Filipina in America · Marriage

The Gifts of a Multicultural Marriage

“This is not a true problem, since individuals marry, not races.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wrinkled Jeans

“Look for the guy in wrinkled jeans.” That’s how my husband, Dave described himself, on our first date. (We met on an online dating site – and that’s another story)

Experiencing each other’s culture is the best gift of a multicultural marriage

I was  shocked! Who wears wrinkled jeans on a first date? Well, he knows better. It’s the Americans who invented jeans.

That notorious wrinkled jeans was the first cultural differences of many, that we experienced.

We iron everything in the Philippines! Including blue jeans. I found out– they don’t. 

Dave’s wrinkled jeans was an illustration for both of us, that our opinion — of what is good and what looks good –are influenced by cultural standards.

Be open to different attitudes. Having been raised in different cultures, Dave and I  learned this from ordinary,  day to day things.

In most Asian homes, shoes are left at the entrance as sign of respect

He learned to take off his shoes and wear slippers at home. I explained that this is sign of respect and more hygienic.

Dave freaks out if I don’t refrigerate eggs.  I found out, Americans are deathly scared of salmonella. I use to shrug my shoulders — I come from hot and humid tropics. I know enough about food spoilage. But I now do as told, as a sign of respect to him.

What is good and looks good is defined by culture. He learned, that I am not the wrinkled jeans type of girl. Every day, I  check his clothes — to make sure they’re not wrinkled.  I tell him — you are a reflection of me.

Instead of being apologetic , embarrassed,  or offended when other cultures do not understand us, we should help them appreciate us.   

Enjoy food adventures. Dave discovered the wonders of 3-in-1 coffee (Kopiko Capuccino ) and I’ve learned to and crave for celery with peanut butter.

Dave’s favorite coffee

 Some differences had to be experienced. Like  “Tawad” (haggling). Dave almost died when he saw me haggle.

How do you explain a balikbayan box and pasalubong to an American? The first time I sent a balikbayan box-  he was lost. Dave and his friend watched me unload (several trips)  from my car, bags of cookies, chocolates, huge bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, etc.  They had questions and comments like, “Don’t you have shampoo in the Philippines?” or “I get toothache just looking at those sweets”

The seasonal chocolates I send home to the Philippines

Pasalubong, balikbayan boxes, and tawad–these realities have become part of Dave’s story.  When we go to flea markets, he would discreetly point to me things he likes—then quickly walk away.  He lets me haggle.

Dave collects itak (knives) – Silang Cavite market

When we work abroad or marry another culture, unknowingly, we become ambassadors of our country.

El Rio Y Mar in Coron, Philippines

In a multi cultural marriage, like mine, when we can celebrate our differences — experiencing each other’s culture is a beautiful gift .

One Memorial Day Weekend, we went  to Michigan to visit  family.  My stepdaughter,  Ivy had a request –“ Mom, can you cook me some Filipino food (adobo). I also like the breakfast bowls you make, with fried rice, bacon and eggs “

When a Midwestern girl tells you,  she craves for adobo and wants to eat her bacon with fried rice, you know,  How the West Was Won.

Dave with our daughter Ivy

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