Thursday, August 21, 2008


On my way back to The Building, I ran into a more senior colleague, Madame Highlights. "How are you?" she asked. "You look tired." 

"I was running errands all afternoon," I said. She nodded her head and went on her way to the canteen. 

I've ran out of Vitamin C and the iron supplements, and have been making do with having a glass of calamansi juice twice a day.  I'm swamped with work. I was under the weather last weekend, and it was getting more and more difficult to get up in the morning. So aside from the errands, the general tiredness and sluggishness may be attributed to the lack of vitamins. 

But my bigger concern was that I didn't want to look like the girl in the Stresstabs* ad, the one who perenially looked older for her age, the one with the eyebags, the one dozing off while everyone was having fun singing karaoke. Sure, I want to have more energy so I can do more things. But really, nobody wants to look older than her age. Unless you're a teenager wanting to get into an R-18 show. Hehehe. 

So after work I dropped by the drug store and picked up a few things: Enervon HP power drink for adults, a few tablets of Iberet, and a full bottle of ascorbic acid. 

One thing I noticed is that the Enervon powdered drink now costs more. It used to be in the vicinity of Php150. The packaging has changed. It's now in a box. Maybe that explains why it now costs Php190. 

My usual 100 tablet bottle of ascorbic acid (Rhea; dosage of 500mg/tablet) is Php115. I've downgraded already. I used to take Potencee. But a box of 20 tablets will set me back around Php70+ or at least Php3.75 per tablet. Sure, Potencee tastes nicer because of the sugar coating on each tablet. I take 2 tablets or 1000mg/day.  A box will last me a little over a week. But hey, sugarcoating or not, I need my vitamin C and I need it to be affordable. So I switched. This particular bottle comes in a "super protection pack" and includes a small bottle of Rhea rubbing alcohol. "Get 2x more protection from diseases." Puwede na rin. 

The ferrous sulfate I need because I have trouble getting my 8 hrs of sleep. I usually buy the Rhea brand, and any kind of iron supplements make my intestines go wonky. A friend suggested United Home, which is nicer, but it was unavailable. I resorted to ordering what the doctor really prescribed to me originally, Iberet. I asked for only 5 tablets because I vaguely remember that it costs more than the generic ferrous sulfate. I was right. This set me back Php83.75. That's almost a bottle with 100 tablets. And when you drink it, you just know it's medicine. Oh well. 

I also picked up two small sachets of Bear Brand's Busog Lusog cereal drink, Php6 each. My cereal drink of choice is really Nesvita or Quaker Oats. But those are just way too expensive for me now. I didn't even realize that this BB drink is the one advertised on TV now. 

Total cost of my vitamin/energy boosting panic buying:  Php400.75. 

Granted that I do need these things to get me going, it just boggles me that a few things cost so much more than the bag of groceries I bought. Pero sabi nga nila, our health is more important than any budgeting targets. Plus this will last me a few weeks, I hope. 

*For the curious: I once tried Stresstabs, but it makes me break out horribly. I think it has something to do with the Vitamin B complex or something. So I don't like it. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cheeseburgers in Times of Crisis

Before going home this afternoon, I got myself a cheeseburger.  This has nothing to do with the recent McDonald's campaign wherein any random reason is good enough to treat friends to cheeseburgers. (In fact, my fascination with cheeseburgers have more to do with lolcats than fastfood dining.) I brought lunch with me to work--rice, chicken, veggies. But by past 4PM, I was so hungry and it was only then that I realized it's been over five hours since I last ate. So I got myself a cheeseburger.

But the McDonald's campaign became so popular that people in the streets coopted it as a way of teasing their mates into treating them to food. New bangsTucked your shirt in? Managed to say a sentence in straight English? Get the gang a cheeseburger. It used to be that celebrations were special, reserved for graduating from college, passing the bar exams, having a new child. But now celebrations--and the feasts which accompany it--are seen as ordinary, even random. In fact, the ad's voiceover acknowleges it: "Kahit anong dahilan na lang, basta maaraw-araw ang cheeseburger." 

