'Good wife' internet image hooks Japanese to Pinays

By Ruben Jeffrey G. Asuncion, OFW Journalism Consortium

Posted at Jul 21 2011 03:18 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2011 11:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino women’s image over the Internet as “good wives” may have prompted many Japanese to marry Philippines’ female denizens and may be the reason for the further spike in interracial marriages amid restrictive visa rules in Japan.

“There are no concrete [pieces of] evidence pointing to why there are more Filipinas marrying foreigners than Filipino males. However, we believe at CFO that the way Filipinas are portrayed as ‘good wives’ over the internet also encourage foreigners to look for Filipinas as brides,” Regina Galias of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas told the OFW Journalism Consortium in an email.

This may also explain the counter-cyclical trend of Filipino-Japanese marriages as government data shows a dip in foreign marriages involving Philippine citizens: about 0.8-percent less from the 8,365 official records in 2006.

Figures from the document titled Foreign Marriages of Filipinos: 2007 and released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) also support earlier data in 2004 on the predominance of interracial marriage in foreign matrimonies.

The NSO said that interracial marriages, which are contracted between a Filipino and a foreigner, make up most of the foreign marriages involving Filipinos abroad.

Defined as matrimonies “solemnized abroad,” foreign marriages have declined for the two years appraised by the NSO.

The NSO document, nonetheless, showed that about four out of every 10 interracial marriages were between Filipino women and Japanese grooms.

This meant that 2,916 of the total 5,689 interracial marriages recorded in 2007 were contracted between Filipina brides and Japanese men.

While very small figures were recorded for Filipino grooms married to female foreigners-with 152 marriages recorded for 2007, the NSO reported that more than half of these marriages were contracted with Japanese brides.

A similar trend was also observed in 2004, when the NSO revealed that 2,433 marriages had involved Filipinas and Japanese grooms.

They represent 38.1 percent of the 4,652 interracial marriages recorded for that year, the 35th anniversary of the Internet.

Webbed links

Born in 1969 at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of California, Los Angeles, the Internet ushered a new form of communication that changed human interaction, among others.

Set in the context of mail-order brides, an inherent feature of the migration phenomenon, the Internet has become “the most common means of matching people for marriage and companionship,” Federico V. Magdalena of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa said in his seminal paper.

“There is reason to believe that the Internet has been conveniently used as a medium to pander Filipino ladies to foreign men. On the Internet, these Filipinas are “exoticized” and “commodified” beyond wildest imagination, making them among the most popular mail-order brides in the world today who line up by the thousands,” Magdalena said in a roundtable discussion on “Issues in the Filipino Diaspora,” in Cebu City in 2005.

Magdalena, who was also a lecturer at the Institute for Peace at the time of his paper presentation, added that there’s also a twist since “most of these ladies are willing participants in the globalized exchange of warm bodies that have now become a popular source of the Filipino diaspora.”

CFO’s Galias also thinks along the line, saying that Filipinos marry foreign partners also because of the latter’s attractive physical attributes.

The ability of the foreign partner to provide for the needs of their future families is also a factor in the matrimony, she added.

“The Filipinos were referred to these partners by their friends and family. Maybe the Filipinos simply love their partners.”

According to Galias, who is CFO’s division chief for Migrant Integration and Education, the commission made these observations based from the counseling sessions it had with the spouses of the foreigners.

While admitting that there are no specific details explaining why more Filipinas marry foreigners than Filipinos, Galias hypothesized that online communication and Internet advertisements may help account for this situation.

Numbers game

The NSO also found out that couples who are involved in foreign marriages usually prefer to marry in June, a trend which was observed both in 2004 and 2007.

The census office also noted that 2004 and 2007 data consistently show that most of the grooms and brides were single when they got married through foreign marriages. However, the number of single groom and brides engaged in foreign marriages decline beyond the age of 30, the office added.

In addition, the median age for both bride and groom foreign marriage remain older than those in local matrimonies.

In 2007, the median age for grooms was 36.4 years old while those of brides was 29.8 years old. In terms of modal groups, the NSO said that foreign marriages usually occur between the ages of 25-29 for Filipina brides and for foreign grooms.

In contrast, the modal group for local marriages was at 25-29 for grooms in local and foreign marriages even as the modal group for brides in local marriages stands at 20-24 years old, the office added.

In 2004, the NSO recorded that the median age of brides in foreign marriages was 31 years old while 37 years old was the median age for grooms who are engaged in foreign marriages. In terms of modal age groups, the NSO noted that in 2004, three out of every ten brides tend to marry during the 25-29 age bracket, while 20% of grooms tend to marry during the 30-34 age bracket.

While these figures were true for 2005-2008, these were not necessarily true for all countries.

For instance, in South Korea, the average ages of Filipinas marrying Korean men were between 22 and 25, Galias said.

According to the NSO, the data gathered for foreign and interracial marriages were recorded between January 2007 and March 2008 based from marriages registered in Philippine Foreign Services Establishments-such as embassies and consulates.

Fall-out fails

To note, the document was released by the NSO on March 11, the same day an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan.

News reports cited Japanese spouses of Filipino women decided to stay in their country despite the threat of a nuclear fall-out as the earthquake triggered weak safeguards of nuclear plants in Fukushima.

The NSO data showed that Japan remained the leading place where foreign marriages occur.

Four out of seven matrimonies were held there in 2007. Smaller figures and percentages were recorded for the United States, United Arab Emirates, Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) and Italy.

Government estimates that in 2007, Japan hosted around 38,000 temporary migrants, more than 133,000 permanent migrants and 30,0000 undocumented migrant Filipinos.

CFO data showed that the 108,245 Filipino spouses either engaged or married to Japanese nationals are almost 30 percent of the total for the category “Number of Filipino Spouses and Other Partners of Foreign Nationals by Major Country.” For this category, the number of Filipinos who are either spouses or couples of Americans, registered from 1989 until 2009, account for four-tenths of the total.

But the document also showed that, apart from Japanese and Americans, Filipinos also tend to become spouses or partners of Australians, Canadians and Germans.

Galias added that the number of Filipina-Japanese marriages increased since 2005 after the Japanese government became more strict in the issuance of entertainer visas.

Filipino women, many of whom were overseas performing artists, decided to wed their Japanese partners once the visa limitations were in place, Galias added.

In addition, Galias explained that the decrease in foreign marriages in 2007 “can be attributed” to visa retrogression, although there is no specific factor which clearly account for such decline.

In 2007, interracial marriages made up almost seven out of ten (68.5 percent) of the 8,300 foreign marriages contracted by Filipinos. With reports from Isagani de la Paz