Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First, love or money?


In the smoky candlelight of a friend's one-table cantina, I share conversation with her and a local man. He asks me the inevitable question: why I am not married. (Because all women are considered old maids if they are not married by the age of 30.) I’m used to this question and have an automatic answer; I need to get a job and my career in-line first. This is something Filipinos understand, but those who have time on their hands or a great deal of curiosity, as this gentleman does, persist.

I tell him that it’s not uncommon for married people to fight about money in the U.S. and somtimes it can even end the marriage. He agrees. I would rather be financially stable before I get married. He shakes his head sadly at this and says that “Filipinos live by their hearts.”

Suddenly, I realize what an idiot I was for thinking that working first, career before everything and preaching that to my students was the right approach. I didn’t come from a poor family that struggled. I worked in high school and college but always had my parents to rely on if I needed help. I knew that I had a good chance to succeed if I worked hard. Life isn't as fair in the Philippines.

When I thought about my friends in St. Louis who were off and on welfare constantly and considered working poor. I knew their family life was what kept them from a breakdown. Yet, I knew that they would not agree with this Filipino man. While they had strong family values, they would prefer to wait to have a job before starting a family. Yet, my St. Louis friends know that financial stability as an American right and can be something achievable with time, pending extenuating circumstances beyond their control, and these seem to happen often. Whereas for working class Filipinos, unless they are graced with a scholarship or business sponsorship find themselves constantly battling to keep on top of their debts.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home