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27 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Part 2: Role of U.S. Colonization and Militarization in the Sex Trade in the Philippines
This episode is a continuation of our discussion on the sex trade in the Philippines. Last episode, we provided an introduction about the role of U.S. occupation/militarization on the sex trade in the Philippines. Our in-house herstorian, Emma, provided a connection between the U.S. occupation/militarization and the sex trade. For this episode, we will discuss sexual objectification and hypersexuality of Asian women, its connection to U.S. occupation and the sex trade, and to the work of Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity. For this episode, Lata D’Mello, Monsoon’s Director of Programs and Outreach who is based in Iowa City will join our conversation.Music from www.purple-planet.com. Thank you!
23 minutes | Nov 29, 2020
Part 1: Role of U.S. Colonization and Militarization in the Sex Trade in the Philippines
For this episode, our kumares, Mira, Rochelle, and Emma, will explore the role of U.S. occupation/militarization in the sex trade in the Philippines. There have been several studies and documentaries on this issue, but this does not mean that this issue ended or has gotten better for the individuals who are part of the sex trade.Credits: Background music: "Hard Fought Victory", https://www.purple-planet.com Featured music: "Base Militar", Inang Laya (Becky Demetillo Abraham, Karina Constantino David)Audio clips: "Under the sun : Olongapo Rose", BBC-TV production in association with Arts and Entertainment.Audio materials used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
49 minutes | Oct 19, 2020
In Conversation and In Sisterhood with Moro People's CORE
In this episode, we are in conversation with Moro People’s CORE or MoroPCORE, a Mindanao-based organization that NAPIESV is supporting under our Bersama-sama Project. Moro People's Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment is a non-profit organization working for community empowerment and peace through education, organization and mobilization. Its mission is to reach out, educate, organize and mobilize the community for empowerment. It believes that through grassroots efforts, a genuine peace can be realized through dialogue, mediation, negotiation, consultation and meaningful talks. Let’s get to know our sister organization and check out the interview with Zaynab Ampatuan and Ivy Ampatuan.Music credits: "Hard Fought Victory" https://www.purple-planet.com"Improvisation 1" Live at WFMU on Rob Weisberg's Show on 9/27/2008 by Electric Kulintang, licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.
30 minutes | Aug 20, 2020
Part Two: Ending Rape Culture in the Philippines
This is the second part of our discussion on Ending Rape Culture in the Philippines. At our last episode, we discussed in detail and dispelled the different rape myths which, even to this day, are still largely accepted as truths by a lot of folks and institutions here in the Philippines and around the world. This time, we will talk about what exactly is rape culture, its roots, and how women, throughout our history, persistently and fiercely struggle to overcome it. Music CreditsHard Fought Victory -- https://www.purple-planet.com"Babaylan" -- composed by Tony Palis and performed by Talahib People's Music. Live multitrack recording at the CStudio.
54 minutes | Aug 4, 2020
Part One : Ending The Rape Culture in the Philippines
In this episode, we will discuss sexual violence, but specifically the rape culture in the Philippines. This is the first of the two-part episode that we’re having for this topic: what it is exactly, why it exists and persists, and how do we end it as women and as a society that wants to realize genuine equality and development as a nation.
