Thursday, April 16, 2020

in·di·gent: /ˈindəjənt/

The word “indigent” is one of the often mispronounced words and also often used by those who speak to us (or at us) through broadcast media. Not that the mispronunciation would cause a riot. To mangle a Shakespeare line, a word pronounced in any way can still spell the same.
This is not the time to be facetious or flippant about pronunciations. I only wish to point out that during the government press briefings on the state of the nation (ours) vis-à-vis the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, one often hears the “i” word. It is used to refer to the poor, the impoverished, our “Les Misérables,” the so-called less fortunate of this woebegone nation.

Less fortunate, also often used, makes me cringe, because I’ve always found it to be patronizing, a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. One is fortunate but only less so?
The word indigent, which sounds highfalutin to the unschooled, non-English speaker, seems to be a euphemism in our present context. As if uttering the word “poor”/”poorest of the poor” or “impoverished” should be taboo. Indigent is a word that the poorest of the poor perhaps do not know, the way the richest of the rich do not know the word “dayukdok” or “yagit.”

There is so much that the government has promised that have yet to reach impoverished communities, there is so much that the policymakers and law enforcers do not understand about them. Basic things.
Today, as I write this, why are many poor people crowding the markets—and castigated at that—when they should be at home? It is because after going hungry for so long, the food packs notwithstanding, it is only now that they got to hold in their hands the dole-out funds that would help them go through this no-kahig-no-tuka episode of their lives.

And they are forbidden from sitting outside their hovels. Imagine a family of 10 all cloistered in a six-square-meter space. What are they to do with themselves? They cannot even make babies. Why not allow them to air themselves, sit two meters apart outside, which is more than what the social distancing directive allows.
Call them the small matters that escape many of us.
As raw food supplies from the north now seem to flow easier to the National Capital Region because of the ease-up at checkpoints, the problem is still how these could reach the poor consumers who cannot go far from their homes. We hear about rolling stores, but how many local government units (LGU) have these in their jurisdictions?
Many agree that the LGUs are key to this amelioration thing. LGU officials should not take offense at an FPJ movie clip that shows “Da King” confronting an imperious mayor (Eddie Garcia) for the meager subsidies for the poor. He then turns to the barangay captain and barks “At ikaw kapitan!” followed by a fist blow to the guy’s solar plexus. I was in stitches.
For comic relief, punsters online have “misheard” the 5 libo (P5,000) amelioration to be 5 Ligo (a brand of sardines). But truly, the sardines industry is thriving. But why not tinapa in food packs for a change?

And there are the incorrigibles, the “pasaway” in depressed areas, like those who were caught holding cockfights on the rooftops of their shanties. If not the streets, there is always the rooftop. But I laughed.
Every day I record the Philippines’ latest COVID-19 numbers (new cases, deaths, recoveries) on a line chart, my own personal way of following the pandemic. Easter Sunday had the most number of recorded/reported deaths at a soaring 50 for a total of 297 (349 as of yesterday). Low compared to the galloping numbers in some countries. Still, I do wonder what percent that is of an unknown, true number of positive cases in the Philippines.
The poor who died at home may not have been reported because they were undiagnosed and untested for COVID-19. The nameless, voiceless, powerless.
Can grief be suspended? Those left unclaimed in hospital morgues must be the truly poor. I hope they could be photographed and labeled before they are consigned to the flames.
Easter brings hope. Jesus is risen. Rabboni! #

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/128952/in%c2%b7di%c2%b7gent-%cb%88ind%c9%99j%c9%99nt#ixzz6JwuiXqiP

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Churchwomen serving in the trenches

Before I go to the main subject of this piece, let me say that President Duterte’s habitual dead-of-night state-of-our-COVID-19 nightmare TV appearances are, to say the least, spooky even to insomniacs and nocturnals.
Let me also say that those despicable Filipinos who discriminate against health workers who are risking their lives to save COVID-19 patients, those who splash bleach on frontliners and cause injuries, should be subjects of a citizen’s arrest. Livid, I say: No mercy. A former chief of “Manila’s Finest” would bark without batting an eyelash: “Posasan!”

* * *
World War I and II battle scenes came to mind when Pope Francis reminded long before the COVID-19 pandemic began that the church should be like a field hospital. In this pandemic season of our lives, his words are now a call to arms, not necessarily to be in the frontlines that health workers and other service providers occupy, but to be in the trenches and foxholes where the rest of us should be because of the lockdown/enhanced community quarantine imposed on the rest of us. But not for us to be in hiding or becoming hypochondriacs, but to be creative and serving even while forced to live cloistered lives.

The forced confinement can affect those with fragile mental conditions, I know. But note that there are existing helplines for them. Yes, the mind can play tricks, and I chuckle because when the letters WFH (work from home) first streamed into view in my messaging apps I thought I saw WTF, if you know what that means.
Give it to the women to find ways and means not only to survive but to be of help. While under “house arrest,” all I could do myself was to let my fingers do the talking and walking to find help for a group of persons with disabilities run by women. These women were not going to let their wards starve while waiting for the long-awaited government help. Big thanks to former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman, the “Bayanihan Musikahan” group, and several others who responded without delay.

