Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Day 4. Pete Matipid

One of the most memorable Chiquito characters is Pete Matipid, a caricature of the quintessential miserly man. "Matipid" doesn't have an exact English translation, the closest I can think of is thrifty. The word "saver" is associated with it but it connotes a banking/business context, which "matipid" doesn't have. I have often heard and used the word "saver" used together with investment, such that one saves to invest in something else, or one saves to buy something, or to keep the bottom line of a business in the black, but "matipid" is rarely used in any of those ways. I once heard somebody say that what is saved is earned,  which I think is wrong unless he's used to making double entries in his business. Neither is "matipid" used in that sense. But Pete Matipid is different. He serves fried chicken for dinner, a luxury in most Filipino  homes, but he serves it hanging on a string. And his guests are not allowed to eat it, but only to smell it, as they munch on a plate of hot rice. And after dinner, the chicken, still hanging on a string with a pulley, is hidden behind a cabinet and locked up for the next meal. Of course, nobody does that in real life, but it demonstrates exactly the absurdity of what being "matipid" means in Filipino, it is saving for saving's sake, a sort of neurosis afflicting the financially-challenged and even the successful ones too. It's not saving to invest, or to buy something, or to stretch a "budget," (Curiously, in the Filipino context, the word "budget" in fact is often used in the pejorative sense such that one who is working on a budget is poor or selfish.) I'm sure before Pete Matipid became such a hit -- it was a film and television series -- "matipid" might have meant more than stingy or the absurd meanings that Chiquito's character had assigned to it. No thanks to him for having contributed to the financial miseducation of the Filipino by making the habit of  "saving" and the "saver"  as objects of mockery and laughter.  But he's funny. 

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