IT'S hard to resist the force of habit and newsman’s instinct to go out and scour for news materials related to the present crisis but this is now a time for reporters to work from home as responsible journalists.
In my case, I just went through my normal daily activities walking to the office and observing and documenting what is happening around my community especially within our area in the university belt. Upon invitation, I drove to the Benguet State University (BSU) as there were stranded students who were scheduled to receive a food-pack from the school administration.
I also checked on the valley’s trading post and indeed, there was lesser commercial activity and the sight was unusual with the absence of big trucks. The public market in La Trinidad that I saw was very much, unlike the scene I observed at Baguio’s Kayang Street and Hilltop area with market-goers and passengers waiting for their ride at almost elbow-to-elbow.
While the whole nation is on an enhanced community quarantine affecting basically everyone, I observed that people in the valley even within the Stobosa area are observing social distancing perhaps following the directive that only one designated family member is only allowed to buy food or get donated food-packs in the case of BSU’s job-order employees.
Last week, the city’s Baguio Health Department test-run its makeshift sanitation tent meant to disinfect medical practitioners and even able patients who leave the medical facility.
The box-shaped prototype is simply made of PVC tubes as a frame covered with a translucent plastic sheet. Since I was wearing a jumpsuit that looked like the PPE suit, I volunteered to be the first to be sprayed with disinfecting solution water followed by a BHD health worker.
In social media, we received notes from concerned residents who were alarmed by the presence of a foreigner in their barangay who was accordingly not subjected by their barangay with the required protocols such as travel advisory or health declaration.
I also received a message from a La Trinidad-based college teacher informing me about her stranded student in Baguio who cannot go home and is running out of food due to the lockdown and quarantine. I also learned that aside from students, there are also employees of Baguio commercial establishments who were not able to leave the city before the enhanced community quarantine lockdown and are now running out of food to eat and money to buy even mobile phone loads.
I really hope that landlords or owners of transient or boarding houses will look at the welfare and condition of their tenants and bed-spacers and help them be enlisted at their respective barangay offices so that they can be eligible to receive food-packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the city social welfare and development office or OCSWDO.
Officers of a barangay, particularly its head I believe, are duty-bound to look after the affairs of their community and they can also implement measures that can prevent a local situation from getting worse. In a crisis, following the Incident Command System, a barangay chairperson can serve as on-site commander who must investigate, check the situation and initiate mitigating measures that would remedy and alleviate local concerns. That is what PRRD was trying to tell our local leaders. We have survived past tragedies of great impact and I do hope that we shall overcome the situation at hand. For now, we can all do our share by simply cooperating by staying at home and the community by not allowing strangers from entering our premises and by subjecting ourselves to self-isolation if we detect traces of flu-like manifestations in our body.
As for me and my family, we now observe social distancing, we sanitize our doorsteps and doorknobs, refrain from touching hand railings and keep our shoes and outer garbs outside our doors. For almost two weeks now, I have seen a different Baguio without the usual vehicular traffic and congested shopping centers and noisy surroundings. I haven’t seen smoking students outside our driveway and our alley is without the thrown plastic cups and sticks of street-food. I was able to do some bas-relief artworks but I already run out of the needed cement because of the closure of hardware stores. We monitor news via social media and compare reviews from network stations. I have recorded video clips and short video documentation to be able to produce a simple Covid-19 scenario as I see it and where I saw it.