POSTSCRIPT / December 25, 2012 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Resist spending, yet still be able to share

BUY BUY BUY!: To all those who survived the End of the World last Friday, Merry Christmas today! Isn’t it wonderful having been given a reprieve? Bounce back with a vengeance!

You may also be among the survivors of the horrendous traffic – of motor vehicles and human bodies — that the pre-Christmas shopping hype had brought upon this gullible market.

Last week, I wanted to banner a friendly advice for unwary shoppers to resist the subliminal message being beamed to them to “Give give give! Buy buy buy!!” — but something providential intervened.

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SICK CALL: A severe case of diarrhea downed me for days, with dry cough to complicate my delicate condition. I was so dehydrated that my hands were trembling, making it difficult to type even just 900 words for a column.

Solicitous UniLab friends asked if I needed any medicine, but I said No, thank you. Like my tough mother who died in her late nineties, I do not take medicine as much as I can help it. I’m riding out my LBM without medication.

As for my cough, I have expelled enough phlegm off my vocal cords that, it seems, my singing voice, ahem, had gone back to my trying-hard UPSCA choral concert days.

That medical bulletin, I hope, explains sufficiently enough my having had no Postscript last Thursday. It is not true as some rumor-mongers wanted to convey that my column was censored. They don’t do that in the STAR.

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CONSPIRACY: Since the malling madness has subsided, I can now freely write without offending advertisers that all that running amuck to buy loads of Christmas gifts was part of a commercial conspiracy.

Why should we buy, just because of the Yule season, something that the recipient may not even need or appreciate? O Christmas, how many crimes had been committed in thy name?

If one wants to give a present to a dear one, why wait for Christmas? Why not present it on her own natal day or some other personal occasion? It is much like murmuring “I love you.” That tender moment does not follow a calendar schedule.

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MADNESS: If most reasonable people would just agree to agree, we could spare ourselves the Christmas shopping madness, thereby subtracting from the tension (not to mention the terrible traffic!) and adding to our mental health.

It may not be politically proper for them to admit it, but I bet that harassed Metro Manila Development Authority officials who have aged faster grappling with the monstrous traffic would agree with me.

In my case, while others were rushing to beg, steal or borrow money and then spending it all on things that may not even be appreciated, I did not shop. I did not buy a single gift for anyone.

This does not mean I did not give Christmas presents to some friends and relatives. I did.

* * *

SHARING: What I did was to recycle and pass on the valuable gifts that had come my way, including nice and useful ones I would have wanted to keep.

Some economists may call this Redistribution of Wealth. I call it Sharing.

The merchants, including those whose display windows are adrift with faux snow and twinkling with strings of light made in China, did not make money off me.

Pity the parents herding bilmoko kids in the mall and checking now and then if the wallet was still in the hip pocket. Compulsive buyers were forced to spend for items that not only broke their budget but also failed to pass the test of urgency.

Off the police blotter, how many more pockets got picked in Divisoria and Baclaran as bargain-hunters waded into the flood of shoppers?

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SPREAD IT: If only we could ward off the hypnosis and stick to the logic that we buy only what we need, not what we vaguely want at the moment, we would lead better and longer lives.

But the merchants would say such an attitude is counterproductive. I say No, it is just a matter of managing it.

We could spread out the buying across the 365 days of the year, not lump them on the few days before Christmas. We could thus look at a year-round robust market.

It follows the same sane principle as renewing drivers’ licenses not at the end of the year, but in the birth month of the holder. It is the same idea behind the staggering of office schedules so as not to clog our roads with workers commuting during the same rush hours.

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FORCED PROSPERITY: But don’t fret if you think you overspent this month or blew your bonuses in one shot. Console yourself with the illusion that you have contributed to the economy, ignoring the fact that you had actually made wealthy merchants even wealthier.

Feed the fantasy. We are a nation where hope springs eternal, a population that believes in Santa Claus, in surveys and popularity contests, media hype and partisan propaganda.

Believe it when told that this poor nation will see a booming economy next year. Believe it with all your heart, because it should happen.

Next year being an election year, dirty billions hoarded by corrupt officials, political parties, vice lords – and the businessmen betting on the side—will be let loose to buy victory and victors.

As booster, the administration will unleash more billions in job-generating or pump-priming projects and in a bid to make its candidates win.

There will be forced prosperity next year, something as real as White Christmas at the Mall of Asia.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 25, 2012)

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