Managing the crowd at the Puerto Princesa Baywalk has become a tough logistical challenge to the city government’s specially designated Covid marshals whose main task is to implement health safety measures.
With crowds swelling beyond control, Ronnie Tabangay, a COVID marshal, admits they are having difficulty implementing a strict physical distancing, considering the large open space and the volume of people pouring down into the space to promenade.
“Yan ang problema natin ngayon. Sa dami ng tao ‘di natin ma-control. Mayroong makukulit, minsan tumatalon sa bakod, ‘di natin maiwasan sa dami ng tao,” Tabangay said.
He said despite this, they are doing their best to monitor entry by asking individuals to sign attendance sheets.
On the night he was on duty, they recorded around 300 people going to the baywalk.
The sheet can be used in contact tracing just in case, he said.
“May contact tracing tayo para sa mga pumapasok sa baywalk. Pinapasulat yong pangalan pati contact number para malaman natin kung taga-saan sila. Mahigit 300 na po [‘yong mga tao] pero sa kabila noon mayroon ring [attendance],” Tabangay added.
Roylen Matutes, 20, COVID-19 marshal from Barangay San Isidro, said that the influx of people brought challenges in crowd control, pointing out that wearing of face masks and face shields are a must.
“Wearing lang talaga ng face mask at face shield kasi sa dami ng tao ‘di natin maiwasan talaga ‘yong distancing. ‘Yong opening in[assist] lang namin ‘yong mga sasakyan kasi wala ng ma-parkingan dito sa loob pero sa tao walang magawa kung gustong mag baba kasi ‘di talaga ma-control,” Matutes said.
Karen Lastemado, 45, a street vendor, told Palawan News that she’s struggling due to the pandemic, citing that sales are not the same.
Lastemado said her income “really” decreased due to the pandemic.
Even with people going to baywalk, she could not earn the same income she had prior to the pandemic.
“Mahina po talaga [yong negosyo], ‘di tulad noon na medyo malaki. Ngayon mahina po talaga hindi po kami nakakaubos ng 200 na tinapay. Noon nakaka-benta kami ng 100 na tinapay sa opening pa lang. Ngayon kahit 200 hirap kami,” Lastemado said.
Timela Tamayao, 54, a resident of Barangay San Manuel, on the other hand, said that the Christmas tree’s design was better compared to the previous years.
“’Yong Christmas tree nila last year magulo tingnan, pero ngayon mas clear sa mata, maliwanag,” Tamayao said.
Tamayao summed up this year’s Christmas season as “sad” due the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Malungkot kasi hindi mo maramdaman ‘yong Christmas dahil sa panahon natin ngayon,” she said.
Earlier this week, the city government led the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which usually marked the holiday season in the city. (with a report from Romar Miranda)