The Money Tree

Last week, Feyma wrote an interesting article about family demands for money and such. Feyma and I got married nearly 18 years ago now, and in that time, I have seen so many examples of Filipino families thinking that the money supply was endless now that their daughter had married a foreigner, or now that their son had finally landed that OFW job in Saudi Arabia. It seems that this is the attitude among the family any time a situation like this comes up.

I was thinking about this earlier today, and I was wondering some things about the Filipino psyche in relation to this kind of thinking. Let me first point out that I don’t feel that all Filipinos think this way, but there are a lot who think like this.

Harvesting the Money Tree
Harvesting the Money Tree

I wonder, when the average Filipino thinks about the average American, how much money do they think that we have? Do they think we go around with hundreds of dollars in our wallets when we go to town, or is it thousands? Do they think that we have so much money that if $1,000 comes up missing, we just wouldn’t miss that amount? One commenter that spoke up on Feyma’s column said that he and his Filipina wife had a bank account that could be accessed by his wife’s family. The family was supposed to get about $1,000 out from the account in order to pay the payments on some land that the couple was buying. Instead, the family members got the $1,000 and spent it on their own needs, leaving the land payment unpaid. What was the family thinking? Did they not worry that when the man found out that $1,000 was missing then he would be mad at them, and there may be consequences?

Why is there such a disconnect between Filipinos and Foreigners when it comes to money issues?

In an effort to better understand this issue, I just talked to two of my nieces to see what I could learn from them. Let’s see what they told me:

Niece #1: This niece is in her mid-20’s, a college graduate. She is a smart girl, and I trust what she tells me. I told her that I wanted to talk to her about Filipino perceptions about the wealth of foreigners like me. I asked her what she thought when she saw a foreigner (before living with me and seeing our lifestyle first hand). I asked her if she had thought that all foreigners were rich. She confirmed to me that in the past, when she saw a foreigner, she automatically thought that they had plenty of money. I asked her how much. She said that she thought that foreigners had Millions of Dollars. I asked her how much she thought a foreigner would have in his pocket when he went to the store – her answer on that one floored me. She said that she thought that the average foreigner going to the market would have $20,000 to $50,000 on his person for the trip! Can you imagine that? I asked her more about it, and all of her answers were along the same lines.

Niece #2 is 17 years old and has been living with me for about 1 year now. She is a very smart girl, and graduated High School near the head of her class. She is working for me in my business, and after she has worked for 4 years, I will pay for her college education, that is the deal that we have between each other. I asked her basically the same questions, and her answers were virtually the same as the other person that I talked to. Amazing.

Back in 1990, just shortly after Feyma and I were married, I received a letter in the mail from somebody in Feyma’s family. This young man had just graduated from High School. I barely knew the guy, only from one trip to the Philippines. His letter that he sent me was a request that I pay for him to go to College. I was young at the time, and frankly, I was not in financial shape to be paying for somebody to go to College. I was doing good just to pay all of our bills and keep food on the table for Feyma and I. So, I had to write back and tell this young man that I was sorry, but I could not afford to pay for his schooling. About 2 years later, Feyma and I returned to the Philippines for a visit with the family. This young man would not talk to me the entire time that we were there. I can only assume that this lack of communication was pay back for my inability to help him with his educational needs. To be honest, this person has probably not said 100 words to me in the past 18 years, and I often feel that he is still mad that I could not help him at the time. The truth is, I honestly could not afford to pay for his schooling at that time. Today, I am older, have gotten to the point where I have more money, and I do help a number of relatives with things like education. Unfortunately for this young man, that was not the case 18 years ago.

So, where do you think these perceptions come from? Why would people think that when I go to the store I have $50,000 in my pocket? My other question is this – will this kind of thinking ever die?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1345 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.


  1. says

    I am always bemused by the fact if you try and help somebody through an emergency you find they keep coming back to the "well", not because they need rice but because the mobile phone is old or they need an MP3 or even they give urgent monies to other family members then come back to you for more. When you say no they honestly look angry as if you are in the wrong.
    Those of us with a big heart are always going to be targeted, but in honesty it seems here that money is only something that is needed if money is at hand, if its not at hand its not needed. In other words you offer help its your fault.

