Why Do **Some** Filipinos Assume That Their Well-Off Relatives Will Take Care of Them?

I started working at age 14 in a gas station in Texas for 55 cents an hour. The next year I progressed into a grocery store job for $1.11 an hour. This was in 1966. I am an American and a Texan, married to a wonderful Filipina for almost 21 years now and I submit this article in hopes of getting some genuine answers to my question. We have had a series of events in our family that are both troubling and puzzling and frankly, I just don’t get it.

While my wife and I were still living in Texas, we used to get those middle of the night, collect, phone calls from family members calling us from the Philippines. The reason for their calling was always the same. They wanted money. There was always a LONG, sad story, accompanied by crying, more story telling and yet more crying. All this was usually taking place at about 4 AM, Central Standard Time in the USA. Despite what we told them about the time difference between the Philippines and the USA, they continued to call us at weird hours. Anyway, the first request, as I recall, was my wife’s favorite, (at that time), sister, telling us that she had to wash clothes for other people by hand from sun up to sun down to earn enough money to pay her bills and buy food. I told my wife to send her some money, quite a bit of money. Later, when we vacationed in Cebu City, in 2004, my wife set up a joint checking account for her and this sister and told her that it was for her to pay her bills, buy food and for emergency use and not to be squandered foolishly and that we when we returned in 2005, we would get with her and see how much money was still in it. Now we are talking pesos, of course, but as I recall, there was the equivalent amount of about $5,000 that we had put in there for her to use. When we returned in 2005, she refused to talk to us about the account, hid the bank pass book and was acting very secretive about the whole thing. We went to the bank and found out that the account only had a remaining balance of 300 pesos! What the…!!?#@  My wife went to her house and confronted her and she still refused to give us any explanation and then her grown son got into it and a shouting match ensued, all in Cebuano, of course. We left.

We returned to the Philippines, to Cebu, to take vacations in 2006, 2007. We finally retired to the Philippines in March of 2009. Immediately, when all the relatives found out we were here for good, we got the following requests: (1) to put one of my wife’s sisters boys thru police academy, (2) to pay off a niece’s debt with neighborhood loan sharks totaling 18,000 pesos, (3) to pay for most of the expense of a nephew’s upcoming wedding, (4) to buy a new pump boat for my wife’s youngest sister’s husband to go fishing with, (5) to give the middle sister enough money, around 20,000 pesos, to finish the remodeling of her home, (6) about a dozen requests from my mother-in-laws for money, no particular reason,…because it was well known that she BLEW her 2 pension checks about 3 days after receiving them each month.  And on and on…those are just SOME of the request, actually DEMANDS, that were made, by no means all of them.

One sister of my wife started nursing school way back when but got pregnant and dropped out…her middle sister started college but also dropped out to get married…her one brother started college to become an engineer but dropped out…her baby sister actually finished college and has a degree in chemical engineering but married the star basketball player from high school and started having babies. So…the way I see it, each of them had their chance to make something of themselves and failed to capitalize on their  opportunity.  Now…NONE of them have a checking account, a savings account, a car, what Americans would call a “home”, or any of the creature comforts that we Americans so casually take for granted like hot water and air conditioning and a good bed with a mattress to sleep on.

WHY do these people and other Filipinos we have met assume that it is our duty to support them and take care of them? We worked like dogs, my wife and I, in the USA. When I met my wife, we were both working a full time, 40 hour a week job and a part time job, just to keep our heads above water, financially. I have always worked. I have never been on government supported welfare ever and neither has my wife. She was gone from the Philippines for 35 years and was shocked beyond belief at what her brother and sisters had become…in effect, bums, liars, and beggars. Truly disappointing, to put it mildly. Now she stays upset ALL the time because of their demands and their attitudes. NO ONE ever just calls us on the phone to see how we are doing. It is always a request for money. Not too surprisingly, we have cut off all contact with most of them. There are 63 relatives of my wife that live close to us. They don’t come around any more since we quit handing out money. So…where does this idea stem from that one member of the family, who HAS made something of themselves, who HAS worked, saved, and been careful with their money owe it to the less wise, the less monetarily endowed, to support them and even their grown children???  I cannot even imagine asking my brother in the states for money, especially not over and over again, like they do here in the Philippines. Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me?






