Nobody saw it coming. When the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Metro Manila on March 16, 2020, not too many people instantly understood the implications of the health crisis to their lives and to the economy.
But while most of us afforded to heed the call of the government to stay at home (to slow down, if not totally prevent the spread of the new coronavirus) during the lockdown, there was a small segment of the labor force that was required to continue reporting to work—despite the real threat to health and safety.
Our frontliners in essential industries comprise not just of health workers in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They also include those we now refer to as the lifeline of the society and the economy—the supermarket/grocery staff, the security force, policemen and local government officials, fastfood crew, maintenance personnel in public and private places, the garbage collectors, media people, market vendors, and bank staff. They are the ‘modern soldiers’ waging their lives to help fellow Filipinos win the war against Covid-19.
While most of us were just relaxing, killing time binge-watching Netflix or YouTube content at home, these supermarket personnel were spending the lockdown days working—standing restlessly for hours, completing our purchase transactions, and risking their health and safety just to carry out their duty—without any complaint. Most of them even had to endure walking kilometers to and from their homes just to get to work each day (there were hardly any public transport then). How could we have survived those days without buying our essentials at the grocery, wet markets, and other basic retail shops? (Photo taken on May 21, 2020 when the metro was under modified ECQ.)
Most of us admit that prior to the ECQ, we had not given those workers the recognition they deserve. But the pandemic came and opened our eyes to the significance of jobs that truly matter. They may not be duly recognized in their respective industries just like how the big bosses and corporate officers are paid much importance, but you and I will agree that they hold the most important jobs.
Maintenance personnel in a giant mall were initially required to wear safety suit while on duty when metro malls were first allowed to partially open on May 16, 2020. These guys were disinfecting commonly touched surfaces inside the shopping complex. Imagine the sacrifice—wearing those warm outfits in a workplace where airconditioners were operating at very minimal capacity.
It is with great pride that we are able to salute all those frontliners. Their hard work, perseverance, and courage can never be underestimated, especially these days. They have been braving each day, sacrificing time and effort, and finding all exhaustive means just to report to work and serve other people no matter what.
Delivery guys were among our heroes during the lockdown period. They brought food and essentials right to our doorsteps especially during the ECQ, when we were all restricted from going out (except for really pressing instances) to buy whatever we need. Our friendly delivery people did the legwork for us, endured the scorching heat of the summer sun, skipped breakfast and lunch, and fell in usually long queues to takeout food and products on our behalf. Many of them were even victimized by irresponsible customers, who suddenly cancel orders at the last minute. All of them did (and still do) the job to feed their families despite the risk of possibly getting infected by the virus.
After the pandemic, we will surely never look at these heroes the same way again. They will forever have our respect and admiration. This war is far from over, but we have a stronger chance of winning it, thanks to their sacrifice, courage, and determination. In the future, we will surely look back at this pandemic as a time when our frontliners helped us endure and survive the challenges.
This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project.” The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet, and Teleperformance.