How are you?
This is really a silly question to ask, considering the proliferation of the pandemic that has changed our lives forever. But this is coming from a place of concern, because inasmuch as I expect that your answers would most likely be depressing, sad, terrible, being asked this question is something that would lift our spirits up.
So how are you? I would like to know how you have coped with the necessary arrangements that have separated us from one another in order to keep one another.
The moment we were ordered to work from home, I ‘silver-lined’ the fact that we’re prevented to come to office each days. I thought I would be able to manage my own time as being homebound seemed to mean productivity on fulfilling my tasks and doing greater strides for my blogging. However, you’d most likely find me curled up on my bed, binge watching videos and reading books and listening to podcasts and audiobooks and finding funny content to escape from the reality. I also deactivated on my Facebook to manage my mental health and for self-preservation. This could have been the most uncreative period of my life, and I cannot even function well on my work. I would normally sleep at 3:00 am and wake up at noon.
My worry also goes to those who were laid-off and are risking their lives respond to this crisis. Consider the tricycle drivers’ retorts to my parents: “The virus will not kill us, but it’s hunger.” Some employees have no choice but to concede with the ‘no work, no pay’ policy of their company. The frontliners stationed at our intersection have no sufficient protective equipment while implementing the community quarantine to ensure our province can mitigate the spread of the virus.
We consider ourselves very privileged living away in the areas where the COVID-19 hit worst, but we have our share of frustrations too. With the curfew, we have to close our store before 7:00 pm, cutting more than half of our daily income. My twin brother is quarantined somewhere in Miami for days and then in one hotel in Manila, and all we can do is pray for his health and wish that he can come here with us. Weeks prior to his quarantine, we awaited for his updates only for him to tell us they were rejected from one port to another.
A single day in the presence of this virus brings about a myriad of concerns that we need to talk about, and unfortunately, I am uncreative enough to expand these ideas at length (sorry ‘bout it!). So here is a rough list of things that I am thinking about when it comes to COVID-19:
- The world is changed forever as COVID-19 crept on a global scale. It means loss of lives. Loss of security. Loss of jobs. Loss of usual interaction, of physical touch. The world is and will never be the same again.
- One of things that seems to be innocuous in the pandemic is loneliness. There is a danger on not paying attention to this feeling, especially in this world that dictates us that being grateful allows us to hide our emotions and makes us think of loneliness as a personality flaw.
- That being said, it’s better to be transparent about grief. It even takes more tact to explain this to children who were separated from their daily routines in school or with their playmate.
- There is something dangerous to exert and demand for productivity in these trying times. I am a teacher, and I could have added more classwork and online assignments to my students while they’re inside their homes. But it’s utter torture for me to saturate their brains on academics while grappling with the pandemic, and it divides them a time to reflect about how the society moves differently. Instead, I told them that what’s happening outside their homes and at the streets are education in itself, and it must teach them to cultivate meaningful relationship and critical thinking.
- The pandemic is beyond health issue—this is also a political and a class issue.
- The notion of privilege is thrown out a couple of times while solving this health concern. It’s a dilemma among the working class, especially those who rely on informal economy and working on public spaces, to avoid being contracted with the virus while making sure they can feed their family. It’s easy to stay at home when you’re provided with anything that comforts you, but to those who do not have your luxury, we should keep them in our thoughts.
- To those people living with illnesses and/or immunocompromised—including me (clinical depression; I should have had my therapy this month; but do not worry because I already rescheduled mine and I think I can still endure the coming weeks)—community quarantine is harder to navigate. Imagine having to stay in a hospital to fight off your infirmities where you are susceptible to catching diseases. Imagine needing to undergo a checkup, surgery, or dialysis without public transportation.
- Due to the lack of decisive actions the government must do to contain the health crisis and assist the welfare of the people, I have never seen the public as disgruntled as this. With empty stomachs and anxious dispositions, they’d take to social media their criticisms against the president’s pronouncements of killing people who gets in their way, as well as the ludicrous arrests and human rights violations the police have committed. Because the Filipinos have been operating in a collectivist, high-power distance culture, the critics of the administration are seen to be an arrogant nuisance. Worse is they are being discounted for their positions in the issue and shamed in public. But come to think of it, without the pressure from Twitter and the diligence and vigilance of the people to unravel the wrongdoings of the erring people in position, would there be any changes in the management of COVID-19? Activists are not credited well enough for risking their security and reputation. With this being said, there is something wrong with being comfortable and defensive with the political principles unchecked. There are many things that are non-negotiable for me: equity, human rights, free expression, compassion, holding the authorities accountable for their abuses, etc. etc. etc. I hope this is the same for you too.
- Aside from the clamor of discontent in social media spaces, another trend that I have noticed is prejudice. Because of lack of imagination and fear, Chinese people are being disrespected. Medical practitioners working on the front are being suspected to be carriers of the virus. People who have no choice but to go outside because they have no homes/they have no other ways to earn an income were called stubborn, dirty, uncooperative (this is more apparent during the first few days of the community quarantine). I am afraid that even if we have found a cure for COVID-19, discrimination will stay. This is harder to treat.
- Compassion is what we need more than ever. Have you donated anything for the people who need social assistance? If you’re also short of money to spare, have you helped repack goods and reach out to people who might want to help? Do you avoid spreading fake news and call out people who are posting them? Have you sent messages of support to your friends whom you know are suffering even before the pandemic?
I do not know what this will do, but I am posting you pictures of the horizon from where I am:
I hope we are seeing the same sky.
The days may be precarious and there will be death everywhere, but I hope that you’re comfortable with the love given to you right now.