In a coastal town some 30 minutes to an hour’s ride from Naga City, life has become even more difficult for daily wage earners forced to stay home under the enhanced community quarantine imposed to prevent the transmission of the corona virus disease (COVID-19).
Pasacao, a third-class town in Camarines Sur in the Bicol region, is home to some 50,000 residents whose main source of income is farming and fishery, and employment at the port and some private firms.
“Even if not everyone fully understands COVID-19, all of them have to comply with the lockdown so of course, they are worried about where they are going to get their next meal,” says Pasacao CamSur Mayor Nino A. Tayco.
Those delivering farm and fishery products are also finding it difficult to reach markets outside the town, so they are forced to sell these products at a lower cost, he adds.
There is not much activity at the national port in Pasacao, which is the main point of entry by sea in Camarines Sur and where cargo ships unload their goods. Travel is at a standstill so there are no tourists or even locals to ferry from the Pasacao municipal port to Daruanak island or to the town of San Pascual in Masbate, which hosts numerous white sand island beaches.
What makes it difficult, Tayco says, is that their supplies and resources are limited and help takes a long time coming because of their distance from the national and provincial governments.
“Relief assistance is not enough,” says Christopher Imperial, one of 3,800 residents of Barangay Sta. Rosa del Sur in Pasacao. His family has received only five kilos of rice since the declaration of the lockdown.
Thus, he is thankful for companies like Shell that are augmenting the town’s relief assistance by providing enough rice, canned goods, noodles, coffee, and other goods for at least 1,000 indigent families in their barangay.
Pilipinas Shell is one of three oil companies that maintains a depot in Barangay Sta. Rosa del Sur. The Shell Pasacao Terminal remains operational despite the lockdown to continue serving the fuel needs of basic goods and service providers in the Bicol region.
“Even before the lockdown, our community receives support from Shell through their various programs,” said Barangay Sta. Rosa del Sur Chairman Boncodin. These include farm and fishery training, livelihood assistance, educational support for elementary schools, health and nutrition program, road safety training and disaster response.
Christopher Imperial with his family after receiving some goods from Pilipinas Shell.
Adding to this relief efforts story, many people and organizations have started their own donation drives, benefit online concerts, repacked meals for the front liners and to some people who need great help. Stray dogs and cats aren’t to be ignored too in this time of crisis. As they say, it should not always be “me” but it should be “us”, so we can all survive this altogether. Stay safe, drive safe.