A running personal account of my experience of this pandemic due to Covid-19
March 26, 2020 (7:53 PM, Manila Time) — I woke up at 7:30 AM to prepare for breakfast. I tried not to look at my mobile phone to see what’s happening since our government forced everyone in Metro Manila to stay home more than two weeks ago — 16 days to be exact.
But I can’t. I wanted to see the latest news on Twitter, Telegram, Facebook, Instagram, and other online groups, which I’m a member. Ever since this contagion started, more than 170 countries in the world are now reporting cases of COVID-19, a new coronavirus that has infected more than 600,000 people and killed more than 20,000 (number may have increased after I wrote this). The coronavirus was first reported in China as early as December 2019, and now, it has become a pandemic.
In Manila, the city where I live in, streets are almost empty, save for a few people walking to buy food, water, and other supplies. Police checkpoints are now a common sight in the city after government enforced the Enhanced Community Community Quarantine (ECQ), which is a government nomenclature for a “lockdown.” The ECQ started on March 16 and would last until April 13.
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Under an ECQ, people are forced stay home; travel in and out of Metro Manila is minimized; almost all businesses are closed except for critical and basic services like banks, groceries, convenient stores, telecommunications, utilities, logistics, among others. Rumors of food scarcity have circulated but later quelled. Just outside our home, I don’t hear any of the kids playing anymore. Only a handful of vehicles would pass by our street. Only essential workers and those carrying local government-issued passes are allowed to go out. If I need to resupply, I have to drive my wife as she’s carries the government pass.
Since the ECQ, I started working from home. The idea was not new to me. I have done this before, but as a choice in my previous job as an editor of a news website. Today, I didn’t have a choice. Everyone worked from home. All calls, meetings, and catch-ups with friends, relatives, and in my case, my students, were all done online through videoconferencing platforms like Teams, Zoom, Google Hangout, and this new discovery, Discord.
Staying healthy and sane
I cannot imagine life of being cooped up in a tiny living space for a month. But here we are, trapped in our own homes. It’s the new reality. They say we are living in extraordinary times where our lives are transformed forever. New habits formed.
Google recently recalled a term to describe these times: VUCA. It is the age of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. VUCA is a term introduced back in 1987 that described the Cold War. But according to Wikipedia, it was later used to describe strategic leadership in organizations and corporations.
Staying sane and healthy now is harder. I tried to impose a structure at home because my two teenage daughters are glued everyday to their screens. I had to do something drastic to make them do the chores, move, and hopefully exercise. Much of our entertainment today is coming from the Internet — and cable TV. But today’s young generation are easily bored — and distracted. So I forced them to do something more meaningful: read a book, converse, or as my wife has suggested numerous times, pray and worship.
I’m lucky that I have an extended family at home. My 83-year-old father-in-law is living with us. My wife has recently retired from teaching in a public high school, and is now focused on our family. My eldest daughter has entered the university this year, while the youngest was supposed to have her prom in a hotel in Makati this month. In two weeks, everything has changed.
How the Pandemic Will End
The U.S. may end up with the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
(To be continued)…