By Joshua Corcuera
I write this article Sunday, November 27, and today, for Catholics like me, is the first Sunday of Advent—the season of preparation for the Nativity of Christ. To many people in the Philippines, this symbolizes that the holidays are coming, that a season of joy is about to come, and that preparations for such an important event are about to start.
It is saddening, however, that costs of preparing this Christmas season have skyrocketed as opposed to prior years. If you compare the prices of food items prepared for Christmas against last year, we can notice a substantial rise. For instance, a liter of fresh milk which I bought for under PhP 70 several weeks ago now costs nearly PhP90. The same is true for other important items as well as food items usually needed for preparing noche buena.
More importantly, it is not simply because of increased demand brought by the holidays. As I emphasized in some columns in previous months, inflation has accelerated to above average these past few months due to various factors, such as the return to normalcy of most sectors of the economy, incapacity for supply to catch up with resurging demand brought by the post-COVID economy, and external factors such as the war in Ukraine.
As a consequence, most economies globally are facing rising inflation this year. Worse, there are no signs as of now that things would slow down, nor is there a concrete solution from the-powers-that-be on how inflation would be specifically addressed in the short-term and medium-term.
According to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey by the end of June this year, nearly half of Filipino families (48%) considered themselves poor. In raw numbers, this is equivalent to roughly 12.2 million families according to SWS. Take note, dear reader, this survey was about five months ago when inflation was just starting to rise. It is safe to assume that more households are struggling as I write this article compared to the June 2022 SWS survey.
Hence, this Christmas season, many families would find it difficult to bring food to the table. As sad as it may be, some people would struggle to make ends meet despite the fact that Christmas is supposed to be a season of joy. Therefore, let us be kind to one another, let us be helpful and compassionate with one another’s grievances and struggles. Let us sympathize with the least, the lost, and the last, and help bring happiness to them this Christmas.
If possible, let us try to lend a helping hand to those who need it, even if we do not know who they are. It is inevitable that, sometimes, we have to go through difficulties, but such hardships can be alleviated when we have someone by our side, someone kind enough to help us, someone who understands our circumstances. Let us reflect on the reality of the world around us, and how the coming season teaches us to be more kind, better, more compassionate, and more thoughtful people.