May 27, 2020 - Wednesday
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Davao City, Philippines

Back to basics

April 03, 2020 - Friday 4:04 AM by Jimmy Laking

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I have lost count of how many times I have washed my hands in a day for weeks now. But it is safe to say it has more than doubled as compared to the pre-quarantine period when it was mandatory just to wash one’s hands before and after eating and after that visit to the outhouse. Or whenever it was necessary.

Now methinks I am even enjoying it. For one, we do not lack tap water as far as that goes in Davao City as compared to my mother’s place where the commodity is rationed. Water here is also safe to drink.

I think it is mainly because of the abundance of water that this city or this region for that matter has no issue about toilet paper becoming sparse. So unlike in other areas where it is a necessity. 

Having been to some places, I believe Davao City is the only place in the Philippines where water pressure on pipes is at its strongest. And I recall a time in the 1990s when the household had to change faucets several times in a matter of months. In contrast, you cannot say the same thing in Metro Manila where tap water is anemic or amnestic at best in so far as availability is concerned.

So when Mayor Sara made the washing of hands part of the three basic rules during quarantine (the others being to stay at home and to practice social distancing), I think it is something locals will have no issue complying with.

This habit of washing one’s hands goes back to a time when I was this high and when proper hygiene was recited and even sung in school. My parents who went as far as high school also emphasized it.

Even the simple act of crossing the street is predicated on STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN before one takes the step forward. And when I finally learned how to drive, it was a habit that stuck on to this day.

Yet time and again, I would come across some passenger jeep drivers who would dart headlong into the main street from some corner or from a gasoline station without the courtesy of even reducing speed or changing to low gear before proceeding. On one occasion, the passenger jeep I was riding from Agdao almost ran smack into a passenger jeep that plunged into the main road from a side street without bothering to check for incoming vehicles.

Had not the driver of the vehicle I was riding stepped on the brakes, it would have been part of this city’s statistics on vehicular incidents. Had it occurred in EDSA, it would have triggered a “road rage” incident.

Yet to my surprise, the grizzled driver of the vehicle I was riding did not even feel aggrieved. He merely shrugged his shoulder and drove on. He explained it was part of the risks, adding he had seen worse.

“You must be part ninja to survive,” he said.

And how many times does he wash his hands considering the numerous times he deals with passenger fare? He says he takes it one at a time and that washing of hands has always been a necessity considering the nature of his job.

It’s basic, he said, and I had to agree it truly is.