63 minutes | Jun 26, 2020
Women Workers in the Philippines: A step in creating workers solidarity and global communities of struggle
In this episode, we will discuss the plight of women workers in the Philippines. We’ll be hearing from Liza, a contractual worker at a factory producing luxury bags for big brands like Michael Kors, Coach, Louis Vuitton , as well as Tin and Din, tenacious women labor leaders from the province of Laguna. “Kumusta, Kumare!” is Bersama-sama Philippines Team podcast and a way for our team to discuss issues facing women and girls in the Philippines. Music: https://www.purple-planet.com
54 minutes | May 24, 2020
Community Kitchen + Women’s Work: Continuing Struggle and Victories
TRANSCRIPT[music]Rochelle: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the second episode of Kumusta, Kumare!, NAPIESV - Bersama-sama Project Philippine Team’s podcast.Mira: Kumusta, mga kumare! I’m Mira Yusef, based here in Iowa and can’t wait to do a lot of stuff when we can safely travel and be with other folks!Rochelle: I’m Rochelle Aguilar, literally hot and bothered here in Angeles City. [laughter]Emma: And I’m Emma, locked down but my mind, heart and spirit still roam wild and free here in South Luzon. [laughter][Music]Mira: NAPIESV or the National Asian & Pacific Islander Ending Sexual Violence is a U.S.-based organization and our mission is to end sexual violence in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities and build healthy communities through transformative justice and social change.Last year, we started the Bersama-sama Project in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Guam in order for immigrant/refugee/settler communities from Asia and the Pacific to connect to their home countries. By building this relationship, communities will be able to both reconnect with traditional/cultural practices and share movement-building strategies. Rochelle: In this episode, we’re diving deep into the nuts and bolts of organizing women-led community kitchens while in lockdown, bayanihan style.Emma, our in-house food historian (sorta) will share with us how they’re able to operate community kitchens in several workers communities surrounding the export processing zones in Laguna.Emma: Joining us also is women and children’s rights activist, Dimple Paz, of Lingap Gabriela and a volunteer of Bayanihang Marikenya Marikenyo and who, together with nine others volunteers, were arrested and detained on May 1, Labor Day, for supposedly violating the lockdown orders while serving food for public utility jeepney and pedicab drivers who are not able to work due to the lockdown. More about their story later. Mira: Before we proceed with the main segment of this episode, a brief update on the latest news in the Philippines. [music]Rochelle: As of May 23rd, the Department of Health of the Philippines has reported that there are 13,777 confirmed COVID-19 cases, roughly 7,000 more cases, and 401 more deaths from last month, April 23rd, despite the hard lockdown in Luzon. The death toll is now at 863 with over 50 percent declared posthumously. There are also 25,048 suspected and 803 probable cases. Meanwhile, an independent local COVID-19 monitor, covid19stats.ph, which gets their data from the Johns Hopkins Corona Resource Center and the DOH NCov tracker shows that there are 20,264 reported positive cases with a discrepancy of over 6,000 due to laboratory case validation and processing backlogs.The tracker also noted that there are 9.87 average days of delays in the DOH reporting on the number of deaths. Earlier this month, a team of experts from the University of the Philippines -- UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team -- pointed out “alarming errors” and “inconsistencies” in DOH reports and called on the government to make COVID-19 data more accessible to stakeholders for cross-validation. "The availability of accurate, relevant, and timely data is a basic requirement in managing a pandemic," the team said. "Data issues must be resolved as soon as possible to secure public trust in the plans, decisions, and pronouncements of the government and its private partners," the team added.Despite the 2 months' government-imposed lockdown, the extent of actual COVID-19 infection among the general population continues to be a guessing game as no national-level mass testing has been conducted or even in the works. And as President Duterte ordered the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine for most of Luzon on May 15th, easing restrictions on the operations of some non-essential industries, millions of workers with mounting debts and unpaid bills started reporting to work on Monday, May 17th, despite health and safety concerns and burden in work commute as public transport remains suspended. The DOH remains firm on the policy of performing tests only on those with symptoms and does not require employers to have their employees undergo testing. To date, there are only 39 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the Philippines and only 0.25% of the population have been tested for the deadly virus.Meanwhile, Rappler earlier this week ran a story on how women working in the sex trade were forced by some police officers to perform sexual acts and get a share of their income in exchange for quarantine passes and transportation to get to their customers. To make matters worse, their customers have begun paying less than their usual rate, from $40 to now $5. The same report narrated how more and more women and men are now forced into prostitution to survive the lockdown. In 2018, an estimated 800,000 Filipino women, men, and children were in the sex trade. [music]Mira: At our first podcast, we discussed how Covid-19 had affected women and girls in the Philippines and we also raised money in the U.S. to distribute food and sanitation packages to women who are heads of households and most affected by COVID-19. And with this effort, Emma organized a community kitchen as a way to share food and also to build community. But Emma’s work is not new - there are other individuals and organizations who have been hosting community kitchens across the National Capital Region or Metro Manila/Quezon City area and also across the Philippines. So, for our second podcast, we thought that we should highlight this “bayanihan” spirit of community kitchen and highlighting Filipino traditions that we need to continue and support. When folks here in the United States talk about “mutual aid” - we Filipinos, have been practicing this prior to colonization and it is deeply embedded in our soul and spirit. And it is also just good to talk about the positive in these difficult times.