The Scavenger

The Scavenger

By Apolinario Villalobos

I saw you there

kneeling by the garbage basket

with hands busy sorting out

the needed and not needed ones

among those in that dump.

I saw you there

Kneeling by the garbage basket

From time to time putting to mouth

Morsels of rice and bits of meat

Thrown by conscienceless man.

I saw you there

kneeling by the garbage basket

unmindful of the rushing crowd

who did not stop

and throw you a glance, but

anyway, here’s a bag of bread.

I am a Filipino…proud, yet suffers, too

I am a Filipino, proud

…yet suffers, too

By Apolinario B Villalobos

“Let us not lose hope…”

This I have to say first

For if I won’t, but instead

Put that line at the end

I will be stirring your anger

That  I will just regret later.

When foreign people

Set foot on our sacred shore

Our ancestors welcomed them –

Not just with smile

But warm embrace

Showed them kindness

Showed them love –

The way of Filipinos

As the whole world knows.

The Chinese brought pots and silk

Gave names to our islands and islets,

The Japanese brought their skill

And goods of steel,

Spain sent forth Christianity

Tainted with gracious civility,

The Americans brought more-

More than what we could muster

And  all of these-

Supposed to enrich our culture

But instead, defiled our identity

Stained much of it with sheer gravity!

I hear Filipinos speak English with a twang

But should not be, when they speak our language –

Filipino,  the rich language of every Juan.

I see Filipinos enjoy foreign food, every bit of it

But should not be, when they push aside

Our own sinigang and pinakbet.

 

I hear Filipinos sing foreign songs so soulfully

It’s just nice, but not when they despise

Our own that should be sung with dignity.

Deep inside, I suffer as I see and hear them

I know that just like me, others out there

Are gritting their teeth but can’t do anything;

Proud as a Filipino, yes I am

But so many things are left undone –

Things that our heroes in the past have begun

They who put color

To the vivid pages of our history;

Things that should have been done

By our heroes of today

But who died just when a new light

Started to shine on our democracy.

Leaders, policy makers, lawmakers…

Are they…really?

They who warble promises

And steal the people’s money?

Paid with lofty sum from the coffer

Where  money for those who suffer

Should have come

Should have been done

But only the few – these warblers

Enjoyed no end, they who are supposed

To be brimming with wisdom!

After the father, comes the wife

Then the daughter, and the son

Not contented, the cousins and in-laws

All in the family, to power they strut

With a taunt in their face that says:

“What are we in power for,

And  you with money has none

Eat your heart out, here we come!”

Rain that used to bless the earth

Filipinos now desist

Especially those who live

Along the river banks of the cities

For with it comes the flood

A curse that only the Bible says

Shall wipe out sinners

From the face of the earth;

But why…the floods?

Simple: the money for saving projects

The conscienceless –

Unscrupulously pocketed!

Innocent lengths of asphalted roads

That for long defied the trash of nature

Helplessly wrecked by greedy contractors

So that low-grade fresh overlay can be spread

Later giving up to rain’s patters

And treading of cars, trucks, and all…

Even the precious school books are not spared

By purported educators blinded with greed

Seeing to it that new ones, yearly will be printed

Exam questions, at the end of every chapter

Are cleverly printed!

So then, closing school years would also see

These books so dear, become useless –

Thrown to the garbage, not to be used

By aspiring younger brood of the family.

I am pained by the sight

Of plates at restaurants

and food stations of the malls –

Half –finished food left with pride

By those who seem to say

“I am rich, I can squander money”

And who never thought

That out there in the dumps

Some brethren try to salvage morsels –

Precious food that could be stuffed

Into their guts so they can live

Better than nothing, or they’re dead.

I said in the beginning of this:

Let us not lose hope…

But wish for the best

If we strive together

And do what is right

Then new life for us

Will be in sight!

Better Are…

Better are …

By Apolinario Villalobos

Better are those born of a simple family

For later, they shall not wallow in sinful luxury.

Better are those who grew up on simple gruel

For later, they shall not despise a meatless meal.

Better are those who grow clothed in simple trappings

For later, they shall not be desirous of worldly things.

Better are those whose wants are simple

For later, they shall not unnecessarily crave for more.

Better are those who earn by dints of hard work and honesty

For later, they are assured of unquestionable integrity.

Better are those who are not exposed to the frivolous city life

For later, they will not be swayed by even just a simple strife.

