The general, sometimes untrue and hurtful stereotype most Americans hold about the Philippines is that every Filipino is living, breathing, dreaming and also plotting and scheming to somehow get to the USA. This, especially, is the comments and feelings you’ll here expressed all the time regarding USA/Philippine relationships. “She’s only after a Green Card” and many other racist, derogatory and insulting terms are bandied about as if they were the truth.
Actually, the idea that “All Filipinas” are out for a Green Card is demonstrably quite untrue.
My own dear wife, for example, wouldn’t even agree to come to the USA with me until after the passage of Republic Act (RA) 9225, the “Dual Citizen Act”, so that she could reclaim her birth-right Philippine Citizenship.
A frequent reader and very valuable commenter here, Attorney Claudette went through a deep and serious decision process back a couple years ago, wondering if she should stay at her responsible and important post here in the Philippines or move to the USA with her American husband. Claudette was kind enough to let me post about the issues on her mind in the two articles below. I recommend you read them, especially if this decision is also on your mind. And especially if you are of the “All THEY want is a Green Card mindset:
Recently, on my colleague Randy’s Journey to Samal blog, a woman from the Philippines commented on her thoughts regarding a similar decision. She’s employed here in the Philippines, is planning to marry a man from the USA, and, in her words, the couple has already decided that it would be advantageous to them both if he comes to the Philippines and they live here together, giving up any thoughts of her going to the US.
I answered a couple of her direct questions and wished them well in their decision,
But me, being me, I also added a suggestion that they think not only short-term, but long term on this issue. Here’s a snippet of her comment along with a few thoughts I have for all of you out there who might be facing this decision now or in the future:
… This is an interesting thread, i am currently seriously involved with an American who lives in Arkansas. unlike other relationships between Americans and Filipinas. we are situated differently.
I earn more than he does and we have both agreed that moving to PI is a better option for him than me moving to the US. my question is where can we get information on how he can continue paying his social security contributions? he is 54 and does not want to lose that benefit. second, where can we go for tax payments. i don’t plan on applying to become a US citizen and he just needs a permanent resident visa to live here but not change citizenships. financially, this is the better option for both of us. Thanks for the help….
One reason I chose to bring this discussion here to my blog is that I tend to ‘talk straight’ and my manner is often shocking to my Filipino brethren. It is very much the culture here to never approach a subject directly, and especially if there is any possible controversy in what you are about to say, to “beat around the bush” for paragraph after paragraph, always avoiding the issue so as to avoid any possible offence taken over your opinion.
Well, not from me. With me, you get my opinion and if you don’t care for it, just move on to someone else more mired in “delicadeza”, because I’m an old man and I’m too impatient to sugar coat everything. (besides, too much sugar is bad for your diabetes, *sigh*)
A couple straight from the shoulder comments on this lady’s situation:
1. If you are a man living in the US and your Filipina intended makes more money than you, chances are you are on unemployment. Yes, even US unemployment benefits pay way more than even many professional and executive level jobs in the Philippines. If the two of you are sure, I mean really sure, that you want to set off on a course that will limit both of you the rest of your life, fine, but marriages typically lead to children. Are you thinking of their future too? Also what about Medicare and Social security benefits, bot for old age pension and/or disability benefits? is your crystal ball so un-cloudy that you know you won’t need these “safety nets” that every American citizen comes equipped with?
A corollary of this is what I hear from the vast majority of Americans who write me here about finding a job in the Philippines. The unemployment situation in the USA is bad right now. But it’s as much as four times worse here in the Philippines than in the USA. Talk about “out of the frying pan and into the fire”.
Recently a reader here who had been searching for a job in the US wrote and told me how he finally found one … not all that good of a job, by his own estimation … clerking in a grocery store for $10 USD per hour.
Well let me tell you how “not so good” that job would be here. $10 USD per hour is about $20,000 USD per year. That’s about P70,000 Philippine Pesos a month, about 10 times what a grocery store clerk might hope to make here in the Philippines, should s/.he be lucky enough to find such a job. You really need to put things into perspective, in my view.
2. One of the things the lady quoted above mentions is that her husband-to-be is very worried (understandably) about keeping his US Social security ‘alive’. Well, aside from being a bit unclear on the concept of Social Security, this couple is not looking at the “big picture. At age 54, this fellow ought to be in his prime earning years.
He has to live at least to age 66 or 67 to collect whatever his maximum Social Security benefit might be. That maximum benefit is directly tied to his year by year earnings. If he stops working/paying into Social Security at age 54, how bad do you think this is going to hurt his final benefits come age 66, 12 years from now. I’m not a CPA, but I can give you a pretty precise figure .. a LOT.
3. When she says, “… financially, this is the better option for both of us…” I wonder if they have really looked at all aspects of their situation.
If they continue with their present course of action, where he just up and “quits” at age 54 and she takes no opportunity to at least live in the USA for 5 years as a legal resident, or even better, take sup UDS citizenship, here’s what they are giving up, just off the top of my head:
First: His maximum Social Security benefit is capped at whatever his earnings up to date will afford him.
Second: When he passes away (which statistically is what happens to us guys of the male persuasion), she will not be able to draw a penny of survivor benefits based on his Social Security. This is because a non-US citizen must have lived in the US 5 years along with the family member s/he is going to draw benefits from. Based on actuarial tables, this could amount to several hundred thousand dollars that he “earned” by contributing over the years and will otherwise just go completely to waste since there will be no eligible widow to collect it.
Third: If, as an alternative, this couple went to the US, legally and the wife worked there (she’s working already, so she must already have some skills, and working conditions in the US tend to be way, way better than in the Philippines … not to mention the much higher wages … she can then qualify for her own Social security benefits, and she won’t be limited to whatever he ahs built up in the past. She’ll also be covered by Medicare at age 65. And, with a “Blue Passport” she can come and go between the USA and the Philippines without any hassle or permissions from anyone. She can reacquire her Philippine citizenship and have the best of both worlds.
How much will all that come up to? Again, a LOT, I know plenty people in their 60’ds and 70’s who have gotten hundreds of thousands of US dollars worth of operations and medications from US Medicare.
One thing for sure, it will come up to way more than what she might lose from not paying into the pitifully small benefits she will eventually earn from the Philippine SSI.
So my bottom line is. do what you want folks. each couple must do what they feel is right for them. But do not justify your decision based on financial flim-flammery.
There is no possible way that a couple in this situation will be “better off financially’ by throwing away options as they say they intend to. Other people read stories like this and tend to accept the statements about “deserting and hiding out in the Philippines” being financially more advantageous.
While the financial facts of the matter are, that it not financially advantageous, it’s very close to financial suicide. Or so this old man opines.