Filipino-Canadian Youth Dating
With Valentine’s Day just behind us, The Philippine Reporter is looking back to when the dating world opened up (or didn’t) for Filipino-Canadian youth. We asked an assortment of Filipino-Canadians to tell us about their first dating experiences.
Since casual dating is often frowned upon in the Philippines, many Filipino-Canadian youth find it difficult to get their parents to adjust to North American notions of dating as they grow up in Canada. Others had parents who were pretty open to dating. Many young women seemed to have it rough, while most of the young men interviewed had no restrictions from their parents.
The responses are kept anonymous, identified only with an age and/or profession. This made the respondents more comfortable and honest. There are also comments from some parents. From strict Catholic values to liberal households, here are the responses.
Strict parents and sneaking around
Strict Catholic values. No sex before marriage. I had a chaperone for all outings before the age 18. – Coordinator for Immigrant and Refugee Services, 25
My parents were strict and did not want me to have a boyfriend until later, but I did anyways. There was some sneaking around when I was younger, like Grade 9. But my first real boyfriend was in Grade 11, and despite my parents disapproval I still was open about it.
For example, when he came over to visit and I was going to see him, I would tell them. But I hid how often I saw him or hid him for a sleepover. We lived in different cities.
I actually met him through my parents at a reunion for them. Our parents had worked together in the Philippines. – Public Servant
When I started dating (around 13 years old), I was seen and assumed as a girl and thus my parents would be okay with me dating boys as long as they supervised our dates. When I was 15 and realized my sexual and romantic attraction to women, I had to sneak around a lot as my parents disapproved of me dating women.
Being open about my dating life to the Filipino-Canadian community and my family has never been or is it right now easy. - Community Organizer, Poet, Journalist, Public Speaker, 28
It’s easier if you move away
As a young girl growing up in a Filipino household, there was no such thing as ‘dating.’ My parents were very strict with me, which was a huge contrast to the way my brother was treated growing up. He was able to ‘date’ openly, while I was forced to stay at home.
My actions were strictly monitored. I had very little privacy and very little opportunity to go out and meet people. My parents always listened in on my phone conversations, so even discussions about dating were impossible! They were constantly concerned that I would get pregnant at a young age and never finish school, which was the case for some Filipinas in my neighbourhood.
I had to fight very hard for my independence. It wasn’t until I left for university that I was really able to not just date, but live and choose more freely. - PhD Candidate, York University
I started dating in university. It was easier to go out on dates then because I lived away from my parents, who always had strict rules against dating. They always said that school has to be my priority and they were afraid that going out on dates would be a distraction. – Researcher, 30
Not a big deal
My parents are not really strict. I would tell them I’m hanging out with so and so. They never gave me a sex talk and I think they never would. Generally they trust me not to do anything stupid. – Student, 24
As a male Filipino, dating was never really an issue. My parents were not that strict, but they expected a level of respect and class with the person that I’m with, i.e. the significant other would have to respect me, my family, values and time, and not get in the way of my ambition. – Business Development, 29
I would definitely consider myself a late-bloomer in the dating arena. Canada’s relatively liberal culture I’m sure played a significant role in how my parents viewed my personal safety and well being, which extends into my personal relationships, namely dating. I guess being the first-born male in the house afforded me more freedom than perhaps females in the traditional Filipino familial setting. – Marketing Consultant, 39
My parents thought it was better for me to hang out with girlfriends than hanging out with the boys too much. They were pretty liberal when it came to girlfriends. – Real Estate Agent
A mixed bag
I moved to Canada 13 years ago and back home dating while in school was very much frowned upon. The mentality was to never date or be in any relationship until you graduate and are working.
When we moved to Canada, my parents adopted the culture and became a little bit more liberated. I was still petrified when I first broke the news that I’m dating someone, but then they started to accept it. - HR Consultant, 27
After a year of dating, [my now wife] asked me to live with her and her parents because she did not want me to waste money on rent! Her parents took me in with no questions asked! This was definitely a surprise for me but also a blessing as we were able to save up for two years to buy our own place.
Mind you, if I was living at home this would be a different story as my parents are very Catholic. I would not be able to live with her until we got married because that is considered a sin! It’s funny, until this day my dad still treats me like I am in high school! - Credit Adjudicator, 34
Recently she did something I didn’t like. You know teenagers. It’s lies, after lies. She said she was going out with some friends and their family. Whatever she said wasn’t true… She’s now grounded. – Nurse, 48
I don’t allow for her to really date at a younger age. If for whatever reason it happens, I want to know who this person is, who is this boy? Then I would have certain rules, for example a curfew, she can’t go to his house and he can’t come over. – I was a very liberal kind of mom. I trusted my kids. But at the same, there were always reminders for them to do the right thing. - Young Retiree
*The responses have been edited and condensed.