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…

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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.

28 Replies to “Money or love: What do Filipino women want?”

  1. 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

    1. Not polically correct but I see it all the time. I made that point in my post about Dennis Rodman’s dad. Pinoys claim they are so moral , Catholic country etc. Reality says differently.

  2. 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.”

    1. You’re welcome Mike! 🙂 The question is: Where do the men come in in this whole issue? Why are men forgiven and even hailed for their ‘adventures’ while adventurous women are always stereotyped as needy and desperate?

      1. @ Kate N.

        In the past 20 years women have made the greatest advancements and contributions in all aspects of life in any modern society, but centuries of tradition both biblical or cultural have assigned men to be the final arbiter of conflicts. Unless the female specie reverses what the male specie have built thoughout mankinds history, there is nothng women can do to reverse tradition as we know it.

      2. @kate

        I think the reason is plain and simple when it comes to the people around you when ask why they react that way.

        It comes down to biology. When a man makes a misdeed of such caliber, there is no consequence to him physically as opposed to the woman wherein there is a risk (no matter how small) of possible pregnancy.

        In those 9 months, people will give you stares and chit-chat around you of carrying basically a father-less child or a child from a different man (when you are married yourself). Basically their arguement is, “why are you going to bring that child into that type of environment/situation. Have you no conscience/think it through?”

        When you then go to the man’s side, his act is viewed as limited only to the depositing to the seed for it to bear fruit. Yes, we know morally he has a responsibility but then people still go towards the side of the woman and think “why did you allow him to do that?”

        It goes similar to the saying “Walang maloloko kung walang magpapaloko”. It is not exactly the same, but the receiving end of the pregnancy is always the woman.

        If the anatomy of man worked differently and if he could get pregnant, I believe there would be no bias as we are all observing/noticing.

        That is basically what I think makes the case.

        1. “… people will give you stares and chit-chat around you of carrying basically a father-less child…”

          “…Basically their argument is, ‘why are you going to bring that child into that type of environment/situation. Have you no conscience/think it through?'”

          As a bastard, I find such judgmental assessments uncalled for. Fortunately for me, I was legitimated by my stepdad three-and-a-half years after I was born, so my peers never really knew unless I told them. AFAIK, my mom never had that assessment fall upon her…

    2. We condemn even send to jail “putas” whose markets are the lowlifes in our society. But when their clients are the filthy rich it’s a different story.

    1. I see the term ‘gold digger’ as unnecessarily derogatory. What’s wrong with a lady expecting her ideal man to be one who’d be able to ‘afford’ her? 😉

      Besides, men themselves expect to be assessed for how much money they make. Why else would they flaunt their cars and expensive lifestyles? And then they have the gall to sneeringly call some women who are attracted to those material things “gold diggers”. Now THAT is hypocrisy.

      1. @ Kate N.

        When a man spends his “Benjamin” on a woman, he can call her any name he wants. Like a car, women are just part of his accessory.

      2. The term ‘gold digger’ was created so that real gold diggers (those who are truly only after the money) are kept away from men’s wallet.

        As for cars, that reminded me of Dave Chappelle.

        “A woman’s test in life is material. A man’s test in life is a woman.
        Men have nice cars, not cuz they like nice cars, but because they know women like nice cars… That’s how it goes cuz men are hunters and the car is the bait.”

        link to video

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. By “lesser soul” you mean men with no means, wealth or status? Perhaps that explains the proliferation of young single mums in the Philippines who “make mistakes”, get pregnant with their young but poor unemployed Pinoy BFs and then scramble to find a foreigner to bail them out? So who is the lesser soul in this instance, the man who impregnated her or her who now has to use her body to save herself and her child (and extended family as the case maybe)?

  5. 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 didn’t justify the means.

      1. it is really something that becomes murky when you consider what is at stake. wrong is still wrong but you could say there is sometimes that silver lining that makes it less wrong in terms of severity, depending on who is outside looking in.

        its a touchy subject so each case is viewed differently.

  6. @ 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.

  7. 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

    1. Well a lot of gay men I know are more “real” men than most straight guys I meet. I keep hearing this stereotype that when a guy is well-groomed, he is likely to be gay — as if being well-groomed is something that is bad. On the contrary I interpret being well-groomed as a sign that a guy shows respect and consideration for other people. Maybe that is why girls prefer to hang around with gay men.

      I have this theory that many women wouldn’t mind having a roll in the hay with a lot of the gay men they hang out with (at least those who look like straight men) but tragically have no choice but to date straight men for that. 😉

  8. 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 male have to follow some role or path and rather try to see one another as the unique, special, and awesome creatures we have been created, to honor, respect, and appreciate the masculine and feminine aspects that are in each of us male and female alike. Then maybe we might just begin to heal this cancer, get rid of the double standards and see one another as we should, as equals.

    I think what woman and men both want is to be valued, loved and accepted for who they are and to be treated as equals. While some have embraced that approach their so many more who are perpetuating the cancer! I think relationships might be better if we would change our thinking and views.

  9. 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.

  10. In the Philippines, most people are desperate for money and you can’t deny this fact. Philippines is a third world country and financial independence isn’t completely embraced yet by the majority. Other women prefer to do the long route by understanding the value of hardwork, sacrifice and patience. But, a lot of them want instant gratification which includes looking for a well-off guy so she can get out of poverty. Deny this but it can actually be seen in the Philippine society.

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