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Showy proposals have always been common. Whether the proposal is for marriage or a simple date, we’ve probably seen more than hundreds of them. But why do we even do it? Some say it’s a sign of dedication. While some say that doing it in public will make the moment more memorable.

Yes, a showy proposal in front of close friends and family can be cute. But an extravagant proposal in front of numerous strangers? That’s a whole different thing.

In a viral post on Facebook, young CEO and millionaire Xian Gaza asked 27-year-old actress Erich Gonzales for a coffee through a billboard in Morayta. The huge billboard says “I can’t even espresso how much I like you a latte. Will you… drink coffee with me,” with the hashtags #CoffeeWithErich and #PleaseSayYesErich. It may be argued that men have their own, different ways to ask a girl out, and this guy just chose the most extravagant way possible simply because he can afford it.

But here’s the thing: this kind of grand gesture puts Erich Gonzales in such a difficult and unfair position. A situation that will make her look like the bad person if ever she decides to decline, which she has every right to do so.

Call us over-reacting but public proposals like this have posed major threats and resulted to real dangers before already. Ever heard of this woman who was killed five days after rejecting a TV marriage proposal? This girl was even booed out of a bar after rejecting his boyfriend’s proposal.

Before this billboard stint, Xian Gaza posted months ago that he bought a set of expensive luxury makeup for Erich, even posing with the extremely long receipt of his purchases. According to him, this is just his way of saying hello to Erich. Assuming that these gifts he bought reached her, and she still didn’t respond to that gesture, that just makes it clear that she isn’t interested.

The lack of response with your first move doesn’t mean “go make an even grander gesture and ask me out through a billboard.” No means no, no doesn’t mean “continue showering me with expensive gestures until I say yes.”

Let’s not forget the fact that this guy’s only interaction with the actress is seeing her in a cinema and taking a selfie with her. After that, Erich is suddenly the one his “heart truly desires”. There’s a huge difference between love and obsession, but with all these expensive and attention-seeking gestures, the latter is easy to be mistaken as the former.

Now that this news has completely taken over the internet, it’s only a matter of time before the press, her fans, and netizens start asking her again and again about her answer. We’re certain Erich Gonzales is a strong and independent woman, and is smart enough to only give the answer she’s comfortable with. But with all the attention and the clamour this coffee invitation is getting, she will surely feel pressure and guilt. Especially now that people are already saying “Just give him a chance!” “Coffee lang naman, e!” and “Grabe naman kung di pa pumayag,”

So once and for all, let’s get one thing straight: just because he spent so much money on her (which she didn’t ask for in the first place) and bought her expensive goods (which we’re sure Erich can afford herself anyway), she doesn’t and will never owe the guy a positive response. Or any response at all for that matter.

Women aren’t objects you can lure in with money. Women aren’t mindless, swooning creatures that you can win over through grand gestures and expensive gifts.

Sorry to spoil your kilig and heart eyes emojis but this isn’t a fairytale love story, we dare say showering women with luxury goods and proposing a date in elaborate and grandiose fashion in order for her to feel guilty if she thinks of declining is borderline emotional manipulation. It’s creepy and threatening.

In Xian Gaza’s words, this extravagant coffee invitation is the first time in Philippine history. But it’s not the first time a woman was put in the spot to be pressured and coerced in saying yes. We need to stop romanticizing public proposals like this that make women uncomfortable and put them in a bad light.

Women have every right to say no but with highly-publicized, attention-grabbing proposals like this, it’s so damn easy to make “no” seem like the wrong answer.

Illustration by Madel Crudo

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