Wasn’t COVID-19 what we always wanted?
We cannot be left to our designs. Otherwise, we will just keep on talking.
Since time immemorial we had been talking about decentralization. “Balik Probinsya” and other similar programs had been hatched and then forgotten. Every now and then the same idea is brought out in government boardrooms only to remain just that. Just plans and dreams.
Meantime the cities were becoming bigger, the residences becoming more and more congested, and then we found slum areas and squatters right on our faces. A big family or even several are squeezed in a small hut with no proper sanitation facilities by the canal or on the side of a river, or under one end of a bridge in Metro Manila.
Everybody had been flocking to the cities. It used to be just Metro Manila, now there is Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Metro Baguio, etc. There are not much opportunities outside of the cities. And yet we knew all along that people were not meant to live in a congested manner like bees. Deep in our collective unconscious, we had been pining for a more decent or wholesome world, where people lived like people. Not like animals.
We however were unable to achieve such more humane environments in the cities. Where there would be enough open spaces. Where social distancing need not be decreed as it would be what is happening on the ground.
But such environments exist, in the provinces. It is just that we complicated our lives by flocking to the cities.
Due to our inability to achieve what is good for us, nature took over but in a very harsh way. It gave us COVID-19. Now, talk again of “balik probinsya” are on the rise. Just the other day, Senator Bong Go was parroting such. Give people in the cities livelihood assistance if they would go back to the provinces. In short, decongest the cities to deprive COVID-19 its favorite breeding spots.
Not just COVID-19 that relishes to breed and mutate in densely populated areas. Other diseases too. Criminals also. Including vice businesses like prostitution, gambling, and racketeering of all sorts.
You can bet your money though that by the time COVID-19 wanes in strength and becomes like the ordinary flu, all the talk about decongestion would be forgotten. And we would be back to our wicked ways. Cities would be exerting more effort to attract investors, thus workers, customers, suppliers, etc. And there would be no meaningful opportunities or incentives to entice city dwellers to relocate to the rural areas.
And so, especially with the worsening climate change and decreasing biodiversity, there would be more pandemics to come.**