A question of fairness: On a P299 engagement ring and a baby mama ‘kicked out’

We’re just a few days into the new year but a couple of relationship stories have gone viral and had us asking ourselves what we’d do if we were put in the same situation. Among other questions we asked were “What does it mean to be valued by your partner?” and “What should we consider deal breakers in a relationship?”

The viral post of an anonymous girlfriend asking if she’s in the wrong for getting upset over a P299 engagement ring and the call-out post of Diego Loyzaga’s alleged baby mama were among the relationship stories that had us attempting to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

There may be no single definitive answer, no true right or wrong regarding a relationship problem applicable for all couples. But here’s my attempt to find a fair response.

When the price of an engagement ring is right

The issue: “My BF of eight years just proposed to me. But nagi-guilty ako kasi, I am upset due to the fact na the engagement ring only cost P299,” the original poster who asked to remain anonymous shared in a Facebook group. “Ganito lang ba kababa ‘yung halaga ko sa kanya na hindi niya man lang pinagipunan [‘yung] pambili ng ring? Or di ko ba dapat i-big deal? Am I too immature to feel this way?”

“Hindi niya alam na nakita ko ‘yung ring binili niya sa Shopee. Ignore ko na lang ba tong nafi-feel ko? Or should I confront him? Kaso ayoko din naman masira ‘yung moment,” OP added.

A guy that claims to be the OP’s BF posted his own statement on TikTok to explain his side.

“Ako po ‘yung bread winner ng family namin. Sobrang dami ko struggles and responsibilities sa buhay. Pinapa-aral ko pa ‘yung bunso namin,” he wrote. “TBH, meron naman ako pambili ng ring na nagre-range ng four digits. Pero due to the struggles and responsibilities ko sa life, ‘yung ring na ‘yon na muna ang napili ko for her. Para sakin, ‘yun ang promise ring ko sa kanya na siya ‘yung papakasalan ko at makakasama ko for the rest of my life. Pero hindi ko expect na ganon ang magiging reaction niya. And pinost niya pa [sa] FB group na [sic] hindi ko maintindihan bakit niya pa ginawa ‘yon kung pwede naman niya ako kausapin.”

“Hindi niyo po ako kilala at hindi ko rin kayo kilala. Iba-iba po tayo ng pinagdadaanan sa buhay! Kung para sa inyo po is [sic] napaka-cheap ko, well naiintindihan ko po kayo don. Baka nga naman po kasi pinanganak kayo na gold spoon niyo. Para sakin, LOVE DOESN’T HAVE PRICE! Hindi po nabawasan ang pagmamahal ko sa kanya ng 299 sa loob ng eight years. Actually, priceless pa nga po. My whole world suddenly fell apart dahil don,” he added. He ended the statement by sharing his decision to break up with his girlfriend and try to move on. 

My response: We all have different financial capacities, that much is clear. The viral story, more interestingly, revealed that we all have different understandings of what an engagement ring and its qualities are supposed to signify. We, more or less, all agree that the engagement ring stands for a promise of commitment, an agreement to get married. Pope Nicholas I was the one who declared the piece of jewelry a representation of a man’s intent to marry in 850 CE.

It would take hundreds of years more before expensive versions would become the norm. Notably, the diamond engagement ring only became a trend among European aristocracy and nobility after Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned the very first one for Mary of Burgundy in 1477.

So really, the value of an engagement ring isn’t inherently tied to its price tag. But a lot of people today, monied or not, have come to somewhat equate a higher price with a deeper devotion and thoughtfulness. Or perhaps it has come to signal an ability to provide for or have the financial capacity to build a good home for the recipient, or at least a work ethic to get to that level. There’s also an expectation for some that it’s a piece of jewelry that can be passed down, highlighting how it can be a symbol of longevity. Although, these may not be true for everyone, especially those who consciously reject materialism.

One of my friends pointed out that OP’s boyfriend’s mistake, not that we’re assigning blame, is that he didn’t seem to know his girlfriend enough to know what type of engagement ring would make her happy. But then, he was also right in expecting that his girlfriend would talk to him about it. 

