Wenceslao: Life in the time of Covid

Candid Thoughts

I AM back to fetching my wife at night after her work. There was a time when tending to the sari-sari store and being near my sons at home while my wife is working made it difficult for me to do so considering the distance. But with the Covid-19 pandemic we have to find ways of lessening contact with strangers. I needed to drive my wife home so she would not ride a jeepney or a taxi. Besides, the community quarantine and the curfew imposed by the government have made it difficult for people to commute.

My observations:

When I hit the streets, I am reminded of those years past when I was young and the metro was, too, figuratively. Meaning that the streets were deserted as midnight neared. From our community to the highway is a street that is full of movement even until midnight. But the place wasn't busy in the old days, or when we first set up residence there. There were only a few tricycles and trisikads waiting in the corner, which meant walking the length of a deserted street when they are no longer around.

The joke was that while we feared being mugged or robbed while walking home, the bigger fear was on the “ungo” and “dili ingon nato.” We put up a brave front but were actually ready to run home at the slightest strange noise in the darker portions of the street. With the government's impositions to fight Covid-19, we in our community are back to having a deserted street near midnight until dawn.

Traffic in the highway is smooth with only few vehicles traversing it and with establishments, even those that used to operate 24 hours, closed. This again reminded me of Cebu City and the metro's younger years, when life was simple and not complex and chaotic. But one can only control people's movement for a few hours. Daytime and the chaotic setup returns, though with some modifications.

Sunday, we didn't go to church though I was interested in how the local priest would have implemented the “social distancing” call of the government. How could people be standing one meter apart from each other in a small church that could not accommodate all the churchgoers that attend even just one holy mass? Not dipping our fingers on the holy water or embracing family members during the mass can be easily done, though.

As I have said before, while it may be okay to find ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, those ways must not lead to a paralysis or overacting of sorts. While replenishing my store's rice stocks, I noticed a small crowd in my “suki” bodega. I only intended to buy a few sacks and thus rented a tricycle. I saw an SUV being used to purchase 10 sacks of rice.

Seeing the worry on the faces of the people who wanted to purchase rice in the bodega, I sought out the owner's trusted assistant. “Ambot bitaw ani nila, uy,” she said. “Dili man gud ni mahurot ang stocks.” But frantic buying does cause shortages of some commodities or at least an imbalance between what the moneyed have and what those momentarily without money have.


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