The story of “Ayuda”
Updated: Jul 4, 2020
Enrico Lopez de Leon, Columnist
The past months have been challenging. It showed the best and the worst in all of us and it includes the responses of both the National and Local Governments. The approach have been varied per city in combating the dreaded virus but one thing remained and that is the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the DSWD – the crowning effort of the government to ensure the survival of Filipino families and counter their plight.
“Ayuda” which meant “Support” have been a byword at these trying times as it meant a lot of things. From donations of goodwill to social services mandated by law, pag-aayuda, inayuda and all its word combinations became a rallying call for people to fall in-line despite the summer heat and threats of exposure to the virus. Zooming in to Pasig City, home to nearly eight hundred thousand citizens (800,000), the local government, realizing the damaging effects of the community quarantine to life and livelihood, ambitiously launched the Supplemental SAP (Sup SAP). This supplemental program aimed to cover the 141,000 families that did not make it to the SAP List of the DSWD, which only accounted 93,000 families in the city.
Armed with thousands of pages of lists, volunteers and city hall employees, the Pasig LGU crusaded and most likely achieved desired objectives – by any means necessary. Lists were deeply scrutinized only to find out that hundreds if not thousands of entries were false and outdated. It exposed an obsolete system that abused a city for years and decades. The LGU had no other choice but to relearn and learn it the hard way.
Distribution of the Supplemental SAP became a melting pot of the social ills, which the LGU should have healed long ago. People falling in line bringing nothing but their voter’s IDs listed as Pasig Voters but obviously residing outside of the town and even scheming people ready to bribe the Sup SAP Distributors and give half of the bounty just to have a piece of Pasig’s generosity to its people.
Volunteers and workers from the LGU encountered these problems, they faced it head-on, and they have achieved a lot despite intentional distractions from unwilling elements. This achievement is a mere taste on how the LGU would like to put its people into order, social maturity and also in putting politics behind as we face uncertainty. True enough, almost all families were given and were treated in all fairness. One may think what could have been the situation of the distribution centers if it were to be plagued with politicking, favoritism and “palakasan” – we simply can’t afford it at this time and Pasig should not revisit its old ways.
The Economics of “Ayuda”
The story of the Php 8,000 Supplemental SAP and the SAP does not end in the hands of the beneficiaries. With malls closed, markets opened by schedule and per barangay, “San ka dadalhin ng 8k mo?” or to others, “Ano gagawin mo sa Food stub mo?” became the biggest questions of the day.
You would see how a typical family would spend their money into. Some were plainly happy to pay debts, payment for the soaring electricity bills and other utilities, but most importantly they felt safe for they know that they are secured for the time being. However, there were reports that some beneficiaries resulted to gambling and outright selling of food stubs at a fraction of the price to feed a longing addiction.
It exposed yet again how people differentiate wants from needs, luxuries and necessities. The Sup SAP and SAP was indeed devised to be the quickest form of ayuda while giving the people the power to spend. Moreover, while such power was given, the government has no way to find out whether it largely affected for the better the lives of families. People were given money, PERIOD. Rich or Poor you will get 8k, OK? We are now entering the New Normal and quite forcefully, we are obliged for the economy to move again. As we continue to survive so must our markets and to add, the government cannot revert to wide scale closures, we simply have no means anymore.
The Kapitbahayan “Ayuda”
In the last months, we have seen the surge of online sellers, selling from food products down to usual necessities and services. It only shows the ability to be adapted to situations and the ingenuity of our fellowmen in times of threat. Some have been successful attributing their newly found fortune from the 8k ayuda. One thing that kept such business afloat and widespread is the outpour of support from neighbors and family members who are more than willing to buy anything just to help. Maybe this the Bayanihan Spirit working in all of us. Supporting one another in times of need. True enough, new talents are discovered, honed and developed in the past months because of support, inspiration and the willingness of everyone to be united.
We longed for physical embraces, to put together our hands and say to your loved ones, “We are here for you”. By supporting our friends in their newly found businesses and means for survival, we have done so much albeit virtually. This intuitive concern for others is something to be proud of.
We have survived hurdles and countless challenges, but the spirit of the Filipino has endured even in the toughest of times. It is now once again being put to test and we must overcome.