Wednesday, March 16, 2005


This particular blog is the result of a shock we got today in the canteen when we found out that our favorite one order of fried chicken (two minute pieces dipped in batter and fried) has been elevated to stellar status by Php 7, from Php 28 to Php 35. All in one day. And the VAT law hasn't been passed yet, sa lagay na ito. Had I known, I should have ordered it all yesterday as today may be the last day i'd ever order it again. Given the reasoning of increasing cost of chicken meat (said with a glum look by the cashier), I'm not biting, thank you very much.

Why? Because I go to the market myself. Chicken prices haven't increased a bit since December. Depending on the weight, one can still get an entire chicken for Php 98 to Php 145 per, and that's in the supermarket. A chicken can have be chopped into 12 pieces, thus this computation: 12 pieces / 2 pieces in one serving * Php 35 per serving = Php 210 pesos, which allows our canteen around Php 70-80 net profit per chicken (if bought at Php 105 per, with the cost of oil, gas and batter already taken into consideration).


During the course of dinner, a colleague asked my why bootleg DVDs are so popular these days:

A: "Bakit kaya usong uso ang pirated DVDs ngayon?"
D: "You should look at it at a historical context. Bakit kaya usong uso ang vaudeville at zarsuela noong panahan ng mga Hapon sa Pilipnas?"

Murmurs of understanding all around.

It's escapism, man. During difficult times, Filipinos are wont to amuse themselves to forget the hardships of life. Like the vaudevilles of old, a (pirated) movie a day these days keeps the hunger away!

In Manila, it costs Php 65 to see a movie in the SM Cinemas. To bring a family of, say, four would cost Php 260. And that's excluding fare to and from the mall. Of course, how can a parent possible resist the kids' insistence to eat at their favorite Jollibee? A day in the mall would bust a month's paycheck for the ordinary laborer! The savings a pirated DVD or CD gives can free monies that can be used for other things.

Escape routes: God and Mammon.

Our dinner conversation eventually drifted to microeconomics (naks!):

D: "One of the best signs of a weakening purchasing power is the introduction of the sachet into the market. The ads sells the tag line 'convenience' when what we should really look at is the tag 'affordable'. We've never had soy sauce in sachet before. Tomato sauce in sachets. "Piso-piso Dagdag sa Load" promos by cellphone companies. These are all danger signs of a failing economy. ACNielsen said it is already telling retailers to go the sar-sari store way: to reach more [poor] Filipinos, to encourage impulse buying [because it's cheaper by the smaller serving] in order to win in the Philippine retail scene."

A survey done by AC Nielsen showed that sari-sari stores make up 90 percent of total retail stores in the Philippines and they account for 31 percent of peso sales.Consumers specially in D-E classes consider sari-sari stores as extensions of their kitchen. ACNielsen's Retail Establishment Survey showed there are 557,807 retail outlets 509,345 sari-sari stores, 41,619 market stalls and 824 supermarkets.

The trusted sari-sari: affordability, conveniance, at pwede pa lista muna!

If young people working in call centers and fast food companies earn between Php 8,000 to Php 15,000/month and still complain about how far their cash actually goes, imagine the multitude of people who are jeepney drivers, fruit vendors, primary school teachers, stevidores (sic), etc. and earn far less.

Yesterday, the Universal Bank of Switzerland (UBS) said that the VAT Law, if passed, would increase the cost of living in Metro Manila by 1.75%. I don't think the term 'belt-tightening' applies anymore. It's already THE status quo.

Everyone is now enjoined to find creative ways to survive.

Go figure.

Quo vadis, kabataan Pilipino?

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