Our ‘good old days’ on low income

By Herbert Vego

BEAR with me. If I often wax nostalgic in this corner, it’s because I want the young ones today to know how it was in the proverbial “good old days” when life was simpler and one Philippine peso could buy lunch for the family.  So, let me share a story that’s now too good to be true.

Let me walk you through my grade-school days when my late dad Juan bought a second-hand passenger jeepney at ₱3,000 to augment his salary as school teacher.

At the end of the day, our driver would turn over the day’s jeepney income.  Whenever it was substantial, Dad would drop a coin or two in my piggy bank. If I could save a million pesos in middle age, he said, I would live happily ever after.

“If I become a millionaire at 40,” I asked, “will I last another 40 years without going hungry?

“You would live like a king!” Tatay enthused.

In the 1950s, a million pesos seemed inexhaustible. But my father could not be a millionaire; he was earning the minimum wage of ₱120.00 a month. He had to save his entire salary to accumulate not a million but only ₱57,600 in 40 years.

Since “inflation” was a strange word in those days, my father obviously thought that a stash of a million pesos in cash would last far beyond a lifetime.

He was wrong because while his salary gradually increased, it lagged behind increases in prices of food and other basic commodities.

By the time he died from lung cancer in 1992, he had spent more than a million pesos in hospitalization and medicine. My better-earning brothers and sisters had helped our mom defray that cost.

Most retiring wage earners today have no doubt made millions of pesos, albeit with eroded buying power due to inflation, which refers to price increases of the same products.

If it were the other way around, we would not demand a salary hike.

I remember that summer of 1960 when our parents took us four kids to Quezon City for a two-month summer vacation. Our two-hundred-peso baon took care of the house rental, food and shopping expenses.

Our apartment, I still remember, was at 23-A Dapitan St., Quezon City.

Times have changed. While much more money has gone into circulation, the monthly minimum wage of ₱18,000–plus is no longer enough to support a housewife. Those who are still single would probably be happier in celibacy.



THAT is how MORE Power calls its paperless billing system for electricity consumers in Iloilo City.

This we learned from an episode of the radio/video program “MORE Power at Your Service” as aired on DYFM, DYRI and DYOK, regularly hosted by Joy Facinal Fantilaga.

As explained by two MORE Power executives, in all the “ber” months of September, October and November, the power utility will give away raffle prizes to lucky “converts” to its e-billing system.

A paperless way of receiving and paying each month’s bill, this requires the customer to register either in person at the MORE Power office at Hotel del Rio or via MORE Power’s FB page.  For instruction, all that a registrant needs to do is click the link or QR code, or copy it on computer or cellular phone.

A monthly raffle for the e-bill registrants will qualify them for a raffle every last Friday of September, October and November 2023 that would pick 50 monthly winners of ₱500.

Bigger cash prizes up to ₱1,000 will be given to raffle winners in December and in January 2024.

In February 2024, which will mark the 4th anniversary of operation of MORE Power, e-bikes and still unidentified four wheelers will be raffled.

Exciting, di ba?