MANILA—Wilfredo Sy, a retired top executive of a giant fertilizer company in Makati City and now a director of a national government agency regulating fertilizers and pesticides, does not look like one nowadays.
Before the declaration of a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) because of the Coronavirus-19 (Covid-19) pandemic, his normal days were full of meetings, reading and signing papers, and talking with government officials and stakeholders personally or by mobile phone.
It takes him nearly four hours every day to go to his office in Quezon City. Even if he has a driver, the rigors of traveling for a 72 years old man is debilitating. Yet his work allows him to travel all over the country where offices of his agency are present or when being invited on private gatherings of their provincial partners and stakeholders. Foreign trips are seldom but he makes it sure that the country will be represented by his presence if opportunities allow bearing in mind President Duterte’s strict prohibition for foreign “junkets” using people’s money, for being a public servant.
But everything changed abruptly after the ECQ. His physical meetings with staff, partners and stakeholders are limited and oftentimes virtual. All his documents are sent to him by e-mail. Papers needing his signature are scanned and digitally signed in his house in Binan City, Laguna after his visual imprimatur and sent back to a skeletal staff at his office in Quezon City. Contacts with friends and relatives are done via the internet, which is fast becoming a BGF (best gadget forever) for young and old alike.
His typical early morning today is a short walk to a small garden near his residence. Sometimes donning a wide-rim straw hat and wearing an old long sleeves shirt for protection from the sun, he carries a small bolo and water hose to till his garden until 11:00 in the morning.
He has been gardening for almost a month already and he is proud to see the fruits of his labor. He planted a variety of vegetables, bananas, flowers and herbs in the garden for their own consumption. But he saw some changes in himself as well. His new “lifestyle” has made him more caring for the environment and being health conscious.
He knows Covid-19 is more potent a killer for those whose immune system is compromised, which can be circumvented by large intake of fruits and vegetable in their diet, regular exercise, a lot of sleep, no smoking, and healthy lifestyle. He lost some weight and now he can sleep very well at night.
Vegetable for the needy
This is also true to the story of Victor Agpalsa, a farmer in Barangay Baras, Tacurong City, in the Province of Sultan Kudarat. He works in a big farm in the city but the declaration of ECQ makes his travel from his home to his workplace difficult because of scarcity of transportation so he decided to make do with his small lot near his hut.
Being exempted from the prohibition of the ECQ by the city government, Victor made use of his time to cultivate squash and other root crops on the said garden lot. He knows that someday those under quarantine would need healthy food on their table.
He also encouraged his neighbors to donate vegetables to frontliners and groups that are helping those who are in need. Many residents are happy for the help of Victor. They said that despite their poor economic condition, Victor and his friends were able to help others in this time of emergency.