Cost Of Living In The Philippines
I made this blog post in order to show some figures of how much was the cost of living when I was growing (until I was 16 years old) compared to when I was in college, a few years after then to present days. My purpose was to compare how fast or slow did prices changed then to how it is now. I do not need to mention the figures nowadays for we all know them.
We must note that the minimum wage in the country when I was growing was PhP4.00/day, then it became PhP8.00/day for a long while when I was maturing and it is PhP385.00/day at present. I only put here the items and their costs then as I remember and recall them now. I cannot be so sure of the accuracy of my figures but they could very well approximate the actual costs then so that comparison to present can be pretty accurate too.
A. Basic Commodities – Rice, being the staple food of Filipinos, is the first thing that will come to one’s mind when we talk of basic commodities then and now. Kilogram was not the unit of measure for rice in my growing years, it’s “ganta”, an English unit of measurement whose only conversion I could remember is one (1) ganta = eight (8) chupas where 1 chupa of raw rice is enough to feed two (2) persons when it is cooked. One (1) ganta of raw rice then costs eighty (PhP0.80) centavos and it is enough for a day’s consumption of a family of six. I would approximate 1 ganta of rice to be equal to about 1-1/2 kilograms. The price of rice went up during my maturing years but it did not went past PhP2.00/kg compared to around PhP30.00/kg. today.
B. Transportation Cost – The next easy thing to remember aside from rice is the transport fare. I have already made mention of this in an earlier blog. The minimum fare for a 5-kilometer jeepney ride when I was growing was ten (PhP0.10) centavos which went up to PhP0.15 when I was maturing. Taxi fare in my early years and even for most part of my maturing period was PhP0.15 on flagdown and PhP0.05 thereafter. By the way, a brand-new ordinary sedan car costs only around PhP50,000 in the early 1970’s.
C. Recreation and Entertainment – Watching movies and drinking beers are what I can easily recall when asked about the costs of leisure during my growing and maturing years. Watching movies on fully air-conditioned theaters located mostly in Sta. Cruz, Manila was only for one (PhP1.00) peso while San Miguel Beer costs only seven (PhP7.00) per case of 24 bottles. Their costs went up a bit during my maturing years but I could still vividly recall our every Friday night beer drinking binge even if I was just an ordinary employee in those days.
There are many more cost figures in the past that may seem unbelievable to the eyes of the people of current generation. Whatever those are, they would just support the fact that life in the Philippines was almost the same then and now. Consider this for comparison, the PhP400.00+ minimum daily wage today is 100 times the PhP4.00 daily wage when I was young but the current minimum jeepney fare of PhP7.00 is only 70 times that of Php0.10 fare in the old days. These figures even show that life could be easier now but is it really the case?
The comparison between then and now would always be difficult to make into an objective one. There are always lenses of observation that color each experience from the other. Numerically speaking, there are discrepancies in the differences, as you have pointed out. Inflation, devaluation, appreciation, price increase, etc.
Life is never easy, it is often a struggle – and each generation will have its own story to tell.
My grandfather’s story as a child was of black skies painted by US bombers and cannon fire bombarding Lingayen as the Americans came back. The sounds of cannon fire can be heard all the way to San Carlos City even if the bombardments were in Lingayen.
My father’s story would be of political repression in the time of the Marcoses and of victory and freedom.
Unfortunately, the only challenge of my generation today is how to eke out a living. Quite boring, but better than dodging cannon fire from the American destroyers or the “batuta” of the Philippine Constabulary in the 70s. But then again, who knows, I am only 29 years old, maybe my generation would come to witness the first nuclear holocaust in history. Time will tell…
I agree with you that the political status is always changing not only on our country but throughout the world. I did not get to experience World War II but I know very well how it is to be hit by the “batuta” of PC Metrocom guys. I wish I could also write about how the different political scenario in my lifetime so that the present generation would appreciate how lucky we are to have the democratic space nowadays.
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