How Filipinas with Foreign Partners are Viewed in Japan

Disclaimer: I am not generalizing the situation of all Filipinas with foreigner partners in Japan and all Japanese women with my sentiments here. It’s definitely not wise to do that to begin with.

This doesn’t just happen in Japan, of course, I myself, from the Philippines, is a victim of this notion from my own land, but not as transparent as I experienced in Japan.

Eric and I in Shinjuku, Tokyo

My husband is an American and I’m a Filipino. I have been living in Japan for over a year now and I am one of those brown skinned Pinays who are often given a smirk by other Japanese women whenever I’m out with my husband.

I have been contemplating whether I should write about this or not, until recently, I experienced a blatant prejudice from two Japanese women in the restaurant where I was having dinner with my husband.

This is just one of many scenarios:

We were having dinner at a Yakiniku Restaurant when these two couples (2 Japanese women and 2 foreigner men) came. The two men went straight to their seats, followed by their pair who are both Japanese women. I had no idea if they were married or dating but as soon as these two Japanese women passed by our table, each looked back at me shamelessly, marked with a mocking look and both laughed at each other afterwards.

As a woman, that action made me extremely uncomfortable. I assumed that perhaps the reason they did so was because they wanted to see what this American guy’s date looked like. This is something I never told my husband about. I just let it pass by, minded my own business, and neglected that it happened, more than just once to be specific.

As a person who grew up in my home country, the Philippines, being confrontational is an attitude that is often attributed to trouble-makers, which, I know I am not. Hence, I am way better off neglecting the “weird” gestures than to confront the people who did those to me. They are also females, we are referring to, after all.

So am I writing this just to express myself? Partly. But I also want to let other Filipinas (and other Asians) in Japan whose husbands are foreigners or are dating foreigners to know that they are not alone with their dilemma − that getting judgemental looks from the Japanese, women especially, is something that is common, something that we need to get used to whenever we are with our foreign partners.

Again, I am not generalizing all Japanese women with my sentiments here.What I just wanted to point out was that from time to time, there will and will always be some Japanese women who will give us this kind of prejudice and that there’s no need to panic about it. I have experienced it myself, and maybe, you will too. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this feat.

So, how are Filipinas with foreign partners really viewed in Japan? I can summarize the “prejudices” that I observed below:

“They met in a bar or a nightclub…”

Bars and night clubs are as common in Japan as it is elsewhere across nations all over the world. Mainly, this is because it is in these places that people can hang to unwind, de-stress, and have fun. Understandably, these places are built to cater for these people with such purposes. However, as tourism rapidly increases in Japan, it is not just the locals that are the common customers in this kind of business establishments; Foreigners frequent these bars and clubs as well.

Due to this fact, a typical Japanese individual cannot help but develop a notion that people who are in a relationship with foreigners, either as an acquaintance, boyfriend or otherwise as a husband, are also frequent in the same places where these foreigners are found. This is indeed the case in Japan, as I have observed, at least. Although we cannot deny that there is a truth behind the notion, it is not always the case, such as my own.

Eric and I in Hida Takayama, Gifu

To give you an idea, my husband and I first met online. Call it an accident or fate even, he is a member of the US Navy whose ship made a port visit to Manila. We decided that it was the time he and I both met. It did not take too long before we developed a relationship, which, in turn, formed into marriage. To be honest, I never thought that I would marry a foreigner, let alone a navy. Things just happened and clicked, we ended up getting married.

Bottom line of my story? No, I did not meet my husband in a bar nor am I a frequent at these establishments he visited. Even then, I do not blame him as he is a man who wants to enjoy his life while he is still young. I, on the other hand, consider myself as a “graduate” of bar hopping and nightclubs because of the things I did when I was in high school and college (sorry ma and pa), but not as liberal as most college students. And to my husband, please don’t tell me I do not like nightclubs or pubs. I’ve been there, done that. I already consumed too much alcohol in my life, which was why after college life, I chose to stop and indulge my early 20s to traveling my home country. There’s more to life than alcohol and partying.

Moving forward to the topic, we’ve been happily married for 1 year and a half, and counting.

