A Filial Piety Dilemma

I’m going back to the Philippines for a 10-day vacation this week.

I can’t wait!

I miss home, and I can’t wait to finally touch my parents and my little brother and hug them tight after a year of not being able to do so.

I can also meet up with old pals and see how they’re doing…

Friendster can only do so much, right?

With my upcoming trip back home, I’m faced with several dilemmas…

And I’m not just talking about the stuff I need to get ready before I leave (e.g., buying souvenirs for dad, updating my bank book, etc.).

It’s more about a dilemma on filial piety.

For example, being a “good daughter,” my parents have encouraged me to put aside 20% of my salary onto a separate account and give it as a gift to them for their kindness throughout these years.

Westerners may be shocked at this custom.

I can see it now, “What? Give my hard-earned moolah to my parents?! But it’s their duty to raise us!”

But this practice seems very common among Asian families.

Parents would graciously accept their children’s money and spend it if necessary. Otherwise, they’ll save it until the daughter gets married, wherein which they’ll return this money two-, three- or more-fold.

Frankly, my parents do not need the money at all.

Regardless, I know why I’m doing this — it gives my dad sufficient evidence to brag to his friends that he has raised a “good daughter” who knows how to respect her parents.

Sigh, you know how Chinese parents are.

They surely love to brag!

It gives them great pleasure to show off their bigger car, their larger house, their more expensive artwork, and their daughter/son who knows how to treat their parents well.

Giving away 20% of your salary hurts though, especially for someone who’s starting her life just now.

I don’t really have THAT much money. I pay for my living/travel/leisure expenses from my paycheck without my parents’ help. Of course, the offer is always there — in fact, I have a substantial amount of US$ that they left me for my use that I keep in a safe deposit box — but I’ve avoided using it as much as I can.

You see, it’s uncomfortable using my parents money to buy the things I want.

Are you familiar with that feeling — The feeling that you have to give them an account on what you spent on.

What’s worse, I know they will not approve on some of my expenses.

I mean, my father will never plunk down NT$1,000++ for entertainment!

He’s the type who wouldn’t even call long-distance to talk to his daughter since emailing is free.

Hence, I’d rather use my savings for my living/entertainment expenses so I’m not accountable to anyone.

My hands are clean, so to speak.

Anyway, what’s worse is, despite knowing that my parents will never spend even a penny on this account and my mom’s reassurance that I can get it back multiple-fold after I get married, I am not sure whether I can get it back in the future.

I sincerely count this as a “loss.”

Bye-bye hard-earned cash.

I know my dad.

Follow his rules and keep him happy, and you enjoy the harvest.

But explicitly disobey him and you’ll feel the terror of his temper.

My father had once disowned my sister for marrying someone he didn’t approve of and didn’t talk to her for 8 solid years! It’s only last year that he started grudgingly opening up communications with her. Ouch.

That’s how vengeful my father can be! πŸ™

So yes, everything’s fine and dandy now because he believes that Raven is good and goes home by 9:30PM at the latest (if only he knew).

But what if there came a time when I want to openly demonstrate my freedom?

For example, what if I chose to marry someone he didn’t approve?

Sister’s story part II comin’ right up!

Bye-bye Raven.

Bye-bye parental love and support.

Bye-bye everything.

*roll eyes*

I can imagine it now… my father will shout, “You’ve made your choice… now, suffer the consequences!” And he’ll leave you for dead, moaning the fact how his daughter with whom he showered all his love can betray him by being disobedient.

I will not fool myself into thinking that my dad will be too forgiving. With dad, you cannot really know what to expect.

So you must understand how crucial it is for me not to fully depend on my parents for support.

It’s true.

They may be the security net that they are now.

But I will never fool myself into thinking that this security net is indeed as secure as my mom promises it to be.

In the back of my mind, I believe this security net is always conditional.

There will always be strings attached.

That’s why I have to balance having enough money on my personal savings account and allocating enough cash to keep my parents happy. It’s the little I can do for all they’ve done to me all these years, and I can handle allocating 20% of my salary.

The main issue right now though is my mom has been telling me to give all my stock certificates (my company gives us stocks annually) to dad as a sign of respect!

OMG.

That’s over half of my savings. πŸ™

It’s definitely not a small amount.

She told me that I will not regret doing so, as it would considerably cheer dad up, especially now that he is very moody. My family has been stricken with bad luck and dad’s mood is super dark right now, affecting everyone that surrounds him.

Don’t get me wrong.

My mom loves me a lot and I know she will lead me to no wrong.

Regardless, I feel that I am using the money and stocks to “buy” my dad’s happiness.

I don’t think this is necessary as such happiness is temporary and fleeting.

Bottomline is though, giving up all my stock options is a big monetary sacrifice in addition to the 20% I’m already giving up.

And whereas I would usually just agree with mom because I know she will never intentionally give me bad counsel, I still hesitate.

Argh, what would you do if you were me?

