Young Pinoy Canadians share their thoughts on Love, Dating and Modern-Day Relationships

Community News & Features Feb 9, 2018 at 5:11 pm

By Irish Mae Silvestre
The Philippine Reporter

February brings with it store aisles crammed with pink and red décor and thoughts of romance and candlelit dinners. However, in many ways, traditional courtships end there. A dynamic generation of Filipino-Canadians share their thoughts on changing customs, online dating and everything in between.

Julie Nanquil

Julie Nanquil

Nastasha Alli, 30, is a software consultant and host of a food podcast.

Julie Albert Nanquil
, 30, grew up in Scarborough and studied criminology at University of Toronto. She’s currently a benefits officer.

Diorella Africa, 31, is tort team manager who also studied criminology at University of Toronto. She pursued her paralegal studies before working in the law field.

Kurt Africa
, 33, is Diorella’s older brother. He’s an experienced electrical apprentice who now works as a network technician.

Veronica Javier Espiritu, 35, is a social worker with a master’s in social work from York University.

Jay Buenaventura, 45, was born in Canada and raised in Scarborough. He studied at Centennial College and currently works as a grill cook.

The Philippine Reporter: How has the dating scene changed compared to the previous generation?

Nastasha: I haven’t been in the dating scene myself in some years but I do know that in my early 20s, online dating apps were a popular way [through which] my friends met people and it’s still that way today.

Julie and boyfriend Jason Lau

Julie and boyfriend Jason Lau

Julie: It’s like night and day. My dad lived in Saudi Arabia, while my mom lived in Canada. My dad would tell me about how he and my mom communicated through voice tapes. They’d record themselves talking to each other and that’s how they’d communicate because it used to cost an arm and a leg to call someone overseas. Nowadays, you have your partner or anyone through social media, Facebook, WhatsApp or FaceTime. You can see people in real-time, hear their voice, see their face and know what they’re feeling. And you also have dating apps like Tinder and PlentyOfFish.

Diorella: The dating [scene] has changed so much, everything is done through apps. It’s a wider range of people you wouldn’t normally meet. My husband is from Germany and [there was a small] likelihood that we’d ever meet. But our parents’ generation is becoming more accepting of the fact that that’s how people meet nowadays. It’s becoming the new norm.

Kurt: The previous generation still sees online dating as something sketchy – they think it’s weird. They never grew up with that kind of technology so they saw it as something that wasn’t personal. When you meet someone at a bar for an hour or two, how much can you know about them? You probably know their favorite drink but that’s no different from [meeting] online; you talk online and start the same way. It’s no different.

Veronica: The dating scene is much faster now. The pace is faster because people are busier in their lives. People have shorter attention spans as well – you have to find a way to stand out. You have to know what you want in order to navigate the muddy waters of dating. Online dating is a way of filtering right away if someone is worth the time.

Jay Buenaventura

Jay Buenaventura

Jay: People don’t want to commit to a relationship with someone because of the possibility of getting heartbroken and they’re afraid of the statistics of divorce and so on. Also, people are more independent nowadays.

TPR: Is there an ideal age to get married?

Nastasha: None. There’s a lot more openness now to taking big life steps in everyone’s own time!

Julie: I really don’t think there is because you really have to weigh out your priorities. Women have become so much more liberated so there isn’t that expectation to go to school, meet a man and get your MRS degree. I don’t need to be married to define who I am. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage – my boyfriend and I talk about it all the time. I care more about a marriage than a wedding.

Diorella: No, I don’t think so. Maybe to a certain degree at a certain age, [people] want to start settling down but I don’t think it’s an Asian thing, it’s a cultural thing.

Kurt: Back then, you had to marry before you were 30. Now, people I know who are my age don’t have an [ideal] age when they [want to] get married. [Some people] still want to get married but the timeline has expanded from 30 to a little bit older.

Veronica: Not everyone’s called to the married life; I was called to it. The right time is when you’ve reached that intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. That’s when you’re ready to meet someone.

Jay and Hazel with son Paul

Jay and Hazel with son Paul

Jay: [Get married] whenever you want to get married! There’s no right age. The Lord provided for me at the age of 40 so it’s possible for anyone to get married. But if you want to have children, it’s better to get married when you’re younger.

