Feb 21, 2013

When 30% of Your Salary Goes to Your Hair

I saw Lincoln earlier. It's a story a man who dedicated the last years of his life trying to abolish slavery. The idea might not be as revolutionary now that the Unites States has an African American president, but during that time, the 13th Amendment to the USA Constitution seemed almost impossible to pass in the Congress, probably even more difficult than the passage of the RH Law here in our country. The price of standing up to one's convictions can cost a life. Lincoln was shot as he was on his way to the theater.

So then I went home after the movie, changed clothes and went to the kitchen to look for something to eat. Then I saw attached to the back of the head of our newest maid is a black shiny hair-like structure that looks so artificial I beg to not call it her hair. Two months ago, we introduced her to the mall. It was her first time to use the elevator then, and just this afternoon, she spent P1,200 of her salary for her hair.

I asked her why she did it (in the most pangongonsensyang tone I can muster). Apparently, her cousins who are also maids in our aunt's house had their hair rebonded, so gumaya. In this case, the price of standing up to one's conviction can cost 30% of one's monthly salary.

Being a half-baked economist, I wanted her to "appreciate" a pie chart of the monthly expenditure of the average Filipino family. Percentages may vary across several studies but there's no way that your hair occupies more than 30% of that pie chart. Usually, the biggest slice goes to food, rent or your kid's education, but for heaven's sake, not vanity.

"Do you know how many mouths your hair can feed in Africa? Or how many students you can send to a public school with that hair?"

Then I thought, doesn't her action reflect the bigger picture of our country with people below the poverty line spending a high percentage of whatever income they get to cigarettes and alcohol?

Eventually I got tired (and hungrier) trying to make connections and internalizing the micro economic damage she did to herself, so in the end all I said was "isusumbong kita kay mommy!"

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