“AKOY pobreng alindahaw/sa hoyohoy gianud-anud.” -- Cebuano folk song
If your cozy little life keeps you away from much of what’s happening on the ground, you might try listening to any radio commentary program, the ones that welcome callers for feedback.
One of these programs opened up just that kind of segment for citizens to vent their views via a phone call. The day’s issues revolved around whether government had satisfactorily answered their needs during the pandemic. In the minutes that followed came a serial outburst from citizens sounding off their frustrations and hurts. They have been left out, they said. Some would not have minded that they didn’t receive government aid; all they needed was for them to go back to work, to get their livelihood back. They didn’t want to beg. They could pretty much get by as long as the means were there.
Incidentally, while the calls came aplenty on June 8, 2020, news came that a 49-year-old Covid-19 patient at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, in a fit of deep rage and desperation, smashed into the hospital window and threw himself three floors down. Reports said the poor fellow brimmed heavy with other problems and the infection was the final hand that pushed him. He left behind a family with inconsolable grief, made worse by the fact that they could not even get anywhere near their love.
On the day that officials pretended to be surprised, a trickle of senior citizens have been arriving at the City Hall since last week supposedly to claim their cash assistance. A photojournalist’s public posts show just how it was on the ground. Those individuals have been arriving in batches until the numbers piled up. And, yet, the official version assured the cash releases would be “immediate” and that, since the crowd had grown, the beneficiaries had to be transferred to a bigger area. On the ground, the transport came a little too late and only when the drizzle began.
Elsewhere are persistent calls for government to allow backriding and public transport. One of the calls in that radio program cited the stark contrast between how government has been keen on releasing comprehensive sets of rules for major industries, a sign that these sectors have been blessed with sufficient attention and care, and how the low-income sector is left out with crumbs of policies that even hang like elusive grace.
Last we know, some communities remain under lockdown way beyond the prescribed period. The residents’ lives hang in uncertainty while they await official word about their fate.
We go back to the fellow who threw his weight into the air in an oblivious act of desperation. The poor’s fate reminds us of the folk dirge about the dragonfly whose poor life is left to the wind’s will. Those who have less in life should have more under the “new normal.”