February 9, 2023

Among all ingredients that are used for cooking, there are indispensable in practically all Filipino dishes – garlic, ginger, and onions.
All others, like sage, parsley, dill, basil, and the like may be dispensed with but never bawang, luya, and sibuyas. Any dish, be it adobo, sinigang, pinakbet or ginisang gulay must have the three ingredients to make it an authentic Filipino dish. Thus, it becomes mandatory that the cost of these three ingredients must always be affordable. Anytime one or two or all soar to a price beyond capacity of the ordinary citizen, it becomes an issue. Making any of these ingredients unaffordable is like depriving a Filipino family of a decent meal.
Days leading to the Christmas, the price of onions increased to more than 200 percent of its original price. What was selling at P30 per kilo became P400 per kilo.
In some stores, onions are being sold at an outrageous price of P600 per kilo. Naturally, consumers are raising a howl on why onions, which is supposed to be on the price list of government, are being sold at a very exorbitant price.
Onions naturally make people cry. However, it only does when a cook is disrobing the skin and slicing it into tiny bits. The juice that is emitted watts in the air and contaminates the eye making it shed a tear or two.
But that is okay. The crying thing in preparing onion is a small price to pay for the better taste of the food to which it will be mixed, not to mention the health benefit it gives when eaten cooked or raw. These days, one is wont to cry even if he has not yet held the onion in his hands. With the extraordinary price to buy one piece, the reaction is to cry. It is in crying that an onion lover, like most Filipinos, get to vent their frustration in not being able to have easy access to this beloved ingredient.
Neither is it advisable to purchase onion by the piece or by the color. One average bulb costs at least P5. The bigger ones cost even more. In the market, only the red variety is available. The white one is nowhere in sight.
There are in some big groceries but the cost is outrageous that only the rich can afford it. So, households and housewives have to do with the red onion, even if the cooking requires that the ingredient be white. The taste of the food, therefore, is radically altered.
No one has told us the real reason why the onion has to be priced this way. The Department of Agriculture explains that there is a temporary shortage since the production was somewhat delayed. Oh yeah? There are news items that say tons of onions are hoarded by speculators in order to create a temporary shortage which will allow them to control the prices. The last we were appraised, hoarding is a crime and forming a cartel to control the prices of basic commodities is punishable.
When President Bongbong Marcos was sworn into the office, he assumed the position of the Secretary of Agriculture. This he did in order to assure Filipinos a continuous supply of basic commodities at affordable prices. What happened to this promise?
If he cannot control the supply of onions, there must be something amiss with the way he is running the DA. He must remember that the ordinary galunggong was one of the reasons why the administration of his father was waylaid by Cory Aquino. She used the price of the lowly fish as an analogy to show the people that life under the Marcos regime is getting more expensive and more difficult.
Betcha! Sooner or later, an enterprising politician from the hard left or hard right will exploit the sibuyas shortage to convince the people that life under the second Marcos rule is not as ideal as promised. That Filipinos must stop acting like balat sibuyas in dealing with situations like this and assert their right to an affordable and delicious onion.