When my brother got admitted to a private hospital in Cebu City due to hypertension at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic months ago, our worries also shot up. Had the coronavirus invaded his system? There was no way of knowing that for sure without going to the laboratory. My brother had to be isolated while he was tested for the virus.
The wife of my brother consulted a relative of hers, a medical practitioner, about this and testing was suggested. He tested negative but got shocked when the bill was given to him: more than P20k. “Maypa’g wa na lang ko magpa-test da,” my brother said later.
I had to put a perspective in his assessment by noting that the idea that testing could have been dispensed with only came about after the same test came out with a negative result. Had they dispensed with the test, how could they have known for sure that the virus had not invaded his system?
But really, P20k was too much. Relatives living abroad had to be called to help. Without that help, how could my brother have paid the bill? He is unemployed. That is why I welcome the report that hospitals have lowered the fee for Covid-19 testing. Aside from personal reasons, I would say this is important in the overall effort to stem the tide of the pandemic. After all, contact tracing is an important component of the fight against the coronavirus. This aside from test results telling us the true extent of the pandemic in our midst.
I would even say that the lowered cost for Covid-19 testing is not that low. The amount, around P5,000, can still be considered high by the marginalized, the unemployed specifically. And because there are many of them, their failure to undergo Covid-19 test could distort the overall picture we are trying to paint on the pandemic.
The House of Representatives honored recently the late Cebu City north district congressman Raul del Mar and one virtue that stood out about the man was his diligence. Imagine del Mar serving the House of Representatives for 27 years and delivering perfect attendances every time.
Del Mar also served as deputy speaker for a long time. I am sure the post of speaker would have had been added to his resume had he tried being more “sipsip” to an incumbent president. But del Mar was not like that. Humility and likability guided his politics. His calmness and soft-spoken ways always stood out. He did not act combative always. He chose his fights well, and the fights he chose was not for himself or for politicking.
The jury is still out regarding the current generation of Cebu politicians. Can Cebu politics produce another del Mar and, for that matter, another Tony Cuenco or another Lito Osmeña or Sonny Osmeña, or another Pablo Garcia? Can we produce another principled leader like Nenita Cortes-Daluz? Great Cebuano leaders were products of their times. Can another Cebu leader respond well to current challenges and become great because of it? Or will mediocrity be the mark of present Cebu leaders? I hope not.