Better are those who pray to God with private sincerity

For theirs is a voice, pure and not tinted with hypocrisy.

Better are those who give with honest intention

For they do not expect anything in return.

Better are the couples who don’t flaunt their love for each other

For they know that they need not be ostentatious, if they are sincere.

Better are those who readily admit their faults and failure

For they know that doing so, lessons are learned for the future.

Better are those whose love for God is not defined by cults or religions

For they know that God’s infinity is boundless as shown by his creations.

Better are those whose love to others is unconditional

For they know that they can only be just as such –

Giving enough of what they have, and not so much.

Slow Death: The Mask of Smoking

SLOW DEATH: THE MASK OF SMOKING

by: Apolinario B. Villalobos

            I could have never cared less about this most common vice that plagues the health conscious world today, had it not been for the death of my brother who at the age of a little past sixty decided to face the consequences of his being a chain smoker.  He knew that he would die! He was consuming as many as five packs of cigarettes a day during the later years of his life and although he was diagnosed to be already suffering from emphysema, he persisted with the reason that as he would die anyway, so why not enjoy life to its fullest.  This kind of reason can just come from a person whose brains are heavily clouded with smoke and lungs hardened by nicotine.  What’s worst is that despite his resignation to face the consequences of his act, he was not financially prepared.  And, this eventually affected other people financially.  During his last days, hospital expenses were incurred as well as those for the funeral services – all borne by the relatives who pitched in.

During a birthday party of a friend, I was introduced to the latter’s former classmate. I could not believe that they were classmates however, due to very apparent physical differences.  The friend was almost toothless and with only a very sparse growth of white hair on his balding head, aside from the heavily wrinkled face. While my birthday celebrating friend was just turning thirty eight, his friend looked like he was sixty.  I became curious and tried to know the reason for such difference, so I initiated a conversation on  health since I am a vegetarian. It was a good thing that he volunteered his regrets for having smoked heavily.  Although he was just thirty nine, he admitted that he looked double his age. He was suffering from both emphysema and cancer of the throat which cannot be operated on, hence, he had to go through the tortuous radiation treatment resulting to the gradual dental fallout and hair lose.  He knew his days were numbered.  That was four years ago, and the next time I knew about him, I was told that he finally rested at the age of forty three.

While working with an airline company, the circle of my friends was not limited to company employees but also  contracted ones who did the janitorial and security jobs.  I got interested in particular to the supervisor of the janitorial group due to his diligence and readiness to do errand for the employees.  He barely conversed with others, instead, he would just flash a smile.  Then, I noticed his long absence that took more than a month.  While I was entertaining the thought that he resigned, he showed up one day with sunken face. When I asked him what happened, in a very low almost inaudible and whispered voice that seemed to come from a jar, he told me he got operated on.  This he said with difficulty while his forefinger was pressing his throat where I noticed  some kind of a hole.  It was a stoma, through which he inhaled and exhaled after his larynx was removed.  To verbally communicate, he learned to do the “esophageal speech” by drawing air through the hole and breath out the words. He confessed that during break periods and while on errands he smoked heavily.  Despite his being a contracted employee with no health benefits, the owner of the janitorial agency with which he was connected was kind  enough to pay fifty percent of his hospital expenses while he shouldered the balance that cost him his eight years of savings and a loan from a kind neighbor. That was six years ago.  When our paths crossed again, he has aged a lot and stooping despite his just being forty.  Jobless, his wife supports him and their three children, ages twelve, nine and seven. He stays at home while his wife works for a carinderia on weekdays and does the laundry of neighbors on Saturdays and Sundays.  He admitted to have spent his savings of thirty eight thousand pesos for his hospital bills and medications.

The foregoing are stories on the horrifying effects of smoking that most of us just refuse to recognize. Our hypocrite society is such that while it condemns the vice, nothing is done to stop it because of the revenue it generates.  Just take the “warning: smoking is dangerous to your health” printed on cigarette packs as well as its mention after a cigarette ad has been flashed on TV screen. What is the use of such warning if production of the stuff is not stopped.  What is not fair is that even those who do not smoke get affected as “passive smokers” because of the smoke from smokers in closed areas, public transportation and even while strolling in parks and pedestrian lanes.  Lately, it has been found that even unborn babies become affected by smoking mothers who are conceiving them.  Despite the law now that forbids smoking in public places, this is not strictly followed.