About Steven Macon

Native born Texan. Married to a Filipina for over 20 years. We met in Texas and married there. Moved to Cebu in March of 2009. Balik-bayan status, meaning, we have to leave the P.I. once every 12 months and go somewhere and come back. Originally came here to take care of my 83 year old mother-in-law and some of wife's family but they are all crooks and thieves. Don't have much contact with them now.

Disclaimer: Definitely Filipino is a community blog. All who write for this blog are independent, unpaid authors. All views, content, images are the responsibility of their respective writers and not of Definitely Filipino. Please contact the author directly with questions about this article.

Send a private message to author Steven Macon

  • Ray Afinke

    I am married to a Filipina. I do not welcome her family members in my home becasue, if they want free food and recreation they can go hang out at the mall or restaurant ot their preference. I live in Las Filipinas and I stay as far as possible from all of them. Due to her monther’s medical condition and advanced age, I am the one whom send two thousand pesos if I feel like it. They are all a total of 9 men and 3 females and they are healthier and stronger than me and can go mix concrete, pick up coconuts, work at a cannery company, pick up bananas and grow their own vegetables along with rising their own chickens, goats and carabaos. I am not here to sustain anybody. They try to call but, she already know and we ignore it. If you are married with a real woman, with some degree of decency and intelligence, and really want to give you piece of mind, want a real family not a marriage by convinience, she will be your shield and deflec all the lies, bullshit and abusive opoortunist customs of all rich, poor, educated and uneducated people.

  • Maddie

    I’m Filipina but have lived my life in Australia since 5 yrs old. I am more true blue than anything. I have been outcasted by family because I refuse to give money to them. It’s not that I don’t…Every now and then, I’ll give a hundred here and there, on special occasions and just to atleast try to help with something…but it’s never good enough. I help with cooking and cleaning and whatever non material way I can. Anyway, I only have my Mother, Grandma, Aunt and my 3 yr old daughter here in Australia. It wasn’t my choice to come here to live a life of loneliness, away from family, or to be pressured/stressed into financially helping the family I don’t even bloody know. Other family in the Philippines refuse to even come here to Australia because they’ve been told I don’t do anything to help, which is absolute dog crap. I just don’t send or give money to people who lie to me. I’ve had a hard life myself: Had past issues with domestic violence and substance abuse and homelessness so many years ago, which is all definitely well behind me. I was young and dumb and thought I was inlove. I’m older and wiser now. I study and work with children daily. When my Mother looks after my daughter, I am at work! Not out partying, drinking or whatever. I don’t even drink. My daughter is my life. Anyway, my Mum lives with her Mum and her Sister, all estranged to myself and they don’t even want to try to get to know me…but it’s not because of past substance abuse or shitty decisions. It’s because I refuse to give money to them and our family, who always call up in tears, making up sad stories about how they need cash and their oh so desperate *LIES* situation. I bought the latest samsung galaxy s6 edge to splurge and because I finally could…I couldn’t even tell them because Im scared of the hurtful things they will say. I bought my daughter so many things to make her happy…yet I can not share hers and my happiness with this so called family because they will start saying how I never buy them anything. I’m nothing like any of them. I work for my daughter, I study for my daughter. If they can not be proud that I am taking care of myself first and my daughter, honestly, they are not family and we’re better off without them. They should be damn proud of how far I’ve come. As proud as I am to be an Aussie now, I get gossipped about and shamed for things I never chose to do in the first place. I NEVER chose a lonely life away from family. I NEVER agreed to giving money to family overseas. Why should hardworking people like me have to be shamed for things we never chose to do or agree with? Anyway, my msg to all Filipinos out there who are like myself, don’t give up. Do it for you and no one else. They’re just jealous of your money and try to make themselves look rich, when they’re really dirt poor and living off other peoples cash. How sad and pathetic. Maybe it’d be different if I were brought up in the Philippines…Well, I WASN’T. I was taken to a Western country, learned their laws, their culture, their ways and grew up to respect my new home…so they need to quit expecting otherwise.

