We are now into the third week of the Metro Manila lockdown and it’s been difficult, quiet, exhausting and stressful all at the same time. The uncertainty of the entire lockdown and the quickly changing rules of the lockdown have not helped. It’s clear local and national government departments are struggling to enforce the lockdown, but also they are struggling to test and treat for the coronavirus itself.
The overall uncertainty in the Philippines will not be comforting to many, and we can be confident that the real number of cases of coronavirus in the Philippines is far higher than the official count of 2,633, with 107 deaths at the time of writing. As in many countries, the lack of testing available and high cost of healthcare means a lot of people either aren’t going to the doctor or aren’t being tested if they do. As you can see on the graph below, the Philippines is currently one of the lowest testing countries in the world right now.
We are very much hoping the lockdown will be lifted on April 14, as currently scheduled, but there’s a possibility it could be extended further.
The good news is some countries do show the way to beat the coronavirus and get life back to normal. Some didn’t even implement a lockdown or were able to lift it early because of their organised, strategic efforts which found and treated the virus effectively. If you want to read more about how some countries have done so well in tackling the coronavirus, and what we can learn from that for the Philippine context, you can see this article by our Executive Director Roy Moore which notes how the past experiences with SARS prompted many countries, notably Asian ones, to prepare for the next pandemic.
Payatas Relief Operations
For our families in Payatas, there’s little we can do right now but provide support for basic needs. Having observed the situation throughout, and been in touch regularly with our families, we have now begun relief operations to ensure nutritional needs are met.
Earlier this week, Tuesday, March, 31, we were able to deliver food packages to 60 families, including our Payatas-based staff. That means food for around 250 people for the week. The food packages include:
- 5kg of rice
- 1kg of monggo
- 4kg of assorted vegetables (2kg pumpkin, 1kg okra, 1kg upo)
We will continue to deliver these every Tuesday and the packages will be similar each week, though may include different vegetables and fruits, as prices wildly fluctuate at the market right now.
Two scholars were unable to receive the packages, as they are on a street that has been totally locked down due to a positive case of coronavirus nearby (their street is on the border of Payatas and the next barangay over has a positive case). We are working on a possible solution.
The timing of our efforts comes after observing the situation and understanding what’s going on directly along our streets. While one old saying says the early bird catches the worm, when there’s risk and uncertainty involved it’s best to remember the second mouse gets the cheese. All interventions and activities have consequences and it was best to act only when we could be as clear as possible the context we were acting in.
Many families in Payatas had received a small package from the local government, with typically 2kg or 3kg of rice and some canned goods. This was enough for two to three days for most families, though stretched further for many.
Many families received nothing at all, though, and the local governments are saying they have no funding or plans to give any more. In Quezon City, food relief operations from the government bizarrely started in the wealthier areas of Quezon City, and the poorest areas have not been reached. Getting hungrier by the day, while forced to not work and stay as close to home as possible, rallies are starting and as the situation worsens we can expect these problems to grow.
It’s a difficult situation for everyone involved, from government officials to people in every barangay, but if we’re expecting people not to work, the least we can do is make sure they can eat.
Acting now means we can support our families when they need it most. It also means we have planned and prepared to do this for the duration of the lockdown. That consistency will be key to avoiding panic in our community.
The fresh, local vegetables and legumes will also help keep the immune system healthy and is consistent with our goal of healthier options in the community. It also works out cheaper per meal than canned goods, which are typically empty calories, full of salt and fat.
While we are reluctant to engage in feeding programs, the ongoing situation is more like an emergency response to a natural disaster, and so this is appropriate and needed at this time.
What Else Can We Do?
We are still unable to do our sports sessions, tutorials, and social clubs like youth group and EQ Club. We have a few ideas of other things we can do with our scholars in the meantime, with the home quarantine still in effect. As always, we’ll provide updates and it’s worth noting already we wont’ need additional financial support for this.
We continue to distribute the educational allowances for our scholars, under the knowledge that during this time they are to support the basic needs of the family. Given the situation, all sponsorship of this kind will temporarily be provided to the families for their basic needs under the lockdown. Once the lockdown is lifted, their sponsorships will go back to normal too. If you sponsor a child monthly, we hope you understand the reasoning and if you have any questions or clarifications, just contact us.
For the families right now, food is really the greatest need. We will continue to deliver the food packages to our scholars and applicants each week and would like to extend this to our regular footballers and related families near us. Currently we support 60 families this way, and could potentially add a further 100 families.
If you would like to donate for this purpose, then you can support a family in Payatas for P1,000 ($20) to provide two weekly food packages and deposit at a BPI banks or online banking if you have.
Fairplay Bank Details
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
Account Name: Fairplay For All Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 0041-0343-35
Note: We do not have local accounts with other banks.
For any donations, please send us a picture of the deposit slip to our Facebook account or email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are based outside the Philippines and would like to give, please Contact Us for more information on the best way how.
It’s also worth saying that if you know of any groups able to test and treat the coronavirus directly, especially a central medical facility outside of hospitals, then we suggest you support them first. The faster the lockdown can be lifted, the faster we can get people back to work and to supporting themselves.
We understand this is an unusual and challenging time for everyone. We hope you are safe and as well as can be in this time. The good news is one day this will end and it will be a memory. The hard-work will be to make that day come as soon as it can.
We wish and your families you well.