/ Dec 24 2019. This post is part of my Guest Blog series where I invite friends to talk about anything! Here's the first one about nanay kalkalera culture from my Makati-UPLB friend Cidee. :P
My mother loves stuff. She has racks and racks of random things bought from random sales, and drawers of dusty trinkets collected through the years. She is a lover of 11:11 sales, a thrift shop hoarder, and a Japanese warehouse store aficionado. But, above all, she is a sly user of the things my sister and I own.
If she had a choice, my mother wouldn’t tell us she uses our stuff. “You’re not here anyway,” she argued once, after I caught her going through my vanity, “you wouldn’t need this while at work.” And she’s right, of course. I wouldn’t be doing an inventory of my things as I slave away in my 8 to 5 job. I wouldn’t know that she’s using the pair of flats I have lying around in the house, or if the bright shade of red she is wearing on her lips is mine. She stays home most days and I am mostly out - it’s easy for us to just ignore it when she “borrows” our things. But that’s not the point. “The point is,” I have explained to her repeatedly, “do not use what isn’t yours.”
It feels like we are stuck in a pattern. Every year, for her birthday and/or Christmas, we gift her something we know she often tries to “borrow” from us. For example, I often gave her dresses she can wear to events because she keeps on stretching my clothes. My sister, on the other hand, once bought her a power bank and a cellphone charger after multiple fights that have ensued over missing phone chargers and consistently drained power banks. “I just need to charge my phone!” My mother angrily explained, “I’ll return it. I just left mine,” she would add before promptly misplacing or breaking another android charger.
This year, I plan to give her a sturdy pair of sandals for Christmas. One that she can walk all day without breaking. A comfortable pair of flats that also looks good enough for her to wear in church so she won’t need another pair. I was deciding between this or a foundation for her face (she adored what I owned before and would often use it so now it’s gone), but decided on the sandals after she went home one afternoon declaring that the brand of shoes I wear is flimsy. “I wore it today and it broke,” she said, even though she’s been using it everyday for the past two weeks. “Your feet are almost two sizes larger than mine,” I said. “Of course it broke.”
The odd thing is, even if she hoards a bunch of stuff, it seems like my mother never actually owns anything. I’m not sure if she ever finished the tubes of lipstick I bought her in the past, or used and abused the bags we bought her two birthdays ago. But, to this day, she would reason that she doesn’t own a decent pair of shoes/shade of lipstick/face powder/church dress/accessories/powerbank/etc so that she uses ours. It seems as if my mother barely has anything she could call hers.
Meanwhile, I keep on accumulating stuff the deeper I get into this cycle of being exploited (as an employee) and mindless consumption. And, because I use my own money to buy these things, I can get a bit possessive about what I own. When I see fit, I occasionally declutter my things. What I no longer use, I set aside and give to my mother. Just a few months ago, I gave her five tubes of lipstick I no longer wanted to keep. “I’m giving you these so you wouldn’t have to take mine.,” I told her, and she heartily accepted.Guess what happened next. 😭