I think the first thing to talk about has to be the attack placed on me because of falling in love with Marissa before an actual meeting occurred. Many of the Planet-love patrons really hassled me for that. I think far to many guys think there is some specific procedure for falling in love; or that even some type of magic that occurs. I do not. I think that the most important three things in the beginning of your relationship is your 1) willingness to commit 100%, 2) how much you are interested (whether physcial attraction or intellect) in that person and 3) your belief in Heavenly Father and prayer. I knew Marissa was the right one almost immediately because, and I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but a little voice said in my head “she's the one”. I was writing 14 other girls and several were looking pretty good – one trying very hard to be the one I choose and one that was a nut case that I thought at one point I would be the one. But Marissa, I knew instantly before we had even chatted. It wasn’t magic or anything so unbelievable, it was Heavenly Fathers intent.
I think one of the reasons for my ignorance in trying to breakup with her during the “Foolish Girl” post was that I hadn’t prayed about it. I had stopped writing all the other girls and made some commitments to Marissa but I hadn’t prayed about us. I was under a lot of pressure from the government sources to act and a lot from family and church members to re-unit with my ex-wife. I was very confused. So I prayed. It was kinda’ silly actually but I prayed for a song. And I had just told my “ex” that all the years she hadn’t given me birthday or Christmas presents that a song would have been enough. I really expected that maybe some birthday in the future some girl would sing me Happy Birthday and that would be it. Marissa sang a song to me two minutes after that prayer. I was in shock and every hair on my body was standing up. I knew I was being answered. But to make the answer even more powerful Marissa had just got through praying that if I were the right guy for her I would call her ‘right then’. She was so ecstatic when I called she offered to sing me a song. Why is this so odd, I am usually in church at this time and it is highly unlikely that this event would have occurred? But my roommate got sick and I stayed home to watch him – he had been throwing up all over the place. Once he went to sleep I was bored and thought I’d call Marissa. That’s when we both knew at the same time from two different prayers. It was confirmed over and over many times in the next 7 months.
We learned a lot about each other and became extremely close. There were so many times when she was hurt by the honesty I promised her but she appreciated the fact that I told her everything and honored her opinion. Fellas if she said NO, I didn’t/don’t do it and visa-versa. I think this helped each other see the commitment we were giving to each other.
I also was amazed that we could pray and fast together. Every single problem we had was reconciled by prayer and fasting and in every case to our complete satisfaction. I was amazed how all of a sudden the “Murphy’s Law” syndrome had left me. Everything went my/our way without a hitch. We both learned complete faith in our prayers and fasting.
Okay so what did go wrong? The Honeymoon. Yeah that’s right. I let Marissa handle everything else but the Honeymoon and she did it expertly once organized. It took longer that she planned but she made the wedding one of the happiest days of my life. My room the government papers and required events, meetings with her family and church members, everything handled as wonderfully as you can imagine.
But the Honeymoon trip. I purchased my tickets through Ron Perry and paid a very high charge for them. Admittedly he told me that it was high because I ordered late and it was the Christmas Holidays so I understood and reasoned it to my not planning far enough ahead. A week after paying for the tickets Asia Air Fare, who had lost my e-mail address found it and said that they could get me tickets at the $650-750 price range ‘right then’. Even at that my roommate paid for the trip as a wedding gift. So it really didn’t hurt me at all. Included in the trip was one free week at Virgin Beach Resort. Great I thought. I handled the honeymoon. Normal first class business class roundtrip on PAL is $1100. I paid $2150. Seemed reasonable to me since the honeymoon at VBR was included.
The when we confirmed the reservations we were told that we had to find a way to Bogota on our own, usually by bus at the PCBL (Philippine Cebu Bus Line) terminal and that it would take 3 hours because it was about a 100 kilometers away. Bus fair was only P78 each one way. Immediately on arriving at airport the cab driver said that he would drive us for P1600 and take less time and that it would be safer with all the hijackings and holdups? Marissa was afraid so I thought that was acceptable for the distance and I took his offer – even scheduled him back out to pick us up when we were to leave. On the way to VBR we stopped at a filthy roadside place to eat and like an idiot, I ate there. 2 days later I was begging for Imodium AD and spent 1-½ days of the honeymoon sleeping and trying to recover. I found out later that is P600 more than the normal charge.