  2. says

    Hi John – Sad but true. I like helping people, but when you learn that such offers of help only lead to a lifetime of requests for more help, it becomes clear that you must be more careful in offering help. It's sad, but true.

  3. Dan says

    well..I can say that what you say is pretty much the way a lot of the Philipino girls or ladies think…I have chated my fair share of the sweet ladies and I would say that over 75% pretty much think like you said your neices thought……and I found out even trying to explain was a waste of time……so..maybe some where down the line in all of this…..they got the idea that all people in America have tons of money and a never ending supply..just because you live in the USA…

    I have also heard more than my fair share of just about every sad story that can be made up by some of these nice ladies trying to get you to send them a few dollars…..some of the storys are way out their and of course I never fell for the line..but often wondered just like you have mentioned..where did they get the idea that we in the USA are rich?

    I sure heard "the can you send me a little money by Western Union or x-zoom { I belive that is the name } and my response what no can not…I have also chatted a few very nice laides that are from the Philipines and they have never asked me for a dime and never thought or suggested that they felt that all of us American people were rich and had money falling off of trees that we could go rake up a basket full when we needed some…

    So who knows….maybe a lot of them just belive it…..and so can not judge them for beliving something ..even thou it not true…all one has to say is No. when asked….or that is my thinking……any way…you have some very interesting comments all the time Bob..

    Oh..I do like you idea of helping people……let them earn the help..that is the best way……work for it..learn to appreicate what your work is worth and have a better appreciation for money by working hard for it and just maybe some of these nice people will make better choices later on..

  4. says

    Hi Dan – The things that you are saying match my experiences too. When it comes to girls asking for money when you chat with them, that is a sign that they are not the right girls! Avoid them like the plague, and you'll eventually find the right one.

  5. chas says

    Hi Bob,Rich westerner,or rich whiteman,this is the view held by most 3rd world countries.I feel it is a throwback from the old colonial days.The old hollywood movies helped to secure this perception.If we were in their shoes(or no shoes)we would probably feel the same.This perception has then been fed down thro the generations.We only have to look at the huge problems of illegal migrants to western countries,who think the west is paved in gold.

  6. says

    Hi Chas – I tend to agree with you about the days of colonial glory kind of sealed this impression into the minds of Filipinos. I have thought about this for several days, since I wrote this article, and I believe that colonial power was one of the key ingredients in planting this seed and making it grow.

  7. says

    One of the main factors I think is at play here is movies and TV. I have a (former) Filpino friend, a married woman in her eraly 40's, law school grad, formerly wwell paid corporate lwayer, married to a corporate lawyer, two kids, much nicer house thna I have, erc. n I used to enjoy debating wiht her on blogs about htings like the relations between the Philippine and US governments. She's very strong on Philippine independence, doesn't like the paternalistic attitude the US still shows at times, etc., and usually here points are quite valid and we used to see eye to eye on many things.

    We stopped chatting when she got on a kick about some things she felt the US government was doing wrongly regarding Muslims and suspected terrorists. Frankly there was no argument on my part, I find the same things distasteful. But in her argument she kept quoting incidents that happened on the TV show "24". And also some movie incidents. I tried to point out that,. especially as a lawyer, she should recognize the difference between fact and fiction. After a lot of angry words it was the end of a friendship. To her, "24" is as real as a factual report. Mind boggling.

    How many movies show an American chasing around the world, staying at great hotels, renting and wrecking cars as if they were free, buying anything, even guns or other often ilegal things as if they were free, and then flying out to some other country as if there was a money printing press in the hero's suitcase. I can count on one hand the movies I have watched in the past 4 or 5 years when any American character ever had any actual money issues, or had to do something different because of their budget. Budget? Movie characters never even have one.

    No cure for this issue, just something one has to take into consideration … and interesting about talking to your nieces that way Bob, I have a couple college-age nieces and nephews and I have never had a conversation like that …I will, soon though, I think I likely don't know their impression very well.

