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Backliners

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Coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic has lately focused—and rightly so—on the invaluable sacrifices of the medical frontliners who go beyond the call of duty to save as many patients as possible. The difficulties arising from Covid-19 and the extreme measures it has forced authorities to impose, such as the lockdowns, are also being eased, however, by some people whose work may not easily draw attention, but is nonetheless vital to making our lives as normal as possible. They are the “backliners”—the grocery store staff and market vendors who make sure we can buy basic items; the farmers and fishermen who put food in our markets and groceries; the bank employees; the Customs inspectors who must quickly clear cargo, especially vital equipment and supplies to fight the virus; pharmacists, garbage men, and the engineers and workmen who must rush to build or retrofit off-hospital quarantine centers, among others. They cannot “stay at home” because they have tasks indispensable in this crisis. In this series, the BusinessMirror pays tribute to them.
The Eternal Gardens Team

Crematorium workers struggle with more tasks, and the pain of witnessing rushed good-byes

They’re used to the "drill" of helping grieving relatives give a proper sendoff to their dearly departed. They'd give them all the time they need to say their final good-byes, with their prayers and flowers and rosaries. These days, however, all those extended farewells are gone. Under strict health protocols prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, they must help those in mourning make swift goodbyes, before they cremate the dead.

In the toughest battle of our time, they keep the lights on

Their lives are at risk every day, but mostly from hazards they constantly train to handle—the possibility of electrocution. In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, they concede the perils are different, sending a certain chill down their spine as they set out to work each day. Handling huge voltages of electricity is something they know about, but dealing with an unseen virus, and worse, possibly infecting one’s loved ones, is mental torture.

Despite lockdown-induced controls on food trade, they’ll keep farming

Filipino farmers and fisherfolk, who mostly live from the profits of their seasonal harvest, were caught in a different storm. The impact of Covid-19 on food trade comes at a time when farmers like Homer Bucad and Samson Velasco, of Gerona, Tarlac, are still reeling from the plunge of palay prices in the past two cropping seasons as rice imports increased. But for backliners like Bucad and Velasco, one thing is certain: they will continue to farm as long as they can.

She counts our money, without counting the risks. Her pledge: just to be there.

Grace Zerrudo-Estonilo admitted that she was scared at first when the management instructed her to come to office, because this meant increasing her exposure to the virus as well. Many things could go wrong once you step outside your home during this pandemic, she stressed. Being the dedicated employee that she was, however, she heeded the call of duty.