[music]Rochelle: What is our version of community kitchen and how is it different from a US or Western-style soup kitchen? What are its roots and objectives?Mira: I think the big difference between what I know about "soup kitchens" in the West and the Filipino "community kitchen" is “soup kitchens” are seen as for homeless people, to me very charity-based. But as I research about the history of soup kitchens - I found out that: First, it’s called soup kitchen because what was served was soup and bread, because it was easier and cheaper, right? And then, second, the so-called first soup kitchen was during the Depression in the United States and that the notorious gangster Al Capone, to so-called clean up his image, started the first soup kitchen in the United States. But in general, churches and private charities ran the first soup kitchens in the U.S. and this continues until today. But then “feeding the people” but specifically children was also organized by the Black Panthers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Feeding children in the morning then became a practice in the United States' public school system. So, this practice from a radical Black liberation organization called Black Panthers and then all of a sudden, it became mainstream that even the public system in the United States implemented it because it works. Then in the late 1980s, I remember Food not Bombs in San Francisco when I was living in San Francisco where vegan or vegetarian food is served as a protest against war and poverty. I think I remember going to those kitchens hosted by Food not Bombs members in the Mission District in San Francisco. So, the Black Panther and Food not Bombs method in serving the people by feeding healthy food and not based on charity -- a strategy for community organizing. And this is how I see what you are all doing in the community. It is not charity-based but it's community building.Emma, what do you think?[music]Emma: Yes, I totally agree with you, Mira. It is not charity. Community kitchen is an integral part in community building, and from my experience, it assumed an important role in organizing communities. Unfortunately not much is written or said about community kitchens: How and when did it really start, what is its role in shaping our history, what is its role in the struggle of our people.Food production and appropriation, preparation and consumption prehistorically has been communal. Our ancestors gather fruits, hunt wild animals in groups for their safety. whatever food they have, they share.But when private households and communal appropriation is no longer practiced, the least-appropriated members of the villages have to cook and share whatever little food they have. The encomienda system enforced by the Spanish colonizers during the 16th century made rice our staple food as the form of tax to the colonial government. Encomiendas were soon transformed into haciendas to meet the needs of the global market, then farming of rice and vegetables were prohibited, only sugar, tobacco and other export goods were allowed.The natives have to secretly plant tomatoes, eggplants, bitter gourd, string beans, okra and spinach in small patches of land in their backyards or in between the acres of tobacco plantations. This is how pakbet a native Ilocano dish which is stew of these vegetables was born. Villagers, at the end of back breaking work in the haciendas share meals they collectively produced and cooked. After cooking paella, caldereta and chicken galantina for the colonizers during fiestas, natives gather to cook whatever parts of animals that are left to them. We can safely guess that it was during these meals that the possibility of revolting against the colonizers were secretly discussed and debated on. When the Americans came, the Western concept of hygiene was rammed down our throats. They gave names to germs and bugs causing the illnesses of US troops and officials but do not seem to be bothering the natives, of course.Processed food, refrigerators and stoves and every surplus product in the U.S. became a symbol of cleanliness and modernity, and a woman who has these things is an example of an ideal housewife. On the contrary, a woman who is too poor to own them is as unclean as the food that she prepares. And now, here we are: a divided, starving nation ironically known for our love for food and fiestas. But are communal kitchens a thing of the past? No. Community kitchens are gaining popularity among communities devastated by natural calamities and man-made disasters. As different social movements in the country are gaining strength, they are rediscovering community kitchens as an essential aspect in building and strengthening communities to face or overcome a common difficulty or in some cases a common adversary.If you visit workers picket lines or peasant protest camps, they have communal kitchens. Many stories about individual or collective struggles and triumphs are shared and passed on in these kitchens. You may have sharp knives and bolos, crackling wood fire in the kitchen, but it is always a safe place to express your thoughts or share your secrets.I can say that community kitchens is a must