how the world sees america

Love at First Click

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OLONGAPO, Philippines - Theirs was a match made on Zebo.com. Fifty-one-year-old Floridian Phillip Stephen Dennis was struck by 29-year-old Christina (“Tin-Tin”) Geronimo’s profile picture on this auctioning/social networking site, so in February, 2007 he typed: “Hello.”

Six months later, after hours of Yahoo! chats and staccato webcam conversations, the two proclaimed their love for one another. And just yesterday, Phil texted Tin-Tin asking for her ring size. In February, 2008, exactly one year since Phil first clicked her picture, the two plan to marry.

Virtual love affairs between American men and Filipina women are unsettlingly common here, admits Tin-Tin. Often impoverished young women seeking a Green Card to “America’s Greener Pastures” see marriage to American men as their ticket out.

But Tin-Tin insists she and Phil are different. She has a stable job, isn’t your standard super-skinny beauty, was really trying to auction clothes online when they met, and ultimately believes marriage is a holy sacrament between lovers - not something to be abused.

Over the internet, Phil and Tin-Tin discovered they had much in common. They both love mashed potatoes, steak, chocolate cake, karaoke singing, and professional wrestling.

Phil is an auto mechanic in Hollywood City, Florida who lives with his ailing mother. “Life for him was working, paying bills, sleeping, then working again,” says Tin-Tin. “But when he met me he found another life; he became young again.”

The couple developed an internet routine. There’s a twelve-hour difference between Olongapo, Philippines and Hollywood City, Florida. So during Phil’s work break from 10am to 2pm Florida time, they’d chat. And then when Tin-Tin got into work at 9am Philippines time, it was 9pm for Phil. He’d chat with her until the wee hours of his morning.

Two months ago they decided they had to meet in person. Phil took a week off from work and embarked on a forty-hour round-trip journey around the world. “We were together only five days but it was like we've been together for life,” Tin-Tin says.

They ate meals out, shopped, talked and sang. They got intimate in private and in public. “Filipino men don’t show their affection publicly,” observes Tin-Tin, “but Phil would hug me and kiss me anywhere.” She found this adorable, and became convinced Phil was the one.

But Tin-Tin initially avoided telling her mother, who “was very skeptical about it all…she says I’m crazy.” After all, horror stories abound here. There are American sex tourists who promise marriage to multiple Filipina girls, visit for two weeks, sleep with all of them one by one, and then return home single. There are American men who marry Filipinas, bring them home to the U.S., but then keep them locked up as in-house-servants or mistresses and abuse them. Most terrifying for Tin-Tin, there are American men who marry Filipinas, bring them home, buy them life insurance, and then kill them to collect big bucks, she says.

“I hear a lot in the news of Filipinos being killed by their husbands in America…being put in a trunk and made to sink.” She even brought up the issue “half-jokingly with Phil” this week. Phil protested saying, according to Tin-Tin, “‘Honey, I love you too much to kill you.’”

This answer sufficed, she says, "because we are really in love!”

After dinner, Tin-Tin brings me back to her colorful, three-room apartment, where she lives with her mother and four younger cousins who’ve been virtually abandoned by their hard-drinking, cock-fighting father. Tin-Tin has a lot of responsibility here, she says. It’s been this way for as long as she can remember.

Daddy-Phil.jpg
A picture of Phillip Dennis from his webcam.

Tin-Tin’s father was once the mayor of Olongapo City. Tin-Tin's mother was his secretary and his second wife. She was also thirty years his junior. When Tin-Tin was nine, her father died. "I’ve always been looking for a father figure,” she says.

Phil fits the bill. “He’s only twenty years older than me,” she says with a big laugh. But she still calls him “‘Daddy Phil.'" He calls her “‘Baby.’” “I can have a father and a husband!," she says, still laughing, "See? We complement each other!”

Tin-Tin daydreams of growing old with Phil, holding hands on a porch in a retirement village in Florida, strolling down the boardwalk, riding across town in his Chevy truck, and singing to him.

The latter she can do from afar. She turns on her computer, sets up her webcam, and plays one of their favorite songs by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, called “Islands in the Stream.” Gazing at the screen, she belts out the final lyrics to her far-away beau:

Islands in the stream, that is what we are. No one in between, how can we be wrong? Sail away with me, to another world. And we rely on each other, uh huh. From one lover to another, uh huh.

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Comments (37)

Charles Day:

If I may; My comment is to those who think that it takes a looser to seek love from an Asian woman. Men seek Asian women "BECAUSE" they aren't like the women of America. They still believe in the sanctity of marriage,unlike the women of America. I'm sorry but the women of America are the most spoiled, money hungry,self-pleasing,species on the planet.Why wouldn't a man with a heart want a woman from a place where the heart is the most important part of a person,not his looks,his wallet or his ability to kneel.I have lived,worked and traveled extensively all over this country (USA) since the early sixties and a good(character)woman is a rare thing.May these two be spared from the ravaging female culture of America.True Love will prevail. Sincerely, Charles Day

Sobe:

This is really interesting to see that Filipinos are taking to online dating. Shopping and mobile phones have also taken off. ( http://techtonic.org/?p=68 ) They seem very forward-looking towards technology and willing to adapt it all aspects of life.

