Up and down the road to romance

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Sunday, February 9, 2014


DISPLACEMENT is nothing distant. For some women from the so-called Third World, it has been commonplace to become intimate with alienation as if it were second skin.

Transported as partners for foreigners, particularly Americans, the modern-day local versions of Dorothy have weathered countless typhoons long enough to be intrepid, if not enterprising, in riding the international tornado called the mail-order bride industry. If opportunity in their home country could be a bitch, some pastures elsewhere would hopefully be greener than the wicked witch.

Wizardry straight from Oz, shady does it. Thus smoke-and-mirror machinations go well with fantasy and its tango with the tawdry reality of need. Even the chance of a romance and lifetime commitment, especially if it’s a long-distance affair, can be fraught with suspicions. A whodunit mystery may arise, blurring the boundaries of victim and prey in the global scale and scheme of economic inequality.

Unfair, cried the Chinese operator of a Cebu City-based Filipino Heart Internet Consultant (FHIC) and its website (www.idateasia.com) accused as a purveyor of porn.

Set to sue the police who sniffed not only smut but also a scam for human trafficking, she has been supported by her Cebuano caretaker and a dozen of her employees or “models.” No hocus-pocus with us, they countered the cops’ doubts.

Their online connections with foreigners were simply means “to be successful for marriage and not sex with fee,” swore one of the women in her affidavit. Never mind a former employee who snitched how “they dupe foreigners by pretending to be pretty women.”

Nymphs don’t dwell in myths alone. So get real and reckon the danger of marriage frauds, warned the Center for Immigration Studies on behalf of American men who, wary about American wives who wear feminism on their sleeves, could fall for the Asian stereotype of seductive docility. Beware of “heartbreakers” eyeing only for green cards. To the CIS, exotic women may deem it convenient to divorce their American spouses later so they can “remarry the ex-husband and petition to bring him to the US.” There’s more, sighed the CIS, than meets the eye.

Wink away the obvious appearance of despair when it does not blink demure at its hard sell. Part of the Filipino exports whose flow of remittances back to their families have filled the nation’s treasury into floating, mail-order brides of Americans and other foreigners have been romanticized as well by the government as “modern-day heroines.” And so their value is not farfetched as the virtue of a Filipina flaunted by a prominent American matchmaking agency called Cherry Blossoms that has been marketing itself as the “leading Asian dating website.” In its 1995 catalog, she wrote, “I’m kind, honest, and humble to everybody and most of all loving and caring… single and still negotiable.”

Sell itself sparkling, thus Cherry Blossoms swears it’s “NOT a Mail Order Bride service” as it preens its goal “to provide a safe platform for singles to place their personal ads and meet for fun, friendship and online romance.” Never mind the reported “cases of abuse and murder involving couples who met via Cherry Blossoms.” Meanwhile, what the CBS Morning News once revealed about the lucrative matchmaking industries in the US has remained unchallenged: “It is an industry that has little regulation and no rules—big profits, but no protection for women who marry their way into America.” Then again, despite the real risks of unfortunate ending or dislocation as disorienting as the bewitchment down the yellow brick road, the dream-bound horde goes on.

(geemyko@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2014.

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