I bought a few pieces of guavas in the supermarket last Monday and I was surprised to see the price tag! I didn’t quite expect that guavas are 120 pesos per kilo now. Rather, I did not expect that there will come a time when guavas would be this expensive. What’s with all the semi-rant? I guess it all boils down to my childhood when almost every house in the province had a guava tree. We had three guava trees of different varieties. The guava tree in the backyard had small and sweet fruits. My mother used to cook milkfish in guava soup using the harvest in the backyard. The second guava tree near the side of the house had big and sour fruits. The 3rd guava tree in the small garden had the best-tasting fruits. Because of this, it was prone to be “attacked” by curious children who were tempted to know if this tree’s fruits were delicious. Being a small sleepy town in the 80s, everybody knows anybody and as well as which house had the most number of fruit-bearing trees so that when the summer season comes, they knew where to ask for fruits. The 80s lifestyle was that simple and not yet commodified; you could either pick or ask for vegetables or fruits, free of charge.
Apples, oranges, and grapes were expensive back in the 80s, and eating one would either mean that you were rich or you had relatives abroad. Those were the days when imported fruits were limited because of logistics problems and maybe taxation issues. However, the good old guava used to be rare, too. It originally came from Mexico and was most likely brought by the Spaniards during the Spanish era. Early Filipinos loved this fruit so much and so Juan Tamad’s sleeping under the guava tree was written.
Medium-sized guava has 10 times more vitamin C content than a calamansi. It could help benefit your digestive system and it could help lower blood sugar levels. It could boost your immune system and I hope it’s true when they said that it could have an anti-cancer effect. Its leaves when boiled can be used as antiseptic for wounds. The young leaves can be chewed as a substitute for mouthwash. Just like me, those who are prone to motion sickness would benefit from the scent of the crushed young leaves.
The law of supply and demand states that when a product or service is limited, then we expect a higher price for it. Therefore, if guava is sold at 120 pesos a kilo now, then it means that as compared before, we don’t have a steady supply of this fruit now. Ironically, one could buy an apple now for 10 pesos each! We are too focused on beautifying our gardens and backyards now. Unlike before, people now prefer concrete or tiled gardens and backyards for a cleaner look, leaving no space for trees to grow. There is also the limitation of a land area now especially on those who are living in small lot sizes but this should not be an issue because I saw people growing trees from large pots!
Now that everyone’s trying to go back to basics like going organic or turning into plantitos and plantitas, it wouldn’t hurt if we try planting trees again. Agree?
“Sari-sari” is a Tagalog word for “variety.” Hence, you can see a variety of goods from toiletries to food to drinks to laundry products to cleaning materials to e-load station to bills payment and etc. Sari-sari store represents the “masa” because we can buy “tingi” or little quantities of goods. So, instead of buying a pack of cigarettes, you can get a stick or two or any amount that fits your budget.
I grew up being Mama Dely’s (my grandmother’s sister) occasional tindera (saleslady) in her sari-sari store in Mabini Street. For Mama Dely, her sari-sari store was just her diversion and her means to socialize with the neighbors; it was not her bread and butter so it was easy for her to close the store during her siesta. Well, that would have been one of my excuses not to sleep in the afternoon so I would volunteer to take care of the store while my grandmothers were busy napping.
Admittedly, I was painfully shy when I was younger. I easily get intimidated and I had no social skills back then. But breaking free from a boring afternoon was more important to me than acknowledging my insecurities. As a saleslady, I got to know our neighbors by their first name, not bad for a shy girl. By 4 PM, Mama Dely or Nanay Bebe (my grandmother) would call me for a snack.
When Mama Dely gave up her sari-sari store for a much needed medical work up, my grandmother, Nanay Bebe took over. I was already a teenager when that happened— still painfully shy. Nanay Bebe allowed me to eat any food that I fancied but my business-mindedness prevailed—I would not let to lose our profit and capital because of voracity.
Fast forward to before the pandemic, we seldom bought at the sari-sari store. We got our stocks in the grocery store to save on time. That was aside from the diversity of brands that the supermarket could offer versus the sari-sari store. As fate would have it, we lost our normalcy since the pandemic started in March. Since then, we have been getting most of our stocks from the sari-sari store. For some brands that we prefer to maintain, we get them from a nearby convenience store like Alfamart.