  8. Paul says

    Hey Bob – Be thankful that the indignent lad hasn't talked to you very much in the past 18 years. When he finally uncorks his gob, the first thing he'll say is, "Manong, can you lend me PHP10,000?" 😆

  9. brian says

    Knew a guy in Cebu who had a filipina girl friend. He rented a very nice place and had a new motorcycle he was very fond of. He had to take a trip back to the USA for 2 weeks , told his girl friend her family could stay at the house while he was gone …his ONLY demand was that NO ONE ride his motorcycle which he had chained up. The DAY HE LEfT the father cut the chain and used it as a taxi bike.When Dan came home he was livid, kicked everyone out including gfriend, they could not understand why he was so angry, the father even had the audacity to ask him for money because he no longer could make it without the taxibike !!!

  10. Paul says

    On a serious note, Bob, I find that the rich foreigner/OFW myth is perpetuated by some of the OFWs and immigrants themselves. :roll:

    The "infamous" sister-in-law & her husband, who arrived in the USA a couple of weeks ago, received over $300 in cash gifts at their welcome party. They immediately needed to "show their new wealth" by "Western Union'ing" the cash back to their kids in the Phils with instructions to buy a television set and a refrigerator, with ootang ootang for any balance due. After all, they're good for it since they're now awash with cash. No jobs yet, of course, just closer to those with jobs & money! :sad:

    My money tree just died. 😥

    • Ike P. de Leon says

      Who killed your Money Tree Mate????? 😉 Hehe!!!

      Even educated friends in our office think that way. Sometimes had to explain to them that they don’t pick money from trees in the US or abroad. Funny but true!!!

  11. jeff says

    Hi Bob, I was once like your nieces. I also thought before that Americans are rich. I think Filipinos attitude will not change about this issue esp. that a lot of my countrymen are not educated. I also think that what filipinos sees on TV gives them the wrong idea of foreigners.

    My mom remarried to an american man when I was 13 yrs old. When Dale ( my step Dad ) came to visit my Mom for the first time and live at our house for 2 weeks, he once told me to get his bag in one of our bedroom and I saw lots of money in the bag so from then on I always thought that Americans are rich. My step Dad told us later on that he had 3 penpals and he picked my Mom coz she never ask money from him. My mom even paid the plane ticket for her to go to USA after she got her fiance visa. After they petition me at age 18, I couldnt believe it when I first came to Hawaii. My Mom and step Dad live in a shack or a land with a house build like a nipa hut. They dont have cable, no access to public transportation, no hot water, I couldnt see any neighbors house its like living in a jungle in Hawaii! My step Dad and Mom is a farmer but they did not tell me about their job. My mom is afraid to tell us because we grew up with maids since my mom has fishing business at the philippines before. Well, I didnt have a choice but to work at the farm and sometimes I help my step Dad do landscaping, painting houses and other laborer type of job. Now, I am happy because my parents thought me how to survive. My mom and step Dad work so hard and now they have 3 houses. Its just too bad that my step Dad didnt get to enjoy all what he work hard for coz he died 3 years ago. He was on disability since he was 33 years old but still choose to work since the money is not enough for him to survive the cost of living in Hawaii. We always advice my parents to move back to Davao to get better care but they choose to live in Hawaii. My Mom until now hesitate to move back to davao because she have 12 brothers and sisters who are poor. We send them money and bags of rice every now and then and even help some hospital bills with some of my Aunts and uncles getting sick. She is afraid that if she go back, all of my Aunties and uncle will keep knocking on her door and she will get stressed out. I couldnt blame my Mom.

    Anyway, now I have problems with my in laws. I am that person who was rob by his own family coz I trusted them so much and give them access to our account but that has already changed. I will try to be on top of everything from now on and dont just assume that I can trust even my family.

    My advice for foreigners who go to the Philippines is to tell their filipino families about certain things that are not true about americans or from UK and other first world country. Tell them stories of people who work hard to pay their bills. I only wish that this kind of trend will end someday.

    Bob, this blog really helps me a lot and gives me a lot of lesson too. I always look forward to all your next commentary or topic.

