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Where and how did you meet your Filipina GF or Wife?

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Jim Sibbick

I have had many girlfriends in the Philippines. Paul (Admin) says I have had more girlfriends than hot dinners. It is only true because I don't like eating hot meals.


My current girlfriend was the best friend of my previous girlfriend. We have been together for between 4 and 7 years, depending on your point of view.


However, none of those stories are as interesting as how I met my ex wife. 


Except for one girl who never was. Paul (admin), his then wife JJ and myself went to the Sandtrap for dinner with a prospective girlfriend. During dinner, my prospective girlfriend texted JJ and asked her if she thought it would be ok to continue to have a Filipino boyfriend while she was with me. That dinner at the Sandtrap was the last time I saw her.


How I met my ex wife (also, how my brother in law met his ex wife)


In September 1994, when my friend Ian decided he would go to the Philippines to meet his pen pal, Anita, I was invited to go with him.

It was our first time in the Philippines however we didn’t travel alone because also travelling with us was Anita’s sister Imelda (who set up the pen pal arrangement and arranged for us to stay with her family as we travelled around), Imelda’s husband Joe and Imelda’s daughter Joanne.



Our only preparation for the trip was watching Joe and Imelda’s wedding video and the movie “Filipina Dream Girls” (still one of my favourites).



All the groups considered troublemakers now, were active in the Philippines at the time but weren’t making headlines in Australia so no one thought to tell us it was unsafe in the Philippines and we never bothered to ask. So, we arrived thinking the Philippines was perfectly safe and as it happened, NOTHING on our trip caused us to think otherwise. It was only afterwards when we got back to Australia and our group of friends with connections to the Philippines widened that we received all the dire warnings about the Philippines. Don’t go here! Don’t go there! Don’t do this! Don’t do that! With all these warnings, I was left wondering how we survived to tell the tale without being stabbed, shot, mugged and kidnapped and all at the same time!



We arrived in Manila early evening. The big moment for Ian and Anita and—————————————————- NOTHING.



Instant unattraction is my impression of the meeting. We had arranged to spend two weeks together with Anita and we were off to a bad start.


Our first opportunity to be ripped off came shortly after arriving in the Philippines.



We arrived from the airport at the home of Anita and Imelda’s aunt in a multicab which was hired for us in advance. The agreed price was P1,000 but we were told it cost an extra P500 because they waited so long for us. There were three of us paying the bill so we just shared the cost and for me the request didn’t seem unusual as a similar trip would have cost the same in Australia. No one spoke up and said it was too much except for Joe who seemed a bit perplexed but handed over his share anyway.


A couple of days later we hired a similar multicab van for the whole day and it only cost P500. We knew then we were taken for a ride on our first night.



The property of Imelda’s aunt was very big. There was a garage workshop with a 5 bedroom house on top and an apartment block with 10 apartments at the rear. You could go from the house to the top of the apartments and look out over the Sta Ana race track. The bathroom in the house was divided in half to form a sixth bedroom and an area under the stairs was converted into a sleeping area.


Ian and I shared one bedroom which just happened to be along side where they hung the laundry. So, our view out the window for our first week in the Philippines was of drying clothes.



We had all bought airbeds with us because we knew we would be sleeping on the floor in several places. Joe had bought a new queen size airbed just for the trip and the salesman had told him to blow it up with a vacuum cleaner. We never saw a vacuum cleaner the whole trip so we had to blow up this huge airbed by mouth everytime we arrived at a new destination.


My first pen pal offers didn’t take long to start rolling in. Staying in the house were at least 10 girls aged between 16 and 26. There were also several Aunts. One Aunt came to me not long after we arrived and said: “My neice wants you to be her pen pal”. I said: “which one”. She Said: “ALL OF THEM”



When it was obvious that I wasn’t immediately going to an accept an offer from one of the girls, an uncle who was also staying in the house came to me and said he had a cousin and would I like to meet her. To be polite, I said yes. He also said he knew some girls who worked in a club and would we like to meet them too. We being Ian and Myself. Coming from Australia, to me a club was a Golf Club, RSL Club (Returned Serviceman’s League) or Bowling Club where you went to drink and play the poker machines (slot machines) at night and play golf or bowls in the day time. The girls who work in those places just serve drinks and food, so of course, we said yes.