    • Maddie

      One time on facebook, I posted some new things I’d bought for my daughter and myself. An “Aunt” of mine mesaged me, with this dramatic bullshit about “God knows what” because I didn’t even bother reading the rest after I read, “Could you pls send some money…?” Needless to say, hardly any “family” are on my facebook anymore. How sad that it had to come to that. I don’t know this “Aunt,”by the way. Not once did she nor I even ask how the other was or even a quick, “Hi,” but nup, she automatically assumed I would send my hardwork earnings her way. I am so ashamed to be Filipina. Now I see how others see us.

  • Crystal Nelson

    NEVER, NEVER give Filipinos money. They don’t know to spend it. Once you give them money they will ask for more, because they expect it from you. “Working hard for one’s money” DOES NOT exist in the Filipino mentality. What you did was very stupid. You need to tell your wife no more and stop giving them money. If your wife works, tell her after the bills are paid, if she got some mony left OF HER OWN MONEY, she can do whatever she wants with it. It’s YOUR wife who should be giving them the money, not YOU. YOU’RE NOT A FILIPINO. NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. You being an American you are just a piggy bank. But stop giving them money.

  • Michelle

    I am a second generation Filipino-American. My dad was born in Texas , and my mom was born in the philippines. She came here, became a nurse, and worked full time to bring her parents and some of her sisters here. My dad is a Filipino born and raised here in the states. There are 9 brothers and sisters on my moms side, with children of their own. My mom used to send money to one of her nieces there for school, until she found out that she dropped out, had gotten married and is pregnant. They always ask for money, all the time. One of my cousins made me Ninang (godmother) of one of their kids, and I’m thinking so I could send money. Let me note that I don’t even know this child’s name, and they never even asked me. I only found out when my grandparents came back. I do not appreciate it them always asking for money when they can’t even get their life together. Most of them take it personal, but let me tell you that I really don’t give a flying shit because many of them hold this dramatic act saying they’re in need when really they are not working. I am a nurse and work everyday plus overtime just to keep my family above ground and well supported. Hard work and labor gets you to where you want to be, not just assuming just because we are here in the states we are swimming in gold bricks.

    • Maddie

      Amen! Exactly. I’m in a similar boat. My overdramatic “family “that I don’t even know can go f*ck themselves and make their own cash.

  • kara

    I think this is more a function of ideas of family solidarity being misinterpreted into entitlement. People who are stuck in poverty can develop an attitude that a close relative who becomes employed and gets their life together has become RICH RICH RICH and can afford to “take care of the family”. It is also an interpersonal issue because the family is still family but the better of person is now viewed through a lens of resentment, jealousy and suspicion.

    He or She is not quite ” one of us anymore” the family push them out, excludes them from the inner workings of the family but maintain the belief that the relative has the obligation of loyalty to them. This is not an ethnic problem it is a problem of family expectations, some people feel they always have a claim on a relative even if they don’t know that person.

    Many many families operate under the “What belongs to the family belongs to the family.” So if your poor they family will expect things like caring for each other, “sharing” food, money ect that is available to them in the economic situation. However all hell breaks lose if some one pulls them self out of poverty.
    Then a predatory/exploitative dynamic is revealed in all it’s ugliness ” What you have belongs to the family.” Lets face it many families have this belief as the definition of what a family is.

    Some people have children only to indoctrinate them with idea they “owe” their parents life long loyalty before anyone else and when they marry their spouse now owe them too.

    This is why so many people reject their families and embrace the idea of ; ” I worked my way out of where ever, no one helped me I did it all by myself.’ ” I’m not like all theses others loser who are lazy no good son of bitches who think I owe them something just because their my family!”

    This is not an ethnic issue I’ve seen this in white, black, hispanic families. It’s a function of people 1. Not having a realistic understanding of the limitations of a relative’s improved economic position. Part of it is denial they don’t won’t to know what a relative can really afford to do for them. If they acknowledge the actual limitations of the other person they will have to reduce/limit what they ask for. Which they do not want to do!

    2.Belief that the relative must now demonstrate their love and loyalty with money, gifts and never ever complain about it.

    3. Using the relationship between the other person and the family to justify their expectations, while rejecting the right of the relative to demand understanding that what they have does belong to them and they have the right to confront the family over their greed and opportunism.

