‘Wamport’ and other thoughts | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

‘Wamport’ and other thoughts

/ 05:05 AM November 11, 2021

Wamport” is the word one hears from low income folk who buy basic food stuff in wet markets. Wamport is one fourth kilo of something. It is heartbreaking to hear when uttered by a woman with a few crumpled bills in her hands.


In the Filipino language, the letters “n” and “ng” at the end of a word becomes “m” when connected with another word. It is a puzzlement for me but not for balarila experts. Therefore we say limampu instead of limangpu. Isangbayan (the political newbie on the block) became 1Sambayan. And so forth and so on. And the “f” is pronounced as “p” as many Filipinos/Pilipinos are wont to do.

Why one-fourth kilo? Why wamport? Because one’s budget is not enough for a kilo. When prices go up as they did recently, food becomes a rare commodity for those low in cash. But they go to market anyway, and not to groceries where prices are fixed and only few items can be bought according to the weight one could afford.


And so when reporters stalk marketplaces for news stories, the consumer is often the first to be interviewed before the vendors’ side is solicited. The oft-heard refrain: “Dati kaya naming bumili ng isang kilo, ngayon wamport na lang. Pinagkakasya na lang po.” (In the past we could afford one kilo, now we buy only one-fourth. We try to make it enough for everyone.) So add more healthy vegetables whose prices are also rising even while smuggled veggies from China (heavily sprayed with pesticide, I presume) have made it through and are making Filipino farmers cry.

It is usually only wamport of the

protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, and fish that the cash-strapped consumer can afford. And if they can help it, rice should be eat-all-you-can. But the dishes (ulam, which Filipinos translate into English as viand) can be scrimped on. As the saying goes, if the soup is not quite enough, just add water. Or, kung ang kumot ay maiksi, magtiis kang mamaluktot (if the blanket is short, bear it and just curl up).

Filipinos are known for their make-do attitude during hard times, which is commendable but not when making do becomes puede na which means being resigned to whatever one gets even when one deserves better and not wamport of what have been promised.

All these bring to mind the billions being raked in by those in the favored list of the powers-that-be. To quote myself in last week’s column, “Government paying high for substandard merchandise from undercapitalized PPE traders meant a windfall of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches for the chosen few. Shame on you.” Oh, I forgot Lexus, which was among the reported finds.

The rest of us so-called hoi polloi (“the great unwashed”) have crumbs while the capitalists with nary a capital to buy a few tricycles get billions in contracts with the Duterte administration. And so they gorge on “cake,” which reminds us of what later happened to the head of Marie Antoinette after she so much as insulted those who were clamoring for bread.

This also brings to mind the case of Sen. Leila de Lima, now almost five years in detention for what her lawyers call trumped-up charges. (One of three has already been dropped.) De Lima is running for reelection as senator in the May 2022 elections under the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket. She is, by the way, referred to as “Ina ng 4Ps” (Mother of the 4Ps) because she shepherded the law that would grant subsidies to indigent Filipinos so that they could rise, albeit slowly, above the poverty line. To have more than wamport.


Wamport and its lowly implication reminds me of how people loyal to those who currently wield power mocked the lugaw (rice porridge) and attached it to the name of Vice President Leni Robredo (as in Leni Lugaw) because she had served it. I also remember how, during the “enhanced” lockdown, a checkpoint guard dismissed it as “nonessential” and therefore the delivery rider was not going to be let through. Lugaw has since risen in stock value, so to speak.

Yes to lugaw (I make my own yummy version), but let us not remain being a wamport nation.


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