Quietly doing their bit in the trenches are Catholic women religious. The Global Sisters Report (GSR) of the US-based National Catholic Reporter, to which I occasionally contribute stories, asked me for stories on what some Filipino women religious are doing while COVID-19 rages and how their day-to-day lives have changed. GSR is continuously running pandemic-related stories that involve women religious all over the world.
The Religious of the Good Shepherd in Quezon City have readied their St. Bridget School to be a board-and-lodging place for health frontliners of nearby Quirino Medical Center on Katipunan Avenue.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have also made available what used to be St. Clare’s Convent in Pandacan, Manila, for the use of health frontliners of the Philippine General Hospital.
The Missionary Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica’s College-Manila have their Tuluyan San Benito to house the street dwellers and homeless night scavengers. Tuluyan is really a day “R and R” for the homeless who need a place to rest, bathe, cook, and do laundry. But because of the lockdown they have to be indoors, and Tuluyan has made their safety possible.
A classmate of mine who is a contemplative Good Shepherd sister in Connecticut, United States, says her community is very busy making homemade fabric face masks.

GSR is “an independent, non-profit source of news and information about Catholic sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve.” GSR’s raison d’être for highlighting the life and work of women religious is something to ponder on during this Holy Week: “For as long as there have been Christians, women have been in the forefront when it comes to serving the Body of Christ. In fact, according to the Gospels, it was a group of women—Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, Susanna, as well as unnamed others—who financially supported Jesus’ ministry and cared for his needs.”
And before I forget, you can help both dairy farmers and health frontliners by buying fresh milk from the former that would nourish the latter, the needy communities, and yourselves as well. Send inquiries to dondairyph@gmail.com or visit fb.com/dondairyph.
For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/128764/churchwomen-serving-in-the-trenches#ixzz6Jwxxl2eQ

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Marooned voyagers becoming poets, sages

Behold that photo of him, walking alone on the deserted cobblestone streets of Rome, a slight figure dwarfed by the massive weight of the centuries around him, a drizzle falling gently on him, at eventide.
How apt and timely for Pope Francis to use for his special Urbi et Orbi message last Friday the Bible scene of Jesus soundly asleep at the stern while a tempest was about to wreck the boat to smithereens and his disciples were petrified with fear. The Pope came out with it way ahead of Easter because of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe.

“When evening had come (Mk 4:35),” he began.
Excerpts: “For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by… We find ourselves afraid and lost.

“Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us.
“Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying ‘We are perishing’ (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.”

Never have the words “lonely planet” (title of an off-the-beaten-track TV travel show) rang so true than now while a pandemic is upon us. Imagine Earth as a ship listing by its lonesome. We are the voyagers aboard, sick and forlorn, marooned in a vast ocean.
Though unaccustomed to silence and solitude, many people suddenly find themselves getting used to the impositions, unleashing their creative juices and surfacing heretofore dormant talents.
But there is no silence and stillness online. Besides the legit news and how-not-to-get-COVID-19 advice, being posted, too, is a tsunami of admonitions, meditations, reflections, witticisms, DIY instructions, homilies, feel-good memes, chain prayers, Bible verses, family video clips. Many righteously angry and defiant because…
No food porn, I plead, while we have in our midst hungry multitudes.
How many have turned sages overnight because of this Goliath microbe but, yes, netizens are drinking it all in, sharing the wisdom, the newfound sparks of genius and creativity. (Just now, someone shared another God-and-me cutesy dialogue meant for those who think they are falling apart.)

For a week now, I have been posting one photo a day of flowers and fruits from my urban garden, with the caption: “To those who had fought, to those who continue to fight that others may live: We are grateful beyond words. Lord, have mercy. (Date).” Will continue posting until…
Don’t laugh now but I have been trying to muster even just half of Bach’s Prelude in C, but first I had to watch the instruction-demo of piano prodigy Lang Lang. I hope it will be good enough to honor our pandemic heroes.
The poets are having a field day — even the trying-hard ones, but it does not matter. Kitty O’Meara became the “poet laureate of the pandemic” after her prose-poem went viral. Her first line: “And the people stayed home.”
Jesuit priest-poet Albert Alejo translated into Filipino the poem “Lockdown” by Capuchin Franciscan Brother Richard Hendrick. Excerpts:
“…So we pray and we remember that/ Yes there is fear./ But there does not have to be hate./ Yes there is isolation./ But there does not have to be loneliness./ Yes there is panic buying./But there does not have to be meanness./ Yes there is sickness./ But there does not have to be disease of the soul./ Yes there is even death./ But there can always be rebirth of love./ Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now./ Today, breathe./
"Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic/ The birds are singing again/ The sky is clearing./ Spring is coming./ And we are always encompassed by Love./ Open the windows of your soul/ And though you may not be able/ to touch across the empty square,/ Sing.” #
For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/128547/marooned-voyagers-becoming-poets-sages#ixzz6Jx1UNKvh