HAPI Central Luzon consists of active programs and each sector is related to each other’s existence.
The Difficulty of Being Poor in COVID19 Philippines
Written by Claris Quezon
April 16, 2020
Angeles City, Pampanga
We created programs so we can be sustainable, this entails the assistance of one sector to another. While my IP community till the land, others who can sew will provide the finished items, then the moms will act as our salesperson and sell the produce during weekend markets. The cycle was designed so both sectors will be compensated for the day. Whatever is lacking financially, will be sourced out from another fund. The produce is bought and paid directly to the IP community and the sewers, the compensation of the sellers will be deducted from the sales. Simple enough, the people involved get to live with a full stomach for the day, that is until COVID19 derailed our routine.
And these sectors are all below the Philippine Poverty Threshold.
Meriam-Webster’s definition of poverty as stated is “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”, so in the Philippines, how much do we need to get out of poverty? Or at least have enough money to get by?
According to Philippine Statistic Authority Report with reference No. 2019-209, the Philippine Threshold for Family of Five in the Philippines is around PhP 10,727. If this is true, then the minimum wage earner would be living a luxurious life.
How can a family of five be able to live with Php 10, 727? Consider alone the transportation fees, the cost of food? How about milk formula and diapers?
The reality is this, the cost to live is expensive, and the local government did not have the foresight to consider the effects of the lock down on the family living below the poverty threshold. Those living hand to mouth existence for a day have to find a way to live.
I will not try to disprove the data managers of the country but where we are at, that data is totally different from ours.
We prepared our stockpile thinking in between the hard days the government will provide our members the relief goods just like any government does during a disaster. We have two stockpiles, 1 for our IP community and the other for beneficiaries of HAPI Central Luzon.
From March 15, 2020 to April 14, 2020 the relief goods were only delivered once, the bag has 2 kls of rice, 2 sardines and 1 pack of noodle. The LGU that has jurisdiction on the area seems to think that these relief will be able to feed the family until the lockdown ends. How pathetic. Meanwhile, private companies have the burden to feed the people.
The national government has said that they will be sending financial aid to everyone that is affected by the lockdown through its Social Amelioration Card. Apparently, before you can get one, you must NOT be from a family that has Senior Citizen and Persons with Disability beneficiary both getting monthly stipend from DSWD or living with a fully employed relative or a tenant. Again, our single moms cannot avail of the social assistance from the government. Why? 3 single moms live in a compound with their working relative. How sad! Even if our organization have provided some food relief and milk formula it will not be enough to last until the lock down ends. The dilemma is simple, how can we continue to be sustainable if the opportunity was taken from under our feet.
Our location is quite far from each other but the distance is acceptable to immediately mobilize when needed. I live about 30kms away from the Sitio’s where the mothers are and they live about 16kms from the IP community. We have to find a way to co-exist to survive the COVID19 challenges.
Being the Lead Convenor of HAPI Central Luzon, I am always aware and are updated with the current situations of my communities. I bring assistance whenever it is needed. If the government cannot provide us assistance, we look for ways and be creative with how we can live with dignity on this trying times.
Our IP Community cannot provide the produce that we need as we have harvested all of it prior to the lockdown, what we have now is charcoal from carbonization (old community style charcoal making), it is quite difficult to get them down and deliver to the moms, so we opted to get the eggs and had it sold on a small egg shop. We did get some veggies to peddle and it is enough for them to survive for a few days.
In the meantime, as a LEADER, I must encourage everyone to be creative even if I am getting frustrated with how difficult things are for the poor to survive in a country where politics seems to be governing the nation rather than serving HUMANITY.
I was told by a friend who is very concern for my wellbeing to stop already, as he said, “ you have given much to your community, your volunteer work just ended, go home and be safe”
When you no longer care, you cease to be HUMAN. Maybe I do care too much, but as a LEADER am I not supposed to care? And as humanist are we immune to those in need? I know in this pandemic, we all should be careful and heed the call for safety. But if you are safe when your community is already at risk of hunger, what is better for HUMANITY?
As the HAPI CENTRAL LUZON LEAD CONVENOR, I lead through HUMANISM and as a disaster risk manager I do take precaution and embodies all the safety guidelines there is. Bleach became my best friend and I am now officially distant socially .
I am not asking you to do what I do, stay safe, remain at home where you can control your environment and take all the precaution against the virus, but please remain a HUMAN BEING.