Malilong: Déjà vu

The Other Side

IT IS only the fifth day of our second general community quarantine (GCQ). Why am I looking at two weeks hence with a dire, and yet familiar, sense of foreboding?

Two months ago, we had our first GCQ. Two weeks later, our hospitals were inundated with hundreds of cases of the new plague. We panicked and although we were too proud to admit it, it showed in the irrational behavior that we displayed.

Those were the days when everyone thought there was a better way of dealing with the pandemic and its social costs but couldn’t get a handle on what it was. That inability gave itself up to blame-throwing, directed mostly to government and its leaders, which was understandable, if not convenient.

That, after all, is to us the essence of electing our leaders, so that we can have a ready one to paint the extra s..t on when the s..t hits the ceiling fan. So when the hospitals ran out of rooms for Covid sufferers, it was the fault of the mayor. When a significant concentration of cases showed up in an area densely populated by informal settlers, City Hall bore the blame.

The government had its failings, no doubt about it, but it couldn’t have been solely responsible for the myriad of problems associated with a disease that the whole world was not ready to confront, much less conquer. But this did not matter to us in our panic.

The hospitals could not have run out of for-Covid victim-use-only beds if the cases had not spread as rapidly. And the cases could not have spread as rapidly if we only heeded repeated appeals for us to follow the guidelines that the government set, based on input from public health experts. We did not.

Not in June after weeks of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The rebound from the long period of home confinement and other restrictions was confounding. It resembled scenes in the many war movies I have seen where the victims emerge from their shelters celebrating because the enemy has been vanquished and the war was over.

Only that in our case, no war has been won and the enemy remains undefeated and unseen. That did not seem to bother us though, as we went about our daily lives as if the pandemic never happened or if it did, was a distant nightmare. We ignored the warnings. A couple of weeks later, we paid the price.

It is only the fifth day of the new GCQ when I wrote this and yet I am already hearing reports of the same business-as-usual attitude that we witnessed in early June. The most common observation is that many still do not bother to wear a mask when going out. I saw that myself last Tuesday when I ventured out of the house for the first time since the ECQ, original or modified.

I dread the coming of the second half of the month.


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