I HAD a sudden craving for street food, and so, from my daily terno pajama shorts outfit at home, I just changed into a pair of walking shorts, still wearing the pajama top printed with Sesame Street’s Elmo and Cookie Monster. No bra. TMI, yes, but that detail is part of the story.

Streetfood can be found outside a mall, which is right outside the subdivision I live in, so I didn’t think much about going in just my pambahay and tsinelas.

Except that, as I was nearing the mall gates, I realized that it was already the weekend and I needed to get several thousands for the payroll of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the Davao City Female Jail who are making Healing Hearts Bears on Monday. I will tell the story of these bears in later articles. The thought of walking all the way back (four blocks) to don some decent malling clothes and then back again held no appeal. So I walked to the mall anyway in my tsinelas, Elmo and Cookie Monster printed pajama tops, short pants, no bra. It was only when I was inside the mall when I felt awkward, near nude. I walked toward the ATM with my arms crossed, to show less Elmo and Cookie Monster prints, hide the bilbil that was proudly declaring itself under the soft flannel cotton, and yes, camouflage the burn the bra state.

It was only then when I realized, I wasn’t alone. Not that anyone else was in pajama tops. But several young men were in pambahay and tsinelas. True, Dabawenyos have always been fond of going around in shorts and shirt, but pre-Covid, they were in sandals or Crocs or Sanuks. The few in tsinelas were harried moms rushing though some grocery or food to-go and some less fortunate taking a rare mall visit. Now many are wearing tsinelas, and there I was upping the ante in pajama tops.

Welcome to the much-touted new normal. A level of casual that is more casual than we thought Dabawenyos already were and I’m not sure if I like it. One thing is sure though, I liked it in that moment when I found myself malling in my pambahay togs.

What else has changed?

Our idea of a nightlife. Going out with friends now starts as early as right after work, before dinner. And then there is that discomfort when it’s already past 9 p.m., a discomfort that becomes more antsy by 10 p.m. Meanwhile, last May 14, 2022, the social media went wild as the UP Maroons throttled the Ateneo Blue Eagles to win the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship after 36 long years. UP in Mindanao will have a bonfire the Monday after, at 5 p.m., the announcement said. pre-Covid, a huge crowd would have just gathered and initiated the bonfire. But with everyone still out there, attending classes on their phones and tablets, spontaneous celebrations are out of the picture. Unsaon na lang paglugsong...

Has the pandemic dampened spontaneity? Maybe, yes. But most likely no. What the pandemic did was shepherd us online and what cannot be held online can be scheduled at a later date. Like the bonfire.

Communicating with people has become very easy, but bringing in people together takes a little more effort. This will have an impact on businesses, most especially now with the massive online presence, the unstable world economy, and the noisy few who continue to disparage the government when 30-million others would just want the government to succeed.

For those running a business or an organization, it’s time to study, or at least to Google, in order to get a stable footing on today’s unstable grounds. Keywords "Kodak moment" might help and just follow what related articles and materials are suggested. You can thank me later. saestremera@gmail.com