What would have happened if corporate packaged food (CPF) had not been available in neighborhoods that entered lockdown in Manila after the appearance of COVID-19? Is it possible that a minor failure in food provisioning to a distressed urban poor could have triggered looting and further social unrest? This paper takes these questions as a starting point to put forward two hypotheses.
Firstly, CPF was effectively utilized as an instrument of tension management during the first enhanced community quarantine (March 15 to June 15, 2020).
Secondly, the donation of food packages and cash transfers became normalized practices within the governmental rationality of a bloc of social actors: state agencies, corporations, NGOs, religious organizations, and other philanthropic groups.
This paper is based on primary and secondary sources in Manila’s urban poor neighborhoods: Payatas, Tatalon, and Dakota.
In sum, this paper states that a complex governmental rationality saw CPF deeply embedded in the practices of donating food and transferring cash to poor people.