The uncle took us to a factory where about 100 girls were making clothes. The girls from the club were introduced to us and we were told it was P1,000 each for the day. FOR WHAT, is what I wanted to know and then we were told!. Ian was supposed to be spending time with Anita so I was perplexed as to why her uncle would be introducing us to prostitutes. In any case we refused. Shortly after, we were introduced to “the cousin” at which time I had my own instant unattraction episode.



The uncle seeing that nothing was going to happen decided to try something else. He took me to a door where I could see the girls making the clothes and said; “TAKE YOUR PICK“.

It was only about day three in the Philippines and I had now theoretically had in excess of 100 offers to be a pen pal.



We spent a week in Manila doing all the touristy things and being amazed by, to our eyes, unusual sights such as tricycles, pedicabs, jeepneys, watching the cockfights wet markets, men and women peeing in the street, people washing themselves naked in the street when it was raining heavy and SM Mega Mall which claimed to be the second biggest mall in the world at the time.



Then we moved on to Cebu City.



Manila had been inexpensive by Australian standards but Cebu City proved to be more so. A group of us went to a disco one night. The ladies were free and the men had to pay P80 each (about usd $3 at the time) to get in. When we got inside the disco, they plonked a 20 litre container of beer on the table, for free.


While in Cebu City, we dined at what was a fancy restaurant at the time, The Lighthouse on Mango Avenue. The sort of place where the sea food is so fresh, it is still swimming around in a tank when you walk in. It was only about P1,800 (about usd $64 at the time) for 10 of us including drinks.


Every Sunday was roast pig day while we were in the Philippines so on a Sunday while we were in Cebu City, off we went to Rock Beach on Mactan Island to have our roast pig and a picnic. This was my introduction to Filipina swimwear in the Philippines. I was used to skimpy swimwear in Australia and other places I had visited or complete nakedness in Germany but at Rock beach, the girls went in fully clothed. The same clothes they were wearing to go to the beach were the clothes many went swimming in, jeans and all.


Cebu City was pleasant but Imelda and Anita decided they wanted to visit their mother in Palompon Leyte. A five hour boat ride away. The ship we sailed in to Palompon was Our lady of Mount Carmel. It was my first ship I travelled on in the Philippines. It sank last year. A minor sad moment for me. 

We decided to travel second class because it was very open and our large group could stay together. This is how it is when foreigners are paying, you get a few hangers on. Our group of 5 that had arrived at the airport in Manila was now more than 10. Second class was air-conditioned and they gave us a blanket, sheet and pillow for our bunk. I would have preferred a seat to sit on but the only place to sit was on my bunk. I looked outside at 3rd class. They had bunks undercover but out in the open. I wasn’t aware at the time but if it rains, there is canvas they roll down to keep the rain off the passengers.

So, to Palompon. Apparently the government had previously paid for all the roads in the area to be cemented but the mayor had kept the money for himself and sent back a report saying the job was done. So when we arrived, nearly every street was dirt. Nearly 20 years later, the job of cementing all the roads is still not complete.


As we were in a new place, the queensize airbed had to blown up again. Joe and Ian didn’t seem to have the same lung power that I had (or at least they were doing a good job of hiding it) so the job of blowing up the airbed fell to me, again!


There was just Anita and myself in the room as I blew up the airbed. I finished blowing up the air bed and lay down on it to test if it needed more air. Then, Anita lay down on the airbed beside me……….. and I went into shock!! Anita was supposed to be with Ian so I didn’t take the matter any further and I never said anything to Ian about it either. I just got up as quick as I could and went outside.


Palompon was a pleasant place to be. However, everytime we went some where, it seemed like it was a set up to meet another prospective pen pal.


