Love knows no boundaries


BEST FRIENDS Anje Lou Barcelona and Naruecha Mongcon Sawangwong were both overseas workers in Taiwan. The friendship blossomed and the married couple now have a little boy, Johnny. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

PHITSANULOK, THAILAND—Love is the universal language. Filipinos in various parts of the world prove this again and again when they fall in love with foreigners despite language and cultural barriers.

Here in Thailand, businessman Reynold Sioson found love in the sprawling Chatuchak Market, the world’s largest weekend flea market. He says he knew it the moment he saw her selling souvenirs at one of the market shops, even though they had initial difficulties communicating.

“It was a hot December day in Bangkok in 2010.  I remember she sold me an overpriced Buddha statuette because I told her she was pretty,” says 35-year-old Reynold, a native of Bulacan, fondly recalling his first meeting with Pim.

After that meeting, Reynold visited Bangkok many more times—not to buy souvenirs, but to win Pim’s heart.

Eventually, “we had this mutual understanding that we would spend each moment of my stay together. I would just help her tend to her shop or we would drive out of the city for a few days.

Pim, 33, found ways of letting Reynold know that the feeling was mutual. They were married in 2011.

Filipina Anje Lou Barcelona, on the other hand, fell in love with a Thai man.

Anje Lou, 29, was an overseas worker in Taiwan in 2008, when she met 33-year-old Naruecha Mongcon Sawangwong, also an overseas worker from Thailand.

“We were best of friends, in spite of the language barrier. We used to communicate in Chinese. After his contract expired, he decided to go home. I decided to follow him to Thailand because I couldn’t imagine myself living without him,” Anje says.

Anje is now a teacher in Phitsanulok, while Naruecha takes care of a farm.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT Reynold Sioson bought a statuette from Pim’s store at a Bangkok market and was hooked. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Different customs

Marrying a Thai woman could be expensive because of the customary dowry.

But in Reynold and Pim’s case, the modern couple did away with the practice. They were married in 2011 in a simple civil ceremony.

Anje was given a dowry even though she is a foreigner. She and Naruecha were married in a civil ceremony in April last year.

“We are planning to have a Church wedding in the future,” she says.

Religious differences

With different cultural backgrounds, in addition to the language barrier, Reynold and Pim encounter “misinterpretations.” But for Reynold, the usual give and take, kiss and make up, are always the solutions.

Love can also overcome religious differences.  Reynold and Pim believe that religion should not define them as persons and should not be something that would keep them estranged.

“We’re both free to practice our own faith, it was a mutual understanding. Sometimes at night, you’ll find us both kneeling back to back, praying; I find it bittersweet and amusing,” says Reynold.

Anje says, “as much as possible, I try to understand Buddhism, and then I introduce my Christian faith to him… slowly but heartily, and it


Raising Thai-Filipino kids

Anje and Nareucha’s 1-year-old son, Nathapoom or Johnny, is not only exposed to Thai culture. The growing Filipino community in Phitsanulok is helping to shape his identity as a multicultural person.

“Although we live in Thailand and Nareucha and my son haven’t been to the Philippines, my husband does not deny him his other side—his being a Filipino. We always socialize with our Filipino friends and host  gatherings. It is important for Johnny to learn my Filipino culture, so he will not grow up ignorant,” explains Anje.

“No matter if we continue living here in the Philippines or settle in Thailand or migrate somewhere else, my son, who will be born on May, will not be deprived of his Filipino heritage,” Reynold affirms.

Beyond borders

Anje believes that in any marriage, giving 100% in a relationship can make it work.

“If you have doubts don’t marry,” she says.

She adds, “Thai men are the best lovers, always giving 100% if they really love you,” she says.

Reynold and Pim say that nationalities are just words stamped on our passports for political reasons.

On love in a globalized world, Reynold has to this to say:

“Firstly, love and appreciation are universal; you can never go wrong with these two.

“Secondly, no barrier is too wide or impenetrable; there’s always a way to get through but you will have to find it “as a couple.”

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Eddie AAA Calderon

    Yes, I have an article in somosprimoscom on this matter published in June, 2012 with pictures

    • Todd

      I saw the picture with your mother in law on the right. The expression she has on her face tells me you doesn’t approve of her daughter married to you.

      • Eddie AAA Calderon

        No, my mother in law was very happy that I married her daughter. Her daughter is the only child of hers who married a foreigner and living in a very far away country. See my September, 2013 article in somosprimoscom to see her pictures with us. I have written for this article every month since September, 2011

      • Eddie AAA Calderon

        I forgot to tell you that you may want to read my articles on this Hispanic magazine which includes harana, my world travel in 1970 in six articles, lessons in the language of Don Miguel de Cervantes, why Spanish never became the lingua franca of the Philippines, etc.

      • Eddie AAA Calderon

        And if my mother-in-law who is 7 years my junior did not approve her daughter marrying me why did she and her children let her travel to the USA alone on a fiancee visa and to live with me in Minnesota. When I talk to my mother-in-law over the phone, she has always exhibited that warmth feelings towards me and she does love her two good looking American grandsons of Filipino and Kyrgyzstani origin.

  • Eddie AAA Calderon

    If someone is against interracial marriage which means marrying someone from different race and not necessarily from different culture, there is no law and even in the bible that this is prohibited. Interracial marriage should not be confused with internationa or interculturall marriage like the case of the article above where a Thai and a Filipino got married. They both belong to the same race –brown race but not culture and same nation wise. Even in our country we have different cultures and sub cultures and not to mention difference in religion. But there is no law in the yes of the country nor of God prohibiting this sort of marriage.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos