MANILA, Philippines – At least we can still play football.
I stayed up (very) late last night to watch Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012 and become the first national side in history to win three consecutive major championships after Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
When I got home at almost daybreak, I checked Facebook to see pictures of my friends celebrating in Madrid, and then I stumbled upon an old status update from one of my best friends from college.
He had just been laid off after the newspaper he worked for folded overnight due to insufficient advertising revenue, leaving another 100 people without a job.
My friend then posted pictures of himself dancing the night away after the football game with other friends, many of whom I am sure are part of Spain’s over 24% unemployed workers, over half of which are under 25 years old.
The lucky ones with a job are mostly mileuristas, that is, they earn a meager 1,000 euro monthly gross salary in a country with a cost of living similar to or even higher in some aspects than Australia, Great Britain or the US.
Quite a few of my friends back home have been laid off in the past few months, after the Spanish economy went from bad to worse to the recent 100 billion euro bailout of the financial system.
Whoops, I meant “credit line” to the banks, as the Spanish government to this day still maintains it has not been rescued by the EU.
But, how did we get to this?
When the economy was doing well, most Spaniards lived well, and many lived beyond their means and bought houses, cars or even vacations on credit.
No one could envision losing their job or that housing prices would plummet, so when the crisis came, they were hit first, and hit bad.
Four years later, the situation is not only not better but actually much worse, with the highest unemployment rate in the EU, while the national football team has never played this well.
The Spanish economy is now in such a shambles that if we need a further IMF bailout, the Philippines, now a net lender country, could end up assisting its former colonizer.
And football — even if it were the most successful national side in history — will not bring jobs.
Economic crises and high unemployment rates are not new in Spain. We suffered both in the 1980s and pulled out of it, as someday we will also recover from the current mess.
I just hope that this time my countrymen learn from their mistakes and everyone realizes that we brought this situation upon ourselves, and only we are to blame.
But at least today, let’s enjoy the moment and salute the champions of Euro 2012. Viva España! – Rappler.com