Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How to Fight Inflation

Price for bird's eye chilis just increased threefold.

Price roundups feature frequently in news and morning shows to give the public an idea how much they need to spend at the markets. Lately, the news have one thing to say about prices: it just keeps on going up. 

The weekend report that's making the social media rounds has to do with the price of siling labuyo, the extremely hot but small chili one finds in sawsawan or dipping sauces. A few days ago, I had to go out and buy some dahong sili for tinola. A small bundle of chili leaves cost five pesos. Malunggay leaves were going for ten pesos. 

Someone looking for siling haba (the kind you use for sinigang and Bicol express) was surprised to find that a piece as long as your pinky finger was three pesos. 

"Dati, libre lang ilang piraso n'yan pag bumili ka ng gata." (This used to be free, just thrown in if you buy coconut milk.) 

Another manong chimed in, "Yung dahong sili nga, hinihingi lang sa kapitbahay eh." (One used to get this from your neighbor for free." 

There was no siling labuyo to be had. Labuyo is usually sold in small piles in halved coconut shells or plastic sauces for five or ten pesos. Or as one of the manongs noted, you just ask your suki to throw a few pieces in for free. 

Nothing is free these days. 

What passes for labuyo now, slightly bigger, imported from China,  cost five pieces for ten pesos. Or two pesos each. 
Twitter version of the weekend news report. 

It's not the first time that the lack of supply of labuyo pushed prices higher. A quick search revealed that back in 2015, the price of siling labuyo surged to Php 400 to Php 700 per kilogram because of a deficit of supply coming from the Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon areas. What was being produced in Nueva Ecija was only enough for local consumption. 

Who can imagine a Pinoy table without sawsawan? On days when prices for labuyo or calamansi are outrageously high, even your neighborhood karinderia would be stingy with these. But now it seems like this would be the default. 

And there's news still that inflation for August might have hit as high as 6% and breaching the 9 year high. This was something that predicted as early as May.  

One way you know how hard regular people are being hit by inflation by how they react with the increasing prices of household goods. That overheard conversation among market goers was one thing. 
Fight inflation by planting your own sili plant.

Someone else in an internet forum posted in reaction to the sili crisis: Why don't we go back to planting vegetables in our backyards again? Free sili for days. Assuming the birds don't get to it first. 

This is well and good if you have an actual yard to plant it in. Also, if you can get a plant to live. I've only successfully killed plants with my black thumb. 

Because of this sili crisis, I learned that the growing period for siling labuyo is September to October and harvest season is from February to March. I actually sowed a few seeds but of the bell pepper kind. Here's hoping that it lives and gives us free sili to fight inflation. 

How about you? One really needs to think how to stretch those hard-earned pesos. What do you guys plan to do to fight inflation? 

EDIT: Okay, it's official. The Philippines has the highest rate of inflation in the ASEAN. Wow. Much wow. 

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