Editorial: 'Gahi’g ulo'

(Editorial Cartoon by Enrico Santisas)

NOT true. Cebuanos are not being balky during the pandemic, and those berating us by claiming otherwise may do better than taking it from officials who jump at scapegoats. Keep your convenient excuses to yourselves; we demand the rather informed gaze on the Cebuanos’ behavioral patterns in this crisis.

Google has collected datasets on the movements of populations during the Covid-19 pandemic in its “Google Covid-19 Community Mobility Report,” which was released on June 22, 2020.

The report collected the geographic location data from networked users, and although the information is limited to user and privacy settings and connectivity, it is considerably representational of community behavior in many aspects, especially in widely connected communities such as metropolitan areas.

Google used baseline sample taken between Jan. 3 and Feb. 6, 2020. Our first identified Covid-19 case in Central Visayas emerged on Jan. 31, 2020. On a national scale, though, the Taal eruption must have already influenced mobility behavior.

Google looked into community movements in popular places such as malls, restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, cinemas, parks, museums and libraries during the pandemic.

What catches attention in our part of the report is that Central Visayas, to which Cebu Province and Cebu City belong, significantly showed a dramatic drop in outdoor activities. The average number of hours we spend in our homes were 12 percent higher than the national figure. It showed we have been more domestic than the rest of the Filipinos in other regions. In the usual hours spent on shopping, our stores are much quieter than those in other parts of the country.

There might have been anomalous ticks in our mobility charts, but we were generally cooperative as far as quarantine protocols were concerned. We’ve been home, most of us, from February to this day, and yet we still continue to log highest in Covid-19 transmission. At least, that’s how Google’s technology described our behavioral pattern in this crisis.

True, there were some indiscretions that were promptly called out by social media or given police attention: that ‘binignit’ pandemonium in Carbon market during the Holy Week, some village procession, cockfights hereabouts, occasional miscreants. But they simply did not register significantly in the scheme of things.

So what gives? We must take note, as well, the irony that even as we were pulped sick by the maddening memo to stay at home, a good number of government affairs in the villages require people to report to designated spots—such as during distribution of relief goods, cash aid for senior citizens. A lot of ground realities were far from what government projects in official pronouncements.

The Cebuanos did play by the rule. We did, yes. It was government that miserably failed on many occasions to cut through the noise and send the message with obsessive clarity.


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