Buencamino is resident satirist of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the February 16, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone” – Dorothy Parker

I spilled a steaming hot cup of coffee on my lap because of the headline, “Pinays prefer ugly rich husbands.”  Now I’m laid up waiting for the burns to heal. But the good news is I found time to reflect on the Social Weather Stations survey that prompted the headline.

SWS asked their respondents: “If you were to choose one of the following two persons to be your lifetime partner, who would you pick: A person who is rich but ugly, or A person who is good-looking but poor?” [translated from Pilipino]

Several questions immediately come to mind: What is the civil status of the respondents? Why was the question limited to those two types of mates? Why exclude those who are rich and good-looking and those who are poor and ugly? SWS did not even include those who are neither handsome nor ugly and neither rich nor poor. I belong to that category: the so-sos of the world. Does anybody give a damn about us?

Let’s break down the survey results, beginning with sex and age groups, ladies first.

Seventy one percent of women aged 18-24 went for the ugly but rich mate while in the 25 -34 age-group only 61 percent wanted that sort of man. That’s a huge drop of 10 percent. Do women suddenly change on the eve of their 25th birthday?

At any rate, the numbers go down as women’s ages go up. The preference for ugly but rich goes down to 57 percent for women aged 35- 44, 51 percent for those aged 45-54, and 50 percent for those aged 55 and up. Does that mean women get less choosy with age and by age 55 they don’t care one way or the other?

Going to the men: 52 percent of men in all ages, with the exception of those aged 35-44, picked looks over bank account.

What does the difference between the responses of men and women tell us?

Women look at the long term. They know that looks don’t last forever. In addition, their mothers handed them down two eternal truths: (1) God made man so that women would have something to mold; and (2) molding a man is a heavy task that can be made lighter with money.

Men are different. They pick women off the shelf. They take women at face value; pardon the pun. Men are not interested in transforming a woman. They know that playing Prof. Henry Higgins to women is gay. More importantly, fathers taught their sons to read the Classics and take to heart the observation of the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC – AD 17) who said, “At night there is no such thing as an ugly woman.”

Now let’s look at the breakdown based on geography and economic class.

Fifty five percent of all respondents from Metro Manila and Luzon picked ugly but rich mates over good-looking but poor. That’s bad news for lookers. But the good news is in Mindanao, where 56 percent choose good looks over money. The Visayas are a toss-up, 50 to 49. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what those numbers say about the respondents.

Does it mean that the respondents from Metro-Manila and Luzon would rather make love to a wallet?  Do southern Filipinos know something their northern cousins don’t? I guess it really does not matter because what is important is that the next generation of southern Filipinos will be more pleasing to the eye.

Let’s go to economic classes. Fifty seven percent of ABC and 52 percent of D chose ugly but rich while 48 percent of E went for looks over wealth. What does that tell us? Since E outnumbers all other economic classes, lookers will inevitably overwhelm uglies, nationwide. Thank God for that. But that’s bad news for the communist party because beautiful people don’t wage class war against other beautiful people. They would rather make love than war. More thanks to God.

All in all, I think the survey’s findings are a testament to the eternal wisdom of Mae West: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, rich is better.”

‘Yun lang.