Welcome to Ask Poppy! I’m Poppy, your go-to girl for all of life’s woes. And when I say ALL, I MEAN IT. I’m not an expert on anything except maybe for being me, which makes me totally qualified to do this.
I’m having a tiny dilemma—okay, maybe it’s not. You see, my boyfriend and I have been together for almost five years now. Sometime during our relationship, he told me that he’s going to move to another country with his family, and, obviously, leave me here in the Philippines. Which also means that we’d have to deal with the long-distance stuff until he finds the time and money to fly back for a vacation and visit me.
I can handle the long-distance relationship. I can handle myself without him by my side. But what I can’t wrap my mind around is the fact that he wants me to go live with him abroad someday.
Don’t get me wrong. I really want to go. Who would pass up the chance to travel to a foreign place you’ve never been to, right? Also, I do love my boyfriend and I want to be with him someday when that time comes. But the thought of uprooting and leaving my family behind to (possibly) settle down with him is kinda scaring me—considering the fact that we have this live-in taboo culture in the Philippines. (And I’m sure my family’s going to stake me for wanting to move to another country with my BF.)
What should I do? Please help!
Am I your boyfriend? I’m saying that because your situation is eerily familiar. You see, my entire family is basically living in New York. My parents are rooted there after years and years of my dad toiling from country to country, trying to make our lives much better. My dad is slated to get his US citizenship this year, and I’m now facing the possibility of getting petitioned to jettison the fuck out of this country. I kind of want this to happen, but the fact that I’m leaving (not now, but in the near future) is scary for the person I love.
To leave this country is such a huge sacrifice that a lot of people have to endure. Last year, an average of 6,000 able-bodied workers left the country every day to use their skills and talents for higher pay. While walking around Pub Street one night in Cambodia, I could just tell from the accent blaring through the speakers that the performer is a Filipino. My friend later told me that although the pay is low, the competition for singers who can belt out in straight English is scarce, giving them the opportunity to book more shows in one night.
There’s officially more than 100 million of us here living in roughly 7,000 islands. Ten million Filipinos are out there, scattered across the globe, living their lives—my family included.
Dealing with a long-distance relationship is (relatively) easy, but it’s definitely not a walk in the park. My father spent the first 10 years apart from my mom, and I would often see them argue over the phone, and through letters that my dad would send us. My parents made it look easy and I was thinking about what was present that made their LDR work. I realized it was me. They had me, making the bond much stronger. They had me, so they had to make it work even though the distance was a bitch.
Stay-C, I really think that if you have this strong of a bond with your boyfriend, then you can definitely handle a few years without him. It’s much easier now with Skype and FaceTime and you seeing the things he’s listening to on Spotify. Before, I would wait for a month just to see my dad through the video tapes that he filled with his life apart from us. I grew up constantly being videotaped because my mom would send the tapes back to him.
From the perspective of someone who’s bound to leave, of course I’d want you to live with me. I mean, let’s leave this problematic, claustrophobic, and not to mention, really fucking traumatic country of ours and spend the rest of our lives driving through Big Sur and not worrying about running out of gas because it’s going to cost roughly about 10 pesos per liter in the near future, as per analyst predictions. Of course, I love you and I want you to be with me. Yes, we’re going to spend a few months, or maybe a few years apart, but I feel that there is such a deep connection between us that we simply cannot shake off. That we’re built to last this distance between us. Of course, of course, of course.
It might sound selfish that he’s basically asking you to make the move with him just so he can be with his family while you end up becoming the bad guy in your family’s eyes. Some off-Broadway musical once told me that to be free, you must give up a part of yourself. In that story, he gave up his penis and ended up with a one-inch mound of flesh. In your story, you have to give up your family. I’m not saying a full-blown telenovela good-bye that ends with you rushing off-screen as the music swells up and explodes.
Remember how you said that going LDR with your boyfriend is easy? It’s much easier maintaining an LDR with your family because you’re not expected to spend forever with them. You’re expected to get the fuck out of the house and be successful in life so that you can maybe help them out when they’re old and can’t pay the bills. I believe this is what 99-percent of the population have to go through if they want to reach peak adulthood and not squander off in a perpetual state of childishness.
Now, this guy that you’ve spend almost half a decade of your life with is probably the one. You already know the ins and outs of one another and he’s promising you a better life by living in the US. Girl, let’s be honest, there’s really nothing here. I don’t even like leaving the house because the idea of Manila exhausts me. I am most alive when I am far away from the evil clutches of Manila.
I truly believe that if your family sees that this guy can really give you a better life in the US, they’d be content. They’re gonna hate you, of course. But then, they’re gonna love you once you send out that balikbayan box. Materialism, baby. It works best on families with OFWs.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine the next five years of your life living in Metro Manila for about three minutes. Does the thought appeal to you?
Now, I want you to picture seeing your favorite band because they’re just a train ride away from your place. That sale bin inside Urban Outfitters. All the indie films being shown on actual screens, projected from actual film reels. Shake Shack at Central Park. Imagine you experiencing all those things with the man that you love. Imagine all of the American citizens that you’re going to nurse in your womb. A government that actually cares for the welfare of you and your baby. You’re imagining America, Stay-C. It smells like warm apple pie.
If you really love your family and your boyfriend, then you’re going to leave this place, you’re going to start in a new country, earn more money, and you’re going to send that shit back to the Philippines so that your family can invest it for you. It’s the Fil-Am dream. If you can live it, then by all means don’t stay here, Stay-C.
Someone once told me the grass is much greener on the other side. I’ll see you there. Now get the hell out of this country before Duterte wins and it implodes.
Got a question for Poppy? From love and relationships to weird questions you dare not ask even your psychologist, Poppy is ready to answer them all. Send in your questions to [email protected] or post your question over Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AskPoppy, and you just might get the answer you are looking for.
Art by Dorothy Guya