TPR: Does settling down early interfere with one’s career?

Nastasha: I would hope not! It takes a lot to juggle a vibrant home life and career, but many people manage this well.

Julie: There’s a difference between settling down and getting married. I consider myself as settled down. It might be taboo in Filipino culture but in this generation, a lot of people move in with their significant other for years with no dire need to have the wedding and put it on paper. We live in a very liberated generation where cohabiting before marriage is common.

Diorella: Not in any other sense than if you were settling down and having kids and taking time off work. Especially in Canada and this society, there are plenty of accommodations. I guess it really depends on your workplace.

Kurt Africa

Kurt Africa

Kurt: I wouldn’t say interfere because I don’t think it does. It’s more about trying to figure out what you want in life rather than just from a career perspective. If you settle down, you have more responsibilities that come with marriage.

Veronica: No, because as part of your journey, the person you meet has already accepted you for who you are and what you do. He or she should know what you’ve been involved in and should’ve accepted that. You have to be on the same page.

Jay: Yeah, I guess so. But life can’t just be about your career.

TPR: How has the concept of love and relationships changed overtime?

Nastasha: There’s certainly a wider definition and acceptance of romantic relationships these days… and I’m thankful to live in Canada, where most people are free to love those who make them happy, without fear or judgment.

Julie: Before, marriage was necessary in order to complete the next chain of events: you got married before you could do this and that. But our happily ever after isn’t when we say, “I do.” It’s very different from my parents’ view. My parents have a very strong marriage and I’m very proud of what they have. Realistically, when most marriages end in divorce, you can’t blame people for being a little hesitant.

Diorella: I can’t speak for everyone’s concept but before, it was maybe something you picked up from the movies: you fall in love and all these big, grand gestures. For me, it’s just compatibility.

Kurt and girlfriend Tashi

Kurt and girlfriend Tashi

Kurt: Back then, the guy would be chasing the girl. It’s pretty much the same way but nowadays girls want more say in a relationship rather than being out there and waiting for the guy. They want a say in who they get to choose. It’s a work in progress but it’s moving [in that direction].

Veronica: Love has morphed into different things in the world now. Love is understanding, [it’s about] feeling good and feeling right. It’s those things first. But when it gets hard, then it’s like, it shouldn’t be this hard so let’s get divorced. I can see that but I think that’s the [kind of] teaching of love where it’s not in-depth enough or full enough. Part of loving is going though that suffering, being unselfish, giving yourself but also finding respect for yourself.

Jay: People used to marry very young and have lots of children; it was very relationship-oriented. Nowadays, that mindset has changed. People travel more. Communication isn’t as face-to-face anymore with [apps] like Skype. It’s a little less intimate than it was in my parents’ [time].

TPR: What are some contrasting relationship beliefs and customs between your generation and your parents’?

Nastasha Alli

Nastasha Alli

Nastasha: My parents themselves got married quite young so there’s not much of a difference, personally. But among friends who grew up in Canada, and who had relatively conservative parents who immigrated here at a later age, marriage is still considered a “next step” to going out on your own – close to buying a house.

Julie: Living with your significant other before marriage was considered taboo. And there was this whole chastity thing for women. But we live in a very different society now. I love what marriage represents but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be prioritized among others as it was before.

Diorella: [The previous generation had] a very set custom and belief system; I’m a little more open-minded because I grew up here. My friends and co-workers and colleagues are all of different belief systems. I’ve been very Canadianized early on. While my parents embrace culture and tradition, they’re very open-minded, too.

Kurt: They still use words like “courting.” I had never heard that word unless it was [in the context of] the medieval times. There’s a romantic feel to it, it’s a long process. It’s this whole mating dance but I don’t think it’s the same in Canada. Here, it’s definitely a shorter dance. If it doesn’t go well, it is what it is. The divorce rates are higher here, too. I guess the whole mentality is different.

