Leonor grew up in a rural area of the southern province of Davao, a town with only one house that was made of concrete and boasted appliances like a refrigerator and washing machine. That house belonged to a woman who had married an American man she met through the mail.
In , at age 23, she found her way to a fledgling internet cafe in a nearby city and registered at Cherry Blossoms, the oldest and most established mail-order bride service in the world. In , the company shifted its entire operation online—and Leonor started receiving emails from an American in his 50s living in Thailand, named Dan McKee. Dan was a rail-thin, middle-class man.
When he came to the Philippines to visit her, the woman he met was beautiful in the ways Western men imagined island women to be, with long straight hair, high cheekbones that taper toward a delicate chin, and smooth, dark skin. Leonor also distinguished herself with good English and an indefatigably optimistic, life-embracing attitude. Leonor was hopeful he might eventually whisk her off to a new life in America.
After she got pregnant with their second son Zen two years later, Dan got a vasectomy without consulting Leonor, only calling from the hospital afterward to get picked up. Instead of taking Leonor to the US, Dan poured his energies into building a wellness center in the mountain town of Valencia outside the provincial capital of Dumaguete City, a cool area in that perennially hot country that was beginning to see some tourism.
In addition to raising his children Dan expected Leonor to run the center day to day, coordinate with helpers and gardeners who did not speak English well, and do a lot of the cooking herself. Like the worst stereotype of foreign men who come to the Philippines, Dan treated native women as accessories to the lives they envisioned for themselves. But Leonor nurtured ambitions of her own, and she struggled with the fact that Dan had no respect for her desires.
So when she found out about his infidelity, she was disheartened but not entirely surprised. So Leonor did what an unfailingly optimistic woman would do: She decided to try again. But money is a charged topic in the Westerner-Filipina online dating game. She came close to meeting a man from Baltimore, but found him too aggressive and controlling once they tried to work out how to get together, barking orders for her to arrange legal papers.
But in October , Leonor got a message from a recently divorced, year-old truck driver from Essex, England. His name was Jonathan Etheridge, and he presented himself as Christian and family-oriented. Leonor during a video chat. Photo by Meredith Talusan. In November, Jonathan felt confident and trusting enough in his connection with Leonor that he sent her 2, pounds—more than , pesos—and then sent her pounds more as a Christmas present to her and her family.
According to the IMF, the average Filipino person made around , pesos in , about the same amount Jonathan has sent Leonor since meeting her in October. Yet her coquettish demeanor turned serious and reserved as soon as she switched to her native Visayan to talk about a new boyfriend she met recently. Jelia recounted how he was disappointed that that woman was fatter than he had expected from the photos she had sent.
Before a man comes to the Philippines, the woman has the advantage, because only a fraction of Filipina women have the technological capability and English knowledge to meet men online. But the tables turn once the foreigner arrives in the country.
The cost of technology is no longer an obstacle, and he suddenly has many more eligible women vying for his attention. Yet despite this tenuous beginning to the mating dance — with all its economic, political, and aesthetic complexities—the couples I met in Dumaguete were largely content Leonor and her failed marriage excepted. Generally speaking, the man has found a beautiful woman happy to take care of their home, and the woman is living a more comfortable life than she could have otherwise expected.
As Leonor got to know Jonathan , the British truck driver, they began to video chat on Skype at least twice a day. Since his divorce, he had taken a night shift at his trucking company so he could take care of the family dog during the day. He and Leonor usually Skyped in the early afternoon, Philippine time, as Jonathan came back from work in England, and then again before Leonor went to bed and after Jonathan woke up from sleeping during the day.
Colombian women make Marine Drill Instructors look sloppy, so your house better shine. While she might be down to reenact those scenes from Blow that had you renting Penelope Cruz movies for a week, if she finds out you mentioned it to anyone , you're done. Some sites to romantically search for your new wife: M yColombianWife.
The lowdown: The Philippines is by far the poorest country to make the ranking, so ladies looking for American husbands might have things other than "finding a soulmate" on their minds. Obviously some don't and just really like your Americanly overweight physique.
What she thinks about you: Americans in the Philippines are basically rock stars. But not like the rich, old ones who keep touring until they're More like the one-hit wonders who aren't really that good and are bankrupt by So, basically Winger. What to expect: Remember how loosely you threw around the word "love" when trying to hook up with girls at frat house parties?
Well, Filipina brides might be using that term with roughly the same level of sincerity. Which, if you attended Catholic school or saw that one sketch in Kentucky Fried Movie , seems almost too good to be true. The strict pious upbringing has created a society rife with sexual repression. The new wives are right here: Filipino-Women. What she thinks about you: American men are taken about as seriously in Russia as election results. And not in the way her ex-boyfriend did back home… by winning at chess or being named "Pavel Bure", of course.
What to expect: You think your college girlfriend who was pushing marriage Junior year was rushing it? Russian women expect marriage and kids STAT. Usually more than two, as well. Already feeling the pressure? The dirty: Talking about sex to a Russian woman is about as good an idea as talking about incendiary devices at airport security. Here they are! The lowdown: The DR has two great exports to the US: Cigars and baseball players who definitely never took steroids and are absolutely just 21 even though they have lots of body hair.
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