Rice RumorJuly 3, 2008
Rumor has it that a grave tragedy struck one family here in my city.
They were a poor family as the fact that the father has to line up everyday to buy National Food Authority (NFA) subsidized rice. They couldn’t afford commercial rice, which costs about twice that of NFA subsidized rice. As luck would have it, the shop had sold all of its stock before the father’s turn came. He went home, cooked whatever rice they had left, and laced it with poison. The rest of the family ate, not knowing about the extra ingredient in their rice. In the end, the whole family died.
Now I could not confirm the validity of this rumor. It was said to happen to the patients of a nurse who was the niece of a family friend who then informed my parents. Yet the fact that such a rumor could spread speaks much about the current rice crisis.
There is rice for all. The problem, however, is that not everyone can afford commercially priced rice. Those who can’t afford this commodity line up everyday under the sweltering heat or the freezing rain to buy a few kilos of it. And in that population, not everyone is lucky. Sometimes, supply runs out before their turn to buy comes. My parents overheard two unlucky would-be-buyers. They said those would-be-buyers told each other to buy boiled bananas, just so they can fill their stomachs with something other than the elusive rice.
I also keep overhearing other passengers in the jeep talking about the price of rice. Others curse the President for hyping up what could have been a controllable rice supply situation just so she can avoid the public outcry against her supposed corrupt practices. Others bemoan the fact that rice is plentiful, but is only available to those who can afford it.
The crisis made me realize that rice had never been so precious to me until now. I used to view it even with minor contempt, and often left many of its grains in my plates. Now I get to think about the sweat of the farmers planting it, the typhoons wiping out entire crops of it, the queues forming for cheaper varieties of it, the back breaking labor of transporting it, the penalties of hoarding it, and ironically even the ease of preparing or buying it.
Truly, the rice crisis is a tragedy…