Unemployment In The Face Of A Pandemic

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When the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or lockdown was declared by the national government, Filipinos had the faintest idea of what’s about to come. Some looked at it as a convenient way to finally accomplish the things they have been longing to do ever since. Others insisted to see the silver lining, which is the immense quality time they could allot with their loved ones.

But that is not the case for everyone. When the ECQ was implemented, those were not the initial thoughts of the laborers across the country who were about to bid goodbye to their source of income. Since the decision was brought upon on March 16, 2020, over two million work forces have lost their jobs, mainly due to being under a “No work, no pay” scheme.

Elbert Adriano was a Collections Specialist who was unfortunately included in the statistics. When the lockdown took place, he was still reporting to work. However, by the following week, their operations stopped.

“Hindi kami salary-based, mayroon lang kaming daily allowance. So, umaasa lang kami doon sa insentibo,” he explained.

At just ₱150 per day, Elbert and his wife are desperately trying to make ends meet so they can live to fight another day. Despite their efforts, the amount is plainly insufficient to support a family of 4.

Elbert with his family

“Nag a-ask ako, nangungutang ako. Kung minsan, sa isang araw, napapautang nila ako ng 300; iyong 300 napapagkasya namin sa loob ng 2 days… Kung tutuusin ‘yung 150, kulang na kulang sa isang araw,” he shared.

He added, “Sa mga relief, lagi akong umaasa na sana mabigyan kami. Kasi mahirap po ang sitwasyon. Kung nabigyan lang po sana kami at naapubrahan kami ng DOLE, okay lang.”

The company he works at actually provided a cash advance of ₱1,000 on the first week of the ECQ. But given that the lockdown has been running for months, that financial assistance has long been spent already.

In spite of their current situation, Elbert remains appreciative of the time he can spend with his family. And that’s about it.

“Masaya ako kasi nakikita ko araw-araw ‘yung pamilya ko, pero hanggang doon lang po iyon. Iyong kapalit noon, grabeng sakripisyo na,” he said.

Staying strong in these trying times can be a challenge, but Elbert gets his from seeing his kids’ joy.

Once the ECQ relaxes, Elbert looks forward to go back to work and live in the ‘new normal’ era— hopefully when his family rarely has to worry about the daily struggles brought by the pandemic.