Parents tighten belts as school supplies get pricier

Mothers buy school supplies at a general merchandise store at the Iloilo City Proper on August 24, 2023. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor and Mariela Angella Oladive

Some Ilonggos on a shoestring budget are forced to cut their shopping some school supplies becoming more expensive.

Josephine Gabion from Buenavista, Guimaras and a mother of a Grade 11 student, said prices of some school supplies are “much more expensive now” compared to the pre-pandemic years.

“Mas nagmahal sya […] Sang una ang P2,000 ko halos tanan na kumpleto gid na, subong indi ya kakumpleto. Ya mabakal ko isa lang ka pantalon, t-shirt, bag, kag notebook. Mas mahal subong,” Gabion explained.

To buy more supplies from a shoestring budget, Gabion shared that she would go to Iloilo City to have more options on where to buy.

“Kung diri ako [sa Iloilo city] mas makapangita ako ka mas less bala kumpara sa didto ako sa Guimaras dason mas damo ko di ya mapiliian,” she explained.

For Glenda Selorio, a mother of Grades 3, 6, and Grade 9 students, buying in bulk in big stores in Iloilo City can minimize her expenses.

Selorio also echoed Gabion’s sentiments on the rising cost of school supplies.

“Tama gid ka mahal, sobra gid. Kay sang una tag 18 pesos lang ang notebook [composition] subong tag 29 pesos,” she said.

In a price guide released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in July this year, prices of school supplies vary. Notebooks, for instance, vary in cost from P23 to P52, while pad paper for Grades 1 to 4 costs P21 to P28.

Selorio added that before, her budget for school supplies used to be P1,300 but now it can go over P2,000.


Meanwhile, teachers from Ravina Elementary School in Sibunag, Guimaras raised a fundraising initiative to purchase school supplies for their students and to invite more students to enroll in their school.

“Para maengganyo ang mga iban nga mga nanay nga makaschool amon. Kay gamay ang population basi mabalik kami sa multigrade,” said Grade 2 teacher Glessa Gepilano.

Gepilano explained that a multigrade classroom would be a challenge and a disadvantage for the teachers, especially since one teacher has to teach many grades all at the same time.

“Mas nami kon every grade may ara isa ka teacher para mas matutokan ang mga bata,” she noted.

Since prices of school supplies are now more expensive, Gepilano said they would do a sort of ‘price canvassing’ before buying the items to fit the budget of the funds they raised.

DTI Region VI (DTI-6) officer-in-charge regional director Ermelinda P. Pollentes in a statement stressed that “while prices of some school supplies have remained steady, other school supplies increased due to  the impact of the global increase in the cost of basic raw materials.”

Pollentes advised consumers to check the Suggested Retail Prices (SRPs) of school supplies before making their purchases.

“We carried out price monitoring for school supplies prior to the opening of the 2023-2024 school year to ensure that establishments are adhering to the price guide issued last July 25”, Pollentes added.

DTI-6 also assured the public that there is a “stable and sufficient” supply of school supplies in the region.

According to DTI-6, regular monthly price monitoring activities are conducted in provincial offices, while major trading areas like Iloilo City undergo weekly monitoring.

The regional office said they started their monitoring two months prior to the start of classes.