There’s nothing like having dinner with women who admit to not having a man in their lives, at least not officially. These are women who profess self-sufficiency—and happiness in that state.
The dinner can be either sweet and spicy, or bitter. Not this night, however.
“I like the way things are. I come home, do what I like to do, no need to adjust to anyone,” says Sen. Loren Legarda, who’s hosting the dinner in her beautiful, spacious home strategically enhanced with Manansalas, Bencabs and other contemporary Philippine artworks collected by her mom, the late Bessie Legarda, and Loren herself.
Posh, tastefully decorated home—but without a man. (Loren’s two brainy sons are studying abroad, each with passionate interests, among which is the theater.) “And I can’t complain,” Loren reiterates her no-need-for-significant-other state of mind.
“But don’t get me wrong. I can still be romantic. I love romantic movies,” Loren almost swoons.
“Me, too,” pipes in Tita Trillo, the wine merchant/connoisseur who’s been happily re-singled herself for some time now. “I love romance. But men—they can be excess baggage. So forget it.”
I think we’re in an era when women of a certain age love excess baggage but only if it’s Louis Vuitton or Bottega or Prada. Not men.
Since women started having the means to support not only themselves and their families, but also their luxuries and the limitless options life has to offer, suddenly, the phrase to-lust-for is used more and more for designer bags than men.
Maverick writer Maureen Dowd even came out with the book “Are Men Necessary?” (a copy of which was given me by a man who, it would turn out, wasn’t himself necessary), where she wondered about the increasing weakness of the species—psychologically, emotionally and even biologically (yes, despite the hunks). And Dowd perhaps hasn’t even come across Filipino men.
But of course, men are necessary, especially sons. Who will we women look after, and baby, if there were no men? (Oftentimes, pet dogs aren’t enough.) This brings me to Filipino mothers and sons. Filipino mothers, along with Italian mothers, must be the greatest “pamperers” (you can coin a word just for Filipino moms) in the world, especially where their sons are concerned. Take it from one.
Rich or poor, Filipino moms love to coddle their sons—whether the boys are six or 60, the same—usually more than they do their daughters. (I’m a daughter to a mom who worries when her only son seems despondent. When it’s my turn, she says, “Kaya mo yan”—and changes the topic.) So, wouldn’t you say, therefore, that pampered Filipino sons expect to be pampered as well by their girlfriends/wives/mistresses? Such sense of entitlement is carried over into their relationships. Hunks in distress.
(By the way, Jullie Yap Daza is launching this month part two of her always-talked-about bestseller, “Etiquette for Mistresses.”)
More and more, it’s the women who are having to provide, not only money and logistics, but also emotional sustenance. More and more women build and hold the infrastructure of a relationship. No wonder then that women are getting tougher in the workplace and beyond.
In the ’60s and ’70s, the battle cry for women was for the equality of the sexes. Today, that equality seems moot and academic because women have proved themselves not only to be equal but—this is arguable—to be superior to men. (“Castrating women,” a guy friend said. I presumed he’s gone through the procedure to be able to say that with authority.)
If the word “superior” is extreme, let’s settle for “independent”—more and more women are thriving on their independence from—and of—men; some by choice, while others have no choice.
Power to dump
So—are women complaining? “Not really,” said a girl friend at one lunch, “for as long as we have the power to dump [guys].”
The power to leave a relationship—women have that now, unlike in the time of our lolas or moms. This perhaps explains the broken home or broken relationship, the postmodern family.
“At the end of the day, it’s how much s— you can take from him,” said another.
“So—” yet another girl said at lunch, and we weren’t prepared for this question— “what would you do if you were Jinkee (Pacquaio)?”
“Kayo talaga,” said the only gay presence at lunch, “what can you do? Gusto nila (the men) ng langit (The men want their piece of heaven).”
“Okay lang ’yan,” said another woman, “sa kanya (the man) ang langit, basta sa akin ang lupain (he can have his heaven, I have my real estate).” Good property speculator.
Back to that dinner with Loren, a gentleman guest gave a toast that became the perfect cap for the evening: “To the women who have made us into better men…”
Don’t you wish many more men would think that way? But, as my favorite 51-year-old bachelor friend says, “Life is complicated.”
Tita Ming, irreverent as ever
One recent evening, we happened to be at a table next to that of former President Fidel Ramos, his wife Ming, their children and grandkids. The family was celebrating the Ramos’ 58th wedding anniversary. It was a quiet, one-table celebration.
We hopped over to Tita Ming and asked her the secret of their lasting marriage. Typically irreverent, my favorite First Lady said:” Two years na lang, they might pass the divorce law on our 60th.” And she laughed.
Irreverence and laughter—that’s what makes any marriage last.
A svelte and sultry Liz Uy, ultra-glam as usual in a sequined blue dress, dropped by our table to greet friends at the Red Cross ball.
Asked how her love life is, Liz said, not with originality— “Like Coke, zero.”
Now Liz’s zero plus PNoy’s zero (love life) equal—zero pa rin.