MANILA - With a grocery list on hand, law student Socrates Jerome De Guzman and his sister found themselves thrust into a public market at a time of strict physical distancing amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
They had taken on such errand as they have their parents stay at home, protecting them from the threat of the virus known to have more severe effects among older people.
The siblings religiously followed whatever was on the list, albeit being unsure on whether the produce they got were good. And when they got home, they were told the ingredients they bought "were not of best quality" - a mistake those not used to the errand usually make.
"'Yong mga gulay, hinuhulaan lang namin alin maganda. Bumili pa kami ng alamang kasi nasa listahan. When we got home, hindi pala maganda 'yung okra na nabili namin and the ‘lamang’ that was on the list was not ‘bagoong alamang’ but the tiny shrimp used to make torta,” De Guzman, whose parents are both senior citizens, told ABS-CBN News in an online interview Friday evening.
(We were just guessing which vegetables were good. We even bought alamang because it was on the list. When we got home, it turned out that we got okra that was not so fresh; and the alamang referred to on the list was not the bagoong but the tiny shrimp used to make torta.)
Such experience sparked an idea to create an online group that would help young people as they take on tasks at home they are not used to do, with the youth stepping up to help their parents amid the COVID-19 quarantine.
The group is called "Quarantine Tribute Tips," a reference to Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” book series, where a "tribute" from a district is chosen to join the survival game and only one would emerge alive.
The group describes itself as a forum where users can share tips for "tributes" sent out for errands during the quarantine.
“We were going to the grocery kasi and we were scared of not knowing what to pick or buy so I tweeted the idea of making a group for the kids na kailangang gawing alay (who have to go) to the outside world para mamalengke (to go to the market),” he said.
"Surprisingly, a lot of people were on board so a few hours later, ginawa na namin yung group (we made the group)," he added.
Its members include young adults, but some older people have joined to give advice, De Guzman said.
In the forum, members share practical tips on chores that would otherwise be confusing without guidance, such as picking the best type of canned goods, and the proper way of cooking, cleaning and running errands like buying medicines for the elderly.
Members have also compiled operating hours of different establishments, like drugstores and banks.
“Andami na ngang posts on the different kinds of meat and what to tell your butcher, how to properly store vegetables, saan puwede bumili ng goods. Even operating hours ng banks and pharmacies, may naglalagay na rin,” De Guzman said.
(There are a lot of posts on the different kinds of meat and what to tell your butcher; how to properly store vegetables; where to buy goods. Some even put operating hours of banks and pharmacies)
Young adults who live in condos and other small residential units can also help themselves with easy-to-cook recipes - useful advice in the middle of a lockdown limiting movement in the metropolis to contain the virus.
"Some people even include recipes na madaling lutuin especially for those who live in condos or mayroong very limited access to groceries and supermarkets,” he said.
(Some people even include recipes that are easy to cook especially for those who live in condos or those who have very limited access to groceries and supermarkets.)
As of the evening of March 27, the group had 17,100 members, doubling from 8,000 within the day. De Guzman said he got overwhelmed with the response.
“We tweeted the idea and made the group late at night na so we didn't expect the whole thing to blow up that fast. In less than 24 hours, we got over 16,000 members who wanted to learn or help with the things na usually ginagawa ng parents namin (that our parents usually do)," De Guzman said.
"It's actually good din kasi we see na there's a lot of millennials and young adults out there who are stepping up and trying to lead their household during these trying times,” he said.
Members find their parents agreeing with tips shared on the group, he said.
"Our parents actually know about the group kasi kinekuwento pa namin sa kanila. Sinasabi pa namin 'yung makukuha naming advice sa group tapos maga-agree naman sila na ganun nga,” he said.
(Our parents actually know about the group because we tell them about it. We even tell them whatever advice we get from our members, and they would agree.)
As Luzon and other parts of the country are under quarantine, authorities have encouraged the elderly to stay at home as they are most vulnerable to COVID-19, which has already infected 803 and killed 54 in the Philippines as of March 27.
Those with the luxury of time and resources resort to social media to pass the time and inform themselves of what they need to do in the situation, something De Guzman says younger people with privilege need to use to their advantage.
"Acknowledge that privilege, use that privilege, to reach more people who need the information. The current health crisis has shown na we can't live in our small comfortable bubbles forever. We should take what we have and use it to make more people informed what they can do,” De Guzman said.