What does it mean to be poor? A friend put up this question thru his Facebook status. So I ask myself, am I poor? If not, then I might be rich. But I don’t think I am. Maybe in between or what? Do I really need to know if I’m poor or not? What is it that we can gain from knowing what status in life are we living in? Are there any importance to tag ourselves whether we are poor or rich?
When we say poor, the first thing that comes to mind are the beggars, informal settlers, and those who don’t earn enough to provide for their most basic needs. If we are to use that last description, then we can categorize those people who enjoy high salaries as "poor" if they don't know how to handle those 6-digit monthly payslips. Those who spend more than what they earn and don’t know the difference between luxuries and essentials. In the end, they are just high-earning “isang kahig isang tuka” people. They earn high but when emergency comes, they don’t have anything to spend. Unlike those who manage well their finances that even with their smaller or average incomes, they are able to keep some bucks ready for urgent matters.
Being poor can be a state of mind too. But no, it’s not just it. We can't tell the beggars and those who have a hard time to come up even with one decent meal per day that their status is only happening in their imagination. Poverty is real and people who suffer from it are considered poor. But there’s a mentality that worsens it. It’s what we hear and learn from some folks about the rich. We often see them being portrayed on TV as the society’s usual “mapangmata” and “mapang-api” . We always hear about their “elitism”, and about them being aloof from the common people and that what's important to these people is just money and the material stuff. This has been what the “poor-in-mind” people think about what rich people are. The stereotypes got into them. And this is what creates that division between the haves and have-nots. We even have that Filipino proverb "Aanhin pa ang bahay na bato kung ang nakatira ay kwago. Buti pa ang bahay kubo ang nakatira ay tao” which summarizes that mind condition.
Unfortunately, it’s the misunderstanding part that causes all of these. What the poor-in-mind people think about the rich is actually a reflection of their frustrations of what they think they would do if they are in their shoes. And this misunderstanding results into hate. And by hating, the poor-in-mind person is conditioned to stay at their current status. The rich persons’ mentality to surround themselves with positive and like-minded people is perceived by the poor-in-mind people as aloofness and elitism. Sometimes, their strict behavior and hard discipline which probably helped them reach their success is observed by others as a negative trait, being snobbish or a “mapangmata” attitude. Rich people wearing and using branded items in public are seen by the others as simply status symbol where in fact, it’s basically these well off people only buy them because of the value they get from them. That's another thing that separates them from the rest. They usually buy value at the best price and not because of the brand or the name. Though for sure, they sometimes buy the name but it isn't bad at all as they already paid for it with smart and hard work and they are just sort of “paying themselves” with it.
But a lot of poor-in-mind people think in reverse. They think that they need to reward themselves first for every peso they earn. It could be the reason why a lot of the average and even below average earners are the ones we see brandishing their up to date smart phones, gadgets or get ups in public while a lot of those who earn more doesn’t mind displaying and using their 3-year old cheap but reliable mobile phones.