Veronica: I remember this whole pamanhikan [tradition] where the guy courts the woman and spends time with the family – it takes time. It’s an agreement between families, not just the couples. [With my husband and I], our families weren’t involved in this relationship until we were engaged. We decided for ourselves that we were ready to get married. I was very mindful of the tradition but I’m also a feminist so I’m not trying to be anyone’s property. Instead of pamanhikan, I wanted to do my parents the courtesy [of telling them] that this is what’s happening and that this man is taking me seriously.

Jay: In my parents’ generation, [they believed that] a person became a real man or woman when they got married and had a family.

TPR: What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Nastasha: Be yourself and be proud of it. I think people are most drawn to those who are “real.”

Julie: Don’t focus so much on the wedding itself but on what the marriage represents. You can also have the responsibility of marriage without the title of being married and be just as happy.

Diorella: The best relationship advice that I follow is: can you have fun with the person you’re with? And that’s as basic as it needs to be.

Kurt: Don’t stress yourself too much about the whole dating thing because a lot of times it doesn’t work out and people are a wreck afterwards – they think that’s their only chance in love. That’s not the greatest way to look at it. People shouldn’t think of themselves as incomplete without someone – everyone is a complete individual. Some people don’t match well and part ways, some people do and go down the same path.

Veronica Javier Espiritu

Veronica Javier Espiritu

Veronica: You have to be brutally honest about things [about yourself] that were not so great that contributed to that break-up. The goal through that journey is to be open to everything, have fun and learn about yourself. In that journey, as long as you’re open to it, that person will come to you when you have the eyes to see it.

Jay: Communication is important. Building the best friendship you can have will make you happy for a lifetime.

TPR: Do opposites attract or repel?

Nastasha: Attract. There’s more to talk about!

Julie: It should be a bit of both. My boyfriend and I are such opposites in so many ways and also similar in so many ways. The ways we grew up were similar but the dynamics are different. There needs to be a balance of both. I don’t think it’s fair to label that opposites attract or that they repel because both extremes aren’t healthy.

Diorella: I can’t answer that for a certainty, it depends on some people. Some people like this friction, while others really cherish commonality.

Kurt: I think they repel. You want to find someone who has some similarities, otherwise it’s a lot of butting heads.

Veronica: I think they attract for me.

Jay: I think opposites attract because people can complement each other. One person’s weakness can be another person’s strength.

TPR: How have technology and busy careers changed modern relationships?

Nastasha: It can be harder to prioritize things, especially if you’re juggling a busy work or school life with personal relationships and other activities. But if you recognize what’s important and devote time to it, hopefully, it works well.

Julie: Relationships are more easily accessible but, at the same time, there’s no pressure to walk down the aisle, say, “I do” and settle down. Careers are a real thing – both men and women are competing for the same thing and accomplishments. [As for technology], you can set up dates online and talk to your significant other by text or voicemail. The definition of marriage needs to be reevaluated, especially now. By law, technically, if you’ve been living with someone for two years, that’s a common law relationship; it’s almost like implied marriage. When you have that, where’s that pressure to have a real marriage?

Diorella: That’s a little hard to balance. Careers and daily [life] definitely puts stress on you and takes away from time with whoever you want to spend time with. Sometimes it affects your mood and your mood affects the other person. Daily stress definitely takes a toll on your relationship. In terms of meeting somebody, technology has made it absolutely easier. [Technology has helped in] keeping relationships alive – there’s just so many ways to stay in touch when you’re not together.

Kurt: It’s changed everything a hundred percent. At least fifty percent of people look online, maybe they don’t meet people online but they’re definitely looking. Back then, no one wanted to be associated with online dating. It’s changed everything for everyone. I think everyone uses it now.

Veronica: Dating has become more convenient now. It’s easily accessible but I think people’s attention spans are shorter and there’s a lot of short-term gratification involved. It doesn’t take away the heartbreak – it’s still the same thing, it’s just the medium that’s changed. You’ve got to be smarter and more vocal.

Jay: I briefly met my wife at a church conference in Bali. [We reconnected] through a Christian website for singles who wanted to get married. She was working in Dubai and technology was very helpful in that, especially for long-distance relationships. When you use technology to build a friendship or a relationship, it can go a long way.