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Social distancing, class divide

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MEMORANDUM 513, Series of 2020 from the Office of the Mayor was swift – issued on the very day it took effect, and succinct, thus:

“In line with the city government’s effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19, all bars, clubs, beerhouses, KTV bars, e-games, and other similar non-essential establishments in Angeles City are hereby directed to temporary close down their operations from March 16, 2020 until further notice.”  

Its ramifications though are long, the city being veritably founded, and flourished, on entertainment of the adult kind in its incarnation as Basetown, USA. And therefore complex, the entertainment industry serving for the longest time as main engine of the city economy. So, hasn’t it been bruited about from then to now: Remove Balibago, and Angeles City becomes a sitio.

No need to wonder then that a tsunami of gut issues instantly swamped the Facebook page of the City Information Office where the memo was uploaded.

Here are but a sampling (original text form edited):   

Mawalang galang na po, sana ginawa nyo to inisip nyopaano mga pangangailangan ng mga nagtatrabahodyan. Hindi lahat may sapat na ipon hanggang samagbukas ulit yang mga yan, tapos tuloy tuloy angbills ng kuryente at tubig at kung nangungupahan pa sila, so paano na? Ela keng virus mate reng tau, mate la keng danup at stress dahil keng gewa yu. Sana apakisabyan yula pu pati deng electric and water company mamye kunsiderasyun keng gewa yungayni!…

Sana stop din nya yong mga bayarin like bahay, tubig, kuryente din. Magbibigay sila ng food sa mgamahihirap tulad namin kasi mahirap po talaga. Saankami kukuha ng pambili ng pagkain namin, pambayadng upa ng bahay, may tubig at kuryente pa po. Butisana kung isang linggo lang magsasara, e kung matagal pa po? Mamatay na lang po kami sa gutomPaano po mga anak namin kung magsasarana ang mga bar? Yan lang po trabaho namin at weekly may sahod. Kahit papano, kahit tama lang kinikita, at least po nakakaraos kami. May pambili sa araw-arawna pangangailangan ng mag-anak namin at makakabiling tig-iisang kilo na bigas araw-araw. Ngayon, ipapasara nyo na po paano na kaming nagtatrabaholang sa bar? Wala na po kaming maaasahan

Mawalang galang na po sa city information office natin, please ask the owners of those establishments naipasasara na bigyan ng kahit konting financial support ang mga empleyado nila. Kawawa nman sila. They also have their families na papakainin and mga bills na dapat bayaran

Paano na po ang mga bills ng kuryente, tubig? Halos one month walang trabaho karamihan ng tao. Mabibigyan kaya kami ng discount sa kuryente at tubig? Mabibigyan din kaya kami ng relief goods kapag naubos na ang kaunting naipon naming pera?  Gusto naming sumunod sa gobyerno pero, sanapakinggan din ang aming hinaing

Willing naman po makipagtulungan ang lahat eh, angpoint lang sana yung mga bills from electric and water mabigyan din ng konsiderasyon. Kasi saan kukuha ng pambayad ang mga tao na walang trabaho? Kung mapuputulan naman sila ng tubig magiging prone pa din sila sa sakit dahil mawawala na ang proper hygiene…

Kahit di man libre, kahit postpone lang muna mga due dates, like yung Globe nag bigay ng one-month palugitsa mga bills ng postpaid…

Korek i-hold muna ang mga bayarin. Intindihin munanila ang sitwasyon ngayon. Lalo na ang mga walangipon at sapat lang ang kinikita. Hindi tulad ng maraming ipon, ok lang. Paano naman kami nawalang ipon. Kaka sad naman. Kawawa talaga angmahirap sa mayayaman

Dahil kung sa mga mayayaman, puede na hindi silamagtrabaho. Pero sa katulad namin na umaasa lang satrabaho, e paano kung walang trabaho? Paanomakakakain ang aming pamilya?…

The rich surviving. The poor starving. Social distancing – one more prescription to avoid the virus – getting not only a different but a just definition, its rightest meaning, here. Class stratification, all too plain.

Die from the virus or die hungry. Whichever way, die. Simplification of the consequence to the closure of the bars – as indeed to the bigger issue of lockdown, er, community quarantine – seemingly taken to the extreme there.

On second thought, stark reality impacted there. The mishandling of the Covid-19 menace by government from its inception to its escalation, where the poor are most disadvantaged, hewing closely, all too closely, to Duterte’s utter disdain of that very class that handed him the presidency.

Or have we forgotten the venom he spat at jeepneydrivers and operators protesting his government’s patently anti-poor transport modernization program? Mahirap kayo? Putang ina, umalis kayo. Magtiiskayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam.”

Be afraid of the virus. Be very afraid of government.

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