Here is part 2 of my lunch escapade…for those who did not read part 1, it is nothing complicated except the ordinary fleecing of the foreigner by the love interest’s mother’s side of the family. What got fun was when I returned stateside and befriended the love interests ex, who I believe has become a good friend now. I wrote him a story of my “Stupid Lunch” and here is what he wrote back:
“That is an interesting, and familiar story. Yes, I knew exactly where it was heading, as you started to talk about the lunch. Sadly, that happened to me almost every day that I was there. They were happy to eat at nice restaurants on my dime, but never once offered me a piece of fruit, or a drink…no, wait…on my second day there, I was given a bottle of water. The next day, we went to the supermarket… A massive 2 story grocery store, with a full department store upstairs. We went there so I could buy toys for her young cousins…which I was happy to do. Then, they all started talking among themselves in Tagalog. Next,the girl said “Honey, remember you said you would buy the rice for auntie”, so I said okay. Then, she asked if I would buy another for the other auntie…and then milk and rice and cheese for her mother. Okay, I thought…well, I wanted my girlfriend to eat and be healthy, so why not? Before I knew it, everyone in the entourage was mooching a bag of rice. Sure, no problem, how much could that be? Well, imagine my surprise when I saw that it took two men to lift each bag of rice, as they were 50 kilos each (more than 110 pounds), and I bought 8 of them. MY grocery bill was over $540 US dollars, and I bought a bunch of stuff upstairs in toys, and clothing.
As I was a visitor, in a foreign country, I didn’t get angry at the family, though I continued to stew. I didn’t want to be abandoned, and not be able to get back to the airport, to get home. But it still bothers me, even now, when I think about it. I even have several friends at work who frequently joke about the big bags of rice. Sometimes, I laugh when I remember her parents crawling in the back of the car, and sitting on the rice on the ride back to the compound. I might also point out that while I was at the compound, one of her aunts was giving me the “hard sell” about going to the city hall, and getting married to the girl before I left to come home. I sat in a room full of people (about 15) as they all discussed what I should do. I said that I would come back next month, with my son, and we would get married then. It was important to me that he would be with me. I wasn’t sincere about it, I was just playing the game of self preservation.
On my last night there,the girl and I had hotel vouchers to get massages. I was really looking forward to that, and so was she. As we were walking back to the room, she informed me that everyone was waiting for us (in OUR room) to return, and they were going to take me out for a fun evening of karaoke, food and drinks. We had already eaten a very nice meal in the hotel restaurant, and I certainly wasn’t hungry. I was more than relaxed, and just wanted to enjoy some alone time with my girlfriend, to discuss our future, as this would have been our first real opportunity, but that just wasn’t in the cards for me.
They took me out around midnight, and the whole family was there. Although I had fun, they were the ones who had the great time. About 3 1/2 hours of food and drink (and they kept it coming), and I got slammed with another bill. To add insult to injury, on the way back to the hotel, they stopped to fill the car up with fuel. Guess who paid? Yep, ME. By the way, I also paid to rent the car for the week. So you see, I really felt that I was there more for them, than I was for the girl and ME. Shakedown is the best adjective for my experience, and best adverb for their treatment of me.
When I got to the airport, I had a huge smile on my face (Only the immediate family was there, all of the “hangers on” were conspicuously absent). Everyone thought it was because I had a great time.
No, I had the broadest smile of my life because I was leaving, to go home.
She never knew it, but I had a diamond engagement ring, with me, and I had every intention of proposing to her, while I was there. After the rice incident, I reconsidered. From that point on, I left the ring in the hotel safe. When we were alone together (as I already told you) she barely made eye contact with me. I just felt like I was being taken advantage of.
They all were quick to invite me back to the Philippines, so we could get married. Since I had already provided the funds for her to pay for the passport, as well as meals and travel expenses, to (and back from) the agency, AND the necessary medical examinations, she was basically all set. With no intention to ever return, I smiled and said I would see them all, next month.”
Needless to say he never went back, ended it with the girl, and was kind enough to confirm all I believed had happened to me. As I have already written Sarah about, what was amazing to me is that they just couldn’t resist the chance to fleece me, though I had nothing to do with Fat Auntie, she was the ring leader to be sure. And the girl continued to protect them, tell me they were good people, and that I “misunderstood” her family. I think it was somewhere here on this blog that I read that Filipinos are pathologically dedicated to their extended families….yup…Published in