Money or love: What do Filipino women want?

What do women want nga ba talaga? Obviously romance sells. The lot of cheesy movies and telenovelas themed on love and romance attests to this. I haven’t seen it yet (though I plan to see it, time permitting) but the latest kilig-fest The Mistress, I heard, is a big hit. According to the reviews, both veteran and younger members of the cast delivered top-notch performances. The plot, though twisty as I read, looks like it is anything but groundbreaking however. Girl caught between love and “duty” with a few fringe cinematic twists.

We are all suckers for this sort of thing, no matter how many times the same plots and themes are repackaged. No judgment intended, it’s all fair — just showbiz. The protagonists in stories such as that of The Mistress seem to be of the sorts Filipinos relate to the best — victims in a moral quandary against a backdrop of the judgmental religious society that is the Philippines. The author of that Yahoo! News review in that sense, seems to have mixed up some unintended irony in what she says here…

How can a seemingly good girl go wrong? Sari [the title role played by Bea Alonzo] may not look like your catty, devil-may-care mistress, but she is, like them, driven by debt — to a loved one she can’t turn her back on at her moment of greatest need.

In trying to be non-judgmental, the author, probably inadvertently, reveals a stereotypical regard for mistresses that seems to run deep within the Filipino’s psyche. Writer Mike Portes a few years back summarized practically the same sentiment just as effectively in her classic piece Minsan may Isang Puta in the following passage…

Alam mo, gusto ko na sanang tumigil sa pagpuputa kaso ang laki talaga ng letseng utang ko eh. Palaki pa ng palaki! Paano na lang ang mga anak kong naiwan sa aking puder? At paano na lang ang mga anak kong nasa abroad? Baka di na nila ako balikan o bisitahin man lang? Hindi na importante kung laspagin man ang ganda ko, madama lang ng mga anak ko ang pagmamahal ko. Malaman nila na ibibigay ko ang lahat para sa kanila.


“You know, I want to stop being a prostitute. But my damn debt is just too big and still getting bigger. How will my kids survive? It’s ok if my beauty suffers doing this trade so long as my kids feel my love, that they know that I will give everything for their welfare.”

Whoa… ok so that’s a bit melodramatic following the description of Bea Alonzo’s more earthy portrayal of a woman in a similar situation. To be fair, the earlier character is a mistress while the latter a prostitute. But the generalized assumptions seem to apply to both — need for money with an underlying moral conflict tormenting both characters. As the twist in Mike Portes’s piece highlights [Warning: spoilers to the “Puta” piece follows] that’s the Philippines and its society for you.

Both quoted snipppets from the Yahoo! News review and the “Puta” article I quoted and expounded upon respectively above, though summing up the archetypical Filipino mistress and prostitue, to me offers a telling picture of the very self-limiting regard Philippine society applies to its women — that of always necessarily being the dutiful one — dutiful at all costs as it seems to be expected of them.

Filipino women who do something adventurous like boldly expressing their sexuality, dabbling in “illicit” relationships (which to Pinoys can be anything from being a mistress to having sex before or outside of marriage), or being “catty” or “devil-may-care” in character is always necessarily movtivated by a need for money and, as such, is rationalized in that context as justifying the Catholic “immorality” of being “adventurous”.

But why does a Filipino woman who is “adventurous” in the above sense have to justify herself?

I assert that she does not have to. We only believe we have to because what Filipino women want seems to have always traditionally been defined by what we were made to believe we don’t want to be — something which Philippine cinema and literature has for so long succeeded at rubbing our noses in: dutiful wretches doing what we do for money.

And we wonder why Filipinos are not adventurous — why we don’t climb Mt Everest simply because “it is there” or invent a longer-lasting light bulb simply because it is a nice contraption to behold. It is because we as a people — and especially our women — are limited by our narrow definition of what it means to be adventurous and the stigma we attach to it as a function of this definition.


Post Author: Kate Natividad

Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.

Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Money or love: What do Filipino women want?"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Bill Steffen
Wif, Mistress, Prostitute…. Whats the difference? You end up paying whatever the relationship. Prostitutes are the least expensive of the three. Then the Mistress. And the most expensive is the Wife. We have divorce in America, which means if you have a wife you just keep on paying and paying and paying. Everything is relative. Pick your own poison. lol

filipinas want access to a foreign ‘ATM’ machine and play whatever role to try and get it. sad.

Ms. Mike Portes

Thanks Kate for the attribution to my piece. It is much appreciated. As I said in my book “The Dove Files” :

“Prostitution is not unique to our country but what is unique to our country is the hypocrisy at how we see the puta; we boo the likes of these women yet we exalt the dirty rich. We are disgusted with their kind to the extent that even the word puta is a taboo, yet we put into office the corrupt and adore the fake.”

Moonlight Bomber

Because of the sometimes unsavory effects of feminism, some women have the tendency to become gold-diggers. The new-found freedom to spend will be a pain in the unlucky man’s wallet.

Alvin Lizada

I could summarize the article into two types. Women who do it for money, (regardless of the intention) you do it out of practicality. Women who do it for love, do it out of principle.


In todays economy, any Filipino woman would likely seek out a man of greater value than waste their time having sex with a lesser soul. Call the woman any way you want but the “Benjamin” is always king in any relationship.

Well, then answer is love actually. No matter the situation is, it is always love. Either Love of thyself only, or love of thy family (parents, siblings or offsprings). Regardless of what situation you mentioned, the love if existing, it is only dependent on where this love is directed to. The love need not be directed towards the male partner in this scenario as it is inconsequential. The same applies when someone tries to steal for his family. Externally it is viewed as bad, yet the reason for his doing such deeds is noble when it started. The end just… Read more »

@ Kate N.

In most cases, love only exist between equals.
Rich vs rich…poor vs poor, because it is how society intended it to be. When two people of unequal status come together, it is not love…it is sex and money.


What I notice is that Filipino women – well, most of who I observe – love to hang around gays. I think they don’t like “real men” – whatever that means – anymore. LOL

Interesting article! I think it goes to point out as so many other’s have done just how draconian our thinking and views are about males and females and what it is or is not expected of them! No doubt, religion as well as the cultures themselves have influenced this in a negative way from my view point, and also the way we are perhaps raised just helps to perpetuate this trend, just look around you today and it still infects so many cultures throughout the world like a cancer! We need to get over seeing that a woman and a… Read more »

asking what filipina really want without asking what the foreigners want?
hindi lang naman filipina ang nghahanap sa foreigners eh.tingin ko parehas lng cla.

Ankit Narang

yes it is right. But i can’t understand it in clear words, wat a filipina want in real. money or love?