and a means to survive. Historically and up to a certain extent, it is an act of dissent. During this time of lockdown, when physical distancing can be easily misconstrued as social distancing, it became a venue for social solidarity. When everyone is told to wait in silence for the government to get its acts together, it has become and claimed open spaces literally and figuratively. [music]Mira: The way that you are sharing that story about precolonial, about communal kitchen, it's so wonderful that I'm wondering, can anyone just start a community kitchen, and what are the requirements if they are interested in continuing this really wonderful liberatory practice? Emma: Well, it's not that complicated. First, you just need to identify your community and through your initial contacts, you can set up a meeting with the people who might be interested to participate. It is very important, though, that they understand the concept of community kitchen, its general and particular objectives, long-term as well as the short-term goals. From our experience with our community kitchens, it is equally important to listen to their inputs and comments. Once you have discussed the objectives and goals, listening to them will play a crucial part in the success or failure of your kitchen. The mechanics and technicalities should be left for them to decide: what food they want to cook, the scheduling. So, you should leave these things up to them. So, we had a meeting with our contacts in the community. We discussed the concept of community kitchen, that it's not charity. It is basically how to build stronger relationships in the community through the community kitchen. It solves so many problems, like the immediate need for food. It should be a venue for listening to other people, sharing stories. Once we have explained to them the concept and the goals and the objectives of the community kitchen, so then the discussion about the technicalities and the mechanics for running the community kitchen was discussed.We talked about what are the most available vegetables, available in the community. You should also discuss diet. Culturally-identifiable diet I think is very important.Because I remember a few years ago, someone donated Italian-style spaghetti sauce for our community kitchen. So, we cooked the Italian-style spaghetti. Well, you know Filipinos they love their sweet spaghetti, and, of course the people in the community were very polite, but we heard so many feedback that they don't really like Italian-style spaghetti.So, I think culturally-identifiable food is very important. It's one lesson learned. Rochelle: We love our sweet spaghetti. [laughs]Emma: Yes, sweet spaghetti.Mira: Hotdog.Emma: Jollibee. Yeah, and hotdog. Rochelle: Jollibee spaghetti.[laughter]Mira: With sugar. Emma: [laughs] And evaporated milk. [laughter]Emma: Our volunteers, I cooked spaghetti for them and I just gave them the money to buy the ingredients for the the spaghetti, and then they bought evaporated milk and condensed milk. Rochelle: For the spaghetti? Emma: Yeah, for the spaghetti. Rochelle: Hmm. So, it's not only carb-loaded, it's sugar-loaded...[laughter]Emma: We just live it to them what they want to cook, what they want to serve, and since public or communal kitchens here in the Philippines is really very common, you can see them during fiestas, birthdays, wake, wedding, any occasion. It is a natural thing for our communities here in Laguna to hold public kitchens so they know who owns the biggest cauldron, or who has all the utensils that we need to have for our community kitchen. In these times during pandemic, we should remind them to always observe physical distancing. Because it is the only way that the local government units is letting us hold our community kitchens, is we assured them that there will be no mass gatherings, physical distancing will be observed.So, what we do is we just look for big, open space. We set up tables, which is also very common here because of the fiesta culture. That is where we prepare our food and that is where we cook them. Because we are trying to minimize the use of plastic, that's why we need a lot of volunteers to carry the big pots from house-to-house, and then we just knock on the doors and then ask for their big bowls so that we can give them their share. We also provide relevant information of course regarding COVID-19, the update on the government's action or inaction in solving the crisis. Right now we are flooded with so many complaints of workers who haven't received their aid from the government yet, or since we are now under the modified enhanced community quarantine where workers are now asked to report for work, we've received so many complaints of having no transportation because there's no...Jeepneys and tricycles are not yet allowed to travel. So, sometimes the workers walk two or three kilometers just to be able to go to the nearest shuttle pick up. And then companies who previously do not provide shuttle services but are now obliged by the IATF to provide shuttle services, they collect Php 70 a day for the shuttle service. And the minimum wage here in our community is only Php 373, minus Php 70, your take home pay is roughly Php 300.So, our community kitchen, aside from providing immediate relief, also serves as a venue for airing out of grievances. So, we are currently upgrading the skills of our volunteers. We had a discussion yesterday regarding mass testing and the different programs of the government, the guidelines released by the Department of Labor and the Department of Trade and Industry.We need to provide more skills and knowledge to our volunteers as well because they are ones who receive the complaints because they go door-to-door. We receive a lot of questions about the guidelines because the guidelines says one thing but their companies, they say other things. So there's a confusion so they need someone to explain to them...
