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Mixed Skin

By David Haldane

October 20, 2022



It never occurred to us we were ahead of our time.

Back in 2006, when my Filipino wife and I first met online, it didn’t seem like we were doing anything particularly innovative. We knew several couples who had previously followed the same path. And most of those around us were welcoming and kind.

Then, after I published an account of our courtship and marriage in a well-read West Coast magazine, the angry letters started pouring in. Their gist: that she was a submissive Asian woman looking for money and a green card while I was a privileged white man desirous only of passionate sex and a trophy wife.

“If I were him, I’d sleep with one eye open,” a wary reader ominously warned. Why? Because, the reader continued, “His new little honey may not think this ‘arrangement’ is so wonderful.”

For a time the story went viral on blogs, vlogs and at least one LA-area TV show. Print publications joined the fray. I was invited to read my article for a popular California Public Radio program and an account on Kami, one of the Philippines’ leading news sites, garnered over 1.5 million views. Then the producers of a weekly GMA7 drama series contacted us about re-enacting our story for what they promised would be a highly touted episode.

That show never materialized, but clearly our little love saga had sparked a raging binational debate: were interracial, cross-cultural relationships like ours matters of mere convenience, or could they actually be real?

“Oh my God,” one woman lamented, “I wouldn’t let that shriveled thing near me for any amount of money.”

But then some supportive voices chimed in. “Who are any of you,” one wondered, “to judge the happiness or motivation of two people you don’t know? Relationships are hard and it’s great if [they] can make it work.”

Here’s how I handled the matter in a 2015 memoir called Nazis & Nudists. “Through it all,” I reported, “Ivy maintained an attitude of stoicism; after reading a few letters, she simply stopped. ‘Do any of these people know us?’ she asked rhetorically, responding to my expressions of concern. ‘Do they have our address? Will they come to our door?’ Then why, she wondered, should she deign to be bothered?

“I, on the other hand, read every word and felt chastened. But I also felt something else: surprise and disappointment at the ferocity of the assault. For ours, in theory, is a tolerant and open society, is it not? I couldn’t imagine anyone publicly expressing this kind of outrage… Yet Ivy and I, it seemed, were fair game. Obviously there were some major gaps in the texture of our tolerance.”

Boy, how times have changed.

A few months ago, I saw a column in the Los Angeles Times proposing an “innovative” solution to the so-called identity politics that divides America; interracial marriage. “Relationships and marriages between people from different racial or religious communities,” wrote Justin Gest, an associate professor at George Mason University, “blur the boundaries that otherwise separate diverse societies [foiling] political campaigns and policies that aim to divide.” His radical suggestion: “Build relationships with people different from you.”

Apparently, that idea isn’t as new as it sounds; my home state of California, it turns out, pioneered the concept of intermarriage in a 1948 state Supreme Court decision striking down laws prohibiting matrimony between white people and those then considered racial minorities. The case predated by almost 20 summers, the US Supreme Court’s Loving vs. Virginia decision legalizing interracial marriage nationwide.

And heck, it happened the year before I was born. Maybe that’s why I felt so empowered, decades later, to marry the love of my life. It’s never much bothered us that several shades of color separate the textures of our skin. Nor does it bother our children, whose lovely complexions now fill those intervening voids. For we are family, and our laughter and tears taste the same. And that, we believe, is what God and nature always intended.





(David Haldane’s latest book, “A Tooth in My Popsicle and Other Ebullient Essays on Becoming Filipino,” is due out in January. A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where he helped write two Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, Haldane is an award-winning journalist, author and radio broadcaster with homes in Joshua Tree, California, and Northern Mindanao, Philippines. This column appears weekly in the Mindanao Gold Star Daily.)




  1. Donald Loomis says:

    David, I agree with you totally and on many levels. My wife and I met decades before cell phones, personal computers and the internet. We met through a social group called ‘Japan International’. It was a correspondence club but not for ‘pen pals’….this was exclusively for marriage minded men and women. For a fee, you would recieve a catalog—literally. It was divided by country. I dated a filipina while in high school so I already knew what kind of girl I was interested in.
    Communication proved to be quite a problem…the first call I got from her was around 2am, California time. It consisted mainly of embarrassed giggling on her side.
    Additional calls followed and we wrote religiously, with me writing 2 letters to her one. I proposed to her and had to wait for almost 2 months before she said YES.
    Ok, now we were officially engaged!….
    My so-called friends treated the new with luke warm reaction, to say the least. Many asked me what was wrong with American girls…why did I have to import one?….’better watch out,’ was a common reaction…’she’s only gonna come here to get your money….’

    What money”,’ I usually replied….”Hell, I’m more broke than you are…!”

    When she did finally arrive, the jet lag was so bad she slept the entire trip from Los Angeles to a mountain community called Frazier Park, Ca where I lived at the time.
    The Catholic church wouldn’t marry us cause I wasn’t catholic…the Baptists wouldn’t touch us cause she wasn’t Baptist….we finally had to go to the Justice of the Peace and got married in JUdge’s chambers.

    We had a small informal family mostly wedding reception at home. I almost threw my grandparents out of the house because of their racist remarks…my grandfather said ‘well, she’s probably allright for an asian….”
    I did in fact show him the door, despite my mother’s panicked reaction.
    “That was your grandfather!,” she exclaimed….”my father!”
    “Then,” I replied…”Your father should’ve shown more respect for his daughter in law…”

    They did in fact change their ways and later they and my filipina wife were inseperable.

    I believe one reason we’ve been together for going on 40 years is because I not only married a filipina woman, I married into her family and her culture as well. Her family loves me, I try to learn more visayan phrases constantly and even sing Tagalog and Visayan Karoake.

    I’m glad my wife and I know the two of you and I treasure that friendship. Also, we’re here in Sudlon if you ever come this way…..

    • David Haldane says:

      Hey, Don, what a great story! Of curse, there is much there I can relate to, though you guys went through all of it long before we did; we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in a few months. Don’t know if I’ll live to see our 40th but, hey, no harm in hoping. We value your friendship as well, and would love to see you sometime — either at your place, our ours. We will definitely keep Sudlon in mind; please do the same for Surigao. Cheers.

  2. Sios vacation.This means that all changes are very good.

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