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The Next Weekend

So, what happened to the granules of locked down neighborhoods? What happened to the border barricades that would go down only on weekends? What happened to “waiting until the numbers subside”? Honestly, although many were suspicious and critical of the setup, I personally kept my fingers crossed and was willing to give it a chance. After all, who knows? There still remains the possibility that it could work, and with many programs around us turning up to be inefficient and ineffective, one more program that we think will not work, may turn out to be effective after all.

Several years ago, longer than millennials could remember, Nagueños weren’t so sold about a bus terminal where all bus companies would go to load and unload passengers. Yeah, kid, there was a time when your fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts were content with standing along the southernmost end of Elias Angeles St. to wait for buses to Manila. Yes, the big buses stop right in the middle of downtown. The provincial buses then dotted along the Diversion Road; and there was one terminal in Concepcion Pequeña. That was “normal” then; and to introduce something that is other than the “normal” is well… not “normal”. But look at it now. The Central Bus Terminal has become an inalienable landmark of Naga which opened transportation, tourism and commerce, more than any Naga City or Camarines Sur resident could have imagined then. So, who knows? Maybe a weekly weekend lockdown could do the trick.

But then, after the first weekend, where is it? Yes, I heard that the national government has put the city on MECQ, (and if I may remark, a much deserved and needed MECQ, seeing how the city fares in the numbers). But the weekend passes, I cross the border, take my usual tricycle ride and everything remains the same. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to turn the city upside down or put the stores out of business, but we all know why the higher-ups (no matter how you may perceive their competence or incompetence) are raising the levels of restrictions. Because, for some reason, we keep infecting each other.

October rolls in and we’re supposed to be on MECQ and I just dined in at my usual carenderia. I even ate at Bigg’s. I was able to buy things I need and some other thing that I don’t really need, and went around downtown as usual. I heard that they could not make their minds up on which set of MECQ guidelines to implement. In the first place, why are there different sets of guidelines for a singular quarantine classification? I am going to complain again about the shortage of standards. Should not it be unquestionably clear what red alert, or yellow alert or purple alert means? Should not it be clear what ECQ or MECQ or GCQ means in terms of what the public could do and not do? But it seems that they’re still figuring out what to do in MECQ as if it’s the first time to be on MECQ. While they’re making their minds up, the days go by, time passes that people go about and continue to initiate infection and probably pushing the numbers further up. It’s been almost a week. Should not these decisions have been crafted before the month set in? Each day with unclear courses of action, passes, is a swing and swerve towards the swelling of cases.

But on the other hand, on the so-called lockdowns and quarantines, are people genuinely and authentically restrained from movement to control the contagion? Don’t everyone else go about their business unmindful of consequences and constraints in the thought that their purpose for running about out their residence is of singular paramount importance and would not be put off or could not be arranged to be accomplished within the safer walls of the domicile? Does not the ingenious Filipino find ways? Even if barricades bar the way, would we not climb them? If there is some space below, would we not bend our bodies through? If there are seams on either side, would we not straighten or twist our torsos to push through? If we know the guard or someone who knows the guard, would we not charm our way around the blockade? Then, after we get through, we would go around our friends and brag about what an accomplishment it has been to have gotten through, while complaining about the rising number of Covid cases, of the hard times, of the difficulty of students’ learning modules, of the waning wifi connection, and everything else to rant about the pandemic, too shortsighted to realize that we’re all part of the problem; were all part of this pandemic.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” -Isaiah 26:3


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