Mum wanted me to get mail-order bride
Being single during Chinese New Year is no fun.
Especially for those who get incessantly ragged by relatives to get hitched soon.
Terence Cao, whose mum and aunt have sought to lend him a helping hand in the love department, has not been spared the lectures either.
He came close to being married in 2010 but the wedding was called off by his fiancee.
The local actor, who is not attached at the moment, said that although he loves his mum dearly, she has been relentless about finding him a wife for as long as he can remember.
He revealed that she had even wanted to get him a mail-order bride from China, Vietnam or Cambodia.
Cao, 46, told The New Paper: "It (my mum asking me to find a wife) will never stop.
"She said 'Son, it's all right, she can be a foreigner. I don't need you to love anyone but you will have someone to take care of you when you are old'.
"She also said that if I didn't get married, I will be lonely in the later part of life.
"I reassured her that I was fine because I had her and she's the most amazing mum. I like to pick her brains about things, she has a refreshing way of seeing the world."
Cao said that he was shocked when his mum, Madam Lucy Tan, who is in her 60s, brought up the topic of a mail-order bride some time back. He told her that he would not consider it as he could not accept the fact that these women were willing to marry him out of necessity.
A mail-order bride is a woman who lists herself in catalogues and is selected by men for marriage.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Said Cao: "Most of these mail-order brides want to come here to find husbands because they need to survive and don't enjoy a good quality of life back home.
"The language barrier as well as the difference in cultures will also be difficult to get past.
"I'm still going to look for a partner the old-fashioned way."
What he is open to, however, is being set up on blind dates.
His mum's younger sister also got a piece of the match-making action some time back when she introduced him to her friend.
Cao said that he went through with the date but he could not connect with his aunt's friend because they did not have much in common.
"We had a good laugh and got along just fine.
"But since we had different social circles, it was hard to bond.
"I'm looking for someone who has a lot of time for me, someone who would wait around at the film set for me when I work."
Cao's desire to settle down may surprise those who have bought into his seeming playboy persona.
Those who know him say that he is a friendly chap whose well-meaning intentions may sometimes be misconstrued as flirty innuendos.
Said local actress Jacelyn Tay, 38, who once dated Cao: "I believe that Terence wants to settle down and I'm happy for him. He just hasn't met 'the one' yet.
"I can help him find a wife, I know what he likes.
"He has a good heart and is a helpful person and being good-looking doesn't help. Good-looking guys always seem like playboys.
"As for a mail-order bride, I think it's in fashion these days to 'order online'."
She said: "My advice to him is that marriage is not about finding the perfect person but staying in it and making it work till that person becomes perfect to you."
Cao's manager Ho Yueh Mei gave an insight to what he was like in real life.
She said: "He's not a playboy, he's just very endearing to a lot of people.
"Ask anyone and they will tell you he gets along with everyone on any film set and he will be busy running around and taking care of people.
"Sometimes when you're too friendly, other people may take it that you are flirtatious. For example, when he cooks and feeds the crew, he will make sure to serve the ladies first. Terence is nice to everyone, even old aunties that he meets at hawker centres."
Four years ago, Cao had his first and only brush with marriage. He said that his then fiancee had called off the wedding as he had been careless with her.
Calling it a shortcoming on his part, he said that there are no hard feelings between them now.
"I guess I took things for granted and it got too much for her. Poor girl. I hope she's happy now."
But the bachelor has not given up on love just yet. Said Cao: "When I meet the right person and if she wants kids, I'll make sure I'll do whatever it takes. Whatever works for her.
"I think I'm in a better position now to change things or myself to suit my partner. Looks no longer matter to me because they can be deceiving.
"The sweetest thing to me is seeing an old lady and an old man crossing the road, holding hands.
"I'm no longer about the superficial stuff."
FATHERLY LOVE... FROM AFAR
This is his first Chinese New Year as a dad.
So in accordance with Chinese custom, one of the first things that Terence Cao did was to send his three-year-old daughter, who is living in Shanghai with her mum, a nice hongbao.
He declined to reveal how much he gave her, but laughed at the fact that when she received it, she "couldn't be bothered" with it.
He said that he has worked out a plan to spend time with his daughter.
Since she will be with her mum during Chinese New Year and visiting her relatives in Shanghai, he will make a trip there later in the year to see her.
Cao made headlines when he found out two years ago that he had fathered a child with a Shanghainese woman after she came here and introduced him to his daughter.
He said that he has remained good friends with his daughter's mum and is now focusing on being a dad.
"I love my daughter a lot and we'll try to communicate on as many social media platforms. We FaceTime on a daily basis and what I've learnt is to let her lead the conversation.
"I've never been a parent so I'm learning new things about her every day. I don't think it's that difficult being a dad, being a mum is way more tough.
"As a dad, you get to be the good cop and ask her what she wants me to buy her, while mum is all about colds, fevers and cleaning up," he said.
He added that his daughter can talk the whole day and he's the one who has to keep up with her.
"I will never separate mother and daughter, so I have decided to pay for my daughter to be educated in good schools in Shanghai instead of Singapore. I'm grateful for the chance to experience fatherhood."