When Mark Vincent Yap Nodado posted a tribute note to his wife Mhei Thursday last week, he had no idea it will go viral and the Internet will soon be weighing in on what kind of husband is.
The Filipino engineer intended only to express his appreciation in a grand way by making his Facebook post public. He meant to tell the world how grateful he is for the love and support of his other half. He might have expected a few likes in return, maybe some heart emojis—from Mhei, family, friends—and there were indeed many who found Mark’s gesture admirable and sweet.
What he probably didn’t expect was the post will also reach strangers who will have a totally different reading of his note.
In the now deleted Facebook post dated April 14, Mark recalled his response to Mhei when she told him: “10 years na pala akong graduate, parang wala akong personal achievements.”
Mark’s response, according to the note was: “Wag mo sabihin yan. Yung achievement ko, achievement mo. Kasi hindi ko naman magagawa ng wala ka ehh.”
He proceeded to enumerate all the things about his wife he’s grateful for: how she always took good care of their three kids that he’s able to freely do site visits; how she’s always quick on correcting his typos on his Facebook posts that he never had to worry too much about posting his status updates. How he didn’t have to bother about the little things—“pag-iwan ng tuwalya kung saan, hindi pag flush hahaha, paghagis ng damit”—because he knows his wife will be there to mind them.
He went on to name more of Mhei’s acts of love: making sure he has coffee for his long drives so he stays awake, or turmeric tea for when he needs to deliver a talk, or his favorite ulam for when he arrives home after a long day.
It’s not true she had no achievements all these ten years. “Sa pagiging financial advisor mo, sa mga plantitas mo, sa pagiging taga review ko ng documents. Dami mo ng na achieve,” Mark wrote. He owes it to his wife that their children are “mababait, matatalino and loving,” he added. “And dahil nandiyan ka, I’m free to reach higher. That’s why every achievement I get, you are a big part of it.”
He ended the post with a wind-beneath-my-wings flourish: “You are the scaffolding to my structure, in the end, people won’t see what you’ve done, but this structure won’t go higher without you. I love you.”
In the comments, his wife Mhei replied with a “Thank you. Love you”—with heart emojis to boot.
The tribute caught the attention of Manila Bulletin online, which requested to interview the couple for a feature.
“Positive naman ang tone ng article,” Mark recalls to ANCX. But after a few hours, his original post garnered more shares than expected, and total strangers were leaving nasty comments. “Mas madami ang positive [reactions], pero mas maingay ang negative, mga namba-bash.”
To many, Mark’s words easily sounded like he’s interested only in his own achievements, and that his way to appease and uplift his wife—who was feeling down about her own success—was to enumerate all that she had done so he could “reach higher.”
“So basically, dapat fulfilled ang babae pag inuuna niya kung ano’ng kailangan mo. Ang lupit mo ‘no,” a comment on Facebook went.
“Akala ko sa marriage, dalawa dapat ang may growth at mag reach higher, ‘di lang isa?” said another commenter.
The comment thread under the Manila Bulletin article were peppered with more vile reactions.
“Kadiring mindset. Naghanap ka nalang sana katulong.”
“Naawa ako sa misis.. ginawang julalay.. at kadiri sa di pag flush ng toilet ah..”
“This is cringey af. Di man lang tinanong kung ano ang gusto ng asawa nya.”
The words “misogyny,” “sexism,” “mansplaining,” “patriarchal,” and “toxic” were dropped like bombs.
Mhei, who found her husband’s note sweet and touching, was likewise shocked with the reaction online. “Those who don’t really know us personally were the ones who had negative opinions about us,” she tells ANCX.
Some sent her personal messages. Some were pointing out Bible verses that say wives should really be the support system of their husbands. “May isang mom na nag-PM sa akin saying, ‘You know naiintindihan kita, ang mga choices mo. Hindi naman misogynistic ang post ng husband mo kasi wala namang lumitaw na hatred on women,’” Mhei recalls.
There were those throwing the words “katulong,” “tsimay,” “janitor” at her as if these were insults—simply because she makes coffee for her husband and would pick up after him. “I do those things, pero never kong na-feel na katulong ako,” she offers. They were claiming to be well-meaning people who are pro-women empowerment, says Mhei of the commenters, and yet they were maligning her.
“There was one writer na nag-comment na kaya daw naaabuso ang mga babae even in China, na tipong pagkapanganak pa lang pinapatay na, kasi hinahayaan nating mga babae ang abuse. Ay, ba’t kasalanan ko [na ang nangyayari sa China]?” Mhei says.
The same writer tagged her every time somebody would share Mark’s post. “Pinatulan ko na siya kasi nasaktan na ako, hindi para sa akin kundi para sa asawa ko,” she says. “I blocked her.”
The truth according to Mark
Mark tells ANCX it wasn’t the first time he had written an appreciation post for Mhei —and all those other posts were public. He likes “flexing” his wife, he says. “Yun lang talaga siguro ang love language naming mag-asawa, or showy lang talaga ako.”
So when the appreciation post earned negative reactions, he was horrorstruck. Some remarks were really foul: “tarantado,” “gago,” “hindi ka dapat nagkakaanak,” “dapat hiwalayan ka na ng asawa mo.”
There were netizens who went as far as leaving a comment on his Facebook page for his review center—he runs one for civil engineering students—and his posts on the popular Facebook community Homebuddies. “Hinanap talaga nila ang posts ko, at nag-comment din doon. Nag effort talaga!” says Mark.
The comments said Mark was invalidating his wife’s feelings. “Na-appreciate nga ng asawa ko e. Hindi ba sila ang nagi-invalidate ng feelings ng asawa ko, kasi hindi nila itineyk into consideration ang reaction niya?” Mark says.
