All the people I have encountered so far paint a dreary picture of their own individual economic conditions. The helpers we have engaged during our stay are mostly out of work and quite insistent that we hire then on a regular basis so they can feed their families. The carpenters are the same. The ones hired are out of work and are very glad to find work, whatever work is available. The business entrepreneurs chime in with the same woes. Business is bad, sales are down, and prices for producers are very volatile and most of the times, not good enough to be sustainably profitable.
Except for one.
He used to have a thriving appliance business but according to him, he is just bidding his time before he gets out of the business But he has one good "cash crop" that guarantees good sales and no bad debts. He has deployed in most towns of the eastern portion of the province, what are called videoke machines, at five pesos a pop. Drop a fiver and one can sing along for a few minutes, away from the dreary problems of daily living. He said he has hundreds of them scattered in the province.
And in the world of karaoke machines, the latest is now a DVD player with over 14,000 songs crammed in one DVD disc, showing many pretty petite Chinese ladies in their bikinis, cavorting around different beaches most probably located in mainland China.
One can take this home and spend one's remaining days going through the thousands of songs, available at the push of some buttons.
So, in a nutshell, our compatriots continue to find ways to parry the daily onslaught of hardships and sing the night away, accompanied by a couple of cheap light beer. At 20 pesos a pop.
Aside from this, everything else is heavenly, especially when one is perched atop Dahilayan Barrio in Manolo Fortich, watching the lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, red pepper, etc. grow and eating them dipped in vinegar.
And as I end this, I sit amidst a bunch of shrieking kids playing video games in an internet cafe boasting of over 40 PCs crammed in a little space, as much space as one can muster when one locates very close to a big crowded school like Liceo.
So, rest well because all's well.