THE BUSINESS SIDE OF LOVE

MANILA, FEBRUARY 4, 2011 (STAR) - BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores - [Illustration at left by IGAN D’BAYAN] A lady of 47 who had been married 27 years and had six children knows what love really is and once described it for me like this:

“Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.” —James Thurber

Bart, with $10,000, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like ... love! —Homer Simpson

A man in love is not complete until he is married. Then he is finished. —Zsa Zsa Gabor

Years ago at the height of her popularity as a sex icon in movies, actress Ara Mina told me that she believed “the root cause of almost all relationship problems is often money.” I was amazed at her statement. I had read somewhere that in the US, 90 percent of divorces were caused or revolved around money. Lesson? Thresh out and plan money issues using your head before committing yourself to a serious love relationship.

No Need To Splurge On Your Wedding

Since it’s Valentines’s Day, I’ve decided to delve into the business side of love since this seems to be an important topic often overlooked by most people and most especially by emotionally charged younger people with stars in their eyes who think love conquers all.

By the way, for those who are at a loss as to what to do for your wedding or debut, I recommend you go to SM Megamall’s Megatrade Hall from Feb. 18 to 20 for the Wedding, Debut & Bridal Fair to examine your range of choices and prices.

My advice? Do not splurge excessively on your wedding like a fiesta to the detriment of your family future. The size or lavishness of a wedding does not determine the classiness or beauty of your celebration.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the topic of love and money:

• Use the head, not only the heart, in choosing one’s spouse. As a history buff, I have studied the lives of many successful people and families — whether in business or politics — whose long-term success and happiness have been affected by their wise or foolish choices of spouse. How many people have ruined their lives and the future of their families with purely emotional and often irrational choices of spouses?

In Philippine business, those tycoons who’ve chosen good spouses that are great assets to their amazing entrepreneurial careers include John Gokongwei Jr., whose wife is the humble and simple-living Elizabeth Limsico Yu; Senator Manny Villar, whose wife is his University of the Philippines (UP) classmate — herself a humble business whiz — Cynthia Aguilar Villar; Metrobank Group boss George SK Ty, whose wife, Mary Vy Ty, is well-known as a humble and devoted wife who serves as Ty’s hardworking assistant on key financial matters such as the compensation of top executives; Filinvest Group and East West Bank founder Andrew Gotianun, whose wife is UP summa cum laude graduate and talented businesswoman Mercedes Gotamco Tan; SM Group founder Henry Sy Sr., whose wife, the self-effacing, religious Felicidad Tan Sy, successfully raised good kids who are not spoiled brats but hardworking and obedient children.

International Broadway star Lea Salonga told me recently at lunch in the Peninsula Manila Hotel’s Salon de Ning: “Choosing whom you will love is very important. When choosing a mate, it has to be a perfect marriage of heart and head. It cannot just be all about the heart or emotions. The person you will love should not only be a person you like or are attracted to, but he should somehow look good on paper, too.”

• Sign a prenuptial agreement. This is the one thing the public should learn from Kris Aquino (whose birthday is today) and her late mother, President Cory C. Aquino. Unlike Megastar Sharon Cuneta, who signed a prenup before marrying Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Kris last year tearfully and publicly admitted that she regretted not heeding her mom’s wise advice on first signing a pre-nup before she married basketball athlete James Yap. Kris and James are now separated and in the process of annulling their marriage.

Real estate billionaire Donald Trump, who told Piers Morgan of CNN last week that he is thinking of running for US president (I believe he shouldn’t run because he has jingoistic ideas on foreign policy that might make ex-President George W. Bush look like a Boy Scout) advises people to sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married.

In one of his many books, Trump had a friend who once told him: “Donald, I’m so in love with this woman that I don’t need a prenuptial agreement.” Trump wrote: “I didn’t have the courage to tell him what I was thinking to myself. Loser!” Both Donald Trump and the late President Cory Aquino were correct!

• Be monogamous and loyal to your spouse for the sake of efficiency. A young tycoon once asked me if he should indulge in adultery or polygamy, and I replied — not using Christian moral values but talking to him in a straightforward business sense —that we human beings in general have finite physical resources, energy and time (only 24 hours a day).

In my opinion, indulging in polygamy or adultery will not only unnecessarily dissipate our physical energies to the detriment of our health, the hassles and future emotional, psychological and even financial pressures of having a mistress or second families would eventually take its toll on the overall success of an entrepreneur like him. This young tycoon thought about my analysis and agreed. His wife should thank me for that priceless piece of advice (if she only knew)!

• Heed the advice of parents and family elders. One of the most unappreciated and misunderstood facets of love in the modern era is the often very wise role of parents of previous generations guiding people to choose their spouses. Hollywood and even our Tagalog movies love to poke fun at or demonize this aspect, but in most instances, parents mean well and care. Also, marriage is not only between two persons, as it seems in the more individualistic Western view, but it also affects entire families and future generations ad continuum.

One story I can’t forget reading in Time magazine was about the brilliant Harvard cum laude and Oxford graduate, the late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, and her traditional arranged marriage to her husband, the present-day Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. It was a beautiful and touching story of how love and devotion developed, because it reflected the old and possibly timeless wisdom of Asia from China to India and Pakistan, which in the past produced statistically more enduring marriages compared to Western and Hollywood-style marriages built solely on lofty and dreamy ideas of romance.

In modern times, we can have the best of both worlds of the wise East and the emotional West, merging the indispensable guidance, suggestions and approval of family elders with positive aspects of individual free will.

The age-old tradition of kaysiaw, which literally means “introductions” in Chinese culture, has also evolved with the times, with modern-day family members, kin and even friends collectively helping out parents and elders in continuing this delightful tradition in the context of 21st-century individualism and free will.

Business leader John Gokongwei Jr. once told me that in Chinese culture, it is believed that a person who played a successful role in arranging a good kaysiaw that ends up in a good marriage ideal for two lovers’ families would be blessed with good fortune.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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