Disclaimer: I am a Filipina married to a Japanese man. And, although our marriage, just like anybody else’s, is far from being a perfect fairytale, we are both still happily in it. And despite COVID-19 forcing us to stay deal with each other almost 24/7 for close to a year now, we have not yet tried to kill each other yet. So, I think we’re good.
Please note that this article was made for fun. I have nothing against Japanese men and this blog post was just meant to highlight the aspects of a Japinoy relationship that I think could be dealbreakers for some of us Filipinas – again, for the sake of fun. .
1. People will think you’re in it for money.
Sadly, the ‘people’ here tend to be our countrymen themselves. Without a doubt, our society has gone a long way in terms of accepting all kinds of relationships and interacting with people of other cultures. However, there is still that perception among a lot of Filipinos that being in a relationship with a foreigner means that: number one, you’re better off financially and number 2, that financial advancement is the main (if not the only) reason why someone would choose to date or marry a non-Filipino.
First of all, and I don’t understand why some people don’t know this already but just because someone is a foreigner, does not mean they automatically have lots of money. It may seem like they’re living big all the time but think about it – for most of them, coming to the Philippines is a temporary arrangement and their extravagant spending habits are the same – it’s not something they can sustain permanently, it’s not something they plan to sustain permanently. Factor in the high exchange rate and it would feel (even to them) as if they have an unlimited amount of cash to burn but at the end of the day, unless you have somehow found yourself in the middle of a real-life Romantic Comedy a la ‘The Prince and Me’ or ‘Pretty Woman’, I’d bet your man has limited funds that are dwindling for every day he spends in the Philippines without a job. A lot of East Asians, for example, come to our country to study English. Many of them are young students whose language studies are being paid for by mom and dad. A lot of others took it upon themselves to work part-time – manning cash registers in department stores. working housekeeping in hotels – to save up for their trip. Even those who are already have stable jobs and steady paychecks came for the very purpose of advancing their careers and making a better living. It’s not like they just decided on a whim to hop on a plane to the Philippines because they have too much money and nothing else to do with it. Even if a girl did end up dating someone with a hefty bank account, that does not grant her automatic swiping rights to the man’s debit and credit cards. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure that’s not how relationships work – at least not the healthy ones.
Secondly, these “foreigners” are people – just like you and me. They’re multifaceted beings and their financial standing is just part of a very long equation. I would be lying if I said that I would be attracted to someone who is not financially stable – because I wouldn’t be. For me, a stable grasp of their finances is a sign that the person is responsible and smart – traits that I personally consider necessary for a partner. However, it would be very wrong for someone to assume that his money is the only reason why I love my husband. In fact, it would be wrong for them to say that it was what made me attracted to him in the first place. Come on, I wouldn’t fall for someone because of something as shallow as money. What made me go out with my husband (in the beginning) was the fact the I thought he was hot… and he had these dimples that went deeper as his smile got bigger. Okay, those were pretty shallow reasons as well; but in my defense, I was 19. Also, it wasn’t “money”.
2. They’ll get in between you and your “Chicken Joy”.
Oh, and believe me, making you quit eating Jollibee is just the beginning. Next thing you know, you’ll be cooking dinner every night because none of the meals in the restaurants or your nearby karenderya looked green enough to make you believe that it contains enough portions of vegetables. Japan is known to be one of the healthiest countries in the world whose people have the longest life expectancies. The Japanese are very health-conscious especially when it comes to the food they eat. In the beginning, they will be all cute trying out Filipino dishes and junk food with you – slurping balot, stuffing their faces with oily sisig, snacking on Potato Corner fries. But it won’t be long before the novelty of the experience wears off and they’ll start craving a better diet – dragging you with them and forcing you to reboot your entire belief system of what consists a proper meal. Because let’s face it, I love Filipino food, but most of us are not really very intentional with what we put in our dishes. As far as most of us are concerned, rice and a block of some kind of protein is a sufficient dinner.
This change in lifestyle, of course, is not bad. In fact, it’s something that I’m glad I was able to start no later than I did. However, in the beginning, it was a real bummer. Being told that the stuff you’ve been eating your whole life is wrong is annoying enough but what really got me was being forced to learn how to make dishes that are healthy. When I met my now husband, I did not know how to cook a single thing and I found it very condescending how he would have me watch him make dinner, explaining how everything is done so I can ‘do it next time’. I thought this was his way of turning me into his idea of a ‘perfect wife’ but then I started liking what I was making and appreciating that I can make healthy food from scratch. I’d never actually say these things to his face but damn, I’m glad he broke my junk food habit and now I completely understood that he gave me those cooking lessons out of love.
