By Edgardo Verceles

In the early seventies, I was an employee in a company based in Makati. I was at the same time paying my way through second course in college, supporting a brother also in college and a sister in high school and regularly giving at the same time market money to my mother on my salary as a junior executive.
The wonder of it is that I could go out three days a week with friends doing the rounds of night spots on my common employee's salary. In the later 70's and 80's or the martial law years, I was occupied witht the profitable handicraft business such that I did not feel the impact of the delibitating oil crisis. However, I remember that salaried people of time only weathered the crisis and were not as impoverished as salaried people now. One thing obviously that helped was price control in effect. It was in fact during the time of Marcos when the price of cement rose dramaticcaly but the highest it reached was P48.00 per bag as compared to P130.00 now which is why I was able to build a house made of concrete.
During the time of Cory Aquino in the late eighties and that of Ramos, I remember the wildly escalating tuition fees since I was already sending two kids to college, and the successive fuel prices increases such that at one time I reared seeing a car parks and car exchanges displaying gasoline powered cars at rediculously low prices.
The oil deregulation law passed during the time of Ramos obviously did not help curb the rising fuel prices because the said law still favored the big oil monopolies with lower tariffs.
The fact that the harsh effects are still with us. At the advent of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's term, she made some noises about poverty alleviation, she was able to hold down projected 70% increase in water rates by Maynilad but not the fluctuating oil prices and the whooping reduction in free text messages. At this point, the country is experiencing shut downs and downsizing by business firms and transfers to foreign shores and people praying that she would succeed. Through all the year, the economic problems lingered and never left, comparing the past decades, however, I would say that the seventies are the best. The barometers is that, almost everryday I could drink beer with my friends after office hours.
Nowadays, we can drink only on payday and then try to stretch out our resources until the next payday.

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