Monday, 2 February 2015

019. So who do you think you are?

The race is on to get out of the bottom
The top is high so your roots are forgotten
Giving is good as long as you're getting
What's driving you it's ambition and betting

Spice Girls, "Who Do You Think You Are?"
If you're from the Philippines and have a Facebook account, you may have read this article. For a time, this was shared by 75% of the people in my friends' list. Admittedly, I found this article funny at the outset. After some time, I've read the article again, and I began to see it in another light.

Seriously, I'm going to ask you this question: What is a social climber?  No, really.

I've heard this term more than once, and obviously, in an unflattering light. Having gone through some dictionaries online (excluding The Urban Dictionary), a social climber is defined as "one who strives acceptance in fashionable society"--a definition culled from the American Heritage Dictionary. Another definition, gleaned from the Collins' English Dictionary (from a sociological standpoint), is "a person who seeks advancement to a higher social class, esp by obsequious behaviour."

Empress Elizabeth of Austria wearing a gown by Charles Worth.


There you have it. It doesn't have to mean shelling out a lot of dough--although social climbing may entail it. And besides, it does depend on the clique you're trying to get into. At least that's what I think. However, the author of the article whose link I've provided gave little insight as to what a Filipino social climber is. Or does. Or both, for that matter. For me, social climbing is more of a race. A rat race. Making those points listed seem petty and insignificant. When I think of social climbing, I remember the noveau riche mammas in the Gilded Age. Back then, a socially ambitious mamma wants her daughter to marry well. So the beautiful daughter is trained and taught to look well, dress well, speak well, and run a house well. And back then, to buy a trunk full of dresses designed and made by Charles Worth was like buying clothes from the hottest designers now. Worth was the hottest couturier at that time. In fact, he was dubbed the Father of Haute Couture. If you're into 19th century fashion, and if you're female, you'd likely swoon at this:


In the 1870s to the early 20th century, many young, beautiful heiresses (known as the Million Dollar American Princesses by the Smithsonian Channel) herded out by their socially ambitious mothers to Europe to catch a titled husband. Daughters were more like pawns in the social chessboard.Why did their mothers do it? Because they are noveau riche and socially, doors were shut to them. If that isn't social climbing, I don't know what is. Cash for class (and tiaras), they say. And if the socially ambitious mamma's daughter marries an aristocrat, it was sweet revenge to the circles who snubbed her. More bragging rights for royalty. I've once read a novel that was pretty much an illustration of that kind of mamma. Consuelo Vanderbilt, Jennie Jerome (mother of Winston Churchill), Mary Leiter were real-life examples of these heiresses, not forgetting Frances Work, Princess Diana's great-grandmother. With the exception of Mary Leiter, later Baroness Curzon of Kedleston, almost all of these heiresses I've mentioned had miserable marriages, notably Consuelo Vanderbilt's. Happy marriages were a rarity.

In the Philippines, you can see a sort of illustration in Dr. Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, in the person of Doña Victorina. Although she had no daughter to marry off to a rich man, boy, the woman has ambitions. She really has.

Social climbers are known to try and make friends with "the right sort of people"--the upper echelons of society--to get what they want--a higher status. Read Jane Austen's novels, and you'll see what I mean. But the point is, be it from the Philippines, England or America, it's all the same. Sadly, the aforementioned article has failed to point it out more elaborately (please see #5). And hello, the right to privacy, anyone? Knowing someone from the higher strata of society is one thing, using them to get what you want is another.

Newsflash: You may want to read this.  Short and sweet this may be, this is the real deal. That's the behaviour pattern.

So here's my point by point (based on the article) rebuttal. While there is a nugget of truth in Mr. Ceniza's "signs", it's tasteless, provides neither insight, wit or humour. Just plain cattiness. Meow. I just hope I don't mew louder! Here's my two cents':

1. People go to Starbucks for a number of reasons. One of them may be for what the writer has stated, but more people would go there to drink coffee, and yes, study. And yes, also to have business meetings. Oh, also because they're bored! Mind your own business.

2. Bisdak friends? Regardless of whether they're Ilocano or Bisaya, like, that's just so...xenophobic. In a way.

3. As for DSLR cameras, a person may get a second-hand one because he or she may prefer to learn the basics of using said camera first before getting a new one and then destroy said new camera--which makes it a bigger waste of money. Makes more sense, don't you think?

4. Ukay ukay ba kamo? Lots of people, even the "artistas" or showbiz personalities go to the nearest ukayan to get the best finds at the cheapest price. And there's what you call "vintage" cool. I'd rather go to the ukayan to get a Burberry (or whatever brand) scarf at say, two hundred or so pesos (or cheaper) than borrow money to buy a pair of Louboutins with scarcely a proper occasion to wear it to.

5. Hello, anybody heard of the right to privacy?

6. Branded products--People can mention them because they want to, and because they can. Ikaw lang ba pwede? I probably know more than you do. I'm just classy enough not to do any more name dropping.

7. Others have other things to spend their money on than buying One Direction concert tickets. There's nothing wrong if you love that band. But at the price of around 4K and above which beggars belief, and the average Filipino concert-goer, in my case, I'd rather spend half--or one-eighth on a book shopping spree. Or even new clothes. Or a bottle of perfume whose brand I'd rather not mention so as not to embarrass you because you may not know of its existence. So sue me. I don't care.

8. Bashing is soooooo uncool. Making friends is much more classier. After all, if you really are social climbing, remember that syrup catches more flies than vinegar. Expand your social circle, you cretin.

9. People go to Ayala for many reasons. Not your business, not your problem.

10. Contrary to the point you've just made to this item--not all people do this. Case in point: I save money to buy new gadgets. And yes, I still manage to eat. Before I buy my phone, I make sure that I don't procure my investments from shoddy places--because gadgets are, in a minor way, investments. I do my homework, I research. Something that you didn't do while making this article.

By the way, Mr. Ceniza, proofread your article. "Sunken in debt"? And you who speak disparagingly of other people who speak in English. Brush up on your grammar, love.

Also, those people you've categorized as social climbers? They're people who would like a taste of the good life. Why not? They've worked hard for it. And they haven't lost themselves in the process of doing it. Nor were they obsequious. Neither did they hurt other people too. Not like those socially ambitious mothers who used their daughters as pawns. Honey, terminal cattiness is spreading in your body. Stop it, please. And again, mind your own business.

Hopefully, after reading this, try and read the article again, for heavens' sake.
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