While they drink champagne…

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

A video taken from a Malacañang Palace event featuring the country’s elite drinking champagne, glass after glass, recently made the rounds on Viber chat. While the video circulated, a number of people were lamenting the fact that no one in government seems to be monitoring or regulating inflation, fees and charges imposed by certain businesses and companies on Filipinos.

Even the usually generous and loving dog owners or fur mommies and daddies are complaining about the high cost of veterinary fees and charges. They complain of the high cost of clinic visits and consults that now cost more than what medical doctors and hospitals charge for human patients.

The problem is that no one knows exactly who is supposed to regulate and control fees and charges of veterinarians. I don’t know, but these complaints are becoming a serious concern for the growing number of people who much prefer to have a fur baby over human relational complications.

In cases where a dog suffers minor cuts, bites from fights, the usual rate is somewhere between P2,500 to P5,000 all in. Getting your dog spayed in order to avoid unintended breeding costs anywhere from P7,000 to P12,000!

The shocker that I heard about last week was a dog owner whose high-value dog needed corrective surgery due to a limp or pilay on the hind leg. The owner had to pay P400,000 for the surgery but the dog did not get any better and now, the dog owner is in talks with his lawyers.

The cost of being healthy has also become so expensive for humans, especially those who want to join a health gym. I recently got a collection of fees and charges that gyms in malls are charging and discovered that many of these mall gyms charge more than physical rehab clinics in major hospitals!

When you sign up, you pay over P4,000 to be a “member” or client, then you have to pay for an access pass of around P1,000 to P1,500 to get in to use the equipment, lockers, etc. On top of that you pay for a monthly package that allows you to use the facilities for a set number of days or sessions.

And if you really want to be safe and sure, they encourage you to have a coach, who you will pay for separately. If you can’t afford one, I can almost guarantee you will eventually hurt yourself or quit, realizing it’s an experience common to many “victims” or gym dropouts in the past.

In contrast, a lawyer-friend of mine who had open heart surgery shared that he pays P5,500 a month at the cardiac rehab facility of a very well known hospital where he goes to work out three times a week under supervision of a trained and licensed therapist. The advantage in this is there is constant coordination between his cardiologist and the rehab center.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that if you do the math, and you are young enough or not in need of hospital-based rehab, you might be better off if you went to a sporting goods store, availed of deferred payments, buy a thread mill, an exercise bike, a set of kettle balls, one piece at a time. After six to 12 months, you would have all the tools you need and instead of an expensive coach, just find online training apps or programs and wisely do the exercises SLOWLY.

Once again, when someone asked who is suppose to regulate gym membership fees in malls, I really could not answer. It may be under the DTI perhaps.

Inflation has undoubtedly affected everything, including insecticides which many dengue-fearing mothers have been relying on to kill mosquitoes in their homes.

Someone called my attention to the fact that prices of various mosquito sprays have gone from introductory prices of P145 a few years back and now cost as much as P335 per can. Unlike gasoline and diesel whose prices go up and down, I cannot recall any time when the price of mosquito spray has ever gone down.

Given how quickly a can of spray disappears, I have been teaching friends that at those prices, they are better off buying those UV light insect zappers, connect it to a timer and operate zappers at dawn and dusk or peak hours for mosquitos. Another cost-effective solution is installing screens and having a tennis racket-type zapper. It’s fun to fry them mosquitoes!

For Filipinos who have jobs and can still afford to buy stuff, it may all be just an expression of their discontent. But what should worry our elected officials and residents of Malacañang would be the level of poverty of the greater number of Filipinos.

People who can’t afford vets and physicians live with one light bulb in a rented room with three to five kids, can’t afford breakfast or pass off on lunch so their toddlers can eat.

Unfortunately, we can’t zap those champagne guzzling partygoers in Malacañang in order to get some attention and maybe government action regarding inaction or absence of government regulators. For now, people lament and tell the media. They make fun of embarrassing videos. But how long before people start getting desperate and angry because no one in government seems to care?

When French peasants complained about food shortage, a queen named Marie Antoinette allegedly said, “Let them eat cake.” She was eventually tried and sentenced to death by guillotine. While we are nowhere near the desperate times during the French Revolution, poverty and the way that certain sectors are taking advantage of the lack of government regulation may just push things in that direction.

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