  12. says

    Hi Bob & all. I am a well established 56yr. old Canadia. I have a workaholic,lovely filipina girlfriend. Whom I admire & adore. I help her as often as I can justify,Money for her trip home,expensive gifts on occasions etc. I have a filipina hair dresser,that I see regularely. She asked me where my G.F. was. I told her she works 16hr. a day,6days a week. She looked surprised & said "you must not be giving her money: I just stood there with my mouth hanging open,the same as my sister when I told her! As I said earlier I am well established as I use common sence. I don't see anyone giving me money & I am the one that is crippled, & forced into early retirement. Good work Bob.

  13. says

    Hi Dave Starr – That former attorney that you mention, I think I know who it is, and I've had experiences with her too. Is she a quite well known blogger in the Philippines? When you have a talk with some of your relatives, let me know the outcome, I'll be interested!

    Hi Paul – 😆 I didn't think about that, but you are correct!

    Hi Brian – That story is a classic! I have heard other stories with the same theme before. I wonder why it is so hard to understand – "you can live in my place, basically you can do anything you want, just DON'T RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE." What's the first thing that they do? :roll:

    Hi Paul – Yep, my money tree is looking like it needs some fertilizer!

    Hi Jeff – Thanks so much for your comment. I find it insightful and inspiring too. You really have some very interesting things to say, and because you are Filipino, it makes the things you say even more interesting to me.

    Hi Guy – Very interesting! It sounds like your girlfriend is a good person, and a hard worker.

  14. says

    pretty easy to see. just looking around and seeing the pinoy peers who are fortunate enough to work abroad, they see the monetary earnings of those OFWs are so much more than in the philippines.

    even bar girls in japan or a nanny in hongkong can build nice houses in davao.

    it's easy to sum things up as: "well, if the OFWs earn soooo much more than us, just imagine the foreigners!'

    get your average pinoy, tell him the minimum wage in a developed country like the US. he might know that life will be hard abroad, but the numbers will blind out everything.

    let's say: a pinoy friend comes home, tells his friend life is hard in the US. he barely gets by because he is paid practically minimum wage for 40 hrs a week. then tells him his pay is a paltry $6/hour, that's Php 9,600 a week! or Php 38,400 a month. much, much more than a teacher or bank employee.

    by the time, this OFW guy says taxes & expenses actually take a huge chunk from his salary, the friend doesn't care about this. he'll take his chances.

    movies play a big role too. how else can they experience the outside world except through films/tv shows & yes, expats. add our sad inclination to colonial mentality, & there you have it. anything imported & better than local, even people — jollibee over mcdo is an aberration 😉

    by the way, it also snows everywhere in the US.

  15. Bill says

    As Dan has said, a lot of filipina chat mates will ask for money or gifts. As Bob said, these should be avoided. I had one girl ask me for a new mobile phone for christmas last year after chatting 2 or 3 times. I told a filipina friend about it and said that I was not Santa Claus. Santa has a sack of good stuff that noone ever has to pay for! That friend is now my girlfriend who I am visiting in Tacloban in 2 weeks time, and she has never forgotten the 'Santa Claus' comment.

    'He is not Santa Claus' is a handy response to relatives who think westerners carry around magic sacks of money.

  16. Michael says

    The most surprising experience I had was with a sister in law. She and her husband have got good jobs, a business on the side and a nice house. She was like an older mentor to my wife before we married. When she asked my wife for a 3 month loan of 10,000php I agreed because I really thought this one would come through. In fact once the loan was overdue she ignored my wife's requests for the money back. After nearly two years I got annoyed and send her a polite but very demanding and firm text. Presto the money was repaid plus every gift that my wife had ever given her was returned through another relative. On my wife's next trip the sister in law would not talk to her and has not since. I can understand people who are hard up living from day to day but this family had their kids in private college, had all the gadgets a nice car etc etc. Why did she think she could just rip us off then get in a huff when the white guy put the squeeze on?

  17. Markus says

    My girlfriend told me that some girls call their man HONEY so that they will not mix the boyfriends name by mistake, Beware of a girlfriend who calls you honey 😆

    • Philip says

      Markus just read your article are you serious, my girlfriend who I spoke to Bob today has done these following things………. to help me gain her trust …..

      Has only missed twice being online at the times she gave me…………..
      Has unlike 90% of all the ladies I met to chat to never asked for money……….
      Has still never asked for money 7 months down the track……………
      Did ask me for a house bamboo or whatever…………………..
      Has introduced me to her sisters and cousins……………………………..
      Has gotten dressed and worked every day of the week………………….
      Goes to church every Sunday like my mum……………………….
      Appears to have good family morals……………………………….