Because of the negative reactions, and the attacks on his wife, Mark was moved to explain the context behind the post with a folllowup status update (now also deleted). He said Mhei’s sentiment—“10 years na pala akong graduate, parang wala akong personal achievements”—was prompted by a Facebook memory: her college graduation photo which popped up that morning. Their exchange led to reflections on the effects of the pandemic and how it had derailed her career plans. They had a longer conversation but he only posted the parts that would make Mhei happy.
In the same note, Mark reiterated that his wife has her share of personal accomplishments. “She is a financial advisor. She was meant to be a Unit Manager before the pandemic hit. That time I supported her. I drove her to Makati. Take days off to take care of the kids when she has meetings and supported her every way I can. But then pandemic hit, so it was put on hold. But she is a successful advisor,” he wrote. She runs a business too so the last decade has not been spent being a housewife alone.
He sounded incredulous reacting to the accusation that he’s a misogynist. How can that happen, he said, when there was a time her income was bigger than his monthly profit? “And I was not insecure. That was the time na mababa yung sales, and she covered for us,” Mark wrote.
He also brought up the “simple tasks”—likely the business with the towel, the toilet flush and throwing clothes around—which got the ire of many. He said people should not have taken that aside seriously. Clearly, there are parts of the note whose contexts are known only to the husband and wife.
Mark wished people weren’t too quick to judge, especially because they don’t really know the Nodados. “People who know us know the full story. Kaso yung mga mga hindi nakakakilala sa amin mas mahaba pa comment kesa sa post ko,” wrote Mark. He said his original post remains a message of appreciation for his wife, and the intended recipient was very pleased with it, thank you very much. “She cried. Smiled. And said ‘kinilig’ siya about it,” Mark wrote. “But you people think your opinion matters more than the 2 people who are really involved in this.”
‘I married a great guy’
Mhei was planning to simply let the issue die but the bashing continued so she decided to write her own post on Facebook last Thursday.
“Never will I ever exchange my life now to anything,” she said. “I married a great guy. Yes he is not perfect, but he is a great one. He is responsible, appreciative, loving, soft-hearted, generous and the best there is.”
She’s grateful she “married a great guy who is so responsible and never forces me to work full time.” Mhei said it’s her personal choice not to seek regular employment—so she could stay home and take care of their kids.
When she expressed sadness over her career, she said it was her hormones talking. She was PMS-ing and felt a little down. It happens to the best of women. She may have underestimated her achievements at that moment but she is aware of her own success as financial advisor and entrepreneur. And above all that, she said, “I am a Mom, I am a wife, and I am loved.”
A decade together
We got a clearer picture of Mark and Mhei’s partnership when they said yes to our request for an interview. Mark likes to joke around, which seems to be one of the things that endears him to Mhei.
“Tell us about the ligawan part,” we tell the couple, addressing the request to no one in particular. Mark automatically answers, “Sinagot ko siya nung…” At which point Mhei raises her hand like she’s about to hit Mark. But she’s kidding, of course.
Mark turns serious. “First and last girlfriend ko siya.”
“We met in college,” says Mhei. “Acquaintance party. He was the photographer assigned to take photos of the Face of the Night. Then yung friend niya itinuro ako. So he took my photo. Tapos mula noon crush ko na siya.” Mark is blushing looking at Mhei while she says this. “Yung friend ko, naka-text ni Mark. So sa kanya ko kinuha ang number ni Mark.”
“See… totoong siya nanligaw sa akin,” Mark says laughing. Mhei throws him a don’t-mess-with-me look.
“Joke lang,” he says. “Siya lang ang nag-approach pero ako ang nanligaw talaga. I asked her out after she texted me.”
Mhei was 17 and in first year college then. Mark was 19. They started dating in 2007 and got married in 2012.
The viral post was an eye-opener for both of them. It showed them how toxic social media can really be. Mark found it absurd that strangers were imposing their personal opinions and beliefs on them. “Even if we try to explain and correct them, they won’t listen,” says Mark. “Sana people would learn when to shut up and listen. Kasi nag-explain na kami eh, pero mali pa rin kami,” he says, shaking his head.
Mark and Mhei are on their 10th year of marriage. They’ve learned a few things along the way—like making a marriage work is not easy. That one has to consider the opinion, and the emotions of the other, the welfare of their children, the opinion of their families. They make sure to talk issues out.
“Hindi puwedeng walang masasakripisyo o mako-compromise,” says Mhei who is quick to point out that she’s not the only one who makes sacrifices. “May times na three days akong wala, [si Mark] ang nagbabantay sa mga bata. Hindi siya magwo-work para makaalis lang ako,” she offers, confirming Mark’s earlier post on Facebook. “May social life pa rin naman ako before the pandemic. Siyempre ngayon hindi talaga ako umaalis lalo na at may maliit akong anak.”
Communication is key in a relationship, and this is no less true for the Nodados. “Some say action speaks louder than words. Pero sometimes kailangan pa ding marinig,” says Mark. “You have to know your wife more and find out how she wants to be loved.”
“Ang nakaka-touch sa kanya, hindi lang ako at mga anak namin ang mahal niya. Mahal niya din family ko at family niya,” says Mhei. “Sa aming dalawa, siya talaga ang mas showy—both in words and actions. Iba talaga siya magmahal.”
“Akala ko dahil guwapo lang ako,” he says.
Mhei throws her husband a look and starts laughing.
When we ask about qualities she likes the least about Mark, Mhei struggles to name one.
“Kunwari ka pa. Madami na sa listahan yan,” Mark tells us.
“Paladesisyon ka din?” she asks, throwing shade at the netizens imposing their stands on their relationship. They laugh.
Photos courtesy of the couple