Thoughts about: COVID-19 (Philippines) || Check Your Privilege

*Note — if you’re not into politics, please feel free to ignore. But for anyone who wants to inform themselves as to what is happening in Philippines and the reactions (or lack thereof) Philippine government has had, go read the information contained in this post. Please read this with an open mind and understanding.

So, I have a lot of things I want to say right now and I just badly need a release. I have a lot of hate in the world. Scrolling through social media and seeing ‘mema, kanser, news update’ makes me want to react. Nakakagalit naman kase talaga, fam. But I also proud that there’s so many of us that finally speaking up on the issues. Though, my heart breaks for my country.

Philippine government implementing community quarantine amid the threat of coronavirus.

So what is Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is an illness that can spread from person to person and can be harmful to your lungs. Most people have symptoms like a cold or flu and return to health after about a week. Some people become sicker and need to be cared for in a hospital.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 may experience mild to serious symptoms including:

•Fever

•Cough

•Shortness of breath

What are the more serious problems from this virus?

•Some people develop pneumonia

How can I help protect myself?

•Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

•Use an alcohol-based band sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have soap and water.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

•Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

How can I help protect others?

•Stay home when you are sick.

•Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use tissue to cover your face.

•Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Why is this information so important now?

We want to:

•Keep you healthy

•Keep your family and friends healthy

•Stop the spread of this virus.


I’m worried about the lack of planning. About the people who still need to go to work, who don’t have a social safety net, and having more trouble getting to their jobs. I’m worried about the statements that contradict each other. I’m worried about so little talk about testing. I’m worried about the how so much of the effort to keep the front liners supplied seems to be coming from the private sectors. I’m worried about this quarantine still involves so many people still moving in and out of Metro Manila because they don’t have any options. I’m worried about this haphazard response, which seem to be borne of fear rather than compassion. And I’m also worried about its neoliberal economic policies.

So, how does neoliberal authoritarianism figure in the Philippine government response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Neoliberalism means budget cut on health. At least 10 million pesos was reportedly slashed from the 2020 health budget, particularly the funding for disease surveillance. These health budget cuts crippled the government’s ability to prevent and monitor the outbreak. It also means the privatization and commodification of health care and basic public utilities like water as well as necessities like surgical masks and disinfectants—making prevention, detection, and treatment of infectious diseases largely inaccessible to the poor majority. It overemphasizes individual responsibility—fuelling panic buying and hoarding. It’s anti-poor and anti-people: by neglecting the state’s duty and leaving everything to the market, the most vulnerable sector of society are left with no access basic healthcare and no social security amid “community quarantine.”

Filipinos are finding themselves under a state of collective panic. The fact that basic safety nets and contingencies for the working class weren’t even brought up until after all these other protocols were enacted is ridiculous, it’s just show how drastic the impact is for the urban poor who already find difficulty in keeping their families fed for at least three times a day, much less unable to afford decent gear with which to protect themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income jobs also often entail tasks that cannot be performed remotely and with “no work, no pay” scheme, workers are forced to commute and go to work for their day-to-day necessities, and forced to brave the risks out in the open. The class is divided is so evident and I hate how at the end of the day, those already struggling to get by remain the lowest priority and get JUDGED for going out to work when it’s literally all they can do to stay alive. They making stringent measures on quarantine, social distancing, and restrictions on mobility near impossible to follow. Since the measures would be hard to follow for a large portion of the populace, the state now resorts to the use of coercive authoritarian force such as the deployment of police and military forces—masking the government’s own neglect of public health.

Citizens were criticised it and they rallying cried ‘serbisyong medical, hindi militar’ (medical solutions, not military takeover).

I do understand the need to deploy the soldiers and PNP. And I personally have no issues with the military places at checkpoints as long as they are given proper protective equipment as well. My main concern is the denial that we have a poor health system and the denial that we have lack of health funds—that’s the problem. However, I also understand when the citizens say ‘serbisyong medical, hindi militar’ because it means they only wants the government to shift their focus to the health industry by empowering our researchers, doctors, nurses, frontliners, etcetera. It doesn’t mean that they want to pull out the medical practitioners from their duties and replace the PNP and the military from manning checkpoints. I’ve feel like it’s just there’s a lack of understanding on both parties.

