COVID bayanihan

Listen in Tesco supermarket, Battersea

Listen in Tesco supermarket, Battersea


Sound by Dara

or download to listen offline

Listen in or outside the Tesco Metro supermarket, near Battersea Park station.

Battersea Park does not have step-free access but buses with ramps stop outside the supermarket.

Alternatively, listen in isolation.

Kanlungan is a consortium of Filipino community and cultural organisations and is coordinating efforts to respond to the needs of the Filipino community in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. To find out more, volunteer or donate, visit

This soundwalk is dedicated to Dr Rachelle ‘Dara’ Bascara (1983-2021) – beloved, revolutionary.


Dara, in Tesco:


There’s no fresh meat. Umm. They also want chicken, so… what are we going to do about that? There’s no chicken.


They’re all domestic workers, and they all don’t have jobs anymore. They all have COVID, from the sounds of it. There’s six of them in the flat and so none of them can go out – so that’s why we’re buying food for them. It’s not that uncommon for Filipino migrants to live together in a very small – in, you know, close quarters. I’ve seen six or eight people sharing a studio. When people send all of their money back home, that’s all they can afford for housing in London.


Anyone on the volunteer list, whoever makes most sense to go to the place, is going to go. And this was a thirty-minute cycle ride for me, so it makes sense for me.


Walang ano… walang chicken. Pero meron dito turkey. Frozen turkey. Gusto ni yon? [There’s no… there’s no chicken. But there’s turkey here. Frozen turkey. Does she want that?]


We hear the sound of self-check out machines beeping. Then Dara and Ella walking to the flat and being buzzed in on the entry system. The door of the building opens. We walk down the corridor and Ella taps the door knocker.




Si Dara. Oo, si Dara ito. [Dara. Yes, it’s Dara here.]


The woman inside speaks in Tagalog, unclear. We put the bag of groceries down and walk away down the corridor.




Do you have hand sanitiser?




Um, no, I don’t.




You knocked on their door.


We hear the voice of the woman inside faintly from down the corridor, calling “Thank you so much!”




Pagaling kayo! [Get well soon!]


She was just saying that you shouldn’t have knocked on the door, that now you have to use a hand sanitiser, and like, “you need to go away before I will get the groceries, I don’t think we should meet.” That’s what she said. Yeah.


They’re in the informal sector and a lot of them have just lost their jobs. The good thing is there’s not going to be evictions for three months in the UK, right, because we don’t know how that’s going to play out. A lot of them are also undocumented, and that makes them very anxious. And very reluctant to ask for medical help. One time I was with a Filipino guy who had an accident, got hit by a car. He didn’t even want to go to the hospital even though he broke a leg, and it’s because he didn’t have the right papers. And last week, another Filipino domestic worker had some stomach aches, and she just escaped from her employer, Qatari employers, two months ago. So she doesn’t have a definitive legal status in the UK. Even though she is filing a trafficking and abuse case against her employers – she ran away from them. But she didn’t have the right papers. And so when she got to the hospital they had to do a scan on her, and they were charging her a thousand for the first night and the first round of tests. And when she saw the bill, she was like ‘Wow, how can I… I can’t pay this!’


So there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty in the Filipino community. I’m glad that we have this organisation Kanlungan to coordinate our efforts for how we can, sort of, practice this thing called bayanihan, which is in the Philippines, meaning like “nation-building” or something like that… it doesn’t really translate. But yeah, something like that.


The other day there were a bunch of nurses that arrived from the Philippines, just before the president Duterte stopped the flights for Filipinos leaving the country. The Filipino nurses that came here, they were sent straight to the frontline and they weren’t eating. They had short breaks, and when they got to the shops to eat for their breaks there was no food. So they weren’t able to eat properly. I was just so pissed off when I heard that there were Filipino nurses that just literally arrived and then they weren’t able to eat properly. I just felt like, wow, this is so unfair. You know, they’re going to need nurses in the Philippines too.


Dara breathes slowly to stop her tears.