In the never-ending shared posts and videos on Facebook feeds, Jinky “Madam Kilay” Anderson, a Filipina known for her vastly overdrawn eyebrows and aquamarine hair, somehow finds her way to capture everyone’s attention. As one clicks on one of her videos, one would immediately notice, after her striking look, is a Caucasian man conversing with her.
Perhaps one reason why her videos became the talk of the town is that they contain the elements of humor Filipinos are usually drawn to: bizarre fashion statements and improper English grammar with a foreign husband on the side. Scrolling down the comment section, people buzz with laughter, remark on her English, and assume that she gave her American husband a potion or gayuma to fall in love with her.
This type of response echoes real life scenarios. Filipino-foreigner couples often receive looks from strangers who automatically think they are together for many different reasons but love.
“When people see them in public, regardless of what the truth is, and especially if the people don’t know the couple, they’ll automatically assume that the Filipino married the foreigner only for his/her wealth and such,” Cam* (II,PSM) shares.
According to Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO), in 2012, there was a total of 206,728 Filipinos married to foreigners. While it is of no fabrication that there are some who want to achieve the American Dream through finding the easiest way to get a green card, among this large number of Filipinos are those who still marry for love and by love. For them, this prejudice often becomes a struggle they have to face every day.
Coree and Mark
Coree and Mark met online on Guardian Soulmates, a UK-based dating website. Coree was doing her masters in Oxford Brookes University, while Mark was teaching somewhere in London. The two lived 51 miles apart, but through the power of love (and the internet), were able to finally settle down, and are now happily married.
For Coree, something she liked the most about Mark was his sense of humor. “It’s very English,” she said. “He delivers [jokes] in a very deadpan manner, but [it’s] really funny.” As if to prove Coree right, Mark says blankly, “What I like most about my wife is her sweetness.”
Adjusting to cultural differences
Marrying someone outside of your race oftentimes comes with an adjustment to new cultures and traditions. Coming together often takes time and effort in order to properly adapt. However, for Coree, there wasn’t much adjustment to be done. “I’ve lived in different countries before and have lots of British friends before I met him.”
Coree did admit that there were a few small things that took some getting used to. “[British people don’t rinse] much of the soap when they do their dishes [and you have] to schedule in advance social calls to family and friends.”
Mark shared that there were indeed some Filipino customs that took some getting used to. “[There’s] getting used to crude swearing, making pagpag the bed, traffic in Manila, and the need to meet every single one of her dozens of friends.”
On breaking the stereotype
As much as people want to believe all Filipinas marry for money, Coree says otherwise.
Coree was a sibling of 10 other children, and struggled in a very poor family. It was only through the virtue of hard work that she was able to get an education in England, currently working as a humanitarian for Christian aid. She’s become successful in her own right, even before marrying her foreign husband, so much so that when asked about her take on the trope of money being the leading reason for Filipino-Foreigner marriages, Coree jokingly replied, “Yes, he married me for my money, I don’t mind!”
Coree is the antithesis to the argument that Filipino women marry foreigners for exclusively money or benefits and not love. They openly oppose the stigma thrown against them, not only with their words, but in their actions as well, taking a stand against what society might have to say towards them.
Finding love in diversity
There is still a lot of stigma surrounding Filipinos and their social class as compared to other countries. There is always a need for Filipinos to prove themselves to break away from the stereotype and being in an interracial relationship is no exemption.
Kristiana Neri (II, PSM) says, “Well I think that interracial marriages in itself is marginalized, more so Filipino interracial relationships with foreigners, due to the stigma surrounding Filipinos as blue collar workers.”
There are hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in interracial marriages and Jinky and Coree are just few of those who receive condescending looks from strangers. However, for women like them who persevered their way to success, it ends up becoming something to nonchalantly laugh about.
“At the end of the day, you have to realize that not all of those relationships are like that and there are actually some there that share an authentic bond and love,” Miguel Manikan (II, PSM) expresses.
People would always want to be critical of love, being that in its truest form, it is something beyond reason or explanation. Perhaps it is not easy to comprehend that one could form a bond with another while putting all cultural differences and distances aside. However, it is rather simple: love works in peculiar ways, and goes beyond what is cultural and mundane.