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By Jaime C. Laya

Some of us are like Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, locked down at Windsor Castle insulated by high walls. Others are like Roger de la Cruz, no-work no-pay Makati Sports Club gardener who lives in a small crowded house in congested Caloocan.    

I came across a Facebook post by Ismael Paredes Penado who quoted an unnamed US writer who began, “We are all on different ships during this corona storm experiencing a very different journey. Realize that and be kind.”


For Pinoy aristocracy, lockdown is a time to rearrange furniture, garden, focus on hobbies, bond with family. Their major concern would be where to get saffron for Sunday’s paella and pistachio nuts for that special mango merengue torte. Those who work have transportation problems, infection risk, and worry over how long their employer can survive.  

Far worse is the lot of construction workers, jeepney drivers, waiters, cooks, sales people, small business owners, dismissed OFWs, and other people whose incomes have vanished and whose worries are rent and utilities—if tomorrow can bring them rice and dried fish or noodles, and when they can again earn. Government is distributing relief goods but implementation has its hiccups and there are signs of desperation and possible civil disobedience.

Doctors, nurses, and hospital workers exposed daily to infection worry about themselves and their families. Unbelievably, some of them are treated as pariahs, refused entry into their own condominium buildings, and considered servants by officials like that infected Honorable who demanded special attention and ignored hospital rules for himself and Madame.

Law enforcers are charged with ensuring that quarantine rules—social distancing, mask wearing, remaining at home—are enforced and who are ignored, abused, and insulted by foreigners who think they are above the law, like that demented Spaniard of Dasmariñas Village and the supposed diplomats of a BGC condo who tried to present themselves as police brutality victims.  

Many local officials are demonstrating real concern for their needy. It seems, however, that some behave true to form, distributing overpriced and low quality relief goods, and only after stamping these with their names as source of manna.  

Truly pitiful are the sick in hospital rooms or crowded wards, who suffer, die, and are cremated alone, and their loved ones who receive the ashes.

The latest is the rule that people above age 60 must stay home. Sec. Rafael Alunan III raised the issue and feedback came thick and fast. The intention was fine—the elderly are vulnerable and staying home will protect them. But many still work and need the income. Others run their own businesses. Still others are retired but are fit, and need to go out for groceries and medicine or for exercise and peace of mind.

What this suggests is that those in a luxury Titanic should forget about saffron, pistachios, overpricing, epals, and mindless regulating, and assist those in a nearby leaky Doña Paz who need rice and noodles, masks and PPEs, jobs, and encouragement in their assigned responsibilities.  

Both ships are battered by the same storm and may either sink separately or support each other and together survive.

Note: The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg in April 1912 and sank with a death toll of some 1,500.  In December 1987, the Tacloban-Manila passenger ferry MV Doña Paz sank after colliding with an oil tanker and almost 4,400 lives were lost.

 Comments are cordially invited, addressed to

Photo credit: Facebook post.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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