Monday, January 25, 2016

Who Else Are Heading to Germany?

Who Else Are Heading to Germany? Perhaps this is one of the questions you ask when you realized you are about to venture into an entirely new country. After finding the love of my life (I have written about this personal account here) and deciding it is better to start a family on the opposite of the world, I started feeling a bit curious and nervous about whether I could find some new friends easily in Germany. 

I personally have two friends who are married to Germans; one being my close high school buddy living in Hanover and one being my former student in the university who is about to fly to her husband in Leipzig. In our case, however, we are setting our eyes on settling in Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in the South West of Germany bordering Switzerland and France. 

In the past few weeks, I had been surfing the web to find more information on Integrationkurs and accreditation of my degrees to survive and thrive in Deutschland. I am career-oriented and it can be quite boring to just stay home doing nothing by the time I arrive. On the same note, I was quite wondering how easy or difficult it is to pass the A1 exam in Goethe Institut in Manila. Any thoughts on this?

As I have this most wonderful experience in my life to date, there are just so many questions in my mind too. In fact to document the journey, I decided to make a new blog I called Becoming Deutsch. This will also be an avenue for my thoughts and for sharing the experiences with the love of my life, Chris. Quite soon, we (Chris and I) will be writing about our experiences as a Filipino-German couple to inspire and help others who are in the same boat as we are. 

It is my fervent wish to find new friends, who share many things in common with me, in Germany. 

Dankë schön! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stupid Things People Say About Dating a White Guy in the Philippines

Those staring eyes and some judgmental glimpses can tip you off your "who gives a shit" mode, really. You stroll around the mall, or wait for the taxi just like you usually do but people just can't stop turning around trying to check you out from head to toe. Perhaps because you are standing right next to your Caucasian boyfriend and you became, involuntarily, a specimen for public assessment.

I bet my fellow Pinays who are on the same boat can attest to the same. Though I generally find it funny, my humanity says it is okay to be pissed or to fight back when I feel violated in any way. I have my days and years on the spotlight, but this is a different case (insert laugh here). Seems to me like being hand in hand with the love of your life (who happens to be a person outside of your race, and this isn't really your fault) can trigger some attention in a place where it should be almost unlikely to happen--- my hometown. When friends and I see a fellow Pinay with a foreigner strolling around here, of course we look, and that is mostly out of admiration or utmost disbelief in such an obvious mismatch (if you know what I am saying. (winks) ) But, to stare and give a meaningful and a demeaning look is another story.

Yep, we got your point and the possible reasons by which you have your beliefs anchored (I have written about that in the past, so read it here to be enlightened), but do not compartmentalized all of us in a single, concrete category. This isn't fair, and you don't want to hear what we wanna say in response. 

Being in a happy relationship and living in a quite judgmental culture can be stressful and challenging. Don't get me wrong, I never fall short of my self-assurance and confidence but things can just get to you too.

Here's the top 3 stupid things people say about dating a white guy on this side of the planet:

1. You are only looking for a visa (escape from hellhole). When I say hellhole, it doesn't just mean the corrupt society. Of course, this is an obvious reason many would choose to go somewhere else for a better opportunity, and the Philippines isn't the only one for this. Anyhow, you could hear people telling you that soon you will leave and go skiing in the Alps or maybe in Colorado or wherever the dollars or Euros keep flowing like water in a river. This river will surely become longer than the Amazon as it will go across continents to fund the "poor" family. And with this, "You are a lucky girl" reverberates often. 

Another thing they might associate with you dating a white guy (or anyone outside your race) is that you are ugly or quite unacceptable for the local men. That no local guy will take you seriously or see you walk towards the altar coz you are "just isn't worth it". This is especially true as a good number of Pinays who marry foreign men have kids out of wedlock. And how can this happen? The guy will capitalize on the woman's fragile heart, and after he succeeded in pushing her to "prove her love" to him and she got pregnant, she is left to herself. What a perfect setting to find a girl with a virginity ring.  

2. The white guy is nothing but a sex tourist, or a loser in his country. Okay, let us admit it, many guys we see here dressed quite trashy. How many of us have seen a much older guy in his near-rag- state T-shirt and shorts paired with sneakers with a pair of socks reaching the midcalf walking hand in hand with a girl just past her teenage years? I bet we've seen countless, right?  Now, don't let this be the mascot of everyone else. Decent white men are even ashamed of this too. Not all foreign guys who fly here are out to hunt for a 3-month casual sex partner (though many actually are too),and not all local women who date these guys are leftovers (insert a solid smirk).

There might be countless stories of a foreign guy so deeply in love that he lost his sense of reality because the "exotic-looking" tanned Pinay just two-timed him. And because he couldn't find a girl back home, he will settle for the one who showed him love, though not the genuine one. Women who do this are great local entrepreneurs; earning money by capitalizing on their continuously depreciating asset (if it really is). I would like to say that if he is a loser or a sex tourist and she is an entrepreneur, then it is but fair if their paths had crossed. Sad enough for those who are caught in such a parasitic exercise though they actually offer genuine affection.

You attract what you exude, and that is for sure. A decent person would almost always find someone who is the same; and you know what goes for those who aren't. This is not rocket science. (Grinning)

3. The white guy is rich (and if he doesn't give a dime, he is too frugal, or worse, selfish). Of course, we've all heard this story. When you are dating a white guy, most people would think you have your pockets full of cash coz you hang around with a walking ATM. When you go out to eat and the guy pays for this, some people will find this as "taking advantage", and not gentlemanliness. Oh, yes, the longest money river in the world, right? Why not think about exchange rate? 

