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Davao City, Philippines

Agdao folks cope with the virus

May 27, 2020 - Wednesday 4:05 AM by Jimmy Laking

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The Agdao market has been closed indefinitely.

This my wife and I discovered last week just after she bought our week’s supply of fish and vegetables.

Although we patronize the Bankerohan market once and a while, we have always settled for the Agdao market for our basic purchases. It is about 10 minutes by foot from where we live. The general area also has its share of banks, drug stores, fast food joints, restaurants, big groceries, pawnshops, and convenience stores.

From what we gathered, the market was closed to allow its vendors and their families to undergo COVID-19 tests.

It also seems that most of the vendors come from nearby communities where positive COVID-19 cases were discovered. Hence to prevent the virus from infecting more people, the market was closed for now for prophylactic purposes.

That, we admit, is the logical thing to do for now. It is the most the city government can do. Yet considering that most of these communities actually are slum areas where most buildings are built close to each and where social distancing is difficult to enforce, there is no assurance the virus will not strike again. In short, closed spaces and crowded places are exactly the conditions that make the slums susceptible to disease attack.

It is with this in mind that Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has conceptualized the “Balik-Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” program to entice families crowding the cities to relocate back to their provinces.

The idea is for the families to start life anew in their provinces but this time with assistance from concerned government agencies and local government units that would enable them to pursue their trade or livelihood of choice. The package includes skills training, capital, and housing.

It is no wonder that many grabbed the opportunity at once to return to their provinces in Leyte and in Zamboanga del Norte.

The other long-term idea of course is to provide these communities with public housing as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is doing with his 14-story, condominium-type public housing for the homeless people of Manila.

Considering the number of Manila’s homeless people, perhaps Moreno is not only looking for a couple of such buildings but probably more. It is certainly a great idea considering that vertical condos do not eat much space.

To realize this, Moreno has reached out to Filipinos from all over the world and even to students and children for donation. In March, Moreno reported a collection of P21.7 million in donations and it is still growing. Part of his report:

"My heart was filled with so much gratitude when our city treasurer, Jasmin Talegon, presented to me the list of donations that have so far been given to the city of Manila by ordinary citizens who simply want to help the present administration make a turnaround from the city’s decrepit condition caused by recent years of neglect.

“The total donations reached P21.7 million in all and mind you, these came from Filipinos from all over the world, including immigrants, overseas Filipino workers, students, and even children.

“Believe it or not, these donations included coins from piggy banks and loose dollars from Filipinos who expressed faith in the new administration of Manila and said it was their small way of contributing to the positive changes in the city.”

Davao City has no such problem with regards to the area. Perhaps, with the political will of city officials led by Mayor Sara, Davao’s ‘sinikmaan sa palad’ can also gain access to housing once and for all.