When we got to Bogota a jeepney from Virgin Beach Resort that the shocks had been welded solid on picked us up. I should have known there was a problem. At the resort I was informed at the desk that A/C was P500/day extra and that drinks for the meals were P200/meal/person extra. That totaled out to P1700/day more that the $1050 I had already paid. Marissa was quiet but complained to me privately that the charges were very high. I think she was trying not to embarrass me because this was my part of the trip. She was right though. I stayed at Marbella Mansion for P650/day and it included hot water, cable TV, phone, free breakfast and other amenities. None of this was available at Virgin Beach Resort. In addition Marissa and I had been eating on P400/day for the previous two weeks I had been there. So they were charging me P700 more than I had been spending daily as extras and I had already given them $1050 (thats P52500) to cover everything. Honestly you should have been able to live in the Phils for 2 months on that much money. The best they recreation they could do was allowing you to use videos from their pirated collections. Now don’t get me wrong, Virgin Beach was gorgeous. Beautiful blue water. They had a nice swimming pool and excellent food with very American sized portions. But there were no other amenities available like boating, fishing, skin-diving or any other activities period. The beach was hard rock and to get to the sand you hand to walk out about 150-200 feet. I think two days is the most anyone can stay there because there was nothing to do. Plus I got sick.
Marissa and I realized that this wasn’t what we had in mind. To sit and do videoke and watch videos for 7 days so after the 3rd day we left and went back to Cebu and had a wonderful time. And saved money from the P1700/day they had been charging us to about P1100/day with more comfort attractions and things to do. Since we left before the scheduled cab return we took the bus. It was a much more comfortable ride and we stopped at a legitimate restaurant. We were even stupid enough to agree to stay at Ron’s Cebu Holiday Plaza hotel for P1700/day. But we were talked out of it by the cab driver who took us to an excellent place called Palazzo Pensione House that gave us there best room for P750/day with everything Marbella Mansion had given me before and an extra bed we used as a desk for the laptop. I absolutely do not recommend FarmTours, Virgin Beach Resort or Holiday Plaza or any other price gouging places owned by Ron Peters.
A lot of concerns never occurred like kidnappings, pick-pockets, hijackings, flagrant cheating and angry individuals that just wanted to see if I could defend myself (shucks!). Marissa cared for me like a newborn babe. At one point, on Christmas night when we were trying to light the fireworks I bought she latched on to me like the anchor of the Titanic. Absolutely refused to let me light any of the fireworks because I might get hurt. It so impressed me that she intended to take care of me that I back off so that she would feel at ease.
Marissa is easy to tease and very ticklish. Once her parents had caused her to screw up her cell phone by telling her to put a “pin” number in it. This caused her to lock up the cell phone chip, which caused me to have to purchase another cell phone chip. She told her parents that I told her I would punish her for being so thoughtless. Her mother was livid and Marissa could hardly hold her smile because when they asked how I would punish her, she said. “He’s going to tickle me!” Yes fellas, the smaller girls are very sensitive and I will stop there if you know what I mean. I love to tease her though and I think she likes it too. She says that she thinks her whole life will be filled with laughter and happiness. I can not imagine a life that I would not more want to be a part of.
I met quite a few Mag-Anakers in Davao and at the wedding including Paul van Hooten and his fiancée Anna who were the “Best man” and “Maid of Honor” at the wedding and filled in as the “Mom and Dad” at the receptions. At first I thought, wow, Paul is making a mistake but then I heard Anna describe how she knew she loved him and I was embarrassed for my snap decision. Paul, in person, is not quite as gifted with words as he is posting on Planet-Love Board, but his post have been very helpful and full of useful information for me and I bet many of you as well. He is a very nice guy. Plus I think I probably suffer from the same malady of being able to express myself better by writing that speaking. I wish him and Anna all the best. Next was Paul and Em, another couple that makes you wonder how marrying a Filipina could ever go wrong? Anna met Paul through Paul’s association with Mag-anak. I never quite got Em and Paul's whole story of until I returned and read it on Mag-Anak. It amazes me how close she became to becoming a Japanese bar girl. I also met James and Lily (I apologize for calling her Liza in an earlier post). He was married there in Dec of 1999 and is still waiting for spousal visa and her immigration to the states. He took a lot of the wedding pictures using my camera. I have not posted those yet. There was another American there I only talked to for a few moments. His fiancée was one of Marissa’s teachers. They tried to have a Mag-Anakers party to Paradise Island but Marissa and I messed it up by having too many last minute preparations for the wedding that had to be completed on that day. I really missed that function and think it would have gone a long way to help both Marissa and I relax. Thank all of you Mag-Ankers for coming.