I have no quarrel with the ad people who made this campaign (Bangs, Tuck in, English)--it's effective.  It created enough buzz for the product, and I'm sure they sold a lot of cheeseburgers. But more than selling the product,  like most effective ads, they were able to latch on to values which ring true for people. Food is more than just something to fill you up when you're hungry. It has to do with sharing it with people you care about. And if you truly care about them, you will buy them cheeseburgers. 

Is this a dangerous thing? My cheeseburger set me back Php70, up three pesos from the last time I had a cheeseburger maybe a month ago. I dined alone, so I didn't have to pay for any one else's  meal.  Didn't hurt my pocket much, though it did set back my goal to dine out less. But what if I had some friends with me? Uuy, maaga uuwi! Cheeseburger naman! Now that would be really costly. The people in the ads were young people--students, recent graduates, new entrants to the work force. If you're a student on a tight budget, can you even manage to feed yourself cheeseburgers that often? 

We live in a world that uses a burger and soda to gauge happiness. Wherever in the world you can find Coke and a Big Mac, people are happy. Now the campaign used this line of reasoning and extended it to the way we view celebrations to mean random, ordinary things. Where do you draw the line at specialness then? What is extraordinary? When do we stop having feasts everyday? 

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pinoy shopping habits

Margie Quimpo-Espino of the Inquirer sent questions to the country's top retailers to see if Filipinos have adjusted their buying habits:
Has there been a shift in what people are buying these days because of the rice crisis and the rice in fuel prices? Are people buying less or buying the same of lower priced items? Are brands still important to consumers or price is the only decision-making factor these days? What products are the winners these days?"
Shopwise was the only big retailer which sent out a written reply. Vice President for Marketing Frances Yu noted that, "Gas and bigas seem to be the biggest foes facing Filipinos today." Pinoys buy the basics: sugar, oil, canned goods, noodles and fresh items continue to do well. They know what their priorities are and drop the toys, gadget and clothes. Yu also noted the trend of downtrading: drop the name brand and go for the same product that carries the lower price tag. Use less fabric conditioner. Shift from Dinorado to Sinandomeng rice. Make your escabeche out of tilapia and not the lapu-lapu. 

While consumers are ready to make concessions, it seems the Pinoy can't let go of one thing: snacks. Yu claims that the snack category has grown steadily amid the crisis, five years running. New products introduced to the market help--Coke Zero supposedly revitalized the drinks industry. We can let go of the fabric conditioner, but we must have our merienda. Are we eating because we are hungry, or is this stress eating? Very interesting indeed. 

Price, Job, Income

It's no school Monday, presumably because the weather bureau anticipated heavier rains. A day at home is always nice, but what I'm really thankful for is the chance to watch the State of the Nation Address later. 

Of all Philippine leaders post-EDSA 1, the current presidency has already garnered the lowest approval rating (-21) since 1989. According to the SWS survey, more Pinoys are going hungry.  Cielito Habito in the Inquirer posits that this year's presidential address will look into what the administration can do about the rising food prices (presyo) and the security of jobs (hanapbuhay) and incomes (kita).

According to reports, the address will be short--10 pages, no frills. It really is a challenge how to appease a hungry and angry nation. Ten pages of renewed promises? Really hope that there will be concrete platforms, and not just for the poor, and not just for the moment, but really long-term goals that will help everyone. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Market Man's Crisis Menu

Even Market Man sees the need for lower-priced but nutritious dishes in the midst of the double-digit inflation. His advice? 

1. Forget about eating out in fast food restaurants; cook more, cook smarter, cook at home. 
2. Shop locally, eat seasonally
3. Vary your menu with lesser priced alternatives. 

He also gives a list of dishes he's featured in the past that are friendly on the budget. It's really time to eat more vegetables.