3. You’ll never hear the end of ‘Japan is better’
Yes, I know that there are many Japanese people who love being and even living in the Philippines. The people are warm, the beaches are great, etc. etc. But try living with a Japanese while in the Philippines (or living in Japan with a Japanese who has spent a long time in the Philippines) and they’ll burn your ears off with endless remarks of ‘Japan is better’.
The statement will start ringing in situations you would expect it to: insanely slow service at Mandaue city hall when we were processing our marriage documents? Japan is better. Less than polite service in a Filipino restaurant? Japan is better. Crazy traffic in the streets of Cebu? Japan is better. But then, it can come up in the most random of moments as well. Excitedly eating in a restaurant that just opened in IT Park? Japan’s rice is better! Samsung refrigerator (somehow) not cold enough? Japanese appliances are better! Eating Piattos while watching TV? Japan’s Calbee snacks are better! Writing something using a Pilot pen? Japan’s frixion pens are better! I could go on.
I mean, they’re not necessarily wrong – but do I really have to hear it every time?
4. They won’t be texting you sweet nothings 24/7
Japanese men are notorious for not being sweet. They could go hours without sending you a message, some of them don’t really care for holding hands, most of them would laugh at the idea of even giving you a tiny peck in public. This is especially unbearable for us Filipinas who are used to having Filipino partners that seem to be giving us all of their attention any time of day. In fact, this would most likely cause your first and most of your fights. How dare this Japanese guy have you waiting for a reply to a message that was sent more than 30 minutes ago?! Huwag mong pahintayin ang beauty ko, kuya.
To be quite honest though, the best thing you can do is deal with it or, if it’s really something you can’t live with, end the relationship. It would be hard to change this attitude in your Japanese partner because on their end, they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. On the contrary, as far as they are concerned, you are the one who’s being unreasonable for demanding their attention all day as if they don’t have jobs, classes and other businesses to attend to. It’s really a matter of difference in culture and perspective and if you’d ask me – it isn’t worth spending the energy trying to change it. Here’s a piece of advice – just because they’re not loving you the way you are used to being loved, does not mean they do not love you. It would be unfair to compare him to an ex who knew what you expected from the relationship because he had the very same expectations. Remember that you, as the other half of the relationship, also made the decision to engage in a cross-cultural relationship so you are also responsible for expecting and adjusting to possible differences in outlook. You have to give the man the chance to sweep you off your feet without setting standards you already know he will fail at. That’s what helped me look past this bit of our relationship that seemed unbearable when we just started dating. Once I did, I began noticing and appreciating his own ways of expressing his feelings.
5. They would never understand your devotion to your family
Growing up, it was constantly ingrained in our mind that family is everything. Even well into adulthood, we are expected to send money to our family as a matter of obligation. Many Filipinos still live under the roof of their parents even when they’re close to marriage – some even after marriage – together with their little ones. These and the many other practices involving our family would be very hard to understand for someone who was not raised the same way we were.
There’s this famous Japanese Youtuber named Akira Senpai. He has been living in the Philippines for a while and was dating this Filipina girl. Before he found fame and fortune with Youtube though, Akira Senpai had a very difficult time with regards to his finances. He was working very hard but barely scraping enough for himself and his girl. In one of his videos, he tells the story of how one night, though he did not have much to spend, he wanted to make his partner happy and create some nice memories so he decided to treat her to some ice cream from the convenience store. She was very happy and once they were in the store, beaming, she started picking out ice cream of different flavors. This one’s for you… for me, I think I’ll go with this flavor. But then he did not stop there. Next, she grabbed one for her mom, some for her little brothers and so on. Witnessing this, Akira Senpai was quite surprised of course. He just nodded along with a dry smile and an ‘oh, okay’.
It was very inconceivable for him who only had the thought of enjoying with his girlfriend that she, the entire time, was thinking of her family. But maybe for you, a Filipina reading this, it’s not that unexpected. How do you expect to just go home enjoying an ice cream knowing that everyone’s going to be there and you didn’t bring any for them? Do you expect the little kids in the family to just watch in envy as you lick on your popsicle? When was the last time mom had an ice cream anyway? This would surely bring a smile to her face.
So yes, if they’re nice enough they would tolerate it… maybe even truly accept it. But no, they would never really understand the devotion that we have for our family.