THIS is a true story woven in the style of fiction to protect the dignity and identity of the persons involved. They aspire to survive further because they are at home already while thousands of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are stranded in varied ports. The three ladies have shared their stories.
Leonor was working in Cebu for almost three years. Her company stopped operating because of the pandemic. She was not able to go home because of quarantine restrictions. She stayed in the company bodega together with other stranded workers like rats surviving on the meager food coming from good Samaritans.
She was able to return home in one of the mercy flights provided by the government. Upon arrival, she was subjected to a swab test, then she was brought to a quarantine facility. After the prescribed period, she was brought home by the government personnel to her village.
Believing that she is Covid-free, she went around to visit friends and even circulated in the public market and grocery stores. When the swab test result arrived, she was Covid positive. She was brought back to the quarantine facility. It was just at that time that the barangay captain was informed.
Another story. Recently, Rosing arrived from Manila. When she arrived at the airport, she was made to undergo swab testing. Right away, the government vehicle facilitated her return to the village where her family was waiting.
She was told to stay on home quarantine for fourteen days. The house of her family is too small. She has no choice but to share a table, comfort room and sleep together with the rest of the family members. No one is wearing a face mask and they cannot observe proper physical distancing because they have a small space only.
Rosing is still waiting for the result of her swab test. Rosing cannot just remain inside the house. She has to go out to wash clothes at the public water pump together with her neighbors. She does not know if the people who brought her home informed the barangay captain. If her family should be locked down for fourteen days, she is expecting assistance from the government. She is still waiting for her swab test result.
Third story. Flora had her agonizing days in Saudi Arabia. She knew from other Filipino maids that the Filipinos who died there because of Covid-19 were just buried in the desert. That could just be an allegation but Flora believed it.
After a painful plea, Flora was allowed by her employer to go home. In Manila she was stranded for longer weeks ....no money, no food, sleeping in unpleasant places, and almost losing hope to see her family. She was lucky to avail of the mercy flight. Upon arrival, she was given a swab test and was escorted by the health workers up to her doorsteps. In less than thirty minutes, Flora was already surrounded by her neighbors and friends to listen to her sad story... no social distancing, no mask, no alcohol washing.
Bedtime comes and it was a solemn time for Flora and her husband. The husband missed Flora for six years. Those things happened before the arrival of the swab test result. Flora’s neighbors are just praying hard that she is not a carrier of the virus.
Things remain to be seen. The story of Leonor, Rosing and Flora could he happening also in your towns and cities. Have our public officials provide proper quarantine facilities for the hundreds or thousands of returning OFWs and LSIs. This will be followed by more returnees because of the “Balik-Probinsya Program”.
Are the mayors and the barangay captains ready to give food and financial assistance during the home quarantine period for our returnees? Are the health monitoring teams ready for the routine checking? Is there proper contact tracing facilitated by experts? If these are not happening, all our sacrifices for three months are nothing.
We appeal that before bringing home the returnees, they should be in the quarantine facilities for safekeeping before the arrival of the swab test result. We do not want to have a massive community transmission. We cannot afford to be silent about this. Politicians can play with politics but not with life.
Tomorrow’s move could be late. There is no such thing as better late than never. Please, show us some balls. We want public officials without physical and mental disabilities. Walk your talk. God bless us.