35 minutes | Apr 24, 2020
Philippines + COVID-19 Lockdown: Impact on Women and Girls
Kumusta, Kumare?Episode 01In this pilot episode of Kamusta Kumare, Mira introduces NAPIESV, the work that they do with the API communities in the continental US and the Asia Pacific region. Rochelle Aguilar and Emma Rubio, members of NAPIESV Philippines staff, share their thoughts and experiences on the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on women in the country. Kumusta is, of course, "How are you?” while Kumare (pronounced koo-mah-re) is a borrowed term from the Spanish comadre literally translated as co-mother. Technically, Filipinos use kumare or its shortened form mare in addressing their children’s godmothers but more commonly as a term of endearment, more like how one would use the term “sister/sistah”. Segment 1: Greetings And Intros00:04 - 01:03Rochelle: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first episode of Kumusta, Kumare!Emma: This podcast is hosted by the National Organization of Asian Pacific Islander Ending Sexual Violence - Bersama-sama Philippines TeamAll: Hello, everyone! My name is Mira Yusef and I'm with NAPIESV and I am the US-based staff. And I'm Rochelle, I'm from the Philippine-based staff. My name is Emma, I'm from the Philippine-based staff. Mira: Kumusta, Kumare will focus on issues affecting women and girls in the Philippines and connecting this to the Filipina diaspora in the United States.NAPIESV’s herstory and what it means for the API communities in the US.01:03 - 02:50Mira: Kumusta, Kumare is the podcast program of NAPIESV's Bersama-sama Project in the Philippines. NAPIESV or the National Asian and Pacific Islander Ending Sexual Violence is a US-based organization. Our mission is to end sexual violence in the Asian and Pacific islander or API communities and to build healthy communities through transformative justice and social change. So we are housed under Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, an organization formerly called Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa. Monsoon is a culturally-specific community-based organization serving the API communities in Iowa. A quick history or herstory about NAPIESV. NAPIESV was established by five API women -- Imelda Bungcab, Emma Catague, Nina Jusuf, Sopheak Tek, and me, Mira Yusef -- in 2011 as a result of the lack of resources available for advocates serving the API victims-survivors of sexual assault or sexual violence. Prior to the establishment of NAPIESV, there was no organization led by API individuals that focuses on sexual assault in the API communities. So we have been, since 2011, we have helped and established an enhanced sexual assault victim intervention services to various program models specifically dual domestic violence and sexual assault culturally-specific programs, and also multi-service organizations nationally and in the US territories in the Pacific. And last year, NAPIESV's Bersama-sama Project was funded. The Bersama-sama Project - So Much Stronger Together02:50 - 06:53Mira: So, Bersama-sama is Indonesian - Malaysian word for together. The goal of this project is to build a movement to end sexual violence in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the continental United States, the US territories in the Pacific, and the global south, specifically South East Asia. So we are thinking that the project will basically span three locations in order for immigrant refugees, settler communities from Asia and the Pacific to connect to our home countries. And by building this relationship, communities will be able to both reconnect with traditional cultural practices and share movement building strategies. It will allow for the movement of ideas, tactics and strategies between the API communities living the US continent, the US territories in the Pacific and SouthEast Asia, or Asia, but we're really focusing in South East Asia, and specifically Indonesia and the Philippines, and then in the Pacific, we are focusing in Guam and also Micronesia. I think the most important thing is that we also would like to shift the paradigm where organizations, specifically international-based organizations, will come as an expert, and will tell our communities what to do globally. So, it's not just communities of color in the United States but it's also when experts from the West will come to our home countries, they are thinking that they are the experts in what to do, they think that they are the experts. But instead, NAPIESV will not come as an expert but we would like to learn from local organizations and practitioners highlighting the indigenous knowledge and expertise instead of seeing the US or Western-based practices as better. So, we would like to learn good practices that will basically inform NAPIESV's work in the API communities back in the United States. So, it's really shifting it. Because usually what happens in the West, even Asian Americans or Filipino Americans will come to our home countries or even Western-educated will come and then just replicate Western ways instead of using traditional and indigenous practices that are already being practiced in the different communities in our home countries. So we would like to shift that where we would go to our home countries to learn and then bring it back to the US to really inform our work. The BSSP - PHILIPPINES TEAM: That’s us! We began the project last year in the Philippines by reconnecting with the land and the people. Nina Jusuf who is the other NAPIESV staff and who is Indonesian is heading our work in Indonesia and then I am heading our work, I'm Filipina, heading our work in the Philippines. So both Nina and I last year visited the Philippines twice to build our networks in the Philippines. With this, we decided to partner with Moro People's Core or MP Core, an organization based in North Cotobato to work with the Muslim community in the Philippines, and then Rochelle and Emma who are co-hosts of Kumusta, Kumare, joined our Philippines team to help us in building our knowledge about the laws about the sexual violence in the Philippines, the