A Sample of Phenomenological Paper

1 January 2017

I have a girlfriend who has been my blockmate for almost four years. We’ve been together for three months now. I can say that her family belongs to upper-middle class—her father is working for the United Nations, earning USD8000 per month and her mother works as a tutor for toddlers. She was actually my close friend before we dated. Before we became couple last April, I actually observed (and from her friends’ stories) that she was really really ‘thrifty’ with her money.

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Her friends would usually tease her because she would usually opt to eat her own baon whenever they eat in restaurants in Katipunan instead of ordering food. I also got irritated with her once because of her complaints about our Php 50. 00 group contribution for a project. Now that we’re together, I have known her more. I was okay with her at first. However, when we started the ‘real’ thing—that is when we started dating, going to places, eating in restaurants—we started to fight over her ‘being practical’ attitude. I started to notice how insensitive she gets whenever I start complaining how hungry I am.

I have noticed how she rants about her budget every time she withdraws some cash for something irrelevant. She also has this rule wherein we will pay for our own expenses every time we go out—no exceptions. She doesn’t want to lend anyone some money whatever the situation is. She would often insist taking the long way or regular commute rather thatn taking a cab even if it’s raining. One day, she told me that she needed to update her wardrobe and asked me to go with her to buy some clothes in Divi. We spent half-day running and searching every stall there.

We didn’t eat anything aside from five pieces of fishballs we bought in a foodcart outside the mall. After that, she still didn’t invite me to eat something; instead, we did her grocery at about 9pm which was about an hour of walking and pushing a cart. I accused her of being insensitive to my needs and that she is not acting as a girlfriend to me because she doesn’t take care of me. I looked at her as indecent and cheap. She’s selfish. I mean, how could she, who has Php 30,000. 00 savings in her bank account, not afford of taking me to any eatery along the street and let me eat?

It is only food and nothing luxurious I was asking for. Food is a need. It is natural for a girlfriend to remind, if not provide, the needs of their partners. She told me once, however, that they were raised that way. Her parents would give them some cash every Christmas which they will save and deposit in their own bank accounts. She told me that her parents don’t typically spend money buying their wants—phones, clothes, gadgets, even a Starbucks coffee she asked her mom one time. Hence, they were trained to be thrifty. They were forced to save money to buy these stuff for themselves.

But what really made me thinking was that she told me that that kind of upbringing is something that she’s thankful for. It was a good training because she grew up practical and wise in money. Then I thought, maybe I was wrong. Maybe she wasn’t really selfish, thinking only about her own concerns not others’. Maybe her being ‘thrifty’ is a good thing. Consequently, what is selfishness? I reckon being selfish is when you think only about your own welfare to the extent that you become stingy to others. My girlfriend wants to spend her money more wisely because she is going to buy her wants which her parents don’t provide.

She never treats me to eat somewhere because she is saving her money to buy her stuff. She’s careful with her savings and won’t lend anyone money even her siblings. Thus I figure she is selfish and that her thriftiness is too much that she doesn’t want to spend for others. Nonetheless, should I be angry with her? Being her girlfriend, I’m supposed to understand and accept her fully. Why did I judge her as being cheap and indecent just because she buys her pants in Divisoria? Why should I be angry about her not taking me to dinner? Why didn’t I, being the one who was so hungry, invite her then?

Then I thought, maybe the problem is in me. Unlike her, we have this lifestyle of ‘spending’. We are not rich but my mom would usually do anything to provide for what we need and want. She feels hurt whenever she can’t give what we are asking for. Unlike her, I came from a family of politicians. My lolo has served our province for quite some time as a governor. My mom was a board member for two terms. We grew up entertaining guests and serving them food while they wait for Mama to attend to their concerns. Unlike her, money is not my priority.

I mean, yes it’s nice to save but not to the extent that I will exclude myself from enjoying life and make myself look woe. This is something really different with her upbringing. Maybe, I was irritated with her simply because she is different. She’s living an independent life while I want to depend on her. I realized maybe it has something to do with my expectations. I expect her to be generous to me, to take good care of me because those are my ideals for a partner. Economically speaking, they are rich than my family. They own a bigger house, a nicer car, her father earns more.

However, they just have this ‘value’ of living a frugal life. They are making the most out of their living but that doesn’t mean they are selfish. The problem is in us because we spend so much on luxury, not thinking about what’s really important—making us struggle in budgeting. They think about the others. She has asked not to skip meals, she bought me an umbrella because I don’t own one, and she cooks for me. Being careful with spending is different with being selfish. They grew up independently, they were raised to spend less on things that they don’t really need. But this doesn’t mean they are not enjoying life.

They have a piano at home; they own a dog; they go to places like Malaysia and Africa. I should never mistake thriftiness as something wrong because this actually is a value in life that could save lives, just like in the story of Ang Langgam at ang Tipaklong. Sometimes, we get irritated when we see someone who has everything that we don’t have. We get irritated how different that someone from us. We keep on seeing holes in them so we can miss our own flaws. This leads to judging. We judge people according to our own standards not by what they really are. We are now caught up in a world where money is a huge thing.

Sure, money can’t buy happiness and is lesser important than non-material things we have in life. But let’s face it, we can’t live a peaceful and simple life without any money to buy our necessities. There’s nothing wrong in prioritizing money and be economically smart. We need money to live. We are all free beings that can do everything we want in order to survive and be successful in life. I realized, I should love her more and make her feel accepted. This way, she will feel contented and happy. As a girlfriend, I have to accept her for who she is and what her values are.

I shouldn’t be bombarding her with omplaints because she is just my girlfriend. It is not her obligation to provide for me, in the first place. I shouldn’t hate her because of this. Because in this way I am the one who is being selfish. I am the one who is being narrow-minded, thinking about what’s good for me. She is happy with the training that her parents provided for them. She is practical and prioritizes money as something she needs in order to live a life. As her girlfriend, I should be happy for her, too. I should never interfere with her strategies in life for her to achieve success but rather, be at her back and support her all the way.

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