Inflation through the years

By Herbert Vego

IT is said that Filipinos dependent on parents or children working abroad are lucky because their one US dollar is now worth fifty-six (P56) pesos. They view this inflation as “advantageous”.

This could be true if the goods we used to buy at fifty pesos would still cost fifty pesos. Indeed, there are old locally-produced products which still remain that cheap, but not for a long time.

Not so when stopping by a gasoline station to gas up. For what used to be gasoline at P50-per-liter now costs more or less P80.

Inflation is when money supply increases but its buying power decreases. It is reflected in a general increase in the prices of goods and services in the economy.

In the past, inflation was so slow it was hardly felt. Do you know that in the mid-1950s until the mid-1960s, gasoline cost 30 centavos only per liter?

As a senior citizen, I deplore inflation because it actually saps the value of our currency, especially among stagnant minimum-wage earners who can’t catch up with rising prices.

I was already a high-school freshman at the Antique National School in 1962 when I learned what inflation was all about. It was soon after our Economics teacher, Miss Diana Grasparil, asked us to man the school’s retail store.

One day, she read to us a letter from a soft drink company announcing a price increase – from 10 centavos to 15 centavos per bottle. I remembered that the product had always cost 10 centavos throughout my six years of elementary school.

I thought of asking my parents to raise my weekly allowance, which was a peso and fifty centavos, but changed my mind out of pity for them.

Miss Grasparil’s words ring truer today than in those days.  We earn much more money than our parents did, but with lower buying power.

I remember those days in the 1950s when one could buy a piece of candy for one centavo, which is now worthless. With one peso, one could ride a bus from San Jose, Antique to Iloilo City.

I was still below school age in 1953 when my late dad Juan bought a second-hand jeepney for P3,000. He had it registered as a passenger vehicle to augment his income from teaching, which was P120 per month.

One day, he told us kids, “If I were a millionaire, our money would last us a lifetime.”

If he were alive today, I am sure he would change “a lifetime” to “two to three years”.



BROADCASTER Ibrahim Calanao recently called my attention to the intention of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. to rehabilitate the Moroboro Suspension Bridge in Dingle.  However, he still has to find ways to raise the amount of P3.5 million needed to restore the accessibility of the bridge to motor vehicles.  The bridge traverses the Jalaur River in Brgy Moroboro, Dingle.

Although already inaccessible to motor vehicles because its wooden planks have dilapidated, the bridge is still a tourist destination. It is supported by steel railings suspended on steel cables, providing walkers a “swing,” with every step. It also offers them a vantage point of the nearby Moroboro (Jala-ur) Irrigation Dam, which is also another tourist destination noted for its “thunderous water flow” and cool ambience.

Word of mouth has it that soon after its construction in the 1950s, no less than Pres. Ramon Magsaysay inspected the bridge incognito, wearing a wide buri hat. Very few recognized him.



ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas is happy over the plan of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), to go “underground”. This is already a reality in some streets in Davao City.

He said that “Calle Real [now J.M. Basa St.] would be the initial beneficiary of this upgrade, followed by the plazas and the vicinity of Freedom Grandstand.”

Undergrounding means embedding primary power lines below ground level.  The embedding task, however, would have to be gradual because it would affect transportation mobility and cost 10 to 15 times more than the overhead system.

The immediate and fast solution to the annoying “spaghetti” wiring, meanwhile, is on-going, being undertaken by MORE linemen who continuously replace them with new parallel cables that never entwine.

Kudos to MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro for leaving no stone unturned in his goal to elevate the company into world-class.