    You have to lay down the boundary of what is reasonable to ask and what is unreasonable to ask. Personally I think you and your wife should MOVE AWAY CHANGE your phone numbers and take care of each other. Her family are ABUSING HER and YOU I rarely say this to people but YOU NEED to PULL a JOHN WAYNE on this drama. Confront them with the fact that the FREE RIDE is over and get they shit together and stop expecting your wife to meet all their needs!

    Watch them try to guilt her back then disown her if they can’t push her into being their personal bank.
    It is not right what they are doing to your family, you and your wife would not be disloyal l to cut them off they are not loyal to her.

    LOVE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HURT! THIS IS ABUSE! THEY are purposefully playing with your wife emotions and your money. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO STOP !

    My Man GET YOUR LADY and YOURSELF OUT even if you have to move back the UNITED STATES!

  • Jesus-Saves

    I have been living in the Philippines now for about 2 and a half years now, been married for 2. I am a younger guy and work in the mission field although I work full time. When me and my wife got married she explained to her family I wasn’t an ATM machine and had to work like everyone else does and have debts to pay too.(IRS and student loans) Both me and my wife work 5 to 6 days a week here in the Philippines and we do try to support part of the family who can’t work due to a disability but it’s not a lot of money around 3,000 pesos ($68) a month for rice and utilities.

    Once in a while one of her family members ask for money and we turn then down as we explain we have our own bills to pay and sorry but we can’t help. (I’ve seen the begging and crying too and it makes me sick because how can you stoop that low) What makes me upset is there are some family members who could go out and get a job but it is beneath them to do that type of work. It shows that some filipinos and filipinas would rather beg for money and be a freeloader than have enough self dignity to wash dishes, change diapers or wash clothes to only feed themselves. I’ve asked some of her family members, why don’t you get a job and contribute to society? I get blank stare for a response and usually and excuse.

    Another thing that gets me is how the parents all want to send there kids to college, which is honorable but they don’t want them to work until they get out of college. So they have all this skill but no experience when they graduate… I do see some younger people working but my wife explained to me that there families can’t afford to send them so they work. I had to work throughout college and started working at 12 mowing yards and cleaning gutters. Working builds character as my father used to tell me. There is plenty of opportunity here in the Philippines for work from driving tricycle, working as a sales position, to selling bbq or banana que on the corner.

  • Rui F Ribeiro

    And this is limited to relatives in Phillipines. When you marry a Pilipina abroad, besides them expecting your help to come to the country, they send almost all the money abroad, and then they cry their eyes out they need you to lend money, and when going out they expect you to foot all the bills. Like they are the only ones entitled to save money, or use it for their family. Even when one of the relatives came here, first thing I was asked was for a loan from someone I had never seen, and I was so mad I said no. Good thing I did it, because it set a precedent. I told her from that day on, money matters with your family, I do not want to deal with them, you speak with them. Honestly, my wife dreams with retiring in Phillipines, and I do have my doubts it would be better to do it in Thailand, just to not have relatives nearby – and I cannot complain much, I have come in her life late, and she has paid much of the “debts” that carry over from family duties. But I sure do not like their culture of entitlement.

  • alpha centauri

    I’ve been married to a Filipina for about 8 years. We’ve
    given the family back in the Philippines continued support every month since we
    met. I’m happy that we’ve been able to help them but I’ve been left with the
    same questions that the Author of this article is left with. I know not all
    Filipino families are like what the article describes but many people that I’ve
    met over the years who are married to a Filipina have the same stories,
    including myself. It’s not that I want them on their knees thanking me for our
    assistance, that’s actually the last thing I want. A little thanks here and
    there would be nice, but what really gets me is the lack of contentment. It
    seems any help given to them is only greeted with more requests. The old adage
    money is the root of all evil sure holds true in the Philippines. I think once (*some
    families) get a taste of financial assistance they’ll only be content once they
    have risen to the top of Filipino society and have ten maids, a mansion, a
    couple of cars and a monthly allowance that fits the lifestyle. Truly unbelievable.

  • ann

    Soooo true. I live in the states and every time my roaming phone rings, i know exactly why. They never ask me how i am, i had a miscarriage last month but my parents only say they’re sad for me in passing before asking for more money because something came up. Something ALWAYS comes up. The $300 monthly allowance is never enough. They live in the province and have no other bills to pay, i built then a house, send my brother to school and now my nieces and nephews, what do i get in return?? More complain, more sob stories so i send more money and every time i refuse to, im the worse person in the world .