      But after reading your comment what she did do is ask me can she call me hon or honey after about a month???????????????
      I said yes it is okay as aussies we are use to that terminolgy!!!
      I have been concerned about her dissappearances to the mountains to see her family but she says she takes food and clothes to them. Also she has mixed times like this week she cant talk at night because she said works late all week but we chat in the morning???? Anyway now I have another thing to worry about because what you said then is exactly what she asked me after a month what do you think, I know she was devestated when I asked why she wanted a house for her family?? Anyway take care there

  18. says

    Hi macky – I hear you… but it would seem that such silliness would be put to rest at some point. To think that because somebody is a foreigner they walk around with tens of thousands of dollars is just beyond reality! 😯

    Hi Bill – It's good not to get into that Santa Claus role too!

    Hi Michael – That loan sounds like a text-book case, unfortunately. I'm sorry to hear that it lead to problems in your wife's relationship with her sister.

    Hi Markus – I can attest that the situation that you talk about is a 2 way street. In the business that I am in I see this every day, and there are Filipinas ripping off foreign boyfriends, and foreign boyfriends who are not treating the Filipinas in the right way too. Maybe one day I'll write about what I know about this situation. Some of it is shocking! 😯

  19. gerry says

    Hi, I don't really have a problem with anyone thinking that I am rich, if I have a conversation with them I will try and educate them to the truth.

    My real problem is when they put that perception into action by taking advantage of my generosity.

    I'm afraid to say that EVERY group of filipinos that I have been involved with have tried this, I may get some flack for this… but it is MY perception. I believe that many filipinos believe that it is their right to overcharge foreigners because they are so rich… they simply don't see it as being wrong.

    I'm not saying that they are scamming me but lets just say that everything that I try to help THEM with suddenly is twice as expensive.
    Some people will say that I have just met bad "friends", believe me these people would be considered nice by anyone's standards. In actual fact few of them could be classified as poor.

    I could give you many examples but I won't bore you, I think the most classic one was by a would be priest in a seminary that I was sponsoring, he needed a used laptop for his final studying, after asking him to check out the prices (in a province) he came back asking for 35,000 pesos…. even today you can buy a NEW laptop for that much. I helped him to obtain a USED laptop and stopped my sponsorship with him.

    I don't know how it will ever change but this is one "kano" that trust has to be earned with now. In my experience when a Filipino friend says that he knows someone that can help me, it usually means that this "someone" is really going to help themself…. now I just say "no thanks" I will do it myself.

    Apologies if my opinion offends anyone.

  20. says

    Hi Bob – Yes, I agree, it certainly is silly & a lot of Pinoys mentioned here should know better. But common sense & logic does not always apply there. I myself can be caught confused by how cartoonish things are in the Philippines.

    Let me be clear on this. It is very frustrating. I myself, living abroad, have experienced a similar uneven logic with how I am perceived when I got home (if it wasn't bad enough before).

    Hopefully, as the country develops & is more exposed to the outside culture (In a way, it is a fairly young & undeveloped country), many will start to understand how things really are.

    Right now, everyone is a cartoonish stereotype. Japanese, "Kanos", Koreans (ah, Koreans — see local papers) etc. Just look at how even locals see provincial stereotypes (Kapampangans, Ilokanos, Cebuanos etc).

    Also, In my observations, Most foreign expats in the old days where perceived to only mingle with the upper income Filipinos. Not all of course, but this was a reasonable perception as it dealt with safety & a much larger cultural divide with the "real folks" in the old days (Marcos era & before this).

    If you look at the many people holding power since the Spanish days, many of them are of mixed heritage. From SMC, SM to government (Cory Aquino is of mixed chinese heritage, Estrada is mestizo). This also gives a perception to the masa that you have to be of foreign descent to be important.

    You don't usually see a Kano mingle with the masa in the old days (especially outside Manila) — unless he's on a religious mission.