Even a single stick of cigarette is dangerous, even those low-nicotine low-tar brands that are flooding the market lately. Not even if one uses a tar guard.  Take note, too, that since manufacturers have reduced the tar and nicotine in some brands, nothing is printed on the packs as to the ingredients used to enhance their flavor and fragrance to make up for the two reduced elements.

Chemicals that act as humectants are used for the workability of aged tobacco as well as in keeping cigarettes fresh.  Some of these are glycerol and glycols. As early as 1979, the U.S. Surgeon Report stated that: “Glycols are suspected to influence the smoker’s risk of  bladder cancer.”  On the other hand, when burned, glycerol is transformed into a substance called  acrolein “which suppresses the action of microscopic cilia that force irritants from the lungs.”  With the cilia immobilized, the smoker becomes susceptible to chronic bronchitis  and increased emphysema with the lungs open to attacks by toxins and carcinogens.

Those are the chemicals. And, how about the synthetic flavors and fragrances that are added to compensate for the reduced tar and nicotine? Could they be more hazardous? These are the questions that manufacturers should answer.  Or why can’t they just print on the packs the “ingredients” that they use in manufacturing their products?

Meanwhile, with the hazard of smoking already a known fact that one need not be a degree holder to understand it, something must be done to even just minimize it, especially, for the sake of the non-smokers who eventually become “passive smokers” due to their inevitable exposure. We have anti-smoking laws, but are they properly imposed?

Want a Serene Life? Try These…

Want a Serene Life? Try These…

                                      By: Apolinario B. Villalobos

 

 

The following are suggestions. I practice them myself and I am living a peaceful life, perhaps, you may find them helpful, too.

Do not accumulate worldly materials beyond your need. Most people adhere to the notion that the more worldly materials they have in life the more they become secure. And for them, these accumulated materials manifest success in life, too. It is the reason why these people become compulsive buyers and collectors  of things that take their fancy – things that they can show off. Unknowingly, by doing so, they are developing some kind of fear of not having things that they want which further develops into insecurity, and worse, attachment to these worldly things making them reluctant to accept death knowing that they are leaving their accumulated wealth behind.

Do not play “God” to others. Some people try their best “to guide” others todo good. Unfortunately, they themselves are doing things the wrong way. It islike telling friends: follow what I say, but do not follow what I do.

Do not depend on someone or something for happiness. Some people attribute their happiness to their success in job, kind of family, friends, wealth, etc. As a result, when they lose their job, it is as if life has ended for them, or when their marriage has failed, for them the only way to end the misery is to commit suicide, or when close friends have left them, they felt there is nobody to run to when problems crop up, or when their savings have dwindled, they felt as if they have suddenly become poor. Just take things in stride.

Do not “mark” people. Do not ask others what province they came from, orwhat their jobs are, or where they live. Accept people as what they are.Purportedly, we ask people about their background so that we will know how to “adjust”  to their kind of personality. Unconsciously, however, the one reason why we do that is to make sure that we are better than them. It is when we have known their background that we begin to blame these for their faults.

Do not think that you can never do any good. Believe in what you can do. As you wake up in the morning, do not ever think that you are too tired to do things for the day or that you are not just in the mood to do some things for the day. If you develop the habit about negating your capabilities, such will stick to your personality, which can later on drag you down.

Do not attach your emotions to any worldly materials. Learn how to part with your “valuables” so that you will not be depressed when you share them with others. Console yourself with the thought that you have made a sacrifice to make others happy.

Do not be impressed by external beauty – the made up faces on magazine covers. Most importantly, do not compare how you look with these images. Each one of us is unique. Beauty emanates from inside of us and the impression depends on how we manifest them through our speech, actions, etc. Beauty can be equated with gracefulness and tactfulness. If one feels blessed or enlightened, tranquility is shown on his or her face and that is when beauty is manifested and impressed on others.

Talk to yourself. At least once a day, especially, before arising from bed, try to contemplate on what you have done the day before and evaluate them whether they were good or  bad. Did you hurt somebody’s feelings? Did you exploit somebody to your own advantage? Etc. As an exercise, face yourself in the mirror and talk to yourself. Scold yourself if you found that you have done something wrong. The best measure for this is the “Golden Rule”  which simply put, is your not wanting bad done to you, hence, you should not do something bad to others, too. If indeed you have wronged others, make amendsLet go…! Let go of whatever bad thoughts you have about others. Try replacing  these thoughts with the goodness that these “others” have done, not necessarily to you, but to others. You may go to the extent of presuming that they have done something good to others. It can’t hurt you.

