Change

When that bald guy who lives alone by the river promised change last year, I didn’t know this was what I would get.

Since I started college I’ve had to deal with an insane amount of metal money. Last year I used this partitioned plastic thing I took out of a lunch box to manage my coins. All my P5 coins went in one partition; all the P10 coins, in the other. I had them exchanged for hundred-peso bills regularly.

The one-peso coins had a paper bag all to themselves, and by school year’s end I had around P1,500 in P1 coins. That’s 1,500 pieces of small round Jose Rizal faces. The paper bag weighed a ton. I lived a block away from a Philippine National Bank branch, and I could have had it changed for a paper bill or two there. But I was lazy. And I feared the paper bag would give up before I could get to the bank and spill my precious one-peso coins all over the sidewalk. So I took the bag home.

At the airport I had to pay P4,500 in excess baggage fees (stupid Cebu Pacific charges P150 per excess kilogram)—and that was after I decided to just carry two or three bags I had meant to check in. The bag of coins weighed around 10 kilograms, by Papa’s estimate. So I essentially had to pay Cebu Pacific P1,500 to ship a bag carrying P1,500 home.

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