The point they’re trying to communicate here is,

1). Most of the time Martial Law is guised as state of emergencies, and knowing full well that this administration HAS A BAD RECORD at managing situations that concerns human rights, so people can’t help but to worry.

2). The AFP-PNP who are executing a lockdown should be assisted and guided of the people who have medical and social science expertise.

3). The government should provide financial assistance and welfare benefits to workers amid the Metro Manila-enhanced community quarantine. They need to ensure the protection of their labor rights and work benefits since many of them should engage in a more comprehensive information and awareness drive.

4). The government should increase budget for public health for provisions for health workers, resources, infrastructure and equipment. Their priority should be making health services and testing free, also paid leaves. Without mass testing and safeguard for poor workers, the disease will only continue to spread undetected especially in urban poor communities where health facilities are less prepared and the people there don’t have means to self-quarantine and isolate in their square-feet shanties, or access to clean water.

Public needs amid this public health crisis is concrete, pro-people action—not fascist ego boosting.

I also wanna kind to talk about the certain kind of group of people. The people who turned a blind eye because they can. The people who allow themselves to be ignorant. For me, ignorance is a misunderstanding of reality but ignorance is also a privilege that probably 80% of Filipinos didn’t have.

Sometimes we complain and get mad that we’re stuck at home and we’re bored, but there are lot of homeless Filipinos our there. We do get mad at Filipinos who still need to go to work, and to the jeepney, tricycle, bus and taxi drivers and to the vendors who choose to be out there to come in to work despite the curfew, the heightened police presence, risking their own, and any possible family members’s healths because they don’t have any option.

But then some of us still saying “why they don’t just obey the quarantine measures? Stayed home.” Or “Mga pasaway talaga ‘to. Why they still need to go outside?” I remember the influencer who even call these people as motherf*ckers. Indeed, times of crisis expose all of us. From influencers to the government to the rich to the poor. It’s quite scary but it can be a refining furnace.

Believe me, I do understand the urgency of quarantine and the urgency of having to stay home. But please check your privilege!

We need the concepts of EMPATHY and BASIC HUMAN DECENCY now more than ever.

Maybe the people who still go outside just don’t completely understand the gravity of the situation. But maybe some of us could be also be a little bit more understanding because if these low income workers and lowclass didn’t go outside and work they will don’t have food to eat. They have to work on daily basis to be able to provide for their family. Do you think they’re just only want to go outside and chill? Do you think they’re just want to expose themselves at risk? Because while you’re thinking about what Netflix show to binge watch next, they thinking about how they’re going to be able to feed their family tomorrow. While you’re complaining being too coop up for too long, they’re scared for their lives on the way home. While you’re counting days until April 12, they’re counting their money for groceries, for rent, for tuition, for medicine.

I’m not mad. I’m just slightly mad . . . *sigh*

I understand the need of it. I’m not against it. It just that I’m against the way it being imposed right now. They just can’t declared home lockdown, then we’re just turned a blind eye to the repercussions to the people. I heard a horrific stories of people having need to run from Valenzuela to the next province because they have thirty minutes to cross the border before the lockdown. People are scared as it is and now they need to run for their lives. I’ve also watched on the news about the old lady that has to carry her big bag of groceries for ten kilometers because transportation has been completely suspended. People are panicking so they are panic buying now. Our countrymen goes to grocery stores and they’ve met the horror that there’s nothing in the shelves anymore.

Again, I’m not against the quarantine. I’m just saying that it could be more imposed better. And the public will willingly follow the quarantine measures if you make them understand what and why need to follow, that can be done through a comprehensive public health information drive. The course of action that the government chosen to implement and disseminate this information shouldn’t be threatening and scaring but to reassure and protect. So our countrymen won’t panic.

