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! #

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