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Foreigners find home and love in this ‘Barangay Expat’ in Cebu


It’s no secret that many foreign tourists feel right at home in the Philippines. They fall in love with our warm climate, pristine beaches, and hospitable people, so much so that some of them have decided to never leave and settle down here.

According to an episode of “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho,” Barangay Basdiot in Moalboal, Cebu has so many expatriates that you could call it “Barangay Expat.”

The barangay has a population of around 6,800. In Sitio Panagsama in particular, many foreigners have found the love of their lives.

Love wins

Andy, a 59-year-old German national, came to Moalboal in 2016. Initially, Andy was there just for a vacation, but he ended up falling in love and eventually decided to stay for good.

While he was eating halo-halo at a restaurant, he locked eyes with Filipino trans woman Marwin and fell head over heels for her.

“Actually, hindi ako masyadong kumain, pa-char-char lang,” Marwin said. “Lagi siyang nakatingin. Akala ko na lalapit siya sa akin.”

(“He kept looking at me. I thought he would approach me.”)

Andy, however, got shy and did not make his approach.

Instead of simply waiting, Marwin made the move herself. She asked for paper from a waitress, wrote her number, and slid it under a plate.

“Mga after 2 minutes, tumawag siya! Sobrang saya ko,” she said. “That night, sinabi ko siya na, ‘Actually I'm not a girl.’ Sabi niya, ‘I know. I accept you.’”

(“About two minutes later, he called my phone. I was so happy! That night, I told him, ‘Actually I’m not a girl. He said, ‘I know. I accept you.’”)

The pair had their share of bashers, but Marwin just ignored them and continued to live her life with Andy. In January, the two of them finally got married in a same-sex union in Germany.

“It took a very long time because of the pandemic. It was the best feeling I ever had in my life,” Andy said. “I have to treasure it because nowadays it's really hard to find someone to love you unconditionally.”

‘Heartful cafe’

Other foreigners set up businesses in the barangay. One of them is Mark, a French-Canadian who opened a cafe together with Lileth, his girlfriend of three years.

The two of them met through a common friend, who asked them if they would like to play billiards together. Lileth did not know how to play, but Mark did not mind.

The two of them now have a son named Malcolm and they teach him how to speak French, English, and Bisaya.

Dive deep in love

Another couple met through their shared passion for diving. JP, a Belgian national and diving instructor, originally came for the famous Sardine Run of Moalboal, but he ended up falling deeply in love with single mom and freediver Dyna.

He saw her profile photo in a Facebook group for divers and befriended her.

JP eventually confessed his feelings for her, but she didn’t jump in right away because of her previous heartbreaks.

“I'm scared of having a relationship again. But my friends also told me to try and give him a chance,” Dyna said.

When the two finally met, Dyna began teaching JP how to speak Bisaya. JP also treated her child as his own, so she finally let go and allowed herself to fall for him.

“At the beginning, it was just a friendship. Just want to share the same passion. And then, we have some connection and it was kind of natural,” JP said.

“You are the woman of my life. You are my sunshine. Mahal na mahal kita, Baby.”

—MGP, GMA News

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