Would you say yes to Dh20 engagement ring? Filipinos in UAE join fiery debate

A viral social media post — in which a man reportedly broke up with his fiancée who questioned the inexpensive ring he gave her — has kickstarted a polarising conversation on love and diamonds among netizens

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Kirstin Bernabe

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Ajanta Paul

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Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 6:20 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Jan 2024, 8:23 AM

How would you react if someone slipped a twig onto your finger, pledging marriage, devotion, and unwavering commitment — like a scene out of an old movie? In a different take, could you say yes to an engagement ring that would cost as low as Dh20?

When asked the hypothetical question, a colleague's stunned expression and sorrowful shake of the head spoke volumes. She isn't alone in her reaction — across social media, many this week are expressing disbelief too.

It all started when an anonymous Facebook post went viral in the Philippines, with the poster asking for advice about a 299-peso (Dh20) engagement ring she received from her fiancé. The posts and the discussion spiralled out of hand, quite literally, and eventually reached the fiancé, who broke up with her despite them being together for eight long years.

The proposal, the posts and the subsequent break-up sent shockwaves among netizens. Was it a troll post or rage bait? We may never know — but the debate is no longer about the couple. It's taken a life of its own and kickstarted fiery debates about love, diamonds and everything in between.

The debate has reached UAE shores too — naturally. And Filipino expats here are now sharing their own thoughts on the viral post.

Talking to Khaleej Times, stunned Dubai resident Jalin said, "To think that they’ve been together for eight years — and that was all the effort from the man? It would have been okay if the 299-peso wedding ring came with a key to a house or something of similar value. He can scrimp on some things if he made sure he could provide comfort for their future lives."

Sharjah resident Vhalyne D-Atilano is clear that mere twigs or twine would not win her heart, and she has her reasons. She said, "As far as I am concerned, I wouldn't say yes — because I know how much my partner earns. So, if he had given me a Dh20 ring, it might mean he is incapable of providing for me later on (in life). It might also indicate that he wouldn't spend for me in the future. How could he be a provider after marriage?"

However, the Filipina is not all about the 'material' things. "In a different situation, if that's all he can afford (299 peso ring), I'd appreciate it. I can even do without it. As long as he is sincere and can promise to strive for the best for me and my kids after marriage."

In ancient times, the opulence of an engagement ring was an indicator of the husband’s wealth and ability to care for a wife. In the 21st century, women still want to have financial stability in their lives.

UAE resident Zandra Jacaban said, "In my opinion, an engagement ring is a sign that the man is financially stable and can afford the responsibility financially and emotionally."

The Filipino mother added, "My husband and I were together for 12 years before he asked me to marry him. The ring had a one C (carat) stone, so I’m grateful. But I would not mind if he had given me one that is worth 299 pesos — as long as his passbook is ‘fat’."

Not everyone feels that the price tag is critical when it comes to matters of the heart. According to some expats, a little understanding can make all the difference.

Sheldone Rey Dacalos, a video editor in Abu Dhabi, had been saving for the right time to 'propose' to his wife of 10 years — and he finally got the opportunity to do so after she visited him, with their children, in December.

The resident, who has lived in the UAE for six years, said, "Every time we see surprise proposals, my wife always goes ‘sana alllll’ (how I wish). I wanted her to experience that emotion. So, I saved up for a long time. To us, the diamond's size or the ring's price does not matter. What matters is the essence of the proposal. Since I had the extra money, I could buy a beautiful ring that was a bit expensive.

"It's not really about the price though; it's the precious memory of seeing how happy she was when I proposed. And I will be reminded of that every time I see the ring."

Sheldone took to social media to make the announcement, not missing the talking point of the recently viral post, and wrote: "Forget about the 299-peso ring issue. For me, after 10 years, I was finally able to propose. It’s hard to save up, but I did it. Gone are the days of 'Never mind if all we eat are bananas as long as we love each other'. Now, it's 'Never mind the long wait, there’s always the right time.'

"You can always explain to your partner that you are saving up for the ring. She will understand it better." To his wife, he added, "Thank you for understanding, my love. No more 'sana all'."

Rings are circles — symbols of unending love; what has money got to do with it? Sharing similar thoughts, Dubai expat Rima dela Rosa-Perry, who married a non-Filipino in October 2023, bought a pair of wedding rings for Dh75 from Amazon. She shared a photo of sterling silver couple ring set.

"We don't really care. Actually, we did not want a ring; we decided to get a pair, but just the cheap ones. My parents never had expensive rings; they have been together for 36 years. I grew up not paying attention to such things."

Iris Ayesha Casela spoke about the true essence of love in the midst of differing perspectives. “It's not the ring — it's the person you are saying 'Yes' to." The expat, who lives with her husband and two kids in Dubai, did not have an engagement ring of her own — but her wedding rings were made of silver and, like the original poster, cost 300 pesos too.

In the vibrant heart of the UAE, this debate — fuelled not by grandeur or opulence — looks set to continue garnering polarising opinions. So, here's one for you to answer: "Would you propose with a Dh20 engagement ring? Alternately, what would you do if you were proposed to with one?"

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