Manila was what I expected after comparing it to seeing Davao and Cebu. Still it was quite new to me.
The Malls were very Americanized but prices were easily 1/4th ours. The main malls were Shoe-Mart, Ayala’s and Glorietta’s. Shoe-Mart seemed like a Wal-Mart clone. The Glorietta’s mall in Manilla was magnificent.
Traffic was unbelievable. I just can not understand how the authorities can allow that free-for-all type driving to continue. I saw so many potential disasters I had to constantly make fun of the drivers to keep from screaming. Ask Marissa. I went around all day long going “Beep, Beep!!”
I guess even expecting it I was the most surprised at the poverty, pollution and obvious signs of the 1997 economic crisis. We have poor people in Houston living under the freeway bridges and so forth, but it is clear that most of those people want to live there. The economy is great here and anyone who want a job can get one. But in Manila it’s very different. They literally build cardboard houses on the sidewalks and beg in the streets. The 30 or so incomplete multi-story buildings that are just husks still haunt me. It is like a nuclear bomb went off. I saw smaller examples of that in Davao and Cebu but nothing near the scale of Manila. Millions of dollars had to have been lost and probably millions of jobs as well.
The Embassy was not what I expected either but I really didn’t know what to expect. Let me tell you guys that if you want a “Legal Capacity to Marry” you had better be there by 7 AM and get a “number” from the 'right group' or they will say “See you tomorrow” with out a flinch. I watched it happen to 4 couples.
The airport was easier to get around in than I expected since they had completed the new PAL terminal with both International and Domestic flights arriving at the same terminal.
Davao was hot and humid. Especially in the nighttime when the sun went down and the wind (what little of it there was) stopped blowing. I think I was actually more acclimated to the humid weather than Marissa because I was willing to get out in it and 'go' where she wanted to stay in or ride. There were times when we rode a cab 3 blocks! I think she will find Houston, with the exception of our having a winter, quite like Davao just 20 degrees hotter.
In Davao the girls out number the guys – period. There is nothing else I can say about that. I estimate it at 5 or 6 to one. I am still at shock that so many of the Davao girls are marrying Japanese though. The people in Davao are very poor. I do not think they know. There are wonderful places there to go. Paradise Island and Hilltop are two. They also have some great beaches and I am surprised that there are not more resorts there. The traffic in Davao makes the traffic in Manila seem tame. I still am in shock that when someone goes to turn right others will pass him on the right. When you stop just inches away from an accident you have to wait for all the others passing the whole situation on the right. Sheesh? Jeepneys’s in Manila and Davao are hot, uncomfortable, colorful, cheap and everywhere. And when you can’t find one of those the “tricycles” take over. Have you ever seen what happens to a 100cc motor bike that cares 4 people, two being 200 pound plus Americans? And they wonder why they have so much pollution. They literally drive these things till they fall apart.
Cebu was wonderful. Warm yet comfortable. Traffic lights and mostly drivers who obeyed the traffic laws. Lots of sights and places to go. Lots of incredibly beautiful blue water and hills to climb. I think that if when I do retire in the P.I.s that it will have to be in a place like Cebu if not Cebu.
I think another thing that surprises me is the fact that there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of islands in the Philippines, in a climate that is very hot and humid, yet less that 30% of the people know how to swim or even venture out into the water. What is up there?
I agree with many of the Mag-Anakers for several things I have never seen posted before. Above every bar there is a brothel. Most of the men do not work although I think in many cases it’s the fault of the system not the men. The country would fall apart if not for the hard working honorable women there. I disagree that the Philippines can be anymore dangerous than it is here, it’s just a different type of danger.
Lastly and most importantly I think if I had this to do all over I would spend more time on Mag-anak because I forgot to get quite a few things done out of ignorance that has already delayed my filing for Marissa’s immigration by 2 weeks. Thing such as bringing back copies of all the papers needed for marriage, getting a G-325A form filled out and signed by her there and getting passport photos made and the all important W-7 that allows you to clain your spouse on the tax returns.
This is clearly the best thing I’ve ever done. I truly love Marissa and I know beyond all doubt that she loves me too. I’m sure as with all things in life there will be negatives but I think with her arms around me I won’t care much at all.