As The Bamboos Sway: Balik Turon


In all SM complexes I have gone to in the Philippines, all throughout Manila, from Baguio to Cebu, GenSan in Davao or San Fernando in Pampanga and others, they have a uniform price for their turons – 15 pesos. Also, of almost similar quality, a foot long, stout with banana (we call saba in Ilocano) lined with slivers of jackfruit strips, they are wrapped with the traditional lumpia wrapper and fried with smudges of brown sugar.

These turons catapult me to memories of my youth where, across Mabini Street in Baguio City from Strike and Spare Lanes, my playmates and I would almost, twice a day, troop to Sia Alon’s store to shell out ten centavos for his turon, only half a foot but as thick as now, without jackfruit, but also fried with smudges of brown sugar. Our ten centavos could be a ten-centavo coin or two five-centavo coins. You could also pay in sized 2” x 3’” two red five-centavo or one brown ten-centavos paper money. If you paid with a 25-centavos green or a bluish 50-centavos paper money, of course you get the appropriate change. Richer kids could be using a one-peso blackish paper money but very rarely do we use that because we were of the poorer kids.

Nonetheless, whatever denomination you use, Sia Alon’s turon sends your palate in a frenzy of feast every kid who can afford 10 centavos really savor with anticipation. I vaguely remember though that a turon used to be only five centavos. I don’t remember anyone complaining then.

Alon’s turon was so great that, even now, after all those years, when I see any of my former playmates, we always end up lol at one episode that involves a playmate we call Paling and his turon.

There must have been at least seven of us. We had all bought our turons each and decided to race back to our playground, running with, mostly, our dilapidated slippers on. As we tried to race ahead to outdo each other, Paling’s right slipper broke and due to his forward force, he stumbled, crushing on the stony ground. With his left hand, he had tried to break his fall. He was dusty on the ground but his right hand was still raised above his head. His turon, on his right hand held up on the air, was saved from any scratch and was spared from any dust.

Teary eyed with scratches on his knees and left elbow, Paling still savored his turon as we munched on our own.

Paling is truly a reminder of my happy days with turon.

I am still happy with turon nowadays.

However, I am disturbed by the fact that half of a turon today would cost 7.50 pesos, a glaring 740 more centavos compared to just 10 centavos during my childhood days in the early 1960s. Yes, that is, roughly a 7,400% increase over the years from 1960 to 2018 or a rounded 130% increase per year. Come to think of it, the increase of the price of turon nowadays also approximates and reflects the percentage increase of jeepney fares during my time which was also only then at only 10 centavos per ride. I could not do the math for all the products but I am sure that the increase would also revolve to around 7,400% increase since then to the present times.

And the increase in price bleed of turon and other products will seem not just yet stop. I also just learned from the locals that the foot long turon nowadays used to be thicker that it would be gluttonous to finish one at one sitting. It appears that the price has been steady for the last five years or so but the quantity wrapped had become slimmer.

The slim size, for me, however, is enough as lunch. While I do it for fun, the novelty, or just to satisfy a craving, and reliving my youth, it appears to me, however, that those who do it with me at the SM stores or order them to go, do it because, to them, it is their affordable lunch. This is considering the relatively higher priced, even the simpler combinations of lunch, food anywhere at the mall.

And with the peso now appearing to be further falling from 53 to a dollar, the bleeding increase of prices of goods and services appears to be still unstoppable. Moreover, the Philippine peso coin, the 10-centavos and 25-centavos coins could no longer buy anything on their own. And the 5-centavos coin has a hole, signifying that it is practically useless.

If we go on with the discussion or repercussions of the downfall of the peso, we might wonder in the long run if, somewhere down the line, those who could still afford turons now for lunch, will no longer be able to afford them later if they do not find answers as to why, if they wait or not do something drastic to stop the bleeding.

BTW, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had said that the fall of the peso at the current 53 to a dollar is actually good for the economy.

Really? #


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