“The Land of Smiles”


The Land of Smiles

1998 – At the, Singing Waiters and Waitresses Restaurant

The Philippine Islands are most assuredly, “The land of smiles.”  You may wonder why?  I mean, they are living in a third-world country.  There are not nearly enough jobs to go around and the jobs that are taken and that are available, pay so little there is hardly enough to get by on.

Though there are many sites to see on the islands, the Philippines are most definitely not a tourist destination.  One of the first sites one comes across driving from the airport to your hotel room are unfortunate children.  They beg in the sweltering streets while you sit waiting in your air-conditioned taxi on the way to your hotel.  The sight made me think of, Charles

The sorry and sad state of many Pilipinos

Dickens’, London and the play, Le Miserables of Paris, except that this was real life.  You, and you may not want to, look around at the misery of the Philippines.  Unable to go anywhere or to see anything except more traffic, you watch these kids as they walk (if able) from car to car begging for dollars and coins, or anything.

Some give a necklace of their national flower, Sampaguita, sweet smelling, small and white, in return of your donation and I felt guilty for ever complaining of my circumstances.  I was poor in America, but being poor in the U.S. is like being rich in most other countries of the world, though, that landscape is changing fast.

Really? Often times it is merely a ploy, which in turn, hurts the sincere homeless person more…

You see in America at entryways to the freeways homeless men with signs saying, “Will work for food” now imagine a land where one can’t work for food because there isn’t enough as it is and there is no money to earn, so that you can’t even buy it.  There is nothing, so they have their festivals and little celebrations to keep them happy and they are, for the most part.

Indeed, the pretty Filipinas working in the tourism industry are smiling and very helpful and even the everyday Filipina is mostly like that.  However, I went there to receive affordable therapy.   I was able to eat, talk, and workout with them.  And lest you think they are all nice because they only want something from you, well, that idea could not be further from the truth.

Let me share with you a true story, as all of my writings are true but sometimes I change the names to protect the innocent and guilty.  Herein Khay M’s story, verbatim; it has not been edited or corrected in any way.

This is a horror story from the Philippines…

I am sincerely very sorry to those foreigners who experienced horror stories with their filipina wives. But please do not judge all of us in general. NOT ALL FILIPINAS ARE THE SAME.

I am a filipina who’s been married with an american for 7 years. And i would like to share that we have a very good marriage.

My husband came to the philippines because his company sent him here for a 2-year assignment. As part of this transition, he was able to bring his family (a filipina wife and a daughter) with him. But before his 2 yrs contract ends, his wife then manipulated him into trusting her their money and going back to the US with their daughter she can prepare for the place they are moving back to. After his contract ended, she told him to hang around and enjoy the country while he is still here until he almost already spent whatever money he had, although he was confident that his wife would buy his ticket going back to the US since that’s what she told him. He then received a letter from her lawyer asking for divorce. Half way around the world, with almost no money at all, he had no choice.

I met him after he got divorced and his ex-wife re-married. I was still in college.  I used to stereotype foreigner males as those who likes dark-skinned, skinny, illiterate, little prostitutes. And i used to judge and laugh at those couples walking around feeling proud with their partners.

When i first saw him at the restaurant where me and my friends planned to have dinner before we kill the night, i immediately judged him as “one of them”. I showed no interest for him at all but he was very persistent. So then i thought, what the heck? He looks young (no one could tell that he was 32 already and he could pass as a 25 yr old), good looking, has a well-toned body, plus i wanted to feed my curiosity regarding the bedroom side. He gave me his number through a tissue paper and a waiter. We started exchanging text messages since and agreed to go out on a date 2 days later. We became friends (with benefits). “That’s all he was to me. Until he said the “L” word and started talking about moving together and introducing himself to my family which totally freaked me out. I was in college which my parents are supporting me with, and finding out that i was dating a foreigner would totally devastate them, let alone moving in together (which my parents totally disapproved). So i had to leave him. Tried to cut all my contacts with him, but he managed to find my parents address through a friend of ours. He came and talked to my parents, which didn’t turn out to be as bad as I thought. He only asked them if he could ask me to be his GF.

He had no money, no job, an illegal in my country, and no passport soon. He was basically stuck here. What could our future be. But I was already “in-love”.

Though I was only 18 at the time, i was already responsible and was making decent amount of money even before i met him from conducting piano and voice lessons and from singing at the hotels on the weekends. These helped me get him a lease in a decent 2 bedroom house in the same subdivision where me and my family lives, pay for his bills, and buy food. It came to the point when my friends and family started to discourage me about my relationship with him. But i was worried that he was too desperate enough and for me to leave him would be a huge blow on him. So i thought if he gets a job it would be easier for him to take the break-up but since he was illegal here, it’s hard to find a company who would hire him no matter how good his resume was. So i asked for my dad to pull out his contacts, and he finally got a good paying job. But the day he starts at his job was the day i found out that I was pregnant with his baby.

I had to drop-out from school and we ended up moving-in together despite of my parents disapproval. They wanted us to get married first but we couldn’t because of his illegal status and we couldn’t afford to pay for his immigration penalty, and we were too proud to ask for help. My parents were very angry and basically disowned me until i had our baby. He got acquainted with other foreigners eventually and started to do part-time jobs with them that got him fired from his job. and those foreigners conned him eventually. he was able to get a better job, again, with the help of my dad. But he also started cheating on me with his office mate. I was devastated and heart-broken when I found out. I was so angry that it lead to a bad break-up. I kicked him out of our house, got him fired from his job, and reported him to the immigration. He was able to hide himself at his other woman’s shabby apartment. Me, left to raise our son on my own and started to earn good with my job at the bank and as a realtor.

He realized eventually that his other woman was only with him because she thought he had money and will eventually take her to America, when she realized that he couldn’t give her any, she started cheating on him. There he came to beg me to take him back 4 months later.

As much as broken-hearted i still was, it was more painful to see my son growing without his father. I took him back and forgave him for the sake of our son. But i didn’t want to make the same mistake that i did, co-habiting without marriage. So i paid his immigration fees and got him a temporary visa so we could get married. We had 2 more kids, he was able to get a job with a multinational company with expat package and everything went well since.

Green Card is never an issue, and we never discussed it, nor am i interested. He now secured a permanent residency here. Money is never an issue as well, I have my own source of a decent income.

I don’t blame the foreigners who hates my kind because of their bad experiences. BUT PLEASE DON’T JUDGE US ALL BECAUSE YOURS DIDN’T TURN OUT TO BE WHAT YOU EXPECTED.

That was a view from the other side for a change.  Now whoever reads this —  please stop denigrating the Filipinas, for it is in often cases, their only chance at a decent living.   All means of earning a living are non-existent and will never be available to them.   Most Filipina women are a prize to be cherished indeed.  I speak to you as one who knows because I had the evil  Filipina, but that only served to make the good ones stand out and shine.

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

29 comments

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