The days have been swiftly flying past and now it’s October, the start of the last quarter of the year and the second of the four ”ber” months that herald the coming Christmas season so loved by most Filipinos.
These past weeks, however, have not been the kind we were used to in the past. One after another, tropical storms came close by bringing rains and floods that closed schools and offices, until the strongest of them all, typhoon “Ompong,” came and caused two landslides hundreds of kilometers apart — in Itogon, Benguet, in Northern Luzon and in Naga City, Cebu, in the Visayas — that together killed 156 people as of Monday.
Schoolchildren have not been able to attend classes in so many provinces for weeks now. They will now have to make up for this with classes in the coming days that used to be part of the Christmas vacation season.
These same weeks have been very difficult ones for most families for another reason. They saw the steady and unrelenting increases in prices of consumer goods in the markets, along with a shortage of the country’s staple food, rice.
The government economic managers blame rising global oil prices and the falling value of the peso, but many other economists blame the new government tariff on diesel and other fuels that severely affected all economic activities in the country, from the transport of consumer goods to market, to the production of electric power, to passenger fares. And that was only TRAIN 1. TRAIN 2, which could cause many foreign firms to close down their operations here and move elsewhere, is coming.
There have been many other issues that came up in these last few weeks and months – Senator Trillanes’ arrest with the revocation of his amnesty, the breakdown at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the new violence by outlaw groups in Mindanao, worsening traffic in Metro Manila, the continuing entry of shabu in huge quantities from other countries, etc. But it was the unending rains and the continuing price increases that have dominated our lives in these last few weeks and months.
In an effort to reassure the public and calm their fears, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia expressed hope that inflation — the rising market prices – will start taperng off after the third quarter of the year. September was the end of that third quarter of the year and so we join in his hope that prices will now start leveling off.
We also hope that the unusual train of Pacific storms that have caused so much destruction in our islands will now give way to the beautiful weather we are used to at this time of the year. September has not been a good month for so many of us. We now look forward to October, then November and December, which have always been good months for us in the past.