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Friday, February 5, 2010

My Alkansya

Hidden deep in my closet is my alkansya (piggy bank).  I can't call it a piggy bank because it does not look like a pig at all.  It looks more like a teddy bear although its Japanese manufacturer labeled it as a little dog.  It is made of blue transparent plastic so I could see my money filling the body of the little dog.   

Everyday, I set aside 5 and 10 peso coins I receive as change so I could put them in my alkansya.  Sometimes I put in as much as 100 pesos in one day.  But there are days when I could only manage to put in 15 pesos.  When I couldn't get any coins for change, I ask my officemates to trade in their coins  for my 20 or 50 peso bills so I could put them in my piggy bank later.

Although it is only around ten inches tall and maybe a circumference of around four inches  in its widest part, my alkansya can keep a decent amount of money.  In fact, when I opened it in December the total savings amounted to some three thousand pesos (roughly  US$64 at that time).  Not bad for a two-month savings effort.  It was enough to buy myself a nice Christmas gift.

I already started saving coins again in my little dog alkansya when the new year started.  It is now almost half full.  Not to worry because when my friends learned that I was saving 5 and 10 peso coins, some of them gave me  alkansya for a Christmas present last year.  Now I have more piggy banks to put my coins in.

It is disheartening to know however that our country has one of the lowest savings rate in the Southeast Asian region. A study showed that the average household saving rate was at 16.36% of annual gross domestic product.    In contrast, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan all have savings rates over 30%.  In fact our savings rate puts us in the same category as Bangladesh and Myanmar. 

Savings are also important to shore up the economy.  Perhaps we should teach and encourage future generations to save money.  Although some kids do save money they don't usually keep it in banks but use it to buy things they want.

I don't know what grade I was in then but when I was still in elementary school, our teacher gave our class  a project to make piggy banks out of cardboard boxes. Maybe it was also to teach us a lesson on saving our extra money.  My classmates and I tried to out do each other with the design of our piggy bank.  I don't remember what design I made.  After our recess break every school morning, we put 25 centavos in our piggy banks and then got excited when it began to get heavy.  

One Monday morning however, we found out that thieves got inside our classroom during the weekend and found our piggy banks.  Our savings were all gone and all that remained of our piggy banks were torn pieces of cardboards and paper that were scattered on the floor.    I remember we were all upset but not as upset as our teacher who cried because she felt sorry for all of us.  I can't recall if we made another piggy bank to replace what was lost after that incident.

Maybe that's the reason why I keep my alkansya deep inside my closet.  I am just making sure that no one gets to my coins before I do.

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