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Between Disease and Distrust

In a conversation with a colleague whom I have long known to operate an eatery in a jeepney terminal, I suddenly brought up the question of how the renewal of business permits are going since I remember that it would be a usual procedure for business owners at this time of the year. You know, that was just one of those remarks that are casually blurted out just to fill in a lull of a tête-à-tête. Then, I got knocked back to the rude reality of 2021 with the reminder from the now suspended business proprietor that she is not renewing any permits since the food shop has not opened to serve since the community quarantine because jeepney trips have dramatically decreased. One franchise has gone down to going to only two trips to Naga every week. That’s the driver’s job for a week. Imagine the compensation. My colleague extends the narrative by relaying that some jeepney drivers have taken to improvising in the predicament by loading and unloading passengers along a street outside the terminal, to avoid the fees in presumable hopes to augment the diminishing returns. Much to the irritation of the terminal operator. In probability, the neighboring eateries and other conduits of commerce would have ceased or to some extent, decreased operation. Lest we forget, casualties of Covid-19 still struggle among us.

Is this sudden surge of prices of vegetables which should be the refuge of those who would have difficulty getting money for meat, related to the pandemic? Maybe not, but it would definitely aggravate the burly burden of paralyzing power to purchase. If this is an artificial manipulation of the market, the ones responsible had lost their hearts and have succumbed to the punishable pits of personal gain. Does anyone remember that manipulation of the onion market a few years back?

Some of us may not realize the ill effects of this almost constant rain from the day after Christmas until now and probably the weeks after, to small scale entrepreneurs. Have you ever thought of what this non-stop downpour does to vendors who sell stuff by walking around, or workers who work their trade by fixing structures outdoors or atop roofs? We have to mention that this type of weather brings us closer to catching a cold or falling to fever.

We always assumed that the long awaited solution to this dilemma, to bring us back to “normal”, or whatever that is, is that fountain of vaccine. Wouldn’t that make a considerable part of the population immune to the virus, so we could presumably decrease restrictions and boost business? But how are we to reopen the closed eateries, restore the jeepney trips, and revive this sick state when we’re having misgivings with the medication. Apparently, some people are more afraid of the vaccine than of the virus. The apprehension has been buzzing for months, and the buzz seems to be getting louder. Dengvaxia really left a dreadful scar of shock for any sort of shot. I’ve heard of parents putting their feet down not to have their children vaccinated even if that decision comes down to not going to school. I have heard local government employees themselves anticipate disarray of the local implementation of the vaccination. .

It definitely does not help when we watch the national government, no less than the President and his spokesman seem to be hellbent on pushing for a particular brand of vaccine. It almost seems like they want to shove and ram one inoculation of their choice down our throats, disregarding our sentiments about their decisions and actions. Maybe the prospective recipients of immunization would have been casually convinced, had arguments in support of a selected serum been made with reliability based on scientific facts and the promise of protection for the people. But this program which should be the resolution to all our restraints has become shrouded with suspicion due to the manner of its management. Why the exclusivity? Why the mystery? Why the harsh response to questions? With these, even the gullible and unsuspecting would start raising questions. Is there not a Department of Health which should implement the vaccination? Is there not a Food and Drug Administration with the expertise to determine efficiency of medicine? Has not the President appointed a so-called vaccine czar? Should not they be doing their jobs and executing the distribution of the vaccine? Why is the President and his spokesman so hard pressed, hands-on involved on the selection of a favored vaccine? Public statements have become unfriendly, intimidating and threatening, when talking about an issue which should be about healing and protecting.

When we have disease on one side, and distrust on the other side, where do we go?

“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.”

Psalm 44:6


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