Catching the Drift

A few weeks ago, a very, very, very good friend called me a “drifter.” It doesn’t really take a linguist to figure out that the root word is “drift,” but let’s indulge in etymology here. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “drifter” was first recorded in 1864, as a mining term, but in 1908 it came to mean “a man following an aimless way of life.” Naturally, I was flabbergasted! But then, I fully acknowledge that friendship and humility mean understanding where your friend is coming from. She has crossed over to the “Blissful Other World,” and I RESPECT the differences in our priorities. I don’t aim to justify myself right now with this entry, but I beg to disagree. I am in my last year before taking the compre exam for my Master’s degree AND my first year under the Certificate in Christian Ministry program. From afar, I have been helping out in my family’s growing pre-school (we’re covering gradeschool next year, yiha!) and have been counseling family and friends in almost every area of their life. I also have scribbles and doodles of what I hope to be a “children’s storybook for adults” in the future. Yet, I get a few offers for possible consultancies, which I feel I’d be more qualified when I have the MA suffix to my name . So, my friend, it would be safe for me to say that my life had never been as filled with purpose as now. Don’t worry; God’s got me covered. I may choose one day not to belong to some hot-shot payroll, but that doesn’t make me a drifter. I hope my good friend gets around to reading this entry, especially churchmate Cito Beltran’s article below:

What Matters
CTALK By Cito Beltran
The Philippine Star 02/09/2007

Having opted to live a less stressful lifestyle away from the limelight or
the Rat Race, it’s but normal for people who made the choice, to sometimes
wonder if they did the right thing.

They experience pangs of guilt about being under employed, less productive
and certainly reduced in their income potential. While everyone else is
BUSY making a LIVING, you ask yourself if it’s a mature thing to be at home
or semi-retired at the farm.

Are you wasting all your God-given talents raising kids, growing your own
food, or simply living on very little money and simple needs? Shouldn’t you
be involved in today’s politics, today’s technology? And are your friends
right about saying “Sayang Ka”?

Last month, a friend called me about an opening in a major corporation that
was paying P300,000 a month, all the perks, and even a brand new Volvo. My
friend asked me how I would react if the job was offered to me since I was
very qualified.

It took me all of 5 seconds to tell her I wouldn’t accept it.

To begin with P100,000 would certainly end up with the government as taxes.
That would leave me with only P200,000.

To earn that, I would have to be at work by eight everyday, instead of
coming up with imaginative tricks to wake up my daughter like placing her
puppy in her bed, or simply standing over her watching this angelic child
in her field of dreams.

I would have to eat breakfast by six, leave the house by 6:30. That means
no more breakfast conversations with my wife and certainly an end to our
morning prayers not just for us but for family and friends.

From the P200,000, I would have to spend at least P 20,000 a month or 10% of
net to pay for gasoline driving the brand new Volvo to office everyday.

So in effect, I would only be earning P180,000 or even less. Not to mention
that my friends who sell Mercedes Benzes, Jaguars, etc. would brand me as a

From the net salary of +/- P180,000, I would have to give up the lunch I
have with my wife 3 to 4 times a week at home.

Instead my power of choice adds another burden where I would have to decide
daily where in the business district I ought to have lunch, merienda if
needed, and from time to time even dinner. I would have to choose from a
menu instead of whipping up something in my kitchen.

When you add up the bill, plus service charge, plus VAT you can easily
average another P20,000 in expenses. Which means, that what we originally
thought would be a net income of P200,000 has now gone down to P160,000.

In the absence of maintenance you can enter about P10,000 as you r average
monthly repair bill for labor and materials. So now, you discover you’re
only earning P150,000 a month.

Instead of being in a HOME I own, I will have to try to be “at home” in an
office where I will be spending more of my “awake time”. This finally
solves the puzzle; why do we always fill our offices with personal stuff
which we will have to take home in a box when we retire, resign or get

From having my independence and personal views, I would then have a real
live flesh and bones Boss (because of what I thought was P200,000 a month
salary) can tell me how to jump! Someone who’s seniority or proprietary
rights automatically makes him right even if he’s stupid.

Because you now have to spend most of the time at the office or behind a
desk, you can’t do your regular walk in the park or jog around the village
which is also your bonding time with your spouse, your kids, or your dogs.
You either join a gym or get a personal trainer.

When you total fees, travel, and outfits, your monthly fitness bill would
be around P5,000 which means your net pay just went down to P145,000 a
month or less than half the original offered salary.

My dear wife reminds me to include clothing and image-related expenditures
specially for women. The clothes, the make-up, the jewelry, as well as the
business accessories such as the laptop loaded with Vistas program, the
latest cell phones, iPod etc.

Even if you paid all of that on installment for 24 months, it would be in
the area of P20,000 a month which further reduces your income to P125,000 a

The problem with this major part of the expense is many people mistakenly
call them necessary investments, professional expense, but don’t see them
as deductions from PERSONAL wealth.

It would also mean, not sharing the responsibility of taking our child to
school, missing out on small talk that tell yo u big things in children’s
minds, and dropping out on all the parent-child activities.

I would also nullify all the adjustments we made in the last 5 years where
we integrated home life with work in order to be more of a family than
employees with a family.

Speaking of home life, anyone who spends a lot of time at work can testify
that in your absence you will have to hire a full crew to do all the
maintenance and repair you use to prevent or do yourself when you spend
time at home.

In your absence, who’s going to fix leaking roofs, flooded toilets, busted
aircons, creaking doors, or all the usual things REAL MEN with real tools

If I actually went out to get the job that pays P300,000 plus a brand new
Volvo, it would have cost me breakfasts with my wife, trips to school with
my daughter, morning talks and prayers with God, affirmation of my role as
husband, father. I would be relinquishing responsibility for my house, as
well as my home.

What we’ve done is determine what really matters, what and how much we
really need, give up what we don’t need or care for and trust in God and
not in men.

This is what I call real life cost-benefit analysis. To make an accounting
of what we think we’re getting against what we know we’re losing.  Sometimes
earning more actually costs more.


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