Many weeks ago during my last visit to my suki barber in SM (sa Mintal), he told me a funny story about his uncle who had been left all alone to care for his (the barber’s) 100-year old grandfather in a hut high up in the hills. One day, he suddenly came down and visited his brothers and sisters who lived in the town center. When they inquired about their dad, he simply shrugged and told them that he had just died. In their grief, everyone immediately organized themselves and prepared to set out towards the hills, bringing with them food supplies and stuff to use for a long wake.
The uncle went ahead of the group a day before telling them he would prepare for their coming. When they finally came, they hurriedly entered the hut and asked where their father was. The uncle, sitting comfortably by the door merely shrugged and said, “He’s inside the room, sleeping.” After a brief uproar at his cruel practical joke, he in turn rebuked them, saying, “Why, would you have come to visit him, bringing food and supplies, if I had merely told you he was fine?” Didn’t know what to make of it at first. I thought my barber hinted at people in the barrios as lacking in food, because I knew for a fact that on the contrary, they are actually better off and more blessed with a lot of healthful vegetables and other more nutritional plants, while us center folks, contend with our dosage of Lucky Me and Mr. Chips. My barber’s joke had actually sniped at the rarity of visits these days by busy bods to their old folks, and that has become quite common indeed. A fact of life even. Yet reaching out has become more creative these days. If in the first place, one actually needed to have supplies delivered, there is always the phone and the internet to do the work for you. My Australia-based friend had just recently ordered his old folks’ groceries online and had them delivered in Davao del Norte during this quarantine period. In the case of my barber’s kin, their orders could now be sent courtesy of numerous jeepney drivers who ply the route up to thir doorstep, and just pay for the service delivery. Smaller packages have likewise been sent, via the bus routes. You merely request the bus driver to bring it, pay a small fee, and have it picked up at the next station.
Meanwhile here in the city, there are already supermarkets that offer online grocery orders and deliveries that also give priority to senior citizens, so that they can stay safely at home. Meanwhile, the physical visits to old folks have become quite a rarity among many of us because of the present situation, but the many alternatives have eased this limitation somewhat. Me and my brothers in other cities just talked to our old man via messenger the other day just to keep him up to date. And to remind him not to stay near the gate, his favorite hang-out where he could watch passers-by. Who’d imagine that there would come a time when practically everything that ones does will eventually revolve around online use?