  • cyjeren

    Sad but true, grabe! Thanks so much that my very own family is so well educated especially on this kind of matters.

  • KD

    Thank you for asking this. I think many Filipinos are too scared or embarrassed to ask this question because it makes our culture look pathetic. I have seen this kind of behavior time and time again. My parents are both hardworking Filipinos who left me when I was 1 yr old to my grandparents from my mom side. I was finally able to come to Cali when I was 7 yrs old. Growing up I remember resenting them because I didn’t understand why they had to leave me. I realized later on in life why they worked hard for not only themselves but for my siblings and I to have a better life here in America. They have helped any of their relatives who asked. I read some of the comments here. Of course the government back in Phili is still corrupt and many people search for jobs abroad. I have seen people have successful lives with hard work in Phili, I see it from my family on my dads side. As for my moms side, not so much happening over there. Both my parents are out of 8 children. Including my mom, 4 of them have jobs and work hard everyday. 2 are deceased and 2 are in great financial need. 3 live in Phili, and 1 of them is richer than my mom and their 2 other siblings in Cali. She does not really help her 2 siblings or so they tell my mom. There’s a family feud that’s been going on even before I was born. Anyways 2 siblings plus their kids and of course grandchildren.

    • KD

      ^ sorry its long. Anyways my mom continues to help her 2 sisters back home. I have got into arguments with my mom about her siblings. Luckily now 2 of her siblings who live in Cali also help out our relatives back home. But they are also telling my mom how tired they are with this. My mom says now she feels like its an obligation. But of course if her sisters call and say they are sick or there is something going on with my cousins or their kids, my mom will help. My dad knows about this and continues to be patient and giving towards my mom. When my mom got laid off last year, she was worried about how much she can send to the Phili with her unemployment benefit, that’s when my dad told her to stop. I know my mom sends a couple of $100 to them more than twice a year behind my dad’s back.

    • KD

      Part 3^it annoys me that I worked after high school and while in college to not only be more responsible but take a load off my parents only for them to be taken advantage of. Now that I am done with college, I plan to work and save. While my mom’s sister back home keeps telling my mom how nice it will be for her to retire with them, why so my parents are easy money access to them? U and your wife did the right thing and continue to stay away. U are family to them if u have nothing to give but continue to be there. If not, then that is their fault for making the decisions they did. Take care over there. Phili is a great country with amazing culture and heartwarming individuals but there are those who will steal just like in any country. God bless????

    • KD

      Part 3^it annoys me that I worked after high school and during college to not only be more responsible but take a load off my parents, only for them to be taken advantage of. Now that I am done with college, I plan to work and save. While my mom’s sister back home keeps telling my mom how nice it will be for her to retire with them, why so my parents are easy money access to them? U and your wife did the right thing and continue to stay away. U are family to them if u have nothing to give but continue to be there. If not, then that is their fault for making the decisions they did. For my mom, I know that she will feel guilty if something happens to her siblings, niece, nephews..if she doesn’t help. When her mom (my grandma) passed away, some of her siblings made her feel guilty and blamed my mom for her death. Ridiculous. It was because a few months before my grandma’s passing, she asked my mom for money. My mom couldn’t send any because I was hospitalized and after a month, so was my dad. None of her other siblings stepped up to help my grandma at the time. So when she passed away they were all bitter and of course looked for someone to blame.

    • KD

      Part 4^The caring and loving trait that many Filipinos hold dearly in our culture is the same reason why they struggle with their own lives. And that to me is pathetic. When is helping enough for them? Never. Buy a jeep for them to use as a money maker or a camera for a brother in laws business and what happens, nothing. Both their husbands cheat while my mom helps their wives ( her sisters). Then we have their grown adult kids asking for help because they don’t want to work night shift anymore. So my mom gives her niece money so one can quit her job. My mom only asks that once she gets another job to help her own mom (mom’s sis) but of course her niece doesn’t do shit. Selfish. That’s why I don’t talk to my cousins back home. She has the audacity to send her child to a prestigious private preschool yet can’t help her own mom buy rice, medicine, or just to spend time with her. Sorry for sharing my personal baggage. I just wanted to show u that you’re not alone. Many of us have to deal with this bs. Take care over there. Phili is a great country with amazing culture and heartwarming individuals but there are those who will steal just like in any country. God bless????