Be contented… with the kind of friends you have. You may extend a helping hand in such a subtle way as to imply that they need to change their ways. Do not impose yourself on them for they will surely be turned off.

 Listen to your conscience. Man was created by God as an intelligent being, hence, with the ability to know what is good or bad. And, as our integral part, we have our conscience – our inner self that always tells us what is good for us. Unfortunately, our physical self always plays the villain. That is why, there exists the so-called “mind vs. body” struggle. With a simple vice as smoking for instance, our conscience tells us that it is bad but our physical craving tells us to go ahead. It is therefore, worthwhile to listen once in a while to what our conscience says, and discipline in this regard will determine, how far we can go.

Visualize. You can be what you want to be. As earlier mentioned, the impression that you give depends on what is going on in your mind. Visualize yourself as a “cool” person and you will surely have that smile in your face . Visualize yourself as a patient person and you can be one without much effort. Choose your kind of behavior.

Think of yourself as a positive person – a happy person, as if you are a kind of light from which emanates a radiance that floods your surrounding with happiness. Think of yourself as a radiance that touches others to give them warmth

 Share. We have been used to sharing material things – food, money, etc. which are tangible. But have you ever unselfishly shared ideas that in one way or another can help others? But remember not to impose when you share. In doing this, it should be on a “take it or leave it” basis

To be honest about it, I had second thoughts before deciding to put these “personal” guiding principles into writing to be shared with others.. with you. Take them or forget about them, anyway. At least I tried…

Forgiving: An Enduring Act of Love

FORGIVING: AN ENDURING ACT OF LOVE

By:  Apolinario B. Villalobos

            In the Bible, a reader could find chapters devoted to parables in which the theme is forgiveness.  Forgiveness as an act of love was emphasized by Jesus Christ who implored God to forgive those who betrayed him.  From that instance evolved the popular adage, “if God can forgive, why can’t we”.  Indeed, why can’t we?

To forgive really takes a lot of courage and a big heart, especially when the act that needs to be forgiven had tremendous effect on one’s life.  For how can a wife forgive a husband who abandoned her and their four children? How can a son forgive a robber who also killed his father after divesting him of his earnings as a taxi driver, and eventually depriving a breadwinner for a family of seven? How can a brother forgive a rapist after destroying the future of his sister? How can a mother forgive his addict son who while under the influence of  shabu for four straight days mistook her as just another woman and eventually raped her?

The Arabic countries still practice the Old Testament way of imposing penalty, such that a rapist’s genital is cut off, a robber’s hand that committed the crime is cut off, and so forth.  But, is it enough?

The pain caused by humiliation and deprivation resulting from deplorable acts are deeply impressed in the mind and heart.  And, most often we hear those who console the affected that in time the wound afflicted will heal in time, hence, “forgive and forget”.  This remarkable act of forgiving and forgetting has been shown by Mrs. Corazon Aquino who is satisfied with the results of the trial as regards the assassination of her husband, the late Benigno Aquino. And, this despite the insinuations of interested parties that those put behind bars are just the lesser accomplices as the real perpetrators, the brains, are still out there.

It is not easy to forgive and eventually forget.  And, generally, it takes a gargantuan effort to convince oneself to forgive an offender. There is always that big question why such a thing has been done, and almost always that nagging afterthought of the victims, “of all people, why me?” At this instance, self-pity pinches the emotion of the offended.

The maturity level of the individual’s emotion greatly plays an important role in the decision whether to forgive an offensive act or not.  Fortunately, one does not need a college degree to be matured enough to forgive an offense.  Another positive factor in this regard is one’s degree of humility which is the opposite of pride which then goes without saying that a proud person would certainly find it hard to forgive an offender.

Are we obliged to forgive?  I would say, of course.  We are not a perfect creation of God and therefore, cannot avoid offending others be they our blood relations or strangers that we meet on the street.  If we cannot forgive others, how can we then expect others to forgive us?  Remember the Golden Rule?  It is, however, easier said than done: “Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you”, but almost always hard to do!  For the philosophical – easy, of course for the saintly.

