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Is Religion Important in Filipinos’ Dating Lives?

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7 mins. read

Topics: Inter-Faith,Starting Out,Dating,Getting Serious

“I believe the world is moving in a direction where diverse couples and families will become the norm, and I’m willing to be a driver of that change.”

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When looking for love, many people have a few things they’re willing to compromise, and a few other things they aren’t. Some might be willing to try long distance relationships, while others can’t imagine dating beyond certain age gaps. Some might date only people who want to have kids, others might not date certain zodiac signs.

One consideration, however, usually merits more discussion. People’s faiths can determine everything from their daily activities and diets, to their family values and traditions, and, of course, marriage practices and laws—all things that affect romantic relationships.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has identified over 90 different religious affiliations in the country. While Filipinos are predominantly Catholic, many still find themselves in love with someone of a faith other than their own. But just how important is that for Filipinos?

On an Instagram survey directed to Filipino readers, we asked if they have dated someone of a different religion, if they’re open to dating people of different religions, and if they would convert to another religion to be able to marry their partner. Here are the results from around 300 respondents per question: 54 percent said they have dated someone of a different religion; 76 percent said they are open to dating people of a different religion; and 80 percent said they would not convert religions to marry their partners.

Below, we asked some Filipinos to tell us more.

Faisal Tabusalla and Angelica Alberto are of different faiths but the same love. Photo: Courtesy of Angelica Alberto

Faisal Tabusalla, 26 and Angelica Alberto, 25.

Movement Instructors from Muntinlupa City

Hey, Faisal and Angelica. What religion do you practice as individuals?

Faisal: Islam.

Angelica: Catholicism.

Were you always open to dating people with a different religion?

Faisal: Yes, because I was able to understand from a young age that even if partners have different religions as individuals, they could somehow work it out as a couple. I saw in my own family, married couples who still kept their religions as individuals, and also married couples where one individual decided to convert religions for the other. The couples were and continue to be very happy in both situations, and that inspired me growing up, since I knew a similar situation would occur to me, being Muslim immersed in a predominantly Catholic culture.

Angelica: I guess that was something I never explicitly asked myself, but it seemed clear to me that religion wouldn’t really be an issue in choosing a partner for myself. I come from a pretty devout Catholic family though, and Fai and I were so young when we started dating nine years ago. His religion was definitely a topic that often came up in discussions, mostly among my extended family who didn’t know him or other Muslims personally.

Would one of you convert religions to get married?

Angelica: I’m pretty sure we’ll find an arrangement where neither of us really have to. Fai and I are not traditionally religious, but we both highly value our personal faith. I don’t see why that should change just because we got married. Personally, I’m not tied to having the whole traditional “Catholic wedding” if it means Fai will be forced to convert. We’ve talked about it before, and we agree that both religions will be present in whatever kind of future we build together. If or when we have kids, they will be exposed to both so they can choose for themselves. I know it won’t be easy, and we’ll probably have to deal with a lot of roadblocks and criticism, but I believe the world is moving in a direction where diverse couples and families will become the norm, and I’m willing to be a driver of that change.

Faisal: Back in the day, I used to always think about it and considered it because my mom actually converted from Catholicism to Islam for her marriage with my dad, but like what Angelica said, we’ve grown to understand that we could find an arrangement where neither of us would have to do that. We respect each other’s beliefs and don’t see the need for converting religions just for marriage.

Relian Soriente thinks understanding the beliefs of a partner with a different faith will lead to a better understanding of their relationship. Photo: Courtesy of Relian Soriente

Relian Soriente, 26.

Investment Analyst from Parañaque

Hey, Relian. What religion do you practice?

Roman Catholicism.

Are you open to dating someone of a different religion? Why, or why not?

Yes, I’m open to dating someone of a different religion, but I do have reservations—that it should still be a Christian denomination. This would be easier because of the shared or similar beliefs.

Would you convert religions to marry your partner?

No. I would not convert my religion for marriage because these practices are what I grew up with, but I will respect our differences. I will try my best to understand their beliefs and practices, and this is something I also expect from my partner. Understanding my partner’s beliefs and doing their practices is for us to have a better understanding of our relationship.

Andi Legaspi is open to dating someone of a different religion. Photo: Courtesy of Andi Legaspi

Andi Legaspi, 26.

Marketing Specialist from Quezon City

Hey, Andi. What religion do you practice?

I don’t practice a religion even though I was baptized Catholic, but I do believe in a higher being.

Are you open to dating someone of a different religion? Why, or why not?

Yes! I think religion is just one aspect of a person, and the deal breaker for me is being forceful about their beliefs and expecting me to be a believer, too, which can also be said about political beliefs and opinions of society. It’s all about respect—It’s fine with me if they want to go to mass every Sunday or don’t eat pork, but don’t expect me to join them weekly or give up lechon. It’s possible to have conversations about religion without it sounding like a sermon or an attempt to convert.

Would you convert to marry your partner?

I don’t think I’ll get married in the first place, but no. It goes back to not wanting to be forced into something. I’m not closing my doors on the possibility of either one, but the likelihood of me agreeing to convert is very slim.

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How big a role religion plays in people’s dating lives depends on the people themselves, but perhaps at the end of the day it comes down to a few things—understanding, acceptance, and of course, love.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Source: Romano Santos, VICE

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