Sobe:

This is really interesting to see that online that Filipinos are taking to online dating. Shopping and mobile phones have also taken off. ( http://techtonic.org/?p=68 ) They seem very forward-looking towards technology and willing to adapt it all aspects of life.

RhonB:

Hi Tin! I'm so happy for you! Me and my family wishes you all the best and we wish your life with Phil will forever be blessed. MwaH!!!

VICTORIA:

thank you tin-tin,
well phil, it look like you have alot of people to answer to if you are not an absolute prince to tin-tin.
the pressure is on you dude.

heres my address - vantikaci@yahoo

peace and blessings and happy holdiays too

Racquel M.:

Hi tin and Phil,

I was a bit surprised reading your story at the washington post. Well, i enjoyed reading the story even if I already heard that from Tins.

Anyway, Phil I just want you to know that Tins is a very loving, caring and one of the sweetest girl I've ever known. Take care of her. I just wish you both the best and goodluck! I hope the next time you come here in the Philippines, I can meet you "in person" ok? :)

Cheers to both of you!

Anton:

My best wishes for the couple.Although i may not be that old, I have always been Tin-tin's older brother kind of friend who has seen her from being impishly 10 years old to college to where she is today and because we come from a good masonic family and upbringing, let me share this with you; we grew up not seeing colors of any people. It really doesnt matter if one is asian, white or black..we see people as individuals who can share and feel. Need isay more.

What they have is something special and I know Tintin has been looking for this moment for quite a while now. I am glad that she has finally found it. Good luck and may they be blessed with little kids soon........

TIN-TIN:

Thank you Victoria for those kind words you are so wonderful. I'll keep in touch and thanks also for the friendship. Let me know your email address so we can keep in touch. Happy holidays and God bless you and your family.

Larry, thank you for that very nice message. Phillip and I will definitely keep that by heart. We're truly enlightened by your words of encouragement. Thank you very much.

God bless everyone and cheers for a happy holidays!

Larry:

That was so unethical of you HAHA, to give such comment. You sound like you have had your life, lovelife and your family so messed up it makes you feel rather sick to know that some relationships, unexpected as it may seem, could flourish into a true love for life. To top it all, you sound like a racist who does not give any regard for other people's (or races, as the case may be) feelings.

To Tintin and Phil, if you both are truly in love, you can break through any 'barriers'. If Love could move mountains, then it'll be a lot easier to overcome a few barriers. I mean, well, cultural differences can play a big role in a relationship, that is a fact...but it can only take it's toll if none of you would be gracious enough to give in and try to understand each other.

Good luck to both of you and Merry Christmas... Happy New Year too.

mother-in-law:

My 27 year old son recently married a wonderful 27 year old Philipina who has lived in this country off and on for 6 years. They had a bit of pre-marital counseling through her church which both found useful but it did not touch on cultural differences.

As someone from the northeast (US) who married a midwesterner 38 years ago I can tell you that cultural divides are found even in the US! Marriage and childrearing are hard work and compromise, respect, flexibility, friendship and love are what makes it work....best wishes to you both!

haha:

Typical desperate white man going to asia for love. Whie men have it sooo easy in asia they dont have to try.

VICTORIA:

GOD BLESS YOU TIN-TIN AND PHIL TOO-

nick did have some good advice- there will be some expectations of behavior from your spouse that will not become apparent until it happens-

(well, american men know to hold a door open for a lady!- well, maybe the idealized romantic version does- but most husbands and wives everywhere fall short of their own cultural stereotypes)

but with love and communication (your courtship is, after, based on communication) your discovery of each other will be a blessing.

tin-tin, at 29, after taking care of those around you, you deserve some happiness just for you.

i hope you stay in touch with us here-
you can say to yourself,well, ive started to make some friends and im not even in america yet-

its a scary and brave thign youre doing.

let us know how you are.
peace

TIN-TIN:

First, I would like to thank Amar for treating the story with all truthfulness and fairness. My friends are sending me messages saying the story was great and they really felt the love between me and Phillip. Thank you very much for the friendship as well.