Does it need for an individual to be saintly to be always forgiving?  Of course, not! The virtue needs a long time of nurturing before it is developed into something worthy of divine praise. Even Jesus Christ flared up upon seeing the sinful transactions outside the Temple.  Did he give outright forgiveness to the parties concerned and felt sorry for what He did? No! Not even a poor fig tree was not spared by Him when he found it not bearing fruit at the time He was hungry, and with a single curse, caused it to wilt.  But, somehow, perhaps, His utterance of forgiveness while dying on the cross could be a sweeping one and meant for all who offended Him. So, indeed, if we believe Him to be the Son of God, and He can forgive, why can’t we?

When we forgive others, we are replacing  our feeling of hate with love, hence, the “negative” with “positive”.  The two forces are vibrations that govern our daily lives.  Have you ever noticed that more  often, once your day begins with something not so nice, it affects you practically for the whole day which causes you to say “sira na naman ang araw ko!” (now, my day is spoiled again!).

Negative incidents can be your own doing or that of others that tremendously affect you:  irritable nagging of  your wife; being caught in the traffic jam on the way to work; being nagged by children for additional allowance before leaving the house; at the office, being told that what he has submitted the day before is not right, etc.

Negative incidents for the wives can be waking up to the crying of children who squabble for something; finding out that the money left by their husbands is not enough to cover the expenses for the day; being told by children about new expenses in school; newly-delivered bills for electricity or water; occurrence of blackout just when they have just started the pressing of clothes for the whole week, etc.

Instead of berating those that cause such irritants, one should replace such feeling with kind understanding. The mother of the squabbling children should understand that  children really have the tendency to be rowdy; that with soaring prices at present, the students are not spared; that traffic jams are normal occurrences; that one should just take better note of the requirements of the boss for a better  report next time, etc. By doing those, one actually forgives the parties responsible for such irritants.

Have you ever noticed that if you are not irritated, your mind is empty of apprehensions and such state gives you a feeling of lightness?

Positive vibration that result from forgiveness also heals – both spiritual and mental “sicknesses”.  Non-denomination groups that sprung up like mushrooms all over the world swear to this power of positive vibration. But of course, they aver that before one could be cured, forgiveness should first be expressed by the “patient”.

Forgiveness makes us move on. With such act, we remove from our heart a heavy burden, thereby making our steps lighter. We cannot undo what has been done.  And, as I have stated earlier, if we love Jesus, we should learn from His greatest act – forgiving!

Scrimping For Survival

SCRIMPING FOR SURVIVAL

                                                By:  Apolinario B. Villalobos

Nowadays, it needs resourcefulness to survive on a meager income.  Whether one is a struggling entrepreneur or a wage earner, the dictum is supposed to be living on what one can afford.  Foremost in this effort is resisting the temptation of the current trends – fastfoods, trendy trappings, cellular phones,  electronics contraptions, etc.

Blame the effective advertisements of fast food joints for inculcating in the minds of even the growing tots their seemingly necessity in our lives.  Imagine a mother using either the familiar golden arch of a popular burger chain or the bumblebee that symbolizes another, in teaching her child in identifying objects  instead of  other relevant things instead.

Another ill effect of what we call modernity of our time is the “must have” attitude for things that enhance one’s social status such as a cellular phone.  Not only once or twice have I encountered incidents of students being stabbed for this electronic contraption by not parting with it when snatched by a robber. Or, teenagers who run away from home just because their parents will not buy them a cell phone. It seems that for most of us, the much- coveted gadget spells high social status even for those whose take home pay is less than a quarter of the minimum pay.

Then, there’s the proliferation of electronics that give birth to the CDs, computer games, high-tech tv’s and syndicates with various talents in forgery. Suckers dole out hard-earned money for counterfeit CDs and appliances.   At the end, they bring home a fake status symbol instead of a kilo of fish  or  worst, they spoil their budget for the week.

The salaried grumble about the reluctance of employers to increase their pay, complaining that their wage is barely enough to cover their family budget.  But, have they ever thought of adjusting their spending capability to what they earn? Or have they ever tried to observe their attitude – leaving potions of food on the plate, throwing leftovers that can still be kept for recycling, and spoiling their children with junk foods?