Should I listen to mom and give my dad all my stock options aside from 20% of my salary?

Mind you, I am sure that my parents will merely keep these and will definitely turn it over to me multiple-fold after I get married.

My only concern is that such benefits are conditional.

I get the benefits only if I’ve been a good girl and listened to my parents.

But life ain’t that simple.

I know that though I’m as nice as any girl can be, I am definitely no angel.

Who knows when I’ll screw up and fall flat in my face and bring disgrace to the family?

That’s right…

You’ll never know.

So I’d like to protect myself in case my parents do decide to disown me.

Giving them everything is like a gamble — Reap the benefits multiple-fold if you win, lose everything if you lose.

That’s why, I’d like to have enough cash to take care of myself with or without their financial support.

That’s what real freedom and independence is all about.

Your comments and thoughts would definitely be appreciated. πŸ™‚

========================================

Have I mentioned that I won our department’s annual dinner’s grand prize?

It’s a NT$70,000+ Tittot crystal vase — one of its kind in the world.

I feel so lucky. πŸ™‚

What am I going to do with the vase though?

My parents would probably love to display it at home.

I can imagine it now, my dad will most likely boast to his friends that his lovely Raven has given him a NT$70,000 (almost P110,000) vase she won in her company’s wei-ya.

As I’ve said, my father loves to brag.

But here comes another dilemma — how to transport it back home?!

The box itself is the size of a small luggage, and one must hold it horizontally to be secure.

Imagine carrying a super-fragile vase back home… πŸ™

There’s also custom fees that I may pay.

My colleagues say that I’ll be paying at least NT$2,000 for importing such an expensive piece. πŸ™

In addition, after I give it to my parents, it’s gone from my hands forever.

Another option is selling it online — If I sold it at Yahoo Auctions or eBay, I can get cold-hard cash for it.

*devilish grin*

The downside is that I can probably get at least NT$50,000 to NT$60,000 for it if I do manage to sell it.

It’s still less than the vase’s original price, but whoa!

That’s more than enough for a trip to Australia or Europe by myself! Or a high-end laptop.

It’s definitely not a small amount.

I’ve already talked to my mom last night about this. Her advise is to ask dad what to do with it.

*roll eyes*

Bye-bye NT$70,000+ Tittot vase.

Bye-bye Australia.

Bye-bye extra savings. πŸ™

But she said that given our constant streak of bad luck at home, dad will most likely not want me to sell anything so “lucky.”

Besides, money is never a problem (Check out why disagree with mom in my above post).

Big sigh.

What would you do if you were me?

I have this impending bad feeling that my dad will still want me to take it home with me.

Transporting that big box will be such a hassle, especially since I’m traveling alone.

*big groan*

Till tomorrow!

About Bonita

I'm a forgetful person. But I think a lot. Every day, a lot of thoughts enter my head. That's why this blog came to be: first, to keep my memories alive through the years, and two, to actually see how I and my thoughts have changed. Please note that I seldom draft or edit my posts. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I offend some of you, my readers. And while I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable, I am not sorry for being honest or for making well-intentioned mistakes. I will however be the first to admit if I change my mind. Hence, do read and proceed with caution. My life is as colorful and as boring as you make it. I complain many days, but offer some encouragement in others. Life is fluid, it changes. So keep the positives and throw away the negatives, and I do hope that at the end of the day, you will enjoy reading the blog and leaving comments here and there if my posts touches you. Happy reading!
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3 Responses to A Filial Piety Dilemma

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Raven, been lurking around your site for some time now but this post hits a chord. I come from a Chinese family and like you, give a certain portion of my salary to my parents. 20% is a bit steep though, my parents never gave me a fixed figure to give up to them. It’s in my discretion (though I have to give something monthly).

    If I were in your shoes, I would probably choose between the stock options and the 20%. I’d then tell my parents that I would like to hold on to one in case I need it for an emergency and perhaps invest it on your own (be careful in choosing your investments though – maybe a relatively safe one like bonds or a high-interest savings account). As you said, whichever you give to your parents, treat as a loss. It’s essentially a gift to them anyway.

    Regarding the vase, I’m sure they’d love to have it. But there’s just no practical way for you transport it. Ask if they want it and if so, hint that you don’t have the money to pay for the taxes to bring it home (hopefully they’ll volunteer). They may also know of some other way to transport it. If not, then perhaps sell it (and suffer the consequences later). πŸ˜›

    Good luck and enjoy your trip home!

  2. raven says:

    Anonymous, thanks for commenting! Yes, 20% is a big steep and my parents are more demanding. But then again, if I am just allowed to give them whatever they wish, I don’t think I’ll ever allocate 20%! As for your advice, thanks! Hmmm… yes, maybe just giving them the salary is enough. Besides, I have the vase to make up for it. πŸ™‚

  3. guile says:

    good luck on your homecoming :).. anyway, nice, cozy place you got here :)..

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