People in a relationship, no matter what race, have their own bills to pay. When a foreign guy flies in, he, of course, will spend a lot of money for this. This doesn't mean, however, that he is rich. Majority of the guys will have to save up to the last penny for an entire year or two to purchase a ticket. These are hard-earned cash. Mind you, this country isn't a cheap place to travel (check out how much money the foreign guys can save travelling somewhere else in SE Asia). If you go knocking on his girlfriend's door, asking for money and expecting to received something to bet on the afternoon gamble by the neighborhood, you are bound for a disappointment,so forget about this.

Money do not grow on trees, much more from white guys. How many women who marry for money ended up on the hands of different men she tried to cash on in? This should be obvious enough many aren't rich, right?

How much patience do you have for upfront stupidity?  I bet we all have very different approaches to facing this, but one thing is certain: Our humility is definitely that of humanity. You know, we also get tired of being unjustly judged. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

5 Lessons Travel Has Taught Me

You have to spread your wings, take a leap and see where life takes you. Ah, sounds too old- fashioned. How about, save some pennies, pack your bags, and fly? :) 

But what I like better is: fly, face your fears, laugh about how scared you used to be! 

The year 2015 has, indeed, been full of  adventures. I shifted career and leaped into something seriously unfamiliar, opened my heart, found love and became genuinely happy again, and of course, travel to places many are hesitant to go. I have had taken small weekend trips with friends in the past few years but 2015 gets to top all of these, so far. :D 

As independent, driven and adventurous as I am (and my friends are), travelling has taught me many things I never learned anywhere else. I can't wait to learn some more! 

1. Lesson from Kiltepan (Sagada, Mt. Province): Never let the clouds of life hide the beauty of your own dreams. Instead of waiting for the wind to blow away the clouds and clear the view of your heaven, go on your way and emerged on top. There are certainly some ways to go around and get what you always aspire for. When people say it is too difficult to achieve, this may be because they are hesitant to jump. Be bold enough to be able to see what lies ahead in life even if this means shivering from the fear of doing them. 

On cloud 9, literally. Friends and I waiting for Mr. Sun at Kiltepan Viewpoint, Sagada, Mountain Province. 
The day has officially began. Sunrise at Kiltepan is nothing short of amaaaaaaaaaaazing.

2. Lesson from Sumaging Cave (Sagada, Mt. Province): Life doesn't run out of surprises, you just have to be in the right moment and venue to understand. You cannot judge everything based on what's visible, or what people say about it. We all have our consequences and this shape our perception of things. Never base your decisions on other's experiences and claims. Instead, go out of your way, face the challenge and discover your inner strength. At times, you stumble, get hurt and messed up, up you will rise knowing yourself better-- that you can do what others can't. It is okay to be scared. It is not a good idea to succumb to fears. 

Sumaging Cave entrance.

3. Lesson from Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Group of Islands, Carles, Iloilo): You may think big of yourself, but in reality you are just a small particle of the world. The world doesn't revolve for you, it doesn't move the way you please, and it will never stop a second to cater to whatever you wish. Accept the fact that though you are unique, important, and special on some people's eyes, not everyone has the same impression of you. You don't have to pretend to be accepted. Instead, learn to compromise and co-exist as this is after all a complicated world, and you are not even a visible dot from the galactic viewpoint. 

Cabugao Island at midday. One of the island's trademark spot as seen from the top of a cliff. 
Friends and I on one of the many rock formations. 
The smaller islands about 30 minutes off the coast of mainland Panay. It takes 2 hours to travel to Islas de Gigantes, in an open sea.

4. Lesson from Malalison Island (Culasi, Antique): When you try to remove yourself from the crowd, you will see a bigger, clearer picture of almost everything. To live in the comforts of family, people, and social circle offers happiness, security and familiarity, but this hinders you from seeing what really awaits outside this zone. To go away from the familiar  corners of everyday life will bring discovery- both good and not-so-good ones. The life you sometimes classify as boring can be better than the kind of life some people are happy with. The opportunities you enjoy are as scare as the means of transport and number of schools someplace else. Be thankful for them. 

Mainland Culasi as seen from Malalison Island in Antique. See how magnificent Mt. Madia-as is! 
The gang trying to assemble our tent by the windy sandbar of Malalison. 
Nightlife in the island. 
Malalison at sunset as seen from mainland Culasi.

5. Lesson from Halsema Highway (Benguet: Highest Highway System in the Philippines at 7,400 ft. above sea level, considered as one of the most dangerous highways in the world): The road to one's dream or happiness is steep, risky, and  can be full of pitfalls, but it is always worth the adrenaline rush. How often do we wish for our dreams or happiness to go as smoothly as possible? I bet when given the choice, we will, in no time, pick this route. But, this is not how life operates. When we want something, I mean, something our heart truly and deeply desire, we have to take risks. It is by this willingness to take the risk and all its consequences that makes the journey worthy to be cherished and valued. Nothing comes easy, and whatever we acquire with ease never seem to end a lifetime. To get our heart's desire, we must fight --- sometimes against ourselves. But, it is always worth the trouble, the chills, and even the tears. You can reach the heavens, but be sure to look back to how much you have accomplished. 

Halsema Highway, Benguet. Yep, I can feel your toes shiver. 
Some sights along the Halsema Highway as we travel from Baguio to Sagada. 

Indeed, important lessons in life are not only courtesy of the classroom corners or the Internet. The road can be a good teacher, too, you just have to be willing to shed some pennies (or save some for this specific purpose), and the nerve to face your fears. 

What have you learned from travelling?