HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 32-33 no. 1-2 (1988)

The Myth of "Pistaym" Prosperity

Luis C. Dery

Discipline: Social Science, History



In the light of double-digit inflation, Filipinos who grew up during the American colonial rule in the Philippines often recall nostalgically that during those "pistaym" days the country was very prosperous, peaceful, and goods and services could be had very cheaply. "Imagine", the Filipino oldtimers would exclaim, "the kusing" (or half-centavo) could buy many things: a whole "saba" or "mais". They likewise said that during the "pistaym" days, American goods -- apples, chocolates, pears, and others -- were aplently. To them, it was a prosperous period.


This paper contradicts this misleading notion. The presence of plentiful stateside goods or the "kusing" could not be a valid gauge of the country's prosperity then. Moreover, was prosperity during the "pistaym" era real? Was it enjoyed by the majority of the population?