Saturday in the middle of our four week stay and it was time for Anita to go back to Manila. We knew things weren’t going that well. If Ian sat down beside Anita she would stand up and walk away. If Ian picked up Anita’s bags, she would grab them back off him. So here we were on the boat ready to say farewell to Anita. Ian went over to Anita to say goodbye but Anita screamed out something that sounded really bad so Ian just walked away. We asked Imelda later on what Anita had said. Imelda told us that Anita had said, “Don’t leave me here with him”



That was the end of Anita.



Ian, Joe and myself had been eating at the Ambrosias restaurant regularly. One reason was because we had enough of Filipino food. Anther reason was because of all the pretty waitresses, some of whom were definitely advertising. There were a couple of waitresses who would lean over the table more than seemed necessary and show us their breasts and other waitresses who would sit down waiting for customers and didn’t seem capable of keeping their legs closed. Also, I was told by Imelda’s aunt that one of the waitresses was interested in me but unfortunately, I couldn’t work out who she meant.



It was the same night that we waived goodbye to Anita and after a few beers, Joe and I had this brilliant idea that we could get one of the waitresses to be a pen pal for Ian. We chose out one of the prettiest waitresses and asked her to be Ian’s pen pal. She immediately said no, which was quite correct for a provincial town like Palompon where you had to be introduced. To reinforce this point, this same waitress hung around with us for most of the rest of our time in Palompon, seemingly waiting to be asked again.



After a while, Imelda’s uncle Dodong came into Ambrosias. We told him our plan and what had happened with the first waitress. Dodong told us that he knew all the waitresses and he would introduce one to Ian. The girl he chose was Margie. Dodong said “Margie this is Ian, Ian this is Margie, Ian is looking for pen pal are you interested?”….. and she was!



Next day being Sunday, it was roast pig day so we invited Margie to come to the beach.



Later when we were back home, Imelda’s aunt told me that Margie was the waitress who was interested in me. Too late for me and Margie!



Our roast pig was to be eaten on San Juan beach. One of Imelda’s aunts had invited us to visit her at her daughter and son in law’s home on San Juan Beach so we made it into a party with about 40 relatives and one roast pig.


While we were at the beach, Margie and Ian spent time together. In complete contrast to two weeks with Anita, Margie and Ian were walking along the beach hand in hand, swinging on the swing together, joking around together and generally having a good time. We thought things were going so well, we would go and meet Margie’s parents.



We went back to the parents home in the township of Palompon. Apparently they had two houses and this was the in town home because it was too expensive to travel in and out of town for school and work from their other good hollow block home which was out of town 9km away.


The intown home was in the squatter area and was a nipa hut. At high tide there was water under the house and in a really high tide, the water came up through the floor.



We were the centre of attention when we arrived at the home. Children from the local area flooded into the house to gawk at us. Years later, my girlfriend, Sarah, told me that she remembered me coming to the house when she was 10 years old


The only person who could speak good english was Margie’s sister, Nide. She was introduced to me as Ate Nide, meaning older sister but I heard Auntie Nide and for some reason Nide appeared to me to be about 35 years old. As I was 32 at the time, Nide was immediately of no interest to me. I asked for permission to film the home at this first meeting. The video is here





So, for Ian and Margie this was the start of their long term relationship.



Everytime Ian and Margie came by, Margie would say, “Nide sends her regards!” After several days of this, I thought I would invite Nide out for dinner, just to be polite. I was still thinking that Nide was older than me but I soon found out that she was only 20 years old and to my eyes quite beautiful. Much more beautiful than she seemed at our first meeting.

Instead of touring around the Philippines as planned, we spent a happy two weeks in Palompon Leyte.



In the end, Ian proposed to Margie and I proposed to Nide.



Our weddings were 3 weeks apart in Palompon in the middle of 1995. BUT, not before we had been grilled by Margie and Nide’s parents and by grilled I mean dragged over the coals type grilling from Nide’s father, grandfathers and uncles. It was very intense at the time but we are very best friends now.



In 2002, another of Nide’s sisters was married to another Australian so for a while there were 3 Australians married to 3 sisters.


Nide and I were divorced in 2004.

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