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Irony in the Economy

My sister wanted to go to the market to buy ingredients to cook marigoso, plus some other stuff which she could use for adobo or sinigang on the following days. After tinkering with her handy calculator, she decided not to go anymore. I wondered why. She told me that after some careful computation, she deduced that it would be a lot less costly to order food from the delivery riders than for her to go to the market, buy food and cook food herself. That surprised me. We used to have the idea that eating out in restaurants (which is pretty much the same with the food delivery since the food is delivered from the same restaurants) would be more expensive than preparing a home cooked meal. But my sister further enumerated the cost of transport fare, the high cost of fresh meat, vegetables and spices (which she adds, run the risk of buying damaged vegetables. Furthermore, she would not have to be baked in the heat and humidity outside and she wouldn’t have to go through the process of food preparation. It would simply be more convenient. It’s amazing how inflation have turned the tables around.

People went crazy when the polymer one thousand peso bill went to circulation. Maybe some cashers thought it was too glossy to be authentic. We have to acknowledge that folding bills is part of everyday life. When you get paid or withdraw cash, the first thing we do is fold those bills to fit them in our pockets. Even in our wallets, those bills get folded anyway. Now, don’t tell us that our hard earned cash won’t be accepted in the mall if the polymer bills are folded. Do I have to buy a wallet that doesn’t fold bills? If I buy one of those wallets, it would be easier to be picked from my pocket. Don’t worry. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas officially clarified that it’s okay to fold those polymer bills. Actually, Filipino money handlers have to grow up and stop multiple folding, crumpling writing and any other sort of tampering of Philippine peso bills. There are other ways to find textmates.

That issue would pale in comparison to the effects of this new bill to abaca farmers. Shifting to plastic would mean a considerable decrease on their clientele, and of course, their income. This new money may feel like smooth advancement on our palms, but they ruffle a rough decrease for hemp farmers. Now, I understand why Sen. Coco Pimentel has been ranting on TV. Farmers may have lost a thousand for every polymer thousand.

I didn’t know that the Cabinet already has a Department of Migrant Workers, with Sec. Toots OPle calling the shots. That makes sense. Advocacy of the welfare for OFWs has been the flagship program of Senator Blas way back in the day. It’s nice that the family continues to serve their chosen community. Apparently, one of the first actions of the new department is to set an age limit for domestic workers going abroad. This particular sector comes from the Filipinos below the moderate income levels, probably those who have not had the privilege to gain qualifications to apply as call center agents. I guess, the age limit has humane intentions. Perhaps it seeks to save the juvenile females from abuse from foreign employers. Maybe domestic workers in their mid-twenties or older could be more discerning to be vigilant for their own safety and survival. But then, this move just abruptly suspended the employment opportunity of many Filipinos who would less of such here at home; thus, certainly increasing the population of unemployed Filipinos. What shall the applicants do then? Shall they wait until their 24th birthday? What could they do to pass the time while waiting?

On the other hand, Filipinos who regularly receive US dollars from family overseas, must be having the time of their lives. Their green bucks are worth more in Philippine pesos now. Should they keep them longer to wait for the dollar to increase in value? Should they take advantage of the exchange rate now and buy more? But then again, how could those exchanged dollars buy more with the current prices in the market? In that way, does the increase in value matter at all?

It seems that the changes in our living conditions bring us away from a stable economy and employment. We may have gotten tired of hearing it in the news, but along with the worsening conditions, Covid-19 cases are back on the rise, and dengue fever has joined in the race.

“10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” -Ecclesiastes 5:10


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