When I Was Young . . .

I grew up in a rural area not very far from the urban cities of Metro-Manila. Our place is only about fifty (50) kilometers away from Maynila (this is how we call the Manila and suburbs in the vernacular). When I was young, I came to the city only once a year and this was during Christmas. I got to go with my parents to visit some relatives including my ninong (godfather) who would be gracious enough to give me five (PhP5.00) pesos as gift, an amount sufficient to pay for fare (back and forth for three persons).

I am the oldest among the five (5) children of a farmer and a seamstress. I had my elementary and high school studies right in our barrio (now called barangay) and those were the happy years that I spent in a rural setting. I had photos taken during my childhood but much as I wish to share them with you, I am sorry that all of them were destroyed when Typhoon Ondoy flooded our home last September 2009.

Life then was not as hard as it is now. This is a personal observation but I could be wrong. I may be too young then to know the hardship ecountered by my parents in bringing us up. These are some of the figures I remembered to be able to  say life was easy when I was young.

1) The minimum wage during my childhood was four (PhP4.00) pesos per day although there were just very few wage earners from our barrio in those days. Farming was the main livelihood (it still is among the barrio folks nowadays) and the wage earners were the government employees working as teachers, elected and appointed town officials and kamineros (metro-aides are how we call them now).

2) My father was engaged in rice and vegetable farming and he was earning enough to send us to public elementary school and private high school. He planted sitaw (stringbean), talong (eggplant) and other vegetables which were getting bought by biyaheros (middlemen) for sale to Maynila. A comparison of prices then and now is that sitaw (stringbean) was sold by the bundles of 100 pieces and cost an average of fifty (PhP0.50) centavos per bundle. Today, you would be lucky if you can buy sitaw at PhP1.00 per piece.

3) We also had baon (stipend) in those days which during my elementaryschool days was five (PhP0.05) centavos only. The amount is enough to buy me one (1) cup of arroz caldo (chicken rice porridge) together with a mid-sized bread. If I was lucky enough to be given an extra PhP0.05 by my lola (grandmother), I would save it for the days I would need to buy something extra.

If only to have some sort of comparison on how was life then and how is it now, I would tell you more about the days when I was young as I go on with this blog. By the way, the currency exchange rate when I was young ranged from two to four (PhP2.00 to 4.00) pesos to one (US$1.00) US dollar. For the adults among my readers, how was it when you were young?