QUARANTINE, lockdown and stay-at-home has become the new normal as a never before pandemic situation caused a global crisis affecting the whole human race. We are likened to be in an unchartered territory where we can’t see the borders clearly. So for now, let the walls and social distancing be our protection. It is a time when we can help protect ourselves by staying away from crowded places and medical and health facilities that are most vulnerable to this epidemic caused by Covid-19.
As of this writing, there are doctors and health workers who already died and the hospital of my alma mater has medical practitioners who became patients already and they are being quarantined or put in isolation so that they won’t spread the dreaded virus. Homebound citizens of the planet are now spending more time with their loved ones but it is feared that the situation will become tense and eventually worsen if people will no longer have something to eat thereby defying government orders and protocols.
In a crisis such as this, strong and willful leadership is much needed but with the way things are happening now, people are wondering, often misinformed and cannot discern what is real and fake from the news and information that they gather from all sources from hearsay, social media posts, and network updates. A former schoolmate of mine who is now based in the United Arab Emirates commented in our chat group saying “Let’s adhere to the mandate of the government. Let’s help by reminding everyone to understand the current situation.”
At times like this, there is so much to write about. CNN Philippines, GMA-7 and UNTV went off-air for few days to disinfect their facilities as some of their field reporters were likely to have been in health-risky coverage. Driven by their sense of duty, anchors and reporters of these media networks turned to social media like Facebook Live just to inform the public and reach out to possible donors who would want to help.
The presence of responsible journalists is likewise important to curb the misinformation and social media bashing caused by unscrupulous individuals who only want to destabilize the present system. We are in a crucial period where we must discern what is fake from real by knowing the source of information whether it is passed-on, unverified and coming from a web robot called bot that was programmed by spurned individuals or political rivals.
On March 18, I left home on the third day of the declared enhanced community quarantine and reported to my office early around seven in the morning and I observed lesser people on the streets. I learned that one of our clients, the LARNS Assn of Ampucao, a beneficiary of DTI’s shared services facility is sewing face masks so I drove to Ampucao, Itogon about two kilometers outside Baguio to see if I can write a feature story about the group.
I met Lamberto Curugan, the leader of LARNS and since I had in my pocket a hand-me-down temperature reader, I checked his forehead for health reasons. Since there were no finished face masks yet are being sewn by their workers in their respective homes following the work-home set-up. Will return Fri midday for the arrival of the face masks.
The next day on March 19, I monitored the Baguio inter-agency task force kapihan and press forum attended by our deputy head of office with my wife moderating the sharing and exchanges of information with key officials and media. Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, the head of DOH-CAR said that we are all technically persons under monitor or PUMs and we are expecting the worst to come in the coming days. True enough, people were alarmed when an amateur-taken video of Mayor Magalong saying that there is an alarming number of PUIs that DOH is not informing the media and the public.
On Friday, March 20, I went to Ampucao for my appointment with Mr. Curugan and found four males and a lady spinning their sewing machines busy making facemasks. They have bulk orders from the municipality of Itogon and after few days, they can already accept orders which I’m sure by now reached them because my officemates and friends wanted to order.
During the weekend, I mixed concoction of disinfectant out of an anti-bacterial bleaching solution and sprayed our doorsteps, doors, knobs, and walkways leading to our rooms including bathrooms. I also disinfected areas outside our house in Sumulong Road, especially the habitat of a person-of-special need whom we referred to as Mr. Bean.
So everybody is panicking? A concerned barangay resident called my attention through messenger and aired her neighbors’ fear that a foreigner who came from the US and visitor of their place was given a travel pass and did not undergo a quarantine procedure. After a series of exchanges of notes about how the barangay treated the situation and informing it to the IATF through my wife, I later learned that the foreigner already left.
These are only some of the things that I encountered and I hope that medical practitioners and volunteers will also write their Covid-19 related stories even through simple notes because any documentation of our present crisis may be of help in reviewing the whole pandemic experience.
To be continued.