Second, I would just like to clarify the comment of NELLIE, well I dont know if this person is from Olongapo City because he/she pretends to be very familiar with the politics here well in fact all his/her info is wrong. For your information, my dad former Mayor RUBEN C. GERONIMO was the First Mayor of Olongapo when it was still a municipality. He served from 1959 to 1962 during the reservation time. Mayor James L. Gordon became mayor in 1966 and yes he was assassinated and not my father. 1966 is the year when Olongapo was proclaimed a chartered city therefore Mayor James L. Gordon was the first elected City Mayor because during my dad's term it was still a municipality. Amar did not mentioned that my father was assassinated and he didn't say as well that my father was the mayor when I was born. So why are you pointing out that the facts in this story is not quite true? You can check this in google and search for his name or better yet go to our city hall and ask the current mayor if my dad had really become one. I hope this will shed light to your wrong information NELLIE.

Lastly, to all those who wishes luck in our relationship, we are very grateful to all of you. Phillip and I are happier knowing that there are people who understands and supports us and believes that true love over the internet really exists. For all those who gave their advice, surely we will take all of them by heart believing that it will make our love for each other deeper and stronger. Thank you very much and God bless everyone!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!


cheers,

tin-tin

Lam Ang:

I guess WaPo cut your travel plans because we didn't hear anything of your trip from Laoag City.

The north is pretty much the Ireland of the Philippines, not much grows up there which caused the massive migration of Ilocanos to Hawaii and America and beyond.

It is ironic that your posts from the Philippines potrays the impact of the American occupation - from the Eurasians left by servicemen to mail-to-order brides for geriatric Floridans.

The omission of the northerly trip has left out one of the biggest contribution of the Filipinos to America, which was to provide manpower to the pineapple plantations in Hawaii. The initial migration is the precursor to the health care professionals' migration later on.

Phillip Dennis:

I want to appoligize to Amar for the comment I made yesterday about him.the story is well written. And yes while there maybe culture differences ect.things will be worked out
between us and to Christina my Love I will always Love you.You've touched my heart and soul,life in so many ways I can't even count and yes my Love I Love you forever and yes we will get married in the next year 2008 :). and I'm very Blessed to have you for my best friend,lover,partner and Loving wife. True Love can overcome everything.

Peet:

I am an AEA (American of European Ancestry) and have been married to a Filipina for 44 years. Our cultural differences were quite strong but did not become evident until we had our child. At first we had trouble reconciling our different viewpoints, but we were lucky we were able to talk about them and compromise. We both have lived with each others families for periods of time; this made evident where we each were coming from.
Many of our friends have complimented us on our loving marriage, so we must be doing something right.
I hope this couple will have as good a marriage as we have had.

Peet:

I am an AEA (American of European Ancestry) and have been married to a Filipina for 44 years. Our cultural differences were quite strong but did not become evident until we had our child. At first we had trouble reconciling our different viewpoints, but we were lucky we were able to talk about them and compromise. We both have lived with each others families for periods of time; this made evident where we each were coming from.
Many of our friends have complimented us on our loving marriage, so we must be doing something right.
I hope this couple will have as good a marriage as we have had.

donna:

Hi Phil,
We haven't met yet but i'm a good friend of tin's. We've known eachother since highschool and since then I've always known her as a very loving person. I know she'll be a very good wife and mom (to your kids) like mom has been to her. I pray for your happiness.

Please take care of my friend coz she's really like a sister to me.

Tin, you know how much i love you and ill forever treasure our friendship. Always be happy girl.

Tired of Chasing:

Rick,
You asked if there are no females left in Florida. There are many but most men (me included) who go elsewhere are most probably sick and tired of the chasing and pursuing game that you have to do to meet American women.

This country is worse than an Islamic nation as far as women sexual liberation is concerned. Women here just love to be chased like any piece of meat in an Islamic nation.

DontTypeLies:

Nick wrote:

A word of advice:

I was born in US and have been married to a Korean woman for 31 years. I speak Korean and lived there for 3 years. My wife has lived in the US now for more than 20 years.

Even though we have an understanding of each other's cultures, do not underestimate the impact of cultural differences in a marriage. Marriage is difficult enough, but add the fact that both parties see things through different cultural prisms complicates the equation. It comes out in small ways -- food, laundry, even picture hanging -- and in big ways -- privacy, child raising, money.

While I wish them both the best of luck, they both should study each other's culture as much as possible. This may help reduce the misunderstandings in a marriage that sometimes blow up into larger issues.

Nick


Thank you so much for your wise comment Nick. You are so right. I am an immigrant from euruope since childhood and even my marriage to an American blew up in my face because of cultural differences. You are a better person than me and my ex husband. You must have patience of steel. Cultural differences showed up in my marriage too (we didn't know what they were at the time). I do not have an accent and have blonde hair and blue eyes and speak, read and write english very well. Those darn things my parents taught me at home did not transfer to the culture in the US and huge fights broke out because of them. It was only the years after my divorce it dawned on me what the problems really were.

Fortunatley you are married to a Korean woman who is not involved in trying to take over the US government and replace the US Constitution.

You still have your work cut-out for you though and I don't think many americans understand how important "culture" is in the equation of this age.

