Valentine’s Day is the 24 hours each year when culture forces people to quantify love. Romantic gestures are a must. The more unique, the more bombastic, the more thought out, the better.
Historians say the commemoration may refer to one of three saints, all of whom died on Feb. 14. Outside that, it’s mostly just myth. Capitalism wrote its name all over the occasion just like it did with Christmas, by manufacturing expectations around it. Greeting cards earn big-time, for example. You’ve got men blindly buying red roses quadruple the normal price and looking for the priciest chocolate at the supermarket. Speaking of chocolates, Kakuhido—the Revolutionary Alliance of Men that Women find Unattractive—held a protest in Japan last year against chocolate-makers, who they said were profiting off the Valentine’s Day custom where girls would offer chocolates to men they like.
All this is because of love.
Oh, love. Humanity’s favorite word to define—
but that it just can’t. And the mother of Valentine’s and the many other celebrations of romance that milk you dry. It’s the reason “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” (and that they cost as much as they do). It’s the reason you have to spend big money on the extravaganza called marriage. Take off your heart-shaped lens and see it from the point of view of, ah, reason. See love in the context of the most stupefying loss of all, fraud.
An effective scam is made up of three basic components: deception, investment and a move that leaves you lugi.
The thing with scams is that they blur want and need. Think along the lines of a drink that can supposedly prevent and cure all diseases. You need it in your life. It is perfect for you. That’s what “aspirants” make themselves to be. When they text you those kiss emojis or give you a shoulder to lean on, what they’re actually saying is: “Ang-perfect ko for you ’di ba? Ano na lang ang gagawin mo kapag wala ako?”
In scams, deception succeeds when you buy that miracle drink—or, in more intense cases, you invest a large amount to become an agent or partner in the business. That, ladies and gentlemen, is investment. In love, it’s like budol-budol. Because you feel at ease with that person, you give it everything you’ve got. You shower them with attention. You practically become their slave.
The case becomes a full-blown fraud the moment the person leaves. Some scammers suddenly go kaput; others stay on till the fallout. With love, those kilig deeds can last up to the honeymoon period (science says six months), then gestures get colder and arguments hotter. The relationship ends and you ask those teleserye lines: “Kulang ba ko? Ibinigay ko naman lahat a?” Apparently not. Those flowers and chocolates won’t be back in the mail as money. Your consolation prize, dear, is the damn left side of a couple’s shirt.
The process does not end there. Many scam victims would willingly enter other scams, no matter how many times you repeat the popular eight-point test to them. Why? Because of the grand vision it sells. Who would not want their P1,500 to grow into P15,000 in a week? Who does not want to earn with minimum effort?
Romantic love also sells a vision—what we Filipinos mean when we say “forever.” Someone you can be with for the rest of your life; who will finish your sentence. The biggest problem with this is that it’s nonfalsifiable. I remember the example of a never-miss shot: If it misses, it’s not the never-miss shot. There is no way to test forever. You can just say it’s not forever when it doesn’t work.
Forever—romantic love; true love—is all a cultural myth, when you go deep down (especially when you are heartbroken or congenitally bitter). That feeling is just hormones. The essential purpose of pairing is survival; procreation. But, you improve the concept because you are more than an animal. So you rationalize it as codependence: someone else will make you happy in the “kulang ako kung wala ka” sense. Then you add loyalty; which you have to constantly affirm with gifts (or taxes?) of love.
Learn to be complete in your being single or singular. I read somewhere that life becomes better when we change from “being loved” to “being loving.” Do not wait for your handsome damsel in distress or your pretty princess, that’s practically setting yourself up for a tragedy instead of a fairy tale. The Bottom line is don’t depend too much on love.
Ugh. I know what you’re thinking, though: Love is a scam that’s always worth the risk.