CONFESSION OF AN UKAY-UKAY ADDICT

BY: CRESENCIO BONIFACIO ADLAWAN

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Most of us have some form of addiction. Some are addicted to love, some to vices like smoking and some are like me; shopaholic specifically used imported items. Call them ukay-ukay, Japan surplus or simply UK. They are durable, cheap and satisfy our inner craving to possess branded items without burning our pockets.

When did I start to become an ukay-ukay addict? As far as I can remember it all started when I worked in Saudi Arabia. They have this place called haraj where they sell all used items from clothes to cars. I have to buy my casual clothes there because that’s all I could afford at that time since I just arrived. To my surprise if you really know how to look, you can find old stock but unused cotton shirts at a very cheap price.

Since then it became our favorite past time. My colleagues and I usually go there during our day off. We also buy things there for our family back home. We store them until we fill a balik-bayan box that we can send to the Philippines via sea cargo because it is much cheaper. Time fly so fast when we are busy rummaging from piles of shirts, jackets and sweaters. We befriended the sellers who are usually Bangladeshi or Pakistani and became our suki. We usually get big discounts when we buy many items or get freebies (tawad).

When I came back home I decided to settle in Daet. To my surprise ukay-ukay here are very cheap. I tried it and found two original Giordano shirts that look new. I just bought it for 50 pesos each. Since then I look forward to find similar good quality items.

It’s not always that I found items that I can say are treasures but when I do I feel like celebrating, like winning in a raffle. I feel happy when I get a good bargain after like a treasure hunt of turning everything upside down. It’s like a sort of accomplishment. It feels good when my friends become green with envy whenever I show them what I got from UK (ukay-ukay). They are especially amazed how cheap I bought them.

I know that material things can only give temporary happiness. I want to keep that happiness inside of me but it’s quite elusive so I keep on buying things. I need to have something to be happy about. I feel that there is a hole inside of me that I want to fill up but it seems that the more I tried to fill it the emptier it becomes.

I want to justify my addiction by thinking that buying ukay-ukay is a sort of like helping to recycle things. It makes things affordable for low income people. It helps the environment by producing less garbage.

I wish that I could live minimally and be happy by finding the happiness inside. It is easier said than done but I hope I can channel my competitive spirit in worthier pursuit. I realize that I have to stop at some point but for now I will just enjoy it until I finally move on to things that really matter.