Shining through

Published March 20, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

This series on the “lockdown” or what has been euphemistically described as the “enhanced community quarantine” is for the generation after the next – the grandchildren of my grandchildren so that they can understand the surreal environment that their great grandparents had lived through during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Survivors can add their own experiences so that future generations can appreciate what we had gone through – the anxieties and sense of foreboding we felt as we faced an uncertain tomorrow, and how we conquered our fears through the power of faith and prayer.

Outside the safety of our home, we also had to face what was happening outside our safe haven. Shortly before the lockdown, my sister moved in with me to keep me company. We were quite prepared with “protective gear” – masks, alcohol, sanitizers, and food. My son, a prepper, also shared a box of provisions – fresh meat and fish, canned goods, veggies and fruits, good for two or three weeks. But we could not help but worry about the thousands of others bereft of such security.

Community quarantine in the entire Luzon and the declaration of a national calamity meant that everyone except those needed for health services, pharmacies, banks, supermarkets, or provide basic necessities (related to food and medicine, production, business process outsourcing, export-oriented industries which could remain open) must stay at home. There is a shutdown of public transportation, as well as malls, amusement parks, museums, and other establishments. Classes in all schools at all levels have been suspended and government offices operate on a skeletal staff with employees allowed to work at home.

As expected, the immediate negative impact of this emergency situation was felt primarily by the poor and marginalized – the daily wage earner, the tricycle, jeepney, bus, and taxi drivers who can no longer ply the streets (Metro Manila is now transformed into a “ghost town” with only a few vehicles on EDSA and most major streets), and operators of small enterprises. Although it had taken almost a week to respond to these needs, the government and big business did come through with delivery of some basic services. Government, by mobilizing transportation facilities for frontliners and healthworkers, providing13th month pay and bonus advances, and small loans. Batangas Governor Mandanas considers the Taal Volcano eruption experience in the delivery of emergency service a useful template and thus was prepared in meeting the crisis.

The Department of Agriculture linked local government units to food producers, distributors, and delivery centers. However, there were delays in the delivery of needed assistance. Like most Third World countries, our national budget does not have adequate safety nets for calamities of this magnitude.

On the part of the private sector side, our wealthy captains of industry provided generous assistance in the form of cash, free rentals to small enterprises, food, and protective gear.

We would like to make special mention of Vice President Robredo’s immediate response in the form of shuttle services and protective equipment for health workers. Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto has likewise temporarily allowed tricycles to transport dialysis patients and health workers in Pasig.

Also, a salute to all the health workers and frontliners for the sacrifice they are making to contain the spread of the deadly virus which to date has infected 202 people, with 17 deaths. A special note of gratitude to the 100 interns who decided to stay on despite the fact that they were told to go home.

We hope that the media would compile stories of courage and bravery, of how the crisis had brought out the best in many people and of how our citizens had positively responded to rules and regulations during these days of distress and uncertainty. The queues in the checkpoints were long but our commuters from outside Metro Manila patiently awaited their turns to have their IDs and their body temperatures checked.These, in addition to stories of how COVID-19 not only struck fear and panic but also brought out foibles and eccentricities. Such as hoarding precious toilet paper, face masks, alcohol and sanitizers. More important, how this crisis situation had brought aboutsolidarity, and the “bayanihan” spirit. It made us realize that we are really never truly alone.

It is also in times like these that we discover some truths. For the middle class, it is the realization that they can get by with much less than they think, and that by consuming less, they are able to help contain the rising pollution, and help save the environment. Another truth is that we all need one another, that we can only survive through interdependence and sharing. And finally, that we have a limited time on this earth and therefore, must appreciate the finite time and use it for a higher purpose.

(To be continued)

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