Frontliner Story #14: Danelle Baltazar

The Battlefield of a Retail Worker

By Janelle Boquida and Kristian Rivera

Edited by Phoebe de Leon

Frontliner sourcing by Lara Galang

Danelle Baltazar, a retail worker, works every day and fights the arduous situation of transportation before going to work. Danelle Baltazar has four siblings, two of whom are working including herself. Her father is a tricycle driver and her mother is a housewife. Their family relationship was enduring and consequential for well-being across the life course. Amid the high risk of infection, Danelle Baltazar was and still is willing to do more than what it takes just to support and provide the necessities needed by her family.

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Poster by Aimary Rubio

Danelle Baltazar is a cashier at the Pulilan Robinson’s Supermarket and she can testify how hard it was to commute in public transportation since then. “It is a burden to be stuck in traffic for more than 1 hour, and there are times wherein accidents really do happen in streets,” said Danelle. Their private tricycle really helps their family with their transportation troubles. There are six members in the family and three of them are working in department and grocery stores, meaning that they would have to go and try their luck with infrequent transportation.

Since only few jeepneys are allowed and given the permit to travel, it is a total disaster for workers like Ms. Danelle to go to work safely and on time. “Malaking tulong ang traysikel ng Papa ko kasi nahahatid ako ni Papa papuntang Robinson’s na kung saan ang aking pinagtatrabahuhan.” (My father’s tricycle is a big help since he is able to bring me to Robinson’s where I work.)

Danelle’s perspective on public transportation is a tough one because of the rapidly increasing cases of COVID. The possibility of getting the virus and the one-way transmission is making her family frightened, nevertheless she is still determined to go to work.

Danelle said that public transportation is really helpful, especially to those who aren’t able to afford their own vehicles. “It is helpful for them because they can reach the destinations despite the long hours of waiting. Commuting was far different before COVID-19 occurred. The sound of a busy street, noisy honks from the cars, and the chaotic crowd were normal back then. But in our current situation, the things that seemed normal before are the total opposite now.”

Amidst the pandemic, Danelle never gives up on the situation and she finds motivation by thinking of her family. She wants to provide for them as much as possible since it can be considered an exchange of her parents’ hard work. “’Yung pamilya ko, mga magulang ko, sila yung motivation ko para magpatuloy ako, para sa kanila titiisin ko. Sila yung lakas at pahinga ko sa mundong nakakapagod. Hindi pwedeng huminto kasi kailangan din namin mag-survive araw-araw.” (My family and my parents motivated me to keep going and I power through everything for them. They are my strength and my rest in this tiring world. I can’t stop working because we need this to survive in a day to day living.)

The pandemic really tested every person’s mental and physical well-being. Retail workers like Danelle Baltazar may not be in the medical frontlines but she’s one of the modern heroes we need now, and they deserve praise and appreciation just like our medical frontliners.

The team asked her “Ano ang isang bagay na gusto mong maranasan ulit sa pag-commute?” (What is one thing you want to experience again when commuting?) Danelle said that she missed the crowd, the noise, and everything in her surroundings that reminded her of the busy streets of Pulilan. She only wishes for one thing during these trying times and that is to see her family being healthy and surviving the days to come.

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