Editorial: ‘Sayang’

·3 min read

THAT oft-quoted, old Mona Lisa song all over again: “Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep. /They just lie there and they die there.”

That’s the grim reality out there, while your Department of Health secretary sashays with an entourage of journalists huddled around him while he holds aloft a yardstick supposedly to show us the virus-safe space between two moving objects. We are the clueless citizens who needed that demo. We caused the surge, after all, which government earlier softened with reassuring terms like “uptick” and “bubble.” Turns out it’s a sweep at over 9,000 new transmissions every day and choked critical care capacities to a gasp. To call a spade a spade, it’s a clutter in NCR Plus and government seems unable to map concretely the straits we’re in.

This “uptick” puts off the life of one star in the firmament of Philippine ‘70s pop culture—the beloved Claire de la Fuente, named “Jukebox Queen” in her prime.

She died three days after she was diagnosed with Covid-19 in a makeshift tent outside the Las Piñas Hospital while awaiting admission. The family was turned down by two hospitals before they settled for a tent. De la Fuente had mild symptoms, colds, low fever and cough. Her comorbidities apparently got the better of her; her heart stopped beating while she was asleep. She could not be revived.

The singer’s fate has been true to not a few cases in the NCR, now looking flush and deadly in a visual map on the extent of transmissions. Social media has been inundated with personal stories of loved ones dying while deprived of emergency care while hospitals and medical facilities have been stuffed to the rafters.

The Department of Health’s Covid-19 tracker on Apri 5 showed that NCR has a steadily growing positivity rate of 20 percent, which is saying 1 in every five persons tested is positive. The region now has a bed occupancy of 67.8 percent. All of its 150 facilities’ ICU beds have been occupied by 82.11 percent or 661 of the total 805. Isolation beds are occupied at 71.16 percent or 3,371 of 4,737 and ward beds at 60.4 percent or 2,276 of the total 3,768. Unable to arrest the rate of transmissions, we’ll be seeing these figures easily hitting the ceiling.

But these are figures and abstract from the point of view of citizens who are scampering for medical help on ground. What the citizens are seeing are hospitals refusing to accept more admissions. It doesn’t help that no single government agency or local government unit had ever put out a real-time update of each hospital’s occupancy statuses.

The OCTA Research group on April 5 projected that at the end of April, the Philippines will hit a cumulative case count of 1 million. The group’s experts said that while Metro Manila has slowed down a bit the transmissions after tightened restrictions, infections still soared at 20 percent over the past week. The upside to the trend is that reproduction from March 29 to April 4 decreased by 1.61, which means each Covid-positive person could infect at least a little more than one person.

So we’re in a tough race for the nonce while the vaccines trickle through the pipeline. We have sent some of our medical frontliners to NCR or the National Capital Region to rescucitate its weary workforce while, on the other hand, we resume face-to-face classes for medical schools to hopefully deploy students into their internship routines.

Meantime, the dark season of serial deaths swathes across communities in NCR. To those who remember Clarita Crisostomo de la Fuente, her real name, her haunting alto as she crooned “Sayang” in the late ‘70s, an era passes in this unfortunate season of the pandemic. She isn’t alone, thousands of dear ones vanished like pixels as though in a Marvel universe, but only more real, final and far darker.