You know there are lots of reasons that foreigners can have a hard time living here in the Philippines, so there is no reason to make it hard on yourself in the Philippines … or so this old man opines at any rate.
But it’s likely you are saying, “How stupid is that, Dave? I mean, who, in their right mind is going to make it hard on himself in the Philippines?”
Well it may sound stupid, but I’ve been working directly with thousands of people whose dream is to live in the Philippines over more than 11 years now. I’ve also been living here myself for more than 5 years now, and trust me, the number of situations I have seen where guys (and gals) make their own lives more difficult intentionally is absolutely amazing.
Sure, there is plain bad luck, there are bad people who sometimes cheat others, there are situations that are out of most people’s control (Bernie Madoff and your own IRA, for example), but overall, the people I know who have had a hard time here that they themselves got themselves straight into by their own, conscious, informed actions far outnumber the cases where there was noting they could do to avoid trouble.
Here’s a few very common “gotcha’s” you might want to think through, or re-think, BEFORE they blow up in your face rather than after. My opinions only, of course.
Make it hard on yourself in the Philippines — Wrong-Headed Thinking
This is by far the most common thing that lands foreigners into deep trouble in the Philippines. The sad part is, it is so often avoidable. Many of us were taught at our mother’s knee how to stay out of trouble like this, we have all the knowledge we need, but for some reason, many men and a surprisingly great number of Filipinas as well seem to lose all their brains as soon as that four letter word L-O_V-E (or let’s be honest, it’s often love’s close cousin L-U-S-T.
If I had a dollar for every guy who has written to me to find out details about how to get married in the Philippines, often they want to get it done in 7 days or less, to some girl they have never met … but know they are “in love” with, I could retire a second time.
Likewise, if I had P42 or P43 Pesos from every Filipino lady who writes in here to tell me their tale of woe about how they married in haste to a man they hardly knew and are now abandoned,and deeply in love with a new boyfriend and want to be free, I could retire yet again.
Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure. Ever hear that one before? It is one of the most meaningful and true to life idioms common in the English language.
Let me couple it with another fact you need to carefully consider: There Is No Divorce in the Philippines.
If s/he is really so wonderful, then s/he is worth taking enough time to make sure things are right for the long-term. And for those who have only a very limited time because they can’t affords to wait, this is even more critical. You can not get married and live as a couple without spending money. If you have significant debt and no savings, for example, I say you have no business getting married. Fix your own life before you expect another person to automatically make things better for you.
Harsh words? Well, perhaps, but you need to hear them anyway.
Make it hard on yourself in the Philippines — Infidelity, Concubinage, Adultery and Bigamy
This is likely the number one set of issues foreigners find themselves entangled with .. and unlike the common worries about pickpockets, kidnappers, traffic accident and such, problems in this area are almost never “accidental”.
People make conscious decisions to ignore the law and do things “their way” … and sometimes those decisions have serious consequences.
Let’s start with some definitions, as they are written under Philippines law.
(and I shouldn’t have to say this, but it comes up all the time, you, as a foreigner are 100% subject to Philippine law while you visit or reside in the Philippines. You can’t avoid a legal issue saying “It’s not that way back home”. You are NOT back home when you are here.)
Infidelity: Basically one party in a marriage having sexual relations with another partner outside the marriage. I often hear from both foreigners and Filipinos alike that their partner, or the partner of their intended ‘spouse-to-be” is adulterous and therefore, the marriage ought to be a candidate for annulment because of the offending partner’s indiscretions and failure to honor the marriage vows.
Well, the law feels differently. Under the Philippine Family Code, infidelity may be grounds for a legal separation, but not for an Annulling. And please bear in mind a Legal Separation, in the Philippines, does NOT free either party to legally marry.
So if you feel you or your intended are justified in ignoring his or her current marriage (even if s/he is legally separated), fine, go rightahead. But remember you are leaving yourself well within the reach of the law, and potentially making things very hard on yourself in the Philippines.
Concubinage: What is concubinage? Concubinage is committed by any husband who shall keep a mistress in the marital dwelling, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place (Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code or RPC).
Adultery: What is adultery? Adultery means sexual relations between a married woman and a man who is not her husband, the “other man” knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void (RPC, Article 333). Each single act of sexual intercourse constitutes a crime of adultery.
So, in the Philippines, that quick visit and a few “romps n the hay”, I mean, you know, just to see if we are compatible” sort of thing is more than a possible sin or crisis of conscience .. or “nobody’s business” as many foreigners will often say to me.
It’s a criminal act under the law of the Philippines if it can be shown that you, the “other man’ had previous knowledge of her marriage.
This applies regardless of legal separation, the fact that the adulterer as knowledge that her spouse is also unfaithful (tit for tat so to speak) or any other circumstance except that the existing spouse gives permission.
Bigamy: What is bigamy? Bigamy is basically the act of marrying again while the first marriage is still subsisting. It is defined under Article 349 of the RPC as the contracting of a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceeding.
Should be simple enough, but again and again I get questions from people trying to figure out ways “around: the simple fact that one of them is still legally married. Examine the grounds for a case of bigamy listed here:
1. The offender has been legally married.
2. The marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code.
3. He/she contracts a second or subsequent marriage.
4. The second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.
When I read this I wonder myself why so many people have such difficulty in figuring it out? Looks pretty cut and dried to me, how come so many people have such difficulty in understanding the words?
It’s as if many of you out there are making a hobby out of making things hard on yourself.
Make it hard on yourself in the Philippines — Real World Example
You should also read this writeup I did a year or so back.
I saw this very case featured a week ago on National Geographic Channel’s series “Locked Up Abroad“. Although the show is fair-minded and didn’t say anything inaccurate or derogatory to the Philippines in general, I felt it missed the mark because it continually gave te impression that Mr. Scott, the foreigner central to the story, was constantly being surprised by the weird and strage events that were happening to him, that were all a big surprise and could only have happened here in the Philippines.
Well my personal opinion is, Mr. Scott was arrogant, ignorant, and very lucky to have escaped prosecution and jail time in the Philippines.
He knew that his partner was married, he knew full-well that her husband was alive and then, with knowledge aforethought, took up residence with the wife of the man who knew to be the legal husband and even fathered a baby with this other man’s wife.
And then it seemed to be a total surprise when their world came crashing down around them. It was certainly no surprise to me. My wife was angry at me because I kept making comments to the actor playing Mr. Scott as the story progressed … “No, don’t do it, dummy, use your upper, (thinking) head”. and so on.
In point of fact, Mr. Scott is extremely lucky to have escaped a prison sentence in the Philippines. It was only a careless administrative error on the part of the police (arresting him under a warrant made out in the wrong name). That alone allowed him to go back to the UK un-convicted.
It was only by blind luck which allowed Mr. Scott to bring his baby daughter along with him too … you might want to consider this little aspect of the law if you are convinced it’s a good idea to “make a baby” with the wife of another man.
The child legally be HIS child, not yours. No,you can’t do a Jerry Springer “I am the father’ sort of DNA defense either.
A child born within a marriage is the child of the husband in that marriage, regardless who the child’s actual biological father might be.
Mr. Scott made things very, very hard on himself in the Philippines … the Philippines certainly did not go out of its way to make things hard on him.
So, can you think of ways you might make it hard on yourself in the Philippines.