services offered to victim / survivors, what are the good practices in community organizing and community healing. So our plan for this year is to complete community listening sessions about sexual violence and how it is manifested in the different communities in the Philippines, and to document this process and the outcomes via blogs, podcast, videos and photos. This is one of the ways that we will be basically sharing information on what is going on with the project. But due to the COVID-19, we added more to our work plan. Segment 2: Impact Of COVID-19 Lockdown On Women In API Communities In The US And In The Philippines06:54 - 09:03 Segment 2.1 Impact of COVID-19 to API Communities in the USMira: For this first episode, we will focus on COVID-19 and how it's been affecting women and girls in the Philippines. Since I am based in the US, maybe I can briefly discuss how COVID-19 is affecting the API communities in the US and in Iowa since I am based in Iowa. So, there has been anti-Asian and Asian-American racism and xenophobia, which is not a new phenomenon, it has been part of American history for a long time and we have seen it manifested against different Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in many ways over the years, but as the Corona Virus pandemic escalates, we have seen more harassment, discrimination, and even violence directed at our communities.Also, medical workers who are from the API and specifically the Filipino community being infected due to the lack of PPE or the personal protective equipment. Immigrant and refugee communities working in meatpacking businesses in the Midwest specifically South Dakota and Iowa, so therefore there's a rise of the number of COVID-19 among the immigrant and refugee communities because we are usually the workers in those meatpacking businesses. In addition to that, there is a lot of concern about their jobs because some of the restaurants are closing down or closed due to stay-at-home policies, and then if the meat packing business is also closing down, so therefore there really are concerns about jobs.And there's also misinformation about COVID-19 due to the language barriers. And then for victims and survivors of domestic violence, we have heard about ex-partners using COVID-19 as a reason to gain full custody of their children. And then also there's a concern for victims of child sexual abuse who might not feel safe at home due to the harm doer who is also home. But on the good note, organizations serving victims-survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, dating violence are still providing services online and really have been flexible to continue the work to ensure that victim-survivors are safe. So, with this, kumusta kayo d'yan sa Pilipinas, how are you, what is going on in the Philippines, Kumareng Rochelle? Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte places the entire island of Luzon under community quarantine. 09:05 09:30Despite the lockdown order, this woman from a slum area in Quezon City joins the street protest lamenting that while the rich are panic buying and hoarding on food, they also panic because they have no food. She also said that the month-long quarantine is almost over and yet they have not received even a kilogram of rice. 09:31 09:51A day after the protest, President Duterte reminds protesters that he will not tolerate chaos and violators of the quarantine order and if necessary, the police, military, and even barangay officers can "shoot them dead." 09:51 10:12 Segment 2.2 Impact of COVID-19 lockdown to the Women-headed Households in Angeles City.10:12 - 16:39Rochelle: Kumusta, Kumareng Mira, Kumareng Emma. Well, the audio clips we all just heard just pretty much sums up our current situation here in the Philippines.We are a country where most are, by international standard, either poor or very, very poor. A simple Google search would show you just how we have the world’s largest slum where four million people live in shanties and huts. The City of Manila is so densely populated that there are over 70,000 people living there per square kilometre.Here, 6 out of 10 patients die without ever seeing a doctor just because they can’t afford it. People here still suffer and die from preventable and treatable diseases like tuberculosis, measles, and diphtheria.We are a country where if one complains about the dismal performance, corruption, or the scandalous behavior of our national leadership are forced to silence by being branded as either Red or Yellow, harassed, sent to jail, or even killed.We are a country that CANNOT and MUST NOT be in a pandemic. And yet, here we are.There is a recent analysis that the Philippines is the riskiest and most unsafe place to be in the Asian Pacific region during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic based on infection spread risk, government management, health care efficiency, and regional specific risks. For us who are living here, this is not hard to believe. We have a government that has for a month now placed almost 60 million people in lockdown, most of whom are without any savings, who are daily income earners. If they don’t go out to work, they don’t eat, even for just a day. Just like how the protesting San Roque woman was saying earlier, while some were panic buying, all they could do was to panic but not buy because they just couldn’t. There were promises of food and financial aid to supposedly help tide the poor families over during the lockdown but in reality, if and when they have received any food aid, these were barely enough to last for a day, two days, or three at most for most families. Millions are very hungry.The government of course knows this and that sooner or later, if no sufficient food aid will be given to the people, they will soon begin to disobey the stay-at-home order to look for food by whatever means in order in order to survive. Knowing the punitive and militaristic character of the current administration, the consequences for those who would dare defy the lockdown order is just too scary to imagine.
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