Filipina in America · Self-Care · Wellness

Diamond Ring and Shiny Things

“Let us not be too particular; it is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all”

Mark Twain

I was once asked by my boss, what did you buy at the Black Friday sale?

I said – DIAMONDS. 

The girls in the office got giant flat-screen TVs, purses, and clothes. I got myself a diamond ring. 

I saw mixed reactions of curiosity and raised eyebrows (some). 

I did not bother to explain. I didn’t tell anyone that I’ve been doing this for three Black Friday sales -which means it was discounted, and on 0% interest installment for 12 months.

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My boss seemed surprised. It is a different perspective. The western culture has always seen jewelry as a gift to a woman from her partner. In fact, jewelers always had a difficult time convincing women to buy their own diamonds. So much so, that they had to design a whole advertising campaign called “For Me, from Me” 

While “self-love jewelry” for women is just becoming a trend here in the West, it is not unusual in the Philippines. 

The Philippines is a matriarchal society where women make decisions about most things including money. Filipina women, for centuries, had been buying tangible assets – not only jewelry but real properties. And it makes sense, unlike a dress, a flat-screen TV or even a luxury car, jewelry doesn’t wear out. 

My husband gets me jewelry, but the ability to buy myself my own diamonds is the right given to me by my ancestors and other Filipina women who were ahead of me. 

These days I stand on their shoulders as I pass on to the next generation of women the same rights and gifts. Why should a woman wait to be gifted with diamonds? 

But the best gift we can give the next generation of women is a strong sense of self, to speak their minds, and to have an opinion- the strength of womanhood.


1.KNOW THAT IN A RELATIONSHIP “love” IS NOT ENOUGH. There should be RESPECT and COMMITMENT. Walk away from relationships that do not value your worth, support your dreams, or protect your well being. The men who will “just date you” and the men who will marry you..they kinda look the same. You should know the difference. 

2. ENJOY THE GIFT OF TRAVEL. Be curious enough to see the world. Enjoy and learn from the global community of women. Seeing other women live across the globe does two things- you will be grateful to know that the Filipina woman is actually more empowered than our Asian sisters or most western neighbors. It also opens your eyes to the realization that there is another way to live life.

3. THE GIFT OF INDEPENDENCE. Be your own woman. Appreciate whoever life will bring you but know how to provide for yourself, without needing anyone. Be financially literate – understand financial instruments like life insurance and investments. This leads to independence. 

4. LEARN THE ART OF LETTING GO. Permit yourself to walk away from toxic relationships- romantic, friendship, or even family- WITHOUT BEING DRAMATIC. Learn how to just move on to the next path of your journey. We do not need anyone’s permission for that closure or drawing boundaries.

“I know what I bring to the table. So trust me when I say, I am not afraid to eat alone”


5. GIFT OF YOUTH. Remain young at heart. Never let society tell you that you are too old to dress or behave this or that way. 

6. GIFT OF PLAY. Rediscover all the happy things you did as a young girl. Be “your own mother” and buy yourself your 30 or 40-year-old version of crayons, paper dolls, crafts, playhouse. 

7.  GIFT OF SELF CARE. Do not wait for other people to treat you well. You will just end up pitying yourself. Instead, be the first person to show kindness to yourself. Do not just eat well, get that good dinner in that fancy restaurant, and pay for it. Do not just take that walk, go on a day trip on your own. Do not just take a selfie- get your portrait painted. Get that expensive dress when it’s NOT on sale. 

8. FIND YOUR TRIBE OF WOMEN, who have the same stripes. Do not limit yourself to your age bracket, find mentors of older wiser women. Do not limit yourself to your race or color. Do not wait for people to approach you – start and initiate friendships. Do not always wait to be invited- reach out and ask your friends for dinner. And don’t forget to take that road trip with girlfriends- even once in your life. 

 10.FIND YOUR STORY. It is ok to read fairy tales about princesses rescued by a prince but read about Princess Urduja, too. The Filipina princess who did not need a prince to rule her kingdom.   

11. AND TO THE SOME, THE GIFT OF BEING SINGLE. We should teach young women how to enjoy being single. 

Unfortunately, the same culture that empowers us to pursue business careers and even the highest political position in the land, is always asking to explain women’s choice to be single. It is this culture that strongly suggests that women seek validation in romantic relationships. 

Choosing to be single for a very long time was one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself. I learned to enjoy my own company. I learned that alone does not mean lonely. 

And when you have gifted yourself that, a relationship is a bonus to yourself and a gift to someone else. 

Or it can be a good excuse for a diamond ring. Sometimes, we just deserve something shiny.  

3 thoughts on “Diamond Ring and Shiny Things

  1. When I was in the Philippines I knew a woman from Bongao Is. South of Tawi-Tawi. When she was a toddler, her family implanted a diamond in her skull (shallow) below her left eye. In this way no matter what catastrophe, devastation or separation, she would retain something of value.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Interesting is an understatement. It is so intense on so many levels. The foresight of the parent. The fear of a people in a war-torn region. And the fierce desire to take care of their daughter. On another note – Why were you in Tawi Tawi?


      1. This was a lady that I met in Olongapo (our much-maligned, beloved home town). She told the most fantastic stories of growing-up as the daughter of a minor Datu in that small place. She had an amer-asian son from a man she met while working in a hospital in Bagiuo . The son was aided by the Pearl S. Buck foundation. She also cared for two other young orphans. I knew her from ’73-78. I sponsored one of the girls high school education. Really enjoyed taking the (her) family out to Gaines Beach (this was before the Korean shipyard was built).
        It hurts me that I had to leave. There were several people I was helping. There were others that I could/should have helped.
        The people of Bongao and Tawi-Tawi now have their own Province (no longer part of troubled Sulu province). The area has developed and is doing quite well. I was amazed, considering how primitive it was a few decades ago.


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