraq, and the like). We continued our communication through emails and Skype. We had our share of rainy days especially when the distance was eating the both of us but we loved each other so much that we couldn’t just give up. My husband told me that it’s hard to find someone who would wait for long holding on to just a promise. But I could see his sincerity and effort in making the relationship work out. During his r&r, he flew all the way to Korea just to be with me and with him was my engagement ring.
Tell us about the wedding. Did your different religious and cultural background affect how you planned the wedding?
It’s important in our culture to have the whole family present on a wedding and to have it done at the bride’s place. My in-laws were very understanding and agreed to have it done in the Philippines and to just have a celebration party in the US once I get there.
But it’s funny because we ended up doing the wedding secretly with just a few people invited such as my immediate family and my closest friends. It was because I wanted the wedding to be special. Knowing how some of our neighbors and relatives are when it comes to parties, I refused to have my wedding ending up with people drunk, fighting and in total chaos. I’m not ashamed of my neighborhood, not at all, but I just wanted to cherish the moment of me becoming Mrs.M.
What are your biggest challenges (as an interracial couple) and how do you solve them?
I don’t see a lot of challenges for us other than the language and communication. It’s not that I can’t speak English, it’s just that there are words in my language that are a lot deeper than when translated into English, not to mention Filipino words that have no appropriate terms in English. There’s something in me that’s not properly expressed when I communicate to my husband in English which I believe won’t be the case if only I could do it in Tagalog.
Probably another challenge is the distance. Since he’s in the army, having him deployed to wars isn’t easy. I’m succumbed to fears for his safety. And now, since we need to follow immigration rules, I’m stuck here in the Philippines ‘till I get my visa. Having to sleep alone when I’m not supposed to is one of the hardest parts of our marriage.
Did you ever encounter people who frown upon interracial marriage? How did you deal with them?
Believe me; we both had our share of smart ass people. On my side, when we’re still in boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, I’ve heard people saying “nah that’s just promises’ like he’s in the army and men in uniform have girls wherever they go”. Some asked, “Are you serious about marrying that guy?” But what bothered me more was people saying “Wow! You’re marrying an American! You’ll be rich.” or “Go ahead, marry him so you can get a visa to the states.” I didn’t marry my husband because of his nationality or because he’ll make me rich. I married him because I love him. I want to spend the rest of my life with him.
On his side, he received quite a lot of discouragements, suggesting that I probably am simply after for the visa or his money. I couldn’t really blame them given that it did happen to a lot of Americans.
One thing that I want removed from the minds of Filipinos is that “not all Americans are rich!” and for the Americans, “not all Filipinas who marry an American are just after the money or VISA!”
How did your in-laws and extended families from each side react to your interracial marriage?
No, nothing at all. I’m very grateful with how my in-laws accepted and welcomed me. My family loves my husband. One funny experience we had was when it was time for Jake to formally ask my parents for my hand, we call it in the Philippines pamamanhikan. I recalled how nervous he was, but it went just fine.
What are the benefits of an interracial marriage?
Everyday you’ve got surprises. The differences that we have help us as a couple. I like how Americans can be extra sweet while he likes how Filipinas can be caring. Each culture is compensated. I’m pretty sure we won’t get bored of each other quick because there’s always something new to learn and discover.
What compromises are required in order to make your marriage work?
Since we’re temporarily separated, we need to be certain we have time for each other. There are things we need to give up like staying home instead of going out with friends so we can talk through the internet. We agreed that he needs to learn to like Filipino foods and I need to start learning how to cook American dishes. He started learning some Tagalog; although I doubt if he’ll be good at it, he’s trying. Some things that we do for each seem simple but they take a huge part on strengthening our relationship.
If children come, of which culture (and religion) do you plan to raise them?
I’m a Roman Catholic while my husband is a Christian. I’m not sure what the difference is but we both believe in God. We agreed to have our kids learn both of our culture and though they’ll be surely going to school in the states, we want them to still learn Tagalog.
What’s your favorite way of spending time together?
When we’re together we love to eat. We try out different restaurants from time to time. We do board games like monopoly or Uno cards. We like to walk around the mall or parks and watch movies. When we’re apart, we learn to be creative by doing something together instead of just looking at each other’s face in Skype. We eat together in front of the cam; we watch movies together by focusing the laptop’s cam on the TV screen.
What are your secrets in keeping the romance alive?
We love to surprise each other. We also make sure that despite the hardships that distance brings; we don’t allow it to hinder our happiness. We enjoy every single minute of it.
What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an interracial/interfaith marriage?
Regardless of what other people might say about you or how they judge you for your race and occupation, always remember that it’s your love for each other that’s important. Never treat your partner by his/her nationality but as a person that you love.
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