You can obey quarantine orders and be critical of what they imply and be critical of the issuing body (i.e. government) all the same time. Criticism can come from critical thinking; it doesn’t always signify disobedience. Pointing out mistakes is not always bashing; sometimes people can spot loopholes that even their leaders can miss. Sometimes pointing out mistakes can lead to improvements. And admitting the truth. Because if you don’t admit the truth, you only propagate and encourage wrong policies to continue. The correct response is to show competence, adhere to facts and do the right action. Because there’s no excuse for incompetence, indecision, and lack of leadership. Why should we keep silent if there are opportunities to improve the situation? But also be reminded that don’t let hate consume you. If the world practiced ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘tooth for a tooth,’ let’s try our best not to fight fire with fire. I know it’s not easy. We’re all mad. We demand more from the government because we deserve more from the government, but let’s not allow this crisis loose our humanity and make us less the good people that we are. Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay and I actually encourage you to speak up on different issues when it calls for it. Let’s just must be done with the common good in mind and without the use of profanities. We are all human beings deserving of proper treatment and ideally, we all want the world to be a better place filled with individuals who are kind and enlightened. You can actually be socially conscious and a decent person at the same time.

We need compassion. We need kindness. We need hope.

Obviously, this is a major health crisis worldwide and maybe it’s our default to automatically to look to the government for help. But I’d feel these problems is too big for just the government to handle alone. We Filipinos need to support one another. Honestly, we’re too late for the measures about COVID-19 and I don’t want to be late for our country either. So I decided to do my part even in a small little way. I call for companies, institutions to help and support those who are in need. I also joined art for a cause which will help our frontline healthworkers who are in dire need of assistance in the fight against Covid-19. Because they badly need personal protective equipment (PPE). I’m so glad to heard that Ayala group set a 2.4 billion COVID-19 emergency response package for their employees. SM group also allocate 100 million for providing personal protective equipment, test kits, alcohol, and other medical supplies to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and other hospitals. And the office of the Vice President is donating 11.4 million to hospitals and healthworkers. The Philippines has actually received 5,500 test kits from South Korea and has been waiting about 5000 more. Also, China pledge 10,000 test kits. I heard that ABS-CBN is paying both contractual and project-based employees for the whole month of quarantine even without going to work. There are some of the beautiful stories that people standing up for the vulnerable. There are the kind of stories we could listening because it gives us hope.

Let’s practice empathy. Let’s extend our understanding beyond ourselves, beyond our households, and let’s pop our bubbles so that we can see the reality outside our comfort zones. We need to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy by definition means ‘the feeling of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune’, but Empathy is ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’ The point here is we’re all in this together. Let’s show compassion. But compassion without action is hypocritical.

A time of crisis is not a time for selfishness. This is a time to remind humanity of its kindness.

So for anyone who also want to help, let me leave you with a list of organizations we can donate to:

List of Organizations

COVID19HelpPH

But I also know that not all of us have an extra fund that we can donate. So I encourage anyone to offer a prayer instead.

Pray for our healthworkers. Pray for our government that the decisions they’ll make are the one that prioritize people’s best interest. Pray for our unity. Pray for us for the protection of our family, friends against the virus.

I hope this situation brings out the best of us not the worst.

On a similar note, to address the issue sensibly:

In times like these, us in the know have the responsibility to:

a). stand and disseminate as critical thinkers/community members

b). project calm, and

c). take it as an opportunity to learn from how the world operates

I’d like to end it by reminding you all that with all this crazy things going on to be EXTRA KIND and UNDERSTANDING, should you need to go out to buy groceries, vitamins, or what not, remember that the people assisting you, manning the doors, checking your temperature, and bagging your goods, etcetera, are risking their lives in their own way by showing up to a job that possibly determines whether or not they get to eat tomorrow so be polite, sanitize yourself, don’t mess up store aisles, and just remember to check your privilege.

I also encourage everyone to stay at home and I believe that the best thing we can do right now is to flatten the curve of the numbers by stopping the spread of the virus and staying home. This is actually historical moments so let’s respond in a way we want to be written in the history book about.

We can do this. This all shall pass.

Stay safe and let’s all be a little bit more kinder.