My observations on a ‘very different’ Christmas this year LETTERS
The afternoon before Christmas this year, I went to a mall in Fairview, Quezon City, to see how we, Filipinos, are celebrating the holiday season despite the global inflation. I wanted to learn if we are defying the soaring prices and unemployment, and sticking to the festive mood with left-and-right shopping.
To my shock, there were no long lines this year, both in the supermarket and department store, where I usually do my last-minute Christmas preparation and gift buying. For the past 10 years since I started working and earning my own money, this has been my yearly Christmas pattern, where I hurry up and compete for the last remaining items in the shelves. This year, as I moved fast to the meat section of the supermarket and asked the “promodiser” if there were still remaining pieces of ham, to my surprise, there were many left in stock inside the freezer. And as I gazed through the other sections, I noticed some uncongested aisles and short lines in the counter. This is not the typical Christmas scenario I am accustomed to. It was too quiet and peaceful. There was not much of commotion and chaos. I must admit, I missed the drama of it, like watching some old lady scolding a young couple for cutting into the queue, or some kid accidentally bumping his head in someone else’s grocery cart because there was not much space around him.
To confirm my observation, I strolled through the entire mall. I walked from one end to another without getting delayed in the crowd or me saying, “Excuse me, please make way.” I also noticed some empty boutiques and some unoccupied ATMs. When I went to deposit in the bank, I was entertained immediately. I also passed the department store and did not see a horde of people. In fact, there were counters that were vacant.
To me, this year is really much different. I was able to buy a toy for my nephew quick and easy. I paid it without a queue and even had it gift-wrapped instantly. I went to buy a dozen doughnuts, and I was only fifth in the line—not much waiting, actually.
I wonder: What could be the reasons behind this, and is this only happening in our area? In fact, there are no more restrictions that prevent people from going out, unlike last year where one cannot simply travel from one place to another, especially those unvaccinated. We had one of the longest lockdowns and tightest restrictions—isn’t it time to make up for the things we have missed out?
On one hand, people are probably downtrading amid the inflation, preferring to buy in wet markets instead of mall supermarkets, or choosing less expensive brands and buying in smaller quantities. It could be that online shopping has become more rampant that people are no longer going to the mall, and just wait for things to be delivered right in their doorstep.
As I pondered more, I realized I, myself, felt the economic slowdown. As a cryptocurrency and nonfungible token (NFT) investor (in addition to being a pharmacist), I felt the effects of not making any profits this year, compared to 2021 where I earned P50,000 in cryptocurrency profits and P75,000 in NFT profits. Because of this, I decided to cut down on my expenses and spend only on things that matter most.
But one thing that really stayed the same this year is the difficulty of booking a taxi. This year, I was unsuccessful in arranging a taxi ride on my way home. And I can no longer wait for the MRT-7 to start operating. Surely, it would be a great ease for an avid commuter like me.
Despite all these, the best thing about how we, Filipinos, cope with the difficulties is that we celebrate things in a cumulative way. I know it’s true because I just had a warm family Christmas dinner as I wrote and finished this article.
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