What does it mean to be poor? A friend asked 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. Or in between. Or what? Do I really need to know if I’m poor or not? What is it we can gain from knowing what status in life are we living in? Or is there any importance to tag ourselves whether we are poor or rich?
When we say poor, the first thing that comes to our 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. Especially those who spend more than what they can 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 know how to manage their finances that even with their smaller or average salaries, they are able to keep some bucks ready for urgent matters.
Being poor can be a state of mind. 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 stuffs. 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 thinks about the rich is actually a reflection of their frustrations to do what they think they can 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 might have helped them reached their success is observed by others as a negative, snobbish or a “mapangmata” attitude. Rich people wearing and using branded items in public are seen by the public as a necessary status symbol where in fact, it’s just simply a fruit of their labor and usually, these rich people only buy them because of the value they give to them. Plus, this people already paid for it with hard and smart work at the beginning 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 earnings they can get and that the world needs to know about it. 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 in public while a lot of those who earn more doesn’t mind displaying and using their 5-year old reliable mobile phones.