    Heck, even our national heroes lost ALL the time to the Spanish (333 yrs), Japanese (3 yrs) & Americans (50 yrs — and counting). They all were matyred or surrendered. Look at your pesos & you'll see them. Thank god for Lapu-Lapu (who killed Magellan, a revered historical icon, by the way. He's probably an uncivilized native leader in other foreign books).

    Sorry for the heavy handed explanation, but I think history plays a big part in this thinking.

    I have also noticed that there is a new wave of expats willing to go beyond the class strata.

    Just in the 90's, you never saw a white guy in shorts & slippers walking in Illustre st & seeing another enjoying a casual walk with his family at the mall.

    This is a good thing. It also creates confusion for many new arrivals why this weird logic rules the day.

    But I'm hopeful that a new generation of Filipinos will start seeing reality as it is as our country modernizes & is more exposed to outside culture.

    end of essay.

  21. Veechee says

    Hello Bob: Another interesting but touchy subject-(I've noticed as of this writing, no fellow Filipina has commented yet?) I say this because as a Filipina, it is very insulting but you know what? The truth hurts..although as I've mentioned over at Feyma's article, my husband and I have never experience such. I have heard and seen these incidents in the past from friends and acquiantances and it is really sad that it has become a trend in the eyes of foreigners who are married/dating/chatting with Filipinas.

    As mentioned by others, I agree that it could be the colonial mentality. I also believe poverty through generations is another reason, which explains the lack of education for the most part, hence, the absence of proprieties.

    Just a friendly advice to those seeking a relationship with Filipinas, use your common sense…if anything sounds too good to be true, RUN! Don't allow yourselves to be persuaded by sweet-talk or sad stories. A friend of ours once said that he thought Phil. women from the suburbs are the best choice because they are naive, even believed all of them are still virgins and subservient….didn't take long for him to realize the real truth….

    Generally, Filipinas make wonderful wives/partners/mothers(that's why a lot of foreigners seek them)….it's a matter of finding the right one. Good luck!

  22. Rick Austin says

    After 31 years of marriage to a Filipina it amazes me that so many kanos fall into this trap. I told the asawa before we were married that
    my money was for me, her and the kids not for her family. And it has been that way ever since. We are and always have been glad to help
    out for true, verified emergencys and we give a few bucks for Birthdays
    and Christmas. Know that we are retired and live in PI my wife is even
    more strict about this subject then I am.
    Just my 2 centavos worth


  23. Paul says

    Hi again, Bob –

    One "cultural" quirk I've noticed pertaining to lending money to others in the Phils is an implied forgiveness of a part of the amount borrowed.

    If you lend P1,000, the borrower will pay back about P800, mention your friendship or social relation, and expect the remaining P200 to be forgiven. I've had it explained to me that in the long run, it all works out because someday, someone will forgive you of part of your debt.

    This quirk isn't limited to loans from foreigners – it's more common Phil-to-Phil. As one brother-in-law found out after immigrating to the States, this customary forgiveness just doesn't work here like it does back home. (He also found out that civil court costs can be an expensive alternative to paying his just debts! 😆 )

  24. says

    Hi gerry – I don't find what you say offensive at all, I don't think you need to worry about that. I will say, though, that your experience and mine have been different. While I do experience people wanting and needing money (and of course asking me to supply it), I don't get that from everybody, actually from only a small minority. Sorry to hear of your experience.

    Hi Cheryll Ann – No problem on the link. Thanks for dropping by!

    Hi macky – I enjoyed reading your "essay." Thanks for sharing it. I disagreed with some, agreed with other parts, but came away more educated.

    Hi Veechee – You were not the first Filipina to comment. I saw a comment from Cheryll Ann ahead of you. Sorry if the article seemed sensitive to you, that was not my intention at all. And, I don't think that the "money tree" factor is limited to Filipinas, it applies equally to Filipinos too.

    Hi Rick Austin – It is a trap that seems almost universal, doesn't it?

    Hi Paul – From what I have seen, getting P800 back out of the P1k is unusual in itself! Getting P1 back would be more than normal! 😆

  25. Joe Parisi says

    I have found that the best policy is to give what you can afford. We helped one of my wife's nieces with her tuition last year because we had a little extra cash. This year she asked again and we refused because we had some major expenses of our own. So far this policy hasn't caused any hard feelings. When my wife first came to this country she used to feel guilty to say no. Over the last few years she has grown a thicker skin. Thank Goodness!!!