Kudos to you for speaking up!

Mar Patalinjug:

Yonkers, New York
22 Dec 2007

I sincerely wish Tin-Tin and Phil a long and happy life together.

Obviously, with the things they share in common, both have a good chance of making it successfully in marriage.

That is not to say that for them, it will all be that easy.

Money, or the lack of it, lies at the root of many failed marriages.

Tin-Tin and Phil will need to make sure that they are both gainfully employed and have enough of it to avoid the shoals on which most marriages break.

Mar Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

Rico:

I find it very hard to understand how people go on the internet to meet future wives. Does Phillip knows what is he getting into? 51 to 29 is that a big difference? Marriage at a distance? Did Florida run out of females! Good luck anyway

rico:

Does Philip knows what he is getting into.! Marriage at at distance! Is Flordia a homsoexual state? Good Luck anyway

Who Cares:

I think they both might have been so socially isolated (love and intimacy wise) from other people that when they met online they instantly thought that it was the very best thing that ever happened to them. And indeed it may be that they truly love each other. But there is a certain degree of potential that they are unconsciously compensating for something they did not have in their lives for a long time – the affection of a man for Tin Tin and that of a woman for Phil. My fear is that this unconscious compensation for what they did not have for a while, especially for Phil, is blinding them to the reality of the age difference in particular and their cultural differences in general. But in any case I pray that God guides them through whatever they decide to do and helps them obtain the best outcome of their relationship.

nellie:

Many facts in this story are "not quite right." The mayor of Olongapo who was assassinated was James Gordon, and that was in 1966. The mayor in 1978 (the birth year for Tin-Tin if she is 29,)was Richard Gordon, who is still alive.

Schezzie:

I am sorry.....but I think they could use some more time together (live together) before they think about marriage. I am American, hubby is foreign born. There is a HUGE difference in our cultures and we waited 5 years before we married. If it is love there should be no anxiety to hurry up and get married.

Like the previous poster said, learn as much about the culture as you can..you need to talk things through about how you will handle many different situations (children, etc) and if in-laws end up moving in etc. I think it is sad too that she is not looking for her equal but rather a daddy figure.

nobody:

Why do you persist with these type of articles? Are you really trying to tell the story of how America is viewed by the rest of the world? Or are you trying to show how backward or desperate other people in third-world countries are and how America is still some sort of "paradise" to these people?

Karl:

Best wishes to the happy couple.

Jack Russell:

I met my significant other on line. We are compatible, happy and have been together over 2 years. However, we are but 5 subway stops away from each other.

Quite a few of my friend have met on line and are still together...as well as together for a while.

I would, under the circumstances...actually any circurcumstance...pre-purchase either a ride home on the metro or maintain the means to do same on a flight.

Just common sense.

Nick:

A word of advice:

I was born in US and have been married to a Korean woman for 31 years. I speak Korean and lived there for 3 years. My wife has lived in the US now for more than 20 years.

Even though we have an understanding of each other's cultures, do not underestimate the impact of cultural differences in a marriage. Marriage is difficult enough, but add the fact that both parties see things through different cultural prisms complicates the equation. It comes out in small ways -- food, laundry, even picture hanging -- and in big ways -- privacy, child raising, money.

While I wish them both the best of luck, they both should study each other's culture as much as possible. This may help reduce the misunderstandings in a marriage that sometimes blow up into larger issues.

Nick

LGaloci:

A lighthearted antidote to the depressing (from a U.S. perspective) content of the rest of Post Global.

Reynolds:

I think this was a well written story. Despite whatever claims made about the facts, the point was well presented and clear: true love can happen online, despite international and cultural barriers. Congrats Amar and keep up the good work!

ramil langit:

Hi Phil,

I have'nt met you yet but from all the stories that tin had told me I know that you are a good guy.She is a wonderful person and you are very lucky to have met her in the internet. Although that most of our friends thought that it will be us that end up together I know that they will be much as happy to see her to end up with the right man and who will truly love her.
I have never met a woman yet that can compare to her.She touched my soul in a very special way so as her mom. I love them both. I am very happy to see her so in love.
I wish you both the best of all things together.

Tin give my regards to Mommy, I love you both.

sri-jaggu-gandhi:

Even though I wish them well, as an Asian parent, I hope that they meet each other's families before they make any decision.

-sri-jaggu-gandhi

alex datu cruz:

wonderful

Westerner:

She says she can have a father and a husband?! Sounds a little incestuous. I think a 21-year difference between her and Phil and the difference in culture would be a lot to overcome in a marriage. I'm thinking Phil will take out insurance on her when she's over here and some unfortunate accident will happen to her. I think she should be wary and not get into anything too soon.

a:

A wonderful love story! The cynics will call it contrived, but really meeting a partner in a bar or at work is not that different in todays high tech world.

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