  • Samantha Sanchez

    I am a 16 year old filipina and i can say that the answer is simple; there’s actually an old mentality in the Philippines that people from foreign countries have it easy and earn a ton of cash. They (some of the filipinos) think that whenever a pinoy/pinay goes to work in abroad that person has a lot of money. I think they assume that because when OFWs and other people who worked in abroad come to the Philippines they see “balikbayans” have lots of material things like cellphones, shoes, clothes, imported food, etc. There is also a custom in our culture to share almost everything with relatives. I also had an experience like that. My parents both live in the US and are already long time citizens in S.A Texas. My mom is a nurse at Methodist hospital and my father is an engineer (i forgot where he works so :3 meh :p ) . Anyway, my mother is the 4th child among 6 children and earns the most out of all her siblings so whenever our relatives have problems with financial things they immediately go to my mom. My mother paid for my cousin’s college which she is paying right now but her sibling is the worst. Her (my cousin) has an older brother who has 2 kids, one girl and one boy. The girl studied AB Mass Communication at FEU and my mother paid for all her expenses including her school supplies, tuition fee, misc. fee, and a whole lot more. When she graduated she even had the nerve to ask for a graduation gift. Good thing my aunt who was a college professor apprehended her. After graduating she worked for a while like 2-3 years but stopped because she got married and decided to devote her time to be “the best mother” for her ONE CHILD. Her (the girl) brother on the other hand also studied at FEU but took up BS HRM. Again, my mother paid for his entire college education. My mother also paid for his high school education and even bought him an iphone 5. That nephew of mine had the nerve to demand things such as gaming consoles even when he repeated 1st year & 2nd year high school. Their parents also demand things such as clothes, shoes and other stuff and when my mom is here they always ask for money. Unbeknownst to my mom my older cousin often beats me when he’s drunk which is all the and his wife always lies to make it look it was my fault. I also had an uncle who was super dependent on my mom because he had diabetes but he used the money for gambling and such. I also have another cousin who tricked my mother to give him money so he can study to be a sea man but ended up not going because he spent the money on lavish things. As for my father’s side i often hear my aunts discussing some issues there but i don’t know much of that.

    Anyway the bottom line is that for some filipinos;

    Foreigners = Money
    Working in abroad= easy money
    OFWs= has tons and tons of money
    Filipinos/Filipinas + Foreigners + Marriage= lots of Money = a happy life

  • Sheila Mae Bacayo

    Ungrateful, lazy-asses.

  • bratkrack


  • edz

    I aggree of what dicky cole said.. enough is enough.. i was married to a nice Canadian man too and im so lucky to have him but i will never let my relatives to take advantage of my husband generosity,thanks God my family isn’t like them.. helping is good but we should put limitation on it..

  • Felix Bellen

    they are jusy LAZY!!!!

    • JasmineandJade

      It is part of their culture to “share the wealth”. Yes some are lazy, but living here in the Philippines for 4 years now I have seen pleanty of ambititious hard working Filipinos who just can’t find work or don’t have the money to finish even a high school education. Public school education here is NOT free as it is in the USA. They have fees that have to be paid just to take tests in each of their classes or they can’t receive a grade or credit for the class, and they have to buy all their books and supplies. This is sometimes very difficult when a full time worker (I am talking a taxi driver working 12-14 hrs a day 6-7 day a week or a woman working in a store 9-10 hrs a day 6 -7 days a week will make about $250-to 400 US dollars a MONTH and try to support a wife and kids on this??? Also wanting more of what they see others have is a part of the human psyche. If this weren’t true why would so many people rush to buy the newest cell phone or TV or computer releases??? or a new car ever 1-3 years when it has a much longer useful life with proper maintenance?

      • Jesus-Saves

        When I was in high school in the US it wasn’t free. We had to pay about $300 a year in fees. My brother in law here works at a factory and pulls in about $350 plus about $50 riding tricycle on the weekends and his wife makes about $50 selling banana que and they have 7 kids but still manage to pay the fees. I agree it would be hard but if you want that education you for your children you find a way.