Looks versus money

“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 Station 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 sosos 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.

71 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 ten 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.

55 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. 57 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.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • TJ


    Lalake: Manyak
    Babae: Mukhang pera

  • I have always believed that Charles Darwin should have been included amongst the great classical economic philosophers alongside the other big names.

    Women were always drawn to the strongest who was the best hunter for their own survival and their off spring. In those times women were polygamous to ensure that they also had insurance against going hungry.

    Arm candy and trophy wives are part and parcel of this aspect of human nature.

    Know a lot of rich guys and they have numerous partners.

    If you can afford it why not?

    Natural selection is the process by which the market system works.

    If I were a rich guy most especially here in the Philippines I would probably have a new partner every six months. Pinays are hot!!!!!

    • manuelbuencamino


      The problem with the survey’s finding is that it defies natural selection. They women respondents preferred cash to physical attributes.

      • In hunter gatherer groups food was cash. The strongest, bravest and most skillful was the best hunter. He usually became the chief.

        Market systems left alone will always result in few winner many losers. They get the best chicks.

        Natural selection actually is confirmed by the survey.

    • Bert

      Maybe natural selection works only on the male species and not on the female.

    • Bert

      It’s clear from the survey results that natural selection does not apply to women.

      Material selection does.

      • manuelbuencamino

        And material selection is the reason why there is going to be a lot of uglies in the next generation. I’m glad I won’t be alive to see that.

  • mario taporco

    Bert, flickering eyelids just melts my butter. 😉

    • Bert

      Your butter is too soft, Mario. You should see what flickering eyelids can do to my butter, ;).

  • Bert

    “At night there is no such thing as an ugly woman.”


    I can’t believe that quotation came from a Roman poet. I heard that one before, from my friend way back in our high school days in the hinterland of Bicol but the only classics he ever read was a Mars Ravelo komiks.

    • manuelbuencamino


      your high school friend must be soul mates with Ovid. But google the quote and you’ll see that Ovid is credited with the quote.

      • KG

        Bert Ginoogle ko na at
        binasa ko pa ang wikipedia article ni OVid kanina lang.

        Very interesting fella.
        mahilig sa seduction.

        balik tayo ke Mars Ravelo.
        Kaninong karakter kaya ni Mars Ravelo nabasaa ng barkada mo iyon ,kay Lastikman siguro?

  • Bert

    “At night there is no such thing as an ugly woman.”-a Roman poet

    Well, me, I’m a stickler for beautiful women. Because it’s more exciting during day time, even just by looking at her flickering eyelids.

  • mario taporco

    I am the type of men who observes beautiful women. My concerns about the ladies are their status, and wether they are high maintenance or just a simple lady to be with.

    Personality is my main focal point for the ladies, and I don’t like cheap plastic type.

    Women look at the long term. They know that looks don’t last forever.per mb

    True! financial stability is the strong factor of a relationship.