By Kyla Donnelly
London- There is no shame in meeting your partner online. My mother met my step-father online, and although there is negative connotation surrounding this type of interaction, predominantly how Filipinas only want money from foreigners, we should also acknowledge that majority of Filipinas who met their partner online chose to settle with that person because they love and respect each other.
When I attended the FWA UK Event on 7th March at SOAS University of London on the topic of ‘Constructing Filipina in Modern Britain’, I could not help but feel empowered yet emotional at some parts. I felt empowered because there were a lot of Filipino women in Britain who have a voice and know what their rights are as women. However, there are some Filipinas who came to this country after marrying a British partner, but was subjected to domestic abuse after being promised a better life and future.
The story of Ms Lalaine Garcia, a domestic violence survivor, reduced me to tears because I could not help but think “that could’ve been my mum”. I was in awe of her bravery to speak out about her experiences, but most importantly, I know that she did everything she could to have a better life so that she could provide for her daughter in the Philippines. I appreciate my mother even more for all the sacrifices she has done for me.
Lalaine is a strong woman and a mother, and attending this event left me feeling more motivated to help people who are victims of domestic abuse through my work as a paralegal.
There is no need to sugar-coat the fact that hoping to secure a good future for themselves and their dependants is part of pursuing a relationship with foreigners. No one can blame Filipinas or other people from “third-world” countries from dreaming about this kind of life- something that is different from the kind of life they grew up in, and no one should ever shame a single-mother for thinking of and exploring all the avenues to ensure that their children will have a better future, and together, break the chain of poverty and change the narrative of their lives.
We are fortunate to have met my step-dad. He is kind, a good provider, and he also loves me unconditionally and never made me feel like I am just an extra-baggage that comes with marrying my mother. It is always a risk moving to a different country and leaving everything and everyone behind. Filipinos around the world had sadly experienced a different outcome from how they imagined it to be, such as experiencing domestic violence, and even murder. It is important to acknowledge that foreigners who travel across the world to meet one’s family and friends in the Philippines for example, is a risk on their part too. However, we should start removing the shame that is associated with meeting partners online and marrying them with a dream of having a better future. Do you remember Ed and Rose from 90 days fiancé? Well, we know that Rose walked away from that relationship as although she knows she and her son have a chance of a better future in America, she walked away from that relationship because she has dignity and respect for herself. My mother is the same, she will never put herself and me in a situation that will cause us harm. She always said to me “aanhin mo naman ang pera kung wala namang respeto at masama ang ugali ng tao sayo.”
We should support and show respect for one another in our quests for love and security. No one deserves to be ridiculed for pursuing a better life for themselves and their loved ones. However, those who are considering seeking a partner from another part of the world should exercise caution and thoughtfulness in choosing the right person to invest their time and emotions in.
Photos by: Ernie Delgado