Electronic commodities are getting cheaper in the Philippines, I thought. A case in point are flash drives. Two years ago, the price of a 256 MB disk was about P800 (16 USD or 12 euros). Today, you can already buy a 1 GB disk at the same price. Double your 800 bucks and you’d drool over a 2-GB no more. I bought my Yahoo! Drive (2GB) at P1,500 (31 USD or 24 euros).
(Indeed, capitalism has raked in much more profit for creating the market for data storage devices. In fact, the last time I checked from Gilmore Computer Center, hard disks with 40GB capacity had already phased out and 80GB ones had already been running out of supply.)
So electronic gadgets in the Philippines are getting much cheaper? With no comparison, yes. But relative to other places in the world, the Philippine prices are indeed higher. Take Pantip Plaza, that Bangkok IT shopping mall located in Ratchathewi district of Bangkok, into the picture. The size is about twice that of Virra Mall (San Juan) and Gilmore (Quezon City) computer shopping centers combined. Here, you take an escalator inside a mall not to go to the men’s dress section but to look for a cheap Mac notebook. (Yes, my friend, Pantip sells an iMac at about 40,000 bahts [about 1,200 USD or about P58,200].)
Two-GB flash drives in Pantip cost 600 bahts each (17 USD) or about 900 pesos. So I would have saved about P600 had I suppressed my urge to buy that Yahoo! Flash Drive and bought one instead at Pantip. Or I could have bought a 4GB flash disk at the same amount I spent for Yahoo! Flash Drive. (But who needs a 4GB flash disk, anyway?)
I went to the Pantip Plaza on 13th and 14th March (during the IPR/Access to Knowledge Workshop I attended in Bangkok). I went there only to drool most of the time. With a budget of about 1,500 bahts, what I only managed to buy were D-Link wifi card (DWL-G122 v. C1) at 840 bahts, an audio headset at 150 bahts, an MP3 headset at 100 bahts, and a cork remover at 200 bahts (What, you may wonder. Yes, Pantip also sells non-electronic gadgets in some parts of the mall.)
It was really disappointing that I went to Bangkok broke. I’m oftentimes broke anyway, so why should I whine? Going to the Pantip plaza made me feel like I was a rung lower than the masses.
Here’s a tip for NGOs: If you want to build your IT infrastructure with a very low budget, Pantip Plaza is the place to buy relevant stuff.