Living with high prices

MOST people are not concerned with the fate of Senator Antonio Trillanes or whether President Duterte was given a bum advice for voiding an amnesty proclamation. The people are troubled by the daily increase in the prices of the food they eat, the fuel their vehicles consume, the fares they have to pay, and the services that follow the upward cost of everything.

A friend told us on Monday that a painter who was used to charge P300 a day refused to continue working unless he is paid P500, an over 60% increase. We can name and count more than we can think of the items that have become expensive.

The demand for government action against the spiraling of prices of goods and now of services is increasing. Business and investment interests are asking for government action as inflation as of August rose to 6.4%, the highest among the ASEAN countries. Our inflation rate is more than doubled among the ASEAN nations. This means it is not the international economic condition alone that is plaguing the Philippines but more of internal factors. Some economists believe that our inflation rate is actually higher because several other factors have not been included in the government calculations.

Be that as it may, we have to face the reality that the government has botched the national economy and we have to live by it until by some miracle (or change) inflation is controlled, a possibility that we cannot see in the near future. In fact, predictions are that the rising prices will not be contained even by early next year and the elections will be determined by the economic condition of the country.

In an earlier column I wrote about how the Filipinos survived the shortages of World War II.

We will not be going back into those war-induced situation but we can do a lot to stretch the value of the peso by, in truth, following the natural course of human living – prudence, thrift, and simplicity. If one looks at it, these are also the formulae for a healthy life. Of course, the first to jettison or reduce to tolerable level would be vices as smoking, drinking of alcoholic and even of non-alcoholic drinks like sugary beverages.

We can reduce using more diesel or gasoline by planning our trips. This does not require a genius, only a determined mind to skip one or two days more a week from using the car. This will also give us more time to stay at home, read, relax or just talk.

Skip those television shows with inane subjects and clowning hosts that don’t add a bit to your education and even “lead you into temptation” and “deliver you to evil.” You can save electricity this way and if you learn and teach your household to switch off unnecessary lights, electric fans and air conditioning, you will be doubly blessed with low electricity bills. You can even congratulate yourself for contributing to the reduction of climate warming and fostering a happy family life.

Food is one item we cannot do without so this will be the most challenging. But reducing your food intake by just 5% can be healthful and if you choose your food well, you might like to go without the usual cholesterol, carbos, uric acid and high sugar producers. Since “organic” food has become expensive although you are not in position to determine that except the honest word of the seller, you can start what is called “urban gardening” which is a fad these days. The Google is full of many ways of cultivating food crops you consume, like vegetables that are easy to grow even on flower pots or hanging tubes, plastic bags and bottles and discarded tin cans. It only requires imagination and a little knowledge of how to grow them.

I have a small garden at home but it has enough of the healthy vegetables for the table -malunggay, kangkong, kamote, spring onions, tomatoes, okra, spinach, pepper, string beans, bitter gourd, egg plants, squash and few others that insure our daily source of personally certified organic vegetables. The beauty and practicality in this is that we have a food source that does not obey the law of inflation.

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