(Courtesy of geog.queensu.ca)
Yes, it is that time of the year: when people of a certain economic class (or want to be perceived as being a member of it) start ordering drinks from their favorite coffee house, all in pursuit of a daily planner.
Truth be told, I tried it once (and was actually successful in obtaining one using the drink-64-orders method), and my lame-ass excuse was because while I did not smoke, my work colleague who I was constantly with did and because we both love coffee and he had to smoke, we would hang out at Starbucks which would satisfy everyone, and get a free planner, to boot.
I really shouldn't be saying "free" because (1) not even water is free and (2) have you sat down and tried to compute what it would actually cost to get the "free" planner? (The miser in me never looked back once I did the math.)
A disclaimer, first: I am not an enemy of capitalism. I think this is a shining example of creating a need where none existed before, it taps into a human need, both for tradition and inclusion, and it is most certainly legal while earning big revenues for the coffee companies.
My biggest disclaimer has to do with economic status: if you can afford it, then by good golly, go right ahead. Do not apologize for your financial success or capability (though this shouldn't apply to those who just "inherited" their money), splurge on it, the same way I don't mind people placing odd sounding chemicals on their faces or getting "cut up" in an attempt to look younger. It's your life, your body.
But the stingy part of me always raises the alarm, especially for those who are "wannabes": do you need to pay thousands of pesos for a planner, and gaining truckloads of calories in the process? (Not to mention sleepless nights with that much caffeine running in your bloodstream)
I'm talking about the people who need to go to Starbucks and other similar coffee houses because it's cool to be seen in these places, as far as perception goes.
If the defense is "bakit? masama ba mangarap?" then the answer is an unequivocal "no". Everyone is trucking along hoping to get a better future, and if you've somehow managed to do so, tastes do change. But not if you're not there yet. I know someone personally who tries to keep up with her amigas by shelling out hundreds of pesos on a drink and some desserts but actually has a problem with the amortization of her home, and needing to utang just to get a ride home.
It's people like her that seem so easily lured into the "planner mentality": I have to get it to maintain my (illusory) social status.
It's been my observation (unscientific, but there it is) that we seem to be obsessed with appearances, and not substance. As long as the guests are well-fed, who cares if we blow out the monthly budget.
We have actors and singers who can't act nor sing, but because they have washboard abs that can grate cheese or breasts that would make watermelons blush, they get the contract.
No one should know that we are in debt, so we have to keep making extravagant renovations on our house, which can be taken away any time now.
There is a preoccupation with seeming, instead of being.
Of seeming well off, instead of being financially secure.
Of seeming glamorous, instead of being happy.
Of seeming to prefer aspiration, instead of being authentic.
There is, of course, that cultural value of hiya, or shame, one we share with our other Asian neighbors. The loss of face, the gossips that might result, the judgmental stares - something that social scientists have recorded and dissected. And while it can sometimes be useful as a pseudo-warning device for propriety, I can't help but wish that there more substantial, more meaningful things to be ashamed for, and of.
Besides, where a planner is from is nowhere as important as what's inside it.
So, maybe it would be a nice question to ask, once you get the snazzy looking date book: