It’s a recent issue that got the attention — and ire — of many Filipino parents.
I actually got curious why and checked the local news.
It was about the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) saying that Php 10,000 — roughly USD 191 — is a decent budget for a family of 5 for 30 days.
Yep, that’s the whole budget for a month for a family to have a decent living. Decent living means having enough for food, clothing, utilities, rent, health, transportation, education, and recreation.
The TV news report tested this by taking the allocated budget NEDA has set for food (Php 3,834) and dividing it to 30 days, which is Php 127 (USD 2.42) per day. The reporter set out to the local market to buy food using the said daily budget. She got:
- 1 1/2 kilos rice = Php 65
- 2 cans of sardines = Php 32
- 3 pieces egg = Php 15
- Pieces of pechay (like bokchoi or cabbage) = Php 7
- One onion bulb = Php 5
- Garlic = Php 2
- Cooking oil = Php 10
So a family’s gonna eat eggs and canned sardines 3 times a week for 30 days? Hello, nutrition.
Also not realistic: monthly housing rental. NEDA pegged it at Php 1,288 (USD 24.57). House or apartment rentals in the city go as low as Php 6,000 (~USD 114) a month. Bedspaces are at Php 2,000 (~USD 38) minimum per person.
Another: educational budget at Php 328 (~USD 3). Doesn’t say if its already for 3 kids (I assume “family of 5” meant parents and 3 kids). Probably for public school where education is free. But how about for those in private schools? My youngest’s tuition in monthly installment is Php 1,500 (USD 19). And I’ve got 2 kids.
Transportation? Hubby spends Php 500 (~USD 9.50) for gas for the car per week. Sometimes we commute to work and spend about Php 130 (~USD 4.50) per day.
NEDA’s monthly budget excludes money alloted for family savings and emergency fund.
I have an Expenses List in my planner, and per week my family of 4 spends (in estimates):
- Grocery = Php 2,000
- Shared utilities (electricity, water, cable and internet, since we live with my parents) = Php 1775
- Transportation = Php 1150
- Sunday out with the kids = Php 600
That’s Php 5,525 or USD 105.37. Not including savings and education in the equation.
If Php 10,000 / 30 days = Php 333.33 per day, and Php 333.33 x 7 days = Php 2,333.33 or US 44.50, then by NEDA’s numbers, my family’s overspending. Or that we’re way above the poverty line.
But reality is, the numbers from my budget are already conservative for living in Metro Manila. Considering the 4.6% inflation rate we’re experiencing right now, causing prices of commodities to go up, Php 10,000 is not enough for a family of 5.
My family of4? By Filipino standards, we’re getting by okay but we’re not rich. We make sure to buy only what we need and save up for the rainy day. And for our future. So we have to have a budget that’s double that of NEDA’s numbers.
Php 10,000 won’t be enough for a family to have a decent living. That’s the sad reality in the Philippines.
A lot of Pinoys reacted to the news, which I guess prompted NEDA to clarify that the Php 10,000 per month budget was just a hypothetical figure for the family to spend with the current inflation.
So are they saying that the first report was angled incorrectly?
Well… to a point, maybe. Still, according to this local news report, NEDA, during the press briefing, failed to clarify that the Php 10,000 figure was just hypothetical. And that the numbers were based on the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey.
Well, 3 years ago, we didn’t have that high an inflation rate. And commodities were a bit cheaper, too.
Put the same numbers in the current scenario and everyone will see that making a decent life for a family of 5 with only Php 10,000 a month is hard. Maybe not impossible, but hard.
In all fairness, I’ve learned some things because of that issue.
One is that research and fact-checking is essential. And make sure that the source is not obsolete.
Two, the agency should have put their presentation in the proper context.
And three, we’re a long way to go to having a decent and comfortable life.
Oh well, as the first report said, we’d just have to “sumiksik sa lalong lumiliit na kumot,” or brace ourselves for more sacrifices while the Philippine economy is on the see-saw.