Personally, it pains me to see big portions of food left on the plates every time I enter a fast food joint or restaurants.  Those who do this sinful act even look proud to show the world that they can afford to do such a thing. Imagine a half-eaten steak, untouched portions of viands or whole serving of rice on their plates collected by busboys to be thrown away.  But looking at them closely, I could surmise that these arrogant people are minimum pay earners who strut around with their cell phones bought after months of scrimping or through installments, thanks to the credit card or office loans.

These are also the very same people who cover their bodies with clothing and jewelry that they get on installment basis.  I know this because I have worked in several companies myself and have encountered the same situations.  Some would even skip meals just so they can pay for this extravagance every end of the week or every pay day.

Some still would regularly not report to work feigning sickness due to unavailability of money for fare.  Yet, they can  find ways and means to purchase cellular cards or spend for weekend jaunts with friends.

If only we can change our attitude, living affordably may not be difficult.  The following are suggested ways that can be done, though with difficulty at the start:

Try switching to less expensive meals consisting of more vegetables, just enough of fish, less meat, and you’ll see the difference. Suggested is a Sunday for meat, Tuesday and Thursday for fish, with the rest of the days for vegetables.  It takes discipline to muster this kind of routine until it becomes a regular and normal practice for the family. While still young, the children must be made to appreciate vegetables and fish not only for their nutritional value, but also for financial reason .  Most importantly, too, learn how to recycle leftover foods.

Bring a home-cooked lunch to work.  Do not ruin your budgeton pork chops, bacons, corned beef and other “show” food that you are trying hard to afford. While you may succeed in showing your friends that you have a richey lunch, such show-offness can make you suffer in the long run because it could definitely affect your finances. Be honest about yourself. In the office, do not show a kind of a person that is not the real you as they know your financial status anyway, by your take home pay .

Get rid of that cellular phone if you do not have an urgent use for it.  Accept the fact that you flaunt it just for status symbol.  The extra savings from not buying cellphone cards can go a long way in stretching your budget. It has been observed, that those who really can afford to have one do not flaunt it.  Ironically, those who really do not have the practical  use for it, are the ones who are showing it off. As an alibi they say it is for emergency to call people at home, when in  reality,  those at home do not have a single unit, because they cannot even afford pay the rent on time!

Avoid buying branded clothes.  Take note that most of the popular brands are being forged nowadays making it hard to detect which is the original brand or the fake one. It is funny to note that some try hard to play rich by wearing branded clothes even if they do not go well with their built or complexion.  It is suggested that when buying clothes in department stores, try the bargain section first.  If you cannot find one that suits you,  try the regular section, but pay attention on what you  select that mustfit you well.  Remember that it is how you carry the attire well and comfortably that others will admire you. You do not expect others to peek at your collar to check if what you are wearing is from a popular house of fashion!

Be honest to your children about your financial capability.  It will help them realize that some things that they want are not really necessary after knowing that you cannot afford them in the first place.  The happiness derived from giving in to the demand of your children for things which are very difficult to have is temporary, and has a greater effect on your family budget.  Try to think of the savings that you can set aside if  unnecessary purchases can be avoided. Parents should refrain from voluntarily giving money to their children to be splurged in internet games.

Forget about burger joints for family weekend lunch outs.  Instead, for weekend jaunts bring home-cooked lunch and juice  to  the nearest  public park for a happy bonding.  This way, you save electricity for not viewing TV or switching on the electric fan while staying at home the whole day.

Get rid of that credit card!  I used to have credit cards supposedly for emergency use.  I realized, however, that they just ate up a big portion of my budget so that I gave them up altogether. I had been a fool for so many years maintaining those cards during which I did not realize that I was actually paying up only their monthly interests and very little of the principal amounts. Not having a credit card will force you not to buy anything if you do not have cash.  That is what living affordably really means.  However, if the credit cards are charged against your company due to their official nature, it is another story.

Try to commute on regular buses or jeepneys by waking up early to catch up with them in the coolness of the early morning.  In this way you do not give yourself the alibi of comfort in taking an air-conditioned bus or shuttle van late in the morning.  Think of the several pesos that you can save daily that could add up to several hundreds at the end of the month.  If you have a car, you can help nature very much if you use it only when very necessary.  Leaving home early for the office to avoid the traffic is comfortable enough.

There are other things that we can do in order to live comfortably without spending so much, although it needs sacrifice and discipline.   The way we live our life depends on us.  If we live a dismal life, we have ourselves to blame because we refuse to do the simple and practical things that could be of great help to us.