For several mornings the past few weeks, Bombo Radyo anchor Ann Sindol-Sorilla has focused attention on consumer interest by echoing  public complaints in the market price monitoring portion of her early morning program.

SOS (which is my depiction of the real ‘save our ship’ signal) – sugar, onions, in particular, and salt – have been at the core of her intense discussion because of either their soaring prices or insufficiency of supply.

The discussion would often lead to the question: “Why import these products and then make consumers pay more when ours is an agricultural country in the first place?”

Too perplexing, indeed, but the issue has long been here-and-now.

She would also reiterate the listeners’ concern on whether there is a genuine shortage of these basic commodities, thus importation is the answer to the problem, or products are being hoarded, or that production is just not enough due to, among others, inadequate technology, lack of capital and incentives as well as needed support by the farmer.

Or are we importing to benefit a corrupt few or is there internal price manipulation of prices?

The questions are asked too often.

And if I have to listen to our helper at home who does daily marketing for our food consumption, I will have to add to this list of items sold at erratic tags common vegetables, like camote leaves, tangkong, alogbate, whose prices by the small ‘bugkos’ have been upped in the nearby satellite market by at least 20 percent.

I cannot blame Ann of her seeming near-rant to underscore her stand on the issue. More than being a broadcaster concerned with the public good, she is also a mother and housewife, under whose care is the concern on economics at home, thus she feels the crunch daily.

Truly, the consumers’ SOS call continues for our leaders to urgently address, otherwise the state of home economics may flounder.


Men, too, are airing their concern over prices of basic farm products.

Last week, Lawyer Ralph Sarmiento, whose interests beyond legal matters, as shown in his Facebook account, include writing, singing and cooking, posted a photo of onions captioned: “I don’t usually indulge in luxury, but I’m making an exception just this once. I got these at P550/kg. for the same price of Faith Farm’s local beef tenderloin.”

Luxury, indeed, especially considering that onions are sold in other markets in the country at P600 or more.

The onion market price in the country has captured global media interest, including the Pakistani television network, Geo TV, which headlined its report. “Onions have become more expensive than meat”.

Pakistan may seem so distant from us, but its interest in our market prices could be understandable.

It is an agricultural country like ours and its economy profile is identical. Agriculture accounts for almost 19 percent of its GDP (against our 20 percent) with a farm-based labor force of 42.3 percent (40 percent in the Philippines).

The report noted the following:

* The Philippines would have to resort to importing more than 22,000 tons – or 22 million kilos of onions – by March.

* Domestic consumption is placed around 17,000 metric tons every month.

* The current onion price is 25-50 percent more than expensive than pork or beef.


With the price of onions (and other vegetables) almost out of reach of the average consumer, we may just have to settle for onion substitutes, like sibuyas, haras (fennel), celery or leeks.

“But they don’t really make the food we cook as tasty or appetizing,” our helper says.

I expect that the continuous rising prices would remain among the morning agenda of Bombo Ann and her partners unless drastic measures are taken soonest by authorities to address the nagging consumers’ concern.


You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13) – NWI