Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas holiday in the Philippines--no difference?

It's like days before Christmas, and despite the glittering lights and the occasional news of people rushing for late holiday shopping, seems like there's a general feeling of melancholy in the air. 


I don't know, it's like people are not celebrating or are happy of the way things are happening lately in our country. Most of the people I talked with, says that they were glad to hear that there's new money, but the most often remark was "me tao sa pera, pero tao, alang pera."


Admit it---most people don't really feel the change in our environment.


President Aquino, like his predecessors, often harp on the improved business environment. Yet, the perennial problem seems to be the absence of an effective mechanism that allows the steady flow of these benefits or economic fruits from the top down to the bottom rungs of society. The spill over effects do not redound to the benefit of those clearly in need. 


In a capitalist system, this is reflected in the giving of bonuses or 13th month pays. 13th month pays are mandated by law. Bonuses are not. 


In a capitalist system, this should reflect on improved employment rates and lowered inflation. 


Aquino said that in the last six months, the administration managed to get billion dollar investments. And Aquino is not lying. He is actually telling the truth. 


However, people are not really feeling the effects of these pronouncements simply because they are not deals that would clearly take effect immediately. These are strategic investments that takes a long time to mature and takes a long time for the people to see and feel the changes. 


I think at the interim, this administration should do its best:


1. Lowering the prices of commodities so that people will be able to clearly feel the purchasing power of the peso.


2. Lower prices of gasoline and diesel so that the middle class will at least, enjoy the holidays. I am not travelling these days simply because of the jacked up price of diesel fuel. 


3. Make or do a constitutional body that will behave like the SSS, but in an enhanced way. People are willing to invest their savings, yet there is no government agency that will help them invest their hard-earned monies. 


I just talked with one of my staff, and she appeared lonely. She just blew away her half-month pay and her 13th month, with just one purchase of a new dress, some monies given to her parents and some to her only nephew. She's just left with a pittance. 


I myself, am clearly astonished on how a 13,500 half-month allowance would just simply last a few days. My groceries amount to about 6,000 per 15th day, while my gasoline reaches to about several thousands in just a few days. 


This is what is happening in the ground, Mr. President. 


For us to really prove to the people that changes have already taken place, we must at least improve the current situation in the ground so that people will not lose hope and still cling to the notion that change will, surely, take effect not immediately but at least in the near future.