OPINION: 'Kyaw'

Tin Bartolome - Hopechest

Posted at Sep 15 2017 02:10 PM | Updated as of Oct 03 2017 10:02 PM

“Kyaw” means thousand, one thousand pesos, specifically, presumably from the letter K that represents kilo or thousand, as in 1K. One thousand pesos may seem a lot to teenagers but not when it’s the budget assigned to an entity like the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). 

Clothes and shoes, especially those on sale may have price tags less than a thousand pesos. A thousand bucks can buy a buffet meal—as in all you can eat (plus round-trip taxi fare, depending on the distance) or a bus ticket to Bicol. A Phalaenopsis orchid, with blooms of course, will cost less than a thousand pesos, as would a mall-bought bouquet (which could also be more expensive) and a chunk of delicious cheese.

We used to promise one of our kids that amount for every report card grade over 90. We were heavily indebted afterwards. Decades ago, my salary was just over a thousand pesos a month. It covered dorm rent, daily meals and fare, sometimes even books. There was a time when our electric bills never went beyond that amount. 

Today, the amount of one thousand pesos has become a restraining tool as well as an indicator of pettiness, vindictiveness and disregard for human rights. We have checks and balances, quality control, external audits, seal of good housekeeping, accountability (as in the Blue Ribbon Committee) and similar concepts or entities put in place to make sure things are in order. Practically the essence of democracy, that power cannot be solely for a specific group or entity, much less one person.

Even in the family where the parents usually make decisions, the welfare of everyone affected is considered. Sometimes this does not happen, but the intention to consider all of those involved is present. Close relatives—the parents’ siblings or the grandparents, sometimes even very close friends may intervene. If this does not happen, one of the family members may behave differently, show signs of illness (whether physical, emotional or mental) and eventually, the system falls apart.

There exist certain norms, precepts and assumptions that each culture and each generation values and embraces. An entity that makes sure these are upheld so that we do not have to look over our shoulders all the time or that some members do not take advantage of the weaker ones puts some order in our lives and allows us to attend to what we need to do. This entity usually has everyone’s trust—except those who violate the very principles it upholds and protects.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.