May is Fiesta Time in the Visayas!
And it is not time to squander precious money from the now-popular Social Amelioration Program SAP because these are taxpayers’ money given out to help the marginalized poor, who have lost income and livelihood because of COVID pandemic.
This week, the social amelioration fund assistance for the poor is being distributed, city and province-wide to nationwide. It will take days, or weeks, because of individualized social distancing.
Spending it for fiesta celebrations in May, or a quick-bet for lottery, and worse, wine, drugs and vices, negates the purpose of SAP fund assistance.
According to Mayor Felipe Remollo for those who were not used to receiving as much as P6000 to P8000 at one time, as SAP is only “one-time-big-time” help ( to borrow an anti-drug-tokhang term,) the money is to be used to buy food and medicine only if possible, and should be spent sparingly (hinay hinay) not a one-time big expense.
But this cannot be 100% avoided considering the Filipino mentality of a fiesta bonanza, translated as: the “one-day millionaire” culture. One who does not mind spending everything in one day, and be happy even if nothing comes after tomorrow.
The Church thru our bishop has even announced that town fiestas, religious fiestas, will not be celebrated as a public affair. Venerating patron saints, even golden anniversaries this time, should be celebrated just with family. This is one time the family is victorious and magnanimous for getting all the attention denied by many for so long.
Finally, let us forewarn law enforcers to be kind and protective to SAP beneficiaries. Only the poor are entitled to this privilege. The richer, the elected and the employed, have their own ameliorations from their respective companies, including government and especially elected officials. SAP is only for the poor who lost income or none at all.
If enforcers ever find violators of COVID rules, we ask them to be kind and understanding, without using any force and violence—even if the violators are a bit unruly.
The poor and marginalized cannot afford to be sick with COVID even if insured partly by Phil Health. This is one time we should make the poor feel loved, privileged, and safe.
Loving God and our neighbour is the bottom line purpose of this global pandemic.