Mega Me

A sucker for squid, one is pressed to find such delectables at your typical American food court. The SM Mega Mall in Manila is the largest mall in the Philippines, capable of holding up to 4-million shoppers.
Note: This begins another chapter in the series Adventures in Asia which I started back in February. I’m in the Philippines once again with my fiancé, in hopes of securing her Visa and accompanying her back to the states with me for the first time. Thus, the saga continues …

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The statues of famous Filipinos in Rizal Park, appear to be the only figures which tower over the average American in Manila.

So I guess it’s a thing–this business of men from America finding Asian women on-line. When people ask how we met, the siting of a website or some personals ad is usually expected. I’ve never joined a foreign dating service nor intentionally sought out an Asian bride but apparently it’s big business. Prior to serendipitously meeting my Filipino fiancé (via a good friend who’d married her sister), I’d only known of two other men who had gone overseas to obtain an Asian wife–both of which said the same thing, “You gotta get one of these Dave.” As if, these Asian women, are the latest item on a Costco shelf. Icky way to reference one’s supposed life partner.

But now that I’m here with my grey chin and pale complexion–in contrast to a sea of brown skin and black hair all around me–most will assume I downloaded my bride, and so I must deal with this stigma. Even back home, a few American friends have come to me and asked, Why do you have to resort to finding someone overseas David?, as if I couldn’t possibly meet someone who just happens to be from the Philippines, any other way.

It’s odd being in the minority for a change. If you’re over six-foot tall and as pink-skinned as I am, you’ll stand out here. Yesterday, while walking 4-miles down a urine-stained street of cobble and ruin, I was the only man with blue eyes that my blue eyes could see.

Most of the women who meet my gaze, blush and turn away, while the men seem to stare with curiosity. I’m not only the minority here, but an extra gob of oddness surrounds me while paired with a native girl who must speak for me when ordering meals or negotiating with greedy taxi drivers. I don’t understand what’s being uttered behind me in the street, nor what’s said in passing as I leave a trail of pesos in my wake.

Eventually we find our way to the SM Mega Mall. You must pass through armed security every time you enter banks or any business of substantial size. Men on the left, women on the right, and eventually the two lines mingle into one where you find yourself wondering what the purpose of a segregated que was to begin with.

Once inside, one would think they were magically transported into a downtown Manhattan shopping center. Suddenly, there are no longer men peeing in the shadows; no children with raised hands asking for coin; just tens-of-thousands (wiki says 4-million is maximum occupancy!) of apparently affluent Philippine shoppers eating lavish food, sucking sugary drinks, and enjoying life in the air-conditioned sphere of MALL WORLD.

I tend to feel big and weird everywhere I go, save for in the sanctum of our air-conditioned condo–until I notice the couple in front of us.  She is an average sized filipina–80 pounds if wearing a hat–toting a cluster of shopping sacks in her left hand while clinging with her right to a man who out-weighed me by at least a dozen bowling balls. The film negative from a poster of Fay Wray and King Kong. The perceived oddity that I felt myself to be, became eclipsed by the spectacle of yin and yang ambling before us.

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“He is so much bigger than you,” She said.

Normally an observation like this would cause any red-blooded male to cringe, but in this case I was happy she noticed. I wasn’t the oddest ball in the mall any more.

“Give me time honey, I’ll be that big some day,” I said, directing her to the mega food court.

“You’re so funny Davey.”

We laughed, and headed off to the squid counter where her eyes widened and her lips parted slightly into a smile. I think she likes her food as much as she likes me, and I’m fine with that.

It’s her thing.

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A sucker for squid, one is pressed to find such delectables at your typical American food court. The SM Mega Mall in Manila is the largest mall in the Philippines, capable of holding up to 4-million shoppers.