The famine and the feasts  

Posted by Laya in ,

When the news broke over the weekend about the dinner at Le Cirque that our esteemed public officials had partaken of before flying home "to catch Cory Aquino's funeral," I was struck by the sheer effrontery of it. It was like dancing on Cory's grave, I thought. When someone dies, especially someone as beloved by many as the former president was, you respect the grief of the bereaved, even if you aren't part of the family. It's the proper thing to do.

Then I thought, holy cow... 20 thousand US dollars? That's... about a million pesos!

Article 25 of the Civil Code, I recall, lets the courts enjoin "thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency" "at the instance of any government or private charitable institution."

If the ostentatious consumption of a very expensive dinner by public officials on an official visit in another country during a time when majority of people in the country can't even get three square meals a day isn't thoughtless extravagance during a period of acute public want, then I don't know what is.

Then I learned that before that same dinner, our most esteemed public officials had, the night before, consumed a dinner worth 15 thousand US dollars at Bobby Van's Steakhouse. A source also tells me that those weren't the only expensive meals they had partaken, although details of those are unknown as of this time.

So how much was the total amount they spent? The first two bills alone are said to add up to nearly 2 million pesos. Much more than most Filipinos could ever hope to see in a lifetime.

How callous can you be?

Public officials are supposed to act with decorum. I will reiterate what I always say: you guys are not landed nobility, nor are you wealthy royalty. You are elected public officials; your salaries and most of the money you spend on things that have been colored by your public duties even only a little, are paid by the people you swore to serve faithfully when you came into your offices. Your first concern should be the people who elected you, your constituents. Your recent acts are tantamount to Marie Antoinette dismissively saying "let them eat cake."

Do you people even know what it's like to be hungry?

As a college student, I was fortunate in two things: being accepted into a state university, and having parents who could afford to give me a steady and ample allowance every week. I shared a dorm room with five other girls, most of whom could not even afford to eat two full meals a day because all that their parents could give them was 200 pesos a week and two kilos of rice. In the end, I felt ashamed to eat even a simple student meal, worth at that time 25 pesos, in our room. My roommates would go to their morning classes hungry, without breakfast. Instead of lunch, they would return to our room and try to sleep away their hunger for the noon hour. They would eat only in the evening, after their last class, when they would pool their rice and each contribute about 3 pesos each to be able to buy vegetables and dried fish from the local market. I spent 25 to 30 pesos on one meal. My five roommates collectively spent 20 pesos for their communal meal. Oftentimes, when money was really tight, they would ask to borrow 20 pesos from me, but I never asked them to repay the money. I ended up contributing my 25 pesos to augment their meal and eat with them, because it would be the height of callousness for me to fill myself to bursting while they starved. Even if I was perfectly within my rights to do so.

How did they spend the 20 pesos, the way prices were in the late 1990s?

Assorted vegetables - 10 pesos
Bouillon cube - 5 pesos
Three pcs of dried fish - 5 pesos

They would cook the vegetables with the dried fish and add the bouillon for flavoring; the broth would help stretch the dish so all five of them could eat it.

I can't help but compare those meals, worth 20 pesos for five to six people then. to the meals costing 20 thousand US dollars for 20 people enjoyed by our esteemed public officials who don't seem to care what the rest of the Filipinos think or feel about it.

This entry was posted at Wednesday, August 12, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

0 people cared

Post a Comment

Quality affordable condos in Manila

Own an affordable Ayala Land condominium in the heart of Manila. It's located beside SM San Lazaro, a five-minute ride away from the University Belt and UST, and a stone's throw from LRT Tayuman Station.

Now pre-selling units in Tower 5.
Studio (22.4 - 23.49 sq. m.) - P1.6M - P1.8M
1BR (39.36 - 40.73 sq. m.) - P2.9M - P3.3M
2BR (45.49 sq.m.) - P3.5M - P3.8M
Loft (39.85 - 66.83 sq. m.) - P3.2M - P5.1M

For inquiries please contact Eva at
or email mhie(underscore)bate22(at)yahoo(dot)com

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
MeFindome.org: Homeless Cats & Dogs for Adoption