Greenbelt apparently is a haven for expats. And where there are expats, you will also find the — how should I say it delicately, uhmm, you know the girls in skimpy dresses or short shorts with matching f**k-me heels? But just to clarify, not all of them are prostitutes, the other half actually are girlfriends/wives of the expats.
Sunday night, my friend, Ryan and I decided to brave the rain for some much needed alcohol fix. We were supposed to meet at 10 at Distillery but apparently, they’re closed on Sundays. So then we headed to Greenbelt, which not surprisingly, was still abuzz. The rain has stopped then but the air was thick with humidity. My shirt was drenched in sweat and my hair stuck to my nape. I was in my usual shirt and sneakers combo. For someone on a nightout, I looked like I just finished an intense workout.
After a quick dinner at Cucina Andare (pretty much their version of banchetto) we went to look for a bar and settled for Spicy Fingers at Greenbelt 1. The place is nice if you’re into red decor and somewhat pricey drinks. Uhmm, yes, don’t go there wearing red. You’ll blend with the couches and you could easily be mistaken for a server and/or crew.
Quite naturally, Ryan and I surveyed the surroundings and realized that we were in a place crowded with expats and their significant others, Filipina dates/girlfriends/wives. Now this is the part where I have to duck because you’ll be throwing rocks and tomatoes at me but I would just have to put it out there. I’m one of those people who make fun of Filipinas with foreign partners, especially those with cringe-inducing older partners. My friends and I refer to said expats as “pangkabuhayan showcase.” I guess the nearest translation of that is a source of livelihood.
Of course, not all of these interracial relationships are fiscally motivated. I do have friends who have expat partners without the economic factor being the forefront of their love stories. For this post, I won’t be using the current nationwide statistics of these unions because I’m too lazy to research the numbers. Instead, I’ll use the crowd at Spicy Fingers.
So most of the couples there were American and European men, mostly middle aged with Pinay partners aged early 20s to mid-30s. Roughly. There were also a group of Indian couples with Filipino friends. Or maybe they were Turkish. We could hardly tell. There were only 3 tables expat-free, Mine and Ryan’s, a yuppy couple’s and a group of 4 girls. To be honest, we don’t really know the reputation of Spicy Fingers. For all we know, they’re really a famous hotspot for interracial nightouts. But anyway, Ryan and I couldn’t help talking about these couples. We both admitted we were being judgemental in thinking these women are all after money and/or getting out of the country. And at the height of meanness, every time we see a Pinay-expat couple with age/looks disparity, we would do the slow clap. Too much age disparity deserves a slow clap with standing ovation. That mean.
You see, Ryan and I truly are not just ignorant, prejudice pricks because soon after, we launched into a socio-economic discourse of these relationships. Yes, we poke fun at these Pinays but how many among us see them as women who gave up the traditional romantic notions and instead decided to be pragmatic and made sacrifices just to provide for their family, help send their siblings to school, help a sickly relative get proper medical treatment, help parents build a house with a roof that could withstand typhoons and so on and so forth. Isn’t that noble than, say, marrying your childhood sweetheart and still asking money from your parents because you’re short on rent? Of course, I’m not saying that my example is a representative of most Filipino couples. What I’m trying to point out is that my Filipino couple example isn’t a butt of jokes, but those interracial relationships are.
I can’t help feeling sad looking at these girls who were mostly my age. Can you imagine being young and sleeping next to someone older than your father? How about relocating to your husband’s place where the sun does not show up for months? Most of all, how would you feel knowing that your family and friends talk behind your back about how you married your husband so you could get a green card and/or send your brother to college. Also, as is always being pointed out, these women actually help the economy, mainly due to remittance.
But I really shouldn’t feel bad for these women. What do I really know about what they think when they lie at night? Why do I even think that they are sad and wish for a different life? For all I know, as they lie next to their husbands at night, the last thoughts they have before drifting to sleep is how grateful they are for the life they live.
I don’t want to preach about how we should probably lay off on the jokes and the slow clapping. It’s not my place to do so. Besides, I know I’m still gonna make the jokes and do the slow clap. But I hope we try to see them in a different light, too. How about respect for their choice? How about appreciation for their wisdom and courage? But geez, I wish they would lay off on the skimpy dresses and the stripper heels.
*For Tasos. When I fell for you, the thought of you building my parents a big house in the province didn’t even cross my mind. I did daydream though of us and blue-eyed kids in a classic Greek house. Lol.