Let me start off by saying I have been happily married to a Filipina for the last 33 years. Of course, there’s no perfect relationship but I can cry out to the whole world that we’ll be with each other till death do us part!
That being said, here’s my piece of advice to Filipinos and foreigners alike. You won’t regret choosing a Filipina as your life partner. However, foreigners have to anticipate everything that comes along with choosing a Filipina as a lifetime partner.
Why It’s Worth It to Marry a Filipina
There is a multitude of reasons why Americans, Europeans, and other Asians want a Filipina for a wife. Here are some of them:
- Filipino culture values relationships and respects the sanctity of marriages. So, you can always expect your Filipina wife to fight for your relationship through thick and thin. Filipina women don’t get married just for a few years and then ask for a divorce or separation from their husbands. You can expect them to lay down everything to preserve their marriage despite the challenges and obstacles.
- The Filipina is extremely thoughtful and affectionate (malambing in Filipino). She’ll make sure to provide her man with all the care that he needs every day such as preparing his clothes and cooking the food that he loves for lunch or dinner. The attention and warmth are just some of the wonderful things you’ll get if you’re married to a Filipina.
- You will always be her HERO! Filipinas have so much respect and admiration for their husbands. This is what she’ll always be teaching the children about their father. A Filipina sees her loved one as a “knight in shining armor” ready at all times to defend his family against any form of danger.
- You’ll fall in love with the Filipina because of her captivating looks, sense of humor, and smart ideas. Even if she isn’t the brightest person in the world but her physical features are something that men will “crave”. Besides, there will hardly be a dull moment in your relationship as Filipinas are known for their wits and quick thinking. Besides, she promises to be an excellent home and money manager as well as an excellent mother to your kids.
- Most Filipinas are God-fearing and devoted to their faith. This is the basic reason why a Filipina partner has the highest regard for marriage. There is no divorce here in the Philippines but only legal separation or annulment. The culture of Filipinos puts a premium on matrimony as a permanent commitment and sacred union of two persons in love.
Requirements for Foreigners Marrying Filipinas
Now, the paperwork. Foreigners who want to marry Filipinas must be ready and comply with legal and documentary requirements imposed by the Philippine government which include the following:
- Certificate of No Impediment to Marry which can be secured from the Filipina’s residence.
- Original Copy of Birth Certificate or Certified True Copy (CTC).
- If appropriate, Original Copy of Certificates of Deceased Spouse or Absolute Divorce Decree (True Copy is also applicable).
- A character reference from church minister, social worker, education, or health officer with direct personal information or knowledge of the spouse.
All of these official documents are required for submission to the Philippine Embassy or Consulate upon arrival in the host country. The embassy or consulate will issue the so-called Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry to foreign spouses.
Local government units and churches also require seminars for pre-marriage counseling which is not expensive but calls for approval from the local health office. The seminar will last for two hours after which the facilitator presents a certificate of attendance to the couple.
Once this certificate is obtained, both parties may apply for the marriage license where the Filipina spouse resides with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar. The Registrar, as required by Philippine laws, will publish this notice of intended marriage for 10 consecutive days which stipulates that both parties may not leave the country since any person has the right to file an objection to this proposed marriage.
Marriage licenses will only be issued after this requirement has been fully complied with. Don’t forget the expenses for transportation, meals, and other incidental activities.
How Long Can You Stay in The Philippines if You’re Married to a Filipina?
If you are an American or other Westerner once you are married to a Filipina you may stay in the Philippines indefinitely if you are approved for a 13A spousal visa. This visa is issued by the Bureau of Immigration and must be renewed annually.
However, the spousal visa is not the only way to stay in The Philippines. Read more on How Long You Can Stay in The Philippines if you are married to a Filipina.
Typical Wedding Costs in the Philippines
Now, if you’ve decided to get married to a Filipina, you’ll have to get accustomed to the traditional Filipino marriage ceremony. There are two options for you. One is an economical civil ceremony or a more expensive church wedding according to Catholic and Christian practice.
A simple civil wedding normally costs between PHP5,000 and PHP10,000 depending on the location. It’s more expensive in Metro Manila and urbanized cities compared to provinces and distant municipalities or towns.
The cost is meant for legal documentation and officiating fee wherein the Mayor or Judge conducts the wedding ceremony. These figures won’t include the reception, or car rental, video/photographer fees, and clothes.
If you’re looking at a church wedding. the costs will definitely be higher depending on the location, church, number of guests, and venue for the celebration. Here is an estimate of the major costs of a church ceremony:
- Church fees will range from PHP10,000 up to PHP50,000 for cathedrals
- Wedding reception depends on the venue like the bride’s residence, catering, restaurant, or five-star hotel. This usually starts at PHP50,000 up to PHP200,000 depending on the number of guests.
