Posted by: nastypen | January 31, 2008

If I Were a Rich Man….

That’s one song I love singing from the Fiddler on the Roof. I could relate to the lead character Tevye rollicking about in fantasy amidst near-squalid deprivation. That’s the song I hum every time I go to the ATM’s at Philippine General Hospital to withdraw my paycheck as an instructor in UP Manila.

I see the amount of my salary and I don’t need to clean my glasses to note that I wish there were a couple of zeros before the decimal point. But then again, I am not in this to be rich. Then I had some bills to pay and buy a new bag for my laptop because it won’t fit my old bag and the laptop is just an easy prey to thieves in the MRT and LRT trains. The security guard noted that one of my zippers in my backpack was opened. I took a look and, yes, some theft got to me. He stole my stash of tissue paper. The cad!

Good thing that my backpack had a labyrinthine series of compartments wherein I place my wallet and such. But I can’t be complacent forever considering there are always assholes out there out to steal your wad of tissues and more.

So, I bought a new bag and it hemorrhaged my near-dead salary. It’s not just it looks good, but I like the compartments and the security I get from carrying a sling-type messenger bag than a backpack in a city with itchy hands. But what’s left of my salary? It could serve as a punchline or a cautionary tale for idealism.

So here I am at the end of the month with flies in my wallet. But I’m ok. Really I am. I was just thinking of a story my sister told me this morning. She was at the casino last night with friends. No, not to gamble but to watch a show. She told me that she heard a story of a gambler who lost 92 million pesos in one go at the casino. He, the gambler, was just bummed that because of his loss, he “couldn’t go to Las Vegas and gamble there.”

Wow. 92 million. Lost. What I could do with half of that money. Hell, what I could do with just one million. Books binge! Or if I had 92 million, I’d donate some to UP Manila to build a comfort room for the faculty of the department! hahahaha.

And I hear stories of politicians raking in millions from contracts and scams. And I am standing in a queue to the ATM with harassed hospital staff whose salary is just the weekly salary of some rich politician’s brat. Or how a friend of ours grew up in her rich cousins’ house and she had to witness her cousins dress up to go out and each is wearing worth an accumulation of 25,000 pesos worth of clothes and accessories. And these were preteen children and this was in the 80s.

I am not angry. I am just sad that wealth is present to those who do not know what to do with it. I see a UP Manila staff checking her balance and she heaves a sigh of resignation. While there are people losing and making millions in the high rolling stakes of gambling.

Some attribute wealth to fate. I don’t know if I like to be in that position to afford material gain. I just want to afford time and energy to the people and activities I love. Some say wealth is for those who actively seek it. Maybe I am not ruthless enough to scourge for money.

But I do not see myself as despondent. PLEASE! I have a relatively comfortable life. I do what I please. I still get what I want. It’s just that there is a small wish inside me that I could be the bastard son of the tycoon Lucio Tan. but then again what would the rich tycoon do with a scion who is gay and into the arts?

I have a good life. It’s just that I don’t have 92 million pesos to lose due to stupidity. Other than that, I’m ok.

Here’s the song I hum every time I get my salary. It’s Tevye‘s conversation with God. I love the lyrics. “If I were rich, I’d have time that I lack…” true words. And the dance moves! This redefines the “shaking with glee” move. Watch the clip and it has subtitles so you and I can sing along…..

Just in case Youtube took it down, watch the video in my Multiply.


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