“Given the scale of issues like global warming and epidemic disease, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a can-do attitude to science rather than a can’t-afford-it attitude.” Martin Rees
By Alex P. Vidal
Amid reports that 4,877 of 9,936 patients have died of Ebola worldwide and there is a possibility that the deadly disease might spread in Asia, Ilonggos are unfazed.
“Poverty is more to be feared than Ebola,” thundered sidewalk vendor Ricardo Jerez of La Paz Public Market in Iloilo City.
Jerez, 52, is a father of three kids aged 16, 14 and 9.
He sells fruits and vegetables outside the public market.
Jerez’s 39-year-old wife is seven months pregnant to their fourth child.
“We don’t fear Ebola even if it will spread in the Philippines,” said Jerez while watching a “flash” report about Ebola on a small television.
“We worry about our foods every day, where to enroll our children and how to feed them on a day to day basis.”
Jerez, a former fishing vessel crew member, said his sister, a health worker in Saudi Arabia, was adamant to come home for the Halloween and Christmas vacations for fear of Ebola contamination.
“She must have received a false report about Ebola,” Jerez surmised. “There is no Ebola in the Philippines yet. Only poverty and graft and corruption committed by our politicians.”
Siomai and fruit juice stall attendant Jennifer Amigable, 27, of Tubungan, Iloilo said if given the chance, she is willing to work abroad even in Africa “to make both ends meet.”
“Ebola does not scare me. What scares me most is my bleak future here,” sobbed Amigable, a single parent and commerce graduate.
Money remittance security guard Rodolfo Junco of Tibiao, Antique said the threat that Ebola might spread in the Philippine if health authorities are not alert and don’t have the expertise to prevent it, does not alarm him.
Like Jerez, Junco watched the Ebola news on TV inside the money remittance center.
“I am more alarmed by the threat of our landlady (in a boarding house in La Paz district, Iloilo City) that she would evict us if we can’t pay our monthly rental fees for August, September and October,” Junco said in jest.
Newly-wed Junco, a former karate instructor, admits his salary as a security guard is not enough to sustain a baby and a housewife.
“Poverty remains to be the number source of our depression and anxiety,” Junco said in a Karay-a dialect. “Ebola is nothing compared to poverty which is like a slow death.”
According to the United Nation’s public health body, 9,936 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone–the three countries at the epicenter of the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic–have contracted the disease.
Reports said 4,877 people have so far died in total.
Researchers around the world are scrambling to beat the tropical fever, for which there is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine, with experts warning the rate of infections could reach 10,000 a week by early December.