When was the last time that we care about our farmers? Or do we even recognize their existence? We always forgot about them. But in one way or another, we remember them now because of the coronavirus. Because of them we still have food on our table now. They are our “back liners.”
Our farmers and fisherfolks are among the poorest sectors in the Philippines. It is sickening to think that people who are the source of what we eat daily are the ones who do not eat well. During this crisis, health is our main concern. But sometimes, I came to think and asked if this (the coronavirus) is all to be feared? Maybe yes, but the poor Filipinos that include the farmers are not just afraid of the coronavirus itself. They are also afraid of the great impact of the pandemic. It is the hunger that they fear. They feared their children and their families will go hungry. Despite the threat of coronavirus, our farmers did not skip a day to till the land and to continue to provide food for us. There were restrictions because of the lockdown and social distancing. But t if they stop working, how can we survive?
The news every day that there are more people infected by the coronavirus made me sick both mentally and physically. I am frustrated with our government’s approach towards flattening the curve. Some of our law enforcers are violating the people’s rights instead of helping them out from the difficult situation.
The long months of lockdown and enhanced community quarantine made me reflect on how COVID-19 affected my personal life and learned some lessons. First, in the next election, I must vote wisely. Second, I will strengthen my faith in God. Third, I will go back to what I started— to pursue peace and good governance. During the time of lockdown and enhanced community quarantine, I felt hopeless about what would happen the next day and to the next generation if we continue to have this kind of leadership. As a Peacebuilder, I used to bring my organization to the community to help voice out what the people need in their communities. But at this time, we faced more challenges. We used to work on the ground/field to assess and be with our partners. During the lockdown, it was very difficult for us to reach out to our partner communities. Not everyone has access to a high-speed internet connection. We could not even get one bar for a signal. But we have to deal with this. This is the only thing that we can do at this time, to reach out to our people in the rural areas through social media, when we get the right connection.
With that, my organization, the Peace CREED- Philippines and I, in partnership with Kapit-Mindanao and other youth organizations across the country launched a digital fundraising campaign that aims to enable the youth-led organizations to give aid to the Mindanao communities affected by this global health crisis. Although this is like a small act throwing a small stone into everyone will throw more into it. “Change starts with yourself.