  26. lasseman says

    My comment: So true most of what you write here. But filipinas/os not only think americans are rich. All foreigners they say are "kanos" and think they are rich. Even if we explain we are not.
    But, dont play big, dont be a big spender to impress on the girl.
    The problem is tht sometimes is help needed, and it is nicer to give than to take…
    Best help is to help someone to manage himself. But if he/she dont want to work … nutting can hel.
    And loan is a word for give…

  27. Veechee says

    Obviously, I am not aware that Cheryll Ann is a kababayan-pardon my ignorance…..another thing, there's a reason why I wrote down "as of this writing" because you guys are 16 hours ahead of us here.

    Bob, I know very well that the "money tree" factor applies to all Filipinos(by the way, in general terms, men and women born in the Phils. are all called "FILIPINOS")….I was just specific with the Filipinas because, after all, majority of the stories mentioned involved the wives' families…no harm done…I know you mean well when you wrote the article.

    Maraming salamat

  28. says

    Hi Joe Parisi – Yes, it's good advice to ever get into trying to give more than you can afford. I agree with you on that.

    Hi lasseman – Yes, it's very true that all foreigners are "kanos" here, no doubt about that.

    Hi Veechee – Yeah, I didn't mean anything negative, just writing my observations on this. Thanks for your understanding.

  29. moshe says

    its a big mistake for a foreign that have filipina wife to life close to her family.
    it sad to say but they are like vampires, keep came for more and more money.

  30. Rick Austin says


    I have to disagree, been married for over 31 years. Live very close
    to relatives and have never had any problem with them asking for money. And I have also noticed that for those that are going to ask
    distance does not matter.


  31. says

    Hi Rick and Moshe – I feel that it is a good idea to live a distance from the majority of the family. This is for two reasons – money requests, and also for some privacy. We live about 2 1/2 hours away from Feyma's family, and both of us feel that the distance is "just right." 😆 Another nice advantage is that our kids like to go there for little vacations from time to time. Our oldest Son, Chris, has been at the farm for about 2 weeks now, and is having a wonderful time!

  32. Rick Austin says


    I am sure she didn't as she is stricter then I am. On the other hand I
    have given money without her knowledge.


  33. says

    Very interesting…I completely echo Veechee's sentiments (#24). I take life with a grain of salt and nothing offends me…and I hon't intend to offend others. It's just another facet of the (Filipino) human race. If you try to understand human nature, you won't get disappointed as you would know what to expect whether you are in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world. You would know your limits and if you make it known people would somehow learn to respect it. Then the choice is yours to make…to keep or not to keep that person in your life.

    I came from a very large family (9 children). My father must have brainwashed me that education is the only escape from poverty. I must have shown my younger siblings something worth believing in me that even their children still mind what I say from a distance. Luckier still, at 42, I met my husband who completely trusted my sound judgment (both heart and mind). And, to himself, he already learned to accept that as a Filipina he was marrying my family too. Oh, I call him Honey as well, even when there's a tinge of irritation sometimes…he's still Honey, and I don't have other names to mistakenly forget his.

    My Filipino friends warned me about completely entrusting money for building our retirement place (and with good reasons), but I have my apartment units ready to market now. The ground floor is for my husband just in case he wants his privacy, the 2nd flr has one unit where my family could congregate (my husband loves to be in this part of the building). When he gets tired, he goes downstairs to his gym or play his drums…and we work hard for every penny here–there's no excess to give away. In the last 5 years, we have never taken vacation other than to visit his mon 6 hours away and 6 weeks in the Philippines.

    Five years ago, my youngest brother and his wife came to the US. At first he was afraid to stay with us knowing that I could be a taskmaster. He realized that I need only a few things respected: no drinking/smoking (esp. if it is not your money) and driving (you're on our insurance); no fighting in front of us (it's our house); leave a note where you're going (if we're not home to be informed). They just bought their house which is a lot nicer than our old house. I had given them an assignment to save as it will be their turn to take care of our mother when it gets to the point that she would need expensive hospitalization.

