Don’t belittle our coins and a plea for justice

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By Evelyn R. Luab

Light Sunday

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I remember sharing with you the memory of how during weekends my growing kids would rush to the master bedroom as soon as they heard the shower going strong. This was after my husband would wake up from a catnap.

They would pick up the loose coins on the bed, which had come from his pockets. They usually gathered enough for their snacks. They would gleefully meet him after his shower, extend their little hands and shout: “Finder’s keepers!”

I still remember his rueful grin, although I strongly suspect he “dropped” more than what actually fell out of his pockets.


Today I realize that to a great number of other people, coins do mean a lot more to them than to the higher income group. After what I saw last week, my belief in the importance of loose coins was confirmed.

While I was waiting for my driver to come back after parking the car, I saw a lady give a P20 bill to a trisikad driver. He shook his head, meaning he had no change. The lady indicated that she would try to look for change. She took so long in returning that I saw the look of anxiety on the trisikad driver’s face, as he checked every so often to locate the lady who left him.

I saw the look of relief on his face as she handed him the P5 coin. I understood his worry and his relief. That coin meant so much to him.

Little boys who sell rugs during traffic stop signs treasure the coins too. They say they earn P0.25 per P1 that they get out of a sale. At the end of the day, they earn P35, which they save for school needs. It’s during weekends and during summer that you see these little ones on the streets.

The lowly P1 cannot buy much but when five P1 coins get together, I think of the value of the P5 to some people.

On one occasion, the cashier at a supermarket gave back my change but since she did not have enough loose change, she opted to absorb the difference. I gave her back the P1 coin. She smiled and said: “Thank you, ma’am. Some customers don’t realize that at the end of the day I have to pay the difference!”

To families trying so hard to earn an honest living, a gain equivalent to P5 per bunch of bananas spread on the road is great. The loose change they count at the end of the day is very much appreciated.

From experience, a few friends and I have sponsored a scholar in a public school. We used tall piggy banks which we filled with loose coins. The loose change you save can really be put to good use for a good cause. Take a good look at the coins you have. If shared and apportioned wisely, these coins have their place of importance too.

Today I’m going to veer a bit and complain about the phrase “discounted na man, ma’am.” Personally, I’ve been privy to a fast food outlet and a drugstore that do not anymore honor the privilege discount for senior citizens.

The value meal at P99 (according to the employees) is already discounted. So I asked the employee about the “difference now between me and her (as I pointed to a teenager who ordered and paid exactly what I ordered and paid for).” I asked to speak to the manager or owner but they were conveniently out. This was at an outlet near a church, which has plenty of senior citizens as parishioners.

The drugstore too did not even bother to ask for the doctor’s prescription and my senior citizen sheet for medicines. Immediately, an employee waved away my senior citizen card. They pointed to their computer and said: “Discounted na, ma’am!” Yet they also refer to the same computer when younger people buy their medicines. This drugstore is near National Book Store on Gen. Maxilom Ave.

Can City Hall please explain to us what the word “discounted” means? Are we now as senior citizens on the same plane with much younger ones? Where does the difference lie? Or is this their way of circumventing the 20 percent discount for senior citizens? Isn’t it unfair for stores, drugstores, etc. that comply literally with the 20 percent due to us?

How is this discount computed? Why do we just get a smug, “It is already discounted”? Perhaps City Hall can send people to check the outlets that are doing what we senior citizens are complaining about. How would we know if there is a difference in the computed discount for a senior citizen and for those who are not?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 29, 2014.


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