‘Mayday!’ for the falling peso

By Herbert Vego

MAYDAY! Mayday! Yesterday’s financial news hit me like a distress signal. The exchange rate of the US dollar against the Philippine peso has hit ₱57.60 for the first time. Bad timing, I said to myself, since I was trying to buy dollars for a visit to my relatives in New York.

Inflation is a predicament that hurts us Filipino breadwinners, except the dollar earners.  But, of course, their dependents here would also have to shell out more pesos to buy local goods.

Some of us who grimace over the unending rise in prices of food and other basic commodities might have already applied for cash loans from non-bank lenders online.

Otherwise, we respond by practicing “minimalism”. To make both ends meet, we buy less of our basic needs – say, a half-kilo of meat instead of the previous one kilo.

Even the greedy merchants who impose higher prices for bigger profit eventually see the erosion of their own gains whenever they buy their own needs at higher prices, too. Sooner or later, whatever money they have saved in the bank loses value because the interest rates are too negligible. If it’s any consolation, a devalued peso has more value than no peso at all. So, why not try cost-cutting?

Unfortunately, cost-cutting hardly compensates. While we can cut and slash expenses to the bone, the fact remains that we could get sick and worry over the higher cost of hospitalization and medicine.

The only way to keep pace with inflation is to earn more, which is an elusive dream for the average Filipino wage earner; or go into a small business from which to prosper. Can you do it?

Take it from Henry Ford, who said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

-oOo-

CONFUSED ON JAMJAM AND RAISA

WE are as confused today as a month ago when Congresswoman Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda announced that she would no longer run for re-election but would give way to Mayor Jerry Treñas’ daughter Raisa for the lone district post in 2025.

Until a few days ago, however, the two ladies seemed to be competing to join President Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP). The conflict seemed to have caused the indefinite postponement of the mass oath-taking of Western Visayas politicians before a PFP bigwig.

But it seems Raisa is the PFP choice, Jamjam having taken her oath before House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the president of Lakas-CMD.

It does not mean though that Baronda – a transferee from the National Unity Party (NUP) — would get the Speaker’s support and Raisa Treñas, the President’s. This is because the two parties formalized an alliance during a meeting at the Manila Polo Club last Wednesday.

There, President Marcos announced, “Let’s reconstitute and let’s formalize the UniTeam again so that when we face our future, we will know that we are working together.”

So, whom would the alliance choose between Jamjam and Raisa? Sona libre na lang?

Did we hear Sara say “No comment”?

-oOo-

GONE ARE THE ‘JUMPERS’

TIME was when most households in Barangay South Baluarte in Molo, Iloilo City – with a population of 1,477 as of the latest census – were not directly connected to the previous distribution utility, Panay Electric Co. (PECO). They either stole power through illegal gadgets known as “jumpers” or made use of submeters linked to their neighbor’s installation.

The reverse is true today, according to the barangay chairman, Ronald Grandeza, who assured that the barangay leadership now sees to it that everybody complies with legal documents required by the current distribution utility, MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power).

In the past, he said, 50% of households pilfered electricity because they could not comply with numerous application requirements, forcing the informal settlers to illegally connect in cahoots with skilled electricians.

Today, all that an applicant must accomplish are: a permit from the City Engineer’s Office, a government-issued ID, a barangay certificate of residency and an oath of undertaking.

Grandeza and a barangay resident, Pinky Golez, were the most recent guests of the radio/video program “MORE Power at Your Service” hosted by broadcaster Joy Fantilaga.

Golez used to connect through a submeter linked to a neighbor’s account.  Many others did it at the risk of overloading the electrical circuit, which could lead to a fire.

Today, Ms Golez is legally connected but still practices the habit of thrift in consumption of electricity. This means turning on electrical appliances only when needed.

“Discipline is the key,” she told Joy.

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