10 days before Christmas, Filipinos worry about high prices, permanent jobs, kids’ schooling: Kiko

TEN days before Christmas, Filipinos worry about high prices, having permanent jobs, and their children’s education. This was what Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan learned during Project Makinig ops in the metropolis over the weekend.

Pangilinan, together with senatorial candidates Bam Aquino, Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, and Erin Tañada, was among over 5,000 volunteers who have gone to various parts of the Philippines to engage with over 100,000 regular folks.

“Mas marami sanang pwedeng pagsaluhan sa darating na noche buena. At ang masisipag nating kababayan, nagsusumikap na maitaguyod ang pamilya hindi lang sa darating na Pasko, kundi hanggang sa bagong taon,” said Pangilinan.

“Dama ng ating mga kababayan ang hirap ng buhay at kailangan pang kumayod nang husto para maibigay sa pamilya ang mas magandang buhay,” added the president of Partido Liberal that initiated Project Makinig as part of the party’s redefining itself as a people’s party that is able to listen, learn, and act (makinig, matuto, kumilos).

(“[Our people] hope to be able to share more for the noche buena feast. And our hard-working people strive to do that not just this Christmas, but in the new year. Our people feel the hard times and the need to work harder to give their family a better life.”)

The conversations are casual, down-to-earth and deal with the people’s daily living — traffic, floodings, long lines for NFA rice, high prices of goods, tuition hike, water and electricity bills. Sometimes, the exchange extends to personal matters such as misunderstanding with neighbors and love life.

The Partido Liberal initiative that started October 6 has since been adopted by various groups such as the Akbayan party-list, Magdalo party-list, Team Pilipinas, Kilos Maralita, Millennials PH, and youth and civil society groups.

Pangilinan said the feedback and suggestions gathered from the conversations would be collated and be made part of the inputs for the party’s future actions.

“In instances when there is need to assist the families immediately, we also try to do our share to ease their burden,” said Pangilinan, who on this particular Project Makinig ops, went with Vice President Leni Robredo’s daughters Aika and Tricia. The Vice President has gone on her own Project Makinig ops in Bicol a couple of weeks ago.

During the weekend when the senator took part in the listening project, he visited a market and chatted vegetable vendors. A farmer himself, Pangilinan was not new to the woes the country’s farmers face such as difficulty in transporting and marketing their produce, high prices of farm inputs, lack of government support, and climate change.

One vegetable vendor said for the new year, she wished her children would be able to go back to school.

His next step was a relaxing story-telling with women in a salon. Sitting beside a customer who was there for a pedicure, Pangilinan saw how skillful the Filipinos are in their chosen craft, yet poorly paid.

The woman customer said her new year’s wish is to have a permanent job.