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.

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