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Most Essential Contemplating Question

Had it been normal circumstances, there would have been flea markets along the city streets, strings of flaglets across buildings, and drums and xylophones would be banging and clanging in rehearsals in the Plaza. Now, I’m not even sure if the Traslacion Friday would be a work holiday. Supposedly, classes would be suspended and some offices would go on holiday on that day; because students would be required to participate in the procession, and traffic would be heavy. With no mass gathering, I guess it would make sense to continue with “normal” operations because roads won’t be jammed anyway.

For about a week now, there has been a buzz going on that Naga City would be returned to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine. People seemed to have looked forward to it with eager expectation. Interestingly, people would have welcomed more stringent lockdown conditions. This course of opinion is only a clear indication of that starvation of spirit for freedom from Covid-19.

If Naga would be brought back to MECQ, there would be an expected decrease of people out in the streets engaging in probable social contact, as extra-residential activities would be limited to purchase of essential goods and work in permitted offices. Although, I doubt if people who have become accustomed to go out with made up excuses would catch on in compliance to policy. But then again, that won’t be so much of a problem when the streets are cleared of public utility vehicles as it would be back to the garages for tricycles and jeepneys. Further infection due to social contact would be even more discouraged as there would be no food establishments to go to, sit at, and converge and loiter around. (I just noticed that the E-Mall food court would still be just as packed even with the low air conditioning. These guys must have been thinking, “to hell with the heat”.)

But on the other hand, as much as the public would want to pull down the rising number of local cases and restrain movement, MECQ would bum out business which is already barely holding its own. For one essential reason or another, we have to go outside our doors and to the streets. Those of us who have not been blessed with our personal transport vehicles, would have to brave the baking summeresque sun of September. If I don’t get sick of Covid, I would probably test positive of prickly heat or any other disease caused by exposure to high temperature. Despite the provision for offices to arrange for shuttle buses, give me a count of establishments which have been able to do so. The setup may decrease the probability of infection; but along with it is the decrease of the income of simple folk: public transport drivers, fast food service crew, mani-pedi ladies, food vendors among others who may not have a dependable bank account to fall back on.

I think this is the second time that the IATF has snubbed Naga City’s request for placement on stricter quarantine. I remember that City Hall also made a similar request when we were put on GCQ, but the Mayor requested for retention in ECQ. There was no response then; and there is no response now for the MECQ request for September 8 to 24 in time for the Peñafrancia Fiesta. In his post, the Mayor expressed jitters on the likely rise of people in public places due to the fiesta. However, the probability of presence of people in a given place is not an acceptable justification for a local government unit to be reverted to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine. Interestingly, on the same day that Nagueños were expecting the start of the local MECQ, news reports included that of Bacolod and Lanao del Sur getting what local folk here have been waiting for. The reason… a great upsurge in Covid-19 cases. There seems to be an uncontrollable spread of the virus in the said places that the national government has to contain the deterioration with MECQ. If we remember, Metro Manila relapsed to MECQ for a similar reason. So, much to some people’s alarm to a plausible increase of infection if devotees come in droves, anticipation simply is not sufficient reason for the national government to agree that a city be placed on a certain quarantine level. On the vantage point of IATF, Naga may have increasing number of cases, but there are worse cases that need attention. The red alert just can’t be sounded when the situation lacks the qualifications for it. So, it’s just like applying for scholarship without the high grades for it.

So, what it comes down to is , before going out of the house, personally place yourself under MECQ – most essential contemplating question. Am I really going out for something essential?

“Be sober-minded; be watchful…” -1 Peter 5:8

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