Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hijaking of Christmas

Yes it's true, Christmas is hijacked by the mall and thrown in the sea of consumerism.
Christmas is not anymore praying together but eating and drinking together until we dropped dead.
Christmas is not anymore simbang gabi but disco sa kalye.
Christmas is not anymore christmas wreath but alcoholic drinks.
Christmas is not anymore 12 days of celebrating Christ but 12 days of celebrating Mammon.
Christmas is not Silent Night but Karaoke Night.
Christmas is not anymore caroling but shopping.
Christmas is not anymore Bethlehem manger but debt counting.
Christmas is not anymore celebration of faith but celebration of family fights.
Christmas is not anymore rejoicing but dwelling on pain and loneliness.
We hijacked the true meaning of Christmas and people asking themselves why they are not joyful this Christmas season.
How will you be joyful:
1. celebrate reconciliation this Christmas.
2. Celebrate reconnection this Christmas.
3. Celebrate the spirit of generosity.
Celebrate simply and if possible with little expenses.
Have a blessed Christmas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Consumer Country

Mario (not his real name) is an MBA classmate and officemate of mine when we were working then in Ayala. We have a lot of qualities in common that’s why we were at ease with each other for at most 10 years. One thing that differ him from me is that he is a spendthrift. Every payday I save money to invest in my house and college education of my children. Mario is different, he spend as if there is no tomorrow. Branded clothes, shoes, neckties, handkerchiefs and regular dining in fine restaurants are his usual “investments”. He is known in the office for being maporma. Me? I am just a regular guy.
When we reached 30 years old, Mario and I decided to have a small drink at the Greenbelt. After we downed 2 bottles, Mario got under the influence. He began to tell stories to me that he is heavily indebted. More than hundred thousand because of the plastic (credit card!!!). He can not pay anymore the loan because he has other loans with lots of people. He is about to be kick out from his apartment if he will not pay the rent which is due for 3 months. His girlfriend leaved him when she learned that he is bankrupt. Mario is totally devastated. Victim of zero savings habit and 100% consumptions propelled by his eveready credit card.
My life was reversed of him. I am not rich but I have a house and lot , college plan for my two children are paid in full and I have investment in mutual funds all before I reached 30. Not bad for a regular guy.
Mario and I parted ways when we both leaved PILTEL in 2001. I never heard any news about him. But I see a lot of Mario’s in our country. Children of OFWs, government or private workers and sabungeros. Only few people I know who has the propensity to save and invest.
Our country is a consumer country. With the exception of the Tsinoys and some enlightened brownmen the norm in our blood is to spend and consume. Postponing pleasure today in order to have a pleasant future is somewhat a blasphemy in our culture. To exorcise this spendthrift demon, some like Mario need to suffer first before expelling it while others kill it even before it step on their door mat.
The roads are difficult for the latter but sure as the sun shines it brings reward.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mang Kulas

I met a family man called in my neighborhood as Mang Kulas. He is a father of three children and his wife is not working because of lack of education. Mang Kulas is a carpenter and a skilled one. He earns P300 per day and his earnings are erratic. Sometimes he earns P6000 a month especially during summer and there are times he earns nothing. Everytime we meet in the neighborhood he always flashes his toothless smile and at first glance strangers may say he has no problem at all.
One day I saw him in the mall and as I watched him he keep on glancing on the people eating at Chowking. I notice his daughter, about the age of 5, pleading that they eat also at Chowking. He never answers his daughter. As he walked away I called him and say kumusta and he answer ok lang sir pauwi na. As he talked to me I noticed that his body is shaking. His daughter innocently told me that they have not yet any meal since yesterday. I bought them food from Jollibee and accompany them in their home.
As I glance around the house of Mang Kulas, there is no appliance at all. A long chair made of bamboo, the flooring is not concrete but loam soil, a roof made of old g.i. sheet which are full of holes and a small table maybe use for eating, studying or even sitting.
When I leaved the house of Mang Kulas, I kept on asking myself how he managed to survived the onslaught of high prices of all commodioties and utilities. As a mathematician in me I compute it in my head:
Monthly Earning of Mang Kulas...............P6,000
Food Fish P140 kilo/day x 30 days........... 4,200
Jeepney fare P7.50 x 2 x 4 persons x 30..... 1,800
Electricity.................................. 150
Balance (negative).......................... -280
Imagine if Mang Kulas has no carpentry job. Where will he get the money to feed his family?.
This is new cancer that attacks our poor countrymen. The cancer that brings hopelessness, that brings crime and even death.
Everytime I see artistas showing off their new cars, new houses and even new nose I really get angry.When politicians distribute or receive corrupt money my blood hits in the boiling point. They are insensitive to the plight of the poor. The Pinoy Big brother is a big joke because his house is made of illusion. The real life and the real house we can find it in Mang Kulas. But the TV network will not even try to house celebrities in Mang Kulas house because they know they will not earn any money from it. The jokes are on us and damn it we laugh on it.