I started writing this with an eye on the news, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew that the mayors of our neighboring cities had recommended an extension of quarantine until May 31, with a faint hint of possibly going into June if necessary. But our Muntinlupa mayor had not weighed in at the time. And we had hopes. We eventually got official word that our gates are still quite firmly shut. But now it is supposed to be a “modified” version. The next day we got a new description of this latest category. It was a bit garbled at the press briefing. Then came another description and clarification. But why am I still confused?
Whatever label they put on it, whatever the official definition may be, what it means is that we remain on lockdown. At least until June. After that, who knows?
I am resigned to the idea that even if some areas around us have relaxed their rules, it does not matter much. The restrictions in the different risk areas still impede free movement. There would be no safe place to go anyway. For me personally and super seniors like me, it makes no difference.
The plus side
I have more time to do my exercise routines. Don’t ask why, but I recently added a 10-minute not-so-mild chair Pilates routine to my sitting tai chi. Also, I can now get serious about losing some of the weight I have gained—that is, after I demolish the rest of the delicious tiny ensaimadas I got for Mother’s Day. And maybe I can even get a little color under the sun. But it has gotten infernally hot and I will have to figure out the best time to be out there by the pool armed with sunscreen and shades.
And although I know that I am not getting out of my casita any time soon, I am making plans. I think it is important to jot down entries on some kind of a planner. Mine has no dates. Who needs them? For the past couple of months, one day seems to have swiftly blended into the next.
What I have is really a “to-do whenever” list. Isn’t that wonderful? I know it sounds weird and not too organized. But isn’t it great to have something to do and do it whenever you please? What a luxury.
But I do feel the need to set targets. I can only explain this urge by saying that I am trying to keep my motor running, idling perhaps for now, to make sure I can take off the minute the light turns green. And where would I go? Wherever the spirit moves me, or nowhere at all.
I was talking about my list to a friend and he remarked, “You know, of course, that the end of this quarantine will not happen in some dramatic fashion, with a drumroll and fanfare. It won’t be like Paul’s liberation from Roman captivity when shackles fell off and prison doors swung open.”
I know that this has to be a gradual, almost tentative and hopefully well studied easing of the rules. I hope everyone takes a deep breath before rushing out the door. I have visions of horses that have chafed at the bit too long, lunging wildly out of the corral.
My friend is worried about her son who can’t wait to go out on a drinking spree with his friends. I doubt that bars will have priority.
My daughter wants to get on the first available safe and sanitized flight to the United States to be with her daughters. I don’t blame her. Her eldest had to postpone her May wedding. I don’t know what the new date will be. But the mother of the bride wants to be there.
I cannot see myself taking long plane rides anymore. Like everything else, airline travel will have to undergo radical changes to establish its new normal. I have seen pictures of cabin crew in personal protective equipment-style coveralls. Can you imagine social distancing on board? Ticket prices will go sky high. It makes me sad to think that I may eventually have to totally scrap any future travel plans.
I had a long chat with an old friend in Spain. He lost his wife a few years ago and his only son soon moved in with his wife and two children. He was not too thrilled. Carlos is an avid tapas bar habitué and loves to hang out with his friends. But he is not your warm and fuzzy family type. I asked how he was doing, and was he getting antsy, not able to do his thing.
His heartwarming reply made me smile.
“Dios es grande,” he exclaimed. “These past two and half months have been precious. Unforgettable. My son works from home. His wife cooks the most delicious meals. Their children are delightful. We eat together. We chat. They ask me about my life in Manila and want stories about the war. I love it. They have time for me. They put their gadgets away to listen to my cuentos. Their eldest has a little girl. I have a great-grandchild. Carlota. The other day she said grace before lunch. And she asked Papa Dios to bless her Lolito. That’s me!” He was emotional.
In the news they report that people are starting to go out in Madrid. The tapas bars are ready to reopen. But Carlos is not too excited.
“Que pena,” he laments. “I don’t want this quarantine to end.”