The Hopeless Saving Effort of the Poor Filipinos
By Apolinario Villalobos
The Philippines as a country that belongs to the third world, has nothing to be proud of when it comes to the self-sufficiency of its people. There are strong indications that the Filipinos are far from gaining just a foothold on the edge of this aspiration. While there is an effort on the part of some hardworking Filipinos to become self-made entrepreneur even of the lowest category, external factors are just not on their side. The best investment that a few thousand pesos can give to the aspirant is a round and flat bamboo tray (bilao) of girlie accessories. The aspiring entrepreneur is also constantly haunted by sidewalk clearing agents of the government who drive him away from roadsides and street corners, and whose effort is enhanced by the threat of fine or arrest. The few pesos earned for the day is not even enough to buy three decent meals for a family of four which is the standard size of the Filipino family.
With small-time entrepreneurship out of question, here comes the encouragement of the government to save money in the bank. Some banks even entice kids to start their own savings purportedly, for a “bright future”. In advertisement, the call is very attractive, full of promises. The banks also zero-in to the sector of retirees to-be because of their separation pays in lump sum that sometimes amount to millions of pesos. Lucky are those who bit the bait five or more years ago due to sufficient return in interest , because, today, such topic does not deserve any serious discussion for lack of financial luster.
Today, if one puts a million pesos in a time deposit scheme of five years, it will not even earn one thousand pesos per month. As if the dismal interest is not enough, bank managers, exert much effort in selling the insurance programs of “sister” insurance companies which do not allow approration of dividend. The client must wait until the placement matures after three years or five years or whatever length of coverage.
For the retirees who have been looking forward to live on their savings’ interest in the bank,it is as if the world has closed in on them. A retiree cannot even rely on the interest of a five- million peso time deposit that was long-planned to be used to buy health supplements and regular physical check- ups.Worst, the social security pension, especially, of those who belong to the minimum level is barely enough to cover monthly household expenses.
The poor retiree is left with no recourse, but to spend the hard-earned savings with much cautious calculation so that they will last until the dayhe draws his last breath.