Up until the lockdown in Metro Manila, the country’s capital, Rodalyn Colde was a mom striving to make ends meet with her husband.
A native of Murcia, a sleepy small town here named after a place in Spain, her husband’s medical needs forced them to a life in the Big City.
“Manila is a jungle; there it is survival of the fittest,” Rodalyn says in an online interview with DNX.
Since 2010, Rodalyn lived in the metropolitan of 12 million people – one of the most densely-populated places in the world.
They were among the millions striving to survive, without any relatives, working hard to feed themselves and their children.
They rented a small room in a crowded area, a far cry from the verdant fields and mountain vistas she grew up to in Murcia, the nearest town to the east here.
“We had bills to pay, medical expenses, kids to feed,” Rodalyn recalls to DNX.
That meant, she says, working day and night, selling homecooked meals in the office where she used to work.
Even selling barbecued meats along EDSA, a major thoroughfare in the metro.
It was a struggle for survival.
For at least 10 years.
And just when things seemed headed from bad to less bad, the pandemic came.
And the lockdown.
“It was super horrible,” Rodalyn recounts about the first lockdown President Duterte had declared when cases were rising in the capital.
It looked bad in the news.
To Rodalyn and her family, it was like living in a forsaken place.
Food, a very basic need, was difficult to find and expensive.
“There was panic buying and there were times when I really did not want to go out along with the surge of people,” Rodalyn, an asthmatic and hypertensive, says.
Prices went up.
“The government cannot really control it,” she muses, which meant that “we had to budget it, make sure it would last.”
Sometimes, they would only have lugaw (gruel).
But the kids ate first.
Rodalyn know what survival means and she knows it well.
Especially in her previous life.
Her husband lost his job, sanitation and hygiene was affected under lockdown.
“We lived in a somewhat overcrowded place.”
There was help, though.
The village chief in their place “was honest; whatever help there was really went to the people.”
Even then, it looked really desperate out on the streets.
“People were dying everywhere” and sometimes, Rodalyn had to walk for kilometers just to buy food.
Under the scorching heat.
And she saw many people begging.
“These were scenes you could usually see in the movies,” a thought that entered her mind months after going through the experience.
Rodalyn and her family were among those classified as Locally-Stranded Individuals – Filipinos living away from their home provinces.
Before the lockdown, they were already planning to go home since a year ago when doctors gave her husband a clean bill of health.
“It was time to go home,” she adds.
But the journey home was not easy.
It started with what was normally the simple act of booking a ride.
(To be continued)