CEBU City Vice Mayor Mike Rama said Thursday, August 6, at the Noah quarantine site that in the past days and weeks of the pandemic, he had cried a number of times.
Not over a quarrel with a political ally or a broken love affair (the VM is a bachelor) but about friends lost to Covid-19.
He kept saying this line - "gidala sa ospital, patay!" (taken to the hospital, dead)" -- as he cited his personal losses, repeatedly so, with heavy emphasis on "patay!," that some people watching must have wondered if he meant that one would die in a hospital but not in a quarantine site such as Noah. Yet his reference to Covid-afflicted people having recovered at Noah balanced his tales of sorrow.
Noah is the City Government's anti-Covid facility in the south district, which Mike and former councilor Joy Pesquera helped set up with City Hall and private benefactors and are actively supporting.
The vice mayor was addressing people who have recovered from Covid, listening to, with patience if not keen interest in, Mike's talk. They were seated apart, observing the distancing rule. Beside each chair was a half-sack or so of rice to tide them over as they continue their recovery at home.
Now and then, pockets of laughter would break out from the live-streamed event, indicating that Mike's tale was not exactly a sob story.
Strong blast of suspicion
At least three story headlines that came out from the Senate hearing Tuesday, August 4:
 "Philhealth officials accused of stealing P15 billion in public funds";
 "Laptops worth P100 million: Philhealth's Morales repeatedly approved questionable IT budget, says official";
 "'Hilutin': Philhealth official claims Morales wanted issue on alleged overpriced test kit fixed."
The erring officials have not yet gone through due process but President Rodrigo Duterte had long set a standard for rooting out corruption in his government: he promised to fire aides on a mere "whiff of corruption."
What blew from the Senate hearing was more than a "whiff of corruption," Senator Ping Lacson noted.
Even to those outside the halls of Congress, it was a lot more than that. It was a strong blast of wind, with an overwhelming stink.
In the vaccine market
Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella has reportedly promised to spend money on vaccines, expecting to get support from the Barug-dominated City Council.
He is apparently taking cue from the City of Manila, which will allocate P200 million, and the national government, which has money for vaccines good for 20 million people. (Philippines has a population of 106.7 million as of 2018, while Cebu City has 922,611, as of 2015. Not everyone though has to be vaccinated.)
How much money can Cebu City raise?
Hard to tell as (1) the vaccines are not yet ready, (2) its market value is not known, and (3) nobody's sure when it will be ready and how the first batches will be allocated.
But city residents must feel good that their LGU has joined the thousands of governments, big and small, that will compete in the vaccines market.
But here's what experts say: it's the national government that tries to make the deal with the drug manufacturers, not a city, town or province. The US for example already released billions of dollars to a number of vaccine makers.
Besides, why spend the city's precious resources if the national government is buying vaccines too? Where will the IATF purchase go, only to Metro Manila?
Burgers and sardines
Food assistance from local governments have consisted mostly of rice and canned goods such as sardines and cheap corned beef. Occasionally, one beneficiary or another complains of "Way lahi ini?" Most others though would be glad of getting more of the same.
People who don't depend on City Hall for food aid aren't bothered. A former local official posted a photo of hamburger on the burning grill with this caption, "I like my burgers like I like my marriage, with plenty of CHAR!"
One still has to see in social media the image of a few pieces of sardines feasted, or competed, on by members of a City Hall-assisted family.
Tell us about it.