    My brother has not gotten married yet, sent 4 nieces to college one here in Illinois for her masters, one at 22 a manager at J&J after graduating top of her class, one at SGV after passing the CPA board right after graduation, and the youngest now 3rd yr nursing. We have 2 sons of the distant relative graduating HS. For 2 going to college is not without a sacrifice on our part. Why? We had aunts that welcomed us into their homes when we were going to college and our parents made us understand that it is a privilege not an entitlement. Believe me…to teenagers those weren't easy days. The same concept I follow in helping those who want to have their education. It's not without a hitch…but the choice is theirs to make as well.

    We are not unique…there are more with the same circumstance and drive, even more perhaps. I have met a lot of Filipinos here who would take overtimes on Sundays or Christmas days that they may help their families in the Philippines…have also seen how some of those relatives squandered their hard-earned money. Accountability is the key.

  34. says

    Hi Cecilia – I am not sure that I fully understand everything that you have written in your comment. Most of what I understand fully, I agree with. But don't take what I have written in this post to mean that I don't help people who deserve it. Honestly, I have sent a lot of Feyma's family to college, and also helped them in other ways, both financial and non-financial.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  35. says

    Sorry if I came out vague. It's not for anyone in particular…just some musings on how some Filipinos could appear money-hungry and probably crude in their approach. I'm probably trying to touch too much on some of the comments.

    Because of one's pre-conceived notions, it is sometimes easy just to distance oneself for fear of being taken advantage. I just want to show the other side of extending help that can be very rewarding when you establish your ground, and the person you helped succeeds.

    I know your kindness to other people from your blog, and I think the precise post you have on this topic recently — how you go about extending help has shed light to others on how it could possibly be done. It is the sharing with dignity that makes life to some Filipinos a little better. It is only in the hope that others will not be afraid to do so. It could be tough sometimes as there is no fool-proof way of doing it.

  36. says

    Learning how to wisely deal with money (sharing and/or loaning) can make you or break you when living in the Philippines.

    I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, but I think many Filipinos do not realize the difference in the cost of living in the States vs the Philippines. The American minimum wage sounds huge until you know how much it costs to live in America.

    My policy was to only loan an amount that I could afford to lose.

    Here’s another thing I had to consider: loaning money could destroy relationships just as easily as refusing to loan it. The person may avoid you at all costs because he/she is shy about being unable to pay back the money.

  37. Robert says

    I help my wife parents to come in USA. They got here and stayed for 14 days , after 14 days they decide to go back in Phils.
    First, they want to live like in Phils. They wont change their way. I always tells them ,”here in USA is different.we have to change our behavior and the way we think.”
    Second, they wants my wife to take off work to she goes with them to fix their errunds ( like SSS and MVA licensing and finds job) my wife explain to them , she can’t missed hours or days at work …because we have bills to pay.. They have to learned how to ride bus and a lots things..( they are in 40’s ) they got very upset to my wife , until my father in law got upset and said the F word and told her that she’s nothing!
    Third, dinner time . They wants to eat at 7pm and sleep by 730 or 8:00pm. My wife gets home at 7pm so we always have dinner late, by 9… So they wont eat together with us..
    After they ate , both went to their room. My wife and I eats alone.. Which I really hate it coz our house rules is everybody eats together… Happy Family! But they said, thats their way and they wont change their way. I got very upset on that night until we have ( father and mother in law) argue . After spending $17,000 to help them to come in USA! Before they leave I gave them $300.00 bec. I am worried for them.. They dont even say bye ! .. My wife and I was so happy when they leave… Bec.. So much stressed! And headaches. Its sad you wants to help them but they dont want to be help! They throw gold in the trash! A lots people wants to come here and have papers! Thats a stupid decision they made!

    • Robert says

      When they got back in Phils. They told them that I am rude and told them a lots badwords on them. All my wife relative was so upset to us..
      I sent an email and said
      They sent back and threats me !
      I am so upset to these people! After giving all my blood! I dont even see my paycheck every two weeks , Only to helped them to come here and thats how they treat me! They dont give considerations for nothing! Thanks God my wife was on my side… She erased everybody in phils. Bec. She’s not happy on what happened :(

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