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Maine Mendoza Is Right: It's Time We Stop Seeing Children As 'Long-Term Investments'

Maine Mendoza's views on seeing children as a long-term investment op-ed
PHOTO: instagram/mainedcm

Social media’s hottest conversation last week was about a contestant on Eat Bulaga’s Bawal Judgmental segment, after she said that she was counting on her seven-year-old child to raise her and her husband out of poverty.

“Ace, mag-aral ka nang mabuti, kasi alam ko ikaw ang makaka-ahon sa amin sa kahirapan. Ikaw ‘yung pursigido para pagandahin ‘yung buhay natin, tsaka bata ka pa. Kahit bata ka pa, may pangarap ka na talaga,” a 25-year-old contestant named Incess spoke on television while in tears.

Yet this apparently did not sit well with Maine Mendoza—who took it upon herself to correct the contestant.

Tactfully responding to Incess, Maine said, “Ang bata mo pa Incess, kayong mag-asawa, may pagkakataon pa para palakihin o pagandahin ang inyong buhay.

Putting her arm around the contestant’s shoulder, Maine added, “Tsaka bata pa si Ace, ‘wag natin ipasa sa kanya yung responsibilidad. Marami ka pang magagawa, kayo ni mister.”

First, props to Maine for speaking the truth and shedding light on this country’s “generational curse”: one that burdens children to become “retirement plans” for their parents when they grow up. In Filipino culture, it is common to expect children to have “utang na loob,” literally translating to the indebtedness of self, for being brought into this world and being given shelter, clothing, and an education—literally the rights that every child is entitled to, anyway.

In Filipino culture, we are taught that the family is the core social unit, and to care for our kapwa. This includes our family members. But while there is nothing wrong with showing compassion or caring for your loved ones, the problem is when this becomes an obligation or a responsibility, sometimes at our own expense. And how crazy is it that this kind of mentality is being taught and ingrained in a child’s mind as early as seven years old?


A lot of social media users sided with Maine and shared their own experiences of having been passed on the responsibility of being a breadwinner. A lot of this has to do with the cards we’re dealt with: oftentimes, the eldest child will have to take on the responsibility of being the family’s main provider and even a second or third parent to their siblings because of certain circumstances, but oftentimes as they sacrifice their own dreams for the rest—many have even been forced to stop schooling just to enter the workforce early. Because of this, so many dreams, personal goals, and even relationships are set aside and sometimes forgotten altogether because these young people carry the responsibility of providing for their loved ones.

In other instances, children don’t have to stop schooling but are instead invested in by their parents and other relatives for their education, with the full expectation that these children would have to “repay” this investment when they get lucrative careers.

This is exactly why so many young people struggle to break free from norms and societal expectations: because they’re brought up with the belief that their lives and their choices do not belong to them, but to the people who have “helped” them be who they are today.

Or when they do decide to stand up for themselves, it comes with so much backlash as they’re accused of being ungrateful or even selfish.

Let’s get one thing straight: while parents and other relatives see children as a “blessing,” these children did not ask to be born in this world. It is the sole responsibility of parents to raise their kids and provide them with security, love, and protection—full stop. Placing the burden on children to help their families and serve as their parents’ “retirement plans” so they can stop working is not only unfair; it’s selfish.

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Many times, because these children are forced to stop or delay their schooling, this immediately hampers their opportunities in terms of furthering their careers. Instead of getting a leg up in their career by seeking higher education or even pursuing their dream careers altogether, they are forced to chase after the highest-paying position possible or even go abroad to seek greener pastures.

And while there’s nothing wrong with seeking lucrative pay for your work, it only matters when it’s a career milestone that is important to you — and not because of the pressure brought on by other family members counting on your income.

This also leads many individuals, many of them women, to sacrifice any dreams they’ve had of starting their own family, let alone building a long-term relationship and marriage. With weddings alone a costly endeavor, many are held back from getting married altogether or having kids because of existing financial obligations to their families: if what they’re earning is barely enough to support relatives, how much more when they have children?

Others have argued that Incess may have grown up with that mindset and may shoulder the responsibility of providing for her parents and other loved ones—hence why she is passing on the burden of being relieved of her own financial woes to her seven-year-old kid. While that could be a possibility, it does nothing to break the cycle of generational poverty and the culture of shared financial responsibilities: you provide for your parents, as your child provides for you, as your child’s child provides for them, and so on.


It’s 2023: as the next generation of adults who will likely bring up a new generation into this world, it is upon us to unlearn this mindset so that the next children are unshackled from this toxic cultural trait. Rather than force them into a box by limiting their opportunities because of utang na loob, let’s empower them to rise above their circumstances, and continue breaking barriers and glass ceilings so that they can redefine their own opportunities and change their situations.

As a celebrity herself, Maine’s voice is powerful enough to make a difference. Yet change doesn’t happen overnight. In order to break free from this generational curse, we need to add our voices to the growing chorus that counters this cultural trait — and put in the work where it counts.

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