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Sigh of Sadness

Just when passengers have gotten used to 20 peso worth tricycle rides, just when jeepneys with plastic curtains and dividers are starting to take commuters, just when food could be dined in and just taken out, just when parents are preparing for online classes, and just when the World of Fun jingle can be heard in the malls, we have this. Let us all together let out a sigh of sadness at the count of three. It took a mother and daughter returning home to cause a domino effect of infections which could very well reach nigh twenty by the time this article is published. This is far worse than the first case in Concepcion Pequeña, the one in Calauag, and those in San Francisco and Naga City Subdivision. Those previous cases now seem like little sparks when compared to flames of this fire. I hope that you are one with me in the prayer that the higher authorities heed Mayor Nelson Legacion’s admirably quick appeal to suspend permission of transport of locally stranded individuals. The present predicament could primarily be attributed to LSI’s movement across provinces. Their situation is treated with much melodrama in mass media; being portrayed as oppressed victims neglected of fair treatment of transport and basic necessities. Filipinos always have a soft spot for sufferers who seem to be deprived of desires, deeply longing to go home and feel that loving embrace of family. We are such suckers for sentimentality. However, I invite you to explore the other sides of the situation. Where had these locally stranded individuals stayed throughout the period of varying levels of community quarantine since March 16? Had not the President himself declared the suspension of charges of rent for lodging? Have not DSWD and various private organizations been very active in dispensing aid for persons in need during the Covid crisis? Of course, it is highly probable that the assistance could not have been sufficient. But let us consider that the locally stranded individuals have managed to stay somewhere decent and survived to a healthy state through three months. Let us keep in mind that the lockdown or community quarantine have gone on for three months. Why then all of a sudden, are some people sleeping on benches in bus terminals, unable to use toilet facilities and scrounging for food, when obviously and logically, they could have not stayed in that situation since mid-March. Apparently. They were in better circumstances in the past weeks and months. So what happened? Were a mass of migrants forcibly evicted from their bedspaces and pushed to go home to their provinces? Perhaps, such cases could be possible; but could some of them be simple sentimentality? To augment to that, some government officials have had the brilliant idea to initiate and intensify a Balik Probinsya program right smack in the middle of the Covid crisis, in the conviction that when impoverished individuals in urban Manila would immediately fare far better economically when brought home to provinces where by this time, the social and commercial landscapes have long changed since their promising expedition to the nation’s capital. Now, we are seeing the effects of a small piece of ember tossed far into a forest, catching fire, then trees start to burn in blazes. Consider that other provinces and cities are suffering the effects of this tolerated travel in far worse levels. Ormoc has gone from zero to more than a hundred. Authorities are baffled on the growing number of cases in Mindanao provinces when there were very few some weeks ago.

Despite the gravity of the situation not only nationwide but more so worldwide, some people have a tendency to distance their own persons from incurring actual negative effects. Some of us seem to espouse the mentality that bad things only happen in TV, and not to me. In the premise of this mindset, many people would go about their old normal businesses, being unmindful of prescribed precautions. We would want to huddle with family and friends in festivities, smother the children with kisses, go around the malls to shop. We would want to get close with buddies for that traditional booze binge . We would dismiss a simple sniff of cold and cough as something that would be carried off by laxity and liquids. Now, we realize that staying home and social distance are simple solutions to the spread of this severe sickness.

When there was a singular case in Sis. Therese, we got scared stiff. When there was one in Calauag, we clamoured as in a calamity. What does one do now as data dash up through the dozen?

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8

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