“My husband/boyfriend cheated on me because of a Filipino Girl…”

This is perhaps the ugliest myth I’ve heard so far. When I asked a Filipino co-worker who has been living in Japan for over 10 years now, she told me that Japanese women who are giving the “look to Filipinas are common, which, she herself have experienced at some point. As a foreigner living in Japan, the idea struck me as something uncomfortable, even scary, especially from a woman’s perspective. I mean, who would not? As an individual who works hard to provide for my family, I, too, deserve some level of tolerance and respect mainly because of the nobility of my goals and the contribution I am giving to their nation while I am staying in their country.

However, I know that I can relate to these women as to where the hate may be rooted or coming from. It is often a result of either jealousy or hate, sometimes a combination of both. Those are natural feelings and I personally understand that. I, myself, would have felt the same thing if my husband were to leave me for someone else after being cheated. But passing the blame on other people all the time on why your boyfriend or husband left you without considering your own fault in the first place is something that is both unhealthy and unacceptable.

Me with visitors from Thailand in The Great Buddha Kamakura

I guess my point on this matter is: be rational and do not always give in to prejudice. Know the facts beforehand if you are so attached to the issue and be brave enough to let go if need be. As much as you have a choice, so does other people too.

To be clear, as much as I cannot generalize all Japanese women to have the same “hate” attitude towards Filipinas, we, too should be treated just the same. Not all Filipinas are alike, after all. We Filipinas hated also the idea of their partners leaving them for someone else after being cheated on, the same way that these Japanese women may have felt towards other women when they were left all alone by their partners in life.  I think it pays to be open-minded on this issue.

“She’s only after his money…”

Really? (Sarcasm intended) When I first arrived in Japan, the very first thing I searched for was a job (and eventually got lucky when I landed an English teaching job). I took pride in earning my own money by teaching English, although it was not enough to pay my bills back home, my vigorous travel lifestyle and anti-aging skin care products. I am proud to say that it is enough that I am not completely relying on my husband’s paycheck.

Yet, again, the idea: “she’s only after his money…” is another false notion that do not apply to all Filipinas in general. It may be true to some, but definitely not to all. Some Filipinas that I know still values their happiness over money. They will not enter into a relationship because of money. Instead, they will choose their own happiness over the material things.

Eric and I in Meiji Shrina, Shibuya

When I met my husband Eric, I knew that he is a US Navy and, in fact, the job he currently has is something most Filipinos I know could only dream of (including myself) because of the generous compensation. As our relationship grew deeper, I realized that I was not after his money at all, it’s the idea of building a happy family and growing old with him surpasses everything else. Besides, he was the one who’s after my beauty in the first place.

Bottom line: Money cannot buy the right person to be with and so is love. If you want a lasting relationship, look more than how deep a person’s pocket goes – which, I did – but by how deep his heart is for you. Boom. Cheesy and cliché as it may sound, but there is an undeniable truth to it. Putting it into proper context, not all Filipinas who are into relationship with foreigners are after their money. Sometimes, it is as a result of true love. Just take me and Eric for an example.

What can you do when someone gives you a mocking look while being with your foreigner partner in Japan?

Living in Japan for over a year, one thing that I have learned to survive in this somewhat hostile environment is to ignore the negativities coming from other people.  Whenever this happens, I hold on to the best things that make me feel good about myself, however intimidating they may be. They may be jealous or mad at you for whatever reasons but don’t let them get to you.

Talk to someone who had a similar experience like, in my case, co-worker and fellow Pinay, or those people who you can trust, people whom you feel safe and secure and begin exchanging information and ideas. This is the best way to deal with the issue when you are alone and you have no choice but to go through the issue. Of course, they can still stare at you as much as they want from a distance but they can never get close to you to cause you harm especially when you know that you didn’t do anything wrong.

My best friend Mica and I in Shibuya Crossing

Generally speaking, not all Japanese women are like the ones mentioned here. Some of their issues may have been caused by several factors but whether we like it or not, the land of Japan is the Japanese’s place of origin, whose system have been devised in such a way that it works for them, culturally or otherwise. Being a Filipino settled in this place can be very challenging indeed, but I bet it is too to other races. The least that we can do is adapt to the way of living here, just the same way that they should, if they were to visit or stay in country.

My favorite place in Japan, Hida Takayama

P.S. I love Japan so much and the people here in general. This is our last year in Japan and I sure hope that my husband extend his work for another year or so. I do not want to leave Japan yet and I am not affected by these notions brought by others towards browned skinned Pinays like me.