Friday, October 22, 2021

Sangil: It was the sixties, DM was president

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MARKET goers maybe shaking their heads. It's downright silly why a red pepper (sili) will cost P1,000 per kilo. The prices of commodities these past weeks went up the roof. Suddenly, one kilo of pork is beyond reach of a wage earner. How much a common employee make? Let's say more than P500. If the worker has a wife with two kids and is renting an apartment, what kind of a struggle he is in. Do the math.

RETRO. When I was still in shorts and was in the primary school, I was given on school days five centavos as my baon. Ten centavos were for the kids of well-off families. If ten centavos was given to me, that I can consider luxurious spending like having a special halo halo and a mamon to go along. And that five centavos was fair enough, I can already have one boiled sweet potato and a hopiang mungo and a clean drink from the water pump in the school garden.

The daily wage was four pesos for ordinary workers. And with that four pesos, basic needs of a family of five or sometimes seven or eight can be met. Only rich families owned televisions. And only they can afford cars and motorbikes. Only they can travel abroad. And traveling abroad in those years was big deal. Ordinary folks go to pintakasi on Sundays and the kids will be happy going to a movie even only once a month. Others only "once in a blue moon."

The orchestra ticket for kids on movie houses in Angeles City was fifteen centavos and twenty five for adults. I never bothered in my youth how much the balcony ticket was priced. In the San Nicolas public market in Angeles, you can have a plateful of pancit luglog for ten centavos. Halo halo the same amount. There was a centimeter height limit for kids and were not collected fares on buses. The Angeles-Manila round trip ticket was eighty five centavos. There were no air conditioning among buses then. Two of the popular bus lines were La Mallorca Pambusco of the Enriquez family of Macabebe and San Fernando. Its main competitor on the road was the Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines of the Paras and Buan families of Tarlac. Fare was a lot cheaper when taking the government owned Philippine National Railway train that run from Damortis, La Union to Tutuban in Divisoria in Manila. It makes stops in Angeles, San Fernando and Malolos in Bulacan.

I paid one hundred five pesos as matriculation fee for one whole semester when I entered first year at College of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Sto. Tomas. That was in the sixties and Diosdado Macapagal was President. Our country had the second biggest economy in Asia. At forty pesos a month there was already board and lodging on a well appointed apartment around the so-called university belt in Manila. Me and five other friends stayed on what they called bed space room which was priced at fifty pesos per month. And the six of us shared less than ten pesos for the rent.

What can you buy at the present salary? You can only buy noodles, sardines. Fish like galungong became expensive too. The workers are fed up with promises coming from several agencies of government, particularly from the Department of Trade and Department of Agriculture. Even President Duterte's popularity in the surveys can't appease the hue and cry of the workforce. The high prices of basic commodities will continue to rise because there are so many people in the Duterte's government who are square pegs on round holes.


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