A heartbreaking online love story
Over a Cup of Tea
Heidi M. Pascual
Publisher & Editor
2006 Journalist of the year
for the State of Wisconsin
My best friend, Claire, has been a widow for more than decade. She has two grown-up children (one of them
abroad), both professionals and living with their respective families. Claire has admitted to me that loneliness
overcomes her often that she cries in the middle of the night blaming her dead husband for her misery. At 55, she
wants to find a man that could possibly alleviate her suffering and offer a life of harmonious partnership which she
said was absent during her entire married life.

As a Filipina, however, she knows that it is difficult to find a Filipino male willing to take a widow as his wife, and
considering her age, the harder it is to convince a man that she has all it takes to be a better-than-good wife.

So, like many lonely women all over the world, Claire signed up for membership in a few dating sites and began
communicating with prospective new friends and/or partners. These dating sites filter information about their
members, give out few personal information, and highlight matching criteria for careful consideration of “seekers.”
Claire began to communicate with a few possible friends who are foreigners, but nothing seemed to happen in the love area. She has confided in
me her frustrations, until one day she decided she won’t respond anymore to any invitation in dating sites from people viewing her profiles or
expressing interest in her. She said she’s fed up and tired of anything online. She only kept a Facebook account to connect with her family and
close friends.

Thus, for several years now, Claire has stopped looking for the man of her dreams. She has focused her time on her work, as she still works as
secretary to a high government official in the city. At home, she helps take care of two small grandchildren, aged 7 and 5, kids of one of her two

Then one day, when she opened her Facebook account, she noticed a request for friendship from a good-looking foreigner, maybe in his 60s,
listing one of Claire’s close friends as a “mutual friend.” Claire used to simply delete similar requests because she knew that there are tons of
scammers and crazy folk online out to fool you. But she thought about the mutual friend, and decided to first ask the “foreigner” to tell her more
about himself as an introduction. At the same time, Claire asked her mutual friend for more information; however, her friend simply replied, “I got
hundreds of foreigner friends, I really don’t know much about any of them!”

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Initially, Claire wanted to delete the foreigner’s request for friendship, but she thought, “Why not; this man could be real.” She informed me about
her action after that, so I was really privy to what was happening to Claire and the “man” for about a week.

The foreigner introduced himself as a petroleum engineer from Brazil who’s working with Texaco in Houston, Texas, but is assigned in the
company’s branch in the United Kingdom. He claimed he’s a widower with a 14-year old son, and at that particular moment was offshore at an oil
rig in the Atlantic, 400 miles from the coast of UK. Claire was immediately impressed by the man’s intro, and a look at his photo/s made Claire’s
heart beat a bit faster than usual.

Excited, she immediately called me about this guy named “Louis” and sent me a copy of his photo via Messenger. Indeed, the “Brazilian” was very
good looking, and exuded a respectable persona, fit for a wealthy petroleum engineer! “He is truly attractive,” I told Claire. “But is he real?” I
warned her. Claire dismissed my question, and I thought, “Wow, she’s enamored by ‘Louis’.” I just advised her to be very careful and update me
on her possible new friend.

For more than a week, Claire was busy, always online, obviously corresponding to “Louis.” Then one day, she called me and asked me to
assess some stuff she gathered from her exchange of communication with “Louis.” First, she told me she’s fascinated by the guy, but that she
has some problems believing him. She sent me a copy of her entire conversation with “Louis,” and after reading the texts, I knew why Claire was
feeling suspicious and unhappy. First, after only a few exchange of sentences, the guy already sent love messages to Claire. “Louis” then
claimed he couldn’t do video chat with Claire because it was against company policy (so Claire couldn’t see the guy she was talking to). His
phone was lost in the sea so he couldn’t send Claire his photos with his son nor take selfies of him on the oil rig. He kept on promising Claire
that he’d do video chat with her soon, and that he’s planning to
visit Claire in the Philippines and meet her family.

What turned me upside down was the guy’s English grammar!
“Louis” claimed he completed his engineering course and master’
s from Oxford University, yet his English was obviously not one you’
ll expect from an Oxford graduate. Being a writer and editor, it’s rare
for me not to catch blatant errors in grammar. Also there’s no way
one can fall in love after a few exchange of minor information
online. I told Claire “Louis” isn’t what and who he claims to be, so
she should block him from her friends’ list.

Claire was down, I could sense, so I told her, squeeze the guy and
get him to tell you the truth! Claire confronted “Louis” and frankly
told him she didn’t believe anything he said because of his
“Speedy Gonzales’ strategy”, outrageous grammar, and failure to
deliver on-the-spot photos of him on the oil rig as well as to video
chat with her. Claire likewise found out Louis’ old FB postings
since 2017, which were entries about Nigerian politics. Her final
question to “Louis” was, “Are you Nigerian?”

The guy, obviously cornered, replied “Yes, I am. I’m sorry.” Then he
asked Claire, “If I introduced myself as Nigerian, will you talk to
me?” She responded, “Why not? The color of your skin has nothing
to do with being friends!”

“Louis” said he’s only 25 years old and a third-year college student
in communications. Claire was crying to me when she said she
told the boy, “Don’t do that ever again to others, son. God will not
like that. You’re deceiving and hurting people. Just study hard, work
even harder, and have a good heart. Only then will you succeed in
life. Goodbye, and good luck!”

Claire then blocked “Louis” from her FB friends’ list, with tears in
her eyes.