I’m hesitant to say that the former couple have different values. And I don’t think it’s bad to anonymously ask the internet for advice. We live in an age with existing subReddits like r/AmITheAssh*le.   

Personally for me, what matters even more than price is whether the ring is in the receiver’s personal style (nothing gaudy for the minimalist, and nothing bland for the maximalist) and that it fits or is resizable if it doesn’t. For cheaper rings more susceptible to tarnish, it’s good if the design has personal significance so the receiver can enjoy it twice as much in what might be a shorter amount of time.  

If you have doubts about buying that ring, ask yourself if it brings you feelings of pride and conveys your love. If the answers are yes and your proposal is still unsuccessful, it’s time to say thank you, next.

The right way to treat your baby mama (or any person you’re raising your child with, TBH)

The issue: In June last year, Diego Loyzaga revealed that he’s a new dad when he posted a photo with his then-newborn baby. Details about his daughter and her mom were mostly kept private. That is, until his alleged baby mama spoke out.

Yoga teacher Alexis Suapengco introduced herself to the public on Jan. 7 with a series of stories where she slammed the actor. “So my baby daddy @diegoloyzaga decided to kick me and his baby out of his house so this girl can come over,” she alleged with links to Loyzaga’s and an alleged third party’s accounts. “Here is my slow clap.”

Suapengco then added in another story, “[Diego Loyzaga] said if I don’t take down the post, he won’t provide for my daughter daw. Ok boy bye.”

Loyzaga has since denied the allegations in his own series of Instagram stories of screenshots of conversations with Suapengco and another friend. In a separate story, he wrote, “Again, not denying anything else. But my baby will be taken care of definitely.”

My verdict: In Loyzaga’s case, the bigger issue is allegedly “kicking out the baby” and the mom’s fear that the dad might not provide for the baby anymore. Of course all parents are financially obligated to provide for their parents. But what about ensuring that a child has a good home?

There are a ton of details we’re not privy to but there are factors to consider here such as 1) whether the couple had a clear, amicable split before the alleged “kick out” 2) whether the alleged “kicking out” is permanent 3) the division of care work and procurement of baby needs 4) whether Loyzaga’s house was the best available option for a child-rearing environment and 5) whether Loyzaga’s alleged new relationship is directly affecting his ability to take up his responsibilities. Whatever the answers to these questions are, the litmus test for choices best for the baby are also ones that would foster a good co-parenting relationship regardless of the status of the parents’ romantic relationship.

But let me take these next questions outside of the context of Loyzaga and Suapengco’s case. In the US alone, a 2011 Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) indicated that more than one in four fathers with children 18 or younger live apart from their children. Some of these fathers are still highly involved with their children while others have little to no contact. 

According to US Census Bureau data released in 2023, out of about 10 million single parent families with children under the age of 18, almost 80 percent were headed by single mothers. A third lived in poverty.

Whether these living arrangements were born out of the decision of the father, the mother, or an amicable agreement not affected by infidelity or abandonment is unclear. But considering the statistics that we do have, the  question I want to pose is this: Should baby mamas be more empowered to negotiate on living arrangements during the child’s infancy?

For me, the decent answer is yes. Baby mamas shouldered the physical weight, literally, of carrying a child and had to put their jobs or careers on pause. US Census Bureau data also shows that among single moms, only half were employed full-time all year long, about one in five (20.8 percent) were jobless the entire year. Forty one percent were employed in low-wage jobs. 

Falling out of love is normal. Falling out of love for your baby mama and leaving her to do most of the care work so close after giving birth is being a negligent father. A mother undergoes so many changes during and post-pregnancy that it’s unfair to say that a father doesn’t have obligations to support her as well, especially in those first few years of single motherhood. If staying under the same roof is not an option that the father wants to entertain despite the mother’s desire (again, care work should be shared work), communication and negotiation should still be on the table.

Art by Ella Lambio

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Amrie Cruz: Amrie is a nonbinary writer who likes to talk about politics and viral animal videos. They have a dog daughter named Cassie who doesn’t go to school.