The millennial generation has been labelled “the cheapest generation.” We’re the generation that ditches cars over phones. We’re the generation that thinks it’s okay to live with our parents until we turn 30 (in the Philippines, at least. The global average is 32.) But how do we live in the everyday, when we want to live by ourselves but don’t have the money nor the skills to live comfortably? What’s life like as a millennial that can’t fully sustain himself?
When I say in the city, I mean mega Manila, which is at times very big and at times very, very small. Sometimes it’s the world where everything fun happens, far away from where my parents and the rest of my family live. Sometimes it’s my room, one of the many condominium units in the many condominiums sprouting in almost every block in mega Manila.
When I say living semi-independently, It’s like the walk on your very first day of school. Everything inside your backpack didn’t come from you, but you’re carrying it by yourself on your own two legs. Your parents are holding your hands, but sooner or later they’re going to let go. And you have your game face on. You’re ready. At least you think you are. It’s exciting and scary, and most of all, an important stage in life.
For me, the walk has been taking six years and counting. I’ve picked up a number of things along the way:
- The fridge is almost always empty until your family comes over to visit, leaving you with future baon for a week.
- Leftover food smells really bad when you leave it out in the open. Gross.
- Nothing makes you want to clean your entire house than a guest coming over, especially an unexpected one. Now I know why my mom can’t get herself to sit down and relax when we’re expecting someone to visit.
- Having your own place for people to come over and visit is cool. Until they leave and you have to clean up.
- When you lose something in your room, it’s your fault. There’s nobody else that moved it. There’s no magic elf, no ghost, no trespasser that broke in just to mess with you.
- Using the same pair of jeans for a week is only gross if you make it gross.
- Stains of any kind are a bitch to clean.
- Ministop > 7-Eleven. At least for now.
- Having a 24/7 Kowloon House nearby is a godsend. Having a bakery nearby is a godsend.
- Finishing a bottle alone takes less than a week. Two or three days if you’re feeling extra down.
- Paying bills sucks. What’s that? You just got your paycheck? Just in time to pay your rent, your utility bills, and your phone bill. Good luck saving for that trip.
- It’s hard to exercise when your whole day is spent outside.
- The same goes with any passion project you want to pursue. Nobody is going to tell you to do anything. Nobody is going to push you, but nobody is also going to hold your hand. It’s all you.
- Water is cheaper when you don’t buy it from the convenience store. Infinitely cheaper.
- You know those crazy room ideas that you’ve always wanted to do? You’ll never get to do them, and more importantly, you won’t have the time to enjoy them. A permanent blanket fort? A projector for a TV? Can you even afford a projector?
- CLAYGO. Clean As You Go. Nobody’s there to pick up the shirt you took off while you were half-asleep. Stop being gross.
- Speaking of being gross, wash the dishes regularly. Wash everything regularly. Spend a day every week just cleaning everything.
- It’s fun that you don’t have curfew anymore, that you can go out without fear of being locked out of the house when you come back home.
- But you’ll miss someone opening the back door while you flip your backpack upside down looking for your copy of the house keys. You’ll miss being asked if you had anything to eat. You’ll miss the warmth of the cup of coffee while being asked why you’re up so late. You’ll lie and say you had work or a late night project, but they know.
- You’ll miss breakfast the morning after too. Ministop chicken can never replace sinangag and tuyo, or any home-cooked meal for that matter.
- There will be a day that no one is free to hang out with you, and you’re left alone in your condo or apartment or bed space. There’s no party to go to, there’s no one to have dinner with, and you’re left alone, truly alone. There will be more days like this. These are the days where you will find out more about yourself.
- It’s fine to ask help from your parents.
- Nothing will make you feel more cozy than being at home.
- It’s fine to go back home, every once and a while.
Photos by Patty Ferriol, Juno Reyes, and Lex Celera