Latip-Yusoph: Covid-19 in Lanao

NEW curfew hours in Marawi (4 p.m. to 6 a.m.) were declared now and will be the new norm. The government made new policies each time they see implementation issues. This Covid-19 has become the new monster that we all cannot see.

Recently, the death of a person on March 29 because of his alleged travel history to China made me more alarmed and I needed to make a statement or even a reflection.

This pandemic has caused a lot of different reactions from different countries and cultures. In the case of the Meranaw people in Lanao, the proliferation of false

information has gotten into the nerves of the Meranaw and Mindanaoans as a whole.

Many are even making misinformation just to be read and be given an attention. What is very contagious these days is not just the virus but the false information sharing.

Now that all of us are mostly at home, the previously glued to their smart phones has become more glued if not addicted. It is interesting to note though, that if we share good news rather than the bad ones, we can really make a difference. There are so many good reads online and many lines of realization, conspiracy theories and all that you can imagine just to be updated about this virus. Many of us even became experts of coronavirus as a scientific problem.

What is alarming these days is the increasing Covid-19 statistics in the Philippines and in Lanao area. Because the tests are taking so long, the increase of cases is getting into the nerves of the Filipino people. We hope that the test kits created by the University of the Philippines can be immediately used so that we can go very fast with the testing and flattening of the curve. Also, the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao needed only 1000 test kits to help Mindanao. Once every PUI get tested soon, they can easily get the necessary remedy without the fear of death.

In fact, this delay in testing has caused many lies. Most of the Meranaws might have scared for the process of disclosure in several health units because of the fear of being tested with Covid-19 and dying in hospitals outside of Lanao.

Allegedly, the Department of Health has a unique process for disposing corpse of Covid-19 victims.

Meranaw, being Muslims, have a traditional burial practices that needed to observed by each clan. The worry of dying in non-Meranaw places is a problem. Some went home to Marawi because of this fear. Again, this is because of the many policies changing every now and then and the fluidity of people from place to place has become a threat.

Now, what shall we do? Given all these facts these days, what can we do to contribute to the social recovery that we all needed in the middle of this virus? Let me list down here the three basic ones I learned as I stayed home since the declaration of this community quarantine.

Discipline. The very first major requirement for everyone these days is to discipline ourselves. Meaning, we follow all guidelines provided by the government, health units and security forces. We need to follow rules to minimize the movement. By staying home, we might be saving lives. We may be meeting asymptomatic patients on the roads, markets and malls. We might be sharing places where the virus has stayed for hours. Let us look as the staying home policy as a social responsibility and a civic duty.

On the government side, I wish they also comply with discipline by reminding themselves of their oath to serve the people. We are now in a state where we badly needed the services of the government and their financial support. We hope that our government is disciplined enough to provide the basic needs of the constituents in this time of Covid-19. There are so many people, especially the poor who had no food to eat as they stay home. For them staying home is suicide for their families. When I imagine a mother crying for food to feed her malnourished children, I can’t help but cry.

Honesty. While we needed discipline, it cannot be completely practiced without honesty. If one is feeling bad, having any of the virus symptoms, do not self-medicate as you stay home. You might be putting everyone at risk. We cannot lie about our travel history because as we lie, we put another life at stake. Persons who went abroad and went home asymptomatic may have contaminated their homes and have transferred the virus to their families and even friends and community. Are we not responsible enough to speak of the truth?

On the side of the government, to ensure honesty from our people, we need to be more transparent, compassionate and religious in implementing the rules. We need to monitor the barangays as they provide the relief goods. On the part of health officials, they should not compromise the health process in hospitals for it may cause the deaths of doctors exposed to the virus like all the ten out of 38 deaths last week. In the Meranaw community, let us not allow the VIPs or their close relatives do away with the conventional Covid-19 pre-confinement process. Hence, the proper medical triage system should be strictly observed.

Family. Lastly, the best thing I learned about staying home is appreciating the value of family. Before the pandemic, I noticed how individuals especially parents have become so engrossed with their day-to-day chores and careers and that they have forgotten to communicate with their children resulting to immoralities and inappropriate acts of Meranaw youth, family feuds, relaxed religious monitoring and so on. With this enhanced community quarantine, I have seen how important is communication among family members. By this, we can repair broken relationships, enhance moral ascendancy, strengthen collaboration among siblings, and even heal wounds and forgive one another.

On the part of the government, our people are your family members. This is your chance to prove your being a mother or father of the land. The time to feed the poor and the time to mend the broken hearts of people who believed in you but have been forgotten for a while due to the many tasks that the government works have loaded on you. This is your chance to prove to them that their votes were worth having you. In this ECQ, we need your food support, badly.

To conclude this long reflection, I am calling out to everyone to thank the frontliners, the good leaders of the land, checkpoint police, the social welfare workers, the garbage collectors, the health workers, the sanitizing teams, barangay tanods and all of those who are putting their lives out there despite the possibility of having the virus just to serve all of us. They are our modern day heroes. Let us all stay home for them. Again, staying home is a social responsibility and a moral (not just a civic) duty!


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