Tobias’ workmate asked him how we handled our finances on our trips. Did Tobias pay for the two us?
This conversation took place after our three-week trip together in Southeast Asia encompassing Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
Tobias answered, Jona paid for her own trips. B, dating a Thai then, could not and would not believe what Tobias had said. He then shared this story to another friend, who just like him, could not believe this surprising story.
How is it possible? A Southeast Asian woman is paying for her own trips? A white guy not paying for his girl’s trips?
Our story is not isolated. This is not the first time either that I openly talk about this: an Asian girl with a white guy regardless of his age. And don’t mistake this entry for a neat personal essay; this is a blog, not an essay.
Yes, there are also stories different from ours. Yes, in the Philippines alone, I saw old white men in the company of a young Filipina in every day basis. You see, back in Cebu, I often worked online at Figaro Ayala Terrace’s al fresco area. More than once old white men approached me, some asking stupid questions like how much my old cranky netbook cost. Depending on my deadline-related mood, I sometimes answered politely, “it is a cheap one, sir” or “We both know, sir, you’re not here to ask me about my laptop’s price.”
Next to the entrance and exit doors was Bo’s Coffee. TGI Friday’s down below. Figaro, Bo’s, and TGIF are the meeting places for foreigners in Cebu City, and yes, some with their Filipina girls, often very young, beside them.
Should I criticize both parties: the young girls and the old white men? I used to. I was one of those self-righteous Filipinas who looked down on girls who used their body and youthfulness to find old white men to finance their whims. Or to feed a whole family.
NOTE: By young Asian woman, I mean, an Asian woman of legal age, who can make decisions of and for herself. The Philippines is sadly a pedophilia den. Cybersex abusing young girls and boys is real.
But as I get older and wiser (I hope), I now see this “whole young Asian girl-old white man story” in a different light. First, Some young Filipina-old white man relationships are actually sincere and genuine love. Second, if it is not a genuine love, both parties benefited from this whole set up; the girl gets financial support, the old man gets affection and care from a young girl—some sort of old men’s fantasy regardless of race, I guess. As long as both parties are clear about their own selfish reasons for being in a relationship, who are we mortals to judge them for their choices?
To use one’s sensuality and sexuality for one’s own gain is a form of feminism, by the way. If you are a so-called self-righteous feminist (if there is such a thing), go read, Camille Paglia and her cohorts.
How about our story? The young Asian woman-a young white man story?
The Feeling of Invisibility
I believed the issues I—a young and dark-skinned Asian woman dating a young white man—faced are no different from that of young Asians dating old white men. Perhaps, again, perhaps if there is one difference, it is that, I’m very vocal and fierce about my own truths.
During our trip to Siargao, Philippines, a guide from Del Carmen’s marine protection office (the registration place for Sugba Lagoon trip) only greeted and looked at Tobias, as if I did not exist beside my tall boyfriend.
Forgot to tuck in the bitch to bed, I calmly said, “Are you not greeting me? Is it because he’s white, and I’m not? I’m a paying tourist too.”
This wasn’t the first time it happened. And I’m pretty sure, this is also the reality of other Filipinas or Asians dating or married to white guys or foreigners in general.
That feeling of vulnerable invisibility is how exactly what Ifemelu experienced—a Nigerian dating Curt, a white American, (a filthy rich Republican at that) in Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Americanah. When I read that part, I sobbed like crazy because her truths resonated with mine.
It was more pronounced and more aching in my past relationship. With Tobias, I have learned to become visible. Nobody could make yourself visible but you alone.
Did we meet online?
“How did we meet?” is a question I am often asked. Some would dare to tail it with “dating site” or “Tinder?” with a malicious twinkle in their eyes. As if finding your partner online is wrong. I’ve met some couples who met each other online, and their relationship is healthier than those who met physically first. Or it can be vice versa. I mean, there is no definite blueprint dictating us on how to meet our partners, is there?
Virtual meeting is as a valid as physical meeting. I had Tinder before I met Tobias. I used it like Instagram, and yes, I met some awesome guys from there too. One or two became good friends. Fine, one or two became travel flings. 😛
But no, I did not meet Tobias there, sorry to disappoint. He did not even know Tinder’s existence til I mentioned it to him. He did not know Ed Sheeran, either 😛
But ours was supposed to be a travel fling turned awry, I mean, serious.
Met on the Island of Thresher Sharks
Malapascua Island is the place I often visited for some writing projects I’m working on. And fine, to ogle hot guys once in a while. I was traveling with Jesrel, a lovely poet friend. Together with some local friends at Ocean Veda, we got drunk by 7PM. I know. But we started early. 😛 It was a Saturday. And there is a disco in the barrio’s basketball court. I saw Tobias’ back by Maldito’s. On the dance floor, I found his awkward dance move funny and cute. It was Jesrel who approached him and said he wanted to introduce his friend to him.
Gay friends are the best wingmen! Haha!
MORAL OF THE STORY: Travel with your gay friends.
That night was not actually the first time we met.
That same day, Jesrel and I made our way to Maldito’s for lunch, and we saw this abnormally tall guy in his white-and-red sando and sunglasses walking on the opposite direction. When we were about to cross path, I roared at him (well, hot stuff have to be roared at), did not look back, and laughed like crazy. Gay friends make me do crazy things.
I did not remember his face. But I remember his Polynesian tattoos. Upon seeing Tobias’ tattoos up close, I told him about me roaring at a guy with a similar tattoo.
“It was you?” he exclaimed.
Next personal topic is a sensitive one as well: who pays what? What are the questions I’m asked about Tobias, a white man, a very tall one for that matter. Follow us on Instagram: @amongfernweh and Facebook. Among Fernweh.