PANDEMIC'S IMPACT ON DRIVERS. Ricarte Floresca, 69, shares the challenges his family had to face at the height of Covid-19, in an interview at the BP2 depot in Quezon City on Monday (Dec. 6, 2021). A total of 43 individuals belonging to 11 families departed for La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Iloilo provinces on Dec. 7. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)
MANILA – The "Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa" (BP2) program on Tuesday facilitated the return to La Union province of a forty-year tricycle driver, who has been one of the first workers who bore the brunt of the coronavirus disease's (Covid-19) impact at its onset.
Since the start of the pandemic, Metro Manila had to enforce massive restrictions on public transport to limit virus transmission and ensure the safe passage of essential workers during the outbreak.
Ricarte Floresca, 69, said he had to stop working for a while because tricycles have had to run at less than the normal capacity during the imposition of community quarantines.
“Limited ang trabaho. Sa pagmamaneho, kung gusto mong kumita nang malaki, kailangan mong habaan ang oras mo, habaan mo ang pagod mo, at habaan mo ang sakripisyo mo, madadagdagan ang kita mo (Work was limited. If you want to earn big, you need longer time to work and extend your sacrifice),” Floresca said in an interview.
After more than a year of unstable work, Floresca decided to go home to La Union province and pins his hopes on the assistance to be provided to them upon their return.
“Mahirap po talaga dito sa Maynila. Mahirap ang kalagayan namin dito hindi tulad sa probinsya, umaasa ako na mas gihinhawa ang buhay, unang una sa kalusugan (It’s difficult to live here in Manila. Our condition was not that good unlike in the province. I hope things are better there, especially in terms of health),” he said.
While he is happy to be back home, Floresca sees some livelihood opportunities despite his old age.
“Gusto kong magkaroon kami ng sariling bahay, magtanim, mag-alaga ng hayop. Umaasa akong sapat na yun para mabuhay nang mapayapa. At siyempre importante na malayo sa sakit, sa Covid. (I want us to have our own home. I want to pursue planting or livestock farming. I hope that’s enough to live in peace and free from Covid),” he said.
The Floresca family was among the 11 families who underwent dispatch proceedings for their departure on Tuesday.
Of the 11, four families were sent home to La Union, one returned to Ilocos Sur, and six families were flown home to Iloilo.
Institutionalized under Executive Order 114, series of 2020, the BP2 program is an initiative of the national government created to address the congestion in Metro Manila's urban areas.
Government agencies guide the beneficiaries throughout this transition by providing additional support and incentives on transportation, livelihood, family needs, subsistence, education, housing, and others. (PNA)