" ...before it gets better."
As of this writing, over 300 people in the Philippines have been infected with COVID-19. Over 20 have died. It seems things will get worse before they get better.
With the lockdown in Luzon and elsewhere, people are told to stay at home and observe social distancing. This is to avoid community-level transmission. Students and workers are quarantined. Everything is closed except supermarkets and drugstores. Checkpoints are very much around, and those who have no business entering Metro Manila are banned. However, cargo trucks bearing essentials are allowed.
At least, with the order on barangays to distribute passes to families, my wife and I can now have our food and medicine.
During the Japanese occupation, life was really hard—it was pure survival. My family and I stayed in Manila and then went to Northern Luzon to join my two elder brothers who were in the guerrilla movement. I became a bootblack just to earn a few pesos for my daily snacks and watch stage shows.
Still, believe it or not, life was still easier then than today with the threat of the virus.
The only difference is that then, when you saw Japanese soldiers, you had to bow to them. If you did not, you get slapped. I did get slapped when I was living in Quiapo; I forgot to bow.
At least, then, we knew who the enemy was. Now our common enemy is unseen.
During the Japanese occupation we could but food and other essentials, unlike now where only one family member can go out of the house.
Now, too, we are worried we would get infected wherever we are. The risk is so much greater for the elderly like me. COVID-19 could be the Angel of Death for many senior citizens!
What is tragic is that if a member of the family gets infected, he or she must be isolated and nobody is allowed to visit. If the person dies, he or she has to be cremated right away. Imagine you cannot even see your loved one at his or her deathbed.
The World Health Organization says that it may take 18 months before a cure is discovered. Santa Banana, this means that the lockdown may still be extended! Until when, nobody knows.
But while the bulk of the people is struggling these days, there is a silver lining. Some taipans like the Sy family are doing their best to do their part in helping those in need, even granting free rent to their mall tenants. Ramon Ang supplies food items and much-needed alcohol to help prevent the spread of the virus. Lucio Tan provides alcohol as well as other disinfectants. The Ayalas are not collecting rent. Other taipans doing similar deeds are Razon, Pangilinan and Tan. The owners of McDonald’s and Jollibee are also doing their share.
If we Filipinos do not help one another, who will? It is important that we get through this crisis together.
For mass media, we should set aside the thought of profits and simply perform our vocation.
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Meanwhile, what about POGOs?
They seem to be the exception in this lockdown. They continue to operate and Pagcor tells our President that we need their money. Duterte should stop them altogether. Money is not everything, Santa Banana!
Indeed, we are living in dangerous times.