Being in LondonBy Van Kristine L. Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
People born in the year of the Boar are predicted to be in conflict with the Water Snake. Thus, they’ll experience failure in leaps and bounds this year, says an astrology forecast I read in the Internet.
Being a Boar, and even without the aid of a horoscope or Madame Auring’s crystal ball, I know that 2013 is going to be a rough year for me.
You see, last year I started living in London—no, not in Her Majesty’s home city, but in a place where every person’s mantra is “loan dito, loan doon.” An invented city built by people like you and me, and with its promise of lending money for later payment, it has lured many people. I was one of those who got hooked, and I have accumulated a total of P175,000 in loans. That amount is payable until December 2013 through salary deductions.
I am a high school teacher and my monthly net pay of P19,000 has now been reduced to P8,500. Deduct from that my monthly room rent of P2,500 and Internet bill of P1,000, and I am left with only P5,000 for such expenses as food, fare, and groceries. I’m single and I’ve always lived simply, but how will I survive in case an emergency crops up? Besides, as a teacher I sometimes have to shell out personal money for my classroom needs.
I’ve always been cautious with money, so how did this come about? Let me tell you how I became a Londoner.
In 2011, I vowed to myself that I would never live in London after learning that a colleague was receiving only P3,000 in monthly pay due to the numerous loans she had taken out over the years. Last year, however, I broke that vow. I borrowed P30,000 from the cooperative bank in our school so I could buy an LCD projector for my classroom (yes, public school teachers buy their own facilities). I thought that it’s for a good cause, anyway, and that before 2013 is over, I’ll be able to pay up. Besides, the deduction will just be P1,500 a month. No sweat.
When the UMID GSIS card came out three years ago, there was much hype that employees who had been working for five years and up may take out a P10,000 loan. No, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon because first, I had only been working for three years at that time and second, I told myself, “I don’t need the money.” But last year, I had “needs.” I borrowed P50,000 from GSIS because I had my teeth fixed, which required braces, and I traveled abroad. I comforted myself that, again, it went to a good cause.
Also, last September, my grandmother was hospitalized and being a Lola’s girl, I chipped in with P40,000. The money was again loaned by my school’s cooperative bank. By then, I had incurred a total debt of P130,000 with interest. But my London travails did not end there.
Before 2012 ended, an aunt asked me to donate P30,000 for our land bills. Being the dutiful niece that I am, I borrowed for the last time (fingers crossed) from the cooperative bank.
I have never been good with numbers, so I did not anticipate the deductions. I cried when I learned that my monthly deduction would be P13,500 for the next 12 months. Blaming myself, my grandmother, or my aunt will not do me any good. This year, with only P8,500 per month, I have no choice but learn to say no. I will tighten my belt and learn, too, not to gratify my “now” needs.
I can see how my 2013 is going to be like, so I’m moving town. I will never ever settle in London again.
Van Kristine L. Mendoza, 29, teaches English at West Visayas State University.
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