- Miscellaneous expenses include wedding gown, entourage, rings, transportation, video/photography, wedding cake, host or emcee, and stipend for the priest or pastor which would approximately start at PHP100,000 up to PHP300,000 or more.
- There are instances when the groom and bride will even have to shoulder the expenses of the wedding entourage which could be very costly and add to your budget.
However, there are ways of reducing your wedding expenses such as deciding on which expenses to forego or picking an offseason. In the Philippines, peak wedding months are February, May, June, and December so you’ll spend less if you select any month other than these four.
Or, you can just opt for a simple celebration after the ceremony where the number of guests is limited. At the same time, getting married to a Filipina doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your money and go broke just to impress your wife’s family and friends.
Bear in mind that your life is just starting and building a family is more important than splurging on your wedding day. It is more important to plan and save for your future than spend a fortune on this conspicuous day.
Related: How to Bring Your Filipina to the US
Common Western/Filipino Cultural Differences
Once everything has been planned for, a foreigner should also look into the common cultural differences with a Filipina partner. What should you expect from your future spouse?
- Filipinos are polite compared to other nationalities. Their courtesy goes to the extent of using respectful words such as “opo” and “po” when addressing elders, including foreigners. The culture of kissing the hands of elderly persons even during these modern times is still widely practiced, especially in rural communities.
- Filipinos are friendly and hospitable unlike citizens of other nations whose cordiality has certain limitations. Filipinos love to smile all the time and be talkative. You’ll find many of them who are quite reserved or shy but won’t hesitate to carry on a conversation or extend any possible assistance to foreigners.
- Filipinos maintain close family bonds. They love talking about heir extended families specifically their children, where they came from, what they do for a living, the best destinations in their localities, and even the personal aspects of their lives.
- One downside is the self-styled “Filipino Time” which means being late for appointments whether these are personal or related to their business and work.
- A lot of Filipinos are not able to say no outright which confuses or even makes it quite frustrating for foreigners. Most of the time, the good-natured Filipinas or Filipinos avoid confrontation, arguments, or saying no to any invitation. The usual response would not be Yes or No but “perhaps”, “okay”, “I’ll try”, or “later”. You can’t expect a direct reply to a question or invite. On the contrary, foreigners are curt or direct to the point. There’s no beating around the bush for them. So, you have to distinguish between these traits if you really want to marry a Filipina woman.
- The “Home Tradition” (a preference to celebrate at home) is something that should not be ignored. Especially during birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, and family gatherings. Filipino families would always love to gather during these special occasions. During these occasions, you can assume everyone in the family to attend and take part in the much-awaited revelry.
Signs that your Filipina Partner is Sincere
It cannot be denied that many Filipinas would want to marry foreigners for money or financial security. This could be their only one chance in a lifetime to get out of hardship. Unfortunately, marriage for money has emerged as a norm in most Asian countries including the Philippines. How would you know then if your potential Filipina partner is honest?
- Filipinos are very attached to their next of kin and will do anything to help their families climb out of poverty. If a Filipina tells you outright that she loves you and doesn’t ask for favors, preconditions, or demands, then that woman is sincere in living with you as a dependable partner. It’s not for the dollars, euro, or a business transaction.
- The Filipina doesn’t mind if you’re old or young, handsome or not, wealthy or someone who manages to make both ends meet. If you’re someone older, she is more than willing to enter into that kind of relationship. It should be a reciprocally beneficial relationship that favors both men and women.
- The woman is willing to enter into a relationship regardless of age, cultural disparities, and monetary status. Even if you’re older and not financially blessed, your eventual wife must be willing to genuinely fall in love with you even if it takes some time.
How to Know your Filipina Lover is Not a Scammer
The bad news is there are unscrupulous Filipinas, or shall we say (scammers), who lay in wait. Usually on social media or free dating websites. It’s crucial that you know the warning signs ahead of time.
Here are some pointers on keeping your heart and hard-earned money safe from opportunists:
- Women whose stories are full of inconsistencies.
- Women who try to make a mountain out of a molehill or exaggerate their romantic interests
- A woman who is not willing to see you personally but keeps on asking for money is a hoax. Do not waste your precious time and cash on these women.
A Final Piece of Advice
Follow the “Golden Rule” which is It’s Better to be Safe than sorry. Marrying a Filipina can be one of the best blessings you’ve ever received. Nonetheless, you must be prudent and not allow your mind and heart to be fooled by a pretty face and a young body.
I have no doubt that you’re a kind-hearted soul and any woman would be lucky to have you. If you are diligent and have good intentions yourself there is no doubt you’ll find a Filipina lover to make you happy for the rest of your life!