The good old sari-sari store is alive and kicking during the pandemic minus the istambay (bum). As long as the owner has kapwa-tao (camaraderie), his sari-sari store will be here to stay with or without the pandemic.
Katanghaliang tapat sa isang bayan sa Bulacan, binabagtas namin ang daan pauwi. Madaraanan ang mga naglalako ng iba’t ibang klaseng paninda.
Naroon ang isang lolang nakaupo sa bangketa. Lilinga-linga sa mga suking pwedeng alukin. Ang mga gulay na nakalatag sa plastik na pantakip ay halos nalalanta na. Ang iba ay nilalamon na ng alikabok. Naisip ko, “sino kaya ang pwedeng bumili sa paninda nya sa lagay na iyon?” Ito ay hindi panlilibak kundi isang matapat na pagtatanong kung paano makakayang ubusin ang paninda gayong may mga pwesto sa loob ng palengke na mas sariwa pa ang gulay.
Sa isang sulok naman ay ang nagtitinda ng donut. Donut na pang-masa at hindi ang nasa isip nating Mr. Donut o Dunkin. Naka-hair net, naka-lipstick, maayos ang porma ng tindera kumpara sa mga katabing nagtitinda ng gulay, damit at iba pa. Mukhang masaya naman sya sa kanyang ginagawa kahit isang munting bangko lang ang inuupuan at nakukuntento sa pamaypay na pamawi ng init.
May mga batang kailangang businahan, mga nagtitinda ng garter. Payat ang mga bata at sa tantya ko ay nasa 9-11 taong gulang. Mabilis akong maawa sa mga batang maagang nasabak sa hanapbuhay. Sa Waltermart kung saan kami madalas mag-grocery, siniguro kong palagi akong may trenta pesos sa bulsa para pambili ng 1 basahan kada punta. Sa maliit na bagay, nabibigyang-pag-asa natin ang mga bata na may naniniwala sa kanilang pagsisikap.
Eto namang si manong takatak, muntik pa kaming mapa-preno ng biglaan. Ang takatak boys ay walang pakundangan basta mairaos ang benta. Biglang susulpot para humabol sa jeepney. Sa konting puhunan at kita, sapat na ang maghapong pantawid sa gutom.
Wala ka talagang masasabi sa pagtitiis ng Pilipino. Umulan, umaraw, nariyan silang nagbabakasali. Sila ang mga Pilipinong patas kung lumaban. Hindi nagnanakaw, hindi gumagawa ng masama para mabuhay. Sila ang mga Pilipinong tinatanggihan ng ospital dahil walang pambayad o dili kaya ay nagkakasya na lang sa pasilyo ng ospital para magamot lamang. Sila ang mga Pilipinong tinatawaran ang paninda at pumapayag naman maibenta lamang. Sila ang mga Pilipinong hindi sinwerte sa materyal na bagay kung kaya’t ang tanging pangarap ay malamnan ang tyan ng pamilya. Sila ang masisipag na Pilipino na matiisin at mapangarapin. Aalisin pa ba natin ang karapatan nilang yun?
The tragedy that struck Japan did not alter the Japanese culture of discipline and concern for their fellowmen. On TV, you can see the long queue of people waiting for their turn to buy goods. They patiently wait for their turn and nobody is blaming anybody for the slow movement of queue. This is different from what is happening here in the Philippines wherein you can hear people complaining when they need to fall in line. Some would even try to cut you in line.
At the evacuation center, the Japanese are also well-behaved and content of the relief goods being given to them. The area is well-maintained and 5S is implemented. The same cannot be said of our evacuation sites here because not all evacuees are concerned enough to maintain the cleanliness and orderliness of their temporary shelter. While the Japanese will only get what they need for the day,our evacuees here will get as much as they need for a day’s need. They call it their buffer, nevermind if that buffer is intended for the other evacuees.
Experts say that the Japanese culture of discipline, unity and concern is because of the following:
1. The Japanese people have high regard of their government. They do not complain because their government is responsible and is obviously doing everything to reach out to them.
2. The Japanese people learned a lot from World War 2; their level of unity and discipline were subconciously forced to be embedded on their culture. From nothing after World War 2, they managed to bounce back even higher all because of discipline and unity.
Can we attain this level of discipline and unity here in the Philippines? Do we trust our government? Can we trust our government? Are we respectful of our fellowmen?