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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Why shouldn’t we feel guilty over enjoying good things?

4 min readBe it a fleeting moment, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or an intriguing, useless object, I am always torn in half: to indulge in that smudge of happiness or to whine over what it will cost me later.
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Published about 2 months ago on February 29, 2024

by Jewyz Ann Bunyi

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

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Kuripot is my middle name. Ask my friends, and they will tell you why.

At 17, I used to starve myself for cute little trinkets I wanted to have as a child, but would later have my savings sit inside an old piggy bank not meant for that purpose. At a young age, I was taught to save my allowances for my future. But what exactly is that future? For what am I working for if it’s not for me?

“Money can’t buy happiness,” they say. But in an idyllic materialistic world, where treating and healing our inner child is expensive, it can. However, happiness does not only stem from monetary value but also from nostalgic mementos. It could be in the form of a sloppily written letter, photographs that took years to be looked back upon, or scraps that hold a memory from a distant past.

But still, trivial or extravagant, meaningless or significant, enjoying anything that serves us joy sometimes exudes the feeling of guilt. Be it a fleeting moment, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or an intriguing, useless object, I am always torn in half: to indulge in that smudge of happiness or to whine over what it will cost me later.

Self-loathing from self-indulgence and delayed gratification

Filipinos are known for being kuripot, and this has two extremely polarized perceptions: either you are a wise spender or just plain selfish. Most of the time, being kuripot is associated with the latter, a typical term derogatorily describing someone who doesn’t spend too much on themselves or others.

Our country is more of a collectivist society. For the most part, we value maintaining social harmony, dynamics, and hierarchy. As Filipinos, it is embedded in our cores to be conscious of how people perceive us and our behavior. Being frugal and stingy are two words alike that are used interchangeably, which can confuse us. Frugality, or being masinop, is knowing when to spend our money, while stinginess means a reluctance to bat an eye to part money for others (and even ourselves), or as we better know it — madamot. In a way, the term kuripot is a blur between the two.

But either definition, I still see both as a blockage to my child-like happiness.

Stinginess is a lack of generosity. A cheapskate. Self-care moments like dating myself on a chicken katsu night drive my conscience that having this time alone is wrong because while having a lovely dinner, my family is stuck at home, reheating our viand from last night. Even if that precious time alone gives that fleeting happiness and rest, there’s still guilt (and self-loathing) — that I am a cheap, selfish person who cannot afford to treat her family to dinner.

On the other hand, frugality may promote conscious spending, but sometimes, being too conscious makes me end up with none. As a young adult, saving money for practicality frames me to live in the future and not in the moment. I promised myself once that I would treat myself to something grand — perhaps that preppy coquette shoes I’d been eyeing for months, a concert ticket to my ultimate’s show, or that adorable Toy Story’s Forky figurine I passed by once — yet, there would always be a momentary pause that would make me turn my back and shrug it off.

It makes me wonder, what is something so special about the future that will make me so happy but at my expense today?

It is more saddening how the guilt stemming from both definitions may evolve into regret. We are more conscious of how self-indulgence makes us loathe ourselves when we go overboard. Yet we also beat up our whole existence for not spoiling ourselves more. If happiness from things with monetary value makes us blame and point to the mirror, what about the sentimental, little joys that can inflict on us more?

‘Anik-anik’ don’t prick

Photo from @cozybao/X (formerly Twitter)

Photo from @cozybao/X (formerly Twitter)

We find joy in everything — *sa kung saan-saan at sa kung ano-ano. *

I simply find delight in the significance of Filipino maximalism that lurks in our dusty cabinets full of stuffed toys from childhood or on shelves above our television that display souvenirs from weddings, baptisms, and balikbayan boxes. I adore and hoard tiny bottles out of nothingness, just sitting in our cupboard, waiting for its purpose. I keep bus tickets from my memorable commutes just to relive that scene or as a token that those trips happened. Surely, most Filipinos are no Marie Kondos.

Last month, the term “anik-anik” sparked debates online, with people claiming to know its origins and which social class it belongs to. The term is widely believed to be only permissible for those from lower to lower-middle class, or those who grew up in such an environment. This raises the question: why does the term only apply to a specific group?

What makes anik-anik, anik-anik anyway?

Writer Kirsten Salazar defined anik-anik as cheap and often free “unexplainable treasures.” She added that perhaps one might earn the title of anik-anik girlies if they possess something enigmatic, loved without needing explanation, and not motivated by cult internet trends. Salazar also concluded that the term anik-anik should not be protected from elitism, per se, but rather out of a profound recognition of its essence.

Anik-anik is just random, useless things you gather and cannot dispose of out of sentimental value, or perhaps of nothingness. If the term is labeled with criteria of who can only use it, then that defeats the purpose of it. That conversation just seeped out of our energy, considering how the very platform where it sparked denounces those who remain in the gray areas. It offered disturbing truths that, although we didn't fully agree with them, offered us fresh perspectives.

Still, let’s not stigmatize and guilt trip those who find happiness in anything that occupies space. Existing is already tiring as it is. But reliving stories from the random scraps I hoarded for years, looking at photos from the first concert I attended, or thinking about that one Yabu self-care date makes it as if life is worth living again. This is my first time in this lifetime, and sometimes, it is more worthwhile to live it as if it were my last — that shouldn’t be drenched in guilt and regrets.

Kuripot

Materialism

Self-care

Anik-anik

Filipino maximalism

Profile picture of Jewyz Ann Bunyi

Jewyz Ann Bunyi

Blogs Writer

Jewyz Ann Bunyi is a Blogs Writer at TomasinoWeb. The anything-mint enthusiast enjoys delving extensively into introspective subjects and timely social issues through writing relatable personal essays and research-based social commentaries. As a form of self-care, she loves to order garlic parmesan wings, bake delectable cookies, and wrap up some cinnamon turon, filling up one’s stomach while also emptying her pockets. She also has a strong affinity for Y2K romcom movies, Pusheen the Cat, and Seventeen-related contents.

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