Friday, September 23, 2005

Of feasts and famines (part 2)

When I said that the Philippine economy is in a bad state in previous posts, I was referring to the fact that people here have to work so hard just to get by and every year it gets harder to do so with the inflation being at such a high rate as it is.

Never mind that it is in the single digits (I think I read recently that 8.9% is the projected inflation rate for the rest of the year or next year), the official government statistics are at times simply unbelievable.

This is because every time I shop at any of the 4 wet markets within an 8 kilometer radius from my house in Sampaloc, Manila, my weekly budget of P1,000 buys less and less with each passing month.

During the 1980's that much money used to be the budget my mother alloted to feed more than 30 people at a feast or provide us with sustenance for two weeks. These days a thousand pesos only buys enough decent food to last two people five days or less. I pity those who have more mouths to feed and make do with a smaller budget of say P500 or less a week.

A second degree aunt who lives in a veritable squatter's area a few steps from my front door subsists on a budget of less than P100 a day for most of the month and I keep wondering how they manage it -- considering that she also feeds a son who is out of work, a daughter, and four grand children. The sorry part of their situation this year is that the land where their house sits was recently sold and now they have to contend with the imminent reality of being evicted by January 2006.

It's a small act of charity on my part and I wish I could do more, but I do tend to stretch my budget a bit more to give them at least a meal a day and hand them some money every week.
It's really costs me just about a few hundred pesos but sadly that's all I can afford, considering that my income as a freelance writer doesn't come as promptly or as regularly as the bills I have to pay in order to keep in business -- that's electricity to run my computer and an electric fan, a telephone line that allows me to connect to the internet, a maid to do my cleaning and cooking while I work, taxi fare so that I can arrive at meetings in a reasonably unruffled state, and other stuff that are quite essential to helping me concentrate on concentrating on my writing jobs.

(more later, got a deadline coming up)

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